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.