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Desensitized to the Times?

Do you know the times?

I Chronicles 12:23-40 records the assembling of “men armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul’s kingdom over to him” (v. 23). We read of men “from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (v.32). Note the context, this was the assembly of men gathering for battle. Why would they need these men from Issachar?

It seems that knowing the times is critical to winning battles. The text makes this clear. What is easy to miss is that change was in the air. The extended passages of Scripture before and after 12:23 are replete with lessons regarding change.

Time is always an element of change. Like change, time is one of life’s abstractions; something we can not engage in any tactile way. You can’t hold, drink, wear, spend, or converse with time. Yet it’s vital to know the times.

In Acts 1:6, we read of Jesus’ followers, “They gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?””

In the following verse Jesus told his followers, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” He’s God; we’re not. When God does what he does we don’t need to know. It is not for us to know the times or dates of the Father.

In contrast, in Matthew 16:3 Jesus chided the Pharisees and Sadducees, who could forecast the weather by reading the sky, but who could not “interpret the signs of the times.”  Jesus’ identified the irony (and deficiency) of people who purported to understand God but didn’t understand the times in which they and others live. ‘You can read the signs in the sky but not interpret the scriptures in the context of the times in which you live to know the Person with whom you stand.”

What is also clear is that the times offer signs. Theologian M. Eugene Boring notes “there are no ambiguous signs” and states of the situation in which the religious elite find themselves,

This lack of ability to interpret the sign constituted by Jesus is not a lack of intellectual acumen, but has to do with hardness of heart and lack of faith…

The New Interpreters’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, Volume VIII
(Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press, 1994) , 341

When we don’t know the times we risk spiritual consequences. God, although outside of time works inside time. In condescension, in the fullness of time, Jesus became human. The Holy Spirit lives and moves  and works inside time.

Can oversight or failure to know the times desensitize us to the Holy Spirit? Can we fail to detect what is happening around us so we fail to recognize recognize crucial change, even change in which God is acting and invites us to act with him.

Thinking Required

If you are a thinker, someone willing to really challenge yourself and think, I urge you to watch the following movie. perhaps schedule it for a later time. Please keep reading below the video player.

Now, follow Dr. Caroline Crocker’s work at the American Institute for Technology and Science Education ( You may be unsettled, shocked, and almost certainly alarmed. If so, I believe that would be good. Perhaps we need a jolt.

D.V. on Thursday, June 14, 2012 I will have the privilege of interviewing Dr. Crocker for my podcast “Provoked to Newness” ( The associated episodes will ‘go live’ some weeks later. Become involved in this dialog, especially if you are academically oriented or interested in science.

In II Corinthians 10:5, Holy Scripture exhorts us, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” And in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” These are holy and mysterious words; yet true.

In my opinion, for all who are capable, to ignore the subject of this film or Caroline’s work is to be negligent in an urgent time and a needy world. And, as a Canadian I see no reason to limit the scope of this content to America although that is generally the characterization in this film. No nation or person is exempt from the consequences of this situation.

Just a Heads-up

I’d like to update you on what has been going on and what is going on at The Cornerstone Community.

I expect to release more blog posts more often. The Wisdom for a Change blog will continue to be available online free-of-charge.

Some of you have mentioned, “The Provoked to Newness ( ‘podcast thing’ seems to really be taking off.” That’s correct.

We’ve got three guests interviews ‘in edit’ currently and 18 more guests scheduled for interviews during April, May, June, and July, 2012. Some of these guests are well-known while others are lesser-knowns with equally amazing change stories. Some guests call for change; some notice the need for change; some have experienced profound change personally; and still others oversee and influence change in diverse Christian communities.

With a growing guest list we are able to do more diverse and compelling interview episodes. With more listeners we see reason to produce more episodes. We appreciate our guests contributing their time free of charge. The Provoked to Newness syndicated podcast show will continue to be available free of charge. Please check out the wonderful ministries and resources these guests represent.

We sense God’s blessing upon both the Wisdom for a Change blog and the Provoked to Newness syndicated podcast show. Thanks for your prayers. I would appreciate your continued prayer for our guests and their endeavors and for us as we research and prepare to deliver substantive, diverse change-related content that glorifies God and edifies the Church.

We intend to release two podcast interview episodes each week beginning next week. I encourage you to listen online or download episodes to your MP3 player (e.g., i-Pod). Then, you can listen whenever you are in your car, out for a walk, or relaxing in your back yard. And, please tell others about an episode or a particular guest that of particular interests you, or the show in general. Some guests are brainy and others funny. Some are intense while others are laid-back. Each is fascinating focused; each guest gives us a unique lens into change in a Christian context.

In addition to the twice-a-week guest interviews, intermittently I’ll be recording my own change-related information, insights, and ideas in podcast episodes of about 5 to 7 minutes each.

Someone asked me the other day “Are you doing theology?” I answered ‘Yes’. You do theology too whenever you read Wisdom for a Change posts or listen to Provoked to Newness episodes. How? Theology is “seeking to understand God and God’s ways”. Here we seek to understand God and God’s ways regarding change. So, we’re doing change theology. And yes, it is correct to say “doing theology”.

Have a blessed weekend.

Provoked to Newness – April’s Guests

I am please to announce my guests in April 2012 on Provoked to Newness.

  • Annie F. Downs, author of the acclaimed book for Christian girls and young women, From Head to Foot: All of You Living All for Him
  • Mark Lau Branson, Associate Professor of the Ministry of the Laity at Fuller Theological Seminary and author, whose newest co-authored book, Churches, Cultures and Leadership: A Practical Theology of Congregations an Ethnicities, is a must-read for intentional pastors and church leaders
  • Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, winner of Christianity Today’s 2009 Book Award for Christianity and Culture and named one of the best books of 2008 by Publishers Weekly, Relevant, Outreach and Leadership. Among other roles, Andy now works for Christianity Today.
  • Ken Medema, the iconic Christian composer and founder of Brier Patch Music. He’s pretty much a household name in Christian homes. You’ve got to hear Ken share his story as you’ve likely never heard it before.

What a group of bright, gifted, and called people! Much, much more could be said about each of these guests. But why not hear them tell their own stories, share their perspectives, and offer their insights.

We completed these four interviews in March. We’re editing and producing the last few; 16 episodes in all (I think). I found each guest’s story captivating. whose experiences and passions will challenge and encourage you. I think you will too. I hope you’ll join us. Y can subscribe or follow easily. All episodes are free.


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Why should you subscribe instead of just dropping by whenever/if we come to your mind? Well, there are good reasons to subscribe or follow, even if you store them for later access. You can find yourself getting busy, too busy to catch all the little things that can make differences in your thinking, your outlook, and your well-being? I’ve been told that both the blog and the podcast are good food for your mind and your heart.

Apart from those reasons, sometimes big things demand a time out. Then, it’s good to have a place to catch new perspectives and refresh. That’s happened to readers and listeners. Hey, it’s happened to me.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what happened to me last August; and what I learned about the value of this blog (and podcast) and you, our readers and listeners.

4th Saturday Interlude

It’s Saturday morning and you know what that means at Wisdom for a Change. It’s time for another interlude.

For the past 30 years I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife who is also a wonderful pianist. I’ve had many opportunities on rainy days and snowy evenings to settle quietly onto a sofa and be ushered into quiet times as Janice effortlessly played praise to the Holy One. One of Janice’s preferred ways of worshiping God has become a pathway for me to center down into God’s presence. Not surprisingly, I have developed a bias for piano pathways and of course, for outstanding pianists.

Today, I am exceptionally pleased to introduce you to David Baroni. I feel somewhat awkward saying ‘introduce you to’, since so many of you will already know David and his music.

To say David is a wonderful pianist is to perfect the art of understatement. His playing has been described as flowing, soothing, sensitive, and unique.

Perhaps David’s unique piano stylings derive from his acclaimed songwriting talent. David Baroni is a Grammy-winning songwriter whose songs have been recorded by Selah, Don Moen, Ron Kenoly, Michael W. Smith, Debby Boone, Phil Driscoll, Alvin Slaughter, Kent Henry, Morris Chapman, and many others. David’s also worked with Integrity Music and LaMar Boschman’s International Worship Institute. So, what can I say about someone who has produced 25+ albums and over a 20-year span has taken his music and message of God’s love across America and to 20 other countries?

What I value most about David is his clear, unequivocal desire to see God glorified; his recognition of the Holy Spirit’s power to change the lives of individuals, communities, and even nations; and his commitment to contribute to God’s change in God’s time in God’s ways – a phrase dear to me. Consider how David’s and his wife Rita’s ministry is always seeking new places to minister and new people to meet. Reflect upon the diversity of David’s music to witness artistic developments under God in action… two people participating with God in his change initiatives; and demonstrating willingness themselves to be changed by him.

Personally I benefit again and again as the diversity of David’s anointed music helps me enter into those all-important interludes.

Whether it’s through the comforting sounds of A Quiet Place: Instrumental Hymns Vol. III (, the more eclectic sounds (my words, not David’s) of David’s new release Celtic Winds: New Hope from an Ancient Sound (, or the soothing Lullabyland Peaceful Instrumentals ( – David Baroni’s music always carries me into the presence of the First Composer, the One who brought everything that is into being; everything including the wonderful gift of music.

For more information on David and Rita Baroni’s ministry, go to

I hope you’ll get acquainted with David’s music as you nurture the good discipline of Saturday interludes. God willing, this summer David will be one of my guests on the summer podcast interview series, Significant Servants for Change. I hope you’ll join us as we discuss some of David’s insights about God’s change in God’s time in God’s ways.

From Bethlehem to Left Behind 5

Following from Part 4 of Darrell Harris series From Bethlehem to Left Behind

Today, we’re sharing Part 5 of this podcast series with our guest, Dr. Darrell Harris.

Length – 15:30

Re-use Notice and Info

In keeping with the spirit of Darrell’s willingness to freely broadcast this series on Wisdom for a Change and with applicable copyrights, if you share this posting somewhere else please point others back to this site using a Permalink or a Trackback. If you prefer to obtain the rights to include one or more of the podcasts in this series in your own electronic publication, please contact Darrell directly at:

Dr. Darrell A. Harris
Pastor, The Stonebridge Community
Dean of the Chapel, The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies
615/525-6330 or by e-mail at

Unpacking “From Bethlehem… 4″

In yesterday’s Wisdom for a Change posting, you had access to the fourth podcast in Darrell Harris’ series From Bethlehem to Left Behind.

We’re seeking to develop the good personal discipline of unpacking what we read or hear; to consider related applications and implications before we move along to see or hear more. How are you doing with this discipline?

In the context of yesterday’s podcast, why not spend some time now to contemplate questions related to Darrell’s fourth short sermon?

  1. When if ever has God told you to change ‘by night’? Why does God do this and how can such an inconvenient and possibly alarming directive help us?
  2. What changes when God changes our environment – when he calls us into being a minority?
  3. We tend to think of the impact of change upon ourselves and other adults. Yet, how might a recent change in which you were involved impacted a teenager, a child, or even a toddler you know? What might you learn from understanding that young person’s experience? How might you need to minister to that young person or let them minister to you?
  4. How has God used dislocation to open you up to new understanding and new possibilities?
  5. How can we inadvertently hurt others by unconsciously moving in our native tendencies, speaking ‘our own language?  How can those natural tendencies impede change God desires.
  6. How are you processing memories of isolation, fear, or hurt? What posture must we adopt as we come before God with these emotions and experiences?
  7. How do you live out James 5:16 in daily practice to the glory of God?

In times of darkness of uncertain change, we can claim the truth of Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT). ”This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

Unpacking “From Bethlehem…3″

June 18th’s Wisdom for a Change posting provides access to the third podcast in Darrell Harris’ series From Bethlehem to Left Behind.

As I mentioned previously, it is a good personal discipline is to unpack what we read or hear; to consider related applications and implications before we move along to see or hear more.

In the context of Darrell Harris’ From Bethlehem to Left Behind 3,  let’s consider a few pertinent, reflective questions.

  1. Darrell opened with Matthew 2:10:11. Then he noted how the Wise Men must have been happy when the start stopped. When you’ve been journeying and your ‘star stops’ – what’s your reaction. A sigh of relief? Silence and reflection? What we do after the journeying often reveals our purpose in making the journey. Notice what the Wise Men did.
  2. What do the treasures that sat around your home when you were growing up tell you about what you might tend to value? How might those enable or disable your zeal to experience God’s newness?
  3. What treasure(s) do you have that you might pass along to someone else? How might it enrich their lives?

I’ve heard it said that in life everything we posses is either a treasure or a tool. So I wonder:

  • What makes the difference? Does this truism apply to people as well as things? If so, what are the implications?
  • What’s the difference between a treasure we put to work and a tool we make into a treasure?
  • Does one honor God more than the other?

3rd Saturday Interlude

It’s Saturday morning; time to share another in this series of recommended weekend interludes. Things have changed here! The sun is shining brightly. (Yes, the park is still rich green.)

Today’s weather might encourage some folks to push life’s pedal to the floor and leave it there. Yet the wise ones will still set aside time to contemplate, to sit still in God’s presence, and to worship him. A few people might reply, “But I can experience God’s presence when I’m busy.” Of course, that’s true. The point is not whether a person can experience God’s presence in the midst of busyness, but whether a person should. Jesus’ call to “Come away with me for a while” remains in perpetual daily effect for every one of his followers. A review of history proves beyond doubt that a core element of Christianity is a ‘contemplative life’ – not in totality, but certainly an integral part.

I’ve been looking forward to introducing you to Rob Still since I thought of this series. Rob writes worship music – quite a bit of it. By most standards I suppose you’d say he writes ‘contemporary worship music’. In my mind he just writes good worship music; songs that glorify God (many are Scripture put to music). Rob’s tunes are ‘up songs’ that help others ‘center down’ and they stay on your lips. I think this is because the tunes are easily singable and the lyrics are theologically sound.

If you saw Rob, you’d see his guitar. He’s seldom without it. He refers to himself as ‘worship dude’ without implying there is anything whimsical about worship. He literally ministers worldwide encouraging and teaching people to worship the living God. Without a doubt, young people love Rob and he loves them. Rob radiates energy and enthusiasm. But, don’t mistake that for relentless ‘pedal to the metal’ living. In his busy world, Rob knows how to ‘steal away with Jesus’ (to borrow a phrase from one of Lincoln Tatem’s songs).

I commend Rob’s music because I’ve seen him practice what he sings. Let me give an example by sharing a short story…

Early in the last decade about 16 or 17 of us sat in a class under the guidance of The Rev. Dr. Greg Wilde. (Greg didn’t have all those titles then!) We took a short break. Rob took his guitar and sauntered outside to a bench in an enclave. He sat quietly and began to gently strum and sing. Phil English, Dave Pedde (guitar in tow), and Harlan Moore slipped in and began to improvise. What followed were palpable holy moments in a place that cried out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” In that place – time seemed to stop and a growing number who gathered round stood in silence stood in stillness. For those who were there, that time and place are forever etched in our minds and our lives. The musical giftings of those four guys was undeniable. But, what happened was the response of a loving God to the impulse of a loving servant – joined by others and we were all the better for it.

I liked Rob before; I’ve loved him ever since for I saw how his heart was tuned to God.

Click here… to preview tracks from Rob’s CD, What Words Can’t Say. You can easily download any track or order the complete CD. If you are interested in knowing more about Rob’s ministry go to

Thanks Rob for allowing God to use you to touch so many lives in such unique ways. Bless you bro’.

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