Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Our union with Christ, if we are truly 'in Him', cannot be broken. But our communion with Christ will be dimmed and weakened if we do not carefully attend to the duty of a full-souled and full-hearted obedience to the revealed will of God in Scripture."
-Maurice Roberts

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday Reflections

Yesterday was a great day of worship and fellowship at our church. Although, John and I were supposed to be gone to a conference, I feel as though it went well. John and Kelley did a terrific job leading us in worship and allowing the Spirit to guide them while leading. I was very anxious about delivering the message, because normally I spend at least 20 hours in study for a sermon, I only had Saturday to prepare. Thanks to my life experiences and interactions with people over the span of Friday and Saturday, the Lord allowed me the opportunity to speak of those. I spoke on the topic of "The Discipline of a Loving Heavenly Father". It was freeing to me to be totally transparent before my congregation on why I felt that I was unable to attend the conference. I spoke to how although we(Christ Followers) are not to be fearful of the wrath of God, due to Jesus taking that upon himself, we did need to realize that God, like our earthly fathers, will discipline us when needed out of love.

It answered many of questions that people had, and I think clarified some concerns that others had about the topic of discipline. For me, it was a great learning experience, in which I learned that although God is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9), he still has every right to discipline us when we have strayed off the beaten path. The thing to remember was, he does this to those in whom he loves.

Last night we had a special guest with us, who taught on the crucifixion from a doctors and historians perspective. It was an eye-opening experience and really painted a very vivid picture of the crucifixion for us. Thanks Ric for coming and teaching. The whole night service was great. John chose appropriate songs for the topic on hand, and at the end of the service I read a quote that spoke of the offensive/attraction of the cross.

All in all, I feel as though God was glorified in all that took place, and I prayerful that people's hearts were challenged and possibly in the process of being renewed and transformed. I know that is the case in my heart. God has really been at work in my life lately, and has challenged me in many ways. My inclination is to continue pursuing him with all that is in me and as James says, he will draw nearer to me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Not A Good Day To Be A Calvinist

Well, John and I are back at home, and obviously we didn't make it to the Desiring God Conference. We sat at the airport for almost 9 hours, and found out to our surprise that all the flights we could take were canceled and the others were full. So the only other option we had was to take an 8:30 am flight out of Atlanta (2 hours drive from our houses) and we wouldn't get to Minneapolis until approximately 1pm. Well the unfortunate thing is the conference will be over half over. So we decided to cut our loses, suck it up and come home.

This is not a good day to be a Calvinist for the simple fact, as a Calvinist I believe that God is in control of everything, the good and the bad. Through His ultimate sovereignty, there is a reason for us not being able to make this conference. That is hard to swallow, because I wanted to ask Him why He wouldn't want us to go, because it was a great opportunity for growth for John and I. However, I couldn't do that, because of my theological foundation. I am not saying I wasn't angry and disappointed, because I was and I am still very disappointed.

In the end, God is in control and is always good and profitable for His kingdom. May He be glorified in all that took place today and takes place in the future in my life. I am excited though, to get to preach on Sunday and serve with John on Sunday.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

2009 Desiring God Conference

Well it is finally here. Tomorrow, John and I will be flying out of Chattanooga to go the Desiring God conference. We are so excited about the potential growth that we may experience at this conference. This will be our first time going to this kind of conference, but we are very excited, because the line-up of speakers is incredible. Some of my spiritual heroes will be there, and I am looking forward to hearing them in person, especially Piper, Driscoll, Ferguson, and Tripp.

I am most looking forward to the opportunity to purchase a load of books. I have already planned it out: I am going to take a bigger suitcase than I need for the little clothing that I will be taking, so that I will have room for all the books that I am planning to purchase. However, the only thing that worries me is the weight limit for the airline, but I figure it will be worth the extra expense if it turns out to be a problem.

Please keep us in your prayers. We are anticipating a time of renewal and fellowship. I am experiencing what many pastors have talked about for years, that being as a pastor I prepare for sermons week in and week out to help disciple my congregation, however I am finding that I am not receiving the same in return. What I mean is, I am not being pastored to in my life, aside from the occasional podcast that I may listen to, in my on life. I see this as a great opportunity for this happen. So please pray that we will leave refreshed and filled, so that we will be able to come home and minister to our flock in the most effective way. I will be updating the conference here on my blog some over the weekend.

Quote of the Day: An Ambition We Should All Strive For

"I am persuaded that I shall obtain the highest amount of present happiness, I shall do most for God's glory and the good of man, and I shall have the fullest reward in eternity, by maintaining a conscience always washed in Christ's blood, by being filled with the Holy Spirit at all times, and by attaining the most entire likeness to Christ in mind, will, and heart, that it is possible for a redeemed sinner to attain in this world."
-Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Monday, September 22, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Focus on Christ will always result in focus on the Cross. You cannot be Christ-centered without becoming Cross-centered. The crucified Christ is to be the center of everything I know about myself and my world. You cannot have any real hope for flawed people in a fallen world unless there is a Redeemer to rescue us from the evil that resides both inside and outside of us. Real restoration to God's created design requires the cross. It is the cross of Christ that alone will restore my allegiance to Christ and His rightful place at the center of everything in my life."
-Paul David Tripp

Sunday Reflections

Yesterday was a great day of worship at Idlewild. John did a great job preparing our hearts for the message through music, and directing our attention to the one with whom we come to worship. The sermon was on Matthew 7:1-5, I talked about the difference between righteous judgment and self-righteous judgment. It was a text that many have heard taught, but not in the detail that we covered it yesterday. I received a lot of positive feedback concerning the message, consisting of people saying that this was something that they had a hard time with, but now understand Jesus' teaching on the subject. I was real encouraged that God used a message that he laid on my heart to help people understand that not only was this a commandment from Jesus (something that they should do or shouldn't do) but also is something that they could personally apply in their lives.

Last night we dove into the next verse, Matthew 7:6, which was a pretty hard text to understand. I relied heavily on commentaries and books from D.A. Carson, Sinclair Furgeson, and James Montgomery Boice to help me understand the meaning of this passage on 'not throwing the treasures of the gospel to the dogs and pigs in our lives'. It was an interesting time, but a time of learning about seeking discernment in our dealings with our witness.

Overall, it was a great Sunday of worship. I have had a very challenging week, dealing with guilt over my past, almost to the point of depression. However, God is showing me that He is in control, and that I needed to turn over my sin and baggage to Him and seek forgiveness and sanctification, and He would take care of the rest. I am learning more and more that this process of being a disciple of Jesus and sanctification is a long process and doesn't happen in the time frame that I would like for it too. God is sovereign and has a plan for our lives, and that gives me hope and comfort at the same time.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

J.I. Packer on the ESV Study Bible

If you haven't pre-ordered your copy of the ESV Study Bible, you really should go and do so. It is due out October 15th. I have had mine on order now for about a month, and I am anticipating its arrival on my front step soon.

The following is a video of J.I. Packer discussing his thoughts on the Bible:

(For more videos go here.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mark Driscoll on Christian Meditation

Here is an excerpt from Driscoll's most recent post over at theResurgence on what 'Christian Meditation' is:

"Christian meditation is actively filling one's mind with scripture to hear from God and subsequently being transformed by God to effectively serve Him in the world.

Christian meditation is prolonged, focused, thoughtful, and prayerful deep thinking on the truths of who God is and what God has said and done according to Scripture."

I really needed this in my life today (and everday for that matter). So I highly encourage you to go over to his blog, and check it out for yourself.

Quote of the Day: God As Judge

"An awarenes of God as Judge teaches us to be merciful, and gentle with others. For in the discovery of our own hearts, we learn to have compassion on others in their weakenss. The knowledge of God's judgment clarifies and sanctifies our attitudes toward ourselves and others, as well as toward the Lord."
-Sinclair Ferguson,
(The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen World)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mark Dever & John Piper: What Is The Gospel?

(via thegospelcoalition.org)

Quote of the Day

"Jesus has walked ahead of us to clear the way. He has blazed the trail of victory through perfect obedience for our salvation. Though we often fail, he did not. Through faith in Christ our failures are hidden in his victory; our faithlessness is garbed in his obedience. His righteousness is presented on our behalf, and now his power is made available to us in the Holy Spirit."
-Richard D. Phillips

Sunday Reflections

Yesterday was a great time of worship. I was a little 'anxious' about preaching a sermon on 'anxiety'. Kind of ironic, huh? I spent more time than usual studying and praying for this sermon, but still on Sunday morning, I felt really unprepared. I find it really difficult to preach and/or teach on passages of Scripture that I, myself have a hard time wrapping my heart and mind around, and this one was one of those.

One thing that I told the congregation was just what I stated, that this was going to be a difficult sermon for me, due to my struggles with anxiety. My struggles with anxiety have always haunted me, and now are a major contributor to my daily stomach problems. I would have to say that this is a sin that I struggle with the most.

In the end, I feel like it was one of the best sermons that I preached, to date. I know that sounds conceited, but the reason I can say that and not feel bad is two fold. First, I was able to stand before my congregation and let them know just how difficult the week was, and also to let them know that their pastor understands the struggle of worrying. Second, it allowed me the opportunity to use personal examples of how real this struggle is, and really make a connection with the people. What I didn't want to do was just stand before them as someone who seems to have it all together and proclaim that victory over anxiety was plainly just belief in Jesus and everything else will be alright.

I know that this is a true statement, but it doesn't help them that much in their current reality. I was able to expositionally go through each of the 10 verses and explain the arguments that Jesus gives for not worrying. Then take those arguments and apply them to our everyday lives.

All in all it was a terrific service, and thanks to my worship leader, John, for following the leading of the Spirit and helping prepare us for the sermon through music and reflection. I saw people really engaged with the sermon, and I hope that others, like me, were confronted with the danger of spending our day worrying about tomorrow. The central truth was that God gives us the mercy and grace and strength to get through today, but the reason we fill overwhelmed at times, is mostly due to our anxiety about tomorrow. The Bible tells us that tomorrow will worry about itself, but since today has enough troubles for today, we need to focus on seeking the kingdom first and all these things (basic needs, mercy, strength and grace) will be added to us, daily for that day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I am really looking forward to this Sunday's service. I am going to be speaking on a topic that we all struggle with. We are continuing our study of the Sermon on the Mount, and we are at Matthew 6:25-34, which has to do with not being anxious and seeking first God's will. It is tempting to just speak on the topic, but due to my theological background, I am going to do my best to stay true to the text. My job as a pastor is to do so, and I will expositionally preach from this text. We will look at the ways that anxiety hinders our spiritual growth, due to the fact that to be a worrier is a clear sign that you are of "little faith".

So anxiety is a faith problem, not just a medical problem. Being a social scientist in the making, this is hard for my educational background to accept, but excites my theological background to the fullest, which in the end always out-weighs the education. I hope to see people comforted in the fact that God is faithful to supply our every need, just as he does birds and lilies. With this knowledge I hope that they, as will I, will begin to put our total faith and trust in our Heavenly Father, and live today for Him, by the mercies he pours out on us to do so on a daily basis, without worrying about tomorrow's troubles.

So how about you? Do you struggle with anxiety? If so, do you see it as a faith problem or a personal problem? Look forward to the feedback.

The Truth Behind Those Annoying Political Emails

My blog friend Jared Wilson over at The Gospel-Driven Church has written an article for SearchWarp that sheds light on those annoying political emails that we all get from friends and family. These emails are supposedly true and tell you if you are a 'true' believer and stand firm on your faith, you will forward them to all the people you know. To be honest, I usually just delete them on the spot, because I know generally what they are going to say.

Please check it out, it is really eye-opening and for some it will be very convicting.

Quote of the Day: A Dissatisfied Messiah

"The One on whome we wait is a dissatisfied Messiah. He will not relent, he will not quit, he will not rest until every promise he has made been fully delivered. He will not turn from his work until every one of his children has been totally transformed. He will continue to fight until the last enemy is under his feet. He will reign until his kingdom has fully come. As long as sin exists, he will shower us with forgiving, empowering, and delivering grace.

He will defend us against attack and attack the enemy on our behalf. He will be faithful to convict, rebuke, encourage, and comfort. He will continue to open the warehouse of his wisdom and unfold for us the glorious mysteries of his truth. He will stand with us through the darkness and light. He will guide us on a path we could never have discovered or never would have been wise enough to choose. He will supply for us every good thing that we need to be what he's called us to be and what he's called us to do in the place where he's put us.

And he will not rest from his work until every last microbe of sin has been completely eradicated from every heart of each of his children."
-Paul David Tripp

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quote of the Day: Spurgeon On Salvation

"Dear friend, salvation would be a sadly incomplete affair, if it did not deal with the whole part of our ruined estate. We want to be purified as well as pardoned. Justification without sanctification would not be salvation at all. It would call the leper clean, and leave him to die of his disease; it would forgive the rebellion, and allow the rebel to remain an enemy of his King. It would remove the consequence but overlook the cause, and this would leave an endless and hopeless task before us. It would stop the stream for a time, but leave an open fountain of defilement which would sooner or later break forth with increased power."
-Charles H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

When Music Is No Longer About Music But Sex

My wife and I just got through watching 'Fashion Rocks', and I am just speechless. We are music lovers. My wife is very musically inclined, but I am not, I just know how to download tunes off of Itunes onto my Ipod. But we love music. So any time there is anything on television that has to do with music, we make it a point to watch.

So we happened to be flipping through the channels and came across 'Fashion Rocks' on CBS. We thought that this would be something that we would be interested in watching. Well, were we wrong. There was hardly any act that I would consider good music. The only artist we really enjoy, OneRepublic, didn't even get to do their whole song. They were the only true 'musicians' on the show.

There was only one theme that we noticed throughout the whole show, and it was the same theme that we noticed the other night as we watched the VMA's. That being the theme of sex. As a man, who struggles with lust (as do all men), it is difficult to watch these things. During both shows I leaned over to my wife and said, "When did it become so fashionable and cool to wear clothing that shows more skin on the front of the body than on the back?"

It seemed that all the artists', if you can even call them that, music was about sex and their showing was about encouraging sexual activity. Now I want to remind you that I am not a legalist. I enjoy good music, which means that I do not enjoy most 'Christian Music". I am finding more and more that the music I enjoy the most is performed by artist that are not very popular. Those who hold true to real music and real messages.

I guess I am just having a hard time understanding why there is such a huge market for 'music' that encourages sexual activity. Especially since most of the consumers of this music are teens. We complain about teen pregnancy and about kids dressing inappropriately, and yet we allow our children to be exposed not only to music that encourages these behaviors but also, let them watch the videos and movies that encourage this kind of behavior. I just wonder if parents would start monitoring what their kids are watching and listening to, would we see a change in behavior? Not only see a change in behavior, but also would we start to see the music industry begin to get back to music that encourages real talent and positive messages? I don't know the answer to this, but I do know that if you are a parent, instead of ignoring what your kids are exposed to, you should start listening and watching what they are.

As pastors and youth leaders, we should be educating ourselves on these things as well. For far too long, we have ignored these things and preached against them. This is a huge failure on our part, leading us to be totally ignorant in our speaking and leading on the topic of culture. Even Paul was educated on the culture of his time. At times he was even able to use figures and music of his culture to help reach people for Christ. People don't need to hear us preach against somethig, and yet seem totally out of touch with what we are speaking about. It is very apparent to me that we need to become more educated on our culture, so we can relate and speak in such a way that allows people to know be confident that we know what we are talking about.

So what do you think? How do you feel your knowledge of the current culture is? What can we do differently in order to be able to counsel and teach people in such a way that they know that we truely understand what we are talking about?

Sin According To Keller

"Sin is not only doing bad things, it is more fundementally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry."
-Tim Keller

Quote of the Day

"Within this narrow house of my body, this tennant of clay, if I be a true believer, there dwells the Holy Ghost, and when I desire to pray I may ask Him what I should pray for as I ought, and He will help me. He will write the prayers which I ought to offer on the tablets of my heart, and I shall see them there, and so I shall be taught how plead. It will be the Spirit's own self pleading in me and by me, and through me, before the throne of grace."
-Charles Spurgeon

Monday, September 8, 2008

Quote of the Day

"As a tempted brother, He feels for us; as a sinless brother He can save us."
-Sinclair Ferguson

Sunday Reflections

Yesterday was a great time of worship. It was evident that the Holy Spirit was really working in the life of our worship leader yesterday as he led the music portion of our service. The choice of music helped us reflect upon what God had been doing in our lives over the past week, as well as helping prepare our hearts for what God was going to do during the preaching of the Word. I know in my own life, I was moved to repent of sins and ask God to empty me of myself and to fill me with His Spirit, so that I would speak exactly what God wanted His church to hear.

The sermon was on Matthew 6:19-24, where Jesus teaches His disciples that they cannot serve both God and wealth. He instructed them to lay up their treasure in Heaven, and not spend so much time and effort laying up treasure here on this earth. The title of my message was 'Choose Your Master: God or Wealth'. I really feel that God spoke to His people in a way that both challenged them and convicted them of their neglect of seeking God. We have to understand that our treasure is Jesus, and that we are not called to seek the gifts that come from God, but to seek God Himself. He is the ultimate gift, and one day we will get to experience Him for all eternity. The important part for us to remember is, as His children we get to experience Him now. However, many believe that we pray a prayer and then wait till we die before we can experience God in all His glory. I tend to disagree. Salvation is the beginning of an awesome journey here on this earth, with Heaven being our final destination. The good news is that we can experience Him now.

I am really challenged by this message, because I spend so much of my week seeking the treasure that comes from this earth, that will one day be destroyed. I focus most of my attention on my job and how I am going to pay the bills, and seem to spend so little time seeking the one treasure that lasts for all eternity, Jesus. Man, how convicting this is!!! It moves me to almost tears even admitting this. Why do I focus my entire life on things that will pass, but spend so little time seeking the treasure that never fails and never dies? The answer is simple: It is more important to me to seek my kingdom, than to seek the Kingdom of God.

How about you? Is this something that you struggle with? Is this even something that you consider a problem?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Our thinking about who we are as Christians should not begin with what we can discover about ourselves by self-analysis. Rather, it begins with what God says about those who trust in Christ."
-Sinclair Ferguson

Friday, September 5, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Christ died, not that we may be able to form a holy nature in ourselves, but that we might receive one already prepared and formed in Christ for us, by union and fellowship with him."
-Walter Marshall

John Piper On Influences And Family

Mark Driscoll interviews John Piper on those who have influenced him in life, and he gets really transparent and personal about his relationship with his wife. This is truly an inspiring and touching interview. Hope you enjoy it.

(via theResurgence.com)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Heavy Burden

It is very late in the night and I have a really busy day ahead of me tomorrow, but I can't sleep. All I can do is lay in my bed and think about my community, the city I live in. One question that keeps haunting me is, 'How can a person reach a community for Jesus that appears to have already been reached?' I know, not everyone has been, but what about those who appear to have been? Are they truly in love with and following Christ, or have they just bought into a religious tradition?

I just can't seem to come up with a plan or a 'strategy' if you will, on the right approach to reach this area. The seeker/100 program churches are getting a lot of people busy in the church, but I am thinking about something that is much deeper than busyness. I am talking about getting people to see their need for Jesus at the core of who they are. Something that is not just getting people involved in an activity or even an age appropriate program, but something that becomes who they are, the source of their life not just another item on their to-do list.

I don't know, I am just not buying into this business as usual, going through the motions ordeal. I want to experience and lead people to experience a community that centered on Jesus. One where we focus on seeking the face of God, searching out the Word of God, getting involved in people's lives without the agenda of getting them to buy into a tradition of rituals, but just genuinely wanting to get to know them and build lasting relationships with them.

I just have a burden for all those laboring and trying to find fulfillment in going to church and being busy doing 'God's Work', and yet still find themselves lacking. It is my dream to see a group of people come together in community to seek God for the sake of knowing Him and feeding on Him and relying on Him for our satisfaction. I just don't see a hunger in people's eyes for something more. I don't see that longing in church goers eyes that says 'I want more'. People get to church three times a week and then look miserable while they are there and then leave as quickly as they come when it is over. Why?

As a leader how do I take this burden and make it into a reality? I spoke to a college class recently. I was asked questions about my job and then when I told them I was a pastor the good questions came. "How do you deal with those who have different views than you?"; "As a Christian how do you set your agenda aside and begin to help those who maybe aren't Christians?". These are excellent questions, and ones that I feel deserve answers. These are the people that I see that are searching for something deeper, something more. Where is the hunger, where is the thirst for the truth?

How do you proclaim the truth in a believable way to people who are convinced that they are the only ones right? I don't want to have an agenda, except to love people the way Jesus has loved me, and through those relationships point them to Jesus by showing them the truths found in the Gospel. I just find myself battling church traditions and religious rituals more and more, and I just want to see less fighting and more desiring of God. More desperation for the Spirit of Truth. Less agendas and more love.

This may be a terrible post to even publish, but this is killing me tonight for some reason. Like Paul, I am burdened for my city. I am tired of feeling as though I am in competition with other churches, and tired of hearing who is right and who is wrong. Who cares? People are desperate all around us for the truth. They are desperate to be a part of a community of people who are honest and humble about their faults, doubts, and questions. We need to be seeking to build relationships with these people, not for the sake of filling the pews on Sunday, but for the sake of letting them know someone loves them regardless if we agree with them or not on every issue.

How do we do this? And no, I am not asking for another book referral, I have read plenty, but none of them suggest to me how to reach the so called reached. How do we in the 'Bible-belt', get to the people and show them that the Christian life is not about being faithful to a denomination or a church, but faithful to the God of the church and his Son who provides the way for us to even have contact with this God, Jesus Christ?

We need to see our desperation for Jesus, in our lives, in our homes, in our relationships, in our churches...I need Him more than ever. I know this seems like a bunch of rambling nonsense, but it is three o'clock in the morning and I am carrying a heavy burden and I need to hash out my thoughts. Sorry if this offends you, and just to set the record straight, this does not stem from any specific interaction with any specific person or person's. These are my observations of my city and the surrounding areas as a whole. I love my church and the people who are members of it. I care deeply for them as individuals and their souls. They are growing spiritually and asking tough questions. However, this has been a burden of mine since I moved back to this area, and believe that is the reason God has placed me and my wife back in this area. I just want to figure out a way to get through, connect, and get people moving towards the cross of Calvary where we are on level ground, where we are all equals. I just want to see a burning desire in peoples lives for God, and who are willing to seek Him no matter the costs.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Uncomfortable Message

I live and serve in the heart of the Bible-belt. I grew up here in a conservative God-fearing home for most of my life. I grew up in a very legalistic independent baptist church, where everything was wrong, except for what the pastor said was right. He was our moral authority, because he was the only one who could hear from God. This led to me being very closed minded and unaware of the deep truths found in God's Word, and the ability for me to experience this God firsthand. I was never aware that there was the capability to have a real, life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. The only thing I could do was to quote certain scriptures that would defend the personal beliefs of a pastor that I knew very little about, but was told that he was following God's leadership. On a side note, I am not attacking the character or beliefs of one particular individual. I am attempting to attack something that is reigning so high in the Bible-belt at this time. This being modern day Pharisaic living.

Coming back to my home town after serving in the military and seeing my need for a deeper understanding of what living a life for Christ really looks like, I am deeply concerned for my community, because there doesn't seem to be this same concern in the lives of many of the churches and Christians around me. People are willing to fight to the stake over church tradition and personal preferences, but a lack of fight for sound biblical truths and doctrine. This reminds me of what we see in the Gospels that Jesus was facing when he was speaking to the Pharisees. He spoke to them with the prophetic words of Isaiah, "You honor me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me."

I see this being played out inside the churches of our community and in the lives of many good-intentioned Christians. People are capable of quoting Scripture to defend their traditions and personal preferences, but due to being uninformed they are unable to express what they believe and why they believe according to Scripture. In all fairness, this is not their faults, because this is what I was taught as well. Many just need to be given the permission to study and think freely for themselves. Many people need to be taught how to study Scripture and find out what the Bible really says about the Christian life.

It seems as though we are good and content with following laws (just as the Pharisees), but not so comfortable with actually being responsible for our own Christian lives and how we live them in accordance to Biblical truths. What I fear this leads to is what Jesus expresses in Matthew 7:22-23 "On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and cast out demons in your name; and do many mighty works in your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'"

This is my fear because I believe that many have bought into a religious ideology, but haven't actually given their lives Jesus and made Him the treasure of their lives. I know this is not a popular topic and one that I could potentially receive a lot of ridicule for, but I have placed myself in this same post. It wasn't until recently (the past 3 years) that I have understood this more clearly. Being a Christian is not about me, but it is all about Jesus. Quite frankly, I don't believe that there is enough room for Jesus in many of our churches and our Christianity today. We need to to do as Paul says in Philippians 2:12, "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." I don't say this to cause fear, but to awake us from our slumber and begin following Christ and run quickly from religious stagnation. When Christ becomes the center of our lives, our churches, our religions, other things become more important. We start paying closer attention to our hearts and their motivations, and pay less attention to how we look and appear to others. I believe this is what is needed in order for a modern day reformation to break loose and our world to experience a great revival of the heart and spirit.

I humbly invite any thoughts on this subject. I truly believe this is something that not only pastors need to be discussing with each other and their congregations, but also this needs to be the topic of discussion between husbands and wives, parents and children, and friends. So feel free to add to this discussion, even if we disagree.

Strep Throat

I haven't had strep throat since I was in high school, but low and behold Friday evening I started getting a sore throat and chilling. It got even worse on Saturday, but I kept telling myself, 'You'll be ready to preach on Sunday'. Well I woke up on Sunday morning, and then came the dreaded telephone call. I had to find someone, with two hours notice, to fill in for me. Luckily one of my deacons was able to help me find someone to fill in.

I am feeling a lot better today, but still have a sore throat. I owe a lot to my wife who has put up with my whining and complaining for the past three days. I feel so sorry for her, because I can be a huge baby when it comes to being sick. God has really blessed me with a wonderful wife, and I am so very thankful for Allyssa.

I'll be back to blogging on Tuesday or Wednesday. Please pray for my mom at this time also, because she has been in the hospital since Thursday and the doctors don't know what is causing her illness.