Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shane and Shane Concert

This Friday, September 11th, at 7:00pm Shane and Shane along with Phillip Larue will be in concert at Lee University. Tickets are $10 in advance and for all students with college I.D, and $15 at the door. All proceeds go to benefit Contact Helpline. I hope to see everyone there! If you would like more information on tickets or directions, please email me at spackett@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Arrival

On Saturday, August 1, 2009, at 11:30pm, Allyssa and welcomed Ayden Tayte into our lives. Allyssa was in labor for 24 hours, but her hard work and patience payed off. God has been very kind to our family by giving us such a precious gift. I was very nervous about becoming a father, because I was fearful about not being adequate. However, I needed not to lean on my own understanding, but have faith that God would grant me the mercies needed to do the task for today. Well, today I can assure that I am overwhelmed with joy and excitement that I have never experienced before, and have faith that God will equip me to be the father he has called me to be.

I am so proud of and overjoyed for Allyssa. She has waited patiently for 6 years, for me to decide I was ready for what God had laid so heavy upon her heart. She is a great mom and wife, and I am so blessed to be allowed to be her husband and Ayden's father. It is certain that there will be some trying times ahead, but I have faith that God will continue the good work that he has began in our lives. Praise be to God for the wonderful things he is doing, and may he be glorified with our marriage and parenting in the days ahead.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mark Batterson: The Best Decision I Made...

I have been following Mark Batterson's blog for some time. Although, we would disagree on a number of levels theologically, I have been encouraged and challenged by much of his writing. His new article for Catalyst serves as a great reminder to all of us on the importance of a daily intake of God's Word.

He says,

If you want to grow spiritually, you need a consistent diet of Scripture. In fact, you will never outgrow your consumption of Scripture. There is no substitute. There is no supplement. The poet, T.S. Eliot, once observed: “Everything we eat has some effect upon us. It affects us during the process of assimilation and digestion; and I believe exactly the same is true of anything we read.” In other words, you are what you read.

I have a saying that I repeat to our congregation frequently:
reading without meditating is like eating without digesting. If you want to absorb the nutrients, you can’t just read it. You’ve got to chew on it. You’ve got to digest it. Meditation is the way we metabolize Scripture.

I find this very encouraging and challenging, and I would encourage you to go read his article here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday Reflections: Church On Mission First Step

A couple of Wednesday nights ago, I challenged our church to begin thinking outside the box of our church, and to realize what it actually means to follow Christ. The challenge was, "are we as a church willing to do whatever it takes to spread the gospel to the nations?" I left that night highly encouraged by the movement of the Spirit among our congregation. That night I saw people begin to really think about where their focus was in relation to how we approach "doing church" or "being the church."

Yesterday morning, we looked at 1 Peter 3:18-22 and our call to suffer and persevere with hope. We saw that the call to follow Jesus was a call to risk and endure ridicule and other types of suffering. We saw how Peter was encouraging followers of Christ, who were enduring suffering for that cause, in three ways:
  • Be Encouraged By The Sufficiency of Christ's Suffering
  • Be Encouraged By The Victorious Resurrection of Christ
  • Be Encouraged To Persevere With Good Conscience
We asked the question: "Am I suffering for the cause of Christ?" If the answer to that question is "No", then we must ask a follow-up question, "Why Not?" The whole idea of asking this series of questions is that if the call to follow Christ was a call to suffer for that cause, then why do we not hear or see anyone suffering for that cause? We concluded that if we are not suffering to any degree, then we most likely are not living for the cause of Christ.

On Sunday Night we stuck with the topic of "suffering." We took a break from our study in James, and looked at Hebrews 13:12-16. In this passage the writer (who remains unknown) challenges the reader to go outside the camp and join in Christ's suffering. We realized that the real mission is not what we do "in" the church, but what we are going to do "outside" the church. We realized that in Amercian Church Culture, instead of seeking the Kindgom of God, we generally seek comfort, safety, and security, especially in our churches. Again, it is a call to risk and live in the following two ways:
  • To let the fruit of our lips be that of praising God and proclaiming his goodness to the nations, beginning here at home in our realms of influence
  • To continuously do good to others, even if it means that we have to sacrifice our earthly comfort, safety and security.
All in all, according to what we studied yesterday and read throughout Scripture, that the call to follow Christ is a call to love and suffer for that cause. After the worship service last night an incredible thing happened...we took up an offering for local mission (even though there is a great need to reach the nations, we realize that in order to accomplish that mission, we must first start here at home). I was totally amazed at how our small gathering responded, and for me it was the first step for Idlewild to be a church on mission.

Thank you Idlewild for being an incredibily giving church, and for being so open to hear from the Lord and to catch the vision that Christ has left for His church. Let this be our first step to many more to come. Keep living for the cause of Christ, and know that I, as your pastor, am here walking alongside of you, willing to love and suffer with you. Let us go to him outside the camp and bear his reproach as we reach the nations for his glory.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sunday Reflections

Before I get to Sunday, I would like to tell you about our 4th. Saturday, Allyssa and I were trying to decide what we would do to celebrate the holiday. As many of you know, I served 7 years (4 active duty & 3 guard) in the Air Force, and the 4th is one of those holidays that I really enjoy. We had been invited to join some friends from church out at their lake house for an evening of fellowship, food, and fireworks. However, Allyssa who is ready to deliver our son at any time, was not comfortable going too far from the house. So we decided we would go to the local fireworks show, which was great...30 minutes straight, and get there about an hour early to do some "servant evangelism." We were joined by some friends, and we passed out around 100 bottles of water to spectators. It was interesting, because many people wanted to pay us for them, and were taken back at times because we were giving them away for free. This gave us a chance to share the love of Christ with them and the gospel. I tell you, even though I missed playing with my own fireworks, missed the cookouts and fun, this was by far the best 4th yet. I pray that God was glorified in our efforts, and that maybe we will see some of these people come to one of our services at Idlewild.

Now, time for Sunday:

  • The question for Sunday was: "Is there an age of accountability? If so what is it? If not where do infants and small children go when they die?
  • Look for more on this topic in the posts to come....
  • It was the longest sermon that I have preached yet (1 hour), but it was needed in order to present the answer to the question in a faithful way.
  • In our small group on Sunday mornings we have been going through the book of Galatians. Todd is doing a really great job expounding the truths from the text and bringing application to our lives. We had a great discussion yesterday on how we are to walk in the spirit.
  • After church, I was able to have a great conversation with a gentleman from the church, with whom always has words of encouragement and helpful critique. I love people's honesty.
  • Allyssa and I joined my parents and sister for lunch at their home. It was a great time to eat some really good food, and healthy discussion.
  • Allyssa then went to a baby shower that the ladies at Idlewild put on for her. We have some of the sweetest ladies in all the world, and the kindness that they have shown Allyssa and I is incredible.
  • I played golf with my minister of music and friend, John. We needed to get away and discuss how God had been working in our lives, and seek guidance from one another on some things we are now facing. The golf was fun, but the time of true fellowship - exhorting, encouraging, confession, forgiving - was so awesome. I look forward to the day when all God's people can move beyond superficial "fellowship" and begin to enter into true biblical fellowship. I find it very difficult to be fake and superficial, but I guess there is a time and place for everything. I just love true biblical community.
  • Finished reading the best book on the church yet, The Living Church by John Stott. I will post a book review on it in days to come, but if you haven't read it (especially church leaders), it should definitely be on your list of must reads.
As I experience God's grace and mercy in my life, I am realizing that I am so blessed. I love my church family and am grateful that God has allowed me to be their pastor. I love my family. I have seen such growth in my parents & sisters over the past couple of years in the midst of trials, that I am very encouraged. I love my friends, especially the Wed morning guys. God has surrounded me with a great cloud of witnesses, and I am convinced, had he not, I would not be where I am today. I love my wife Allyssa. She is a gift straight from God. Not only is she beautiful, but she has put on display for me what it means to forgive, to love, to be tenderhearted and caring, and how to truly be oneself. There is not a clearer picture in this world of authenticity than Allyssa Packett. I thank God for her. I love my son, Ayden. Even though I haven't met him yet (hopefully soon), God has been kind enough to give me a deep conviction to love him and shepherd him. Finally, most importantly I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I am reminded daily that I don't deserve his love, but in his goodness and grace he loves me anyway. It is only because of his love for me, that I am able to love him and those around me. Praise be to God!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday Reflections

Yesterday, one of our members passed away at the age of 63. It happened right as we were beginning church, but we didn't get final word until halfway into our service. We had a great service, even though most of us were distracted by the loss, and the sight of people leaving the church to go and be with the family.

John was out of town this week, so we had another friend of ours come in and lead us in praise and hymns. Wood did a terrific job, and man can he sing. It was a great time of praise.

The question of the day was, "Does God answer the prayers of the nonbeliever?" I will probably begin doing a series of posts on this series that we are doing at church, so I will refrain from gong into too much details. Basically, we concluded that, "God in his goodness and common grace may choose to answer a nonbelievers prayer (though not likely), but it is always for the purpose to bring himself glory and to lead people to his saving grace."

Due to the distractions in the morning service, we revisited this message and took some time to examine how it could apply to the Christians life. We spent most of the evening in Luke 18:1-14.

Overall, it was a wonderful day of worship, and my prayer is that God was glorified and his people were edified. My heart goes out to the family that suffered this lost, and it is my prayer that they find comfort and peace in the arms of Jesus, not anything else this world has to offer.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Church On Mission: The Beginning

For the past year and half I have had the awesome opportunity to be the pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church. The best way that I can describe this period of time is by way of growth. When I use this word, I am not speaking specifically of 'numerical' growth, which we have experienced, but of 'spiritual' growth. When I received the call to their pastor, I didn't have a clue what I was doing, and still know very little. This has truly been a season of learning and growing. With growth and learning comes successes and failures.

First, I would like to commend the members of the church for their patience with my failures and time of growth. I am a young man who at one point in my life I despised the church as a whole, and decided to never return to church, none-the-less become a pastor. My life was a picture of the biblical parable of the prodigal son. I am amazed at the sovereignty of God and the sense of humor he must have, by calling me back to the church and calling me to the office of pastor. In my time away from the church, I like the prodigal spent my time in the pig pen of the world, diving head first into a wicked lifestyle. During this time, I experienced what it was like being hopeless and totally depraved. Due to this life experience, when I became pastor I was full zeal and passion for the gospel of Christ and mission of reaching those that I met out in the world. This passion was not bridled, nor was it clothed in humility. I had no idea what it meant to shepherd, I came in ready to drive the flock, not ready to meet them where they were. The gifts of the spirit - kindness, gentleness, humility, and love - did not characterize my beginning. So I want you who are members of the church to know that I am deeply sorry for my attitude, and greatly appreciative of your patience in enduring my unbridled passion.

Second, I do not apologize for the heart behind this passion. I am deeply overwhelmed by the gospel and filled with conviction of my lack of pursuing the mission of living out the gospel. Last night I stood before you, a broken man, a man that realizes how prideful and ineffective my unbridled passion has been. I stood before as a broken soul who longs to see our community, both Christian and non-Christian changed by the gospel of Jesus. I so desire to see individuals ruined and freed by the same gospel that did the same in my own life. The challenge that we were confronted with last evening was that of the mission that Christ left for his disciples (which includes those of us today who call ourselves Christ followers). We were challenged to ask ourselves the following question: Are we willing to do whatever it takes to proclaim the gospel in order to see the lost saved and the saved disciples? It is my deepest desire that we all can say with all confidence...YES!

What I saw last night, left me very humbled and encouraged. I saw a group of people gather together in corporate prayer bowing before the cross of Jesus, broken. I saw individuals truly broken over our lack of pursuing this mission. I also saw broken individuals overwhelmed by the Spirit of God, overwhelmed with passion and zeal. I was humbled at this sight, and greatly encouraged at the potential that lies ahead. I pray that this is the beginning of a church that is going to live on mission, no matter how uncomfortable we become and no matter what it costs us.

If you are reading this blog, and you are Christian, I pray that you ask yourself this question. Many of us think that salvation is just a means to an end, namely heaven. Although heaven is a place we get to go when we die, the real gift of salvation is life, eternal life that begins now, living in the presence of God for his glory alone, getting to enjoy him forever. I pray that you are pursuing this mission and that you are truly enjoying this great and holy God we get to call our Father. I pray that you are so overwhelmed by the truth of the gospel that you stand before God and tremble, and that you are so free that you spend your lives proclaiming the gospel with your words and your lives. This is just the beginning, but I hope it is the beginning of us living as a church on mission. May God be glorified and may we be satisfied in him. Praise be to God, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What I Am Learning...

I have always been one who has to learn most things the hard way. I have a tendency to expect from others what I expect of myself. While I can find a million reasons why this is a right methodology, I am realizing that not everyone is in a place where these expectations are attainable. I realize that I am not even in a place to live up to the expectations that I put on myself. As I read Scripture, a shepherd leads and cares for his sheep, even when they try to run away, even when they disappoint. As I reflect on my life, man, have I been a disappointment to my family, friends, and I even to God.

As I let that realization permeate in my mind, I am convicted of the times that I have written people off, rejected people, showed bitterness and hatred towards people, because they did not live up to my expectation of them. I have to admit that I am just a walking contradiction. I need to seek repentance of this sin in my life, and learn from the example that Jesus demonstrated on how to love people, exhort people, and hold people accountable, but as he said, "I did not come to condemn the world but to save it." WOW!

As a Christ-follower, I need to love others, even when they are unlovable, even when they disappoint. I need to realize that I am to love, not because the person deserves it, but because God first loved me and sent his son to be my propitiation for my sins. As a friend of mine said to one of his employees when they were complaining to him about a student, "Have you ever been shown mercy?" WOW!

I am starting to see this journey as a Christ-follower (especially as a pastor) much like the experience that I had in boot camp for the Air Force. God is like my drill instructor, he doesn't hate me, he doesn't want me to fail, but the reason that he allows these trials and struggles to come into my life is because he wants us to learn to succeed in every circumstance. It is a journey of being broken down, so that Jesus can be built up, just like I was being broken down as an airman, so that the Air Force could be bettered. I am so grateful that God is allowing my eyes to be opened, and my heart softened so that I can understand these things and learn for the future. I am reminded of what one of my friends told me recently, "Don't let this be about you, but let it help you keep your eyes and heart on the gospel and the spread of it, bro."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Walking In The Light

This morning I continued my study in the gospel of John. Today's passage was John 11:1-16, but the part that caught my curiosity was verses 9 &10:

"Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours in a day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in them.'"

As I read this, I became curious as to what Jesus was trying to teach. Here is what came from my further digging, and I pray that it ministers to you as it has me.

  • Jesus claims in John 8:12 to be the light of the world.
  • If He is the light of the world, then to walk in the day (which means light) means to walk in the light that Jesus gives.
  • What is meant then by walking in the light? 1.) Walking in the light is walking in fellowship with Jesus; 2.) Walking in the light is following or obeying His Word.
  • It is obvious then with this understanding, that to walk in the night means simply to walk apart from Jesus.
  • What is meant then by walking in the night? 1.) Walking in the night is not believing in Jesus; 2.) It is not obeying His Word.

Central Theme: The evidence that an individual who claims to follow Christ is actually following Him, is whether or not he/she lives their lives in fellowship and obedience to Christ. In this passage the Pharisees wanted to stone Jesus for His claim to be God. These religious people thought they were righteous because of their heritage and knowledge of the law, but Jesus was saying that they were not righteous, because the light is not in them.

The application that I take away is, just because I do "spiritual things" and know a lot about "spiritual things", does not mean that I righteous. I am can only claim myself righteous, not by the works I do, but through the person (Jesus) that I know and who knows me. The result of this relationship is that I will live a life that is obedient to His Word.


"He Justifieth The Ungodly"

"Therefore, in the infinite sovereignty of His divine nature and in the splendor of His ineffable love, He undertakes the task, not so much of justifying the just as of justifying the ungodly. God has devised ways and means of making the ungodly man to stand justly accepted before Him. He has set up a system by which with perfect justice He can treat the guilty as if he had been free from offense; yes, can treat him as if he were wholly free from sin. He justifieth the ungodly.

I know that it is to me, even this day, the greatest wonder that I ever heard of that God should ever justify me. I feel myself to be a lump of unworthiness, a mass of corruption, and a heap of sin apart from His almighty love. I know and am fully assured that I am justified by faith which is in Christ Jesus, and I am treated as if I had been perfectly just and made an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. And yet by nature I mut take my place among the sinful. I, who am altogether undeserving, am treated as if I had been deserving...Who can help being astonished at this?

If God justifieth the ungodly, then he can justify you."

-C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace, pg 11-10

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Reflections

The following are just some highlights of the worship service today @ Idlewild:

  • So grateful for my friend and worship leader, John, for his kindness in praying over me and the church before the service this morning. Prayer, especially intercessory prayer, is greatly underestimated in most of our lives.
  • Enjoyed our study through Galatians in our Sunday School class this morning. It is a little disheartening that the writer of our literature sometimes runs through the text, missing so much of the truths that are found. However, Todd does a great job of studying and teaching the material, always encouraging discussion amongst the group.
  • Looking out across the crowd today, I couldn't help but notice a 'liveliness' in the faces of each attendee. Each Sunday it appears that each person is coming to glorify and worship God, and expecting to enjoy him more and more. This is exciting!
  • John and Kelley surprised me by singing the old hymn, "There Is A Fountain" sung to a different tune. I have been worshiping to this song each day for about three weeks now, via Red Mountain Church. As John stated this morning, "Putting these old hymns to slower tunes, allows us to hear the words and come to appreciate them once again."
  • Today, we continued our series on tough questions. Today's questions: "The Baptist's Say, 'Once Saved Always Saved.' What Does The Bible Say?" The passage of scripture that we looked at today as our primary text was John 10:27-30. We learned that the power and authority of the Godhead gives each follower of Christ assurance and security in our hope of eternal life. It is not our ability by our power to obtain and keep our salvation, but the power of Jesus (because he is God) enabling him to save and keep those whom his father chooses to follow him.
  • Although my ecclesiology is being challenged in my pastorate, I am still operating according to the baptist tradition of congregationalism. So we still have business meetings, which is what we had tonight. I am always weary of these times, but tonight was good. We are going to make some purchases that are going to enable us to continue the mission that God has laid out for our church. I pray that we continue to live by faith, and follow God's Word and will in all we do.
  • Finally, I am always encouraged when people who are older and wiser come into your life and speak truth into it. This happened to me from an individual that God is using to challenge me, and at the same time encourage me. I pray that people who are older, would not use their wisdom to judge and condemn those of us who are young and passionate, but to use it to encourage and exhort us. Thanks to this individual for challenging me to pause and reflect on where I am spiritually.
I am humbled that God is allowing me to be a part of this revitalization of His church. Idlewild is far from being the church that God wants it to be, but I can rest assured that we are on the path of pursuing that destination. The gospel is our fuel, and the glory of God and enjoying him forever is our cheif end. Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Remember that the man who truly repents is never
satisfied with his own repentance. We can no more repent perfectly than we can live perfectly. However pure our tears, there will always be some dirt in them; there will be something to be repented of even in our best repentance. But Listen! To repent is to change your mind about sin, and Christ, and all the great things of God. There is sorrow implied in this; but the main point is the turning of the heart from sin to Christ. If there be this turning, you have the essence of true repentance, even though no alarm and no despair should ever cast their shadow upon your mind."
-Charles H. Spurgeon
What is it that you need to repent of today?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sunday Reflections...Late

Well, again I am late posting on this past Sunday's worship services, and I am regretting that it is going to be a short post.

Sunday morning we continued our "Tough Questions" series. This weeks question was, "What is meant by the fear of the Lord?" We went on a journey through Scripture to find the answer. We came to this conclusion as a result of our study, "the fear of the Lord is not a constant being afraid of God, but being in a constant state of awe and wonder of who God is (Holy) and what He has done (adopted enemies as children through Jesus work on Calvary)."

Sunday night we continue our study of the book of James. We covered James 1:13-16, which I entitled "Two Paths: Every Temptation A Blessing and Temptation." We learned that, "we do not sin as a result of being lured and enticed by outside forces, but by the evil desires within our own hearts." There is no one to blame for our sinfulness except for ourselves. Satan is not my biggest enemy, but Scott is my biggest enemy.

Through my time of study on these two sermons, I experienced a tremendous amount of conviction for sin in my life, and God was merciful to grant me repentance for these sins. This past Sunday was a transformational Sunday for this young pastor, and my prayer is that those who heard the message and saw their pastor wrestling with these tremendous truths, were encouraged and challenged to go home and wrestle with them in their own lives. As a result, I pray that each person experiences the mercy of God through the power of these truths in the spiritual journey.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Does God Desire That All Should Be Saved?

Paul, when speaking about praying for leaders and rulers, says in 1 Timothy 2:3-4 -

"This is Good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth."

The question that came to mind as I read this is: Is it God's desire that all people (everyone who has ever lived or will ever live) to be saved?

If this portion of Scripture means that God's desire is that all people get saved, then doesn't that notion imply then that God's desired plan has failed when people reject him and are sent to hell? Can sin and creation somehow have power over the will of God? Can man's "free will" somehow overpower the will of God? If so, then we are serving a God who we can control and whom we can manipulate. What kind of God is that?

As we read this passage of Scripture, it is important for us to look at the context with which the writer is writing. Since he is exhorting the people to pray for their leaders and their salvation, instead of worshiping them, we can conclude then that what is meant by "all people" should be understood as "all kinds of people." This means that God is not a respecter of persons. In God's eyes, kings and servants are the same. It is God's desire to see a diversity of people come to know him.

Calvin says that God's desire for the salvation of all "means there is no people and no rank in the world that is excluded from salvation." However this doesn't somehow imply a universalism of salvation, but says that salvation is for all types of people: any race, any economic status, any denomination, etc.

Above all this, there remains one thing that God desires more than people's salvation, that being His Own Glory (Is. 48:11). R.C. Sproul says,

"The Lord is glorified when sin is punished in hell and so God's supreme desire is met even when people are not redeemed."

What is the application here for our lives? We must understand our role in this. We are not God, but are called to imitate Christ. We are to be very careful in this imitation, because we don't know the hearts of people. We are commanded to spread the message of the gospel with words, and show how those who have been transformed by such message, by our actions.

Belief in the sovereignty of God is not meat to stifle evangelism, but meant to fuel it. Meaning, when we understand that we are not in control of the "results" of evangelism, and will not be judged on results, it allows us freedom to proclaim the gospel to all, while trusting that God is in control of the transformation of the hearts.

In what ways are you/or are you not fulfilling the call to spread the message of the gospel? When you do share the gospel with others, are you trying to manipulate them to get the result that you want, or are you relying on the God to do what he does in the hearts of people?


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Late Sunday Reflections

This Sunday was a great worship experience at Idlewild! We continued our series - Tough Questions: The Believers Guide To The Christian Life. This weeks question was, in my opinion one that is foundational to a person's growth in their sanctification. The question is: Did God know, before he created the "perfect" world, that sin would enter it and ruin it? If so, why did he go ahead and create in the first place?

How you answer this question really depends on your theological perspective. The following was the answer that I gave to my congregation on Sunday:

"In God's sovereignty and holy wisdom, God permitted (ordained) sin to enter the world with the purpose of magnifying the glory of himself through Jesus Christ."

This does not imply that we glorify God when we sin. However, due to our sin, we are in desperate need of the grace and mercy of God, that comes from the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary and his resurrection from the dead. When we are called out to his salvation, we, who were once enemies of God, are now adopted into his family. As his adopted children we now bring glory to him, by pursuing to live a godly life and growing in our knowledge of God.

At the end of the service, I had the awesome and humbling opportunity to baptize for the first time. I had the privilege of baptizing a young man who came to know the Lord this Easter.

Over all, it was an incredible Sunday! John and Kelley did a wonderful job leading us in worship via praise, and Sunday night it was great to continue our walk through the book of James. I am looking forward to next Sunday as we go ahead with yet another question. Praise God for what he is doing in the lives of individuals in our church, and I am humbled and grateful for God allowing me to be a part of the journey.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Quote of the Day: The Peace of Knowing God

"There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship guarantees God's favor to them in life, through death, and forever."

-J.I. Packer, Knowing God, pp.31

Eternal Life and Knowing God

I recently finished studying Hebrews during my personal study time, and began my journey through the book John. During this time, I also read the TableTalk for the day, and I began reading two books: Knowing God by J.I. Packer & Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul. I have to say that I am most excited about this time, and am learning a great deal through it.

I am a firm believer, but at times not a great practitioner, that pastors need to have a time in which they are pursuing communion with God and seeking to grow in holiness. I feel deeply that this time needs to be separate from their sermon preparation time, not because we don't grow as we wrestle with and sweat out the text because we do. However, I spend at least 20 hours a weak in sermon preparation just for our Sunday morning service. Yet, we still have Sunday night services and mid-week services at our church, and I have found that I can preach these services from the overflow of my personal time with God. This is not the purpose of my personal time, but is an outcome, along with growing in holiness and knowledge of God, of that time.

All this said, here is what I have been learning, and presented to my church last night.

We are told in John 3:16 that "whoever believes in him (the only Son of God) should not perish by have eternal life." If the gift of faith in Jesus is eternal life, then what is eternal life? We find from Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, that eternal life is "that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3)."

We can conclude then that eternal life is: A lifelong, both present life & eternity, journey of getting to know the One True God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

What then is meant by the word know? Is this implying that we know a bunch a facts about God? Is this speaking of knowing God in that we are saved?

I don't think that is all it means. I believe that to know God means: that we are pursuing to know God and to be known by God in an intimate relational way, that actually involves knowing God as you do a person.

J.I. Packer lists the following evidences that one knows God:
  1. Those who know God have a great passion for God.
  2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God.
  3. Those who know God show great boldness for God.
  4. Those who know God have great satisfaction in God.
We cannot know God apart from the study of Scripture. However, as we study Scripture, we are not merely seeking to learn a bunch of facts about a higher being, but we are so desperately seeking to touch and taste this glorious God, and be affected by the truths that we do learn. How are we affected by them? The Bible tells in Hebrews 4:12, us that the Word of God is active and living, and it's purpose is to transform the hearts and minds of the reader.

We can be assured that if we are pursuing this intimate relationship with God, we are encountering eternal life, not in its totality but we are getting a taste of greater things to come. We are experiencing the gift that is knowing God.

Monday, May 11, 2009

False Teachers and the Power of the Gospel

I read the following in this months Tabletalk by Ligonier Ministries:

"In Ephesus, the false teachers used the law neither to restrain sin nor to provoke repentance. They failed to focus on the law's opposition to ungodliness, keeping the church from seeing its need for the life-giving gospel, instead using it in a way God never intended.
-R.C. Sproul

After reading this I began to think a lot about my experience with the church, and the majority of "techniques", if you will, of today's great innovative leaders. Just as a prelude, this post is not condemning in nature, and is not meant to be handled as such. It is only an observation and an invitation to join an ongoing conversation.

My experience with the church, either the church I was a part of or what I read in books or heard in the media, was quite like the church of Ephesus. The handling of the gospel was never about the life-giving power that can be found in it's message, other than that of eternal life (and I am not certain that was well explained either). Pastors and teachers did not want to call sin, sin because they were fearful that they may offend and the people may leave, hurting their growing numbers. Then you have those who have taken the "gospel" to the other extreme, and used it as a weapon to carry on a tradition or specific agenda.

Then in the middle you have those like those in Ephesus. They, trying to be relevant, have chosen not to teach a gospel that encourages repentance of sin, because they want to effect people's lives by giving them what they want to hear. We do not focus on ungodliness, except those sins that we don't deal with. You will never hear sermons about pride, gossip, busybodies, and such, even though the church is full of these personalities. You will hear only messages about how to handle your finances, how much God loves everyone (never discussing God's wrath), how to have a great sex life with your spouse, and so forth. It's about enjoying the life you have now, but never focusing on the life-giving gospel that allows you to enjoy total satisfaction in Christ.

I wonder just how many of our churches are being led by false teachers? As a pastor, I wonder how many times I may have taught a false gospel, even though I may not have realized it? Because any teaching that focuses on one part of the gospel and refuses the other aspects, is a false teaching.

We as pastors, and us as Christ followers, must at all times be sure that we are seeking this life-giving gospel, and sharing that same gospel to others. Sometimes such living can cause others to be uncomfortable, at times people may become angry with you, and you may not be the most popular person, but God will be glorified with your life, and lives will be eternally effected not by you, but by the gospel.

As I continue my journey as a pastor, I am reminded just how true this realization is. I am noticing that individuals that hear the gospel, do not know how to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I am noticing that people really don't understand how the Scriptures apply to their everyday life. I am also noticing that people don't realize that to be a Christian is supposed to be about an ongoing, growing, and healthy relationship with Jesus our Savior. It is not about doing more, it is about being focused on Him more and less on ourselves. We don't get, that we can find total satisfaction and rest in our Heavenly Father. I pray that we will return to our first love, and proclaim from the rooftops of our lives, the life-giving power of the gospel. May we continue to pursue godliness, not because we are somehow trying to earn God's love, but because he loves us and we love him. May we be very careful as pastors and Christ followers not to present a false gospel, but the whole of the gospel to everyone around us. May we not use God's Word in a way that He never intended it to be used.

Sunday Reflections

I am going to keep this short. Yesterday was obviously a great day for the following reasons:
  • The people of Idlewild gathered together and worshiped God (a wonderful service: Sunday School, music was great, and the presentation of honoring the mothers was beautiful)
  • It was Mother's Day (shame on you if you forgot)
  • We began our Tough Questions series, addressing the first question: What Is Church Discipline, and What Is It's Role In The Church Today?
  • It was mine & Allyssa's 6th year wedding anniversary
  • As a result of a young man getting saved on Easter, I am going to be baptizing him next Sunday (I warned him it was my first, so he should bring his flippers)
  • Ate a delicious meal prepared by my sisters for our mother
  • Allyssa was so kind to spend the afternoon watching me play golf (I shot my all time best...85. Allyssa, being the honest person she is, would not allow me to cheat, so it is an honest score)
Overall, it was a fantastic Sunday. It was a tough sermon, but I pray that God continues to work in the hearts of the hearers and their pastor. Most importantly, my hope is that God was glorified in our lives yesterday.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Scripture Memory Tools (via Media)

This post from Bob Kauflin is a fantastic idea about memorizing scripture through music. He offers those passages of scripture that their church put to music for download in this same post. I encourage you to go and check out this great tool.

Another tool for this, specifically with children is Seeds Family Worship. Click on both, and I highly encourage you to seriously consider purchasing these CD's. I want to personally thank one of my friends and accountability partners, Micah, for introducing me to these cd's, but also to Tim Challies for drawing my name from his virtual hat, leading to my winning the whole package of these cd's for my family.

(HT: Worship Matters)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Reflections

Even though the rain was coming down, and people were working tirelessly on preparing for the days events, this mornings' service was great. I really sensed the presence of God in a whole new way this morning, even though we covered a very sensitive subject.

The text for the day was 1Peter 3:1-7, and the sermon was entitled, "Christ-Centered Marriages". Most people who have sat in traditional baptist churches and heard sermons on this topic, have heard that the husband is to rule the family (in a dictatorship kind of way), and the wife is to obey him (in a slave to a slave-master kind of way). Because of this I chose to be very direct, thorough, and somewhat non-politically correct in my language. I am quite sure that people felt a little uncomfortable with my use of certain words like (if you are seeking your future wife or your wife for physical pleasure only and treating her like crap the rest of time, you are treating her like a whore). I say this as one who has treated his past girlfriends and wife in that way. What is a prostitutes purpose? For men to use them for their own pleasure, never thinking about the pain and trauma that the woman is going through. I hate to say it, we men have treated women like this, in and outside of marriage, for far too long. Someone needs to say it, and I guess I am just dumb enough to say it.

I chose to be very gentle in my delivery to the ladies, but was still intentional in all that I said to them. I tried to encourage the ladies to pursue a Christ-Centered life (personal pursuit of Christ in their personal life), while submitting (honoring, respecting, and trusting God without fear) to their husbands role as head of the marriage relationship.

With the men, I chose to not be so gentle. For far too long we have treated men as though they are delicate and not men. I told the church, specifically the men, that if they were not leading their families well, then they would fall into one of two categories: cowards or chauvinists. Cowards are those guys who say yes all the time (and say yes mam to their wives all the time) and who are so afraid to offend anyone that they fail to lead. The Chauvinists are those guys who overpower their wives and treat them like slaves and doormats. Neither lead their families well, but look out for themselves.

The point is this: that if we are going have Christ-Centered, God-Glorying marriages, both husbands and wives each need to pursue their own individual relationships with Jesus. I tried to give illustrations from our marriage, not as one's who have it all figured out, but as a couple who is being challenged by this passage and whose marriage is being transformed by the Word of God. My wife was so generous and kind as to allow me to use these illustrations, which were very personal to her.

Overall, I hope people were able to look beyond the language and hear the message that Peter is presenting. I personally think that the language used was needed for an element of shock factor, as well as to get people out of their comfort zone and really evaluate their own marriages. My desire this morning was to help stir husbands and wives to evaluate where their marriages and personal relationships with Jesus are. Judging by the response I received from many of the visitors and members, I feel like it was a success. As one lady put it, "I'm not used to this kind of preaching, because I actually learned something today." That statement alone both scares me for the congregation that she is apart of, and encourages me that God is using a young punk kid like me to bring glory to his name, and facilitating change in the hearts of his people.

Thank you God for giving me the mercy needed to pursue you and shepherd the flock you have entrusted to me. Help me not to treat this role of pastor as a hired hand, but as a shepherd who is willing to lay down his life and reputation for his sheep. I pray that you will continue give me wisdom in all aspects of my life, and help me to never cower due to my desire to please man. Help me be strong and courageous, while standing firm on the power of the Word of God and it's sufficiency in my life. Thanking you for loving a sinner like me.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Spiderwebs Along The Narrow Path

Jesus says in his teachings in Matthew 7:13-14,

"Enter by the the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

This past week, a friend of mine introduced me to a hiking trail that we have in our community that I had no idea was there. I love to be out in the woods, and I especially love hiking. There is just something peaceful about being in creation in it's original context that makes you feel alive and somewhat closer to the Creator.

On Wednesday morning after my men's accountability group, I decided to take my quiet time outdoors. So I packed up my ESV Journaling Bible into my CamelPak, and set out on the trail. I soon realized that I was the first and only person to take this trail on this day. How, you my ask. Well, when you are 6'1" and you are the first hiker out on a specific trail, you realize quickly that you are either the first person to take the trail today, or the tallest. The reason is very simple: You get caught up in all the spiderwebs. This trail is already very narrow and windy, but when you add the element of annoying spiderwebs, it makes the seemingly easy trail a little more difficult.

In the same way, the narrow path, that is the one that follows the Way (Jesus), seems seemingly easy, until you set out on it. For those who think that following Jesus is easy, and who say that the Christian life is so much fun, I would say back, "I don't think your on the same path as me." Like being on that trail this week, it seemed easy until I started getting caught in all the spiderwebs and then realized this path is really narrow. Why? On a narrow path it is imposible to avoid the spiderwebs. In the same sense, on the path that leads to Jesus, it is a given there will be trials and situations that are unavoidable, but they are profitable for your maturity and sanctification process.

Yesterday was one of those days. There has been a person who has really been a thorn in my flesh since I began the journey that I am on. I pray daily for this person, I am always friendly with this person, I try and encourage this person, I attempt to go out of my way to show this person love, but in the end, this person always has a complaint and/or a criticism. It is difficult in these times, because you want it to be easy. You want the person to see your love for them and Christ's love for them, but they are not looking for that. They become the equivalent to an annoying spiderweb that one runs into on the perverbial narrow way. You can't avoid them. You can't retaliate. You can only press forward and continue the journey, and pray that God will transform them from a spiderweb into a sojourner with you on the way. That is my prayer.

If you want any easy life. If you are looking for a "spider-web free" path, then the way of following after Jesus is not the path for you. This pathway is narrow, it is full of trials, struggles and suffering, but it is the path that leads to life everlasting. It is the path that leads to satisfaction. It is not the way for the faint of heart, but is the way for those who are willing to die to self and persevere.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunday Reflections

Yesterday was yet another great day of worship at Idlewild. It is so amazing to see God at work in the lives of his people, and as a pastor it is very humbling to think that God is using me in such a way that is effecting many lives. I grew up hearing pastors talk about the highs and lows of being in ministry, but never really understood until this past year sitting in that seat. One thing that I have figured out is it was so easy sitting in the pew watching a particular pastor and thinking to myself what I would do different. It was so easy sitting their critiquing him and pointing out his weaknesses, without really knowing what he is going through. Being a pastor is tough, and if it wasn't I don't think that it would be worth pursuing. It is in the tough times, that we learn how to endure in our faith, that we learn to trust God more, and our hope in Christ is strengthened. I just pray that as I continue this journey, I would consistently seek "true wisdom", wisdom that comes from a generous God, to help me persevere (James 1:1-8, Romans 5:1-5, Proverbs 2:6-7, Matthew 7:7-8).

Last week we finished our series on the book of Ruth. It was an amazing journey, and such an awesome book that reveals our relationship with Jesus and the providence of God in our lives. Next week we are starting our new series, "Tough Questions: The Believers Guide To The Christian Life." I am totally excited about this, because I have gotten some good questions, which means I had better get to praying, planning, and preparing. This week though, was one of those Sundays that was a freebe, meaning there was no planned series or book to go through. I have been going through the book of Hebrews in my quiet time, and chapter 4 has really impacted my life.

I decided that we would focus in on Hebrews 4:11-13, and entitled the sermon "Dissection Leads to Satisfaction." The premise of the entire chapter is finding rest (satisfaction) in God's Rest. In reading the chapter, one sees that the children of Israel did not seek to find rest in God, and thus spent 40 years in the wilderness for their disobedience. The writer of Hebrews is warning his readers not to make the same choice. In his wisdom, he points out that if one is to truly find this rest or satisfaction, they must be impacted by the Word of God. He says that the Word of God is to dissect your inner being, so it can expose to you the motivations and attitudes of your heart. God's Word moves beyond the tough exterior (joints and marrow illutration) to the interior where our lives take place. There is no fooling or manipulating God. He sees all and knows all, and yet in his kindness and mercy still grants us grace and forgiveness.

I really have been challenged by these verses, because many of times when I sit before the Scriptures, it is not much different than sitting before another book. Sometimes, I do not see the Bible as "active" and as "living", meaning that it has a purpose, and that purpose is to pierce the hearts and souls of those who read, to bring change. So we conclude then that the only way a believer can find rest or satisfaction in God, is through the power of the Word of God, whether read or heard, dissecting our hearts and exposing the "real us" to ourselves.

My prayer for us all is that we will seek to find rest in God's rest. I challenge you to open up the Word of God, not out of obligation or guilt, but out of a deep desire to know God, to know the real you, and to be changed. There is no rest like God's rest!

(We read Psalm 95 in our Scripture Reading, which sets a great foundation for these verses in Hebrews 4...check it out if you get a chance.)

The Purpose of the Bible

"The Bible’s purpose is not so much to show you how to live a good life. The Bible’s purpose is to show you how God’s grace breaks into your life against your will and saves you from the sin and brokenness otherwise you would never be able to overcome… religion is ‘if you obey, then you will be accepted’. But the Gospel is, ‘if you are absolutely accepted, and sure you’re accepted, only then will you ever begin to obey’. Those are two utterly different things. Every page of the Bible shows the difference.”

- Timothy Keller

(via Of First Importance)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reminder For Men: Love & Lead Your Wives

I meet with a group of men for accountability and Bible study on Wednesday mornings ever week. Yesterday morning, Mike brought up a passage of Scripture that really kicked me in the backside, and continued to do so all day. It effected me so much that I had no other choice but to respond in repentance to God, to my wife, and to the men of my church. I want to share with you this verse in hopes that it will kick you in the backside as well.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
-1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)

Did you notice the last sentence? The whole of our lives will be effected and will suffer, if we do not lead our wives according to Scripture and if we do not love our wives as Christ loves the church. As a pastor, this means that I am praying in vain, if I am not leading and loving my wife correctly. This means that my church suffers due to my lack of fellowship with my wife and God. Imagine the implications here....Men we are in real trouble!

I would commend you all (me included) to grab your Bible and meditate and memorize this verse. Allow it to kick your butt, and respond in obedience...confess your sin to your wife and God. We must stop being cowards, passive, and/or control freaks, and start loving and honoring our wives. Why? The reason is simple, we as believers are here to bring glory to God, and to know Him. If we do not obey, we are not living in fellowship with Him, nor are we living for His glory. In other words, we are living in sin. Think about it...Repent!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Easter" Sunday Reflections

Amazing!! That is the only word that comes to mind as I think about this morning's services. Allyssa and I arrived at the church around 6:30am, along with few other people and we made our way to the graveyard, yes our church still has a graveyard and it is pretty cool if you ask me. Anyways, we sang a couple of songs, read Isaiah 53 and S.M. Lockridge's "That's My King." After this we spent time together around some biscuits and gravy and tenderloin.

To be honest, I have been tremendously burdened for my church and my community lately. I always have a burden, but it has been a little more intense as of late. I have been at Idlewild for a little over a year, and we have seen one person give their life to the Lord. Not to take anything from that person at all, but I was beginning to question God's timing in the life of our church. I, along with others, have spent more time interceding for those in our church community.

So why do I tell you all this? Well today, our choir rocked! John and Kelley did a fantastic job putting together our Easter program together this year. Then I spoke on the Victory of the Resurrection, from 1 Corinthians 15. I attempted to lay out the gospel of Jesus, challenge those who call themselves Christians to be about the Father's work (that being preaching the power of the gospel to ourselves and to others), and invited nonbelievers to consider the sinful state and their need for a Savior.

Now what you may not know about me is, even though I am a Southern Baptist minister, I am not a huge fan of guilt ridden alter calls. I would rather expound the text (hopefully presenting clearly the power of the gospel in the text), and invite people to reflect on what was heard, examine their hearts, and discern how they should respond. Today, we did that, and a little girl came forward with her mother, and she said that she was a sinner in need of a Savior, and wanted to be saved. Again, I told her that God was calling her out to be His child, and that she just needed to tell him what she told me, and then claim Jesus as her Savior. So I prayed for her, and allowed her to talk to Jesus as only a 6 year old girl can.

I was so excited that I forgot everything I was 'supposed' to be doing. However, through God's mercy, I was able to collect myself long enough to serve communion. After the service as I was greeting people, a young man came up to me and said I need to be saved. We went into my office and talked, and he gave his life to Lord.

The miracle of Easter is this, that sinful man can come to faith in Jesus. Today that miracle took place in two individuals lives. Nothing I did, nor anything those two individuals did brought to them salvation. God granted them grace and mercy by offering them the gift of himself. I praise God that his is still the greatest phenomenon in all of history. I am still amazed at how glorious he is and how powerful the gospel is. May the praise and glory be given to God alone!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday And Listening Ears

Last night we had our first Good Friday service at Idlewild. Over the past month, I have wondered why it seems as though the only churches that have these services are the Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches. Why does it seem like Baptist churches only have "Easter Programs" or plays, instead of an organized observing and celebrating of the Friday our Lord Jesus took the Wrath of God for us? In an attempt to evangelize, I think we sometimes miss Jesus, even though our plays and programs are about him. It appears as though our programs play to an emotional experience, instead of a balanced experience. What happens is it becomes about what we can do, instead of celebrating what He has done.

Well last night, we observed and celebrated why we celebrate Good Friday. We sang songs and read Puritan prayers based upon the "precious blood". The text for the sermon was Matthew 27:45-54. With the help of James Montgomery Boice, I spoke on "The Miracle of Calvary". We seem to forget that the greatest miracle of all is that sinful man has the opportuniy to come to faith in Christ. That's why Friday is so Good.

Speaking of this, last night we didn't have a large crowd due to the vicious storms and Easter plays in the surrounding churches. However, even though I may have been frustrated with the crowd, God used the message to begin working on a 6 year old girl. It's funny, most adults sit back and because they already know the story they don't seem to realize that it still applies. On the other hand, there was this sweet child, who during the whole sermon took notes, without the help of mommy or daddy. After the service she came running up to me and says "look I took notes." As I read the notes, my heart began to break. She was really listening, and even though people have told me time and time again that children don't need to be in "big church" because they will not understand, this little girl did. In those notes was every point that I made, but what got me was she put it in first person:

1.) I am nothing but sin
2.) They nailed him to a cross
3.) Jesus is my everything

That was on a piece of paper from a six year old. God is beginning, in my opinion, to call her out to his kingdom. She is beginning to understand. She doesn't know how church "should be" nor does she know all the proper churchy lingo, and I hope she never does. What she is beginning to understand is that she needs Jesus, and I pray that during this Easter season that we realize that we are nothing more than sinful creatures, and without Jesus we are nothing. I pray that we get over our religious pride, and fall facedown at the cross and worship our Savior for taking the wrath of God for us.

God, give us all ears that hear, and hearts that obey. Have mercy on us, for we do not know what we are doing. Lead us to repentance and humility. May you be glorified with our broken lives.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Christ-centered Music: Red Mountain Music

I just wanted to let everyone know, due to a couple of my friends introducing me to them, Red Mountain Music is my new favorite worship band. They take old hymns, that did not have music to the lyrics originally and put music to it. They are awesome...my personal favorite is the Gadsby Project, specifically "Dearly We're Bought" & "Christ, Or Else I Die". Go to Amazon or iTunes and download it like your life depends on it! Because your personal worship time will be enriched with this music playing in the background.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tough Questions Series

This morning at church I announced our upcoming sermon series after we finish the book of Ruth. I have placed a box in our entrance, with blank 5x7 cards, and have asked the entire congregation to write down any question that they may have and place it in the box. We are calling the series: "Tough Questions: The Believers Guide To The Christian Life".

Everyone has questions, but very few ever find answers. I am not pretending to have all the answers, but what I am trying to do is to create an atmosphere that people feel comfortable asking the tough questions of life. I am highly encouraging everyone to be involved, and I pray that anyone who has questions will feel safe to write it down and put it in the box.

After four weeks of taking questions, I am going to pick 12, and as a church we are going on a 12 week journey into God's Word to seek answers to these questions. I would like to invite any of you who read this blog to drop questions that you may have in the comments section that I may use as well. I am very excited about this series and pray that each person in our church finds answers to the questions that they have.

Sunday Reflections

It was a great day at Idlewild today. It was great to see many of our members back in the swing of things, after dealing with this sickness that has been floating around. I have really been enjoying this series on Ruth. The title of the series is "The Providence of God In the Lives of His People." Today we covered probably the most peculiar passage of the book, Chapter 3. We looked at "The Providence of God In Our Plans." We saw how Naomi tried to rush God's plan to redeem Ruth, by devising a plan that was quite risky for Ruth.

The author of Ruth is quite meticulous in his form. It is almost as if he wants you to ask questions of the text, like "what was the motivation?" or "was Ruth seeking to seduce Boaz?" Obviously due to the fact that Boaz was a "worthy man" and Ruth was a "worthy woman", we realize that this act, however risky and questionable it may be, is innocent and not sexual in nature. What we learn from this passage is God is both sovereign and good, and he does have plans for each of his children. However, his plans work out according to his timing, and most of the time that is not acceptable to us, because we like Naomi, want God to show up according to our will and our timing. What we learn is that we must wait patiently and trust in the faithfulness and timing of our soveriegn and good God.

Tonight we focused our attention on Luke 10:38-42. This is the story of when Jesus visits with Mary and Martha, and while Martha is busy working hard, Mary is sitting at Jesus feet. Martha tries to get Jesus to reprimand her sister, but Jesus instead teaches Martha a little about how being follower of him works. He told her that she was focused and worried about many things, good things, but Mary had focused her attention on the one thing that was most important, Him.

I think we can all learn a lot from this story. Most of our Christian lives, especially with in the church, is wrapped up in being active in service, good things, but I fear that while we are busy we tend to miss out on the most important thing, Jesus. Jesus was in the living room of Martha's house, and yet she was so busy trying to please him, that she missed him. Sound familiar?

Overall, it was a great weekend. I am stoked about our Easter plans. We are doing our church's first Good Friday service which I am so excited about. Then on Sunday we have a wonderful service planned and I just pray that God will be glorified with all that takes place.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I have noticed over the past few months that one of my greatest, if not the greatest struggles is with the sin of pride. I find myself spending much time in thought and speech, focused on the wrongs and sins of others, and why they should think and be like me. Even as I type this, it is so difficult for me not to hit the backspace and not post on this topic. However, I truly believe that we need to pursue humility in all we do, because the opposite of of humility is pride. I read a book a year ago that was very effective in kicking my rear end, and now I thought I should revisit and share with you guys. The book is entitled, Humility: True Greatness, authored by C.J. Mahaney. The following are passages of Scripture and quotes found in the book. I hope that you gain some insight through these, as did I.

"This is the one to whom I will look; he who is humble and contrite in Spirit." -Isaiah 66:2

"The real issue here is not if pride exists in your heart; it's where pride exists and how pride is being expressed in your life." -C.J. Mahaney

"At every stage of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend." -John Stott

"The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate." -Proverbs 8:13

Why does God hate pride?

"Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence." -C.J. Mahaney

"Pride is more than the first of the seven deadly sins; it is itself the essence of all sin." -John Stott

"Pride takes innumerable forms but has only one end: Self-Glorification!" -C.J. Mahaney

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." -James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5

"We cannot free ourselves from pride and selfish ambition; a divine rescue is absolutely necessary."
-C.J. Mahaney

I am so thankful for the rescue that is provided in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now we are in desperate need of His grace daily, because we cannot daily rescue ourselves from the sin of pride. God help us to fear you and express this in all humility.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ben Finch Photography

I would like to encourage all of you who happen to read my blog, to check out my good friend Ben Finch's photography website. Ben is a godly man, and a wonderful photographer. He also has a graphic design company, the visible group, which you can find out more info here.

You should really check out his published book of photos from Israel, as well as his book on leadership entitled, A Remarkable Practice. If you are in leadership of any kind, you would benefit greatly from this book.

I just wanted to give him a shout out here on the blog on this great St. Patrick's Day of 2009.

Can't Afford To Be An Avid Reader...

If you are looking for ways to be an avid reader, but you can't afford to go and purchase the books worth reading, Trevin Wax has posted some great ideas here.

I especially liked his second point:

2. Read your favorite books again.

That’s right. Take the books you already have and give them a second go. Not all of them, of course. But the good ones… the ones you remember well.

Reading the same book twice is never the same experience. I remember reading a book when it first came out and liking it a lot. Then, I remember reading it again a couple of years later and being horrified at the lack of discernment I’d had the first time.

Some books that you love the first time will leave you dry the second time. Other books that seemed too deep or uninviting the first time may be just what you need the second time. So be a good steward of the books you already have. Read them again!

I have found this to be so true in my life. Hope this is helpful, and please be encouraged to make time to read good books. It is so worth it.

(via Kingdom People)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Reflections

This morning at church taught on the difference between a life lived according to religion and one that is lived according to the gospel. I used the following series of comparisons originally written by Mark Driscoll:

-Religion says, if I obey, God will love me.
Gospel says, because God loves me, I can obey.
-Religion has good and bad people.
Gospel has repentant and unrepentant people.
-Religion values the birth family.
Gospel values the new birth.
-Religion depends on what I do.
Gospel depends on what Jesus has done.
-Religion has the goal to get from God.
Gospel has the goal to get God.
-Religion sees hardships as punishment for sin.
Gospel sees hardships as sanctified afflictions.
-Religion is about me.
Gospel is about Jesus.
-Religion believes appearing as a good person is the key.
Gospel believes being honest is key.
-Religion has uncertainty about standing before God.
Gospel has certainty based upon Jesus’ work.
-Religion sees Jesus as the means to an end.
Gospel sees Jesus as the end.

The service went extremely well. I really felt that God was making his presence known to people this morning, and I truly believe that there was a movement of repentance of the sin of self and religion amongst our congregants and our pastor (me). I am amazed by the mercy and grace that our Heavenly Father shows us. I desire to remain desperate for the Spirit of God, and to realize that Jesus is the greatest treasure of my life.

I would like to leave you with a quote by Tim Keller on the gospel:

“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.”
-Tim Keller

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's My B-day & Guess What?

Today I am celebrating my 28th year on planet earth. I am so grateful for the life experiences that God has allowed me to experience thus far, and I look forward to the ones he has in store for me in the future.

Speaking of life experiences and birthdays....today I found out that our baby is definitely going to be a BOY! We had our 20 week ultrasound, and there was no question for anyone looking at the screen what the baby was. It made say under my breathe, and to a few of my buddies via text message, "That's my boy!!"

In all seriousness, I thank God for the gift of life. There is nothing like looking at that screen and seeing that little 11 oz baby kicking and turning. I am so excited and so grateful. I pray that God will prepare me to be a good and most importantly, godly father to my son.

It's Been A While....

Hey all, sorry that I haven't posted in a while. Life has been going 100 miles an hour and I just had to stop a few things to focus on what is most pressing. I hope to be back to a regular blogging routine within the next week, after Allyssa and I take a much needed break from every day life. We are heading back to the great land of Disney on Sunday and will be there until Friday. A couple in our church, who happen to love Disney more than my wife, was so gracious to give us a trip back before our baby comes this summer.

I am sorry to those who were reading my blog on a regular basis. God has really been teaching me a lot over the past three months, and I have a lot to share in the near future. Please standby for more on that. In the mean time continue to pray for us, we are seeking God's guidance and providence in a couple of areas right now, and need some prayer from others. Thanks for your patience during this time of transition.