Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Moment to Remember

One of my favorite Vince Lombardi quotes is..
I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious.

When I look at this picture, I think of those words. This is my daughter's soccer team from yesterday. This is one of those pictures that we will look back on and remember the circumstances, the challenge, and the outcome and smile.

This weekend this team played in the first round of the State Cup. Yesterday they played the so-called best team in the state. I say that not to be sarcastic, but I don't understand the ranking system and I was told that at least two other teams were the "best team in the state." Our team never received that designation:-)

Yesterday we tied the "best team in the state" and will now advance as the wild card team this upcoming weekend in the final round of the State Cup.

Our car's exterior temperature said it was 100 degrees, while the girls were playing. It was so hot, and yet, they played their hearts out.

As a parent, this is a good moment. It lets me know that she can face hardship and keep going. This experience has given her another taste of what it is to lay it all on the line with others and leave nothing left in the tank. These days are moments to remember because when life happens and you want to quit it's nice to have a memory and a picture that tells you that you have done hard things before and you can do them again.

Monday, May 30, 2011

What's Your Story

"Our nature consists in movement. Absolute rest is death. To the extent that we are always following some direction or other, our very lives are "indoctrinated." The only question is whether the doctrine that informs one's life is governed by the Christian gospel or by some other story, some other script." ~Kevin Vanhoozer

I love good movies. There is something in me that gets stirred when I watch something on the big screen that grabs my heart and mind and makes me think about my life and the direction it is going. Stories are powerful. They inspire, educate, and in some ways define how we see life.

My favorite movie is The Return of the King from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In this movie I see so much of what I desire to live for. I see a seemingly weak servant willing to lay down his life in order to save others. I see a King defeating evil to bring peace. I see a creature that was once enslaved to an idol that was his "precious" that defined him and gave him purpose having the opportunity to find a new life and hope. He ultimately rejected that new life and came to a burning end. There is so much Biblical imagery in it.

I have come to realize that the movies I like the most provide the same storyline as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are people lost and in need of saving. A champion or hero leaves the safety of his home and goes on a mission to save the people. In the process he has to sacrifice so that others can be saved. This is the Gospel.

The Gospel is the power of God to save and redeem the lost. This wonderful truth defines reality. It tells us that God is good and that we are not. It tells us that God is loving and will save us. It tells us that we are responsible to choose to love God or live empty lives and die as enemies of the King of heaven and face His wrath for our treason.

That is the story of the saints of Christ. What a glorious story to live by and in and for.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Learning New Ways

I had to get a new computer this week. It was purchased several weeks ago, but I did not have time for any interruptions to the schedule then. We scheduled the big change to the new computer this week. Our amazing IT man, Bryan Young, has been working with me all week to make sure the new computer is up and running well. And for the most part it is. I am able to run my Bible programs, access my sermons, get email, and access the internet. We still can't locate music I've added in the last two years and I cannot download pics or get my googlereader to do what I want, but not big deal. We'll get it figured out.

What I will have to do over the next few weeks is learn new ways. This computer has a new operating system so I am having to learn where things are. The way this computer feels is even different. As I type this right now my fingers are hitting other buttons causing me to have to pause and delete. Where information is stored and how it appears is very different.

Within a couple of weeks I will have figured this thing out. I'll be able to listen to my music while I work and access information easily. Until then, I have to deal with that transition phase in between.

God uses transitions to remind me that all of life is a transition. My family is transitioning. My friends are transitioning. My work is transitioning. My body is transitioning. All of this stuff is going to change and each change will require me to learn new ways of enjoying the blessings and responding to the challenges.

But that's life. If we ever stop having to learn new ways, we're dead - literally. So I guess I'll just be thankful and ask you to pray for me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Love the Bride

I love my sweet bride. Carrie and I began dating when we were fifteen. We have been best friends now for over 23 years. God has blessed us and led us faithfully. There is not anything I would not do for her. She is my girl.

The church is the bride of Christ. He bought us at a great price for Himself. For His glory and our blessing He has made us His own and called us to be faithful to Him. His covenant of grace binds us together in Him.

It is unsettling to me to hear people speak ill of any church or to treat the gathered church as if it is not important. The church is the bride and Jesus has called us together to serve Him and to love Him and one another.

We need to be careful to love each other as Christ has loved us and be local churches that honor our Lord.

Listen to what John calls those who do not love the church. 1 John 4:20–21 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Those are some strong words we need to take to heart and be careful to truly love the church and to reveal that love by encouraging, serving, and being faithful to the body of believers we are called to.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's NOT an Option. It's a Need..

Far too many people think they can go it alone. There seems to be some sickness in the American spirit that drives many of us to seek success in isolation. I don't know if it's just pride and we want to be able to say,"I did it!" Sometimes I think it's insecurity and we don't want others to see how weak we truly are. What I think really is happening is that fear keeps us from it. Wouldn't that be just like Satan to deceive us to fear what we need the most.

Over the past couple of weeks I have spent time talking with a lot of different people facing uniquely difficult situations. For some it is familial, financial, or faith based. There are others that are struggling with sin, shame, and a host of addictions. In almost every situation I finally get to the point when I have to ask, "So, who do you have in your life that is praying and talking you through this." Invariably, the people that I have the greatest concern for are the ones that live the most isolated lives.

When it comes to life, God made it clear that it is not good for man to be alone. For those of us blessed to marry our best friend, we see that truth and are thankful for God's provision. We also see in the early church (Acts 2:42ff) that we need a community to be a part of. We need friends in the faith that we depend on and that depend on us.

If you are blessed today with true friends that pray for you and support and encourage you, praise God. If you are living in isolation, ask God to enable you to remedy your circumstance so that you can stand with others who stand with Christ.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book I Mentioned to Learn to Fast

The book I suggested in yesterday's message that was helpful to me in learning to fast was Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.

There are several things I appreciate about the chapter he provides on fasting.

One, he gives an easy step by step approach. The suggestions he makes about preparing and ending a fast are very helpful. In outlining the steps he helps make longer fasts seem possible.

Two, he gives good reasons for fasting. Regardless of how or why we start, I am confident that those that learn this discipline sooner or later learn the reason to participate in fasting. I know that I began the practice for certain good reasons, but learned more meaningful reasons with each fast I participated in. Foster helps give the beginner a good Biblical purpose for fasting.

Three, he gives good insight into how you are going to feel. The emotional and physical toll of fasting is what causes most people to think they cannot do it. His realistic approach and honest outlook on how a fast will impact your mood and energy level helped me anticipate and better prepare for the effects on my body and mind.

As I said yesterday, fasting is something Jesus taught. He assumed it is something we would do (Matthew 6:16-18). I pray that members and attenders of The Hope will make this spiritual discipline a natural part of their lives.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

If It's the End of the World As We Know It, I Feel Fine

So there people saying that today is the end of the world. I do not believe it. If it happens, I certainly will not be disappointed. This world is not the home of those that love the Lord King of Heaven and are waiting for His return.

There are a number of reasons I do not believe today is the big day, but 2 Peter 3:9–10 reveals two of the most important ones. "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

1. I believe there are still people that God intends to save. The Lord is patient. He is not in a hurry. I know of several people that I believe are under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but have yet to surrender their lives to Christ. It seems to me that there is more hope for them and more time.

2. When the Lord comes it will be a surprise. He comes like a thief. A thief does not announce when he will break in. The Lord has not given a date. As a matter of fact, not even the angels know. Only God the Father knows when He will send Jesus back. Matthew 24:36–44 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

We can be thankful for those that cause us to consider and remember the Lord's return. We often get so caught up in this world that we forget we don't belong here. This world is not our home. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are ambassadors in a foreign land awaiting our King to come and take us home.

Sadly, I don't think today is the day.

Friday, May 20, 2011


There is something to be said for a good celebration. Far too often good things are planned and accomplished, but time is not always given to pause and to offer praise for hard work and accomplishment and to remember our Maker that makes all things possible.

In Scripture there are a lot of celebrations. Gods' people were trained by God to remember the good things that He brought and allowed in their lives. Most of the calendar year of the Hebrew people revolved around gathering to give thanks to God and remembering the blessings they'd been given.

This past week was a week of celebrations for me. On Sunday the family of Living Hope took time after church to eat together and celebrate the construction journey we'd been on over the past seven years. It was an open invitation to all who wanted to come. It was fun to be with those that persevered and pushed and prayed and did all that they could to get us to the point where we are today as a family of faith. We now have the Connection Center - a one of a kind recreational and fellowship center in our region. We also have a state of the art Student Center, more functional and spacious children's areas, renovated adult discipleship space, and plenty of parking.

God has been so good to Living Hope and on Sunday we celebrated that as a family of faith and on Wednesday we invited the city to come and celebrate with us. It was encouraging to have representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, from the city, state, and national government, and many local pastors in attendance. I would try and name them, but I might forget someone. It was a special day for me personally to have so many dear friends from the community come over to help us give God praise for what He has done.

And yesterday, I was in Franklin, Ky with my dear brother Dr. Bill Daniel. He recently left Bowling Green to start his own private surgical practice there in Franklin. They are blessed to have him there. We are blessed to still have him so close. I know that he has patients from all over South Central Kentucky and North Tennessee that go to see him. I know there is no one I trust more than Dr. Bill. He is a man of God and a great surgeon.

I was down there yesterday to celebrate with him the opening of his practice. He's been up and going since January, but it was nice for him to pause and praise God for His provision.

Life is short and many times hard. It is good to take time to give God thanks and to celebrate His provisions.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Greatest Marriage Proposal EVER!!!

So it's wedding season...

Guys, This ain't a bad idea. As long as you know, she'll say, "yes." Skip the popcorn!

Monday, May 16, 2011

What To Look For

Studying The Scriptures and Finding Jesus - Albert Mohler - TGC 2011 from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Yesterday, I taught on how we are to study God's Word. I gave four specific things to look for any time you study Scripture. I didn't put them in the study guide and several of you asked me to post them, so here ya go.

These four things will help you remain alert and active in your thinking as you read. It is easy to read passively (reading with no intentionality or purpose other than entertainment or with the hope that something will grab you.) Looking for and thinking through each of these items every time you read the Bible will help you grow and gain a greater understanding of God's glory, plan, and purpose for you. These four things will also help you come to God's Word with a plan and a purpose.

When You Study Look for:
1. Who God Is & Who We Are
-You will find that God is amazing. He is truly beyond our comprehension, but the part of Him we apprehend is enough to leave us overwhelmed.
-You will find that God is scary. He is not safe. Because of His holiness and justice the loving God of heaven is not to be taken lightly by sinful man. What He does is in accordance with truth and righteousness and we are compelled to fear Him.
-You will find that God is gracious. He is the almighty, but He loves us. Realizing our incapacity to be like Him, God became one of us to set us free from the power and punishment of sin.

-You will find that we are needy. Before we come to saving faith, we are orphans left to our own devices to provide a life for ourselves. After coming to saving faith, we are children in desperate need of the leadership of our Father. He will guide us as sheep in a flock and we would fail and fall without His hand of protection.

2. How God Works & How We Can Join Him
God is the same yesterday, today and for evermore. What He has done gives us insight into what He will do. By understanding His ways and will, we can join Him in His work.

3. What God Says vs. What World Says Is Good/True
God is above all others and His ways are best. What we read and are told in culture will not always line up with the ideas of our King. We must learn to discern between what He says vs. what those in darkness would have us believe.

4. The Great STORY LINE. Find the Big Story of Salvation in Each Small Story of Grace and discern how each Small Story Fits in the Big Story
-In every story in the Old and New Testament we can find the Gospel. Every story of the Bible fits within the grand story of the Gospel. It is either before Jesus came, while Jesus was with us, after He ascended, when He comes again, or after He comes again. Knowing when something is occurring helps us understand it's meaning and implications for our walk with Him.
What Dr. Mohler teaches in this message is very helpful to understand how to see and discover the great story of the Gospel in the Old Testament.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

A few days ago, a friend asked me about my blog updates and reminded me that I have not posted anything since the day after Easter. I couldn’t believe it had been that long. My world has been moving fast and although I have been having more fun and seeing God move in amazing ways, I have not been faithful to share it here.

I have my excuses… My daughter is in the height of her spring soccer season, which means weekends filled with games and some travel. Our oldest son Jackson is playing AAU Basketball (I just realized I don’t know what AAU means) and is having an absolute blast. This is his first experience of playing against people outside of our county and the challenge and training has been exhilarating. Our youngest child Asher is also playing soccer, if you can call it that. The children all run in a herd or stand in utter amazement, occasionally kicking the ball in-bounds, knocking each other down, and every now and then scoring somehow.

Beyond our children, my wife and I are simply enjoying this season of our life. We love each other and the opportunities God has given to us. The time we have together is special and we get the sense that at some point we are going to miss these days. My neighbor Tim reminds me of that pretty regularly.

In the midst of family life we are really wrapped up in the life of our church. Living Hope is experiencing a unique blessing from God right now. It is not a city-changing revival, but it is a resurgence of sorts. We have seen people of all ages, colors, and socio-economic backgrounds receive Christ and confess Him through baptism. Our Easter services were blessed and the staff and I are still following up on lots of people who accepted Christ and are ready to be baptized. We have also seen a large number of people join the church and the staff is meeting with each person and family to go over their testimony and determining how each one can best connect in the life of the church.

Within our family of faith we are also seeing God bring healing to the sick and broken-hearted and strength to those that are suffering. A day does not go by that I do not get to pray for and with a precious member of our family of faith that is finding God to be faithful in their trial. Some are being healed. Some are not. Some are giving birth to healthy babies, while others are not getting pregnant. There are children running from God and others are returning to God. Marriages are beginning and some are struggling to survive. Through every circumstance, I see the hand of God at work wooing His people to submit to His rule.

Then there is the work that is happening outside of Living Hope. This Sunday we will be collecting food items for Hope House. (Don’t forget to bring your bags of food for our struggling neighbors.) God continues to reach people through this vital ministry. God is also at work through several of our families that are pursuing adoption and others that are now serving as foster parents. Our missionaries in North America and around the world are seeing fruit. We have a team headed to West Africa next week and we have a slew of college students headed there and other places around the planet.

I am personally excited about what is happening through the North American Mission Board and in West Africa. Those have been the two places I have made contribution in this year.

So all in all, life is challenging, but so very good because God is in the midst of it. What I have listed as excuses for my not blogging are really blessings that have kept me from doing little else. What I have mentioned here is just the basic stuff. I could also mention the Bible Doctrine class that is going well, the men's ministries that are exploding, the staff focus and strategic planning, the Connection Center (Don’t forget the Celebration this Sunday after the 11 am service – get your tickets ASAP!), and so many other amazing ministries that God is blessing at The Hope and around the world through Hopers.

Continue to pray for me as I pray for many of you and join in what God is doing in our world and lives. We have such a wonderful God who has saved us, filled us, and blessed us with an eternal peace and a future.