Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Could Use your Prayers

After gathering with FBC on Sunday I started feeling a little rough. It really is probably just a cold, but it has affected my voice as well. Usually on Wednesday evenings I lead our adult Bible Study and then teach the students. I have already asked someone to cover both of those for me tonight. However, I've also been invited to preach tomorrow night at another church (First Baptist Church on Magazine St.) and I really want to preach there since it is a great testimony of diversity coming together to worship God and celebrate the New Year together. Please pray that my voice will gain strength and I'll feel well enough to celebrate Christ with my brothers and sisters.

UPDATE: Since I woke up this morning (Thursday) I have been coughing and have a very tight chest. Preaching tonight doesn't look possible right now. I'll have to make a decision soon so they can adjust accordingly. Thanks for the prayers.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Feel this Way Once Again

Read the Bible in 2010

I find it very important to spend time in God's Word every year. I know I am not alone in this and I also know that sometimes we begin the year well, but we do not finish as strong. This is true for many of us. However, I want to be a good pastor who is in the Word and challenges my church to be in the Word as well. For my newsletter article to our church for January I challenged our people to be in the Word in 2010. Here are 2 of the reasons I gave:

My first reason is an important reason. In the Scriptures God has spoken. What I mean by that is that when you and I come to the Scriptures, we realize that God has spoken through various authors, but it is still God’s Word. This is foundational for your Christian life. It is how you answer the question, “how do I hear from God?” In our world of all kinds of answers the only sure answer that I can give you is that you hear from God by going to the Word of God. Since the Bible is the Word of God it is vitally important for us to know God through His spoken Word.

My second reason is because Scripture is about Jesus. This is perhaps as important as the first. In Luke 24:13-35 a conversation is recorded for us between Jesus and two of His disciples. In the midst of their conversation Jesus reveals Himself to them and began explaining who He was to them from the Scriptures. In fact, it says in Luke 24:27, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Just after this Jesus appears to many of His disciples and He says in verse 44, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” So as you open up the Bible and begin to read it you are actually constantly pointed to Jesus. That is a great reason to read your Bible.

Would you consider reading the Bible in 2010? If so, find a good Bible reading plan and use it. This year FBC is using one of these from the Discipleship Journal.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Birth of Jesus

I cannot tell it any better:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:1-21

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Our Traditions

As I posted yesterday, I will try to give a few of our family traditions. Some of these are clearly that we would focus completely on Christ while others are simply traditions that we have developed as a family. They actually begin before Christmas day because we want to anticipate and lead up to that day when we celebrate the birth of the Savior, Christ Jesus. Let me also say that new traditions seem to start yearly and we have many more that we've thought about already that have not been put into practice yet.

Advent - As a family we take time during our family devotions leading up to Christmas to focus on the events around and leading up to the birth of Christ. We also do this as a church family, but I think it's important for us and our children to realize that we are consistent in how we focus on Christmas. So we read the Bible, discuss advent, and sing songs that point us to the birth of Christ.

Christmas Eve Morning - Several years ago we moved away from both sides of our families. My family and Shannon's family both live close to one another so we decided we wanted to see them all at Christmas. However, we also wanted to make sure that we celebrated as a family (Shannon, Abigail, Owen, and myself) so we decided to celebrate on Christmas Eve before going to see family.

The first thing we do is wake up and spend some time reflecting on the birth of Jesus. We do not do Santa in our home so that is not an issue. We talk about the greatest gift ever given as the birth of the Son of God. We read Scripture and sing songs about Christ. Then we open gifts. This is a way for us to display grace to one another and show how gift giving can honor Christ on His birthday.

After this we have breakfast together. It has become a tradition in our house for Shannon to prepare (the night before) and cook (that morning) a breakfast casserole. I love it! I'm not sure how this came to be, but we now look forward to eating this every Christmas Eve morning as a family.

After breakfast, as Shannon and I clean the kitchen, Abigail (and this year Owen) spend time playing with their gifts and having a great time (usually). However, our morning isn't over yet. We have one more thing that we want to do as a family before packing up and heading out of town for a couple of days. It has become a tradition for Shannon and Abigail to go into the kitchen and prepare a birthday cake. After the cake is finished we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and enjoy the cake for His honor.

We are always looking for more ways to celebrate with the family and to honor Christ. Each year we add something new and each year we wish we had added something then.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Traditions

This is a repost from last year. Tomorrow I'll try to post some of our traditions. At this time, however, I'd like to hear from you.

Noel Piper's book Treasuring God in our Traditions causes Shannon and I to think through what we do to establish traditions for our family in our home. We've learned from several others throughout the years as well. If you don't have that book, I recommend you get it and read it. I hope you will be challenged and think through how to better celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this Christmas.

If you've already began thinking through this, what are the traditions that you have/will establish for Christmas?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

But I Deserve More

Yesterday morning when Abigail woke up she saw a few presents that were wrapped for her under the Christmas tree. However, as she saw the presents her first response was, "I only have two?" I point this out not to pick on my child, but rather to display the heart of most of us in that statement. The underlining thought of such a statement is that we deserve the gifts that we're given.

On a much larger scale is the thought that we all "deserve" the greatest gift in the world: the gift of Jesus Christ. That is the mindset of the culture we live in (church and secular culture). In fact, I think this is one reason the world can celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus (which many people culturally believe). There is something in our DNA that says we deserve this great gift. There is a thought process that actually believes we are good enough to receive these gifts.

So what does Scripture say? Scripture teaches that we do not deserve this great gift. Scripture teaches that we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). The very definition of grace proves that it is undeserved. In fact, James 1:16-18 says, "Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." By his own will he saved us. Jesus was born for an ultimate purpose. Matthew 1:21 says that Jesus will save His people from their sins. Jesus was born to die on a cross to redeem those who would believe. That is the greatest Gift there ever has or ever will be. And that gift is solely by the grace of God.

But it's not only for Christians that God gives good gifts. He sends sun and rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). On the cross Jesus also purchased a common grace for all people. Everything good in this life comes from God. For those who are believers and those who are not, God is a gracious God here and now. So we do not "deserve" the gifts in our lives, but rather through the birth of Christ, which led to the death of Christ on behalf of sinners, we receive amazing gifts with the most important being the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Beloved, this Christmas season as you celebrate the gift of Jesus with your families and friends, do not forget that He is a gift. You and I do not deserve it. The mentality that many of us have that says, "But I deserve more," is the result of a fallen, sinful nature. We have done nothing to deserve the good that is in our lives. God has been gracious and has gifted us with many things. The only reason there is good in our lives is because of an almighty, all loving, all sufficient God. Let us fight against our fleshly nature everyday that we might learn to value the precious gifts in our lives.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Today I started week 2. It was an interesting day. We had about 12-14 inches of snow last night and when I left for my run it began snowing again. It actually felt good, however. During one of the trips around the block (it's a short block and I didn't go too far because it was slick) I noticed an elderly lady sitting in the snow by the road. I looked closer and realized she had fallen in the snow. I asked her if she needed help getting up and she did. She had a bad ankle and apparently shouldn't have been out in the snow. Anyway, she was fine. I helped her up. She went back in the house and I finished my run. All in all it was a good run. Thanks for the support.

Fun in the Snow!

Just a few pictures of our snow from last night and today...

Friday, December 18, 2009

What if Jesus was not Born?

As I prepare for this Christmas I have been thinking a lot lately about all that has taken place since the birth of Christ. From there I began to ask myself, "What if Jesus had never been born?" I feel this is a question many of us overlook or take for granted since He was born. But let's take some time to meditate on that question. What if He wasn't born? What would be different today? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

One implication (major implication) is that if He had never been born, then we would still look for a Savior and not trust in the Lamb of God who bore the sins of the world.

I hope this leads you into worship and adoration of Christ. He was born, and named Jesus, because He would save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). May we all worship Him!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lectures on John Owen

I came across this post by Tony Reinke. It is Derek Thomas giving lectures on the Pastoral Theology of John Owen. Since I want to learn about and from Owen, it is very helpful for me. I hope you enjoy it.

Matt Chandler's Pathology results revealed

Matt Chandler's messages have really impacted my life up to this point. Please read the report and pray for him, his family, and his church family.

Pathology results revealed

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Firm Foundations for your Faith

I am preparing a sermon series at FBC on firm foundations. I am still working through the layout, but would love to hear some thoughts from you. If all goes as planned, I'll probably begin this in February. Here is what I have thus far and may change this list by addition or deletion of what is there. What am I missing? What would you take away?

1. The Word of God (Bible)
2. God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)
3. Man (creation, Fall, depravity)
4. Christ (Son of God, Substitue, Redeemer)
5. Salvation (grace, faith, repentance, etc.)
6. Church (body, bride, family)
7. Future (Christ's return, judgement, final salvation)

Update: It looks like I have at least 25 sermons working through this at this point. I'm sure some will change. I may combine, delete, or add some still. Thanks for the suggestions.

Also, you do not need to know me to make suggestions. I would welcome any serious thoughts on this subject.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Still Running...

Ok, so it's only my second day on the plan, but I just wanted to post for those helping hold me accountable that I did indeed run today. It was difficult actually. I think that lack of sleep last night, and not waiting long enough after lunch made it tough, but I did it. Thanks for the support!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Ok, so I've been trying to exercise for a while now, but never really stick with it too long. Tonight I decided it was time to try again, and this time to put it on here for accountability purposes. I'm using the Couch to 5K training program (and yes, there is an app for that) because I've heard good things about it and I've realized that I'm in the worse shape I've been in my life. So I completed day one today. I would appreciate your support and accountability as I work to get in shape.

With that being said, let me say why I'm concerned about this. There are of course the health reasons. There also is the fact that I want to be able to play with my children. But the main reason is that I want to glorify God with every aspect of my life. That includes how I treat my body. So I'm not only trying to run, but also trying to eat healthy and stop drinking (and this is the hard one!) Mt. Dews. So help me as I seek to glorify God.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Preparing for Sunday

This Sunday, God-willing, we will complete Galatians at FBC. It is a sweet time, but also difficult. I have really enjoyed preaching through this book and working through the theological and practical implications of being justified in Christ apart from any works. So this week we plan to look at 6:11-18. I have loved my prep time this week. I have also been very convicted in my own life from my study. I would like to point out a very real truth that I fear many in the church today have abandoned based on this text.

There are two different types of people in this text. There are the false teachers (teaching the people they must be circumcised in order to be saved), and then there is Paul (trusting in the death of Christ alone for salvation). But what I have found striking about those two types of people is the motivation for going where they are. For the false teachers Paul writes in verse 12, "It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ." Two things stand out from that verse. First is that they want to have people circumcised so they can boast in their flesh. The second is that they do this so they can avoid persecution.

On the other hand is Paul. Paul refused to boast in his flesh. In fact, Paul says in verse 14, "But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." His only boast is in the very thing that the Judaizers were trying to avoid. They didn't want to be persecuted for the cross of Christ (vs. 12) so they added to the cross and were accepted by the other Jews, and Paul says I will not back down from persecution and avoid the cross. In fact, he goes on to say in verse 17, "From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." Paul not only did not boast in his flesh but rather the cross, he also did not avoid persecution but rather was branded under the ownership of Christ.

In many churches today (at least in the West) we have taught that the Lord wants us to be safe and therefore we move away from the hard places. We have said it is right that we place our children, homes, spouses, etc. in the safest of neighborhoods. I am sure the Lord leads some of us there. But is our motivation to avoid persecution for the cross of Christ? Have we used Him to get out of taking the gospel to those who need to hear? May we be more like Paul and bear the marks of Christ on our bodies than like the false teachers who cared more about boosting their numbers than the salvation of souls!

How do you Organize your Books?

I posted on Twitter and Facebook that I needed to organize my books and would be open to suggestions for doing so. I have had a few responses (some serious, most not!), but thought I would open it up for others. So how do you organize your books. I'm thinking in terms of author, subject, sets (commentaries, or works of a particular author for instance), books of the Bible, etc.

One more question: how much room do you leave on a shelf for future additions?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Errbody in the Church Helpin' Lottie

May we give for missions!

In all seriousness, the Lottie Moon Christmas offering will help send missionaries to places that do not have access to the gospel. I pray we will raise up this year, spend less on ourselves, and more for the sake of the gospel.

Core Values

I have been thinking through what we as First Baptist Church should say/believe we're committed to. I have come up with 9 so far that are in rough shape and order. I would like to tighten this up so we'll be able to use it to bring glory to God and to continue to unify our church.

What do you think?

What would you add?

1. Biblical Preaching and Teaching
2. Corporate Worship
3. Personal Disciplines
4. Prayer Dependent
5. Biblical Community
6. Discipling Others
7. Sacrificial Care
8. Missions
9. Personal Evangelism

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Galatians Commentaries

I plan (God-willing) to finish preaching through the book of Galatians this Sunday at First Baptist. I have consulted several commentaries, but ended up really using only five. They all have their strengths, and I think they really help when used together. Here they are:

Reformed Expository Commentary - Philip Graham Ryken

A Mentor Commentary - David B. McWilliams

The Message of Galatians - John R. W. Stott

The Crossway Classic Commentary - Martin Luther, Edited by Alister McGrath and J. I. Packer

The New American Commentary - Timothy George

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Limited Time - Great Price

The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift that Changes Everything is a book that looks to be very good. Right now WTSBooks has it at a great price here. You can also listen to what Mark Dever says about it here:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Preparing for Sunday

I am sitting in The Coffee Mill. I have been looking over my sermon notes and reading through a couple more commentaries before I finalize my outline for Sunday morning. My sermon text is Galatians 6:1-10 (actually begins back in 5:26). Paul has worked through Galatians pointing out the importance of the gospel and how one is saved (justification by faith alone). In chapter five he began dealing with the outward implications of being born again and ended with being led by the Spirit (which produces specific fruit found in 5:22-23).

I am very excited about this sermon for Sunday because he is also going to deal with how Christians are to live within community with one another. Galatians 6:2 is very important, "Bear one another's burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Since I do not want to spoil my sermon for Sunday, let me quickly say one very important thing. If we are going to live as a community of believers, then we must learn that we are not in this thing alone. If we were not conceited or envious (5:26) of others and realized that we are created and molded by God to be unique in His image, and yet, part of the corporate body of Christ, then maybe we would start to love one another enough to carry each other's burdens.

I like what John Stott has said about this in his commentary on Galatians, "Very different is that love which is the fruit of the Spirit, which Christians exhibit when they are walking by the Spirit. Such people have no self-conceit, or rather are continually seeking by the Spirit to subdue it. They do not think of themselves more highly than they ought to think; they think soberly (Rom. 12:3). They Holy Spirit has opened their eyes to see both their own sin and unworthiness and also the importance and value of other people in the sight of God. People with such love regard others as 'more important' and seek every opportunity to serve them."

Brothers and sisters, do you love others in this way? Are you willing to carry burdens with your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I want to Know you

I've realized over the past couple of years that it is sometimes difficult to get people to actually comment on here. I really would like to know who you are as you come by. If you do not mind, would do me a favor and fill out some information about yourself in the comment section? I would love to know your name, location, and (if applicable) what church you are a part of. Any other information would be great as well so I can better know who reads this blog. Thanks, and I look forward to getting to know you.

Ways to Stay Connected

For those few of you who may be interested:

You can find me on Facebook here

You can find me on Twitter here

You can become of a fan of FBC Pulaski on Facebook here

You can follow FBC Pulaski on Twitter here

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hebrews Ministering to my Soul

I am reading through the book of Hebrews and have been challenged, encouraged, and humbled quickly. These three verses have been especially sweet to my soul this day.

Hebrews 4:14-16 - Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dangers of Doing

I am preparing my sermon for this Sunday from Galatians 5:16-26 and I came across something that I think will be helpful for others. When Paul lists the deeds of the flesh (verses 19-21) he ends by writing, "I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." That's right! God will judge man according to his deeds. The initial thought would be to teach that we stop doing these things. But there is a problem with that teaching (actually a few problems). First of all, it does not suffice to stop doing these things because we all have already done these. Therefore, we are already guilty before God. We are by nature (as it says in Ephesians 2:3) children of wrath. So just not doing these things will not help anyone!

Of course that is evident from Scripture. Scripture clearly condemns everyone under sin and places all of mankind in need of a Savior. It also clearly points to the fact that Jesus Christ is that Savior. And that in order to have Christ as your Savior one must repent of their sin against Almighty God (recognizing that Christ died because of your sin) and believe that Christ's righteousness will be given to you if you would trust in Him alone (which is a work done by the Spirit of God). So we're all guilty and in need of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

So this brings up the second problem with teaching that we should just change our actions: the context does not support that! At first I wanted to show that we were sinners by nature and point out that our actions flow from what is on our hearts because of our sinful nature. As I thought through this particular passage of Scripture I saw how we are to change our actions. See if you can see how one is to "stop doing" what they have always done.

Galatians 5:16 - But I say to you walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Galatians 5:18 - But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:22 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,...

Galatians 5:25 - If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

In those 4 verses in this immediate context it is clear that the way to be changed from what we have always done is to be led by the Spirit. You can do some great, moral, things without being led by the Spirit. But you can only be led by the Spirit if you have experienced verse 24, "And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

I want to preach in such a way that my congregation does not leave thinking they can "do things different" and accomplish what God requires of them for salvation. I want them to see that what God requires can only be accomplished when one comes to Christ and receives His righteousness and lives a life led by the Spirit.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm Thankful for Thanksgiving

I am thankful for Thanksgiving because as a Christian I am commanded to be thankful. However, most of the time I am not thankful enough, especially about the common graces I experience everyday or the many blessings that "seem" normal (at least in America). On Thanksgiving I'm giving the opportunity to think about what I'm thankful for and I take the time to slow down and actually do that. So I am thankful for Thanksgiving because it causes me to take time to be obedient to God. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You are not the Bride of Christ...

There are times in your life when you figure out something that maybe you should have known for a long time. That recently happened to me (again!). In our individualistic society we live in today it is easy to see why I missed this, but as a pastor and seminary student I should not have. The point is that you (singular) are not the bride of Christ. You (plural) are the bride of Christ. There is no place of individualism in the Christian life. All those who believe are part of the bride of Christ. I bring that out because of a couple of reasons. One reason is for those who say you can be a believer in Christ and not be a part of the church. For one thing that's just disobedient to God's word. For another thing, however, you are part of the church if you are in Christ. So to hate the church is to hate the very bride that you help make. Another reason I've thought about this is because the church must recapture the understanding of community (not individualism) if she will actually be the church Christ has died for her to be. The bride of Christ is a corporate bride, not an individualistic person.

What are some other implications of this truth?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What are we Saying?

Last night I had the opportunity to speak at the Baptist Collegiate Ministries at Virginia Tech. I spoke on "Missions is a Blood Issue" based on Revelation 5:9-10, "And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.'" My challenge to them was that missions was important because Christ spilled out His blood for people from every tribe and language and people and nation.

This has me thinking today. What are we saying if we are not involved in fulfilling what Christ Himself died to fulfill? In other words, if Christ has purchased people from every tribe, and His sheep will hear his voice (John 10:16), then what are we saying by not taking this seriously? I think we're saying the death of Christ on behalf of His sheep isn't all that important to us. What do you think?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Churches Planting Churches

Ed Stetzer gives 10 Reasons to Partner in Planting Now. Here are the 10 reasons, but I would encourage you to go and check out what he writes.

1. The current economy is a perfect opportunity.

2. Plants do better when local people are sent out.

3. Churches get healthier as and after they plant another church.

4. Shared DNA is better than solo DNA.

5. Planters who partner benefit from increased accountability.

6. Partnerships lessen the financial and resource burdens.

7. People in the community need to reach their community.

8. You can take advantage of more effective exposure.

9. It creates a vivid witness.

10. It is ultimately Kingdom-minded.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Called to Lay Down Your Life

Several weeks ago we had a deacon ordination at our church. As I was researching the passage I wanted to preach from that morning I ended up in Mark 10:35-45. The reason is not because that passage has to do with the office of deacon, but because it captures the heart of everyone involved in deacon ministry. In this passage James and John ask Jesus to do for them whatever they ask. They proceed to ask to sit on His right hand and left hand in glory. They did not display a servant attitude.

However, the other disciples did not either. Verse 41 says, "And when the then heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John." The response of these disciples was not what Jesus wanted either. All of the disciples in this passage missed the way in which Jesus would build His kingdom. So Jesus responds in verses 42-45 by showing that the way to be great in His kingdom is to become a servant of all.

Interestingly, in verse 45 a from of the word for deacon is used twice. It says, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served (deaconed) but to serve (deacon), and to give his life as a ransom for many." Jesus came to serve and He pointed His disciples in the same direction. If they were to follow Jesus and achieve greatness in His kingdom, they would have to empty themselves of everything in order to serve others, as it says in verse 44, "and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all."

I tied this in with our church by saying that we are all called to serve others. We are not called to lord our positions over one another, but rather to lay our lives down for one another. Those who do this well would make good deacons. The example that Jesus gives, however, is for all who are followers of Him. We are all called to lay down our lives for others.

Certainly it is not in the same way as Jesus. Jesus laid down His life as a ransom for many. We cannot do that. But we can lay our lives down for many. I wonder, what would happen if Christians today took seriously the pattern Jesus set by laying down their lives for others for the glory of God and to point to (let's not miss the reason for this) the fact that Jesus bought you and others with His blood. May we serve in such a way that people see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm After an Image, but not that Image

Romans 8:29 - For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Certainly there is much theology in this verse. Some would even debate exactly what is being taught here. However, it is very clear that God plans for those who believe in Christ to be conformed into the image of Christ. That is what we are becoming as believers. We are called to the image of Christ.

However, I do not see that in myself. Over the years I have come to realize more and more that I am a very prideful person. Though I would like to think that has changed for the better, the fact remains I'm still prideful. This is clearly evident in my desire to have an image. I want to be seen as something. I want people to know who I am for something. As a pastor I can make that sound very spiritual. I didn't realize the pride of the following statement until recently, but it has been my thought for some time, "I want to be known as a sinner conformed to the image of Christ." Doesn't that sound great?

The problem is the first five words of that statement: I want to be known. It shows that my goal is not so much for Christ to be seen as it is for ME to be seen in Christ. Pride is such a difficult sin to combat because it's prevalent in all of life. As a prideful sinner I can take the best of things and try to twist it and turn it for my own glory. Of course it would be great for people to see you as conformed (or conforming) into the image of Christ. We are saved for that purpose. But the point is that they see the image of Christ, not us.

I have concluded that I am after an image, but it's not the right image. I (we) must fight against our sinful, prideful desires to be known and live for Christ's image to be displayed through us. He gets all the glory because He is the One worthy of being seen.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

We're NOT all God's Children

To be a child of God is a special privilege. I have heard many people over the years talk about how everyone is God's child. There is a great problem with that: It's not what the Bible says. In fact, in Galatians 4 Paul talks about becoming a child of God by saying in verses 4-5, "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." If we were already children of God, then we would not need to be adopted into His family. To say everyone is a child of God is to diminish what Christ accomplished on the cross for those who would believe. In fact, those who are actually children of God (through adoption) have evidence that they are children called the Holy Spirit, "And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God" (Gal. 4:6-7). We must rejoice that God in His sovereign mercy would redeem a people and adopt them as children into His family. We must plead with others that they would renounce their own self-righteousness (which is no righteousness) and embrace the righteousness of Christ. And we must rejoice that those who have faith in the finished work of Christ are sons of God through faith.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wow, It's been a Month

I just realized yesterday that I haven't posted anything on here in a month. I will work on that. For now let me say that I have recently been pondering the glorious truth of justification by faith alone in Christ alone. I have been preaching through Galatians and have been sweetly encouraged of God's sovereign grace in salvation. I am completely undeserving of such grace.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

This was so Helpful

This message by Mahaney at the God Exposed Conference at SEBTS was so helpful for me. I encourage everyone to listen, and especially pastors. It's 80 minutes long and I think it will change your life and ministry.

Expository Faithfulness from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Free Yard Sale

This past Saturday our church had a yard sale where everything was free. Our hope was to bless the community with items that may help them and to share information about our church, and more importantly, our Lord. There are several reasons this event encouraged me as a pastor.

The first reason is that it wasn't my idea. Several months ago a lady in our congregation brought up the idea of having people from the church donate items that could be used in a give away for the community. Immediately I thought and heard from others that there were several variables that we need to think through. For instance, what if someone pulled up with a truck and said they wanted it all since it was free. So we decided we had to organize this thing to make sure we were actually accomplishing our goal of blessing those who needed the items and were able to meet as many people as possible. We started with one idea, and then changed it first thing Saturday morning. We changed it to say that everyone could take up to 10 items. However, after about 20 minutes we stopped telling people of the limit and just trusted the Lord would take care of that. He did! We were able to bless around 75-100 people through this outreach.

The second encouraging thing I saw as a pastor was that the people of First Baptist were eager to give for this event. We talked about it for a couple of months and ended up with a lot of items to give away. We had a wide range of things (some that I didn't think would go and they did!), because our people stepped up with a heart to give to this community for the sake of the gospel.

A third encouragement was that I saw the church being intentional not to withdrawal to themselves, but to actually go talk with the visitors who came. There were a lot of great conversations going on that included talks about the Lord and invites to the church. But it went even further. Our people were genuinely taking the time to ask questions to get to know the people better. As a pastor I saw a genuine desire to get to know the visitors as much as possible in that brief window of time.

A fourth encouragement was the emphasis on being faithful. While it's certainly true we hope some of those who came would come and visit with our church and sit under the preaching of the Word, that was not our first concern. We were glad to be obedient and faithful to being a witness to the grace of God through Christ in our lives. The conversations I had Sunday and Monday with our church were all positive about the event. We were glad to have been used by God to bless others and pray that our labors would bring Him glory by bringing others into His kingdom.

There are other things for sure. We learned some things that will be improved upon for next time. We are already planning to do this again in, God-willing, the Spring of next year. But I am thankful that we didn't wait until we had every detail worked out and end up not doing it because of all the questions. First Baptist Church committed to blessing whomever we could and I am thankful to have been a part of this.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Choosing Thomas

This video has been posted on several blogs lately, but I found it powerful and worth posting here. Take 10 minutes to watch this please.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Owen Daniel Alston

After many months of thinking, praying, and discussing a name for our new son, we've settled on Owen Daniel. Several years ago I heard John Piper talk about picking and learning from a great (dead) theologian. Years ago I decided that theologian would be John Owen for me. John Owen was a great gift to the church as his works are still read and enjoyed by many today. He had an unbelievably sharp mind and a love for Christ and His glory that surpassed that of many others. Therefore, we named our son Owen. Daniel, of course, is from the Daniel in the Scriptures. In his youth Daniel stood firm in his faith against the temptations to turn away. He rejected the goods and the decrees of the king in order to remain faithful to his Lord. His faith was strong at such a young age that it almost cost him his life.

My prayer for Owen Daniel has been that his mind would be as sharp and his faith as strong as these men. I have prayed that God would see fit to raise him up to be a devoted follower of Christ and a great gift to the church. We rejoice that this blessing is here and that, by God's grace, he's been entrusted to our care and upbringing. While I have no idea what it is that God will call Him to be, I pray it's a follower of Christ before everything else. May God be gracious in this and raise up young Owen Daniel to stand firm in his faith and to lead others in the ways of the Lord. I pray God would see fit to display His glory throughout his life. Thank you Lord for this gift. We commit him to you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tears of the Saints

What do you look For?

I would like some input from as many people as possible about this question: What do you look for in a church? Please comment for me. I am thinking through what the Bible says about the church, but would also like to hear from people what they think the church should be/do. So please help me, what do you look for in a church?

Update: I'd like to hear from both those who attend church and those who do not.

You're Not Righteous.....Christ is!

Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching about justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone from Galatians 2:15-21. It's a tough passage in a few places and preaching the doctrine could lead some to think you're preaching antinomianism. However, Paul addresses that in this text as well by pointing out that in Christ you are new and no longer live to build up what you've worked hard to destroy. In all, this doctrine is important because of the fact that you and I are not righteous. We cannot obtain the perfect righteousness required by God without the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us. Until we know that we are not righteous I don't think we'll realize the preciousness of the doctrine of justification. May we live and trust in the righteousness of Christ that has been given to those who believe!

Friday, August 14, 2009

2 New Books by Chapell

Bryan Chapell is the author of the excellent book on preach, Christ-Centered Preaching. Right now WTS has two new books by him at a very good price. Both of these books books look to be excellent books worthy reading.

Christ-Centered Worship

Ephesians (Reformed Commentary Series)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The India I Know

I recently came across this blog and really enjoy it. I have had the opportunity to be in India twice in my life (both times with Wil Owens). The scene from this video is not abnormal at all in India. It's one of the reasons my heart breaks for India and often times desires to be there.

Don't Want to Waste my Life

I have been digging this CD. I wish I could go to one of the concerts.

Should Church Planting Really Be Different?

I am curious to know if church planting really should be all that different from pastoring an established church? What makes it so different as far as the philosophy/methodology is concerned?

Modern Paraphrase of Matthew 25

I saw a link to this blog from the Abba Fund blog. My heart breaks.

"For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank BOTTLED water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me DEPORTED. I needed clothes, but you needed MORE clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the BEHAVIORS that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I DESERVED."
-Richard Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel

From left to right: Dieuvlet, Peterly, Jonny, Gilderson

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why We Love the Church

This book is on sale right now. I haven't read it, but from what I've heard it is a fantastic book about the church.

Things You'd Like to Do

My good friend Justin Nale has posted 10 Things I'd like to do one day on his blog. This caused me to start thinking through some things I'd like to do as well. That drove me to think that I'd like to hear of some things that you'd like to one day. So, if you would, post in the comments some things you'd like to do. If it's not 10 that's okay. If it's more than 10 that's fine too. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Here is my partial list (I'm still thinking about some things - I know, probably putting WAY too much thought into this).

1. Adopt a child (actually, children)
2. Be used to reach an unreached people group with the gospel
3. Enter a bicycle race (and finish!)
4. Be a good testimony for Christ in the way I live (spiritual and physical disciplines)
5. Be able to explain the end times (or maybe understand them at least)
6. Hike the Appalachian Trail
7. Read the Works of John Owen
8. Be able to read the Bible in the original languages (and understand it)

Update: Justin Childers has posted 10 things he'd like to do in the next 10 years.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Adoption is Biblical

I have just started reading Adopted for Life by Russell Moore. I have already been challenged and encouraged to think more Biblically about adoption. This quote is a good challenge to the church:

It is one thing when the culture doesn't "get" adoption. What else could one expect when all of life is seen as the quest of "selfish genes" for survival? It is one thing when the culture doesn't "get" adoption and so speaks of buy a cat as "adopting" a pet. But when those who follow Christ think the same way, we betray that we we miss something crucial about our own salvation.

Found on pages 18-19

You can also watch a video interview of Russell Moore by Justin Taylor here: Between Two Worlds: <i>Adopted for Life</i>: A Video Chat with Russell Moore

Only One Life....

Maybe you've heard the saying, "Only one life 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ shall last." It has been rolling around in my head for several years now and I try to remember it when I go through my daily life. However, I have not put it into practice in the same way as Rachel (go check out the website) has. I saw this video today on the Abba Fund Blog and thought it was worth putting on here. I hope you enjoy it and remember that death is not dying.

Here's the video.

This is Why I've Started Reading John Owen

From Justin Taylor

If you are interested in the 16 volume set of The Works of John Owen, you can get them here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Encouraged to Share the Gospel

A few weeks ago Justin Childers pointed out that a friend of his started a new blog talking about his gospel encounters. Thus far I have been very encouraged with this blog. It's one that has challenged me and even, I think, given me more awareness and boldness to share the gospel. I encourage you to check out the blog as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Does your life Match?

As I have been working through the confrontation of Paul to Peter in Galatians 2:11-14 this question has been getting at my soul, "Does the testimony of your life look like the message of your lips?" This, of course, is in reference to the gospel. Thus far in Galatians Paul has been proving his divinely appointed apostleship so that the gospel that he preaches would be seen as from God, not man. The sake of people's souls are at stake for Paul and he wants to make sure the Galatians know that the gospel he proclaims is right and must be trusted. So I am praying that God would grant me the grace to live a life that matches the truth of the gospel that I proclaim. How different, I think, the church would look and act if it seriously examined herself next to this question.

What are some ways the people of God should be/act if our lives are to match our gospel?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Really Good Books (and CD)

It looks like there are some really good books on special right now at WTS. The new Keith and Kristyn Getty is also there. Go check it out

Here's the list of books (and CD):

Risking the Truth: Handling Error in the Church - This has a fantastic line up of contributors.

Awaken the Dawn: Keith and Kristyn Getty - They are fantastic writers/musicians

Galatians - The new commentary in the Mentor Series (I'm purchasing this today!)

You are the Treasure that I Seek...But There's a lot of Cool Stuff out There, Lord

Glory Road: The Journeys of 10 African-Americans into Reformed Christianity

The Westminster Confession into the 21st Century: Volume 3

Let Not your Heart be Troubled

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why Pray for Prosperity?

I can only think of one reason that we would ever desire to have plenty of money.

Psalm 67
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
2 that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

6 The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
7 God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

We should only pray and hope for prosperity for the purpose to taking the gospel to all nations. May we never lean so heavily upon our money that we think it's just for us!

First Baptist Outreach

On October 31, 2008 I had the privilege of becoming the pastor of First Baptist Church in Pulaski, VA. It's a small church comprised of mostly senior adults. However, it's also a loving church. I was told from the start that we really needed to work on outreach because the church had not done so too successfully over the recent years. That is something that I was really eager to do. After several months of talking about the importance of reaching people for the glory of Christ I've been very blessed to see some great things happen over the past month.

The first outreach we were able to partake in was to feed the local baseball team breakfast and share the gospel with them. The team is called the Pulaski Mariners (part of the Seattle Mariners organization). About 30 of them showed up on Saturday morning, June 20. Since this was our first outreach scheduled, and we didn't have a budget for it, all this was accomplished through donations from the church members and a desire to serve. We brought in close to 4 times the amount of money needed for the breakfast and had about 15 volunteers show up that morning. We were clear with the management that we wanted to serve, but that we would also only do this with the chance for me to share the gospel with the players, coaching staff, and management. Praise be to God things went very well. We are now praying for the team and are able to go to the games knowing some of them by name. Please pray with us that the gospel would take fruit in their lives and they would be transformed. Pray with us that when the season ends and they head back to their homes (some in other countries!) that God would use them to spread the gospel to others.

A second outreach that has greatly encouraged me was raising can goods for a local ministry aimed at feeding around 225 people lunch five days a week. As you can imagine it takes a lot of food to feed that many people. Unfortunately this area of the country has a high unemployment rate and many who are living in poverty. We were not sure how well it would go trying to raise food during the same month as asking for donations for the baseball breakfast. By God's grace our church delivered 30 gallons or more yesterday to the local Daily Bread Ministry.

This bring joy to a pastor's heart. Not because we want credit for what we've done. In fact, I almost didn't even post this on here. But it brings joy to my heart to see our people learning to serve and having a desire to meet needs (physical and spiritual). As a small church with limited resources and a congregation of mostly senior adults, we are seeking ways to spread the glory of Christ in Pulaski, VA. We have a long way to go, but it is becoming more and more clear to me that when the church learns to live out the gospel that people will genuinely be interested in hearing what you have to say.

With all that being said, I'm looking for more ways to reach the community with the gospel. Do you have any suggestions? What has your church tried in order to take the gospel to the people within your community?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Excited for the Future

After spending the last few days in Louisville, KY for the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention I can say I am actually excited about our future. As a student of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary I've been very excited about the example that our president, Dr. Danny Akin, has set for us and the leadership he has in both the school and the SBC. This was my first annual meeting that I went to, and I started by going to the the Monday evening sessions of the pastor's conference. The three messages I heard that night were fantastic and inspiring. Drs. Reid, Platt, and Hunt all delivered in such a way that I came away very optimistic that this was not simply a hunger by the younger generation to move forward for the sake of the gospel. It truly seemed to be a desire of the SBC.

However, after that came the first day of the convention (Tuesday) and my heart began to sink throughout the afternoon. The focus seemed different by some of those on the floor making motions. I want to be careful here because I really believe what was happening was a sincere fear that our convention could be compromising in areas that they felt would hinder the Great Commission and our identity in Christ. For that I am quite thankful. A lot of what I heard being complained about when it came to these motions was the attacks on Mark Driscoll and Acts29 (which was also an attack on those who affiliate with them in any way). Since that is the case I want to be clear about something - I love the theology of and passion of Mark Driscoll, but I am certainly not Driscoll. I am uncomfortable with some of the things he does/says. But I have no intentions of throwing out Driscoll because of these things. The fact is he has a good understanding of the gospel of grace and he's reaching people for the Kingdom.

So heading into Tuesday night I was not sure what direction we were going to head in. You could feel the tension building as many people (younger and older) came into the business time for the convention. The silly motions were dealt with before they ever made it to the floor, but there was still one that I felt was the key to our moving forward as a convention. That motions was to allow the president of our convention, Dr. Johnny Hunt, the duty of appointing a task force that would look into our structure and see how we could better reach the nations with the gospel. Dr. Albert Mohler presented the motion that morning and spoke to it first that evening. It was great, but it was also rejected by some as being a Calvinist movement or a waste of time and resources. When it came time to vote I was overjoyed to see that around 95% of our convention voted in favor of this motion. I think this is a great step for our convention and the time is now here to pray for the task force as they look over this and bring back their findings to the SBC next year.

Therefore I am excited about our future in the SBC. But I do also want to give a warning. One of the things I am concerned about is the lack of remembrance of those around my age. The love of theological depth and passion for taking the gospel to the ends of the earth is rooted in a trust in the fact that the Bible is God's Word without error. This battle was fought by those who came before us. While I agree that some of the motions made and some of the battles still being fought are crazy at best, let us not forget that those who have gone before us have wisdom and experience that we do not yet have. We must not forget that we are in the line of history that includes the generations that came before us. In fact, I am thankful that those who led the way for the Great Commission Resurgence are not in their 30's and 40's. Some to be sure are 50 and above. I am quite thankful for the generations that have gone before us. Our convention would not be where it is today if it were not for those who were genuinely concerned about the identity of our convention in Christ. Yes we have work to do, but I am excited about our future and do not want to forget our past.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Where do you Turn?

We all sin. There is no one who is without sin. However, I've been thinking a lot lately about those sins that continually creep up in your life. You know the one's I'm talking about. They are different for different people, but they're there. It seems like I've gotten wrong this whole time and I think others probably have as well. Let me explain. When I sense the temptation coming on to sin I begin to dwell on that sin and try my hardest to think of ways to avoid that sin. You may think that sounds like a good plan, but I'm not convinced it's a terrible plan. The more we think of that particular sin the more the temptation grows until we satisfy our longing for that sin by giving in. That is not helpful. Indeed this will happen from time to time. This is why we never get past the gospel. In those times when we do give in to sin where do you turn? If it were not for the gospel of Christ I wouldn't know where to turn. It's in those moments that I remember that Christ purchased me and paid for even that sin on the cross. So when we sin we need, no, we must, turn to the gospel of Christ.

But my question was how do we fight the temptations of sin before we give in? There are many helpful strategies, but I think the answer is the same as the last answer: the gospel. In those moments of temptation we do not need to think about that particular sin. Rather, we need to preach the gospel to ourselves. We need to think of Christ. We need to set our minds on things above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2). The answer to fighting the temptations of sin are not found in strategies (though they may help to some degree). The answer is found in drawing close to God through Christ. So when you feel the temptations coming on stronger and stronger get on your knees and plead with God to help you and open up His Word and see His unbelievable grace in the gospel of Christ. Pray that God would deliver you from the evil one. Don't turn to your sin! Turn to Christ!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

9 Years Ago Today....

I married the best woman in the world. I'm thankful for her in more ways than I can express. She has been there in numerous ways throughout the years and truly we have become one flesh. Thank you Shannon for your love for me and our family.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Preacher, How do you Pray?

I recently read Lectures to my Students by Charles Spurgeon and was challenged at many points throughout the book. However, these particular sentences have come back over and over again to me:

The preacher who neglects to pray much must be very careless about his ministry. He cannot have comprehended his calling. He cannot have computed the value of a soul, or estimated the meaning of eternity.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Calling all Pastors!

I've been thinking on Colossians 1:21-23 a lot today:

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
My conviction for this has been the role of the pastor in the life of the church. We are called to be shepherds under the headship of Christ. First and foremost, however, we have to realize this is His bride. The church has been purchased by the blood of Christ in order to be presented before Him as blameless and above reproach. The "if" is a huge if. If you see the flow of this Paul says you have been reconciled "if" you continue in the faith. So pastors, it is our jobs to preach in such a way that they continue in the faith (as opposed to continuing to have a great life in this life). We are preparing our people for eternity with the groom, Jesus. So I'm calling out all pastors to go before the Lord and repent of our lack of seriousness in our ministry, especially our preaching of the Word. May we all labor to preach the Word in season and out of season. And may we pray that God would use feeble men to proclaim His Word to prepare the bride that Christ has purchased for Himself.

Expository Preaching

Here is another great word from Piper. This one is about preaching and again I like it.

Amen to Piper's Statments

Many people have posted this, but I felt it well worth doing again.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Great Commission Resurgence?

I have to post about this. There is a new website devoted to A Great Commission Resurgence that is well worth looking at. In fact, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it. This has been another reason why I blogged about Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary before and why I'm delighted to be a student at SEBTS. On April 16, 2009 in the chapel service, SEBTS President Dr. Daniel Akin preached a sermon titled "Axioms of Great Commission Resurgence." It's a sermon I believe every Southern Baptist (and beyond) ought to listen to. I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether this is actually a movement in the SBC that should take root, and if you're a Southern Baptist, would you stand behind something like this.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It's a Boy

Well, it's been about a month since I've blogged and I've thought several times how I could blog about this or that. I'm not jumping back into blogging, but I did want to give a personal update for those who care. We went to the doctor yesterday for an ultrasound to see how the baby's developing and, if possible, to determine the sex of the baby. By God's grace they were able to see clearly (they said) that our baby due to be seen outside the womb in August is a little boy. We would appreciate your continued prayers for the baby and the mommy and the big sister who's extremely excited.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Use of Technology

I've been thinking a lot lately about technology and how it is used and misused by many people. For me, I enjoy the opportunity to talk with people and have had a lot of great conversations on Facebook about the gospel with people. Twitter has also been a good avenue for me to meet new people and encourage and be encouraged. This blog is another example of technology and how it may or may not be used for the glory of God. We have been blessed with these for God's glory.

However, many people do not use these things for God's glory. Some are not followers of Christ and so I expect them to act like they are still lost in sin. But I'm referring to those of us who are in Christ and yet still do not honor God as best we can because of technology. That has been the case for me. I've found that I spend far too much time checking blogs, Facebook, Twitter, or anything else I can which has caused me to be far less productive for the Lord. With that being said, I have plans to remove some of these things from my life and time. The first thing to go is this blog. The truth is, it's become more of a burden than it has a joy. There are far more blogs in this world than we need and probably next to all of them are better than this one. I may post again in the future, but for now consider this my blogging good-bye.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday's Question

I have been preparing this week to preach John 13:31-35 where Jesus says that people will know who His disciples are if they have love for one another. In what ways can the church display that love? How can we better love one another?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday's Question

What do you feel is the most effective way for a church to be involved with international missions? I'm thinking in terms of adopting a people group, short-term missions, partnerships with missionaries, etc.

Monday, March 2, 2009

How Do You Read?

I have always been a slow reader. In fact, I never read an entire book until I was 21 years old (after high school and only once I came to faith in Christ). I also have often times struggled remembering much of the content that I do read. However, recently I've been working on trying to read more efficiently. Some books require that I read every word and others do not. So I'm curious, how do you read? Do you read every word of every book? Do you just make sure you get the point of the book? If you do speed through some books, has that ever affected your reading of Scripture?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Good Series Starting...

at Wil Owens' blog. Wil has had a very difficult year that led him to pastor First Baptist Church in Paintsville, KY. God has taught him much. I truly believe Wil is one of the few people I know who truly walks with the Lord. He has challenged me much. I encourage you to check out his blog to find out more about him and Search and See Ministries. He has a heart for missions and the local church. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Friday's Question

How do you preach the gospel to yourself? Why do you preach the gospel to yourself?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sick Again

I woke up this morning at 4:00 with the knowledge that I am yet sick again. I thought it would be nice for me to let you know the extent of my illness with a video. I've shown this before, but it really helps to capture a man's sickness.

Friday, February 20, 2009

SEBTS and the Gospel

I'm a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am presently working on a Master's of Divinity degree there after having received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies with a Minor in the History of Ideas from The College at Southeastern. However, there was a time when I had decided I would not go back to SEBTS for my Master's Degree. In fact, I began taking some classes from Reformed Theological Seminary's Virtual Campus. Just before I graduated in 2005 SEBTS went through a transition from one president to another. I was quite anguish to see how the new president would be before I would change my mind. This post is about why I decided to go back to SEBTS and why I'm glad that I did.

When Dr. Akin came in I was a college student with enough pride in what I knew to ruin just about any church. I left the church I was serving to help plant a church in Matthews, NC having convinced myself that I knew all there was to know about the Bible and the church. That was a huge mistake. I knew very little. That became evident to me fairly quickly, which is why I decided to start taking classes from RTS. As that was taking place I was hearing great things from SEBTS including the emphasis that Dr. Akin and the school had for the gospel. Sure, SEBTS already had a great missions sending program (and they still do!), but there seemed to be a peace forming on campus that I didn't sense when I was in college there. In college I felt (maybe it was just me, maybe not) that I had to be careful to speak up with what I believed about the Bible because there was a fighting mentality. I do want to be careful not to say that was the former president's fault. I'll leave that for you to decide. There were constant comments from Calvinist against non-Calvinist and the other way around.

That all changed soon after Dr. Akin arrived. In fact, I have no idea which professors are Reformed and which are not. I have no idea how many students may or may not hold to the Doctrines of Grace. What I do know is there is a major emphasis on the gospel. This school is really about preparing the students to take the gospel to the nations. While I do not want to blame the previous president for what I felt, I do applaud the current president for his focus on the gospel. He doesn't care about where someone is on the 5 points. He doesn't care which view of the end time they hold to. But he cares deeply about their understanding of the gospel. This is what has not only kept me at SEBTS, but it has given me a love for the school. I am thankful to be a student at this seminary and I look forward to the pastors, missionaries, teachers, church planters, evangelists, and probably thousands of other things that are being trained there now.

This leads me to one more point. There is a lot of talk among the younger generation (I'm still there being only 31) about whether or not to stay in the Southern Baptist Convention. After the Conservative Resurgence took place I now see some great benefits ahead. I am part of the SBC because I love the emphasis on missions. I love the vision. Sure, I have opinions about some of it that I would love to see changed, but overall I think there's great potential. I also see great hope because of what I see taking place on the Seminary campus. There is a great focus on reaching people for Christ. As more and more students are equipped with this training I believe we will see that same focus spread across the convention.

So there it is. A brief point to say I'm thankful for Dr. Danny Akin, SEBTS, and God's grace within our convention. I look forward to what will happen in the years to come.

Friday's Question

How can the church better reach the lost world around her?

I've heard Mark Driscoll say something to the affect that it's important to study the culture. Others have stated we don't need to know anything about the culture other than they're lost and need the gospel. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

And certainly I know the gospel is what's needed, I'm thinking in terms of how the church can better get the gospel to the world.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Valentine's Day Card from Abigail

This morning when I woke Abigail was sitting at the bottom of the stairs with my card. She could not wait to give it to me. This is what the inside of her homemade card said:

I Love you Daddy because ...

1. "He loves Roxie and me and you" (Shannon is the you).
2. "Because he loves to play golf balls.
3. "He can save my life."
4. "He loves me and Jesus."
5. "He loves trees and I love trees."
6. "He lets me get on his shoulders."
7. "He loves God."

I thought it was sweet. She is definitely daddy's little girl. She's got me where she wants me.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Cross and Humility

I am preparing to preach James 4 this weekend. Through my preparation I am feeling very convicted about my own pride. This has caused me to think more about the cross. Here are a couple of quotes about the cross that ought to help us fight against our pride.

John Calvin: “In the cross of Christ, as in a splendid theater, the incomparable goodness of God is set before the whole world. The glory of God shines in all creatures on high and below, but ever more brightly than in the cross, in which there was a wonderful change of things - the condemnation of all men was manifested, sin blotted out, salvation restored to men; in short, the whole world was renewed and all things restored to order.”

Sinclair Ferguson: “When we think of Christ dying on the cross, we are shown the lengths to which God’s love goes in order to win us back to Himself. We would almost think that God loved us more than He loves His son.”

Colossians 2:13-14: And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Friday's Question

What ways do you fight against pride and foster humility in your life? If you haven't yet, you should read C. J. Mahaney's Humility: True Greatness.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Obedience without Grumbling

I have the privilege of working through Philippians with y church family on Wednesday nights. It has proved to be a very fruitful time for us (I think and hope). Tonight we are looking at Philippians 2:14-18. Interestingly, this has just followed the statement by Paul that says the church is to be obedient to God even when Paul is not around. That is followed by the statement that shows the human responsibility of working out one's own salvation in fear in trembling because the sovereign God is at work in the church to will and to work for His good pleasure. So we are all to work because God is at work!

This is important for us to understand verse 14, "Do all things without grumbling or questioning." This is referring back to following the commands of Christ. They are to be obedient without grumbling or questioning God. I will stop there for this post simply because I think it's convicting enough without me saying anything else.

Monday, February 9, 2009

12 Ways to Use Your Tongue for the Glory of God

Yesterday morning I preached James 3:1-12 about the use of the tongue. I stated that the main issue for the tongue is actually a heart issue. Jesus stated this very clearly in Matthew 12:33-35. So the main problem is that we need to rid our sinful hearts of the things of this world and fill them with the things of God.

I concluded my message with 12 ways to use our tongues for the glory of God:
1. Prayer
2. Praise and Thanksgiving
3. Singing Songs for the glory of God and the benefit of His people
4. Reading Scripture
5. Reciting Scripture that is hidden in your heart
6. Confessing sin to God and to one another
7. Encouragement
8. Edification
9. Proclaiming the gospel
10. Confronting a wayward brother or sister in Christ
11. Teaching the Scriptures to others
12. Defending against false doctrine
Of course there are other ways, but I hope this helps.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Do these Verses Convict you?

They sure do convict me.

James 3:8-10 - but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

My Own Depravity

It's funny (actually sad) how often we blame something else for everything. It goes back to the Fall in the Garden. After Adam and Eve sinned, he blamed her and she blamed the serpent. This has not changed. We all do it still each and every day. In fact, I think I've become so good at it that often times I don't even know I'm doing it anymore. By God's grace, I want to become more aware of my own depravity so that I will gain a better glimpse into the overwhelming grace of God which covers my sin. Until we know that we REALLY are great sinners, we will never understand that He REALLY is a great Savior.

This is Horrific

Did you hear about the baby killed after the botched abortion? Denny Burk gives some good thoughts on his blog.

Friday's Question

I've been thinking about a quote from Piper's Let the Nations be Glad!, which say, "Missions exists because worship doesn't." I think he's right. If everyone everywhere was a worshiper of Jesus Christ, there would be no need for missions. That's why, as he says, worship lasts forever, but missions doesn't. So my question for today is, "In what ways should we be involved in missions?" I'm thinking more of those who do not give their life to the mission field (though I pray many more of us will). In particularly, in what ways should us Westerners be involved in missions?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How Shall we Use our Tongues

I am preaching this coming Sunday on James 3:1-12 about the tongue. I have been thinking through some practical ways we should use our tongues for the glory of God. I would love to hear some of your ideas about how to use our tongues for the glory of God and the edification of the saints.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Few Stats from Missions Class

These are adapted from the notes of Dr. George Robinson's Missions Class at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
The Status of Christianity: Unreached and Unengaged Peoples
• Estimated 11,372 People groups
• Unreached estimated at 6,512
• Unreached, unengaged estimated at 3,498
• Unreached, unengaged people groups estimated at 638

Some Quick Facts about the Unreached, Unengaged People Group’s 100k+
• 310 are located in India
• 39% are predominately Muslim
• 25% are predominately Hindu
• 80 have no known evangelical resources available
• 278 reside in restrictive social settings
• 92 exist in extreme physical conditions
• 58 are located in places where the U.S. State Department advises citizens to not go
Access and Response
• 10% Evangelical, Bible-Believing Christians – 680 million – Saved
• 23% Cultural Christianity – 1.6 billion – Lost
• 43% Non-Christians with some access to the gospel – 2.9 billion – Lost
• 24% Non-Christian with little or no access to the gospel – 1.6 billion – Lost
Global Population Growth
• Global Demography
− 6.8 billion people
− 9.1 billion people by 2050
− 213,000 net increase every day
• India and China account for 1/3 of this increase
− Less developed countries: 5.3 billion to 7.8 billion
Human Suffering
• Increasing shortages of food and water as a result of population increases
• 30,000 children die each day as a result of malnutrition and disease-infested water
I pray God will raise up many people who will see these stats and give their lives trying to reach the unreached peoples of our world.