Wednesday, August 20, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
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
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
Friday, May 02, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
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
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
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
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.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
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
Thursday, April 10, 2008
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
Alright, I'm off my soap box for now.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
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
Saturday, April 05, 2008
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
Thursday, April 03, 2008
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
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
Saturday, March 29, 2008
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
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
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
Saturday, March 22, 2008
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
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.
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
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
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."
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
So do need to live rhythmically or do you thrive in spontaneity?
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
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 junkscience.com
Monday, February 25, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
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
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
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
Saturday, February 09, 2008
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!
Monday, January 21, 2008
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
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.