Don’t Ask?

Don't AskI grew up in an academic culture where we did not ask questions. It was not encouraged and it was not considered to be appropriate. In fact, asking questions was often viewed as a challenge to authority. So, most students didn’t want to take that risk.

I do believe it was part of the day in which we lived. Students were staging “sit in’s” and carrying signs like “Question Authority.” The kick back from the older generation was to try and shut all that down. So, many of us went through high school, college, and graduate school without asking a lot of questions. We just listened to what we were told, did our work, and received our diplomas. We learned, but I am convinced we did not learn as much as we could have. I am not blaming anyone. That’s just the way it was.

I am finding more and more that the very best learning takes place when students ask questions. It makes even more of a difference when teachers ask questions. Learning is accelerated. Consider how Christ engaged his students, even the curious and critical. It was the way of His ministry, even from the beginning. “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46).

Lectures will always have their place, but the greatest learning will take place in what follows. Welcome questions. Start asking questions. You may be surprised at what you learn.

A Tribute To Les Ollila

Les & Charlene

Today and tomorrow we will be celebrating the life and ministry of Les Ollila. While “Doc O” still has plenty of ministry left in him, this is an appropriate time to pause and say “thank you.” It will be impossible to accurately measure Doc O’s impact, but everywhere we turn we see the fruit of it—and all in the lives of people. Seventy years of life, fifty years of ministry, and thirty years at Northland. He has been, among many things, a pastor, evangelist, disciple-maker, college president, and chancellor. But we would probably best describe him as God’s servant…and our friend. And those are the titles he would naturally embrace.

More than titles though, I think of qualities. I would like to note one quality, that for me, stands out more than any other—humility. As a young man I found this quality so rare in a leader. I find it even more rare today. We have heard, “humility is the soil in which all of the other graces grow” (Andrew Murray). Total dependence upon God. This is how a life will flourish and bear lasting fruit. We also use the word “brokenness.” Brokenness is what happens when we really get a right view of God. There can be no other response. And when we respond in that way He changes us, fills us, and uses us. The world sees God. This is the kind of life we see in Les Ollila. It is why many of us came to Northland.

Thank you Doc O for living such an approachable life, and one that attracts us to Jesus.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

My Visit to Southeastern

This past week business took me to Raleigh, NC where I was able to spend some time with my good friends Ken and Kathy Coley. Ken is a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. I was also able to see my nephew Wesley Davey who is enrolled in a Ph.D. program there and who works in an office right across from Ken! Later in the day I was able to spend some time with Southeastern president, Danny Aiken.

It was my first time to be on the campus of Southeastern, but I have followed its history with great interest over the past couple of decades. Robert D. Crowley, my former pastor at Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, MD, was the chairman of the board during those “resurgence” years (late 80’s and early 90’s). Something happened at Southeastern that many said could never take place. But it did. While Pastor Crowley was always larger than life to me as a boy, he was also a mentor. After this visit I only admire him more.

During my time with Danny Aiken I saw that he is passionate about three things: theology, the church, and missions. These are the the things he likes to talk about. He gave me a copy of his recent book Ten Who Changed the World.

Russell Moore said, “Reading any page in this book can kindle a fire in your bones.” I just started it and it is already doing that in me.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Teach Them Responsibly

Here is a quote I recently came across:

Sadly, although our intentions are good, we leave kids without the tools to self-regulate. This is why the average college student is in touch with his or her mom or dad eleven times a day. Or why 80 percent of students plan to return home after college. They are unable to be autonomous adults. They usually want the autonomy, but they may not be ready for the responsibility. Once again, they’ve been overexposed to data but underexposed to real-life experiences. It’s all virtual—or artificial—maturity.

Read more from Tim Elmore in his book, Artificial Maturity.

Visiting with Rick Holland

This past weekend we had the opportunity to reconnect with our good friend Rick Holland who is now pastor of Mission Road Bible Church in Kansas City, Kansas. This is a healthy, vibrant, and growing church. Rick has also launched a location of The Expositor’s Seminary and plans to train young men in the context of local church ministry.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

JFK at Clearwater Christian College

I was with Jack and Cathy Klem this weekend at Clearwater Christian College. Jack follows Dick Stratton as the fifth president and was inaugurated on Friday. Over the last ten years we have felt a very strong connection and shared philosophy of ministry with Dick and the people at Clearwater. We have also shared a great love and respect for Jack over the years and are very excited to see him step into this role. His challenge at the end of the service made me want to stand up and shout. He reminded us all that our institutions are here to serve the church. Amen!

Starting Up!

Facebook was flooded on Monday with pictures of children heading off to their first day of school. I loved seeing these smiling faces and watching many of our young families grow up!

We too, are off and running with our fall semester here at Northland. The campus looks better than ever and a totally renovated dining hall has been a big hit with everyone. Thank you to our students who led the charge with Campus Cause 2011 and helped raise the $350,000 needed to get the job done.

Wednesday we begin our Impact Groups – a small group approach that will serve as a catalyst for discipleship and an intentional plan to “Be One. Make Many.” These small groups will consist of faculty and students and will be focused on four primary objectives: spiritual growth, community, ministry, and accountability.

We plan to study through the book of Galatians over the course of the year with the theme “Called to be free.” Each week (Monday or Tuesday) a Bible faculty member will lay a foundation for the study by preaching on a section from this epistle.

Wednesday morning at 10:00 am, I will have eight guys meeting with me. I am really excited about spending time with them over the course of the year and growing together.

You’re Not Special

On a trip this past week I picked up Time Magazine and read an article about David McCullough, Jr. and the high school commencement address he gave, “You’re Not Special.” While probably writing and speaking from a secular point of view, this teacher has identified the condition of this generation. You can read the address at the MyFoxBoston website and view some commentary on it at the Time site.

If this address resonates with you, you might also enjoy Tim Elmore’s book, Generation iY, which is from a Christian point of view. While pointing out a number of positive qualities, he describes the “iY Generation” as; overwhelmed, over-connected, over-protected, and over-served.

If we want to help the next generation to grow up to love Christ and serve Him through the church is is becoming increasingly important that we understand them.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Around the Web (May 20—25)

Desiring God | How to Thrive in College

“College should be a temporary season of academic preparation and personal growth to propel a lifetime of effective service to God and neighbor. It should be a launching pad into all that goes with responsible Christian adulthood. Yet for some it’s a time when they abandon the Christian faith, displaying that they never really belonged to Christ (1 John 2:19).”

Practical Shepherding | What are 10 Practical Ways to Love and Serve Your Wife?

Brian Croft at Practical Shepherding had this to say in his post this week, “Husbands, here is some very practical advice on ways to communicate love to your wife.  This is what I shared at the men’s luncheon on Monday at the Berean Baptist Church Marriage Conference and we had a great discussion about them.  Use them as a template to know how to best make your wife feel loved and cherished by you.”

Kevin DeYoung | How to Start at Your New Church

So what should I do when I start attending a new church? DeYoung gives you a list of seven items.

Kevin DeYoung | How to Leave Your Old Church

This is a follow up to the previous post of “How to Start at Your New Church.” Again, an excellent list of seven items.

Announcement from Northland!

Dear Friends:

We are looking forward to a special livecast event which will be taking place on Friday, May 4th. Mark your calendars and plan to join us at 10:00 a.m. CST via for several exciting announcements concerning Northland’s plans for continuing to effectively prepare servant-leaders for Great Commission living.

At Northland, we desire to continually assess our discipleship and student development methods in order to continuously equip students to utilize their unique gifts and talents to bring the truth of the Gospel around the world for the glory of God within the complex landscape of the twenty-first century. We are excited about the Lord’s leading concerning the future of our university and eagerly anticipate sharing this news with you.


I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.