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.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Countries Do the Craziest Things

Psalm 2:1–8 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. 3 “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. 5 Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6 “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

Today, the citizens of the USA have the right to vote and elect officials that will determine the laws we live by. These leaders not only represent the people in matters of law, but also collectively speak of the character and commitments of the country.

I wonder what the people will do? I wonder who this election and other elections say we are?

My prayer: Father, please make the USA a nation that does not seek to live outside of your authority. Please bring revival because I know we need to repent. Give us your mercy and grace and through the power of your Spirit the ability to love you, honor you, seek you, love each other, care for each other, and live as one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all. I know one day we will live in a perfect world under the complete authority of Jesus in the new heaven and new earth. Allow us to be a glimpse of what that can be when a nation loves the Son in a sinful world. In the holy precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Better than Happy

Yesterday, I was talking about how happiness is temporary because it is based on circumstances and joy is continual because it isn't.

After one of the services, I spoke with a man that is struggling in life and desiring some relief. What he was looking for was not a current satisfaction in what is. He explained that he needed to be able to look forward with peace. We arrived at the fact that he needed hope and I explained how the Gospel gives hope and it encouraged him greatly.

Hope is a powerful thing. It is better than happiness. It feels similar, but it is very different.

1. Hope is based on what is coming and not simply what is.
2. Hope that is from God produces positive feelings that strengthen the soul.
3. Hope motivates and inspires activity.
4. Hope provides reasons for right action in the present.
5. Hope does not have a conclusion as much as it does a desire.

Being hopeful is better than being happy.

Romans 5:5 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.