Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What Happens in Vegas...

You know the rest of the line. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. And being the uncreative copycats that most people are you have probably seen this misguided advertisement ripped off and used on t-shirts all over the country. I have seen shirts for Sullivan, Illinois which read what happens in the corn field stays in the corn field (I don't even want to consider the possible meanings that could have). I have seen Cubs t-shirts what happens in Wrigley... And Cardinals what happens at Busch... All of which are lies, especially the last two examples since the ball games are on television for the world to see.

I do think that it would be an accurate advertising slogan for many of our churches. "What happens at Second Assembly of God stays at Second Assembly," because so much of what happens during our services is not reflected in our lives on a daily basis. And that is just as pathetic and even more inexcusable than someone believing the lie about Las Vegas.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wild Goose Chase

I just finished reading Wild Goose Chase, Mark Batterson's newest book. It launches tomorrow. Mark is the pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. I haven't read his first book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, but I have been a reader of his blog for more than two years. I have listened to many of his podcasts, received his evotional e-mails. The book is very much an extension of Mark's communication style from oral teaching and blogging to a full length book. If you had never heard him speak, and only read this book and then you heard him speak, he would sound just like you imagined he would sound while reading the book.

The book encourages us to allow the Holy Spirit to be active in our lives. His contention is that we tend to try and tame God bringing him down to our level. When our expectations are too small we can limit God by our lack of faith. The book is filled with Mark's trademark illustrations. He is one of the best I know at illustrating his points with stories, scientific theories and off the wall anecdotes. He has a unique voice and I think it is in full effect here.

You can feel the influence of Erwin McManus and others who talk about living life to the fullest and not allowing religion to inhibit our pursuit of God. Batterson fully acknowledges this in the book. It isn't the subject matter that is unique it is his voice. And truthfully as preachers and teachers of the Bible none of us has completely unique subject matter (if someone has a take on the Bible that no one else ever has it is usually called heresy) it is, to borrow a Batterson phrase, our job to present old truths in new ways. So the book is definitely worth your time. I definitely recommend it!

The book is availible on Amazon and through other outlets. Thanks to the publisher for my free copy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Skip Carey

During the 1980's I fell in love with baseball. I am a fan of the Atlanta Braves. During most of the '80s I lived in North and South Dakota. The options for baseball on television were the Twins and the Braves. My best friend and I loved the Braves. Both teams were mostly awful, but the Braves were on almost every day on WTBS. And the Braves had Dale Murphy my all time favorite player.

It was Skip's voice, along with Ernie Johnson and Pete VanWieren that told me play by play how awful the Braves were, and then how great they were becoming. His voice is the sound track to a lot of great memories of baseball for a young boy growing up. I haven't followed baseball quite as closely since TBS reduced its Braves telecasts. Now that they aren't exclusively covering the Braves I don't get to see many games. I like Skip's son Chip an awful lot and not just because we share a name, but it won't be the same without Skip.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stuff that's happening

I went to the doctor this morning. In six weeks I lost exactly zero pounds. I didn't gain any either. That is despite cutting back on portion sizes, not snacking even half as much, going from 10-12 sodas a week to three or four, drinking more water and exercising much more. So it will be much harder than expected. My metabolism is messed up!

Yesterday Rebekah and I celebrated twelve years of marriage. I am blessed to have her as my wife!

Started my week off today. I will work two hours or so on Wednesday. I am under doctors orders not to work on projects around the house for a few days. I had two steroid injections this morning. One if my forearm and one in my shoulder. It has been frustrating that the pain has continued for nine months. I was going to take three Sundays off from preaching this summer. So far I have taken one, and though I planned to take next Sunday off and we will be on vacation I am preching Sunday night in East Alton. I love preaching so it's harder not to preach than it is to preach. I haven't been able to work out the guest speakers in consecutive weeks that I need.

Rebekah has jury duty today. Hopefully it will be over today, it could last all week which would mean my vacation would be babysitting the kids she watches. Noah will be home from North Dakota tomorrow. I am ready to spend some time with him.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Sometimes as Christians we think that we have to defend the Bible, God and church. We tend to act like lawyers and try to sruge people into the kingdom. This post by Seth Godin got me thinking. The problem with lawyers is that most people think they are telling less than the truth. The lawyer is believed to advocate for his or her client. The lawyer is trying to convince you. People don't like lawyers. Don't try to be a lawyer (unless that is your profession).

Instead I need to genuinely love people and demonstrate that I have their best interests at heart. If that is truly my motivation most people will sense that and be far more likely to hear what the gospel is all about.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fun Times

Today I had a root canal and a temporary crown put on my front tooth. It actually doesn't hurt as bad as I though it would. It did take almost two hours most of which I spent with my feet higher than my head so I have a headache that is worse than the tooth pain. So that is all that I have accomplished today as of 2:00. I am going to try to get some more work done. We'll see how the pain goes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dropping the pounds

I went to the doctor yesterday. Amongst other things he said I should try losing some weight. So my goal is to lose 10 pounds over the next six weeks. If I can do that my goal will be to lose thirty pounds over the next year. In order to do this I will have to actually (gulp) exercise. I will let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Authenticity part 2

So holiness is not something that I speak about very often, at least not in those words. It should be though. My need for authenticity finds a remedy in the holiness of God. God in His holiness has nothing to hide. He is completely transparent and flawless. I am however, full of failures and flaws. Hebrews 10:10 tells me that by God’s will I am made holy through the death of Jesus Christ. Any lack of authenticity is a result then of my clinging to sin’s deceitfulness. In the cross I am made perfect even as I am being made holy (Hebrews 10:14).

Holiness then is the standard that you and I should seek. Too often being authentic means owning up to our sins as a means of justifying our failures. Instead of conceding that I will continually fall short of the mark, thereby lowering my aim, I should aim for perfection.

True authenticity, I think, is recognizing the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I have been declared to be perfect. I am being made holy. It is me, inviting you to join me on the journey. It is the open invitation to join the community of saints, who are trusting that, “He who began a good work in me will be faithful to carry on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Authentic Part 1

Authenticity is a buzz word today. As a pastor I read a lot of books about preaching, and church issues. I am constantly told to be authentic in my preaching. We want our churches to be authentic in their Christianity. I want to come across as real and honest when I preach, and when I am living my life amongst other people. I want to do more than appear to practice what I preach; I really want to do it. Transparency is another word that is often used to describe the approach a pastor should take to preaching. Allow people to see who you really are, that you have struggles just like everyone else.

As I was preparing my Sunday message last week I was thinking about some of these issues. I talked about the character of God. Something that I felt the Holy Spirit spoke into my spirit as I was praying before church has stuck with me. You never hear God described as transparent or authentic. Why? Because God is Holy! God also commands His people to be like Him. “Be Holy, because I am Holy” 1 Peter 1:16.

When I hear the word holiness I hear a word with two drastically different connotations. First I hear the many passages in the Bible that speak of God’s holiness. I often repeat those refrains in my prayers and in my worship. The second connotation is negative. I think of “holiness” churches. My own fellowship, the Assemblies of God, has roots in the holiness movements, but when I hear holiness as it pertains to man I too often think of self-righteous legalism. Self-righteousness is of course the opposite of holiness in many ways. It smacks of a lack of authenticity. (I’ll say more tomorrow.)

Monday, June 09, 2008


I finished the rough draft of my term paper for Composition II today! I have not blogged in a month mainly because every spare moment I had for writing went into this paper. Between research, funerals, ball games, church, and a wedding this has been the busiest period in my life in a very long time. I hope to get back to blogging this week. For all four or five of you who read this blog, now you have something to look forward to.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Quote of the week

If all you want is safe, have baby food for dinner. Just leave me out of it.
Seth Godin

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Sometimes I feel like I am promoting myself when I invite people to church. After all I lead worship (out of necessity) do the announcements (because nobody else wants to do them) and preach (because this is what I love to do) so when they come to our church they get a whole lot of me. The problem is that I am not really all that in to myself, and I spent most of my growing up years trying to be invisible unless I was doing something I was good at doing. So inviting people to come to church sometimes seems like inviting them to check me out, and I need more people to come to church because churches need to grow.

I don't want to preach messages because I have made some cool observations about the Bible. The best messages are the ones that I have to preach because they won't let go of me. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we are not selling a church or ourselves, we are showing people our God who can transform their lives. It is the Holy Spirit that both convicts and changes people. I just have to show people that Jesus is alive in me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spring has Sprung

April is coming to an end, and I am entering perhaps my busiest time of year. Saturday is Elijah's birthday, and our food pantry will be open for the first time. We are still working out the kinks for this new compassion ministry. We also have a leadership training event most of the day. Noah has his first t-ball practice too! Next weekend is our church rummage sale. Our church raises money so that all of our kids can go to camp.

The following weekend is Mother's Day. The weekend after that we have a missionary speaker and in the evening we host a Baccalaureate service for Okaw Valley High School. The following weekend is Memorial Day and May will be over. The first Saturday in June I have a wedding. Then community VBS starts that next Monday. In the midst of this we have three kids playing baseball and softball. Two of them are on travelling teams.

Life gets really busy. As a pastor I have some of the same challenges that everyone else does. In the midst of busyness I have to make time for prayer and Bible study so that I can deal with the pressures of life.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I am slogging through a beautiful Monday. I would love to be outside in the spring air. Instead I am slogging through my course work for Intro to Humanities. It is not something that I want to do at all! The quizzes are absurdly easy requiring just reading through the chapters. So it seems like a bunch of busy work. I guess I should be thankful that it isn't too taxing because I have a busy week ahead.

We had another earthquake last night at about 12:45. I felt it and so did Kaitlyn. It measured 4.0. It is strange to feel two in a couple of days since I live in Illinois!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Weird Stuff

I felt an earthquake for the first time that I can remember. I was awake because Noah had a nosebleed. All the sudden the bed started shaking and the windows and the doors. We had an earthquake that was 5.2 on the scale. There was an aftershock around 10:15. I would have felt it but there was a train going past across the street, which rattles the house anyway.

When we returned home from running an errand, the dog was on the roof. I had opened the window in Kaitlyn's room. It currently doesn't have a screen. Since the bugs aren't bad yet I left it open to air things out. Bailey got upstairs because someone left the gate down. When we pulled into the parking lot there she was on the roof. I am surprised she didn't jump off and kill herself.

Weird day.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


We returned home from vacation tonight. I will be glad to be sleeping in my own bed. The highlight of the trip was Monday. We went to the Lincoln Park zoo with our friends Greg and Samantha Connour and their daughter Blinn. We always have a great time with Greg and Sam. I don't think we have ever been able to hang out with them and all four of our kids. We finished the day at Lou Malnati's for Chicago style pizza. Good times!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Wisconsin here we come

Tomorrow we are off to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rebekah's family lives there and we haven't been back for almost a year and a half. Gramma Evie will be 80 soon, and we want to wish her a Happy Birthday! in person. So after the morning service we will take off in the van, and arrive in time for dinner hopefully. She always makes fried chicken when we come, and the kids are looking forward to it.

Monday we are going to go down to Chicago, and go to the Field Museum. We will meet friends there and spend the day with them. It will be nice to get away. I know Rebekah is very excited to see her granparents.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Noah Paul

Happy birthday to our third child! Noah is six today! Seth feels ripped off that it's not his birthday yet.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

American Idol Gives Back

I'm not knocking the show for trying to do something good. I hope they help some people, although I suspect that good intentions don't have quite the impact that those people who give would hope. People who already give and serve the poor don't need celebrities to tell them to give to the poor.

I knew my blood pressure would soar watching although not closely last night. About a million people die every year from malaria. What is the response of many people? Give them a net to sleep under. (Or in the words of a certain French queen, let them eat cake!) Several things irritate me about this approach. Remember a few years ago when there was an outbreak of West Nile virus? The uproar bordered on hysteria. We won't stand for disease carrying misquitos, but we just throw nets at people in poor countries.

Second, the nets have to be treated with insectiside to be effective. The insecticide lasts anywhere from a few months to three years. After that, the nets have to be retreated. And if the nets are washed or get holes in them they lose there effectiveness. Nets reduce the mortality rate by about 20%. That's not good enough when there are other options.

The efforts must be combined with vector control, or abatement, and internal residual spraying. IRS was a part of the Global Malaria Eradication Campaign from 1955-1969. According to the CDC:
IRS with DDT and dieldrin was the primary malaria control method used during the Global Malaria Eradication Campaign (1955-1969). The campaign did not achieve its stated objective but it did eliminate malaria from several areas and sharply reduced the burden of malaria disease in others.

However the environmental movement decided that they didn't like DDT even though it was completely safe for humans. After pressure from groups like the Environmental Defense Fund the GMEC fell apart and the burden was placed upon poor third world countries. Eventually the United States government in the 80's officially threatened to withhold financial aid to countries that used pesticides such as DDT. When EDF chief scientist Charles Wurster was told that banning DDT would result in millions of deaths he replied, "This is as good a way to get rid of them as any."

If even hundreds of white Americans or Europeans were dying of malaria something would be done quickly. Because malaria kills the most in Africa and southeastern Asia, we throw nets at them. It's good that more attention is being paid. And some countries are using DDT again. So there's hope that thousands of lives can be saved. Sorry for the long post, but I become angry when people talk about misquito nets but don't follow up with medicine and spraying. People, especially children shouldn't have to die from preventable diseases when we have the power to help them.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Happy Birthday!

To my blushing bride!

Warning Controversy Ahead!

I would like to see Barrack Obama talk about why he is a supporter of abortion rights. He purports to be a strong defender of civil rights. According to many studies a black baby is almost as likely to aborted as to be born. Why don't we ever talk about this tragedy? It is certainly a tragedy that the most prominent abortion organization often places their clinics in minority neighborhoods. Democrats don't like to acknowledge this problem in part because any deviation from the party line is dealt with harshly. Our other Senator from Illinois Richard Durbin, was once pro-life but found out he couldn't go very far as a pro-life democrat.

Alright, I'm off my soap box for now.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

2nd time guests

Historically we haven't been very successful at seeing first time visitors become second time visitors. This is a problem because as a smaller church in a small village we don't have a lot of traffic. The people who have become members after visiting for the first time in large part had existing relationships with people in our church.

This means two things for us. First we need to be more active in inviting our friends and people we already know to church. Pray for them and look for opportunities to talk to them about Abundant Life and your faith. Second, we need to work harder at assimilating our guests and we need to find out what we can do to make their experience more sticky.

Monday, April 07, 2008

You never know what you will find.

I was cleaning the church office recently and found this:

What might be inside this round box?

Is this anointing oil?

No it is a cologne of some sort and it smells like a cheap Avon aftershave that you might buy at a garage sale for a dime.

I wonder how much you had to donate to receive this?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

My Bracket is done.

Now that Kansas defeated North Carolina, I am officially out of contention in all my brackets. I picked North Carolina to win it all. They dug themselves a deep hole, and they were almost able to climb out of it before they ran out of gas. Good job Kansas. I liked Bill Self a lot when he was at Illinois, and I am happy for him. I really want Kansas to win it all on Monday now, but I won't be watching for the most part, because I am taking my beautiful wife out for dinner. Her birthday is on Wednesday, but Monday is my day off, so we will go out Wednesday.

Next Sunday we will be taking off for a few days to go to Kenosha. Rebekah's gram is turning 80 so we are going to visit her. We also hope to catch up with some friends in Chicago at the Lincoln Park zoo.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Would They Miss Us?

One of the core principles we have as a church in a small village is that we are here to make the community a better place. So I have asked the question, if our church ceased to exist, would anyone miss us other than our small group who regularly attend? We have talked about serving the community for a while. We are now taking steps to do something about it. Step one is a food pantry. I have a couple of people who are really moving this forward. Some other things are in the works. The key right now is to not allow our small budget to limit our vision.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Why I am a Conservative and what that means...

I am politically a conservative. This does not mean that I oppose change. I am not a reactionary. I am conservative. I believe in limited government. Why?

Government can never bring redemption. Politics cannot redeem anyone. Liberalism believes that the government can save people from themselves. I believe that only God can save us. Government will always be run by sinful people no matter what party is in charge. To me, this means that government will always be flawed and we must always guard against too much government intrusion. So I am a conservative.

And I don't believe that John McCain or Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama are even remotely conservative. McCain obviously is the closest one to being conservative. I am okay with this because I do not place my hope in government. My hope comes from my savior. No matter who wins the election, Jesus is still Lord. Keep that thought in your heart during the next six months of turmoil and nastiness.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Politics and Religion

I find politics to be interesting. In the wake of the fallout over Obama and his pastor, of course McCain receiving and endorsement from John Hagee got some play. I find Hagee to be a fairly responsible exegete. This means that to me, he doesn't take too many leaps of faith, nor does he speculate too wildly. I don't agree with all of his conclusions on end times prophecy, but I think in all he is solid. Many have called him anti-Catholic because of some of his statements about anti-semitism in the Catholic church.

Let's consider a few things while we analyze this criticism. First, who is doing the name calling here? As far as a I can see, it is Catholic people who are always on the lookout for real or perceived anti-Catholic bias. More often than not it is perceived. Most of the time, they label Hagees statements as anti-Catholic without actually speaking to whether or not the statement is true. One example is the Spanish Inquisition, which did have anti-Jewish elements to it.

Second, keep in mind that those who are calling Hagee anti-Catholic view protestant teaching as heretical. People may demand apologies for anti-Catholic language, but who demands an apology from the Catholic church for anti-evangelical speech? Third, the media trumpeting these anti-Catholic charges are firmly in the democrat camp. They want to deflect some attention from Obama's pastor even as they are forced to report on the statements of Rev. Wright.

As always, please try to think critically about criticism of religious leaders that are trumpeted in the mainstream media. Take the time to track down exactly what was said, in what context it was said, and what it actually means. Is John Hagee anti-Catholic? This article is an interesting read. Especially read all the way to the end.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy April Fool's

I hope that most of my readers understood my last post in the context of this day.
Also I would like to wish my mother-in-law a happy birthday! Yes, her birthday is on April 1. If you would like, you may insert your own joke here.


I have decided to repent of my backsliding. I am switching to using the King James Bible only. After all it is the authoruzed version! I have been resisting this move for years but the time has come.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spirit Filled

As Pentecostal people who is our greatest example of what it means to live a Spirit-filled life? It is Jesus Himself. Tomorrow we will be talking about how Jesus depended upon the Holy Spirit as a human being who, while fully God, had completely emptied Himself of His divine attributes so that He could show us how to fully depend upon the Holy Spirit.

I am preaching twice tomorrow. Pray that I get a good night sleep, something I don't always get on Saturday nights. I am still having trouble with my lungs this week. I am looking forward to preaching at the Bethany Cumberland Presbyterian Church tomorrow evening for our fifth Sunday combined worship.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Do I let it burn itself out?

Seth Godin has a great post today about the difficulty in sticking to a plan when there are always fires to put out. His point is that most companies are always on fire. I think this holds true for most churches. A lot of pastors spend a lot of their time running around putting out fires. Some one is always upset. Something always needs doing. Some one always needs visiting or reassurance. One thing that I am trying to learn is discernment. Are their fires that can just burn themselves out? Are their ways to get rid of flammable materials? It's a short piece but worth the read.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I am trying to develop consistency in my blogging. So, even though I am sick, again, I will post. I started coughing between the Sunrise service and our regular service. I feel like I got run over by a train. Today, I did not go into the office. However, I did have to take a math exam. Instead of being in bed all day like I wanted to be, I was studying and then taking the exam. I was able to score an 89%, not great, but not too bad for medicine head.

The part that bugs me about taking this exam is that, had I taken school a little more seriously while I was in college the first time, I would not have received a D in College Math and Algebra. A grade of D does not transfer. So in total screwing around and not doing my homework ends up costing me about $1,500. I have learned the hard way. This time around I will not receive anything lower than a B, no matter what happens.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Why do you seek the living among the dead? ...He is risen!

Saturday, March 22, 2008


What were the disciples thinking on the Sabbath day? Jesus' body was lying the in the tomb of a rich man. By tradition, and conviction they can do nothing but wait. Some of the women had already prepared spices and materials to finish ministering to Jesus' body. Ultimately, there is nothing else to be done. It is the Sabbath. Do they go and worship at the temple? Do they stay sequestered in their rooms?

Sometimes the interval of time between what seems to be the end of a dream, and the place where God intervenes is the hardest place to maintain faith. We pass this day by easily without much thought because we know the end from the beginning. By the second day maybe shock has worn off and grief has overwhelmed? Try to put yourself in the sandals of the disciples on this day of anticipation and waiting.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

It was a bad day for the disciples. Startled out of their slumber in the garden, they ran away scattering to avoid being arrested. They watch from a distance as in the early morning light, Jesus is led away to face Pilate and the Roman government. They anxiously huddle in the shadows while an angry mob cries out for Jesus' crucifixion. They follow at a distance as Jesus emerges from the courtyard of the guard, beaten, bloody an weakened. They can barely recognize the man they have spent three years following. He collapses. A man is pulled from the crowd to carry the cross. He is led outside the city gates. He is stripped naked. He is nailed to the cross. He is mocked. He cries out quoting the 22nd Psalm. It is so dark that it is hard to see him in the gloom.

He says, It is finished! He breathes his last. He is not a martyr. He is not a victim. He is a warrior king, and He has won the greatest victory ever won! But if you are His disciple, you do not know that fact. You watch as the executioner pierces his side. The earth itself seems to shake. You watch carefully as Joseph and Nicodemus take his body from the cross. You follow them to the tomb. You retreat to a room with the others. Numb with grief you lock all the doors. What has happened? What do you do now?

Sin, Satan, death and hell have been defeated. The disciples do not know it yet. It is Friday. But Sunday is coming.

Even if everyone else does, I won't...

Peter's words to Jesus at the last supper are boastful and confident. Jesus tells the disciples that they will all scatter and leave Him to face the cross alone. Peter confidently tells Jesus, even if all fall away I will never leave you. Even if I have to die, he says. Jesus tells him that before dawn he will deny that He, Peter, even knows Jesus. But, Jesus adds, after you recover, Peter, strengthen the others. And when I, Jesus, rise from the dead I will come and find you in Galilee.

Jesus leads them to the olive grove where they have met many times before. In the darkness of night after eating a meal, sleep and sorrow get the better of them. Peter vaguely hears Jesus warning him and the others to pray in earnest because of what is to come. Satan, Jesus has told Peter, has asked to sift you like wheat. Peter, prepare yourself. Peter nods off again only to be awakened by Jesus as the noise of a mob fills the garden. Judas comes leading an angry group of men. Peter is fully awake now! He draws his sword and cuts off a man's ear. Jesus rebukes him and heals the man before being bound and led away.

Peter and John follow at a distance. The night has grown cold. Peter is drawn to the fire. He denies that he is disciple of Jesus once. A servant girl asks him again. He grows more vehement in his denials. A third person comments on his accent. Peter calls down curses on himself. A rooster crows. Across the courtyard Peter's eyes lock on Jesus' eyes.

Peter is broken. Destroyed by his own failure, as am I. Every boast of my own love for Jesus, every promise to give my everything, every passionate worship song sung with hands raised, forgotten as I willfully choose my sin over Him. I fail a lot. Within hours, Jesus is hanging on a cross naked and alone. He went there for Peter. He went there for me. He went there for you.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Preaching Calendar

I have been working the past couple of days on my preaching calendar. I am just about finished setting topics all the way through next February. I am still praying about a couple of ideas but all in all I have a good idea of series that I will be preaching through. I try to balance expository preaching with a few topical series. Last year I preached through the book of James. I am in the beginning stages of plotting out increments for a very controversial book. It looks like it will take me 33 messages to preach through this particular book. It will take from September through a good part of the first half of 2009. I will sprinkle some series throughout to keep interest and to allow me deal with things that may come up.

A couple of things to note about my philosophy. I know quite a few pastors who caution about preaching more than 35-40 messages in a year. All of these gifted men preach in large churches and they have multiple staff. I am the only paid staff. My primary gift is preaching/teaching. I feel a responsibility to be in the pulpit much of the time. I also enjoy preaching. I will probably preach 45 or 46 Sundays in a given year. Every 18 months or so I will take four Sundays in a row off of preaching. This always reminds that I love to preach and it helps refresh me. Other people have different approaches. This is how I do things for now.

Some people question planning topics and sermons for a year in advance. They ask if I can be led by the Holy Spirit doing this way. Seriously, if God could plan out hundreds of years of prophecies and then bring them to pass in Jesus Christ, certainly he can help little ol' me plan a year in advance. I am open to changing messages if I feel prompted to do so or if something comes up that needs to be dealt with, but in general this has worked well. I will share more about somethings that are coming up in the days ahead.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day!

What did you do with your extra day? I rested all day trying to get well before Sunday. I am pretty excited about the message Sunday. I think it is very important. We have been looking at Christ on the cross and what the aspects of the atonement mean for us. Thanks to Mark Driscoll for helping me to think more deeply about this subject.

It is more important than ever before to understand what the atonement means to the believer and why we needed Jesus to go to the cross and die for us, shedding His blood and then rising from the dead. Oprah has given space on her site to talk about A Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson. Her are some quotes from this book:

"There is no sin."
"A slain Christ has no meaning."
"The journey to the cross should be the last ' useless journey."
"Do not make the pathetic error of 'clinging to the old rugged cross."
"The name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol... It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray."
"The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself."
"The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation."

Thanks to Ben Arment for the link.

As you can see the cross is under assault once again. As for me: "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Galatians 6:13-15

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Personally I find it important to get into a rhythm as far as my schedule and my work, as well as spiritually. There are have been several challenges to that lately. Since the end of October I have struggled to find consistency and rhythm in any sense. Chronic pain is one of the problems, combined with trips to the doctor, MRI's, two sinus infections, an ear infection, buying a replacement vehicle, the holidays, family emergencies and other things. I'm not writing this in the sense of poor me but in a sense just thinking out loud. It is hard to find a good rhythm. It is harder to stay in the groove so to speak. It has affected my prayer life, devotional life and my preaching/teaching. I feel like it is a spiritual struggle akin to warfare. I press on with the anticipation that I'm close to a break through much like a light bulb going on, or a eureka moment that will make it all worth while.

So do need to live rhythmically or do you thrive in spontaneity?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Junk Science

I came across this article yesterday about cfl light bulbs. If there is no change by 2012 we will be forced to use these light bulbs. The same folks who demanded that incandescent light bulbs be discontinued will very soon begin suing the manufacturers of cfl light bulbs for improper handling of the mercury that is contained in cfl bulbs. On top of this, we as consumers will be forced to purchase these bulbs and then most likely we will be held accountable for our handling of them. It will be illegal to throw them away and I suspect that eventually we will have to pay to dispose of them. Even more troubling is the threat that the mercury poses to our health when one of these bulbs break.

I have read a number of blog posts and also have listened to podcasts telling me that the church needs to get on board the environmental band wagon. The reasoning is that so many people are concerned about this problem. But just because a large number of people believe that the earth is close to an environmental catastrophe doesn't mean that this is true. It is based upon nonsense and in reality the radical environmental movement is based in humanism, communism and paganist worship of the earth. Many of the proponents believe that the earth would be better off without people. As a Christian, I believe that humans are made in the image of God and we are to steward the earth sure, be we are also to fill the earth and use it to the glory of God.

You can check out more at

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hat Trick

There is something that I have never understood about hockey. When someone scores three or more goals in a single game it is called a hat trick, the same as it is in soccer. In hockey after the third goal is scored people throw their hats on the ice. I would like to know what happens to all those hats. Sometimes there are hundreds of them. While I enjoy sports I can tell you that there is very little chance that I would throw my $25 hat on the ice unless I knew it would come back to me. Where do all the hats go?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Business Meeting

We conducted our annual church business meeting tonight. It lasted about forty minutes. After my friend Wayne had an over three hour meeting last month, I am so thankful that we do things differently. We will have two new members on the church council starting next month. One has never served before so I am looking forward to a new prospective.

Maybe it wasn't a super exciting meeting but after our church has struggled through conflict and some subversive nonsense the last few years it is good to have a tension free meeting. We didn't set any huge goals for the year. We are in a stage where the focus is just taking the next step. We have the next few steps mapped out and will take each in turn. After years of talking about serving our community some concrete minstry ideas are becoming reality. I talked about taking a step of faith (1 Samuel 14) like Jonathan did with the attitude that "perhaps the Lord" will step in and do something amazing. I challenged each person to be either a Jonathan or an armor bearer this year. I think our church is now maturing to a place of increasing fruifulness. It will be interesting to see what God does through His people here in Bethany this year.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

Rebekah and I were able to get away alone last week so we don't have elaborate plans for V-day. I bought a Willow Tree item which she collects. This morning I took my beautiful daughter out for breakfast at IHOP. She picked the place and we had a good time. It is becoming a tradition of ours to go out for breakfast on Valentine's. We went to buy a present for her mama and then we went to Target to get something for her brothers. I would buy her the world if I could afford to but since I can't I will spend something even more valuable on her time. I want her to learn how she should be treated so that when she gets married she doesn't pick some loser who doesn't treat her right.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

IU Integrity

Illinois finally had a good night last night beating Minnesota for the 18 consecutive time. Then I read this morning about Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson who according to NCAA investigators, "failed to deport himself … with the generally recognized high standard of honesty." Given that many of Illinois woes have stemmed from poor shooting and that this years freshmen class was supposed to include Eric Gordon the Big Ten's leading scorer this year I am not surprised at the report and it does little to wash away the disappointment from this season. Gordon of course originally committed to Illinois before switching to Indiana. His original committment caused other shooting guards to go to other schools which hurt Illinois' ability to replace Jamar Smith who is redshirting this year and Rich McBride who graduated.

What this really shows is that integrity and character always surface eventually. Sampson had issues with both while coaching at Oklahoma and I expect that he will likely lose his job at Indiana over these problems. Unfortunately he will likely coach long enough to make a deep run in the NCAA tourney. You can read the whole story here if you would like.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I hear some pastors talk about being bored by conferences and attending this one or that one and not remembering much or being changed much. I however go to very few mainly because our church can usually send me to only one a year. And it really isn't a conference so much as our District Council. But if anyone wants to send me to a conference this one looks awesome and I would love to attend. The Whiteboard Sessions looks intense. It is being put on by Ben Arment whose blog I have followed for quite some time. It is a one day event with top leaders. But each presenter is limited to 30 minutes to share one principle. Sounds like a great event.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Week that was...

Monday was a long day with three doctors appointments. I have on going pain in my back and right shoulder, arm, wrist and hand. There is still no answer there. I have been given a pretty clean bill of health as far as my lungs go. I have no further appointments with the lung doctors!

Tuesday I tried to catch up with homework. I did more Friday. Some wonderful folks purchased a new notebook computer for the church. This will help us in our video and multimedia stuff for services. What an unexpected blessing!

Speaking of unexpected, our good friends surprised us Thursday with tickets to see Illinois play against Indiana in Champaign. They watched our kids for us as well. It was great to be able to go to that game even though the Illini lost again. I was disappointed that so many students chanted profanity at Eric Gordon although I can't blame them too much. He brought it on himself to some extent.

Today I haven't gotten much done because of pain in my back that is shooting down my leg. If it doesn't improve it will be difficult to stand and preach in the morning. I am praying that God will heal me completly as I am tired of being in pain all the time. Looking forward to a great Sunday anyway!

Bloggers go to Uganda

We had a Bishop from Uganda speak at our church last may. We really enjoyed having Pastor Herman with us. In America we don't hear much about the ongoing violence in the northern part of the country. Several prominent bloggers are traveling to this country next week. You can follow them on their blogs.

Ragamuffin Soul in Uganda

Monday, January 21, 2008

How about some Leadership?

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day. What I find interesting and quite frankly sad is that while much progress has been made the current dialogue isn't moving anything forward. Most of the voices that I hear are busy arguing over what Dr. King's dream means today and whether or not they are authentically down for the struggle. The two voices that the media seem to trumpet the loudest (I know this may offend some people but Rev. Sharpton and Mr. Jackson you know who you are) are basically hucksters who have enriched themselves by cashing in on the struggle for equality. Many things strike me when I think of Dr. King. I think of his great eloquence and his courage. But what seems to tower above those right now is his leadership. He was able to build momentum in a fractured movement. Where are the leaders today? Our country doesn't need someone trying to fulfill Dr. King's dream. What we need is someone who can survey the landscape of the black community and dream of what the future could look like. We need leaders who will step up and declare boldly the dream that God has given them.

I feel the same about the Republican presidential primaries. (Yes I am a Republican. I have no trouble saying this even though it may offend some that I am a pastor who states his political opinions.) Everyone is arguing about what Ronald Reagan would do or say. The great argument is whether it is time to redefine conservatism. What we need is someone who will survey the landscape of America and see their own shining city on a hill and then lead us there.

Dr. King and Mr. Reagan are now dead. Where are the next generation of leaders who have a compelling vision and the courage to lead us there?

Friday, January 04, 2008

What's Happening in the New Year?

I thought I would share what's keeping me busy right now in 2008.

Still dealing with injuries from our accident in October. I have developed tendinitis in my right fore arm and wrist from spraining it on impact. Hopefully it will respond to more intense anti inflammatory medicine. Therapy isn't cutting it. Typing is kinda painful too. We are still at the chiropractor three times a week. I am not progressing as fast as he wants. Which may have to do with no exercise as I am dealing with my second sinus infection since October.

Sunday we are doing a core values assessment. Also starting a series called Living out of your core.

It looks like I will be starting work on completing my bachelor's degree on the 15th through Southeastern University.

Basketball practice for Elijah and Noah starts tomorrow morning and will be every Saturday through March.

Maybe I'll talk about the Illini soon. It's been a painful week.