Monday, November 18, 2013

New Website. New Sermon Series.

I obviously do not post on here very often these days. I keep thinking maybe I'll pick it back up. And I believe I will eventually. However, for now I'd like to point you to two new things since the last time I posted.

First, our church has a new website. Check it out!

Second, we are now working our way through Philippians on Sunday mornings. I've titled it "The Sinner's Guide to Joy." If you are interested in listening to any of the first several sermons, or keeping up as we go along, you can find those here.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Follow Me

This morning I began two things as pastor of Cypress Lake Baptist Church. First, I began my 4th year as pastor here. It's hard to believe it's already been 3 years since we moved to Fort Myers, FL! God has been good. I still hope to blog about some of my recent reflections on the last 3 years.

The second thing I started is a new sermon series. I primarily preach expositionally through books of the Bible, but right now I'm doing a 7 week sermon series on being a faithful follower of Jesus. My hope is that we as a church will take seriously the call to make disciples of all nations. However, before we can call others to be disciples we must make sure we are first disciples. We need to make sure we are observing/obeying what Christ has commanded. This also means we need to know what Christ has commanded! That is my hope through this sermon series.

You can here the first sermon here: Follow Me: Take up your Cross and Follow Jesus

Monday, August 26, 2013

Happy Birthday Owen Daniel!

Today is my son's birthday. We were blessed Owen 4 years ago. Many do not know our story, but there was a time when we didn't know if we would be able to have any children biologically. Then we were blessed in 2005 with a little girl, Abigail Grace. After that we thought we were blessed and probably wouldn't be able to have any more. On Christmas day, 2008, we found out were going to have another child. On August 26, 2009 this little dude entered the world. What a great blessing he is to us!

Of course, I was one proud daddy! I wrote about why we named him Owen Daniel here. And this is still my prayer.

His sister was also proud to have a little brother. She even promised to love him forever!

My wife was also quite grateful for our little boy.

And by the way, the Lord wasn't finished blessing us. We had another son, Judson Elijah, last year.

Happy Birthday Owen. Daddy loves you 'dude-man' very much. May the Lord bless you and keep you all the days of your life!

Monday, August 12, 2013


I just completed our series on Habakkuk. I can't believe how applicable this has been in my life and perhaps in the life of every church member. Though we do not know what it's like being taken into captivity, we can still resonate with this prophet. If you're interested, you can listen to the 11 sermons here.

God is Patient

In my last post I talked briefly about my transition to pastor of Cypress Lake Baptist Church. I'm coming up on the completion of 3 years here as pastor and I am keenly aware that God is extremely patient with His church (and pastors!). I came into this church with a ton of hopes and dreams. Being in a heavily unchurched area I thought the harvest is plentiful and was ready to labor to reap. I had hopes of transitioning the church smoothly and quickly so that we would be a missional church reaching our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I had plans and dreams of everyone who was already here joining in on the mission God had given us here in SWFL.

He's patient. He's far more patient than I am. My first year here we saw several visitors, but added maybe 2-3 new members. In fact, there was very little change overall. Everything pretty much stayed the same. Now, I was asked to come lead this church through change, but it wasn't happening. At least, it wasn't happening visibly. Our music stayed the same. Our dress stayed the same. Our structure stayed the same. Our ministries stayed the same. Everything appeared to be the same. And this began to cause some impatience on my part. I was ready to move forward...yesterday! But it didn't seem like God was using me to move this church anywhere.

I was wrong. Just because God doesn't appear to be working or moving doesn't mean He's not (just read Habakkuk 1 and you'll see this to be the case). God was working. He was working in my heart and in the hearts of His people here at CLBC. He was clarifying for me several factors (and still is). He was helping me to see how completely dependent upon Him we really are if we are to see any real, lasting change. He was working in the hearts of our people as many were growing in the Lord and becoming more and more gospel-focused. He was preparing us for whatever His will was in this church.

Looking back I can see the unbelievable amount of growth/change that came even in that first year. Though we didn't add or lose too many people that first year, we made some big decisions and were growing in grace. To put it simply, God was using my feeble attempts at preaching His Word to build up His people. He is patient. He is patient to work in my heart. He is patient to work in His church. But one very clear lesson to learn and to relearn is that though He is patient He is still working in and through His people.

I am grateful to be loved by such a patient God!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Reflecting Back 3 Years Ago

On this day three years ago my family and I were visiting Fort Myers, FL for the first time. We flew in on August 5, 2010 to see the area, meeting with the pastor search committee of Cypress Lake Baptist Church, preach on Sunday, and flew back to North Carolina and then drove to where I was pastoring First Baptist Church in Pulaski, VA. Today I'm reflecting on that time as well as what the Lord has done these past three years.

That first weekend in August was a hot one! It was ridiculously humid and hot. Did I mention it was hot in August? Well, it still is! Anyway, my wife and I immediately loved the area. We like the beach, so being within a few miles of it sounded like a great thing. It's certainly not a big city, but reminds me somewhat of where I grew up in Matthews, NC. And, there were plenty of coffee shops around. All that was good and exciting.

On Saturday, August 7, I was able to meet face-to-face with the search committee. That was my first time meeting all of them face-to-face (we had several phone conversations prior to this). The meeting when well. Though I was still unsure if the Lord would lead us to this church. In fact, the Wednesday night before we flew down to FL we had a fantastic meeting at my church in VA. A meeting that caused me to reconsider whether we should stay or leave. I was torn at this point.

Then came Sunday! Sunday morning was a great joy for me. I preached a sermon from Matthew 16 because I wanted our church to know that Jesus would be responsible for building this church if He chose to do. One thing that drew me, however, was that when I looked over the small congregation I saw diversity. We were not all the same color! And that was really exciting for me. For the evening service I preached a sermon from Matthew 28 because I wanted our church to know that Jesus builds His church through His people being faithful to go and make disciples of all nations. All went well on that Sunday.

However, we were still not 100% sure God would lead us to CLBC. There was the flock in VA that loved us and cared for us deeply. And we loved them. Once we got back to VA it became clear that it was time for us to leave. There was a very uncomfortable feeling about the church. People knew I was preaching at another church in FL and that I may be leaving FBC. At that point it became clear to us, but Cypress Lake had not yet voted to extend a call to me. That came August 15. And it was unanimous. And we excepted. And within a couple weeks we were moving.

I wrote this blog post then describing the hectic schedule moving and settling in Fort Myers.

In the next few days, God-willing, I'll post some reflective thoughts on what God has taught me over the past three years.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Compelled to Love by Love

I don't blog often. That's an understatement for sure. This post is about something that has been stirring in my heart for a while, but this past weekend I felt "compelled" to do something about it.

What's the stirring? For the past 2 years and 10 months I've been pastor of Cypress Lake Baptist Church in Fort Myers, FL. The work has been difficult at times, but definitely rewarding. God has been kind and gracious to work here, often times through my mistakes. When I came I understood the church was an older congregation that had been in decline for some years. We are not a large church, but there was a group here that really wanted to move forward for the glory of God. I stated when I came that I wanted our church to be known for our gospel centrality and a desire to reach our community with that gospel. I still do!

However, after almost 3 years the truth is we have not engaged our community well. We have been blessed with many visitors over the past few years. Some of these visitors are now members. Many are not. I am grateful to God that He has sent us these visitors. It is evidence to me of a kind, gracious, patient, and generous God. However, we have not been faithful at going out into our community with the gospel.

Because I strongly believe we need to be out in our community more with the gospel I have been thinking more and more about how we can genuinely care for those around us. I am grateful that God has sent us visitors. It's exciting. But I am still burdened about being obedient to take the gospel to those around us. This is a strategy that we are currently thinking through as a church.

I am compelled to get into our community better, but there is more still. Two different things happened over this past weekend that caused me to feel compelled about something else. First, my friend Joe Thorn and some of the guys from his church went street preaching in Chicago. I've never been to Chicago, but I hear it's not an easy place for the gospel. I thought this took boldness and caused me to think about what I am (or am not!) doing that takes boldness for the sake of the gospel. You can read some of Joe's thoughts following their night out here. The second thing was a blogpost I read Friday night. It was a powerful post about caring for a homeless man and loving him in Christ. You can read it here.

After thinking about my need (and our church's need) to be bold for the gospel in our community, as well as thinking about that blogpost, I felt compelled to think about and plan to take the gospel to those who seem untouchable. I've done this overseas, but have failed in SWFL. There are many different types of people we could put into the category of untouchable. My thought is about those who the church oftentimes overlooks or has a fear of engaging. I've thought of a few: homeless, gang members, drug or alcohol addicts, prison, etc.

I feel compelled to take the gospel to them. But I feel compelled to in the First Thessalonians 2:8 way, "So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." I stated a moment ago that I want us to genuinely care for those around us. I want them to be very dear to us. I asked a friend/church member this morning, "Would you still love them even if they never believed?" That's a tough question. Really tough! But that is the call. Whether they are neighbors or enemies, we are called to love them (Matthew 5:44, 22:39).

This is new to me. But I am compelled. I am compelled to love. And I am compelled by love. I am compelled by the love of Christ in my life to take the gospel to everyone I can in SWFL. And in particular to touch those who seem untouchable.

If you know of any resources, or churches/people doing this well, would you please let me know?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

God's Being is Totally Unique

From Wayne Grudem's Bible Doctrine: 
“It’s not just that we exist and God has always existed; it is also that God necessarily exists in an infinitely better, stronger, more excellent way. The difference between God’s being and ours is more than the difference between the sun and a candle, more than the difference between the ocean and a raindrop, more than the difference between the arctic ice cap and a snowflake, more than the difference between the universe and the room we are sitting in: God’s being is qualitatively different.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ministries of Word and Mercy

Yesterday morning I had the great privilege of preaching from Matthew 9:35-38. This a very familiar passage of Scripture for many people. Here is the text:
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. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
For our church I feel the time has come for us to take seriously the mission God has given us. In His providence He has placed us in SWFL. We gather to worship at 8400 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33919 and then we leave and spread throughout SWFL. Though I have noticed this before, it is clear to me that you can see the model of ministry that Jesus used while on earth. He was very clearly serious about the ministry of the Word AND mercy.

You can see His focus on the ministry of the Word in verse 35 where it says, "And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom." It's the teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom that is so important to see  here. This was the normal pattern of Jesus' ministry. He was constantly teaching and preaching.

In verse 35 you also see His focus on ministry of mercy where it says, "and healing every disease and every affliction." He was extending mercy to those who were in need. Again, read through any of the four gospels and you will see His mercy ministry of healing, feeding, and helping others.

I believe this is the model of ministry that Jesus expects from His church today. We cannot choose whether we will focus on ministry of the Word or ministry of mercy. It's both/and. It is true that some have focused and done very well at ministries of mercy. I want to learn from them! However, it is also true that some have done so well at ministries of mercy that they forget about the ministry of the Word. People do not come to faith in Jesus because we do good deeds. However, our good deeds do give us opportunities to share the gospel. In fact, I believe we can see the importance of actually providing for others in need in many places, but one is in James, "15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

My point in all of this is I hope our church will simply continue the work that Jesus was doing on earth. Yes, this means that we will go and make disciples. And we will do this by focusing on ministry of the Word and ministry of mercy.

You can listen to the sermon by clicking here: Pray 
and Proclaim

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


This past Sunday I finished preaching through Galatians. Galatians is such a great book that I hated to see it end! You can listen to the last message, "Boasting in the Cross," or have access to all 19 sermons. Hope they minister to you!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Biblical Community: Part 2

Last Sunday morning I preached Galatians 6:1-5 and titled it Biblical Community. Community is one of the areas I am stressing at our church this year. I want us to be a church that genuinely seeks to know one another well enough (strengths, weaknesses, struggles, sins, etc.) to be able to genuinely know how to love and pray for one another. This, I think, happens best in smaller group settings.

At our church we have two different smaller group ministries. They do not compete with one another as they are meant to serve different functions. They are actually aimed at completing one another. We have Sunday School every Sunday morning for all ages. The goal in these classes is to study the Bible. Presently we are using The Gospel Project as our curriculum.

We have also recently launched our Care Group ministry. At this time we only have one Care Group, but it is our hope and aim that this will spread throughout SWFL. The primary purpose in these Care Groups will be fellowship, encouragement, and prayer.

Yesterday I was able to preach Galatians 6:6-10 and titled it Biblical Community: Part 2. It certainly does not cover everything needed when talking about community, but I pray it will continue to push us and cause us to think through how we are or are not living life together for the glory of God and the good of our souls.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Biblical Community

One of the five things I've focused on since coming to CLBC is community. I've done this in more than one way. I hope to blog more on this very soon, but this past Sunday I preached Galatians 6:1-5 and titled it Biblical Community. It is my hope that our church would seriously seek to model true community where we love, encourage, confront, help, and pray for one another. You can listen to the sermon here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Fruit of the Spirit Includes Self-Control

Recently I've been preaching through Galatians with my church. I was reminded again while preaching through Galatians 5 of the fruit of the Spirit. Interesting enough is the fact that it does not say fruits, as in plural, but fruit. The Spirit of God in the life of the believer produces such fruit. Of course our sinful flesh is still present as well and we often fight against the work of the Spirit. That's why Paul says in Galatians 5:16, "Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." The key to not gratifying the desires of the flesh is to walk by and yield to the Holy Spirit who dwells within everyone who believes.

And while it is true that "fruit" is singular in Galatians 5:22, it is also, I think, appropriate to evaluate your life as a Christian in light of this. It's appropriate to ask yourself if you truly love God and neighbor the way the Spirit leads. It's right to evaluate whether or not you have true joy in the Lord above all things. And the list goes on.

One, however, that I think it's easy not to focus much on is self-control. Maybe this is only true in my own life. I have come under much conviction as of late over my lack of control. And I've made every excuse under the sun for it! However, a lack of self-control is not simply a reflection upon my sinful desires, but also a reflection of rebellion against the work of the Spirit of God in my own life.

One very clear example of this is based on my lack of self-control when it comes to food. I blogged yesterday that I am trying to refocus and get this under control (you can read it here). I stated yesterday that my eating habits have been sinful in that gluttony has been a part of the issue. Yet, I think it's also sinful in that it also reveals a lack of self-control. According to my understanding of Galatians 5 a lack of self-contol shows that I am gratifying the desires of my flesh. And this is sin.

There are many other examples I could point to in my own life. The truth is I realize more and more how wicked my heart is apart from the work of Christ. However, there is good news. The good news is that because Christ Jesus died for my sins they are forgiven. Completely forgiven. Nothing held against me since I am in Christ. And, because God is so unbelievably gracious, He has given me His Holy Spirit who helps lead and guide me. The battle against a lack of self-control is a Spiritual battle. It takes prayer and trust and leaning upon the Spirit.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Getting Healthy...Again

Many of my close friends, family members, and church know I have struggled with poor eating habits. A couple years ago I lost a bunch of weight with help (you can read about it here and here). However, since then I have completely dropped the ball and gained all the weight back. It's a struggle for me. But it's also sin. I struggle with gluttony. And I know I can't fight it alone.

I am now starting back on the journey of being healthier. I realize it's not a diet, but a change in my lifestyle. I have asked two friends (Joe Thorn and my chairman of deacons) to hold me accountable as I seek to lose this weight (as well as my gracious, loving wife!).

I just revisited this post by Joe and hope to implement some of this as well. It's good. You should read it!

I also welcome your prayers. Since this is also an issue of sin I know I need the help of the Holy Spirit to fight against my flesh and sinful desires.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gospel Recovery and Centrality

In December I posted on Five Areas I've Focused on for Revitalization. The first of those areas is gospel recovery and centrality. This may look different in different context, but the gospel needs to be recovered. In most dying churches the gospel has either been assumed, neglected, or forgotten. That's the hard truth. That doesn't mean everyone in the church is lost. Nor does it mean everyone doesn't believe in the basics of the gospel. No doubt, there are some churches where this is the case, but in my experience it was more assumed than anything else. So we needed to recover the beauty of the Biblical gospel.

From day one of my ministry here I stressed that we were going to be united in the gospel first. I focused on preaching the gospel message as often as I could. I talked about the importance of this with every individual in our church as I could. After preaching through James I jumped into Luke so that we could spend ample time studying the person and work of Jesus. My first break from Luke's gospel was an extended series on the gospel and implications from the gospel.

That last sentence is important. I preached the series on the gospel and the implications of the gospel. Trevin Wax's book, Counterfeit Gospels, was very helpful in thinking through the differences between the gospel story, the gospel message, and the gospel community. I wanted our church to know the gospel message. I wanted our unity to be found in work of Jesus on the cross and the resurrection that followed. This gospel, once believed, creates a gospel community (the church).

The truth is, however, I simply have stated, over and over and over and over, the importance of knowing, believing, and uniting around the good news of what Jesus has done for sinners like us. Over time, and through much prayer, the Lord began doing two important things. First, He sent us new members. This was helpful as they came in under my leadership and vision. They came in believing we were going to be centered on the gospel. Second, He began applying the recovery of the gospel to many of our members who had been there for several years. By His grace and the power of His Spirit in our lives, we began to see a recovery of the gospel. And this automatically led to us begin to make it central.

Now, lest anyone misunderstand, we have a long way to go. And not everyone jumped on board with the vision and leadership our church now has. We had several people leave within my first 18 months or so here. It was tough. I don't like to see anyone leave. However, those who stayed with us now have a desire to hear the gospel regularly, apply it in their lives, and I believe we are getting better at wanting to see everyone within our community hear this good news.

I would stress this as the most important aspect of any church revitalization (any church really!). Recover the good news. Do not assume everyone knows it, believers, or applies it regularly in their lives. It must be recovered, and it must be central in the church.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I Had a Fever this Week...

I had a fever this week (as did the rest of my family), and the only prescription was this:

More Cowbell! - watch more funny videos      

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bible Doctrine

Tonight at our church I will begin teaching through Wayne Grudem's Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith. Tonight will be our introduction. And I've decided to take my time through this book in order to allow for discussion and application. I'm really excited about this!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sunday Sermon

Here is Sunday morning's message. Several people have stated that it really minister to them. It's extremely important to know that Christ has set us free. I hope it ministers to you as well.

Free in Christ

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pastors, Listen!

I just finished listening to this. I believe, after listening, it will be one I come back to again and again. Pastors, listen to this sermon. Christian, listen to this sermon. Hear Piper's heart. Hear Paul's heart. Let it shape your heart.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Nine Marks

I'm a fan of 9Marks Ministry. I think they are biblical. This video quickly explains the connection of the 9 marks.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reading on the Plane

Over the next couple weeks I should be on several planes equalling close to 60 hours. Yes, 60 hours! I have decided to take three books with me. Have you read any of these?

A Few Prayer Requests

In just a couple days, God-willing, I will board a plane for the first flight toward Myanmar. I have a few prayer request I'd like to make known as we leave.

1. Please pray for safe travels

2. Please pray for the gospel of Jesus Christ to go forth

3. Please pray that our luggage and materials arrive on time

4. Please pray that our teaching and preaching times would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish great things for the name of Christ

5. Please pray we do not get sick

6. Please pray we make it back safely

7. Please pray for our family and church family as we go

I'm sure there are many other items to pray for, but as I, and one other church member, board the plane for Myanmar, we greatly appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Preparing for Myanmar

In just a few more days I leave for Myanmar. I am extremely excited to be back with my friends there, and look forward to making new ones. While there I will have the opportunity to preach 6 times and teach 6 times. Below is the list of my sermons and teaching topics:

Luke 9:18-27 - Take up Your Cross and Follow Jesus
Luke 9:57-62 - Be Devoted in your Pursuit of Christ
Luke 14:25-35 - The Cost of Discipleship
James 1:1-4 - Joy in the Trials
Philippians 3:8-11 - To Know Christ and to Make Him Known
Romans 10:13-17 - Sent to Preach

Teaching Topics:
God's Word is Sufficient
God's Spirit is Active
God's Son is Worthy
God's Gospel is Powerful
God's Name will be Great
God's Harvest is Plentiful

Would you please pray for me as I finalize my preparations for these talks? Would you please pray the gospel would be clear?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Five Things Christians Look Forward to in Eternity

I had the privilege of preaching a funeral for one of our longterm members today. The funeral was actually a celebration of God's grace. I mean, it was actually a celebration of God's grace in his life. The family and friends who gathered together today rejoiced that our brother had departed from the body is now present with the Lord. During the message I shared 5 things Christians can look forward to in eternity (which our dear brother is already experiencing). Here are those 5 things:

  1. No More Pain or Death
    1. Revelation 21:4 – He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
  2. The Presence of Christ
    1. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 – 6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
    2. Luke 23:43 – And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
  3. Friends and Family Members who are in Christ (I took the fact that this verse says from every tribe and tongue and language and nation to include those who've gone before us in Christ)
    1. Revelation 5:9-10 – 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
  4. Everlasting Joy
    1. Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
    2. Matthew 25:23 – “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”
  5. The Glory of Jesus Christ
    1. Revelation 21:23 – And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sunday Sermon

Yesterday morning we continued our study through Galatians. As Paul continues to unfold the doctrine of justification by faith alone, he also helps understand the place of the law. You can listen to that sermon here:

The Promise-Keeping God - Galatians 3:15-22

Evening sermon wasn't recored.