Monday, April 25, 2011
Yesterday at The Hope, we saw the largest attendance in the history of the church. Several people came to saving faith and many many more are now returning to their walk with God. A number of people will be baptized over the next few weeks as they make a public profession of their true personal faith in Jesus.
It was a wonderful day as we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ.
But now it's Monday. The next day has come. I hate to complain, but I'm tired. As usual, I was up at 5 am and running. We knocked out 6 miles and then I got home to study. Now I am in the midst of doing the exegetical work for next Sunday's sermon, but my mind is wandering.
So I'm writing this...
My big brother called to check on me and I was telling him how I was feeling and he said, "I guess for preachers the day after Easter is like the day after New Years for the rest of us." He always has a way of making me laugh by revealing reality from a very practical perspective.
So I guess I've got Easter hangover. The issue is identified... so now what to do about it?
Reading God's Word, I see that Peter, James and John went fishing after the resurrection (John 21). Some of the others went for a walk and got into a Bible study with Jesus (Luke 24). I think I'll do the latter and get back to work. Pray for me.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I just received this from Pastor Jeff. Consider these options and opportunities and join God in what He is doing this week!
Here are some prayer opportunities for Easter...please pray for
1. ... those who will come to church for the first time or for the first time in a long time.
2. ... wisdom, direction, and the words to say as God brings people into your life this week and for those you invite to church this Thursday or Sunday.
3. ... the Secret Church event on Friday night from 6pm-12pm. Pray that God works in a mighty way as David Platt opens up the word to us.
4. ... Pastor Jason Pettus on Thursday & Sunday as God works through him as he brings the message
Prayer Walking Opportunities!!!
Come during the day or before the following services to pray the room up for that particular service: Wednesday Night Worship (6pm Wednesday), Last Supper Easter Service (7pm Thursday), Secret Church (6pm Friday), and Sunday Morning Church (8am, 9:30am, and 11:00am).
These prayer options are great opportunities to prepare for Easter. I hope you will choose to be apart of this special ministry.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
This morning I played basketball with 7 other men around my age (we had a couple of pups in there) at the Connection Center. The place is beautiful. We played full court on one of the four short courts. It was an absolute blast.
About fifteen minutes into it, when my vertical leap went from 3 inches to 1 inch, I realized how different the game is on the court than from the sidelines. For years now I have been watching my kids play and have been coaching them. I have been pressing them and challenging them to push themselves and get the most out of the ability God gave them.
Being on the court felt different. It was a lot harder than I remembered. I have not played a real game in years. I was pushing myself, but not going very fast or very well.
Now that I am home in my chair with my computer and a cup of coffee, I am reminded of how easy it is to sit back and tell others how they ought to do and how hard it is to actually do it.
One of the things I love about Jesus is that He didn't just write the rules and the best practices for life and then lay back in heaven and never do them. Jesus got in the game. The LORD left heaven and came to this earth and lived the life God made humanity to live. It was a holy and blameless life and in perfect step with the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.
What I love about the grace of Jesus is that not only am I forgiven by the atoning death Jesus died to pay for my sins, I am also given the righteousness of Christ. I get credit for how Jesus played the game - lived His life. And now, as a Spirit-filled believer, God is guiding me and teaching me to live - to play the game - to the best of His abilities.
Hebrews 4:14–16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
When my oldest son Jackson was a little guy, he had several of those "Where's Waldo" books. If you have not seen one before, it is a book without words. On each page there is a massive picture with intricate details. In the big picture there is somewhere a picture of Waldo, a little man with glasses. The fun is trying to find where Waldo is.
I am at The Gospel Coalition conference. The theme is on how Jesus is to be understood through the pages of the Old Testament. This is powerful stuff. Tim Brown and I have talked and talked about the different things we heard from Tim Keller and Alister Begg yesterday. It is such a joy to hear gifted preachers share the insights the Holy Spirit has given them and the wisdom they have from disciplined years of study.
I would encourage you to log on and listen to these talks.
Devotionally, I am being challenged and would challenge you to study the Old Testament and ask the question, "What does this tell me about the Savior and how He works to redeem a people for His glory?"
One statement from yesterday haunts me. "Is the Old Testament just a Christian version of Aesop's Fables or are these stories telling us redemptive history?"
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I am convinced that one of the main reasons God's people are not hungry for God and His Word is because they are already full. Most are stuffed on earthly temporal things that have made them feel full, but the junk they have consumed has not served their souls. The greatest spiritual problem in North America is not a lack of accessibility to God's Word, but a lack of hunger for God's Word.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."
There is a glorious blessing that comes to those that desire to have God fill them with His holiness. They are "satisfied." The word translated "fill" by the NIV in v. 6 is the word χορτάζω chortázō. It can also be translated "to satisfy." There is nothing that satisfies the deep longing of a person's heart and soul like Jesus. Only Jesus can love us as we need to be loved - unconditionally. Only Jesus can love us qualitatively and quantitatively the way we need to be loved - eternally.
Mary sang at the announcement of her pregnancy with Jesus, "He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty." (Luke 1:53)
The Lord will fill us with good things, if we want Him to. Most don't. It's not that they are opposed to it. The fact is most just are not interested in what God has to offer. They have lost a hunger for Him. They are rich in worldly cuisines and are not up for the hardy filling truth of God's righteousness.
If you have lost your hunger for God, ask God to renew your appetite. Step away from the table of the ungodly and dine on the delicacies of the Almighty. Your desire will grow stronger and your soul will be nourished.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Jesus once said in Matthew 19:14 “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
The sharing of Christ with kids is controversial in some circles. There are those that rightly believe that pressing a child to make a decision for eternity may do more harm than good. It may only confuse and keep the child from having a deep heartfelt experience in coming to Christ. On the other hand the need for children to know the Gospel and be saved early is appropriate.
I am challenged by R.C. Ryle's words:
"We must never allow ourselves to suppose that little children’s souls may be safely let alone. Their character depends exceedingly on what they see and hear during their first seven years. They are never too young to learn evil and sin. They are never too young to receive religious impressions. They think in their childish way about God, their souls, and a world to come, far sooner and far more deeply than most people are aware. They are far more ready to respond to appeals to their feeling of right and wrong than many suppose. They have each a conscience. God has mercifully not left Himself without a witness in their hearts, fallen and corrupt as their natures are. Each have a soul which will live forever in heaven or in hell. We cannot begin too soon to endeavor to bring them to Christ."
The words of Christ and these words by Ryle cause me to pause and to commit to more fervent prayer for my four year old Asher. Please join me in praying that God will save Him one day and that Asher will live His life under the grace and Lordship of Jesus in an authentic walk with the risen Christ.
Monday, April 4, 2011
I have always had a fascination with fire. When I was a kid, I would go camping with my friends along the Harpeth River all of the time. We would fish all day walking down the river, then find a good spot to set up camp. I would get the fire going with a little kerosene and then our buddy Oliver would cook. Throughout the night, I would build the fire and try and keep it up so that it would be easily stoked in the morning.
The image of fire is used in Scripture to speak of our passion for God. Our faith is like a fire and it must be constantly cared for. Just as I needed kerosene to start a physical fire, I needed the Holy Spirit to light a fire in my soul so I could be saved. Having been saved I now need the Word of God to burn in me and for God's Holy Spirit to blow on my soul and keep the fire burning. From the warmth of God's love that burns in me I am able to love my God, my wife, my kids, my friends, my family of faith, and the lost and hurting.
We must not let the flames of our faith die down. Just as the priests of Old had to tend to the fire of the temple, so we too must tend to the fire in our temple - our bodies, which are now the dwelling place of God.
Leviticus 6:12–13 The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. 13 The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.
I am very excited about the 21 DAY JOURNEY Living Hope is on using the devotion "CHRIST IS RISEN." It was written by the leadership at The Hope and the daily blog is as well. Do yourself a favor and keep the fire burning in your soul by participating in the 21 DAY JOURNEY that is preparing us for Easter.
You can join the journey here: http://livinghopeprayer.wordpress.com/
Sunday, April 3, 2011
As a pastor, I am asked daily about God's will. People contact me and explain their circumstance and ask what God would have them do. Of course I never know what outcome God desires for their life. That is something only God can know. What I can give is a directive from Scripture for them to obey. IT IS IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD THAT WE FIND AND FULFILL THE WILL OF GOD FOR OUR LIFE.
One of my favorite Psalms is the first one. I love it for many reasons. One is the encouragement I receive from verse 3.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
What a beautiful image. I picture a strong fruitful tree that is planted along the side of a beautiful flowing stream in the midst of a valley surrounded by terrifying mountains. That is how I want to experience my life. I want to live off of the living water of Jesus, as I abide planted in Him producing the fruit of the Spirit all of the while surrounded by terrifying circumstances, but at complete peace.
This, to me, would be a blessed life. This is the life being explained in Psalm 1 and it is another reason why I love this Psalm. It says in verse 1, Blessed is the man... The Hebrew word for blessed is אֶשֶׁר (Asher). That is our youngest child's name. We gave it to him because of God's gracious provision of Him to us. He is one of the many blessings God has given to us on our journey of faith.
What I see in this Psalm is God's way of revealing to us His will. It is by living a life that is obedient to God that we are blessed. In living a blessed life we fulfill God's will and discover our destiny. It is not through some mystical experience or fate that God's will is done. It is through God's people simply loving and trusting God above all else and living under His authority and direction. This is God's will. This accomplishes God's will. This is a blessed life.
Psalm 1:1–3 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.