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.