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

Friday, June 29, 2007

Game Day Central

This week, all of the kids and Diana and I had the priviledge to be a part of Vacation Bible School at our new church. It ran at night time, which was so awesome because we all could go and participate.

Below are photos from this week.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Worldy Woes

I've been doing some thinking lately (novel idea, eh?) due to some some disturbing things that I've read that all but call for Christians to be carnal. It seems that some in the church today think that it's alright to flirt with the world, either in their personal lives or in ministry. This is heretical thinking that sadly seems so pervasive in our entertainment-oriented culture.

The Church is called to be light and salt. We are to glorify God, and our hearts are to be purposed to worship Him in Sprit and truth. We are to be disciples, and be discipled. We are to break bread, and be in prayer for each other. We are to feed sheep, not entertain goats.

To quote John MacArthur, virtually every era of church history there have been people in the church who are convinced that the best way to win the world is by catering to worldly tastes. Such an approach has always been to the detriment of the gospel message. The only times the church has made any significant impact on the world are when the people of God have stood firm, refused to compromise, and boldly proclaimed the truth despite the world’s hostility. When Christians have shrunk away from the task of confronting popular worldly delusions with unpopular biblical truths, the church has invariably lost influence and impotently blended into the world. Both Scripture and history attest to that fact.

In looking at truth, Biblical truth is absolute and constant. It is not subject to change or adaptation. Worldly opinion, on the other hand, is in constant flux taking in the various fads and philosophies that dominate the world. It seems that the only thing that remains constant is the world’s hatred of Christ and His gospel.

Some churches and Christians today are trying to look and act as much as possible like the world.

For example:

Dress like the world - This is mostly seen in youth. Look around your youth ministry; are the kids dressed scantily? in gothic clothes?

Talk like the world - Are sermons riddled with pop-references and slang that you need a teenager to help you decipher? In following after the world, some are "courting" demographics and woe be to the person who is over 35.

Entertained by the world - Does the worship service look more like a rock concert with "stars" performing or like a genuine atmosphere of adoration to our King? I'm not saying that we should not have contemporary music, instruments, etc. I for one, love a contemporary service, but look at where the focus is. That is the main issue. Is the focus on God or man?

It is not ok for Christians to look, think and act like the World. As Christians, we are called to Holiness.

Don't get me wrong, the Church should reach out to the world and have compassion for them, but we are called to be in the world, not of the world. Romans 12:1-2 says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."

The consciousness of the world seems to have snuck into the pulpits of the church. Have we become too lukewarm? Have we conformed to the ideology of the world?

In 3rd John 3, the apostle John comments on how important it is that we "live the truth." He says, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." We as the body of Christ need to stand up for truth and not water down the message.

The church and the world have irreconcilable differences regarding ideologies and should be divorced from one another for the betterment of both.

Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

The good news is that Christ loves us and died for us. Yes, He meets us where we are, but He is too loving to leave us there.

Because Truth matters,

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Family Worship

I recently read an article in Reformation21 Magazine that provides an easy to follow approach to family worship. Our family currently has prayer with meals and at bedtime as well as a Bible story right before bed, but I long to instill more Biblical values into my children.

We recently started attending a new church. During the time between churches (2 weeks), we had home church, including a time of worship and Bible study. It was a great time of bonding and learning for our children.

The following excerpt from the previously mentioned article that is very similar to what we did and I believe will help families incorporate family worship into their lives.

A man who is like a spiritual father to me began what he called a “family altar” with his wife before they were married, and has faithfully continued the practice through the arrival of children and grandchildren for more than fifty years. Sadly, it seems that few men among even the best evangelical churches today could speak of daily family worship in their home. In the minds of some, active church involvement eliminates the need for family worship. For others, Bible reading, prayer, and singing praises to God together as a family have been crowded out by the television, the Internet, and a non-stop schedule that makes even meals together a rarity.

But the father (and in his absence, the mother) of the family has the responsibility from God to provide spiritual leadership for his household. As He did with Abraham, the Lord wants every father to “command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord” (Genesis 18:19). Each one should raise his children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Every husband should love his wife as Christ loves His bride—the church—and follow Christ’s example of washing his wife with “the washing of water by the word” of God (Ephesians 5:26).

While it isn’t the only way, the simplest method of applying all these texts in a steady, practical way is through daily family worship. This is how generations of Christians have understood them. For instance, both Baptists and Presbyterians in the 1600s saw this biblical teaching, and incorporated identical language about the expectation of family worship into the most influential confessional statements in their respective histories. To this day, many churches still maintain (at least officially) that, “God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and truth; as in private families daily.” (London Confession of Faith (Baptist) 22.6; Westminster Confession of Faith (Presbyterian) 21.6.)

Somehow, though, many men have gotten the idea that family worship is complicated, or that it requires time-consuming preparation. But it need not require any more preparation than your personal worship of God. And the entire experience can be reduced to three simple elements: read, pray, sing.

Read. The centerpiece of family worship is the Bible. Read a passage of appropriate length for your family, making any impromptu comments that come to mind. Those with younger children should emphasize the narrative portions of Scripture, and possibly the Proverbs. Eventually, most seem to work up to about a chapter a day, reading consecutively through a particular book of the Bible. I recommend that you ask a few questions to determine comprehension, or just ask the children to repeat what they remember.

Pray. Let the words of the passage you read suggest matter for prayer. The husband/father should pray, and perhaps one or all the rest of the family members. Most days this will be brief.

Sing. Use a hymnal and sing a cappella, or sing along to a recording, or let a family musician lead the way. Sing as little as one verse, or for as long as the family enjoys it.

Any order of “read, pray, sing” is fine. It doesn’t have to be long to be effective. Be patient with the interest and attention span of the younger ones. Remember that you’re not only fulfilling a responsibility to God by leading family worship, you’re also introducing your children to Him. In these moments together, your children can see your love for God and for His Word, and some of the most teachable moments of their childhood will occur.

So start family worship in your home today. It doesn’t matter when you have worship. For some, early morning is best. For others, it’s mealtime, and for still others, it’s bedtime. Just start. Whether you’ve been married fifty years or newly engaged, just start. Keep it simple, and keep it up.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Reflection and Growth

Verse: Romans 12:4-6

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us."

Thoughts: It's been said that the more that you serve, the more that you grow and the more that you grow, the more that you serve. Service which reflects our love for God and others, is an outward manifestation of our growth and development in Christ Jesus and can take several forms.

First of all, our love towards each other is a reflection of our love for Christ and the sacrifice that he made on the cross. If we are Christians, we are part of the church and are the body of Christ. By serving our brothers and sisters, we reflect a servant-type of love that is a form of praise and gives thanks to God for his love and mercy. This type of service is one way to help us have a Christ-like attitude and to help us to mature spiritually.

Also, it should not be overlooked that our service is also to our friends and neighbors; to those who are lost and without hope. Our self-sacrificing service is a testimony to the love of our savior in us by showing that we are being conformed to His image. By visiting a sick friend, sharing a meal with a neighbor or sharing the good news of the Gospel, we have opportunities to impact this world for the glory of God.

It's this type of humbling service and acts of selflessness that helps us to have an attitude of thanksgiving to our Father which helps with our spiritual maturity and growth in addition to being a witness to others.

We are all individuals, but share a very important part of service in the body of Christ. When we all work together, each in our area of service, we grow spiritually and reflect the love of God not only to ourselves, but to a lost and dying world.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

This morning, I awoke to the sound of my wonderful children saying "Happy Father's Day!"

I opened my eyes and there they stood with bright smiling faces. They presented my with a plate saying "We made you breakfast in bed!" Yes, they did. I had the best ham, egg and cheese on toast sandwich ever.

As I sat up and ate, I thanked God for my incredible and thoughtful children and for my wonderful family.

I am thankful that we are (or try to be) a non-materialistic bunch. The kids understand that Dad doesn't need a big, expensive present (not that there is anything wrong with getting presents), but I am happier in getting a homemade card or gift.

Today's sermon in church challenged us to be good Christian fathers. We learned that the cross defines who we are and that we are to stand firm in our faith so as to be a model for our children to follow.

As we wind down and I look back on the days events from breakfast in bed and the homemade presents that the girls made me (Juliana made me Father's Day trail mix and a 'coupon' book in Church today. Megan made me two Father's Day cards with coupons for back massages) to playing Monopoly and baseball with the kids, I can truely see where God has blessed me.

Rounding out the day, I saw the gentle loving side of my wife as she kept coming up to me, checking on me. I watched as she blogged about her dad and the way that her face shown as she wrote about him. I pray that my kids look back on time spent with me like that when they are older.

The Lord has really blessed me with a wonderful family, which shows me how much of a loving Father He is to me.

Thank you God and Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Defining Moments

The following is from a previous devotional that I had read. It is by Os Hillman and helps remind one of the defining moment(s) in one's life that help set a Godly course.

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.

~ Acts 9:3

  • For Moses, it was the burning bush.

  • For Peter, it was walking on water.

  • For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, it was walking through the burning furnace untouched.

  • For Paul, it was being blinded and spoken to by Jesus on the Damascus road.

  • For Daniel, it was deliverance from the lions' den.

  • For Joshua, it was parting the Jordan River and crossing into the Promised Land.
There have been many defining moments in the lives of human beings that changed their lives forever.

These defining moments often set the course for the balance of their lives.

We could go on and on. Each of these servants had years of preparation leading up to their defining moment. These moments forced the servants to be involved in something beyond their human experiences. It took them outside their own paradigms of life. God had to move them outside their own boxes. And when He did, their lives were never the same.

You may be in one of three stages of life: You may not have had your "defining moment" yet—God may be preparing you with many important life experiences. You may have had your defining moment and you are living out your call. Or, you may be toward the end of your journey and you have already experienced what I speak of.

We are all called to a relationship with God; and we are all called vocationally, which is often ushered in by a defining moment. And there can be more than one defining moment, each pointing you down a path that God foreordained from the foundation of the world. The secret of a great life is often a man's ability to discern the defining moments given to him, understanding them, and learning to walk in the path that leads him to his ultimate destination.

Once you have had a defining moment, you are never the same. Pray that you have eyes to see and ears to hear when your Master brings a defining moment into your life.

To quote Newsong, "When you believe He's all you need, that will be your defining moment. As you live your life, walking in his light, trusting him completely that will be, that will be your defining moment."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ruth Bell Graham

Ruth Bell Graham DiesWife of Billy Graham Succumbs to Lingering Illness, Surrounded by Loved Ones at Her Deathbed

ONTREAT, N.C., JUNE 14—Mrs. Ruth Bell Graham, beloved wife of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham, died at 5:05 p.m. today, at her home at Little Piney Cove in Montreat, N.C., surrounded by her husband and all five children. She was 87. A public funeral service to honor Mrs. Graham has been scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 16 in Anderson Auditorium at the Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, N.C. Details for this service will be released when available.“Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team,” Mr. Graham said of his life-long marriage and ministry partner. “No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support.“I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we’ve had in the mountains together,” Mr. Graham continued. “We’ve rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven.”Mr. Graham confirmed today that his wife’s final resting place will be at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway in the Prayer Garden on the grounds of the recently dedicated Library bearing his name adjacent to his ministry headquarters in Charlotte. Earlier this year the Grahams agreed together that they would be buried side-by-side at the Library, a decision made by the two of them alone.Ruth Bell was born June 10, 1920, in Qingjiang, Kiangsu, China, the daughter of medical missionaries L. Nelson and Virginia Leftwich Bell. She attended high school in Pyongyang, (now North) Korea. She first came to the United States at the age of 7, while her parents were on furlough. She returned to the U.S. at the age of 17 to attend Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. Shortly after his arrival on campus, she was introduced to “Preacher,” the nickname other students gave the strapping Billy Graham from Charlotte, North Carolina. They were married in August, 1943, following their graduating together that June.Between 1945 and 1958, Mrs. Graham gave birth to five children, whom she raised—sometimes single-handedly—while her husband was away on extended national and international evangelistic crusades. The three daughters and two sons who survive her are all actively involved in ministry, including eldest son Franklin, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) founded by his father.“My father would not have been what he is today if it wasn’t for my mother,” Franklin said. “She stood strong for what was biblically correct and accurate. She would help my father prepare his messages, listening with an attentive ear, and if she saw something that wasn’t right or heard something that she felt wasn’t as strong as it could be, she was a voice to strengthen this or eliminate that. Every person needs that kind of input in their life and she was that to my father.”In 1959, Mrs. Graham published her first book, “Our Christmas Story,” an illustrated volume for children. She went on to write or co-author 13 other books, many of them works of poetry she wrote as an emotional release while her husband was so often on the road through the years.“I don’t believe Mother has adequately been recognized and honored for what she had done; because, without her, Daddy’s ministry would not have been possible,” said Ruth Graham, youngest daughter—and namesake—regarding her mother’s influence and partnership in her father’s ministry.“How does one live with one of the world’s most famous men?” daughter Ruth continued. “God began training my mother for this position years ago in China. Her parents exercised a profound effect upon the development of her character, and laid the foundations for who she was. What she witnessed in her family home, she practiced for herself—dependence on God in every circumstance, love for His Word, concern for others above self, and an indomitable spirit displayed with a smile.“Her happiness and fulfillment did not depend on her circumstances,” the younger Ruth concluded. “She was a lovely, beautiful and wise woman, because early in life she made Christ her home, her purpose, her center, her confidant, and her vision.”Mrs. Graham’s significant role in Mr. Graham’s ministry was recognized in 1996, when they were jointly awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in a special ceremony in the Capital Rotunda in Washington, which reflected a consensus of love and support from all branches of government in attendance.Ruth Graham was always a vital part of Mr. Graham’s evangelistic career, and he turned to her for advice and input about many ministry decisions. One of the early uses of media by the BGEA was the “Hour of Decision” radio program begun in 1950, which she named. After her upbringing in China and high school experience in Korea, she continued to have a burden for the people of Asia. She encouraged her husband to visit and later accompanied him during his historic visits to the People’s Republic of China.Ruth Graham has been in frail health since suffering spinal meningitis in 1995. That was exacerbated by a degenerative back condition that began with a fall out of a tree while helping a grandchild fix a swing in 1974 that resulted in chronic back pain for many years. Bedridden or wheelchair-bound since the late 1990s, Mrs. Graham wasn’t able to accompany her husband during his last few years of ministry, but was always a continued source of inspiration and support for him through her prayers and wise biblical counsel.Mrs. Graham is survived by her husband Billy; daughters Virginia, Anne Morrow, and Ruth Bell; sons William Franklin, III, and Nelson Edman; 19 grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren.

Learning to Lean by Walking on Water

Verse: Matthew 14:25-33

"And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God's Son!""

Thoughts: Serving God promotes tremendous personal and spiritual growth in the life of the believer as well as strengthens their walk with God. Jesus teaches Peter the initial lessons on service by teaching him to trust God’s Word and to obey His will. When Jesus called Peter out of the boat, it was these initial steps that prepared him for a life of future service. Peter unknowingly was being prepared to be a witness to the world about God’s redemptive love and His grace.

One aspect of spiritual growth through service is that it always places you in a position where you can’t lean on your own understanding. The Lord stretches our limits to the place where one has to trust Him for the strength and power to accomplish the tasks that are set before you.

Some people may say, “Oh, I can’t sit in a room full of two year-olds for an hour and a half.” or “I can’t speak in front of people.” God will give you the ability and will help you see where he needs you to be. I know this because I was one of those people. During Bible study, I was one of those people who was afraid to pray out loud in a small circle of people. I thought, “No, I can’t. There are people with more education, even doctorate degrees in this class. I’ll sound silly or mispronounce a word,” but through the grace of God, He taught me that it wasn’t all about me. I learned to lean on, to trust and to act in obedience. I now teach that class. All that I had to do was be faithful and obedient to His call for service.

All of us Christians are called into the service of our Lord, but we are not all listening. Don’t pay attention to the sounds of the wind and the waves around you; simply listen for the Master’s call and keep your eyes on Jesus so He can accomplish His will and purpose for our lives and see us through the storms.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thanksgiving Through Service

Verse: 2 Corinthians 9:12

"For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God."

Thoughts: The ministry of service is to all believers a form of thanksgiving and worship to our Lord. By serving others, we are obediently carrying out the will of our Father and are glorifying Him in the process. In looking at service, we should follow Christ’s example of service and giving. Through Jesus, God blessed us with His grace in that while we deserved hell for our sin, Christ willfully died as the ultimate act of love, sacrifice and service to us. What an incredible model of sacrificial love and obedience that is for us to follow.

Service is also a two way street. We should also not neglect to give thanks for acts of service that people perform for us, I remember that after the birth of my last child, people from our church had offered to help with childcare for the other three as well as provide meals for our family. Something inside me wanted to refuse and I tried, however, the lady that had made the offer melted away my reservations with this sentence. “Please don’t rob me of my opportunity to serve God by doing this for you.” I felt so humbled and convicted by the Holy Spirit that I relented. That lady is now a close friend of our family,

Matthew Henry once said about 2 Corinthians 9:12, “Can a man lose by doing that with which God is pleased?” If our hearts are turned towards God, He can use us to joyfully serve others as an offering of thanksgiving, love and glory to Him.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Would you like popcorn with that?

I recently read an ariticle about The Connection Church whose website claims that...

Great music, fun people, and short services. That's how most people describe a Sunday morning at The Connection Church.

At TCC, we feel that it's our responsibility to "clear the way" for you to come to church. We want you to be able to experience the great music, encouraging messages, friendly people, and enjoyable atmosphere that are a part of TCC.

With sermons based upon movies like Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End and The Simpsons Movie, this church is part of an ever gowing trend to incorporate the "world" into it's services.

It's sad that this type of news used to be few and far between; you know, a little Bono here and there, but now it seems to be getting worse. Some churches are moving faster and faster into the entertainment business and further and further away away from the Word of God.

I pray that these churches turn to God, but with the way they are going, it's no wonder that they still haven't found what they're looking for.

Blessed to Be a Blessing

I'd been asked in the past to write serveral devotionals for a church-wide devotional guide that was never published. In that I spent time before God regarding these, I didn't want them to go to waste, so I figured that I would post some.

Verse: 1 Corinthians 12:4–11

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

Thoughts: In thinking about service, I think about the wonderful blessings that the Lord has bestowed on me. God is ever gracious and wonderful. It’s such an incredible opportunity that we have to serve the King and pass along some of the blessings that we have received. The great thing is that serving can be done in a multitude of ways.

From a gracious smile as new people enter the building to rocking a baby so a mother can attend worship and hear God’s Word, everyone has a valuable gift to add to the service of God while connecting with others.

Every believer has received a gift from the Lord that should be used for His glory. His grace extends to us but never end with us. We are intended to be the channels through whom the blessings of God can flow to others. We are truly blessed to be a blessing.

A Spirit of Love and a Heart for Service

This past weekend, Diana and I have had the pleasure of being invited to help pray for a family that has been called to the mission field. What an incredible few hours it was, fellowshipping with and praying for this wonderful family. This family has been called to a foreign mission field is is currently going through a lot of adjustments, from the sale of their house to preparing for their new lifestyle. It really was an incredible time together.

We all talked for a bit, then formed a circle praying for the family, their call, the family that was meant to buy their house and the people that they will minister to.

Seeing their devotion and obedience to the Lord was such a great inspiration. They were so thankful for the people who showed up to show love and support. I am thankful that God let us be a part of this family's life and let us see the wonderful things that He is doing through His mercy and grace.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Share the Truth

Have you ever wanted to tell everyone about my blog? :)

OK, I'm just kidding, but for those of you who really like it and the ramblings, um... I mean commentary that I post, here is a banner for you to download and use on your site if you want to.

If not, it's OK, too :)

If you would like a banner done for your site, just let me know.