Friday, December 30, 2011

The Holiness of God

Several years ago I was told I should read R.C. Sproul's The Holiness of God. I finally got around to it this year in preparation for a sermon, "The Gospel and the Holiness of God." During my time reading this book I was floored by the reality of God's holiness. In fact, when I went to preach the sermon I felt completely inadequate in trying to explain God's holiness to my congregation. This is a book, and subject, that one must study for themselves. I truly believe having a better understanding of God's holiness will lead to a better understanding of man's sinfulness. And a better understanding of man's sinfulness (particularly your own sinfulness) will lead to a better understanding of God's grace found in the cross of Jesus Christ. I highly, highly recommend you read The Holiness of God.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Weekend Sermons

This year I preached a Christmas Eve Sermon on John 1:14 and a Christmas morning sermon on Isaiah 9:1-7. Obviously they both focused on the birth of Christ. I knew we'd have some visitors this weekend, but I didn't realize we would have as many as we did. It was my hope that the gospel would be clearly proclaimed and heard by those who were there. You can listen to both sermons (and many others) here if you'd like. I pray the gospel seed takes roots in many hearts and transforms them so that they believe on the Lord for salvation.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve Sermon

Last night Cypress Lake Baptist Church gathered together for our Christmas Eve Service. We tried to make it a big deal this year and invite as many people as we could. I have no idea how many we had come for the service, but I do know there were a lot of visitors (there always is on Christmas Eve). With that being said, my sermon was from John 1:14. My main goals in the sermon were to clearly present the good news of Jesus Christ for unbelievers to, I pray, repent and believe and to help raise the affections of those who were already Christ followers. If you're interested, you can listen to the sermon here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wonderful Grace

From Philip Ryken:
I. Howard Marshall offers the following paraphrase of Luke 12:50, "How I am totally governed by this until it be finally accomplished." What a joy it is for us to see our Savior say this on his way to the cross! Jesus was going there to suffer for our sins, to die in our place, and he would not rest until the job was done. This was the governing ambition of his life and ministry. With his heart set on accomplishing the great work of our salvation, he pressed relentlessly towards his baptism of the cross. Apart from this willing sacrifice, we could never be saved.
Luke 12:50 says, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished."

What is really great about this is the fact that Jesus let us know exactly when it was accomplished when He cried out, "It is finished." (John 19:30)

This, my friends, is wonderful, marvelous grace.

Thursday, November 10, 2011 – The Tragic Lessons of Penn State — A Call to Action – The Tragic Lessons of Penn State — A Call to Action: "A scandal reported and ended in 2002 would be horrible enough. A scandal that began there, was known by officials, and explodes almost a decade later is too horrible to contemplate."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

By This We Know Love

This song has been played over and over in my car the last few days. It's absolutely fantastic!

Here are the lyrics:

God of all Creation, Lord of heaven's light
Descended into evil's darkest night
Infinitely Holy, your perfections know no end
Selflessly You died my rightful death

By this we know love that He laid down His life
God's very own Son came from heaven to die
Suspended He hung as He shed His own blood
What grace in His pardon, by this we know love

Forsaken man of sorrows, hated by all men
You willingly surrendered for my sin
Scornfully derided, yet in silence stumbling on
Bearing wrath for all that I've done wrong

By This We Know Love from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

If Sinners be Damned

Charles Spurgeon:

"If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

We Need BOTH Elders and Deacons

I have really enjoyed reading Mark Dever's The Deliberate Church. I highly recommend this book to anyone serious about seeing a healthy church. With that being said, I like what is written about having both deacons and elders in each local church:
Deacons, then, serve to care for the physical and financial needs of the church, and they do so in a way that heals divisions, brings unity under the Word, and supports the leadership of the elders. Without this practical service of the deacons, the elders will not be freed to devote themselves to praying and serving the Word to people. Elders need deacons to serve practically, and deacons need elders to lead spiritually.

The Gospel and Worship

This past Sunday we continued through my sermon series on the gospel and implications from the gospel. This past Sunday's sermon was on worship from John 4. The link below will allow you to listen to it.

The Gospel and Worship - John 4:19-26

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pregnancy, the ER, and the Sovereignty of God

Some of you may recall that last September my wife had a miscarriage, which I blogged about here. After several months of prayer we decided we would see if the Lord would indeed bless us with another child, and I am happy to say that right now we are expecting another blessing into our lives. We rejoice in God's grace and sovereignty in this situation.

However, this past Friday night I had my wife in the ER. The feeling was all too familiar. I know that there are others who have faced miscarriages and other pregnancy complications more than we have, but the feeling was there and it's unexplainable in many ways. Friday evening, around 5:00, there were some signs that pointed to another possible miscarriage. Trying to be a good husband I had my wife rest for a while. However, it didn't take too long for me to convince her to go to the ER to have things checked out. While she got ready I took the kids and dropped them off at a friend's house so I could take my wife without them. During the short drive back home (only a mile or so) from dropping the kids off I called my deacon chairman and began to weep on the phone. My emotions were all over the place at this point. Just prior to this I had been angry in my heart. I had wondered why God would allow us to conceive again if He was only going to take the baby again. The truth is we wanted a child, but we didn't want a miscarriage!

After the anger came the grief. I was extremely sad that this was happening. I couldn't believe that we were about to face this again. This time we had already been to the doctor. We had already been able to see and hear the heart beating. Why, I wondered, would God do this? What was He teaching us?

After last year's miscarriage my wife and I spent several months praying about whether or not we would try to have another child. To give some quick history, my wife had surgery in 2004, and then two c-sections with our first two children. She had already been through quite a bit and it was hard on her body. She also dealt with gestational diabetes with our second child. So after the miscarriage I wondered if that was it. I also realized the emotional toil it takes on a body and heart to find out on a Thursday that you're expecting a child and realize Monday morning that you are no longer pregnant. After months of praying we felt the Lord leading us to try once more.

Now back to Friday. Something clicked in my heart and mind as I hung up the phone with my deacon chairman. I knew I was about to pick up my wife and take her to the ER, and I was fully expecting to hear that we were losing or had lost the baby. In that moment I remembered a truth about God that is foundational for me. In that moment I remembered that God is sovereign over all things, and that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). In that moment I shifted from listening to myself (causing much grief and sorrow) to talking to myself (causing much rejoicing in my Lord and King). In that moment the truthfulness of God's sovereignty became the hope for whatever we faced. This doesn't automatically mean that everything would work out the way I hoped. This doesn't mean that we will have a baby from this. This doesn't mean that I have any clue what will happen, but it does mean that I can trust that God is in control and that He will accomplish His perfect plan according to His sovereign will.

For us, as of right now, everything seems good. We were not having a miscarriage, at least not yet. We went to the doctor Monday morning and everything really looked as good as it could right now. We rejoice in this. However, what I am reminded of is that this isn't always the case. God's sovereignty doesn't mean our baby will be born and everything will be fine. God's sovereignty doesn't mean that my desire will be done, but that God, who knows all things and promises to accomplish good, will accomplish His plan (and no matter what that plan is God is still good). Resting in this sovereignty can be hard because I realize afresh that no matter what I may think, I am not in control. However, resting in this sovereignty is also sweet because I know that no matter what I think, the holy God of the universe, who loves and cares for His own, is in control.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


To be quite honest with you, blogging about my trip to Myanmar is next to impossible. Wil Owens blogged about it here. While not wanting to rewrite the things that he said, I want to share briefly my experience and maybe a lesson or two that I either learned or was reminded of on this trip. Our experience of travel was long, but was actually very good. The conditions of the rooms we stayed in were better than I expected. The people we met and interacted with were fantastic. The country was absolutely beautiful. God once again proved Himself gracious and kind.
Some of the highlights for me were the people, the seminary, the graduation, visiting villages, handing our new clothes, baptizing several people, and the fact that the gospel of Jesus Christ is clearly moving through Myanmar. First the people. When I talk about the people I mean primarily those involved with Emmanuel Seminary and ministries in Kalaymyo. Pastor Joseph was very gracious and clearly walking with Christ. He has had his own battles, but God has continued to use and strengthen him through them all. This was of great encouragement to me! The professors, students, orphans, and workers all had a zealousness for Christ about them that could only strengthen the faith of anyone who was with them. I was convicted at times, encouraged at times, and mostly humbled by being with these brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Second highlight was the seminary. It was wonderful to see how God was using these facilities to train up a generation of gospel saturated people willing to go to the hard places equipped with the good news of Jesus Christ. I was humbled, extremely humbled, by the zealousness of these students who were eager to learn and apply what they learned from God's Word. I was challenged at how lightly I have taken my opportunity to learn and grow through formal education. This was much needed for me. I was also impressed with the devotion of the professors who sought day in and day out to teach those so eager to learn.
Third highlight was the graduation. Over 600 people from the surrounding area (which was really remote!) came to the graduation. It was done well. It was done with class and professionalism. It was hot to be sure, but I truly believe God was exalted as these students made it quite clear that they were going with the gospel to the unreached areas of Myanmar upon graduation. Again I was humbled. I was able to participate in this graduation. To be honest, I felt as though I should have left the stage and made room for someone better equipped to be there. Nevertheless, God opened my eyes once again through this experience to His grace and glory.
Fourth was on Saturday when we were able to visit and preach in a couple villages. We drove for about 45 minutes or so in the van before coming upon a bridge that the van couldn't cross. After walking across this bridge (with shaky knees!), we all go onto some scooters and went the remaining 15 minutes or so to the first village. There we found a church! We found a people who had given their lives to Jesus. It was amazing to have the opportunity to preach about the compassion of our great Savior, Jesus Christ, with these brothers and sisters.
Fifth is the fact that we were able to provide the resources to purchase new clothes for the orphans and students.
Sixth was the fact that I was able to baptize several people who were willing to proclaim that they will live for Jesus no matter what it costs them!
The final highlight (or lesson/reminder) that I'll mention (though there were many, many more) is the fact that the gospel is spreading throughout Myanmar. I was amazed at how God was using people in this area to reach others with the good news of Jesus Christ. To be sure, there is still much need and much work to be done. Myanmar is still primarily without the gospel. But God is at work. God is raising up faithful men and women who are willing to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to their own kinsmen. This is exciting to me because it means that God is working among people from every tribe and tongue and language and nation. He has promised that His name will be exalted among all the nations. We saw a small glimpse of this while in Myanmar. There is far more that could be said. God once again opened my eyes (and heart) for the nations. God allowed me to see what He is doing among these peoples. It is my deepest desire to be able to go back again, to help equip these brothers and sisters with the gospel, to pray daily for these who are laboring in the hard places, that perhaps God may use me, even slightly, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ spread throughout Myanmar, and to the ends of the earth.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

God is a Creating God

I am presently rereading Mark Dever's Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. It is really good. I think I'm learning (understanding) more this time through than before. I hope that's true at least. With that being said, I am reading it slowly, working through each chapter and thinking through how it would help our church. The following from Dever is describing who God is, because what we know of God affects everything else!
This history recorded in the Bible shows us very plainly that God is a creating God and that He is an electing God. Even if we cannot fully understand everything that is involved with this, it is undeniable that this is what the Bible teaches. It may have implications that we don't fully understand, but no small matters issue from this if we decide that our salvation ultimately comes from God rather than from ourselves.
It effects how we understand God. It affects how we understand ourselves.
We must acknowledge that God is the Great Initiator, the Great Giver, the Creator of the World, the Creator of His people, the Author of our Faith. That is what God is like.

Kevin DeYoung and John Piper Discuss the Pursuit of Holiness (Part 2) - Desiring God

Kevin DeYoung and John Piper Discuss the Pursuit of Holiness (Part 2) - Desiring God:

'via Blog this'

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gospel Series

I have taken the last few months to preach a series on the gospel and some implications of the gospel on Sunday mornings. You can find the series here.

The series has been broken down by working through the gospel (sermons 1-5), then moving into the three big ways to look at salvation (justification, sanctification, glorification – sermons 6-8), then we moved into an understanding of the church (the gospel community – sermons 9-present).

Tomorrow we’ll continue through this time focusing on the church by looking at baptism. Baptism is one of only two ordinances given to the church. We ought not take lightly the command from Christ to be baptized as a public profession of our faith. If you are in the area, and would like to know more about baptism, I’d encourage you to come and worship/listen tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Do we REALLY want to Live like Jesus?

I want to follow Jesus. I really do, I think. However, when I read and have to preach through Scriptures like Luke 9:57-58 my desires are challenged:
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
I have to ask myself (and you), "Do I (we) really want to live like Jesus?"

Why We Worship the Way We Do – Kevin DeYoung

Since I've been thinking much about this lately, I thought I'd share this post with you from Kevin DeYoung

Sunday Sermon

This past Sunday AM we had a wonderful gathering with Cypress Lake Baptist Church. Not only was it great to gather with my brothers and sisters in Christ, but we also ordained a new deacon, and added 4 more to our faith family through membership. The PM sermon wasn't recorded, but you can listen to the morning sermon (that is actually a call for humility for every follower of Christ) below:

AM - The Gospel and Leading Servants (Mark 10:35-45)

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Word of God in a Healthy Church

Mark Dever writes:
A healthy church is a church that hears the Word of God and continues to hear the Word of God. And such a church is composed of individual Christians who hear the Word of God and continue to hear the Word of God, always being refashioned and reshaped by it, constantly being washed in the Word and sanctified by God's truth.
In Nine Marks of a Healthy Church

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Patience and Change

From The Deliberate Church:
Accomplishing healthy change in churches for the glory of God and the clarity of the Gospel does not happen in the first year after the new pastor arrives. God is working for eternity, and He has been working from eternity. He's not in a hurry, and we shouldn't be either. So it is wise to show care for the congregation and concern for the unity of the church by not running so far ahead of them that people start falling behind. Run at a pace that the congregation can keep.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gospel Driven Church

One more quote from The Deliberate Church:
And now the million-dollar question: Is it replicable? Can you do this with your church? Of course--not because its's a plug and play program, and certainly not because of any brilliance of our own in coming up with a transferable model. It's replicable because it is scriptural and plain. No matter what size your church is, or where you're located, or what kind of people you're ministering to, you can always be deliberate about being Gospel driven and Gospel governed in everything you do. It's not dependent on discovering the spiritual and cultural preferences of a target audience. You don't have to implement a synthetic curriculum, or be an incredibly creative thinker, or even be the most charismatic leader. You just have to trust that Jesus will build His church by the agency of His Spirit and by the power of His Gospel without buying the newest program or following the most popular trend.

The Sufficiency of Scripture for the Church

I just started reading (again) The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander. As a pastor I want to make sure I am leading my flock for the glory of God to believe and apply the gospel and the truth found in the Scriptures in all areas of our church and life. This quote in the "Foreword" is why I'm reading this book:
In whatever we do, we want to be careful about allowing God's Word to set our trajectory, power our progress, and govern our methods. From our preaching and evangelism, to the way we take in new members; from our discipleship and discipline practices, to our leadership models; from the structure of our Sunday morning services, all the way down to the agenda of the elders' meeting, we want our procedures to reflect reliance on the biblical Gospel, submission to its claims, and awareness of its implications for our corporate life together.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Order of Worship

I have had a few conversations lately about the order of a worship service for churches. One person, whom I have grown to respect greatly, told me it would be wise to gather from others their orders of worship and evaluate what would work best for our church. I've posted today on a few networking sites and had some feedback. However, I thought it may be better to put things in one place for myself, and hopefully it would be helpful for others.

How do you think through and set up your order of worship? Do you use particular categories? Do you just have a particular order? Any thoughts and details would be very helpful.

Sunday Sermons

AM - The Gospel and Servant Ministries - Acts 6:1-7

PM - Receive or Reject - Luke 10:10-16

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Law is Good

First Timothy 1:8 - Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully.

Matthew Henry:

The Jews used it unlawfully, as an engine to divide the church, a cover to the malicious opposition they made to the gospel of Christ; they set it up for justification, and so used it unlawfully. We must not therefore think to set it aside, but use it lawfully, for the restraint of sin. The abuse which some have made of the law does not take away the use of it; but, when a divine appointment has been abused, call it back to its right use and take away the abuses, for the law is still very useful as a rule of life; though we are not under it as under a covenant of works, yet it is good to teach us what is sin and what is duty. It is not made for a righteous man, that is, it is not made for those who observe it; for, if we could keep the law, righteousness would be by the law (Gal. 3:21): but it is made for wicked persons, to restrain them, to check them, and to put a stop to vice and profaneness. It is the grace of God that changes men’s hearts; but the terrors of the law may be of use to tie their hands and restrain their tongues. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This is Your Cup

C.J. Mahaney writes:
As we watch Jesus pray in agony in Gethsemane, He has every right to turn His tearful eyes toward you and me and shout, "This is your cup. You're responsible for this. It's your sin! You drink it." This cup should rightfully be thrust into my hand and yours. 
Instead, Jesus freely takes it that from the cross He can look down at you and me, whisper our names, and say, "I drain this cup for you--for you who have lived in defiance of Me, who have hated Me, who have opposed Me. I drink it all...for you."

Monday, August 15, 2011

God Opens Doors

I have prayed much lately for opportunities to share the gospel here SWFL. I want to share the gospel. I'm burdened to share the gospel. However, I often times find it difficult for some reason (and I've prayed and sought to overcome this too). Today God opened a door for me that I wasn't expecting. While I sat at Starbucks there were three men sitting beside me. I've seen them several times in the past, and have had brief conversations with them.

On the other side of these men were a couple college age girls. I have also hoped to reach and minister to some of the students at Edison College, so I was hoping for a chance to talk with them. Before I could, however, one of the girls got up to leave. I noticed in her hand a Bible and a book by A.W. Tozer. I hoped to speak with her friend who was still here and find out if they were burdened for the students at Edison, how we could reach them, etc. Before I could speak with her one of the men started having a conversation with her. She was in the process of leaving so I never had the chance.

Once she left the man turned to his friends and said that she was studying to be a nurse, and that she wanted to be a missionary when she was finished. I was reading, but since they were so close I could hear the conversation. Then God completely surprised me. One of the men said, "I just can't see how anyone would want to be a missionary." Then one of the men, Frank, turned to me and said, "I'm sure this guy could help us understand why someone would want to be a missionary." Then he turned and asked me specifically.

My response was pretty simple. The reason is because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I told them that I believe that Jesus died for sinners and that only those who trust in Christ alone will be saved. I also told them that missionaries see the need to take this good news to those who've never heard so that they may respond in faith in Christ. In that moment, without really thinking about it, I had the chance to briefly explain the gospel to three men who were listening intently to what I had to say.

I am now praying that I have more opportunities in the future. I am also praying that God would take the small seed planted and cause it to grow. Only His Spirit can awaken a heart to believe, so that is my prayer. Would you pray for Frank and Bob with me?

Sunday Sermons

Here are Sunday's Sermons:

AM - The Gospel and the Head of the Church - Ephesians 1:22-23

PM - Jesus Rejected - Luke 9:51-56

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jesus Actually Accomplished Redemption

I am presently reading Michael Horton's The Gospel Commission: Recovering God's Strategy for Making Disciples. Though I am not far into this book, I find great sentences, paragraphs, and even pages that I'd love to quote! This particular paragraph contains a glorious truth!
Given the fact that we--and those to whom we are sent--are "dead in the trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1), we do not have the authority or power to save ourselves or even to respond in faith apart from God's gracious liberation (Eph. 2:5, 8-9). The Great Commission would be a futile task if the ultimate power and authority lay in our hands or in the hands of those to whom we bring the gospel. Jesus Christ did not make it possible for us to be saved. He did not begin a work of redemption. He did not do "his part" so that we could do ours. Rather, Jesus Christ has accomplished everything. He has assumed our flesh. He has fulfilled all righteousness in our place and has borne the judgment for every one of our sins as our substitute. And he has been raised as the firstfruits of a whole harvest, the beginning of the resurrection from the dead. There is no more redeeming work to be done!
To this I say, Amen!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sunday Sermon

This past Sunday AM I continued preaching through our series on the gospel. If you're interested, you can listen to the sermon here:

The Gospel and Glorification

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Weight Loss Continues

This is just a quick post so you can see that I've now lost 44 pounds. You can read how in a previous post here. Still a ways to go, but I feel great thus far!

February 14, 2011

May 13, 2011

July 20, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday Sermons

Yesterday I continued preaching through our gospel series in the morning. You can listen to or download the sermon below.

The Gospel and Justification - Galatians 2:15-21

Last night we continued through our study in the Gospel of Luke. You can find that sermon below.

The Glory of Christ Revealed - Luke 9:28-36

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Gospel is the Power of God

Romans 1:16-17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, "the righteous shall live by faith."

If it's true that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, why do we so often try to come up with a new strategy? I'm all for figuring out ways to get this gospel to others, but let us make sure we get this gospel to them!

Sunday Sermons

This past Sunday's Sermons are now available online:

AM - The Gospel and Our Response - John 3:16-21

PM - Costly Discipleship - Luke 9:18-27

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Suffer Well

I have greatly enjoyed reading Joe Thorn's book Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself over the past couple weeks. It's a great book and easy to read. The content, however, is encouraging and challenging in many ways. As I was finishing up the book today I read his chapter entitled "Suffer Well." The first paragraph was great:
Dear Self, 
God does not promise to rid your life of affliction and difficulty. He does, however, offer to give you the grace needed to suffer well, and through grace to discover the riches and beauty of the gospel. It isn't wrong to ask God to relieve you of your pain, but it is more important that in the midst of the pain you rely on the promise of God to work such experiences for his glory and your good--to use these times as a means of perfecting your faith, strengthening your spirit, and transforming your life in such a way that you are becoming more like Jesus. 
He goes on to write:
To suffer well doesn't mean you put on a stoic face and muscle through the situation without a word. It means that through your suffering you trust God, bless him, look to him, and point others to him.
He then ends the chapter by writing:
Do you want to become more like Christ? Then you must suffer, and suffer well. 
The chapter is based on Romans 5:3-5:
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Gospel and Our Substitute

This morning I preached the fourth sermon in our series on the gospel, "The Gospel and Our Substitute." After being away for the last week on vacation it felt great to be back with Cypress Lake Baptist. I am truly a blessed man to be called their pastor!

In the Spring of 2003 I took a Christian Doctrine II at The College at Southeastern with Dr. Pete Schemm. My Christian Doctrine classes (and Systematic Theology in Seminary) were truly some of my favorite classes. I loved learning about the doctrines in Scripture and how they are understood and applied. When we studied the doctrine of Christ I remember Dr. Schemm talking about four Christological passages. In these passages he talked about the importance of seeing Jesus with these four categories: He came, He lived, He died, He rose. That has stayed with me for the past 8 years. Those were my points from the message this morning. Not only those points, but the fact that they all were done in place of sinners, as our substitute. What an amazing Savior we have in Jesus Christ!

I also had the chance to quote Joe Thorn this morning from his book Note to Self (which I highly recommend). The following quote was helpful in stating the core of the gospel:
At its core, the gospel is Jesus as the substitute for sinners. We could summarize the whole by saying that in his life Jesus lives in perfect submission to the will of God and he fulfills his righteous standard (the law). In his death on the cross he quenches God's wrath against sin, satisfying the sovereign demand for justice. In his resurrection he is victorious over sin and death. All of this is done on behalf of sinners in need of redemption and is offered to all who believe. This is therefore very "good news."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Baptist 21 Egypt Video

Baptist 21 imb Egypt video from imb connecting on Vimeo.

Sunday Sermon

Yesterday morning I preached my third sermon in the gospel series. This sermon was focused on the fact that everyone born of man is a sinner by nature and by practice. No one wants to hear they are a sinner, but we all need to hear this truth. You can listen that sermon here:

The Gospel and Our Sin

During our PM service a friend of mine preached for us. We didn't record his sermon, but the message was about worship. It was a great message. It really challenged me to think about my response to my Savior in worship.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Renewing Your Mind

R.C. Sproul writes:
The key method Paul underscores as the means to the transformed life is by the "renewal of the mind." This means nothing more and nothing less than education. Serious education. In-depth education. Disciplined education in the things of God. It calls for a mastery of the Word of God. We need to be people whose lives have changed because our minds have changed.
True transformation comes by gaining a new understanding of God, ourselves, and the world. What we are after ultimately is to be conformed to the image of Christ. We are to be like Jesus, though not in the sense that we can ever gain deity. We are not god-men. But our humanity is to mirror and reflect the perfect humanity of Jesus. A tall order! 
To be conformed to Jesus, we must first begin to think as Jesus did. We need the "mind of Christ." We need to value the things He values and despise the things He despises. We need to have the same priorities He has. We need to consider weighty the things He considers weighty. 
That cannot happen without a mastery of His Word. The key to spiritual growth is in-depth Christian education that requires a serious level of sacrifice. 
That is the call to excellence we have received. We are not to be like the rest of the world, content to live our lives with a superficial understanding of God. We are to grow dissatisfied with spiritual milk and hunger after spiritual meat.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Sermon

This morning I preached the second message in the series: The Gospel: The Power of God. The sermon can be listened to or downloaded here:

Isaiah 6:1-7 - The Gospel and God's Holiness

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Seriousness of Sin

God-willing, I'll preach the second sermon in a series on the gospel this coming Sunday. The sermon for Sunday is "The Gospel and God's Holiness." In preparation for this sermon I picked up a book that has been on my shelf for years, The Holiness of God. R.C. Sproul writes an excellent book with this one. I wish I had read it earlier. In chapter 6, Holy Justice, Sproul writes about the severity of our sin and says:
Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying, "God, Your law is not good. My judgment is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do."

The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority. It is a revolutionary act, a rebellious act in which we are setting ourselves in opposition to the One to whom we owe everything. It is an insult to His holiness. We become false witnesses to God. When we sin as the image bearers of God, we are saying to the whole creation, to all of nature under our dominion, to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field: "This is how God is. This is how your Creator behaves. Look in this mirror; look at us, and you will see the character of the Almighty." We say to the world, "God is covetous; God is ruthless; God is bitter; God is a murderer, a thief, a slanderer, an adulterer. God is all of these things that we are doing."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sproul on Holiness and Idolatry

God-willing, this coming Sunday I'll preach the second message in our series on the gospel. The title of this sermon is, "The Gospel and God's Holiness." In preparation of this sermon I am reading through R.C. Sproul's The Holiness of God. The book has been excellent in many, many ways thus far. I found the following quote about idolatry one example of this fact:
When we call things holy when they are not holy, we commit the sin of idolatry. We give to common things the respect, awe, worship, and adoration that belong only to God. To worship the creature instead of the Creator is the essence of idolatry.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunday Sermons

Yesterday’s sermons are now available. In the morning I began a new sermon series titled “The Gospel: The Power of God” by preaching the first sermon The Gospel of Jesus, which you can find here (or from the sermon player on this blog).

In the evening I continued through our study in Luke’s Gospel by preaching from Luke 9:1-9. You can listen to The Ministries of Mercy and the Word here (or from the sermon player on this blog).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Praying to the Lord of the Harvest

This past Wednesday evening I finished up a three message series on caring for others. The first week was focused on the challenge from Jesus that His people will love one another. The second message was focused on the need to care for those in our community. The final message was about caring for those all over the face of the earth. In fact, this past Wednesday evening I taught from Matthew 9:35-38. Below are the main points that I made, followed by a question.

First Point - Jesus was concerned about the ministry of the Word AND ministry of mercy. I take this from verse 35, "And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction." In this one verse we see His care for the gospel message. He always proclaimed the good news! However, we also see how Jesus cared for the physical needs of those who were sick and afflicted. I warned our people about exalting mercy ministries to a place where they took precedence over the gospel (since no one is saved without hearing the gospel proclaimed!), but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't engage in mercy ministries.

Second Point - Taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, and meeting needs where we are able, must be rooted in our compassion for them and for the glory of God. This was the motivation for Jesus according to verse 36, "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." I asked our church that night about whether or not we had compassion for those around the world who were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus is the only Shepherd they need, but the people of God must let the crowds know this!

Third Point - The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. This is pretty clear. Jesus says in verses 37-38, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." There is much to be said here, but I wanted to drive home the fact that we are providentially located in Fort Myers, FL, and this verse fits our present circumstances in unbelievable ways. However, we also know that we want to get the gospel to those who have no access to the gospel. In other words, we want to reach Fort Myers (and SWFL) with the gospel, but we also want to reach to the ends of the earth where the gospel is not yet proclaimed.

In our present condition as a church, we are able to see this truth plainly. Right now our church is in great transition. We are seeking ways to minister to those around us. We are seeking ways to get the gospel into our community. From the statistics that I've heard, over 93% of Lee County do not attend any sort of worship service. When I see this area I realize the harvest is plentiful. However, as a faith family, we also realize our laborers are few. Seeing how we are in a transition time we know many of our people are unable to do things they once could. Their bodies have aged, and they are now limited. Do not misunderstand me, my people are ready to do what they can in their limitations! I am a blessed pastor. But the reality is here. We not only see the harvest, but we see the lack of laborers.

I told our people last Wednesday that we do not have the right to look out at our opportunities, with a heart of compassion, realize our laborers are few, and decide to do nothing about it. No, we are to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers. That is what we're doing now. We're praying to God that He would do two things with our faith family. The first thing is that He would raise up laborers for us. We want to see new laborers coming into our faith family. The second thing we are asking is that God would enable us to be those laborers as well. In other words, I do not want to simply pray that God gives usother laborers, but that we too will labor for those who need to hear the gospel.

Now to my question. With the need so great in SWFL for the gospel, would you pray about coming and being a part of this? We are praying that God would send out laborers. Would you pray and ask God if you're one to be sent here? Or to be sent here in order to be sent from here?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Goal of Church Planting/Revitalizing

I have had Church Planting is for Wimps: How God Uses Messed-Up People to Plant Ordinary Churches that do Extraordinary Things by Mike McKinley on my shelf for a while now. I even picked it up a while back, but after reading the Foreword by Darrin Patrick I put it back down because I'm not planting a church (I didn't put it down because of Darrin Patrick!). However, recently a friend told me I should read it and that it may be helpful in revitalizing the church I'm serving with. Today I decided was a good day to start reading it. I am glad I did! There are several things I like about it already, but this quote captures what I've thought for quite some time:
Church planting (starting a congregation from scratch) and church revitalizing (reviving the ministry of an almost dead church) share the same goal: raising up a faithful gospel witness where none exists.
I pray this is so for Cypress Lake Baptist Church!

The Gospel Sermon Series

I am in the process of planning a long sermon series on the gospel. As of today I have 32 topics planned. I am not sure they will all make it this go around, and I'm sure more will come to mind as I continue to pray, think, and work through this. Below is what I have so far. I would gladly welcome any thoughts and/or additions to this list. My goal is to first get the gospel out there, with a Biblical understanding of the gospel. After all, Paul said deserting the gospel is deserting Him who calls in the grace of Christ (Gal. 1:6). However, I've also thought much lately about the application of the gospel. If the good news is that we can be saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, then it ought to affect how we live everyday and in every circumstance. That's my hope. Help me out, please!

1. The Gospel Defined
2. The Gospel and God's Holiness
3. The Gospel and Our Sin
4. The Gospel and Our Substitute
5. The Gospel and Our Response
6. The Gospel and Justification
7. The Gospel and Sanctification
8. The Gospel and Glorification
9. The Gospel and Application
10. The Gospel and Biblical Manhood
11. The Gospel and Biblical Womanhood
12. The Gospel and Marriage
13. The Gospel and Children
14. The Gospel and Parenting
15. The Gospel and Singleness
16. The Gospel and Evangelism
17. The Gospel and Mercy Ministries
18. The Gospel and the Nations
19. The Gospel and Urgency
20. The Gospel and Suffering
21. The Gospel and Dying
22. The Gospel and Eternity
23. The Gospel and the Church
24. The Gospel and Elders
25. The Gospel and Deacons
26. The Gospel and Baptism
27. The Gospel and the Lord's Supper
28. The Gospel and Church Membership
29. The Gospel and Worship
30. The Gospel and Church Member Restoration (Discipline)
31. The Gospel and the Holy Spirit
32. The Gospel and the Glory of God

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Sermon

Since this was the fifth Sunday of the month, I didn't preach a 'regular' sermon tonight. It was a short sermon, and wasn't recorded. However, this morning's sermon is available if you'd like to listen or download.

Luke 8:40-56 - Jesus, the Giver of Life

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Hopes/Plans for New Believers

Since I came to Cypress Lake Baptist Church last September we've been working hard to determine the most important areas that needed to be adjusted, changed, shut down, or started up in order to fulfill our mission statement: Cypress Lake Baptist Church exists, by the grace of God, to make disciples of all nations, through treasuring Christ above all things, for the glory of God at all times. We have made some small changes, and I've written up a lot that will hopefully help us as we continue to move forward.

With that being said, there have been two areas I have hit extremely hard since I arrived. If we are going to make disciples of all nations then we are going to have to learn what it means to live as children of God who've been called to be faithful witnesses where we live and, as He allows, to the ends of the earth. I want to see our church devoted to evangelism and missions. With that being said, I do not simply want to be a church who just leads people to pray a prayer or something else like that. Rather, the other area I've pushed is the need to spend time discipling others. After all, the Bibles seems to be pretty clear on the need to make disciples (I constantly say we want to see people become devoted followers of Jesus).

I have recently thought of a way to offer some beneficial ways for new believers (as we commit to evangelism I truly hope we see many from Fort Myers and SWFL repent of their sins and trust in Christ) to grow in some basic disciplines and knowledge of what it means to follow Christ and how the church is vital in that walk. I've broken this down into two parts or phases. Here are my initial thoughts. If you have any suggestions, I warmly welcome them.

Phase 1: A 4 Week New Believer's Class

Week 1: Focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to make sure our people know what they believe and why they believe it.

Weeks 2-3: Focus on some basic disciplines to help them grow in Christ. Examples would be Scripture reading, prayer, church involvement, and evangelism.

Week 4: Focus on the church ordinances (Baptism and the Lord's Supper)

Phase 2: Follow Up with a More Mature Believer

My hope is that I would not be the one always working with new believers. It's not that I don't want to, but it seems better and healthier to have more of our people discipling others. Therefore, once the class is complete I would encourage all who are truly pursuing Christ to get with a present member and walk through a time together where they meet regularly. Right now I'm thinking it would be best to have them work through The Walk: Steps for New and Renewed Followers of Christ by Stephen Smallman.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Discipleship Doesn't Have to be Difficult

This past Tuesday I was able to begin what I hope will be a long journey of helping one of my members as he seeks to pursue Christ. I found that what we did together was unbelievably simply, yet unbelievably rewarding for both of us. Often times it seems we try to find the right program, or the right angle, or the right something else, but it doesn't have to be that difficult. In fact, it went so well that I have invited another man in our church who also has agreed to meet with us. My hope is that maybe we'll invite one more, but I would like to stop there. After a season together I hope they will be better prepared and equipped to do the same thing with other men (and even especially their wives!).

So what did we do? We met at a local restaurant for breakfast. No, that's not all we did, but that is where it started. We met there, had breakfast together, and talked. It was a chance for me to get to know what was going on in his life and for him to know more of mine as well. As we finished up our meal together we opened up our Bibles to Galatians. We read the first 4 verses and stopped. Together we started making observations about the text. This was not a time to figure out what it means. We just made our way slowly through the text making observations. Then we began discussing what it meant. I didn't prepare before we came, so it wasn't an in-depth, trying to know it all, discussion. Finally, we talked about how it ought to affect our lives.

That was it! It was simple. And yet, it proved to be one of the most helpful times I've had with a brother in Christ. In fact, it changed my day. I had a great day thinking through what he and I had discussed that morning. That evening, his wife told me how much it had benefitted him. I take that to mean he went home and talked with her about it. How awesome is that! Immediately he began to talk about what the Lord was doing in his life with his wife.

I am humbled. This little time spent with a man over the Bible proved to be far more productive than I would have guessed. I'm looking forward to what may come out of this for the both of us! Discipleship doesn't have to be hard. This was easy, enjoyable, and seems to have potential for great benefits immediately and in the future.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Which Camp are YOU in?

Luke 8:37 - Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.

Luke 8:40 - Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him.

Which camp are you in? Do you want Jesus to leave or are you eagerly waiting for him?


I have had The Valley of Vision for several years and have enjoyed it thoroughly. Last week I linked to a post by Joe Thorn, where he laid out a schedule for using this book to help his prayer life. Over the past week I've accepted the challenge (if you'd call it that) to try to put this into practice. It has already helped tremendously in my own life. I have already seen a great increase in my discipline of prayer. Of course, I have a long way to go, but I would certainly recommend this plan. If you do not use this plan, please think about how you will have a plan that will enable you to grow closer to Christ Jesus through prayer.

The prayer I read for this morning is called Shortcomings. It's excellent. Below is a section of the prayer that I will think about for some time:
I fall short of thy glory every day by spending hours unprofitably, by thinking that the things I do are good, when they are not done to thy end, nor spring from the rules of thy Word.
I have often times stated that we can do 'good' things that will actually condemn us because they are not done for the glory of God. However, reading this sentence makes me think it's inaccurate to call them 'good' if they are not done for His glory.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Sermons

My two sermons from today are online now. I honestly must say I was extremely excited about preaching both sermons today. It seemed to be a great week with the Lord leading up to today. You can here them by clicking on the following links:

AM - Luke 8:22-25 - Jesus is Sovereign in the Storm

PM - Luke 8:26-39 - Demonic Healing and the Glory of God

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Marvelous Truth of Salvation

J.C. Ryle, commenting on the healing of the Gerasene demonic in Luke 8:26-39:
One thing, however, must not be forgotten. Striking and miraculous as this cure was, it is not really more wonderful than every instance of a definite conversion to God. Marvelous as the change was which appeared in the demoniac's condition when healed, it is not any more marvelous than the change which passes over every individual who is born again and turned from the power of Satan to God. Never is a person in his right mind until he is converted, or in his right place until he sits by faith at the feet of Jesus, or correctly dressed until he has put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you ever considered what real conversion to God is? It is nothing but the miraculous release of a captive, the miraculous restoration of a man to his right mind, the miraculous deliverance of a soul from the Devil.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Francis Chan: Hell: We Can't afford to get it Wrong

Happy Anniversary

Today marks our eleventh anniversary as husband and wife. It has been an amazing, and often times challenging, 11 years. By God's grace, the challenges have been faced together, not at one another. By God's grace we have two children with us, we've moved to FL, and we're still going strong. By God's grace He took two sinful people and drew them to Himself and forever changed them. By God's grace my wife and I are no longer two, but are one flesh. I still carry this picture in my Bible. My wife is unbelievably kind, gracious, caring, encouraging, strong, hardworking, loving, strengthening, and a thousand other wonderful things. Thank you, Shannon, for 11 wonderful years of rejoicing in God's grace together as husband and wife. I pray we have many, many more.

The Gerasene Demonic and Us

As I continue to preach through the gospel of Luke with Cypress Lake Baptist Church, I am amazed at the number of ways my life is impacted. My hope is that our church would know more of Biblical Jesus so we can trust in Him and His work on our behalf. Just recently I added Philip Ryken's Commentary Set to my collection, and I am very thankful already. In preparing for Sunday Evening's message from Luke 8:26-39 I read this quote about the demon possessed man:
The man that Jesus met was in nearly the worst condition that anyone could imagine. He was naked, lonely, violent, and insane; he was walking naked among the dead. Yet even for all his misery, we can see ourselves in his situation, because sin has similar effects on all of us. It exposes us naked in our guilt. It alienates us from one another, leaving us lonely and alone. It makes us violent, at least in our attitudes, if not in our actions. Spiritually speaking, we walk among the dead. Thus the madman in the graveyard shows the wretchedness of our condition outside of Christ.
I can relate to this on so many levels. Apart from Christ I am certainly here. Thanks be to God who has cleansed me through the blood of His Son, Jesus.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reasons to Trust God in Every Rough and Stormy Gale

In preparing for Sunday morning's sermon for Cypress Lake Baptist Church, I read the following three truths that Philip Graham Ryken gives in his commentary on Luke (particularly Luke 8:22-25) for why we ought to trust God in every rough and stormy gale:

1. Even the storms of life are under his sovereign control

2. Jesus has set the perfect example

3. Jesus is with us in the boat

I can't wait to preach this text this Sunday morning! God-willing we'll post the audio here sometime Sunday afternoon if you'd like to hear more.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Books on Preaching from Myself and Others

I recently posted to get some information and suggestions on 'must read' books for preaching. As I stated then, there is no shortage of 'good' books out there. Below is a compiled list of books that were suggested in either the comments on this blog or on Facebook. I thought this list may be helpful for others who are wondering the same thing.

Preaching and Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Spirit Empowered Preaching by Arturo G. Azurdia III

Why Johnny Can't Preach by T. David Gordon

Dying to Preach by Steven Smith

Preaching for God's Glory by Alistair Begg

Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes by Leland Ryken and Todd Wilson

There was also an audio lecture recommended: Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World

My guess is there are more. Any other suggestions for 'must read' books on preaching?


Books on Preaching

I plan to begin soon reading through various books on preaching to help sharpen my preaching ability to hopefully be a better pastor for my church. With that being said, I would love to hear from you on your top 3-4 books on preaching. What are the absolute must reads? I know there are several good ones, but I am not enough of an avid reader to read them all. So, here are a few I have read or plan to read.

Preaching and Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper

Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell

Any other suggestions for must reads?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Two Excellent Posts by Joe Thorn

A few years ago my wife and I had been praying about church planting and I really started thinking we may pack up and move to Chicago. However, I didn't know what to expect in Chicago, nor did I have any idea where to start if indeed that is where the Lord would lead us. I had heard the name, Joe Thorn, before, so I contacted him. I actually contacted him for two reasons. The first reason was that he is in the Chicago area and I felt he would be a great person to contact. He was very helpful. The second reason was because he had lost a lot of weight was running often. I wanted to be encouraged in that area as well. I was!

With that being said, I certainly can't claim to be a 'friend' of his. I know him through twitter and Facebook and blogging, but that's about it. The Lord didn't lead me to Chicago, and we haven't kept in touch really. I also didn't take his advice on running (until more recently).

Yesterday he wrote a blog post entitled "Rebuilding a Healthy Schedule" that was excellent. I'm always looking for thoughts and ways to honor my marriage, my children, my work schedule for my church, and anything else I can. The reason is that all of these are rooted in my desire to honor Christ. I highly recommend you read and apply what you can from this post.

Today he posted another excellent post. Several years ago I purchased The Valley of Vision and have been extremely thankful that I have. In fact, I have it sitting at my prayer bench as one of the things I read as I begin praying. Joe has put together a schedule to help increase your prayer life. You can read about it here. This post is another one I highly recommend.

Both of these subjects are greatly needed in my life, and I am sure in the lives of many others. Thank you, Joe, for posting these!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Place of Commentaries

It's been a while, but I picked back up Charles Bridges' The Christian Ministry. This book is full of encouragement and conviction. There are often times I come away from reading this and wonder how in the world I will ever be a faithful pastor. However, there are other times (indeed, most times) when I come away recognizing that apart from the grace of God I will not do this, but through His grace I am a pastor!

With that being said, this morning I read a few pages and he began talking about commentaries for the pastor to be diligent in his studies. After giving several suggestions for good commentaries, he writes:

It is, however, most important to remember, that the service or disservice of commentaries wholly depends upon the place which they occupy in the system of study. Let them not be discarded as utterly useless; for many of them comprise the labours of men, who had a far deeper insight into the word of God than those who despise them are generally likely to attain. But let them not be placed before the word, nor be consulted (habitually at least), until the mind has been well stored with the study of God's own book.

I have had times in my life where commentaries were the first place I'd run. It wasn't until the more recent years that I've realized I am far more likely to engage and apply the Scriptures in my own life when I take the time to meditate on the text. I still have much to learn, but I think Bridges it correct. He goes on to state that they certainly do have their place in the study:

The only assistance which I would recommend, are those, in which there can be no tendency to warp your judgment. It is the serious and frequent reading of the Divine oracles, accompanied with fervent prayer; it is the comparing Scripture with Scripture; it is the diligent study of the languages in which they are written; it is the knowledge of the histories and antiquities, to which they allude.

Diligent reading of the Scriptures, fervent prayer, comparing Scripture with Scripture, a working knowledge of the original languages, and great knowledge of the histories and antiquities of the Bible. These are wonderful areas to emphasize. I have a long ways to go, but on the journey I am, by God's grace.

Sunday Sermon

This past Sunday morning's sermon is available. I didn't record the evening sermon because it was more of a heart to heart with my church family. Hope you'll be drawn to Christ through this:

Hearing, Responding, and Bearing Fruit - Part 3

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Weight Loss Journey

For those who know me well, you know that I have struggled for many years now to be healthy and develop better habits in life. I say struggled because I have failed miserably for the most part. Sure, I've had times that went better than others, but overall I continued to grow larger and continued in my unhealthy habits.

Let me begin this by stating a few things up front. My desire to be healthy is first rooted in my desire to honor Christ with my body. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit because He fills every believer. Therefore, I have the responsibility to care for my body for the sake of Christ.

A second reason for my desire is to be an example to my flock. I was blessed to spend two years learning and growing under the mentoring of Dr. Pete Schemm. We had many talks about the place for pastors to be an example in all areas. I have a long ways to go, but I hope to make progress by the grace of God. With that being said, about 6 weeks ago my chairman of deacons had a heart attack. He was only 58 years old! I am very close to my deacon chairman. He was the one who contacted me before I moved to Fort Myers. He and I have had many talks and times together already. By God's grace, he has been spared and we have decided to hold one another accountable for weight loss and, more importantly, to be healthy. I have found that it's possible to look like you're in great shape without actually being in great shape. I had already started trying to lose some weight before this happened to him, but I was extremely motivated afterwards.

A third reason, which goes with the last, is that I love my church. What I mean by this is that it wouldn't be fair to my faith family for me to not be able to last in the ministry because of something that I could avoid. Of course, simply eating better and exercising doesn't guarantee anything, but at least I can do my part.

A fourth reason, which is extremely important to me, is for the sake of my family. We have been blessed for my to stay home with our two children. Our daughter is homeschooling, and my wife is doing an excellent job. If something happened to me because of health, these things would quite possibly change. However, I aslo need to lead my family well. It isn't fair for me to not be able to do what is needed to lead them well.

A fifth reason is related to several that I've already mentioned, but after my friend had a heart attack I remembered that my father had bypass surgery in his early-mid 50's. Again, this was another eye opening reality.

With all that being said, back in late January/early February I stepped on the scales at the house. To my absolute shock it said 238 pounds. That's right, 238! How did it get here? What in the world happened? How can this be? (all these questions, and many more, flooded my head)

It was time to do something about it. I started working out again, and tried to eat better. The key word there is tried! Over the next 6 weeks or so I slowly lost 7-8 pounds. I had some friends visit in March and I was absolutely embarrassed when we all went to the beach for the day. So again, I tried to get better. Then in April my mother and father-in-law visited. He had lost 25 pounds since Christmas (which we didn't even know he needed to lose!). He told me that he had seen a doctor and started a program that was not only for weight loss, but also for health. I knew immediately I need the accountability.

Since this post is getting ridiculously long now, let me speed ahead. I went to the Medical Weight Loss Clinic in Fort Myers and started immediately. I am very thankful I did! At this point, since the 238 pound shock, I have lost 26 pounds. Of course, I still have a ways to go, but I feel about a thousand percent better! And, now I love running. I've never loved running. In fact, I've always hated running. Now it's becoming a joy. My distance is growing (slowly), as well as my time. All and all this has been great. I still have a long ways to go, but by God's grace I am on my way.

I have been hesitant to post anything about this on my blog, Facebook, or twitter because I have so many times in the past talked a good talk and failed. I still could. I know my weaknesses. I know my sinful nature and the inclinations I have to go back into old habits. But I decided to post this because it may help others. If it does, awesome! And also, please pray for me that a healthy lifestyle will be developed and I will honor Christ with my life and my body.

I decided to post two pictures on here. The first picture was taken a while back, but I'm not really sure when. The second was taken today. I tried to make them as close as possible. Though you can't see much, I think you can see the difference in my face.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Getting to the Heart of Parenting

In the previous post, I linked to a blog post by Kevin DeYoung. In his post he asked the question (though in the middle of his story of how his conversations go with his kids), "What would Paul Tripp do?" Well, Paul Tripp has a lot of good resources on parenting, but this new DVD set looks to be great. Right now there is a great price at the Desiring God website.

Kevin DeYoung on Parenting

I haven't posted in a while. However, my wife and I are constantly thinking through ways to raise and shepherd our children. This article by Kevin DeYoung helps!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday Sermons

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. We had several visitors come to our church. I had been told that would be the case, but since this was my first Easter with Cypress Lake Baptist Church I didn't know what to expect. If I had to guess (which I'm really bad at doing), I'd say we had 25 or more visitors yesterday. I had planned an Easter sermon that would (hopefully) articulate the gospel as clearly and boldly as possible. Unfortunately, it didn't get recorded. I considered posting my notes for you, but as of right now I decided not to do this. My hope and prayer is that if you were there to hear the message yesterday that God might take what was true and apply it to your heart.

You can listen to the PM service by clicking the link below:

Sunday PM - Blessed are the Peacemakers - Matthew 5:9