Saturday, May 31, 2008
Thanks for whoever read this blog in Taipai, Taiwan. This blog has now been read on every continent, other than Antarctica. If anyone ever goes to Antarctica or knows someone who is, please ask them to log on just for laughs.
How crazy is it that a son of a truck driver who is now a good old boy serving in Bowling Green, Ky can share Christ with people all over the world on a free website? Technology is amazing.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
So I watched the season finale of Lost tonight and loved it. Others did not, but we all have our reasons for watching Lost. I like the moral objectivity of the characters.
Most of the characters deal with guilt. That Benjamin guy doesn’t, but he’s crazy. When most of them do wrong or believe they’ve done wrong, they feel guilty. This season we have seen Michael, Jack, and even Sawyer deal with remorse and a deep sense of guilt.
Why do I think that is a good thing? Because in the real world guilt is real. Guilt is not real for mentally disturbed people who are out of touch with reality. For people who have a sense of what is “normal” guilt is a part of life as a sinful creature.
There are some in our society who want us to believe there are no moral absolutes. A lot of people are buying it. I spoke with a professor at
The reason the students gave for believing the terrorist attacks were either ok or right was because the terrorists believed what they were doing was right. In essence these confused kids are saying that because the terrorists believed it was right for them that their personal belief makes their killing of others either ok or right. In other words these students have bought the lie that there are no moral absolutes.
I pray that they and the others (a little lost humor) that have been duped with this lie will wake up. Some will wake up once or if they ever become parents. If that blessed day comes for them, they will not allow that child to do what the child feels it wants to do. They will train the child to know the difference between right and wrong. They will teach their child moral absolutes.
Why won’t these students and people in our society accept moral absolutes someone might ask. The answer is simple. If you ever come to a place where you say there is such a thing as right and wrong, you have to ask, “Who says?” Once you start asking that question, you will find God with His hand raised. It will have nail prints in it and with those scars the story of redemption. Soon you will see that the only hope in life is grace through faith in Christ alone. A lot of people are committed to not believing that. In a nation of tolerance there are many who believe Jesus is intolerable.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
So two weeks later I'm finally getting back to Andy's amazing leadership talk he gave at the last session of the Drive conference. Again, you can get the notes on all of the messages here.
Here is the second quote and takeaway:
“The next generation product almost never comes from the previous generation.” Focus, Al Reis
TAKEAWAY: Be a student, not a critic.
Here are some other things I wrote down, as he was making this point. I don't know if he said them or if they are my own thoughts I scribbled down, while he was talking.
1. Set the High School, Middles School, and College ministries free to show us what ministry looks like, when it reaches the next generation.
2. You can fight it or you can fund it. Andy said that, but I'm not sure what that means so if you were there and can explain it, please do.
3. You can be so cautious that you become irrelevant. Andy also said that because I remembered groaning in pain from conviction, when it shot like a bullet through my brain.
Here are some other takeaways for me.
One, expect and enable change. This does not mean that we can change the message of the Gospel. That is a sin and has a pretty steep price. It also does not mean that we change for change sake or to try to be something we want to be.
What I think this does mean is that I, as a leader, must help my church effectively communicate the Gospel to the culture we are serving in a way that they can understand. The style of communication may change. The music may be different. What I wear may be different. The vernacular I use may change. How we worship is not the only thing that must be free to change. We must also be willing to change the way we do church so that the principles of church life can be lived out in the culture we live in.
It's the same old thing that's been said before: change methods, but not the message.
Two, listen and learn from those you do not agree with. There are really smart people out there doing amazing things. Some of them are doing them to expand the Kingdom of God. Some of them are doing them for other reasons maybe wrong reasons. Either way there is a lot to learn from leaders from all theological, methodological, and vocational backgrounds.
Three, help the church be multi-generational. The church must reach the next generation for Christ. At the same time the church must seek to get the next generation and the previous generation to know, serve and love Jesus together. If we attempt to reach only a segment or specific generation, then the ministry will die once that generation dies. We must seek to reach people of all ages and disciple them to serve the purpose of the church and do what honors Jesus rather than what pleases them or provides their own perceived felt need.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Right now I am doing a series of sermons entitled "Rest" based on Hebrews 4. We are looking at the ways in which God has called us and provided for us to be able to rest in His grace and love in every aspect of our lives. You can listen and get the notes here.
In my devotional reading of Spurgeon yesterday I was taken aback by what he said about being anxious. He said in essence that it is a sin and an affront to God.
Here is a portion of what he wrote.
The precept to avoid anxious care is earnestly inculcated by our Saviour, again and again; it is reiterated by the apostles; and it is one which cannot be neglected without involving transgression: for the very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting ourselves into his place to do for him that which he has undertaken to do for us. We attempt to think of that which we fancy he will forget; we labour to take upon ourselves our weary burden, as if he were unable or unwilling to take it for us. Now this disobedience to his plain precept, this unbelief in his Word, this presumption in intruding upon his province, is all sinful.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Psalm 78:4 We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.
Today, a large number of our seniors graduate. I will be attending the graduation parties of Travis Breen and Katie Strom. I missed Shelby Babcock’s party last night due to Jackson's ballgame, but Carrie and Asher got to stop by after and represent our family.
Graduation is a big step. It’s a big step for the student and for the parent. The students are stepping out into a world of self-determination. They now must decide the direction of their lives. The parents must take that step of release. Many parents will continue to provide for their children through college, but they will not be able to maintain the same contact with their children and, therefore, cannot make decisions for them.
Theses graduates will now make decisions based on the training they have received. Their faith and world-view will be their moral compass. Their understanding of the Word of God and His greatness will influence the friendships they develop, who they will date and someday marry, and how they will invest their lives.
It is my prayer that the students that leave Living Hope will love God with all they are and love people with the grace and mercy they’ve been given in Christ. I pray they will invest their lives in a local church and expand God’s Kingdom in their own heart and in the world.
The question I must ask and that the parents must ask is: Have we prepared them to do that? Have we trained them in the truth of God’s Word? Have we shown them the importance of making church and Kingdom work the priority of their life? Do they have a Biblical world-view and a Spirit-powered life?
For those who are still preparing your child to launch into the world, let this be a reminder of what we must be doing now. We must as Psalm 78:4 teaches “tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” We must make them disciples who make disciples.
Friday, May 23, 2008
School ends today for our kids, which begins the real start of summer for us. I love the summer time. I love the warm weather. I love not being rushed in the mornings to get the kids off and going. I love having more time with my children. It is a joy.
In the midst of all of this time it can be easy to waste some of it. The time we have this summer is going to be invested in something. I am going to seek to look at each second for what it can do to honor God and invest it wisely. There is a time to rest in a way that honors God. There is also work to be done even in the summer that honors God.
I want to encourage you to start your summer reading. As a church, over the summer we are reading The Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney. You can order it by clicking here. I am challenging my children to read the Narnia books along with requiring them to do their daily devotions.
I also want to encourage you to invest your life into the life of an unbeliever. Get to know them and share with them the love of Christ. Let them know and let them see what Christ has done in your life and invite them to know Christ as savior and lord. You will have this opportunity out in your yard, at the gym, on vacation, or anywhere you go. Remember, as you go "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Finally, take time to pray. During the summer months you will have the opportunity to spend more time with friends and family. Use some of that additional time to pray together. It is amazing what happens when we pray with others. It is a powerful experience. I know some people think it's a big deal to pray out loud with other people. It's not. It's just a conversation with God that you are sharing together.
Don't miss these opportunities!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
This picture shows the chapel and a chaplain sharing his testimony.
I am in
Yesterday we had the opportunity to tour the Mesa Verda LPD 19. It is a docking craft used by the Navy to transport marines, navy seals, and others with their ships to hostile areas. We were shown around by Southern Baptist military chaplains. The boat was cool, but the ministry that I saw that is taking place there is incredible.
It may surprise you to know (it did me) that Southern Baptist provide almost 1,200 chaplains to the US Military. We are the largest provider of chaplains for the military. These chaplains are amazing people. Many of them have to put their lives in harms way to fight a battle that is unseen by human eyes. They fight a spiritual battle as they counsel, care, and provide ministry services to our fighting men and women and to their families.
Yesterday we sat in the chapel and heard two amazing stories. One was shared by a young chaplain who accepted Christ four years ago. He is now serving the Navy and spreading the Gospel. Another chaplain with the Navy had been at sea for eight months and was getting ready to go again for another eight months leaving behind his wife and four children. Pray for these leaders and their families. Pray that the Lord will bless them and the work they do in His name. Pray that these families left behind in the states remain safe and steadfast in their own faith.
The work that these chaplains are doing is yielding fruit. There were several soldiers with us, while we were on our tour yesterday. I struck up a conversation with one of them named Paul. Paul is not a chaplain so I asked him about his service and in time got around to asking him about his faith.
It turns out that just two years ago, Paul was serving in
The next day was Easter Sunday and they were going to have a service in the area they had cleaned up. Paul’s volunteer requirements were over, but he wanted to attend the service with his family and he asked the chaplain permission to come the next day for the service. The chaplain just laughed and told him he had been praying he would come and bring his family.
The next day Paul and his wife came to an outdoor Easter service and were saved. They now live in
Pray for our soldiers. Pray for our chaplains. Pray for Paul and his family. Pray that the Gospel will be received from those in our military fortunate enough to be served by a chaplain commissioned by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Seminary, pointed out what California's Supreme Court has done in redefining marriage. They've done more than that.
The Baptist Press also covered the story and you can read that story here.
Our nation is entering into dangerous waters. We are headed to a position that invites God's judgment. I believe there will be serious consequences for redefining the primary institution of society. Pray, friends. Pray.
2 Chronicles 7:14 "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Today I had two great conversations that got me excited about what God is doing. Both meetings made me hunger to see and experience more adundantly the goodness of God.
The first meeting was with Jeff Crabtree. His is the new Director of Missions for the Warren Association. He is clearly passionate about evangelism, church cooperation, and church planting through local churches. We are blessed to have him here in our area and I anticipate with great expectation the joy of serving with him and the other 46 churches and their pastors and leaders, as Jeff leads us and mobilizes us toward fulfilling the great commission through the Church.
The second meeting was with Bobby Baldwin. He is a member at Living Hope and a former pastor. He will be speaking at
He also told me some amazing stories of how he has experienced God's grace. One of my favorite stories he shared was the one about him getting left in the Green River Prison located in Central City, Ky. for over 28 hours. The authorities just forgot he was there so he stayed and shared the Gospel. He got to speak to almost every person in that prison. He had to go back the next week with a borrowed baptistery and baptized hundreds of people. In the ensuing weeks the officers indicated that daily they were finding drug paraphernalia and unused drugs in the walk ways where prisoners had given them up. Consider what one man armed with the Gospel and 28 hours was able to do that millions of dollars and years couldn’t?
Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
This picture is of Benny (worship pastor), Bob (care elder), and Mike (worship elder) waiting for the rest of us who were stuck in traffic to show up. Robert (adult discipleship elder) was taking the picture. Soon after this picture was taken we were all physically hurting from laughing so hard at Jeff Foxworthy. He attends Northpoint Community Church, which sponsored the conference.
It has been over a week now and I am still processing the last message Andy Stanley brought at the drive conference. You can get the notes from their website by clicking here. He gave five quotes and expanded on how they are impacting him. He also offered a practical takeaway. I am going to post each of his quotes and takeaway along with other notes I took and the way I am processing this information.
Quote #1: “To reach people no one else is reaching, we must do things no one else is doing.” Craig Groeschel
TAKEAWAY: Become preoccupied with who you haven’t reached, as opposed to those you are trying to keep.
People who do not know Christ will not call the church or show up to a meeting to complain about how the church is not reaching them with the Gospel. They will just walk away from the greatest news they’ve never heard.
Andy had a girl in
My Thoughts: I must not allow those who know Christ to miss out on reaching someone because they are too busy with programs they think they want and have always had. There is no greater joy and means of spiritual growth than reaching someone for Christ. There is nothing that changes the world and has a greater eternal impact than evangelism.
Within a 20 minute drive of Living Hope there are said to be over 60,000 who will not be in church this week. How can we help those people know the love of God revealed in His Son Jesus Christ? How can we help them get to God and grow in Christ through the serving and learning that takes place in the community of believers?
We can share our hope and the journey we are on with Jesus. The church can provide programs and environments that make it easy for those far from God to get to know Him and receive Him as savior and lord. Let’s pray and work toward that end.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I just got back from visiting people in the hospitals. It was a joy. We have a baby on the way and others are improving.
I did have a scare. I was inquiring about one of our members whose room was empty by asking the nurse at the desk, “Do you know where she is?” The nurse responded by saying, “She’s no longer with us.” I think the look of shock let her know that I had just heard something she didn’t intend to say. She immediately responded with, “I mean she has been dismissed and is doing fine.”
Life Lesson: Use your words wisely or you might say something you don’t mean. I do not always use words wisely, and so, this was a good reminder for me. I hope it is for you too.
I am on-call this week for my church. I love being on-call. It is one of the most enjoyable privileges of serving on staff. When you are on-call, you get to visit the hospitals and help those who are dealing with loss and challenges in life for a week. When you do this kind of work, you do deal with some of the darker realities of life. But as a child of light, there is a joy in giving the hope you have in Jesus.
It is also a week of inspiration because of the stories that are shared by those you visit with. I love to hear about how people came to know Christ, how they got connected at Living Hope, and how they’ve been cared for by the church during their time of need. Those who are connected in a small group, Adult Bible Fellowship, or service team receive the best care, but even those who are not connected as they need to be are cared for by our deacons and on-call staff through Carenet. Our deacons do an amazing job. On average every person we hear about that is in the hospital is visited daily by at least one deacon 96% of the time. They are extremely effective.
Yesterday, I visited with two ladies who were there with their mother who is in very bad health. She is an elderly lady and struggling with a number of issues. Last Thursday, these two ladies were there with their mother and they were told that she could wake up at any time and that they should not leave her side. They had been there since the night before and had not eaten since the evening before. To say they were hungry would be an understatement. They were desperate to eat or faint. Food was an imperative, but so was staying with their mother.
Just as one of the two ladies was about to go and get something to eat a volunteer from Living Hope came in with a bag lunch for each of them. Every Thursday a group of volunteers gather at the church to make bag lunches. They then go to the hospitals and give them to people in waiting rooms or to people visiting others there.
That ministry makes an amazing impact every Thursday. Please pray for their work. Pray that God will continue to use those lunches to help people know that in this dark time God has not forgotten them and is going to provide.
The church needs people to participate in this ministry. It is a practical and impactful work that is simple, but makes a difference. If you or a group of you would be willing to serve in this ministry, please contact
I read this during my devotional time and loved it and thought you would too.
Marks immediately began preaching on “nothing.” God created the world from “nothing,” he said. God gave us laws in which there is “nothing” unjust. But, Marks continued, we have broken God’s law and there is “nothing” in us to justify us. There will be “nothing” to comfort sinners in death or hell. But, while Christians have “nothing” of their own in which to boast, we have Christ. And in him, we have “nothing” to cause us grief, “nothing” to disturb our peace, and “nothing” to fear in eternity.
Finishing his sermon, Marks mounted his horse and traveled to the next village. But some time later he returned to Ancaster. This time a larger group assembled, and the meeting house was opened to him. David preached “something” to them. He said there is “something” above all things. There is “something” in man designed to live forever, but there is also “something” in us that makes us unhappy. There is “something” about the gospel that reverses our unhappiness, “something” that gives us hope. There is “something” that will disturb the impenitent in death, but “something” resides in Christians that the world can’t understand, and “something” in eternity to give us everlasting joy.
All that from an uneducated young circuit rider, his mind filled with Scripture and his heart full of Christ, who had “something” to say—and “nothing” to fear.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
There’s an old saying that what happens or doesn’t happen in the Church House will have a greater impact on the health of our nation than what happens or doesn’t happen in the White House. Unfortunately, many speaking in the Church House have abandoned the message of the Master of the Church House and have landed upon the short-sighted hope of liberation theology, which is more concerned with the policies of the White House than the Kingdom of God that is supposed to be expanded by those who worship in the Church House.
We must not be fooled into thinking that a liberation theology is held by only those on the left of the political spectrum. Recently, Dr. Russell Moore commented on this reality in a blog found at The Henry Institute, where he wrote,
(click here to read the entire article)
N.T. Wright in his wonderful book Simply Christian writes of these liberation theologians of Jesus' day, "Not all Jews of this period believed in or wanted a coming Messiah. But those who did, and they were many, cherished a frequently repeated set of expectations as to what the anointed one would do when he arrived. He would fight the battle against Israel's enemy - specifically, the Romans"(p. 106). These people expected to be freed from their oppressors and given the good life.
Instead of doing that, what did the real Messiah do? Again, N.T. Wright writes, "(Jesus fought) the messianic battle - by losing it. The real enemy, after all, was not Rome, but the powers of evil that stood behind human arrogance and violence, powers of evil with which Israel's leaders had fatally colluded" (p.110).
This is what Jesus came to do. He came to remove the power of darkness and bring light. He came to destroy hate and apathy and replace both with love. His work was to overcome what makes things wrong and bring renewal and eternal life.
Liberation theologies on the right and left are short-sited. They only solve one problem depending on their brand. Jesus came to make all things new (Revelation 21:5).
Jesus explains the outcome of liberation theology in Matthew 12:43-45 “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
Both those on the right and left that hold to a liberation theology seek to remove a single evil only to have more evil come and cause even more chaos. The great need of humanity is to gain a new heart and mind in Christ. With that mind and heart at work the hungry can be fed. The hurting can be helped. Those who are sick can receive treatment. This nation can be renewed.
The heart of Christianity is to make those who are weak strong and change the world. This change will come from the hands of those who serve those who can't. Sacrificial love and service will allow our nation to reach its potential. This is what can make all nations prosper. Jesus makes this possible in His death, burial, and resurrection as those who are forgiven and renewed in Christ live out the life of love and grace their Master has given them.
Friday, May 9, 2008
I just got from the Drive '08 Conference with the Management Team and Elders of Living Hope. We had a blast and received some amazing training in leadership and church development. On Wednesday afternoon I heard the best challenge on leadership I've ever received (more on that in the days to come). Andy Stanley and the leaders at North Point Community Church have been a huge blessing to me and the leadership I serve with this week.
I also had some time to think. The thought that is consuming me these days is how can I and the people I lead help more people Get to God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Last week I blogged about our process as a church of how a disciple can make a disciple. You can read more about it here.
The thing that I didn't speak to directly was the need many times for it to be a journey where steps are taken. I believe this can be assumed because it is described as a process, but because it is easy for disciples to get discouraged and think that they are not being effective or doing something right the journey needs to be addressed.
Every person has a starting point with God. It is the job of a disciple of Jesus to help a person take their next step toward God.
Imagine that every person is on a graph between -10 and +10. Those at a -10 would be strongly against believing in the existence of any God and certainly in Jesus. Those at 0 would be those who accept Jesus as the Christ and are saved by grace through faith. Those at +10 would be fully functioning followers of Jesus who are serving His church and His Great Commission with a completely submitted life to God.
This journey is one that we are all on and that we are to help others with. We are all to take steps to get closer to God's design and desire for our lives. At the same time we are to help others take their next step too.
Friday, May 2, 2008
From time to time in life things are going to get dark and disturbing. You will have no where to go and not know what to do. In that moment be still and know that God is God. In that time, when you are under a cloud, pray and wait on the Lord to move.
In Numbers 9 this is what the people of
Numbers 9:15-18 On the day the tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. 16That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. 17Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. 18At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.
Jesus now dwells with us. He has come and tabernacled among us. You can actually translate the verbal phrase “made his dwelling” as “tabernacled” in John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
We must remember that nothing happens in life by chance. God is sovereign and working a plan that goes beyond our comprehension. He is working it all for a good that goes beyond what we can hope or imagine.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
When God allows a cloud to dwell over us, then we must trust God and wait on Him until He shows us what to do. Creating our own answers according to our fear or sinful desires will only make the cloud dangerous.
Wait on God and obey Him according to His Word, when He shows you the way.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Ephesians 4:7-9 is one of those sections in Scripture that people tend to use as an all-purpose proof. If you are into prooftexting, these verses are a goldmine.
This morning I was reading D.A. Carson and he commented on Ephesians 4:7-8 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” Of these verses he writes,
The words are ostensibly quoted from Psalm 68:18, where the Hebrew text says that God received gifts from men. But it has been argued, rightly, that Psalm 68 assumes such themes as those in Numbers 8 and 18, and that in any case Paul is melding together both Numbers and Psalm 68 to make a point. Under the new covenant, Christ Jesus by his triumph has captured us, and to each one of us (Eph. 4:7) he has apportioned grace and then poured us back on the church as his “gifts to men.”
That is how we are to think of ourselves. We are Christ’s captives, captured from the race of rebellious image-bearers and now poured out as God’s “gifts to men.” That invests all our service with unimaginable dignity.
I have recently been thinking about evangelism and blogged on our i2 process (you can read it by clicking here).
This comment by Carson reminds me again that God has brought us near to Himself and made us His own so that He can send us out to be a gift to the world. The Gospel that has transformed us is God's greatest gift to humanity. This makes us not only God's image-bearers, but also His Gospel-givers.
If we are not sharing our faith, we are holding back what the world needs and we are disobeying God.
There are many Christians who say they do not feel qualified to share the Gospel. No one is qualified in and of themselves. We are made qualified by the grace God has given us. We don't have to use Christian pick up lines or overdone presentations. We just need to tell the story of what Christ has done and how it has changed our lives.
We can say as a blind man once said who had encountered the healing hand of Jesus, "I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:25).
If you have been given sight, tell others about it. Tell them about the One who gave you sight. Tell them of His great grace and love. That is one of the reasons He made you well. He wants you to tell others, who need His love and grace, so He can make them well.
D. A. Carson, For the Love of God : A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word. Volume 1 (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1998), May 1.