Friday, December 31, 2010

Finish Strong

My son Jackson and I had a blast yesterday going to the Music City Bowl game between the University of Tennessee and the University of North Carolina. We grabbed lunch at Five Guys, which is one of our favorites. We had to get there early because he along with the Bowling Green Division II championship team Bengals were being recognized before the game along with 72 other teams from Tennessee and Alabama. We got to go down on the field. It was awesome to be down there and look up and see 70,000 screaming fans and the boys on the big screen at LP Field.

The game was a wild one and it brought to mind an important principal for life and especially the Christian faith: Finish Strong.
Philippians 3:13–14 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Tennessee just never put the game away. They had it, but then they just didn't finish it.

This year is about to end and a new one is about to begin. For those of us that live in Christ we must remember we have a job to do and never forget that God is doing a job in us. We are responsible to, "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen." 1 Timothy 6:12–16

We can know that God is at work to enable us to finish well. We can live "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

I'm not big on new year's resolutions, but I love life resolutions.

At the age of eighteen Jonathan Edwards began to write his life resolutions and continued to write them and live them until he had 70 of them that guided his thoughts, feelings, faith and actions.

Try to read these in one sitting and be challenged.

“Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him, by his grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
2. Resolved, To be continually endeavouring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the forementioned things.
3. Resolved, If ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God, nor be, nor suffer it, if I can possibly avoid it.
5. Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
8. Resolved, To act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings, as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. Vid. July 30.
9. Resolved, To think much, on all occasions, of my dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, When I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
11. Resolved, When I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder.
12. Resolved, If I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.
13. Resolved, To be endeavouring to find out fit objects of liberality and charity.
14. Resolved, Never to do any thing out of revenge.
15. Resolved, Never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.
16. Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one, so that it shall tend to his dishonour, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
17. Resolved, That I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, To live so, at all times, as I think is best in my most devout frames, and when I have the clearest notions of the things of the gospel, and another world.
19. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour before I should hear the last trump.
20. Resolved, To maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
21. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.
22. Resolved, To endeavour to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigour, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
23. Resolved, Frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs, and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the fourth Resolution.
24. Resolved, Whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavour to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
25. Resolved, To examine carefully and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and so direct all my forces against it.
26. Resolved, To cast away such things as I find do abate my assurance.
27. Resolved, Never wilfully to omit any thing, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.
28. Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
29. Resolved, Never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession which I cannot hope God will accept.
30. Resolved, To strive every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
31. Resolved, Never to say any thing at all against any body, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of christian honour, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said any thing against any one, to bring it to, and try it strictly by, the test of this Resolution.
32. Resolved, To be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that, in Prov. 20:6. ‘A faithful man, who can find?’ may not be partly fulfilled in me.
33. Resolved, To do always what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be done without an overbalancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.
34. Resolved, In narrations, never to speak any thing but the pure and simple verity.
35. Resolved, Whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.
36. Resolved, Never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call to it. Dec. 19, 1722.
37. Resolved, To inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent,—what sin I have committed,—and wherein I have denied myself;—also, at the end of every week, month, and year. Dec. 22 and 26, 1722.
38. Resolved, Never to utter any thing that is sportive, or matter of laughter, on a Lord’s day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.
39. Resolved, Never to do any thing, of which I so much question the lawfulness, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or not; unless I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
40. Resolved, To inquire every night before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.
41. Resolved, To ask myself, at the end of every day, week, month, and year, wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.
42. Resolved, Frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism, which I solemnly renewed when I was received into the communion of the church, and which I have solemnly re-made this 12th day of January, 1723.
43. Resolved, Never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s; agreeably to what is to be found in Saturday, Jan. 12th. Jan. 12, 1723.
44. Resolved, That no other end but religion shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan. 12, 1723.
45. Resolved, Never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan. 12 and 13, 1723.
46. Resolved, Never to allow the least measure of any fretting or uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved, to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye; and to be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.
47. Resolved, To endeavour, to my utmost, to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented and easy, compassionate and generous, humble and meek, submissive and obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable and even, patient, moderate, forgiving, and sincere, temper; and to do, at all times, what such a temper would lead me to; and to examine strictly, at the end of every week, whether I have so done. Sabbath morning, May 5, 1723.
48. Resolved, Constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or not; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.
49. Resolved, That this never shall be, if I can help it.
50. Resolved, That I will act so, as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.
51. Resolved, That I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.
52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, That I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.
53. Resolved, To improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.
54. Resolved, Whenever I hear anything spoken in commendation of any person, if I think it would be praise-worthy in me, that I will endeavour to imitate it. July 8, 1723.
55. Resolved, To endeavour, to my utmost, so to act, as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven and hell torments. July 8, 1723.
56. Resolved, Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
57. Resolved, When I fear misfortunes and adversity, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it, and let the event be just as Providence orders it. I will, as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13, 1723.
58. Resolved, Not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness, and benignity. May 27, and July 13, 1723.
59. Resolved, When I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July 11, and July 13.
60. Resolved, Whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4 and 13, 1723.
61. Resolved, That I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it—that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, &c. May 21, and July 13, 1723.
62. Resolved, Never to do any thing but my duty, and then, according to Eph. 6:6–8. to do it willingly and cheerfully, as unto the Lord, and not to man: knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord. June 25, and July 13, 1723.
63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true lustre, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, To act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan. 14, and July 13, 1723.
64. Resolved, When I find those “groanings which cannot be uttered,” of which the apostle speaks, and those “breathings of soul for the longing it hath,” of which the psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20. that I will promote them to the utmost of my power; and that I will not be weary of earnestly endeavouring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and Aug. 10, 1723.
65. Resolved, Very much to exercise myself in this, all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness of which I am capable, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him, all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance, according to Dr. Manton’s Sermon on the cxix Psalm. July 26, and Aug. 10, 1723.
66. Resolved, That I will endeavour always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking, in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
67. Resolved, After afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them; what good I have got by them; and, what I might have got by them.
68. Resolved, To confess frankly to myself, all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
69. Resolved, Always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.
70. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak. Aug. 17, 1723.”

Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2008), lxii-iv.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looking Back to Prepare for the Future

This time of year we all start looking back and remembering what came to pass this last year. And at the same time we start thinking about what we hope to accomplish in the upcoming year. Some make resolutions and some just hope for the best. No matter what we do, it is comforting to know that we who are in Christ have nothing to fear because our God is the beginning and the end and is the same yesterday, today and forevermore.

Right now I am reading The Story of Christianity Volume 1. It has been years since I read this and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Gonzalez does a great job of bringing together the people and places that have defined the direction of the church.

I usually read Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster this time of year. This may be the first time in over a decade that I haven't read it the week after Christmas.

This year I am looking back in order to pray forward. What I see happening then is what I see happening now. The Savior that was saving and guiding His church then is the Lord I see leading us now.

The problem is the same: sin. The answer is the same: Jesus. The only hope is the same: the Gospel. The means is the same: by grace through faith in Christ alone.

My prayer for this year is borrowed from Scotty Smith's blog post today:

"Father, this year is about over and a new year is just about here. More than ever, I want the rest of my life to be lived in line with the truth of the gospel... Show me what that means. Show me what changes that will require. Show me what priorities that presupposes. Show me what you want me to give more of my heart to… and less of my heart to."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What Does Success Look Like for You?

This week I am spending time praying and reading through ministry overviews for a long-range planning process that will take place this year at Living Hope. For the past two years my prayer for The Hope has been that we would be one of the most loving places on the planet by loving Jesus, loving each other, and loving lost people.

I read this yesterday and was encouraged.

How Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama Defines Herself as Successful:

1. God's people love God; therefore they worship Him passionately.

2. God's people love God's word; therefore they obey The Precepts wholeheartedly.

3. God's people love one another; therefore they live together in harmony.

4. God's people love the lost; therefore they proclaim the gospel faithfully.

5. God's people love all people; therefore they go to all the nations.

What would you add to this list?
How do you define success for what God has called you to?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Contrary to Misguided Beliefs...

I read this quote in a blog posted by Dan Phillips today and was saddened by this horrible lie.
"Barring something extraordinary, odds are most people will end up in Heaven. Nothing to get worked up about."

Jesus said it would be a narrow road to heaven that few would find. This makes evangelism and the pursuit of God seem irrelevant not to mention what it says about the cross of Christ and what those who are His disciples must do in denying self, taking it up, and following Him.

I appreciate the words of J.C. Ryle on the topic of the inhabitants of heaven.
"I make my solemn protest against those modern delusions, 'that all people shall go to heaven at last—that it matters not how you live—that whether you are holy or unholy it does not matter—that whether you are godless or God-fearing, it is all the same thing, that all at last will get to heaven.' I cannot find such teaching in the Bible. I find the Bible contradicting it flatly. However seemingly attractive this new idea may be put forth, and however plausibly it may be defended, it cannot stand the test of the Word of God. No! let God be true, and every man a liar. Heaven is no such place as some seem to fancy. The inhabitants of heaven are no such mixed multitude as many try to believe. They are all of one heart, and one mind. Heaven is the place to which God’s people shall go. But for those who are impenitent and unbelieving, and will not come to Christ, for such the Bible says, plainly and unmistakably, there remains nothing but hell."

The truth is that faith in Christ is required in order to be made holy and only the holy will dwell in God's heaven forever.

The Heart of a Fresh Start

2 Chronicles 33:12–13, 16 In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God... 16 Then he restored the altar of the LORD and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the LORD, the God of Israel.

As we prepare to begin a new year, it is good to take stock in where you are and make plans for where you want to be. The great thing about a new year is that it provides an easy beginning for a new direction for your life or to strengthen the commitments that you know are good for your life.

In 2 Chronicles 33 King Manasseh realized that he needed God to be the leader of his life and he repented of his sin. He then made changes in his life that revealed his changed heart.

The consequences of his past still had to be dealt with. His sin impacted his son and the nation he led. We must remember that sin always takes us further than we wanted to go, costs more than we wanted to pay, and gives us less than it promised. One of the costs is the impact our sin has on other people. Manasseh influenced his son and nation to pursue sin. That must have grieved him until his dying day.

The Good News is that God was gracious to cause him pain that allowed him to wake up to his own sin so that he turned back to God. Once he repented, he sought God. He did what was right and lived a life that God could bless.

As we look forward, we may find that we have to deal with consequences of the past. That should not deter us from pursuing what is best. If anything, it is a reminder that we need to be on a path that honors God and blesses our lives and others.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Pains

I see two types of pain in the Bible. There is the pain that God sovereignly decrees that we go through and there is the pain that comes from our disobedience. Both have the same remedy and answer: faith.

If we suffer in obedience to God, the best thing we can do is hold on to our faith in Christ. Our faith will give us everything we need to endure.

Faith will gives us hope: Romans 5:3–5 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Faith gives us purpose. Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Faith gives us peace. Philippians 4:6–7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Faith gives us the right attitude. Philippians 2:5,8 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus... And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

If we suffer for disobedience to God, the best thing we can do is gain or hold on to our faith in Christ. Our faith will give us everything we need to get on God's path for our life.

Faith leads us to repentance: 2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Faith leads to forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Our actions have consequences and how we choose to respond to where we are in life will determine our destiny. God wants us to live by faith in Him so that He can bless us according to His purpose. We may be able to get by without God in life for a while, but in time sin and the pains of this fallen world catch up with us. Our only hope is faith in Christ who gives us access to God and the power of His indwelling presence in the Holy Spirit.

No matter the cause of our pain, Christ is there for us if we will only respond in faith.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Interesting Article on Francis Chan

Click here and read about what Chan has been up to and what he has to say about himself, his faith, his hope, and his fear.

My favorite quote: "If we were to meet God in person, Chan said, “'I think the first thing He would say is you don’t take me seriously. You have no idea how to fear me.'”

This is part of one of the most powerful sermons I've heard Francis preach.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

God's Will

A Good Word on God's Will...

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

The Better Goal

2 Chronicles 26:16 But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God...

This is the same sad story told by many saints. God is gracious and in His grace He gives His people good things. Those good things are put to use and instead of relying on God, some people rely on those good things God gives. In relying on their use of God's provisions rather than on God, they become proud. In their pride they fall.

We all want and need comfort. God is gracious to His people and provides according to His plan to honor His name and bless His people. We must be careful that we never take God's blessings for granted and wrongly assume that we can live well without God. In our comfort we must not abandon Christ.

We would do well to constantly aim for Christ rather than comfort even in the hardest times. If we aim for comfort, we may get it and then get satisfied and miss Christ. If we aim for Christ, we will get comfort, but in our dependent living we will remain connected to our King. Our recognition of the need for more of Jesus in us will keep us fighting the good fight of faith under Christ.

Living under Christ is the best goal.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


When God the Father called Jesus to go and raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus was required to journey to a dangerous place. His disciples did not think it was a good idea. In John 11:8 we read where they told Him, “'But Rabbi,' they said, 'a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?'"

Jesus was confident in God's purpose and He obeyed the Father rather than being concerned about His own safety. John 11:9 "Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light.'"

Those that walk in the light and live in obedience to God live with confidence. They are not sure of themselves, but they are sure of God. This does not mean that they never fail or sin. Jesus is the only One who never sinned. Those that seek to honor God with their life will sin, but their heart's desire to love and obey God will give them confidence in their daily lives that allow them to go forward when others doubt.

To live confidently in Christ we must:
1. Not seek our own good, but the good of God's Kingdom and His people. When we make decisions out of pride or selfishness, we can know that we need to repent.
2. Not ignore God's Word. It is not enough that we have good intentions. Our intentions must be determined by Truth and that Truth will set us free. If we are making decisions on feelings rather than the facts and demands of God's Word, we can know we need to repent.
3. Not let other people's influence be greater than God's. We all want to be liked and respected by other people. That can be a good thing. But other people can lead us away from God, if they are not encouraging us to die to self and live for God's will according to God's Word. If we are trying to please other people or taking advice from those that care more about us or something else more than God, we can know we need to repent and turn to God.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Heaven's D-Day

Yesterday, I spoke on the incarnation of Christ. It is God's D-Day. The Lord is in the process of redeeming a people for Himself and reclaiming this planet for His glory. When Jesus came and took on flesh, the Kingdom of Heaven began it's land assault on darkness. The final victory is still to come. Until that time, God calls His adopted children to join Him in the family business by living holy lives, sharing the Gospel, and loving all people.

After the service, a dear friend came and talked to me about his hope. Christmas Day is a hard day for him. His precious wife went to be with the Lord the day after Christmas last year. He has been grieving ever since. Christmas is a sacred celebration for him, but he approaches it differently. His hope comes from the fact that he knows that Jesus is coming again and when He does there will be no more separation from God and those who love Him. In those days there will be no more death, no more tears, and no more pain.

Please pray for this dear brother during the Christmas season. He has the encouragement of his church family and support group, but he misses his girl.

Like the Psalmist of old, he is looking to the Lord for strength.

Psalm 61:1–4 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. 2 From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. 4 I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another Reason I Love Them So...

Yesterday I was able to visit with one of our senior saints that will soon be living eternally in the Savior's presence. She is full of hope and cannot wait to be done with this world and living in heaven with her King. Her only complaint was that she could not understand why God was taking so long to bring her home to heaven. The peace she has and the calm she is exhibiting in the face of death must be absolutely infuriating to Satan and his hoard of demonic losers.

The one thing she was most happy about was the fact that she was able to hear her funeral song. She wanted one song to be sung at her funeral, but she told her family that she was disappointed she wouldn't get to hear it. So a couple of weeks ago a group of musicians from Living Hope went to her home and sang not only her funeral song, but almost an hour of her favorite worship songs.

This is yet another reason why I love the church and my church, Living Hope, in particular. There are gifted Godly people that enjoy nothing more than showing love and compassion to other people. These musicians had a ball doing what they love and providing ministry to a person in her last hours of life. What a joy and privilege to be a follower of Jesus and to a part of a local body of believers that love Jesus, love each other, and love the lost people of the world.


The Christmas Story like you've never heard it, but will identify with it.


Blessings take a lot of work, when they are handled properly. Yesterday we celebrated Asher, whose name means blessing and is a blessing, and the life God has given him. As I thought about his life and the difference it has made in our family’s life, it got me thinking about all of life’s blessings. God brings good things into our lives for a reason that has more to do with our faith in Him than it does our comfort.

God gives us blessing to grow us. Asher has certainly stretched our faith in a lot of ways and most blessings will. They are wonderful, but they change us. In receiving them we must acknowledge God. All good things come from Him. This draws us away from self-reliance and guides us toward God dependence. God dependent living requires prayer, study, sacrifice, service, and faith.

God gives us blessings to share. God had eternal life and came to give it to us. All of God’s blessings are meant to be celebrated and shared. Asher is going to leave us. Each day he lives is a step toward his going into the world. We are going to send him on his life's mission. God wants us to pass on our blessings and give them to the world. This has always been God’s purpose (Genesis 12:1-4).

God gives us blessings for His glory. The moment I saw Asher, I prayed and praised God. There have been many of those moments ever since. God blesses us so that we will praise Him and announce to the world what a great and good God He is. This is not some head trip for God. There is no one and no thing higher than Him. To worship any other than God is to miss the purpose of worship. God blesses us so that we will live in fear and astonishment of His great name.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
~The Doxology

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Asher Is 4!

It is hard to believe that my Asher is 4 today. He was born around 1:30 in the afternoon at the Medical Center here in Bowling Green, Ky. It did not appear that God was going to allow Carrie and me to have another child, but He did and we are so thankful He did.

We gave him the name Asher for a reason. We felt so blessed to be able to raise another child to know and love Jesus that we gave him a name that means blessing and happiness. Asher was one of the tribes of Jacob, but in Psalm 1 the word "blessed" is the word Asher.

As I look at him now, I laugh thinking about the ginormous baby he once was. At age 1 the guy was around 40 pounds. His wrists looked like we'd put tight rubber bands around them because of the little fat rolls. He had no ankles. They were cankles - calves that merged to the ankle.

He didn't want to sleep. He did not sleep through the night until after 6 months. At the age of 1 he started escaping from his baby bed. One of my favorite memories was hiding behind his door watching him bounce and then flip out of his baby bed landing on his feet and going over to his toys never losing his passy. That night we tried to rig it where he would stay in bed and he stood there sucking on that passy. I could almost here his brain going into overdrive thinking, "I can get out of that!"

So today he is 4. Before I know it he'll be 14 and then 34. But for today I rejoice in the baby he was, the boy he is, and the man we pray he will be.

Pray for him with Carrie and me that he will accept Christ, marry and woman of great faith, and live a life committed to Christ's cause.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Do You Love It?

My youngest is describing what he does and does not enjoy in a rather strange way. If Asher doesn't desire something, instead of saying, "I don't like this." He will say, "I don't love this." Actually, he speaks of himself in the third person so he would actually say, "Asher doesn't love this."

He and I were out last week and someone offered him a candy cane. He does not care for hard candy so he said, "No, thank you. Asher doesn't love that."

The person had a funny look on her face. My first thought was that she was surprised by his third person usage or manners. I know I am surprised how polite he is at times. His mother has instilled the yes and no "thank you" into him. But that is not what grabbed her attention. She looked at me and said, "He doesn't love it, huh?" All I could do is smile and say, "Yes, his expectations are pretty high."

I don't know what to think about it, but I must admit that I admire it. What if he could go through life making decisions based on his love.

St. Augustine is famous for saying, “Love God and do as you please.”

If God answers my most important prayer and Asher receives saving faith in Christ and chooses to live His life in love of God, I believe he will be blessed. Imagine a life that makes decisions entirely out of love for God. In the face of temptation, instead of simply saying, "No!" How about saying, "I don't love this. I love God!" That would be a great life.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's A Wonderful Life

My youngest is turning four this week. It seems so strange to see him talking, laughing and playing with his friends. He has opinions and ideas about what is best and what he likes. There is a temperament and an attitude that exists in him already. It's wild to watch this baby become a boy and know that it will not be long before he is a man.

At his party yesterday there were two other boys there that share his birthday. Not only were they born on the same day, but also in the same city and hospital. Four years ago this week all three of our families were at the same hospital floor seeing God bless us with healthy baby boys.

One of my favorite memories of Asher's birth was our second night in the hospital. Carrie had been feeling good and so she went and visited the other new moms in their rooms. Asher and I were all cozy in the hospital bed. He was wrapped up in a blanket on my chest and the movie It's A Wonderful Life was on. I remember thanking God for my life and praising Him for the grace He'd given me to save me and then guide me to the point that I had a wife I loved, a new baby, two other healthy children, a host of helpful friends and extended family, and a meaningful ministry to give myself to.

So on Saturday night when It's a Wonderful Life was on, I once again gave thanks to God for His kindness and care of the Pettus family. We are blessed.

Psalm 16:5–6 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Forgiveness is Hard - the 5th Mark

Here is J.C. Ryles 5th Mark of Forgiven Souls

"Forgiven souls are FORGIVING. They do as they have been done by. They look over the offenses of their brethren. They endeavor to 'walk in love, as Christ loved them, and gave Himself for them.' (Eph. 5:2.) They remember how God for Christ’s sake forgave them, and endeavor to do the same towards their fellow-creatures. Has He forgiven them pounds, and shall they not forgive a few pence? Doubtless in this, as in everything else, they come short—but this is their desire and their aim. A spiteful, quarrelsome Christian is a scandal to his profession. Forgiveness is the way by which every saved soul enters heaven. Forgiveness is the eternal subject of song with all the redeemed who inhabit heaven. Surely an unforgiving soul in heaven would find his heart completely out of tune. Surely we know nothing of Christ’s love to us but the name of it, if we do not love our brethren.
~ J.C. Ryle

When I hear the word forgiveness, I think of the Gospel. It is no small thing for God to forgive us. Unfortunately, I think many of us have gotten comfortable with the idea. I am sad to say that we even sometimes think that we ought to be forgiven. There are those that I have heard criticize and judge God because He does not forgive everybody.

We must never forget that forgiveness is expensive. Forgiveness is not the removal of justice. It is the satisfaction of justice on those that did not commit the offense. In order for God to forgive us He had to take on our sin and be punished for it. That is why God took on flesh and Jesus died.

For us to forgive others we have to be willing to sacrifice. We must take the right we have to pour out our wrath and anger on others and simply crucify it. That is hard.

God did it for us and He demands that we forgive others.

Matthew 18:21–35 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ain't Nothing Like a Friend

Proverbs 18:24
"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

I have looked forward to this day all week. God has blessed me with opportunities to do things I absolutely love.

1. I get to see Asher sing in his Christmas program. Get ready America's Funniest Videos!
2. I get to see Mackenzie play basketball tonight. Barren County here we come!
3. I get to go to Jackson's basketball practice and hang with him.
4. I get to spend time with two pastors that encourage me and help me see how God is at work in powerful ways.

This last one is a unique privilege. It is so easy to get wrapped up in our busy lives and forget that we need to tune up our mental, spiritual, and emotional engines. Having friends that can empathize, appreciate, and counsel you in your life situation is so important. These dear brothers ask me about what I see God doing and they share with me ways they are serving the Lord and also keeping their soul healthy, their marriages strong, their kids focused, and their minds and bodies in shape.

We will talk about books and good sermons we've heard. Each of us are engaged in different mission activities around the world and will be able to share stories of things we know about going on all over the planet. We will laugh and give each other a hard time. We will pray for each other and share struggles. There will be several moments when I will have to write down something that will have a significant impact on me.

A day like this is precious gift. Pray for me and my fellow pastors that we will draw strength in Christ from one another.

3rd and 4th Marks of Forgiven Souls - Humble and Holy

Forgiven souls are HUMBLE. They cannot forget that they owe all they have and hope for to free grace, and this keeps them lowly. They are brands plucked from the fire—debtors who could not pay for themselves—captives who must have remained in prison forever—but for undeserved mercy—wandering sheep who were ready to perish when the Shepherd found them! What right then have they to be proud? I do not deny that there are proud saints. But this I do say—they are of all God’s creatures the most inconsistent, and of all God’s children the most likely to stumble and pierce themselves with many sorrows. We have nothing we can call our own–but sin and weakness. Surely there is no garment that befits us so well, as humility.

Forgiven souls are HOLY. Their chief desire is to please Him who has saved them, to do His will, to glorify Him in body and in Spirit, which are His. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits?” (Ps. 116:12), is a leading principle in a pardoned heart. It was the remembrance of Jesus showing mercy that made Paul in labors so abundant, and in doing good so unwearied. If anyone points out to me believers who are in a carnal, slothful state of soul, I reply in the words of Peter, “They have forgotten they were purged from their old sins.” (2 Pet. 1:9.)

But if you show me a man deliberately living an unholy and licentious life, and yet boasting that his sins are forgiven, I answer, “He is under a ruinous delusion, and is not forgiven at all.” I would not believe he is forgiven if an angel from heaven affirmed it, and I charge you not to believe it too. Pardon of sin and love of sin are like oil and water—they will never go together. All who are washed in the blood of Christ, are also sanctified by the Spirit of Christ.

~ J.C. Ryle

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


This morning someone was talking about how the news in Louisville reported two cases of the flu. I find that fascinating. In a city that size with so many other things to discuss and report that they felt people needed to know about two individuals that got the flu.

The question is why? Why would they report that? I have to believe that they know that people panicked in the past about the flu. We had the swine flu and word was that there was not enough flu vaccination to go around.

I am thankful as a believer that I never have to panic. There is no news that should be able to cause me to be anxious. In Christ I can have constant peace if I discipline my heart and mind to simply believe who the Bible says God is. If I can believe in the power of God and the truth that He loves me and has saved and adopted me into his family, then I never need worry. My God is sovereign and has a plan for every contingency. It may not be something that will make me comfortable or even happy, but it certainly will bless my soul. That is what a blessed life is. It is a life that can live through any circumstance with peace and joy.

Philippians 4:6–7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2nd Mark of Forgiven Souls

"Forgiven souls LOVE CHRIST. This is that one thing they can say, if they dare say nothing else—they do love Christ. His person, His offices, His work, His name, His cross, His blood, His words, His example, His ordinances—all, all are precious to forgiven souls. The ministry which exalts Him most, is that which they enjoy most. The books which are most full of Him, are most pleasant to their minds. The people on earth they feel most drawn to, are those in whom they see something of Christ. He is their Redeemer, their Shepherd, their Physician, their King, their strong Deliverer, their gracious Guide, their hope, their joy, their All. Were it not for Him they would be of all people most miserable." ~ J.C. Ryle

2 John 6
"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love."

The greatest means for living holy lives is by walking in love of Christ. Whatever we love, we serve. When our hearts are filled with love for God, we will hate what he hates - treasonous sin and we will love what He loves - holiness.

No one is where they desire to be in their walk with God. The Apostle Paul is famous for confessing in Philippians 3:12
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

God's plan is to sanctify us in Christ. The best way for us to participate is by daily treasuring Christ in our hearts and growing in our love for Him. We remember that our love for Him comes from Him. 1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us

The grace and mercy God has given us in Christ compels us to be grateful. And this gratitude stimulates and promotes a deep love for Him. The more we love Him the more we will live for Him.

Monday, December 6, 2010

1st Mark of Forgiven Souls

"Forgiven souls HATE SIN. They can enter most fully into the words of our Communion Service, 'The remembrance of sin is grievous unto them, and the burden of it is intolerable.' It is the serpent which bit them—how should they not shrink from it with horror? It is the poison which brought them to the brink of eternal death—how should they not loathe it with a godly disgust? It is the Egyptian enemy which kept them in hard bondage—how should not the very memory of it be bitter to their hearts? It is the disease of which they carry the marks and scars about them, and from which they have scarcely recovered—well may they dread it, flee from it, and long to be delivered altogether from its power! If you and sin are friends, you and God are not yet reconciled. You are not fit for heaven; for one main part of heaven’s excellence is the absence of all sin." ~ J.C. Ryle

"Be killing sin or sin will be killing you." ~John Owen

It is strange that the very thing that kills us, destroys marriages, and makes a mockery of what is greatest and most beautiful (God Himself) is not hated more by us. It is understandable that a soul enslaved by the sin nature would love sin, but the redeemed also struggle with it.

The detestable desire to disobey God is still in the flesh of God's children. It must be vanquished. Just as the Promise Land was given to Israel, but still had to be conquered so it is with those that are given New Birth. We must wage war against sin and submit our bodies to our King as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to Him.

This begins with hating sin for what it is and loving God for who He is!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What We Do for Our Kids

Today is one of those days when my wife and I have to go in different directions in order to get our kids where they are supposed to be. Our first has a basketball tournament, our second has a game and was supposed to be in the Christmas parade with his football team, but can't make it, and our third has a birthday part to go to. We are busy.

It is easy to stand back and say that we should make a different choice, but the reality is that we are pleased that our children are involved. They are involved in athletics, their church small groups, and in school. What they get out of these involvements is huge.

Their needs demand great sacrifice from my wife and I, which we gladly make.

God has done that and more for us. The Scripture tells us... 1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

God adopted as His children. He did this at the cost of coming to this earth, taking on flesh, dying for our sins, and being raised to heaven. His Holy Spirit convicted us and now fills us and seals us for the Day of Judgment.

God is now guiding us through life. He enables us to be involved in His Kingdom Work and in meaningful connections. He suffers with us. He rejoices with us. He is always with us and still sovereign over all things.

Today, I praise God for making me His son and allowing me to live in Him.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Great Expectations

“So you are saying that a person can accept Jesus as savior and then live a life of sin any way they want to?” It is interesting to me that I get this question a lot in view of Scripture’s teaching on the perseverance of the saints.

That is not at all what I see in Scripture. God’s makes it clear that Christians will struggle with sin, but that what will highlight their life is obedience to Jesus.
1 John 2:1–6 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Christmas is a wonderful time to remember what God did to save us and to reflect on how we are living out the redeemed life of grace we’ve been given. A good question to ask yourself is: What is my expectation? Do I expect to see God change my life as I seek to the best of my ability to live for Him? Or am I assuming on the grace of God and expecting God to simply understand that my desires determine my life and not Him?

I know those are stark contrasts and most live somewhere in between, but should we? Are our expectations for holy living great?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Don’t Quit When It’s Difficult

The son of a good friend of mine is playing ball in a great deal of pain these days. He is playing with Osgood-Schlatter. He’s a tough kid, but the pain is starting to cause him to slow down. There is nothing that can be done for the disease. He just has to play through the pain.

Last night I watched Survivor Nicaragua. This group of people has been in the jungle for 28 days. There are 11 days left and last night two people quit. They just decided that it was too hard. That is a decision they will remember and regret the rest of their days.

Life is hard. There are going to be times when we do not feel like going on in marriage or work or ministry or some other important commitment. It may be because of the way we are being treated or because we don’t agree with a decision or because of the challenging requirements or any number of reasons.

In those moments we have to make a choice. We can choose to do the hard thing early and the easy thing later or do the easy thing early and the hard thing later. The easy thing to do early is to quit. Just give up, make an excuse, and walk away. It will feel good for a bit, but it will be hard on you later. You will regret it and you will miss out on the opportunity and hope the pain could have brought.
James 1:2–4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Do the hard thing early and learn from the pain. Through perseverance God has a way of changing us. It is in those moments in life when we hurt that God seems to do His best work in and through us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wanting to Get Home Well

God tells us in 2 Peter 3 what we are to focus our hearts and minds on...
2 Peter 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

When our mind is on our future reward and our eternal peace, our thinking about life now is transformed. Our priority becomes bigger and better than our physical appetites. Temptation is overcome with affection and excitement for God.
2 Peter 3:14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

My dad and my grandfather both fought to protect our nation. I remember at a Thanksgiving gathering when I was very young, both of them talking about some difficult days they faced. They both said that what got them through was thinking about home and remembering what it was they were fighting for. Looking forward to being safe with family and friends gave them hope.

For those of us in Christ, we are fighting the fight of faith. What will help us in hard times is remembering what we are fighting for and where it is we are looking forward to getting to.

Lets pray for the men and women that are away from home protecting our nation and lets pray that we will be faithful soldiers in our Lord's army.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So Glad HE Knows

Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

When I read this text, I gain a great comfort. God knew exactly when, where, and through whom His Son Jesus would be born. There is nothing He does not know. God is above all things. He is before all things. His sovereignty has no end.

As I enter this day, I have a lot on my mind. There are crucial meetings that are going to take place today that will determine the direction of many lives. I have peace knowing that my Father knows what is going to happen, that Jesus is with me, and that the Spirit of God is going to work to bring about God's perfect end. I am thankful that I get to live in community with so many Christ-honoring leaders that will be praying and seeking God's face on these decisions as well. Like me, they have hope and are confident in the King that has called us to serve His divine purpose.

As you enter your day, I pray that you too have a peace in knowing that God already knows what you are facing. He is prepared to see you through it and will work in it toward a destiny that He has in mind.

What joy can be ours if we will simply trust and obey! God really does have the whole world in His hands.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Excited Already

I am already excited about Christmas. We launched Advent at Living Hope in a big way yesterday. This morning I have my Christmas music uploaded and ready to play as I study and prepare for Sunday.

Sunday is going to be a great day as we enjoy cider, coffee, and hot chocolate along with all kinds of homemade muffins before each service. Then we will see people make public professions of their faith through baptism. Our worship team has an amazing concert mixed in with congregational singing and I will be preaching the Gospel from John 1:6-8.

I don't know where you plan to be on Sunday, but if you are anywhere near Bowling Green, you need to come and gather for worship with the family of Living Hope. The Father will be honored as we celebrate the coming of the Son in song, fellowship, and teaching in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Don't Blame Them

"Nowhere in Scripture does God excuse one person’s sin because of someone else’s actions. If we make a habit of blaming others for our failures, we will not reach a point of honest repentance. God will hold us accountable for our own actions, not others (2 Cor. 5:10)." ~Blackaby

I once heard that you cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond. This is a test of character and identity. When everthing is going your way and the day is unfolding in a pleasant manner, it is easy to respond appropriately. It is in the moment of tension, of frustration, or when others are making your life difficult that the test comes. When other's behavior leads to tempation is when your true faith is revealed.

The next few weeks will provide so many wonderful things, but stress and aggrivation are bound to come to. "In your anger do not sin." (Ephesians 4:26). As life comes at you, grab hold of God's hand and allow Him to lead you in peace and holiness. If you do sin, repent. Don't mess around blaming others. Just repent. Your Heavenly Father already knows. He just wants you to admit it and turn from it so you can find joy in Him and the grace He gives.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I'm Most Thankful for Today

As we enter into this day of Thanksgiving, I thank God for sending His Son, Jesus. He died for me. My soul has been ransomed from sin and death. My life is in Him. Not only am I forgiven of all of my sin, I have been given His righteousness. In Christ I am holy. God is my Father. I have been adopted into His eternal family.

I have all of this because of His mercy and my faith, which He gave me. I gladly rejoice and give thanks to the one true God that loved me and gave Himself for me. My mind is incapable of comprehending how amazing this is. All I know is that I once was lost and dead to God, but now I am found in Him and have life eternal.

The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend
The agonies of Calvary
You the perfect Holy One, crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me

Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You

By Your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near
Your enemy You’ve made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end

Lover of my soul
I want to live for You

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seasons for Divine Purpose

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
After this opening statement, the writer of Ecclesiastes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit gives a list of seasons in life.

We are about to enter into a season of Thanksgiving. It is a time set aside by our country to remember the blessings that we have been given by God. We are to gather with family and friends and celebrate the love of Christ that we share with one another. A part of that celebration is a feast and a time of prayer where God is honored as Jehovah Jireh (God our Provider).

This year has been a challenging year for me spiritually and emotionally, but God has been so faithful. I now stand closer to Him, closer to my wife, closer to my children, closer to my friends, closer to the leaders of my church, and closer to the people of my church than ever before. I love them more than I did a year ago and find greater joy and appreciation for them. The year has brought seasons of sorrow and laughter and each has created memories that now give me hope and an assurance of God's will. My divine destiny is before me and although there is still so much more sanctifying work to be done in me through the power of the Gospel, I am confident that I am on the path of God's choosing for me and I am making progress toward the goal to win the prize for which Christ has called me heavenward.

For that and many other reasons, I thank God my Father in the name of His Son, Jesus, who redeemed me. I do this in the power of the Holy Spirit, who regenerated me and now abides in me allowing me to abide in my Father's love through the grace given me in Christ.

And so today I will play with my immediate family. Tomorrow and Friday I will give thanks with extended on family. And on Sunday I will gather with my church family and worship the God who saved us. In all things I will praise my God and seek His face and give Him thanks.

We gather together
to ask the Lord's blessing;
he chastens and hastens
his will to make known.
The wicked oppressing
now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to his name,
he forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us,
our God with us joining,
ordaining, maintaining
his kingdom divine;
so from the beginning
the fight we were winning;
thou, Lord, wast at our side,
all glory be thine!

We all do extol thee,
thou leader triumphant,
and pray that thou still
our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation
escape tribulation;
thy name be ever praised!
O Lord, make us free!

Monday, November 22, 2010

So Many Needs... Thankful God Cares

2 Corinthians 1:3–4 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

This morning I feel overwhelmed with the needs of so many wonderful people. A friend's baby died in a tragic accident yesterday. A young former muslim who recently accepted Christ is being ostracized by his family. A new believer is struggling to overcome the addictions of the old life. A man is fretting over his wife's health. He knows in his head she will be fine, but in his heart he is anxious.

As a pastor, God allows me to be a part of people's lives at the best and at the worst of times. It is hard on my heart, but it is so good for my faith. Over and over again, I get to see God show up in powerful ways and provide for His people. He truly is a great and mighty God who is compassionate and cares.

It is also a joy to see Him bless people through His people. I spoke on this yesterday. The church is God's chosen vessel for pouring out His love and care.

Today, we are all going to come across people that need compassion and love. Their symptoms may be sadness, anxiety or anger. Whatever is causing their dis-ease, we can know that the answer is the love given in Gospel. So let's share it and show the world the compassion of Christ.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What God's Grace Can Do

Ur Video: Testimony from North Korea | Out of Ur | Conversations for Ministry Leaders

I am never surprised by what God's grace can do, but I am always amazed by the God who gives it. This Gospel can change lives. With Jesus Christ in a person's life there is no limit to the love and joy that can be released. We must never get sidetracked by other things. What the world needs is Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture as the Son of God who takes away the punishment and power of sin of all who believe. Those that are saved by Him love Him and are free to love and forgive others.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Power of Deception

This morning I was reading the list of "Mighty Men" provided in 1 Chronicles 11 and came across a name I'd not noticed before, but knew. It was Uriah the Hittite (11:41). He was the first husband of Bathsheba, whom David committed adultery with.

When I think about Uriah, I am saddened. This man was not an Israelite. He was proselytized, which means he had to go through a painful surgery and probably felt the scorn of his own family and friends.

I am sure David never intended to cause him harm and make light of the grace and goodness of God, but he did. I wonder what Uriah's family said about God, after their son was murdered by David. I wonder if they mocked the God of heaven and became twice the prisoners of hell they already were because of this sin of this "man of God." I wonder if the sin of "the king after God's own heart" made them despise God.

Our sin has consequences. It is deceptive. Make no mistake, it will cost us. Sin always takes us further than we intended to go, costs us more than we wanted to pay, and gives us less than it promised.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Coach's Complaint

"A true believer will crucify the question, 'Why?' He will obey without questioning." ~Martin Luther

I am coaching the second sport of the year for my oldest son. We just finished football last week and now we begin basketball this week. The time we get to spend together is amazing! We talk on the way there and on the way back and throughout the practice. We end up discussing stuff during the week that leads to other far more important discussions. I am blessed with this opportunity.

The thing about coaching that will drive you crazy is disobedience. It is one thing to assign a task to a player that does not accomplish their role because of the lack of ability. God made us all different. Not everybody can do what has been asked of them.

What will drive you crazy is when a person can, but won't. In that situation a coach is forced to determine how to motivate or discipline.

God has a lot of players that He has gifted, but refuse to obey. I want to be a player that God can depend on to do what He has gifted and assigned me to do.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

When Thank You Just Isn't Enough

Today is Veteran's Day. If you are not familiar with this national celebration, you can read about it here.

I want to personally thank all of the men and women who have served the USA. You have sought to protect us and provide peace so that we can live our lives in freedom. Thank you for that.

But that is not enough. Saying thank you is not enough. I cannot earn what has been given to me. It is a gift. But what I can do is put to use what has been given to me to honor those that died to provide it.

Christ has died to set us free and the same attitude would serve the church well. Jesus did not save us to keep us out of harms way. That was part of it. He saved us so that we could join Him in bringing hope, light and love to this fallen world.

On this day when we celebrate national heroes, let's remember that we owe it to them to take seriously the freedoms we have been given to do good. Let's also remember our ultimate hero Jesus Christ who died to save us from sin and death. We owe it to Him to honor His sacrifice by serving His purpose.
1 Corinthians 6:19–20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jailed for Sharing His Faith

This Sunday the church in North America is being asked to pray for the persecuted church all over the world. I saw a video yesterday that shocked me. I was reminded of the plight of my brothers and sisters all over the world that are being tortured, killed, and ostracized for their faith in Jesus.

This video I have posted is an example of what is happening to those that are serving our Lord in dark places.

Go here to find out more about what is happening in the world and how you can help.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Renewing Strength

I am running wide open these days. I have never been more busy than I have been over the past few weeks. It's mostly good stuff and I am loving almost everything that God has me doing right now, but I cannot believe how fast it is all happening.

I was talking to the guys I work out with about it this morning and they shared the same feelings. Our kids are growing up, our lives are full of good things, and challenges are there, but our faith is strong and we feel God's strength to go forward.

What a joy to be engaged in life knowing that the Lord has willed it and that He has strengthened us for the tasks that we are engaged in.

Someone once told me that you need to slow down and take it all in. Another friend once told me just to hang on and enjoy the ride. There is wisdom in both and I want to slow down, but that choice just is not an option so for now I'm going to hold on tight and enjoy the privilege of being a partner to my precious wife, a parent to my kids, the pastor of an amazing church, and a participant on this journey with my friends.

But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Watch Out for that Slippery Slope!

Hosea 13:6 When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.

We humans are strange. When life is falling apart and filled with suffering, we cry out to God and turn to Him. When life is good, we are tempted to forget Him and do our own thing. It just doesn't make sense. We don't make sense.

So, why do we do it? Why do we forget God?

1. We do not appreciate Him. God is good all of the time and we don't honor Him for all He is and all He does. In the absence of thankful praise our minds drift toward self-centered control. We think we have it all figured out and wonder why God and the world doesn't appreciate us.

2. We do not understand the depth of our need. We have such a limited view of reality. Most of us just look at our circumstance and forget that a much greater and fiercer battle is raging in the spiritual realm. As long as we can pay our bills, participate in our hobbies, and do most of the things we want to do, we figure all is well. The truth of hte matter is that we need God more than we know.

3. We do not understand the riches of His glorious grace. Unfortunately, our spiritual appetite is not like our physical appetite. There seems to be no end to the desires of our flesh, but when it comes to spiritual desires many of God's people push back from the table way too early. God has so much more to do, say, and bless us with. We get satisfied with a little and lose interest in the rest.

My prayer: Lord, do not let me get satisfied with you or with me or with the life you've called me to live in you. Through your supernatural power stir up a hunger and a thirst for righteousness. In your grace allow the Gospel to do a greater work still. Make me more dependent upon you and allow me to be free from me.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What Does God Think of Us?

John MacArthur has a new book coming out that I think is going to be very helpful to many of us. It is called "Slave." You can get a free copy of the book and watch a great video about it by clicking here.

Our relationship to God is important because it defines who we are. Once we understand who we are in Christ we can get on with the work of fulfilling our destiny. The enemy who held us captive for so long is still at work to deceive us. He no longer is our master, but he tries to make us think and feel like he is. I believe this book is going to help many of us gain even greater freedom from sin and the lies of this evil age.

After hearing about this book offer, I read this text this morning...
Titus 3:4–7 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

What a gracious and good God we have! He came for us. Jesus, our savior and friend entered into this sinful world and gave His life to pay the penalty for our sin. It was His love for us that caused Him to be merciful. Those who receive this wonderful gift of salvation through faith gain new life whereby we are made righteous and the Holy Spirit dwells in us giving us a new heart and a new mind.

Having been made holy by grace, we are given access to God as His adopted heirs.


Thursday, November 4, 2010


Does Jesus call us to live a balanced life? I believe He does. There are certain aspects of the Christian life that demand extremism. The grace of God demands that we be extreme in receiving and giving forgiveness. The grace of God demands we be extremely generous in the stewardship of our resources. The grace of God demands all kinds of extreme acts of service and love and discipline and sacrifice and worship and praise and... well you get it.

But there is a balance to life that makes it healthy and strong and useful to our King. We need to sleep. We need to work. We need to eat. We need to love and be with family and friends. We need a day to rest and worship. There are balancing aspects to the Christian life that must be recognized and respected.

My life is pretty intense. I will only be home one night this week. Change is a constant. Today I will pray with those that are suffering and experiencing extreme joy. Decisions will have to be made and consequences will be felt from precious decisions. Whatever comes, I am thankful that I do not face it alone. God is with me, but so is my wife, my kids, my friends and fellow workers, and a host of others that I love and that love me.

How can all of that happen well? Only when time is given to each relationship and my mind, body and soul is allowed to experience seasons and times of work and rest. There must be balance.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Power of "We"

Psalm 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

Last night I had the joy of sitting among leaders that love Jesus, love each other, and love lost people. They are the elders, trustees, personnel leadership, and staff leaders of Living Hope Baptist Church. We were discussing and determining the budget for next year.

There is of course a great deal at stake. The ministry of the church impacts eternity and people's relationships with God and one another. What we fund will determine what gets done.

It was an absolute joy to listen to these leaders serve God and honor one another. The expertise and insight that the Lord has given these folks is astonishing to me. What God has provided through His people and what is planned for the future honors Christ and will enable the church to serve His Kingdom purpose well.

As I left the meeting, Psalm 133:1 came to mind. Unity among leaders in a church body is so good and pleasant.