Solus Christus Sola Scriptura Sola Gratia Sola Fide Soli Deo Gloria Solus Christus Sola Scriptura Sola Gratia Sola Fide Soli Deo Gloria Solus Christus Sola Scriptura Sola Gratia Sola Fide Soli Deo Gloria Christ Alone Scripture Alone Grace Alone Faith Alone Glory to God Alone Christ Alone Scripture Alone Grace Alone Faith Alone Glory to God Alone Christ Alone Scripture Alone Grace Alone Faith Alone Glory to God Alone

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

As 2006 comes to a close, I'm sitting here thinking about 2007 and the future. This upcoming year is one in which I want to get closer to my Lord, my wife and my children.

I know that Jesus gives us all new starts and is gracious and merciful to us, but for some reason we only think that this is possible or only happens during New Year Day.

One of the most popular resolutions during this time of year is to lose weight. I've heard a statistic that in January, gym memberships are among their highest, but by summer, the parking lots are all but empty. Meaningful ideas that we start out with under our own power often fall short. I want to mention one thing that you can resolve to do that won't. Give or rededicate you life to Jesus. It will succeed because it will be something done under His power. It doesn't depend on our wilpower to be effective. That is the beauty of it!

So, if you haven't already done so, come to the tree and open the best gift of all; the one of eternal life.

For those of you who have languishing gym memberships, remember God is a God of second chances. If you are really looking to make a New Year's Resolution, make a commitment to God to be faithful and obedient to Him and for His glory.

Have a blessed new year!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Reflections of Christmas

I hope that everyone had a great and blessed Christmas! I know that we did. I just love spending time with my family and the holidays give us such an incredible opportunity to take advantage of that.

I wanted to mention some books that I received, not for the sake of their importance, but for the sake of edification and education. In addition to the books, I received some really cool clothes and radio from my wife. My kids made awesome personalized ceramic tiles in school that were meant to be used to coasters, but I can't bring myself to set anything on them :)

I haven't read these books yet (since I just received them), but have heard a lot about them and have read innumerable reviews to know that they are a valuable resource, not just to someone aspiring to a become a preacher, but to any Christian who is serious in his or her walk with the Lord.

Anyway, these books are The 21st Century Pastor, Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God and The Reformed Pastor. The following are reviews for them from's website.

The 21st-Century by David C. Fisher
In the 21st Century Pastor, David Fisher explores the apostle Paul's concept of ministry to offer a paradigm that is both biblical and relevant. Paul's view is fleshed out with examples from Fisher's own twenty-five years of pastoral experience, presenting a roadmap for today's pastor that is scholarly, practical, dynamic, and inspiring. The 21st Century Pastor first addressees crucial issues of pastoral identity, the significance of geography, time, and ecclesiology. It then explores Paul's metaphors for ministry (jars of clay, farmers and builders, servants and stewards, and others) to reveal an accurate portrait of an effective, biblical pastor--the kind who will speak to the heart of modern culture rather than languish on its fringes. Filling the rare role of a pastor to pastors, Fisher's sage insights help pastors answer their own identity questions, empowering them to minister to a deeply needy society. Says Fisher, "Pastors who know what time it is will, in the name and power of God, create communities of faith where the values of the Gospel are embraced, taught, and lived out."

Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God by J. I. Packer
In Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer reveals that a faulty understanding of the Bible leads to the assessment that these doctrines are foes rather than friends. By debunking the erroneous view that "robust faith in the absolute sovereignty of God is bound to undermine any adequate sense of human responsibility" toward evangelism, the author adeptly moves through the obstacle course of tricky theology with ease and grace, allowing the reader a more complete understanding of the mystery of salvation. Packer manages to tackle an overwhelming piece of doctrinal truth and contain it within the subject of evangelism by concisely determining what evangelism is and what it is not. "It is our widespread and persistent habit of defining evangelism in terms, not of a message delivered, but of an effect produced in our hearers." This error is corrected when one is renewed in his or her knowledge of the sovereignty of God. Of course, fault is found on the other side as well, with those who so heavily rely on God's sovereignty to save the lost that they are lazy in obeying God's command to share the Gospel. Packer insists that love for God, at the very least, should draw one out of this stagnation and that the coupling of these seemingly diabolical doctrines will make one bold in speech, patient in God's timing, and prayerful for the salvation of others.

The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter

Baxter's time was not too unlike our own. Despite there being a large theological agreement that there must be discipline within the Church, very few leaders in the church are willing to carry it out. Baxter reminds us, and convincingly so, that we must do so for not only the good of the soul of the individual, but for the rest of the Church, and even ourselves. Most of the book rotates around the subject of discipline in the pastoral ministry. It also contains many other details concerning the ministry that would be good for any aspiring, or current pastor to read.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Glory to God in the highest for His wonderful gift of our Saviour! I pray that everyone stops for a moment to reflect on this beautiful gift of life that our loving God had provided.

Jesus' Birth in Bethlehem (from Luke, Chapter 2)

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

"This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve Service

This morning, we had an incredible Christmas service. It involved traditional carols as well as a complete presentation of the birth of Jesus tied into the Gospel message.

Sometimes during the holiday season, I think that some pastors or churches present the "Chirstmas message", but are guilty of not presenting the message of hope or the reason for Christ's birth that accompanies it.

Statistics tell us that Christmas and Easter are the two greatest times when unbelievers visit a church. This could be due to a child or grandchild in a play or simply due to tradition. I remember that my parents, who were non practicing Roman Catholics would make sure that we went to Easter and Christmas service at the church. It seemed that God was OK with us not attending the rest of the year if we could just make it on the big two.

Anyway, I digress. Our pastor's message was rich with the hope and joy of the message of Christ's birth, but was as equally balanced with the reason for the need of a Saviour.

Well done, Brother Pat!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

P.E.A.C.E. on Earth?

I recently read an article in Christianity Today that included an interview with Rick Warren . I was interested in it because it referrenced the upcoming Saddleback Christmas special, "The Purpose of Christmas with Rick Warren." In sifting through the content, I came across the question...

What's the text you're going to be preaching on during
Christmas services?

Rick Warren's answer was...

This year, I'm going to preach on the purpose of Christmas. The three purposes of Christmas are in the three statements that the angel made at the very first Christmas.

First, he said, "Fear not for I bring you good news of great joy." Then he said, "For unto you is born this day a Savior who is Christ the Lord." Then he said, "And peace on earth, goodwill toward men."

Now that's the three purposes of Christmas. The first purpose is celebration, the second purpose is salvation, and the third purpose is reconciliation. At the end, I'm actually going to talk about the PEACE plan and how to keep Christmas going all year—just do the 5 things Jesus did.

There's peace of God and there's peace with God and then there's peace with Man, once you have the first two.

Hmm... it'll be interesting to see how this plays out, but the all-inclusive P.E.A.C.E plan sends up a red flag for me.

Twelve Reasons for Christmas

In church last Wednesday, one of our pastors passed out a 1/2 page flyer on the 12 Reasons for Christmas. I think that it's helps people (myself included) to look beyond the "child in the manger" to comprehend the fullness and totality of what that night really meant.

It's from John Piper's Desiring God website and is pretty cool, so I wanted to post it here.

Twelve Reasons for Christmas
By John Piper December 25, 2002

1. "For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth." (John 18:37)

2. "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:8; cf. Hebrews 2:14-15)

3. "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17)

4. "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10)

5. "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)

6. "God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:5)

7. "For God so loved the world that whoever believes on him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:16).

8. "God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him." (1 John 4:9; cf. John 10:10).

9. "The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15).

10. "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against . . . that the thoughts of many may be revealed" (Luke 2:34f).

11. "He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed." (Luke 4:18)

12. "Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy." (Romans 15:7-8; cf. John 12:27f).

© Desiring God

Friday, December 22, 2006

Il est ne, le divin Enfant!

"What's that?," you say. It's a traditional French Christmas Carol that I learned in High School. Yes, I took French and yes we were "allowed" to sing songs about Jesus.

For some reason, this song pops into my head at Christmas time. It's very catchy (OK, you'll have to trust me:) )

The chorus goes:

Il est ne, le divin Enfant,
Jouez, hautbois, resonnez, musettes;
Il est ne, le divin Enfant;
Chantons tous son avenement!

Translated, it means:

He is born, the divine Christ Child.
Greet Him with gaily resounding pipe and drum.
He is born, the divine Christ Child.
Join in song, for the Lord has come.

What a glorious thing it is to think upon the graciousness of our Holy God and of His love and mercy for us that He would condescend to be born in a lowly manger and give His life as a ransom for our sins.

Happy Birthday, Jesus and thank you for your love!

These Are The People In Your Neighborhood

From what I've been reading, it looks like the current Small Group model is having some problems. As a result PD churches are now turning to "neighborhood small groups"

Before, I continue, I would like to say that we used to be involved with a small group for some time, but now I teach adult Sunday School at our church. I love the concept of getting to know a group of believers and "doing life" with them. Heck, our class motto is "Doing Life Together, Not Just Church". We laugh together, cry together, go to birthday parties and baby showers, etc.

One other thing that we also do is learn together. We are a Sunday School class and we have biblically based lessons, not topical conversations based upon the general consensus of "truth". The Bible is the final authority, period.

OK, I'm off my soapbox, but with that being said, here is why they have problems:

Time - In church, there are set times. People that are there are people that can generally be there "at that time" to meet. Outside of church, not everyone gets off work at the same time; then there is extracurricular activities and travel leading people to generally have a group meet at 7:00 or so at night. If a group meets for 2 hours (1 for study and 1 for fellowship), as it gets later, children get fussier, still have to have baths, do homework, etc.

Granted can be made to work during Friday or Saturday evenings or Saturday or Sunday afternoons, but even then, there are the other factors mentioned below.

- When we had a small group, we had 20 people with 20 kids. Where can that size of group meet? Our houses were swamped, families rushed to clean house before and after meetings and were left tired after "hosting".

- This is actually a combination of things. In drawing people from a large church into a small group environment, people come from all over the city.

Does the small group rotate from member's house to member's house?
Do they live at opposite sides of the town?

A comment from Evanston Vineyard Pastors Blog says a lot...

But think about when the average housegroup takes place: about 7:30 at night, right around when kids need to go to bed. Unless you’re holding a sleeping baby, only one parent can make it to a housegroup with any consistency, while the other one watches the kids. So on a typical night, one or both parents come home from work about 5-6 p.m., dinner is made and served, dishes need to be done and kids need help with homework, and if you have any outside of family hobbies or interests, the only time to pursue them outside of the house is after dinner, and little kids seem to not like their parents being gone several nights a week before they go to bed. Whew!

Who has time for a housegroup where you can’t bring your kids? When would you have a housegroup where you could bring the kids? Not on Saturday afternoon, which is often the only time the whole family can do things together. Not on Sunday afternoon; you already had church in the morning and any errands you didn’t get done on Saturday have to get done.

My two year old is on my lap as I’m writing…our kids like to have us around, go figure. The only way they would tolerate (by tolerate I mean not be in tears when we left) an average housegroup (starting at 7:30 p.m.) was if it were at our house after they went to bed…which for us means ensuring a clean house, having a late night of clean up, nothing loud (no singing!) so they could sleep, and kicking people out at a certain time so we could get to bed to be ready for work (I get up at 4:30 a.m.) and for school (Cindy gets up at 6:00 to get our daughter ready). It’s too much.

A quick word about babysitters: They cost at the very bottom end $5 and hour. So a night with a sitter will cost you $15-20. That’s $45-60 a month for three housegroups. For us, especially when we hardly have any dates as it is, it’s a lot of money.

What we end up doing is what it seems all parents of small kids end up doing wherever we have been going to church: We get together on our own with other parents of small kids, on an irregular basis, with our kids, sometimes the whole family, sometimes just one parent and the kids. We hope the kids play togteher so the grownups can talk. Or we call each other on the phone in hushed tones at night, usually after a few nights of phone tag, and talk and pray together. We email a lot. We DON’T talk at church, which is too crazy. But we do many of the things Steve mentioned above, like celebrate (usually kid) birthdays (or marriage anniversaries!), go on family-oriented outings, eat together.

The answer to this is forming Small Groups amongst the people that are already close to you; the ones in your neighborhood. This brings a whole new set of things to be delt with that I'll discuss in a later post.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

U2 can go to our church

No, I'm not text messaging. This past Sunday, our "worship" team led the congregation in "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", a U2 song. When it was sung, something didn't seem right in my spirit. In reviewing the lyrics and taking into account the lives that Bono and U2 lead, although several of their songs are "spiritual" in nature, they don’t glorify our holy God in the least.

It seemed out of place to have a secular song with it's worldly undertones, being used for a message of hope for the world.

Our worship team usually does an awesome job in leading us into the presence of the Lord. It's the highlight of Sunday for us, but this was disconcerting to say the least.

For those not familiar with the words, here they are...

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
Well yes I'm still running

You broke the bonds and you
Loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Of my shame
You know I believed it

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I wrote an email to our worship pastor about it and am awaiting his response.

Passion for service cannot take the place of passion for truth

The fact that we are overrunning ourselves seems to be a very present issue that the church is currently facing. We gather people, connect them in community and live life, but are we missing one VERY IMPORTANT aspect of all of this? We help out, are there for each other, etc., but how are we doing on God's report card when we look at our passion for Him, His Word and Truth?

I'm not saying that we should not be concerned with people, by no means. Jesus died for us. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves, but are we more concerned with the business of "God's kingdom" and not concerned enough with God Himself?

Benjamin Warfield said, "The grounds of religion must be taught and learned as truly as the grounds of anything else. Let us make no mistake here. Religion does not come of itself; it is always a matter of instruction. The emotions of the heart, in which many seem to think religion is too exclusively to consist, always follow the movements of thought. Passion for service cannot take the place of passion for truth, or safely outrun the acquisition of truth, for it is dreadfully possible to navigate sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, to find we have made him only a "son of hell".

This is why God establishes and extends his Church by the ordinance of preaching; it is why we have Sunday schools and Bible classes. This is why God has grounded his church in revelation. He does not content Himself with sending His Spirit into the world to turn men to Him. He sends His Word into the world as well. Because it is from knowledge of the truth, and only from the knowledge of the truth, that under the quickening influence of the Spirit true religion can be born."

From: The Chief End of Man (book intro, 19th century)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Following God

I recently came across a blog post that talked about the way to be a Christian is to leave the flesh and the world behind. The article talked about entertaining practices of some churches to make church seem more relevant, especially to younger people who may view "traditional" church as lame.

The article has well said that "In these churches, Christ doesn't call us to die to ourselves and the flesh, he comes to make the flesh happy. There is no call to a holy life through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is not a movement that produces martyrs."

Last night I was reading a little through Foxe's Book of Martyrs and in reading through some of the persecutions that those saints of God went through, I wondered where people like these are today. It made me think, "Would I have the courage and conviction to stay true to my beliefs when faced with uncertain and unexplainable persecution and death?" I pray that the Lord would keep me strong enough in the faith and in Him to glorify Him should I ever be in a similar situation.

But I digress a bit...

Is this the generation that we are raising in church?
Is this the generation that we are?

...if not, we need to be.

There's an old song that goes like this...

I'll go with God and leave the world behind,
I'll go with God, in Him all things I find.
I've made my choice, His will I must obey,
I'll go with God and walk the narrow way.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our God is very merciful and gracious. I am glad that this time of year exists so that we have a special time of reflection on His many blessings.

May we all take time out of the hustle and bustle of "gearing up for Christmas" and give thanks to our Lord for His many blessings.

Monday, November 06, 2006

"Let Him Who Is Without Sin" and other things

In thinking about what Ted Haggard did, I have to admit that I was dismayed that Christians may get another black eye from this.

I was reading what Ted Haggard's son, Marcus, who is also a pastor said in an article regarding his dad's predicament.

"The world is watching," he said. "That, my friends, is opportunity. To demonstrate what our love is like."

Later, he added: "Let's not get caught up thinking about ourselves. Let's take the time to heal. But let's remember we're still serving God," he said. "We're still the light. None of that has shifted or changed."

I'd like to add that sin is sin. I think that a lot of people make homosexuality out to be the biggest or unforgivable sin. That simply isn't the case. All people sin, even Christians because we aren't perfect yet. Just because one's sin may be more public than another's doesn't necessarily make it worse, just more viewable.

Did it hurt his effectiveness as a witness? Yes.
Did it affect the church where he pastored? Yes.
Did it hurt the cause of Christ? Yes.
Does Ted Haggard deserve forgiveness? If he's sincere and repentant, yes.

He is a brother in need. He needs time to heal. He needs time with the Lord, but then again, don't we all.

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone..."

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sin Is Lawlessness

I was listening to this sermon by Paul Washer. He is a preacher and the General Director for HeartCry Missionary Society He was talking about people who love the world compared to people who love Jesus.

He was saying...

"You have not sinned against an inferior prince. You have not sinned against a small mayor from a small village; you have sinned against the Lord of glory, the King of Kings, the Lord of lords. You know not what you've done."

"Imagine this... Here stands God on the day of creation. He looks at stars that could swallow up a thousand of our suns. He looks at them and He says, "All of you stars, move yourself to this place and start in this order and move in a circle and move exactly as I tell you until I give you another word." and they all obey Him.

He says, "Planets, pick yourself up and whirl. Make this formation at my command until I give you another word."

He looks at mountains and He says, "Be lifted up." and they obey Him.

He tells valleys, "Be cast down." and they obey Him.

He looks at the sea and says, "You will come this far." and the sea obeys... and then He looks at you and says, "Come." and you say, "No!"

Look at the horrid wretchedness of sin. The vulgarity. The prostitution of sin. It is a horrid thing, not something to be triffeled with. It is a beast and it is waiting at the door and it's desire is to have you.

Anyone who practices sin practices outright, open, clentched-fisted rebellion against the Lord of glory.

What do you think about most? ...because that's what you love."

Amen and amen! What a powerful statement about the condition of peoples hearts. I pray that the Holy Spirit would draw people to a true relationship with Jesus and that we would stop playing Christian.

Harvest Time

In thinking about this time of the year, the Lord impressed on my heart something very common; something that I see everyday. I live near cornfields; acres of corn.

A month ago, while driving I looked out my window to admire God's creation. The fields were green and lush and although they were interesting to look at, I wouldn't pay too much attention to them. Over the past month however, the crop started to turn brown. While driving to work last week, I saw people in the fields and equipment harvesting the corn. It was really interesting watching this all happen. Today while driving by, I noticed that the people and equipment were gone. The corn was gathered and taken to be used. I stopped and looked. In looking at the fields, though, I saw that in their haste that there was some corn that was still left on the stalks.

This whole process made me think about fall and this time of year and about God's kingdom. How many people are out there that are ready for us to invest in? Luke 10:2 says "The harvest is plenty, but laborers are few, beg the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers."

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness month and as I reflect on the people that I know who were and are affected by it, it seems to bring a deeper urgency to the harvest. There are people like our mothers, wives, sisters, friends and neighbors who need us and depend on us being faithful to God's call. During this harvest time, I pray that we will be open to the Lord's leading in our lives to invest in the lives of others. Please pray for the workers and for the people that they will touch and let's not leave anyone in the fields.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

U B Hot or U B Cold

While sitting in traffic on my way to work, I looked out of my window to some cars that were to the left of me. One of them caught my eye. It said "UB Hot or UB Cold, Rev. 3:15" This immediately caught my attention, because I had previously been telling a close friend of mine who is going away to Bible college that I was feeling lukewarm and that I didn't like feeling that was, because I know what God says about the lukewarm.

My friend said that he would pray that God would "fan the flame" in me.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I've always had wings, now I'm finally ready to fly

While I'm writing this post, I'm within my final two weeks at my current job. While on hold with a support center, a song was playing on the radio that talked about leaving and flying and it reminded me about something that my boss had said. He mentioned that when I had earlier talked about leaving that it would probably be good for me; that it would give me a chance to spread my wings a little. I found the song (it was by Richard Marx, BTW) very apropos while sitting here reflecting on my departure.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Discipline and Staying the Course

Well, it's been a while since my last post, hence the topic :) I was originally going to call it "Consistency", but opted for "Discipline". This is because I realized that I was consistent... Consistently not posting regularly.

Anyway, this morning, as I was driving to work at 4am (yes, 4am!), I felt the Lord impressing on my heart the need for discipline in my life. I need to be open to His discipline regarding my calling and my walk with Him.

Mark W. McCloskey, in an article on ministry preparation says, "The call of God draws from us our highest and best contribution. Our calling is our North Star. It is not so much a destination as it is a point by which we set the compass of our lives."

This made me reflect on my ministry path. In order to reflect, one has to do a few things:

1. Stop what you are doing.
2. Remember from where you started.
3. Look around at where you are.
4. Review where you are supposed to be going.
5. Make neccessary adjustments.

In doing these things, it was apparent that while I had the "North Star" in my mind, it wasn't at the set point of my compass recently. That being said, I repented of the time wasted in my calling. I started thinking, of all of the things that God could've been using me for during that time. I was then comforted. The Holy Spirit impressed on me that while I shouldn't trivialize my repentance, my contrite heart had served it's purpose and that I shouldn't dwell on the issue in that I shouldn't give Satan any leeway by having a pity party for myself. I need to focus on God and His awesome mercy and love.

So, with the course laid in, we're off...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Alliteration and the big "D"

DaVinci Deception... DaVinci Delusion... Whatever you call it, it's been the talk of the Christian and secular communities for a while now. Of course, I'm talking about the new movie, The DaVinci Code.

I believe that the movie provides Christians with the opportunity to engage the culture. This movie is going to have people thinking, questioning and seeking after the truth.

I think that some people are afraid that Christianity won't stand up to the test of scrutiny. It will. There have been many people who have tried to discredit the Bible and Jesus. The Bible is 100% correct, 100% accurate and Jesus is 100% God, Lord and Saviour!

Back to the search for truth... it's an age old issue. Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?"

The quick and easy answer is found in John 14:6 " Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (NASB) Amen!

This book and movie can be used as a great witnessing tool. The key is to know what you believe and why.

Friday, April 28, 2006

God's Will

Today at work, a Christian friend of mine came up to me and stopped me in the hall. He said, "God placed you on my heart. What's going on?"

He said that he had to tell me about a series that he heard on 1300am and proceeded to tell me about making righteous decisions and that it's important to rely on God's will and not my own. That I shouldn't try to make things happenbecause if it's God will, He will remove the obstacles.

I was floored! God really got my attention through this guy. It's at times like this that God seems so real. I think that often we (well, I speak for myself) take God for granted. I mean that I know that He's there, but when something like this happens, it really solidifies that god is actively involved in my life.

We talked for a bit and I told him that he was a real blessing to me.

God is awesome!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Application of scripture

If you recall, we looked at the idea that "great observation leads to good interpretation." Expanding on that, "great observation leads to good interpretation which leads to proper application"; which is what we are going to be discussing here.

Remember, the goal of Bible study is obedience, not knowledge. The pharisees had knowledge, but no obedience.

It's vital that as one in a ministerial position that you "observe" scripture often.

Let's look at application. How do you know what you're supposed to do with the passage that you read? You need to apply 9 questions to them.

1. Is there an example to follow?

Keep in mind that there is 1 correct interpretation, but there are many applications of the text. That's how differrent preachers can read the same passage, but preach on different topics.

2. Is there a sin to avoid?

3. Is there a promise to claim?

For example, in Nehemiah 1:8-9, Nehemiah is speaking and is recfalling the Word of God given to Moses. If you follow God, you receive blessing; if not, you receive discipline. We'll look more at conditions in a bit.

Neh 1:8 "Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples;
Neh 1:9 but {if} you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.'

Remember, that if God gives you a promise, He is always faithful.

4. Is there a prayer to repeat?

By this, I do not mean repeat the words verbatim. I mean that the prayers uttered are to be used as models to follow.

Prayers generally follow the A.C.T.S. model, which is a simple mnemonic device to help us remember the four basic elements of prayer.

A = Adoration:

We put aside all our thoughts and troubles and come into the presence of God.It is a time for "turning our heart home...," a pause in our activities to focus on God, and God alone.

For many this is a time of praise for all the glory of God revealed around us. For others it is a time of quiet listening, putting all other thoughts aside and seeking a clear focus of our love for God.

It is a time to put things in perspective, to remember "who we are and whose we are." It sets the stage for all that is to follow.

C = Confession:

This is the time for truth telling. Even as we know God is aware of all our faults and failures, it is important to let God know that WE are aware of them as well.

Too often we can hide and deny the places that hold the most pain. Too often the world rushes us on and we allow situations to fester.

Truth telling involves honest appraisal both of the good and the bad in our life. It is a time to speak to God with the deepest trust that these circumstances need attention, healing and resolution.

Often this honesty needs to be spoken aloud, shared with a trusted friend or spiritual director for in the speaking, insight often comes.

Being honest before God may lead us into some painful realization as to our need for seeking help, reconciliation or guidance.

Such Honesty is the most direct and powerful way to resolve the situations of our life.

T = Thanksgiving:

In the context of adoration and with ourselves being very honest before God, we are then able to give thanks.

We "count our blessings" as we recognize all that God has done for us. From the smallest gift of a flower blooming on a concrete sidewalk, to the awesome love of God in the Grace and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ... we give thanks.

We give thanks for the food we have, the shelter provided, the family and friends, the church family and its support.

We give thanks for hope and healing, claiming all that God has promised to us. We give thanks for the opportunity to be in prayer, to speak with the everlasting God of creation.

We give thanks for the opportunity to worship in freedom, and without coercion. We give thanks for love, and for our Lord.

S = Supplication

Supplication is simply the sharing of our needs. They are different than our wants and desires. God has promised to care for our needs.

We may recognize the shallowness of some of our desires. We may uncover a deeper need long ago buried. We may discover God has placed in our life new solutions and answers to our prayers.

As we go over our concerns for others, we may be given insights into how best to minister to others. At times, names may come to us "out of the blue." And perhaps a phone call is needed, a card, or a visit or a deep word of prayer for them.

God has a way of using our supplications to become occasions for our own growth in our spiritual journey. We are often confronted with actions and opportunities which, if followed through, enrich us greatly.

ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

As you begin, go through the letters, first with A (adoration), pause and consider how great God is. Then after a few moments, move on to C (confession), and do the same. Then move on to T (thanksgiving) and end with S (supplication.)

Examples of prayers include Jesus' in John 17 and David's confession in Psalm 51.

5. Is there a direct command for me to obey?
There are commands all through the Bible. The book of james has 54 different commands in it. It's also a great book to read if you;re stumped for a book for Bible study.

Try to think of a few commands off the top of your head right now.

How about...
  • The 10 commandments
  • Mark 12:30 - "and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with allyour soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."
6. Is there a condition to meet?
We touched on this in #3. Looking at John 15:7, we read... " "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."

In observing this, we learn that there are several parts.

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you," then you can "ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."

7. Is there a verse to memorize?

Memorization is vital to spiritual growth and for meditation on the Word. YOu can;t meditate unless you memorize. Conversely, you can't memorize unless you meditate.

8. Is there an error in my belief?

Here is again a very good reason to plant scripture in your heart.

9. Is there a challenge to face?

You might not use all of these, but you certainly will use at least one in you application.

The key is spending time in God's Word. If you're not spending time in the Word, you're not going to have anything to say to people.

At the end of class, Kyle challenged those of us who are not involved in a ministry area dealing with people to do so.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

First comes God, then comes marriage...

Well, it sounds a little like that old children's poem, except God comes first :)

Anyway, this posting is the result of my wonderful wife and I going to see the Minister of Marriage and Family Enrichment at our church. No, nothing's wrong. We just wanted to make sure that we're keeping everything in it's proper perspective and seek advice to help us grow as a couple.

Balancing the stress and pressures of work, homelife, kids, Sunday school class and my calling to ministry can be a very difficult job. Diana and I talked to Rodney about life, separating ministry from our daily lifes and how to, for lack of a better term, disconnect the two.

Rodney told us that we have to be able to be compassionate, while at the same time being able to "leave it at the door". Making the time for our spouses is of vital importance as is the ability to be able to "not be all things to all people" and to gently let people know where your priorities are.

He said that Jesus set a good example for us. He accomplished what God had intended for Him to do. He retreated from the crowds and spent time alone with God as well as a few close disciples.

God needs to come first in our marriage, then our spouses, then children, then ministry and others.

It's getting late, so I'm not sure if this is sounding like it should. I may have to edit it in the morning.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bible Study - Introduction

This is a Bible... Ok, just kidding. Here is what we covered in the introduction to Bible Study.

Why People Don't Study The Bible

"I need something that works."
"I don't know how to study."
"I'm just a layman."
"I just don't have the time."
"I have my doubts about the Bible."
"I can't seemto make it interesting."

Question: What is your excuse?

Why Study the Bible

  • To grow
  • For Spiritual maturity
  • For Spiritual effectiveness

How This Book Can Help

What to expect:

Proven success

  • Proven success
  • Self confidence in your ability
  • Joy of personal discovery
  • Deepen your relationship with God

Cost - Ok, so what does this cost me?

  • Effort - It's going to take work to do this
  • Openness to God
  • Openness to change
  • Getting started - This is usually the hardest part.

Overview of the Process

The process is...

  • Observation - Great observation leads to good...
  • Interpretation - Interpretation leads to...
  • Application

We were then given an assignment for next class to observe Acts 1:8 and write down as many questions as we can about it.

Monday, March 27, 2006

In everything give thanks

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says "in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." and that is what I choose to do right now. It's now past 4:30 in the morning and I have been working for more than 15 hours straight. I'm not kidding. Look at the post time :)

That's odd, you might say. What is even more odd (well, odd really isn't the right word for it) is the incredible sense of peace and contentment that the Lord has given me during this time. It's very "normal" for me to feel grumpy and upset, yet the Lord has given me a peace and contentment during this entire emergency at work.

God is truly an awesome God! Praise His holy name!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Second Ministry Class

These are my notes from the second ministry leadership class.

Kyle recommended getting The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I've gotten it and have begun reading it. It's very good. (more on this later)

Be open for God to change what you are doing. Be willing to say "I will go where you want me to go." to God because people have seasons of ministry and spiritual assessments can change.

Also, know that you don't get to choose the gifts if the Spirit. The Holy Spirit can remove or add gifts as He sees fit. Where God places you and can move you where your gifts are needed.

Realize that God has gifted you and that you are responsible to exercise that gift - now!

The roll of the staff
The roll of the staff is to equip you, to help you understand and to help you plug in to ministry.

Ephesians 4:11-13 says, "11And He gave some {as} apostles, and some {as} prophets, and some {as} evangelists, and some {as} pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

As you grow, you serve more. Remember, "te more you serve, the more you grow. The more you grow, the more you serve."

As you get closer to becoming a pastor, the Holy Spirit will raise the gifts of leadership, prophecy and shepherding.

Just-in-time leadership
The Lord gives us knowledge to share it with others. What you learn needs to be passed on. Find some one in your circle of influence and impart what you are learning here. Pray and ask God who YOU need to be investing in.

Weaknesses in ministry
A question came up about taking on all of the responsibilities for all of the areas, especially areas that you are not gifted in. The answer to that is to find someone to come along side of you who is gifted in that "weak" area. You may still have to perform some of the tasks, but let others keep the details. We need to concentrate on building our strengths.

The next class is going to be looking at gifts, experiences, etc. using the acrostic of S.H.A.P.E.

For this week, we looked at the"S" which is Spiritual gifts. If you haven't already, you need to take a Spiritual Gifts Test or Assessment, so you'll know what your Spiritual gifts are. Think of these gifts are the boundries or edges of a puzzle. They frame what we'll be'll be blogging. The details, which fill in the middle portion come from our passions, personalities, gifts and experiences. These will be covered in more detail in my next post.

First Ministry Class

The first class was an incredible experience in seeing the "behind the scenes" stuff of ministry. This class actually took place on January 29, 2006, but I'm posting it it here to help others who may be studying for ministry as well.

Today Kyle talked about the need for this class in equipping the saints. He said that it's been about a year and a half in the making. If all goes according to plan, it'll be a 12 week class.

Some of the notes/highlights are as follows:

You don't need to know where you are going. God doesn;t reveal the whole path at once.
As a leader, you have to set the expectations

There are 5 expectations. (These are between you and God)

1. Be involved in worship. This is the vertical connection. Come worship, grow and bring someone. Sunday mornings are more for visitors, while Wednesday evenings are more for feeding the flock.

2. Be involved in a small group or Sunday school class. This is the horizontal connection

3. Be involved in service. "The more you serve, the more you grow. The more you grow, the more you serve."

Every believer has two aspects of service:

    - Ministry - All believers have a ministry in which they serve the body.
    - Mission - All believers should be involved in reaching out to the unsaved.

4. Investing in an unbeliever.

5. Actively tithe. Matthew 6:19-20 says that where your treasure is, your heart will be also.

Personal testimony
As Christians, we should be prepared to give our testimony anytime, anyplace, within a 2 minute time period. The reason for the time constraint is that 2 minutes is usually the amount of time that you have to talk to someone when your in line at the grocery store, etc. You can always share deeper details of your conversion later.

Your testimony should include:

1. What your life was like pefore Christ
2. How you came to know that you needed Him
3. What led to your submission to Him
4. What your life is like after you accepted Christ

As you share, the Holy Spirit will minister to the person that you are speaking to.

Types of call
There are two types of call:

1. General call - This is a "whosover will" call when you come to know Jesus.
2. Specific call - This is a call to ministry. If the Holy Spirit called you, he called you before you were born.

The farther that you run, the more difficult it will be to resist the will and call of God.

The call to ministry is irrevocable. This is an awesome thought. Kyle said that sometimes all you have to go back to when things are falling apart is your calling so, be able to talk about your specific calling.

Romans 11:29 says that "for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." be in the middle of His call no matter what.

Final thoughts
God has called you into ministry. Start serving Him now. You are not in ministry when you have a paid position in a church. You are in ministry now.

Acts 16:10 says that "When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them." (emphasis mine)

Read Ephesians 4, especially verses 11-13 and think about what you feel that God has called you to do.

It's time for a post

Wow... has it really been that long since I've posted here? Well, I guess I need to be more diligent at writing something.

I've also decided to put some of the notes/things that I've learning while going through ministry leadership class. "What's that?," you ask. Good question. It's a class that FBC is offering for people who feel called to vocational ministry. It's led by the associate pastor, Kyle Goen. It's really awesome in that we are learning practical things that one wonders about ministry.

Well, that's about all for now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Not a creature was stirring.... except the baby.

On the homefront: I was up for some of the night taking care of my youngest daughter, who has the flu. Poor thing work up at 2am feeling miserable, so we stayed on the couch for a bit, with her finally going to bed at 5am. That makes 3 people now with the flu; my wife, youngest son and youngest daughter. On a positive note, it did provide us (the kids and myself) a chance to pray for the sick family members as part of our evening prayers.

On the ministry front: I had a really cool mentoring session last night with another gentleman that also feels the call to ministry. He is passionate for God and is seeking after His will for his life, but due to his work situation, cannot attend ministry class with me Sunday mornings.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hey Everyone!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today started of really nicely. I had a good quite time with God, then Diana and I exchanged cards and chocolate hearts...yum. (Hey, guys can like chocolate, too)

Monday, February 13, 2006


Well, this is my introductory post to, well... introduce this Blog. After viewing the great medium that this is, my wife said, "Wow, that's a great way to record your thoughts and comments" (with bad spelling), so here I am.

I'm looking to post some thoughts, comments, etc. here and I'm hoping to engage in meaningful conversation as well.

As for the name of the Blog, it comes from a Casting Crowns song. For those of you who aren't familiar, please read the lyrics below...

"Lifesong" lyrics:

Empty hands held high
Such small sacrifice
If not joined with my life
I sing in vain tonight

May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You

Let my lifesong sing to You
Let my lifesong sing to You
I want to sign your name to the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You

Lord, I give my life
A living sacrifice
To reach a world in need
To be Your hands and feet

So may the words I say
And the things I do
make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to you


Hallelujah Hallelujah
Let my lifesong sing to You
Hallelujah Hallelujah
Let my lifesong sing to You
Hallelujah Hallelujah
Let my lifesong sing to You


© 2005 Club Zoo Music

That is my end goal, to follow the Lord's will for my life and bring Him glory.

With that, here we go...