Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Last 11 Months

In early September I gave an update about some major changes taking place at our church. In many ways I have enjoyed the past 11 months more than any other segment of ministry with a local church. When all of those changes came to be (new name, new constitution and by-laws, new worship space, and cleaned up membership rolls) I was overwhelmed and unprepared in many ways. I was used to being defensive. I had been in some unhealthy church situations and wasn't necessarily prepared for a season of peace! 

But that's what we've had. We've had a season of peace. And it's been really, really nice. I was truly hoping to type up this post and be able to say we have doubled in growth, we are reaching more people than ever, and we've sent out 10 missionaries! But that's not the case. The truth is we've lost some folks and we've gained some. The truth is we are not much larger than we were a year ago. Close to the same really.

However, a lot has changed. And is changing. It was last May when I felt the Lord leading me to try to lead our church through change. I was scared, but shared with our folks what I felt was needed. They supported those things. This past May I took some time off again and reflected on the last year and what God was doing. Then I felt the question come, "Now what?" I wondered to myself whether it was time to change more or to simply sit back.

Here are few of the conclusions I came to:

1. It's about faithfulness above all things. Are we as faithful as we could be? No! Are we seeking to be a faithful people? Absolutely. Are we engaging the lost around us as we should? No! Are we asking ourselves hard questions that will cause to truly think on these things? Yes! And when I look at the overall health of the church I see God has done amazing things. We have seen tremendous spiritual growth in many of our people. We have added new members who have come with a maturity about them in Christ and that has helped others seek all the more to grow. We have seen guests come most every week. We've been blessed and we've sought to be faithful. 

2. Some things did need to change. One of the major areas of change we are facing right now is in our Children's Ministry. God-willing in September of this year we will launch a revamped children's ministry for Redeemer Church!

3. I also came to the conclusion that we could use some outside help. Some partners as we sought to be a healthy church. Thankfully God granted us a few faithful churches in our area who have helped through some of our transition. But we also just began the process of being a partner church in the Pillar Network! And now we seek to find the areas that still need strengthening so that we can be a healthy church that plants healthy churches.

So I guess I'm writing this to say God has been very gracious and kind to us. We've seen Him working in and through us this past year. And we do not believe He is finished. There is work to be done within our own faith family. And there is work to be done throughout SWFL and to the ends of the earth!

Monday, March 30, 2015


It is a good day to me when thou givest me
  a glimpse of myself;
Sin is my greatest evil,
  but thou art my greatest good;
I have cause to loath myself,
  and not to seek self-honour,
  for no one desires to commend his own dunghill.
My country, family, church
  fare worse because of my sins,
  for sinners bring judgment in thinking
    sins are small,
  or that God is not angry with them.
Let me not take other good men not so good as thou desires,
  are not always consistent,
  do not always follow holiness,
  do not feel eternal good in sore affliction.
Show me how to know when a thing is evil
  which I think is right and good,
  how to know when what is lawful
  come from an evil principle,
  such as desire for reputation or wealth by usury.
Give me grace to recall my needs,
  my lack of knowing thy will in Scripture,
    or wisdom to guide others,
    of daily repentance, want of which keeps thee at bay,
    of the spirit of prayer, having words without love,
    of zeal for thy glory, seeking my own ends,
    of joy in thee and they will,
    of love to others.
And let me not lay my pipe
  too short of the fountain,
  never touch the eternal spring,
  never drawing down water from above.

The Valley of Vision "Self-Knowledge"

Monday, December 29, 2014

Update on Redeemer Church

So it's been a while since I posted anything on here! Part of the reason is simply how swamped I have felt over the last 4 months. It was 4 months ago when our church been operating as Redeemer Church. However, even that has been somewhat of an internal truth. Our sign at the road still says Cypress Lake Baptist. The letters on the front of the building still say Cypress Lake Baptist. But we have changed. Our church has changed. We've already been able to welcome in a few new members. And God has been gracious and sends us visitors almost weekly. But, it has still been mostly internal changes that have taken place.

This Saturday, January 3, from 11 am to 3 pm, we hope to see the external changes begin. We are having a Community Block Party on our campus. God-willing, we will have the signage changed on the building and on the sign. And we will officially announce to the community we are in that we are here as Redeemer Church. We hope to convey the fact that we love this community and want to be a help rather than a hindrance. We also pushing for this coming Sunday to have many, many, many visitors. Why? Because we want our church to grow. Because we want to see people's lives changed. Because we want the gospel to be proclaimed to as many as possible. Because we hope to see more people grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So would you pray for us? Would you pray that we make much of Jesus? Would you pray for a good turnout? We plan to have a bubble house for the kids, a rock climbing wall, hot dogs, jelly bean drops, games, and more. And all that is meant to call attention to us and hopefully draw in some visitors. But the real goal is to get to meet people. The real goal is hopefully see lives transformed by the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Launching Community Groups

Tonight with Redeemer Church we will have our first Community Group. I've envisioned these for quite some time, so I'm excited to see them finally beginning. Like many things in my plans, they don't always happen the way I think they will! For instance, I am hosting the Community Group in my home, yet we've had sickness in the home all week and so we are having our first one on the church campus (clearly wasn't the plan!). However, we are still moving forward trusting the Lord in these things.

I thought it may be helpful to flesh out what we plan to do in these groups and why I'm calling them Community Groups. That name is intentional for us, and will be used in three ways. Our threefold purpose in these groups is to build community within the body of Christ, reach out to the community with the gospel, and transform the community through ministry projects. Though I have yet to see this flesh itself out, I am planning to structure these groups around these things.

Therefore, each time our group meets we will have a time of fellowship and simply hanging out together. I hope this fosters friendships and closeness within our church. We will also have a time of purposeful prayer for our community and one another. We will share any gospel opportunities we've had over the last week. We will also have a time of bible study/discussion. And we will seek together to come up with ministry projects/opportunities in SWFL that will help us transform our community with ministry projects.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Big Changes for our Church!

I have been fairly quietly over the last several months on the internet and social media because I have been swamped leading our church through a very important season of change. At the end of April I ended up in the hospital for three nights. It caused me to miss a Sunday morning of preaching. It was the first Sunday away from the pulpit in over 11 months. I needed it, but didn't know it. I was also scheduled to be away the next two Sundays as I was heading to Romania with a friend to train pastors. I had to miss it due to not feeling well, but still took the two weeks for a much needed vacation. During that time away the Lord began to bring me to a place of decision making. What was I going to do with my life, my family, and our church?

Tough questions ran through my mind as I "tried" to relax on vacation. I actually did relax. The medicine made me! Through a short series of events I felt the Lord may be perhaps leading me to plant a church. This has been a desire/struggle for years. However, during my times of prayer and Scripture reading with the Lord I came to a different conviction. I came to the conviction that I needed to lead my present church better. I needed to have compassion for our community. I needed to work hard and pray harder for our church to be a gospel driven church for those around us. So I came back from vacation eager to confess to my church that I needed forgiveness for not leading well, and that we could no longer remain the same.

So I presented a plan to our leadership, and then to the church. The plan was to adopt our new constitution and church covenant. Among other things, our new constitution moves us to a biblical model of leadership (plurality of elders) and a better statement on church discipline/membership. I also presented that we change our church name. There are several factors for this, but the point is simply we want to be better known in our community than we have been. A third part of this plan was to relocate our worship service. Thankfully we are blessed with two buildings so we are able to do this without having to rent, or really move.

In August we voted. With that vote our church confirmed my desire to relaunch our church. On September 1, 2014, we began operating as Redeemer Church. Yesterday, Sunday, September 7, 2014 we had our first worship gathering in our other location. It was fantastic! I'll share more about that in an upcoming post. This Wednesday, September 10, 2014, we will launch our first community group.

Over the next four months (September through December) we will train, recruit, and establish our leadership, ministries, values, and goals. God-willing, we will have our "launch" service on January 4, 2015. Please pray for us as we continue this transition. Pray that we will indeed be a church that makes disciples who make disciples.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Quick Update

I am presently on vacation in NC. We are here for two weeks spending much needed time with our family and friends. However, I thought I would give a quick update on my health. I was admitted to the hospital on Thursday, April 24, with diverticulitis. I spent three nights there. Unplanned. But am grateful for the care I received.

Once I was released I was on some pretty strong antibiotics that caused me to be extremely fatigued and really unable to function very well. I slept. A lot. A whole lot. I didn't feel like myself at all and felt like I was about as useless as I could possibly be. Then we left on May 1 to come to NC. I should have waited. I wasn't ready for that much driving and it took it's toil on me over the next several days as I tried to recover.

However, I can now type this out and say I feel great. Today was a great day. I was finally able to make it through the day without fading out or sleeping for 2-3 extra hours (after sleeping at least 10 hours at night). I am grateful for the antibiotics that clearly helped in that time, but I am even more grateful for the fact that I am now finished with them!

So thank you to those who prayed. I feel great. I plan to enjoy this next week of vacation before returning. I honestly am already excited about getting back to CLBC and seeing what God will do next.

In the meantime, CLBC has been blessed with great preaching from my friend, David Gold. Make sure you check out his first two sermons here (one more coming!).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Hope for CLBC

Last night, as a church, we reflected on God's faithfulness over the past 3.5 years for Cypress Lake Baptist Church. We've had some tough battles, but God has been faithful. What made it so great last night was the overwhelming unity in the desire to move forward. To change what needs to be changed in order to be a healthy church that is impacting our community for Jesus. Here are a few things I shared as I sought to push us to move forward for the sake of the gospel.
Envision men, women, and children from different backgrounds, with different colors of skin, with different preferences, with different political alignments, with different personalities, with different gifts, loving one another, caring for one another, singing with one another, praying together, learning and growing together, reaching the lost together, serving the community together, with the unity found in the Spirit, through faith in the Son, for the glory of the Father. 
Envision seeing hundreds and thousands of new believers being baptized into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 
Envision seeing many sent out to pastor churches, plant churches, reach the nations, and serve in other ways and areas for the glory of God.

This is is my hope for CLBC!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Belonging to Jesus

O Heavenly Father,
Teach me to see
   that if Christ has pacified thee and
     satisfied divine justice
 he can also deliver me from my sins;
that Christ does not desire me, now justified,
   to live in self-confidence in my own strength,
   but gives me the law of the Spirit of life
   to enable me to obey thee;
that the Spirit and his power are mine
   by resting on Christ's death;
that the Spirit of life within answers to
   the law without;
that if I sin not I should thank thee for it;
that if I sin I should be humbled daily under it;
that I should mourn for sin more than other men do,
   for when I see I shall die because of sin,
    that makes me mourn;
   when I see how sin strikes at thee,
    that makes me mourn;
   when I see that sin caused Christ's death,
    that makes me mourn;
 that sanctification is the evidence of reconciliation,
    proving that faith has truly apprehended Christ;
Thou hast taught me
   that faith is nothing else than receiving thy
 that it is an adherence to Christ, a resting on him,
    love clinging to him as a branch to the tree,
    to seek life and vigor from him.
I thank thee for showing me the vast difference
   between knowing things by reason,
   and knowing them by the spirit of faith.
By reason I see a thing is so;
   by faith I know it as it is.
I have seen thee by reason and have not
     been amazed,
I have seen thee as thou art in thy Son and have
    been ravished to behold thee.
I bless thee that I am thine in my Saviour,

Belonging to Jesus in The Valley of Vision

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


This past Sunday I finished preaching through Philippians. What a great book! There were several times throughout that book that caused me great joy. There were also several times of great conviction. It's a great book. You should study it. If you want to hear my sermons on it they can be found here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Finding Contentment in Christ

Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching Philippians 4:10-20. We have been working through the book of Philippians, and will conclude this Sunday. Verses 10-13 caused me to do some deep reflecting. There was plenty of conviction as well! And apparently I wasn't alone as I had texts, emails, and comments from several others dealing with this. Here are the verses:
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Here is where the conviction set in. I asked myself (and our people) whether we are really content in Jesus. What if God decided to take everything away from you right now? Would you still be content? What if He decided to give you every material blessing you could possibly imagine (which for me would probably be worse)? Would you still be content? These are hard questions. Very hard. And thus you can see the reason for such great conviction. I know what I want to say to answer those questions. I would love to say I am absolutely content in Jesus and there is nothing that would change that. But I know my heart. I know myself well enough to know I find contentment in my family, home, church, etc., which are all good gifts from our great God. But I (we) must never forget that the giver of these gifts is to be praised and adored more than the gifts themselves.

Another thing in those verses that I think is important (and encouraging) is that Paul stated twice that he had learned how to be content. Though the learning is not easy, I find it encouraging to hear that the apostle Paul had to have the time and experiences to learn this contentment. It's a process. God is with those who are His. And He is continually teaching us that we can find contentment in Him. He continues to prove Himself faithful and gracious. All the time. In every circumstance.

I'm seeking to find more contentment in Christ!