Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lady GaGa, Sexuality, Christ...

It's no secret that Lady GaGa has made it to the spotlight of our culture. Unfortunately, she's also made it to the spotlight in the eyes of kids and teens, too. Her tunes are edgy and her beats are catchy. She's actually not a bad performance artist. Like so many other "icons", though, she lacks in many areas. Because of her willingness to push so many limits in so many areas she has attracted the attention of so many people. Maybe its her willingness to wear scimpy outfits that attracts young men to her, or maybe it's her provocative song lyrics. Either way, she's won the idolization of testosterone pumping males thus beginning the domino effect. Girls treasure so much the way they are viewed by guys. When a guy adores a scandulous, provocative, bi-sexual pop star young women take notice. Could Lady GaGa's living example be considered trendy? Let's hope not. The last thing needed in this world is another person living completely contrary to God's word while simultaneously being exalted. Her 4 number-1 hits this year are a sad demonstration of the worship she's been granted - the same worship that should belong to Christ. I feel that sexuality and spirituality (particularly Christianity) are very closely linked. Consider sections of scripture like these: 1 Cor 6:18 "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body" and Eph 5:3 "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality". The Bible indeed has much to say concerning sexuality, much more than can be discussed in this discussion. It's sad and sometimes even sick to hear about the life styles lived by people like this. The message they preach is a message filled with unholy principles that needs to be countered. It can be. Our job as Christians isn't condemning anyone whose life or words fail to honor God (mine doesn't always). Instead our job is to educate ourselves, with God's Word, and make ourselves aware of the Truth. We then need to exhaust ourselves with trying to live in that Truth. Of course we don't earn extra credit by living "right", we've already aced the exam through God's Grace. We strive to live Holy in order to honor God and exemplify His ways to everyone, especially those outside the faith. Christ gave Himself on the Cross for everyone, not just us "Christians". If we live loud enough and bold enough His message can overcome.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Be Holy, Because I Am Holy

1 Peter 1:16 is such a small statement, but if I really accepted this statement for what it is, a command, then my life would look contrastingly different. Tonight in our guys campfire group we talked about how disturbingly easy it is to fool ourselves by living halfway in the light. We only expose the part of our lives that we are comfortable letting other people see. This message really hit me between the eyes! Last week the question of the night went something like, "If you knew that every minute of your life would be put on TV for the world to see what would you do different?" Again, the question found its mark directly in the center of my heart! I want badly to be holy, but I feel so very far from it! The awareness of shortcomings in life can sometimes leave me feeling discouraged, but I'm reminded that only through the power of Christ given to me through the Holy Spirit am able to live a life worthy of the calling of Christ. Consider this prayer from Augustine:

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

Augustine realized, like we all must, that we are powerless on our own. We must acknowledge Him and His power! Too often I live oblivious to Him and do things on my own. This only leads to failure after failure. We must strive to mesh our lives with Him. John 15:5 reminds us: "Apart from Me you can do nothing."

Father, thank You for reminding me that I am nothing without you. Thank you for inspiring me through Your Word, my fellow brothers, and those who have preceeded me like Your servant Augustine. Empower me to live a life that reflects my adoption into Your family. Help me to live well. Strip away pride from my life that I would focus on Your plans, Your ways, and Your Love. Breathe in me, act in me, draw my heart, strengthen me, and guard me. Thank You for your neverending compassion and mercy. I love the way You show Your love to me. I love the way You love me. I love You.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Creation VS Evolution: Awesome Video Online!

The debate ensues: Creation, Evolution, Both? People arguing from opposite sides of the fence are educated and well prepared for debate so who do we believe? Do we accept the stance of Christianity blindly without "scientific" evidence or do we reason with logic that the scientific community, with all of its conclusions and evidence, must be right? It's a confusing topic that is long from being settled. In the meantime I suggest that you check out this incredible (and FREE!) video:

It's well worth the time you'll spend watching it as it provides a well-rounded view of the issues at hand from the world's leading experts on the topic.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Grace, The Gospel, and Luther

The Luther Rose. This symbol is commonly found in Lutheran churches. As I've been studying the life of Martin Luther and his contribution to the Church I was introduced to the symbolism behind this image. The Yellow Circle surrounding the blue represents the eternal life of all believers. The blue space was Luther's color for eternity spent in Heaven with The Christ. (Sidenote: Heaven is not so much a place but a reality that we will never be physically absent from the Christ). A Christian, because of their redemption, should live with eternal joy, thus the White Rose. The red Heart shows the new life that a person possesses through Christ. And last, but certainly not least, the black Cross. The Cross in the center, thus showing that is central to the faith. Apart from the Cross, everything else represented would not be possible. The new life, the joy, and eternity in Heaven are all dependent on the Cross. Why is it black? To represent the sin that Christ took upon himself to bring the world to the Father. Christ accepted the curse of the Cross as an eternal act of love for us. He did this so that we would become new, joyous creatures elated to live with Him forever. The centrality of the Gospel is Christ and His supreme act of grace demonstrated on the Cross. It is this same grace that restores all of us. I pray that I will daily live in the grace afforded me through the Cross.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Toilets and Blessings

I just saw this picture on my twitter page from This organization has a simple mission: give safe drinking water to people who need it. The caption that goes along with this picture says, "this toilet was used by slumdwellers in Monrovia, Liberia." It reminds me that I am blessed. I have never had to use a shack positioned on the edge of a pond to relieve myself. My gut says that if you're reading this from the convenience of your home, office, or school using your computer and high speed internet connection that you rarely, if ever, experience conditions like these. We are blessed. Spend time giving God credit for how incredible your life is.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Today as I read Romans I was reminded how marvelous a thing it is to be found in God's grace. It's difficult (if not impossible) to comprehend how God can look upon us with favor, mercy, compassion, love. It is only by GRACE that we can call ourselves sons and daughters of the King. I am thankful that our Father saw fit to reach down into this world and into my life for I know that it is impossible for me to reach Him by any other means. I am thankful that through the Cross God reached to me, a depraved sinner, and saw fit to bring me into a right relationship with Himself. I am thankful that Christ, who was and is God, seeing my desperate need, reached out His arms and completely ended my cursed state. I am thankful that one day Christ will again reach out to me and call me home with Him. Thank You for reaching me.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Personally, there's never enough encouragement. I can always use more, especially from the ones I respect and love. My world can completely change with genuine encouragement. I tend to be my biggest critic. It's commonplace for me to get down on myself and beat myself up over the little shortcomings in life. Often, after trying to live an upright standard of life on my own, I realize the futility of personal effort. While frustrating, this pushes me to the Cross. I must realize that only there will I find the power to be the man God has called me to be. That's good news. He's provided for me. Now if I would live in that realization and forsake living life of my own effort. What's more good news is that He is also an encourager: John 16:7 & 13 read, "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; bu if I go, I will send Him to you...He will guide you into all truth." I desperately need the Encourager and maybe you do, too. What would He say? How would He encourage? Maybe like this:

Dear Servant,

How are you? I can tell that you are frustrated from all of your up’s and down’s. I can see that you are disappointed with yourself and your inconsistency. Be encouraged. Not because it’s okay to be inconsistent, but because it’s all been handled. You’re trying too hard to do things on your own, can’t you see? This life wasn’t meant to be lived in solitude. You are not designed to fight your spiritual battles in isolation. You are designed to follow me. I will lead you, guide you, and show you the way. I am here to give you assistance every step of the way, not just when you think you need it. So please, stop living as though you don’t need me. Stop waking up every morning with a list of do’s and don’ts – life is more than that. I care more about your heart than your actions.

I know it must be difficult to understand. You live in a culture that demands self improvement, self realization, and self centeredness. That’s all the work of the enemy. You must redevelop your entire thought-life in order to gain a better perspective on how to truly be successful. Success is not about triumph, it is about submitting yourself to Me. You need to understand that as long you are the focus of your decisions and actions you will continue staying stuck, or worse. Rather, turn your attention to Me and those around you. It is totally counter-cultural, which may be difficult, but we both know it is the only way.

Will, stop worrying about who you are. You are mine and that is enough. I am not concerned about whether or not you make a name for yourself as a preacher or pastor. I prefer that you focus more on getting to know Me instead of telling others about Me.

Rest assured that you will have trials in this life. You will experience difficult times and rough moments. Don’t loose it because that’s normal. I want more than anything for you to rely on Me to pull you through those brutally harsh experiences. You are prized in my eyes and I promise that I will screen everything that comes your way. If it’s too big for you to handle, I’ll handle it for you. You can trust me.

When temptation raises its head and stares you down remember, I fought the same fight. I experienced the temptation to be lazy, have pride, and lust. I know that you sometimes think there’s no possible way to overcome those things in your life. There is. Or have you forgotten the Cross? Have you forgotten what was accomplished? I set you free to sin no more – live like you know that. I did not die for my sake, it was for you. Carve that into your heart and remember when you feel like giving in that I provided a means for you to honor Me.

I am so happy that you are my son. I remember the party we had up here when the eyes of your heart were opened for the first time! Now, my son, take heart in me as your Father and give me more than you think I am capable of handling. I am always here and I will never forsake you.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Own Screwtape Letter

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to write my own Screwtape Letter. If you are familiar with C.S. Lewis' work The Screwtape Letters then this will ring a bell with you:

My Own Screwtape Letter

My Dear Wormwood,
I commend you for your persistent efforts. Our fellow is showing signs of stubbornness to our attacks, but I trust that through continued pressure he will soon be upon the breaking point, making a decision that will cause shame and separation from his King. Keep in mind that you can not afford to be too aggressive in the measures you choose to take. Instead choose attacks of a more subtle, prolonged nature that will prove most beneficial for seasons to come. Of course, you should always be ready to charge without caution, having studied our victim knowing when he is most vulnerable.

It appears that your increased work of complacency is providing adequate dividends. Our subject is most unaware of the dangers that accompany a tolerating attitude. Through my centuries of experience I have seen many extraordinary men and women crumble with decay as a result of their mediocrity. We know full well, dear Wormwood, their King desires for our patient to experience continued growth and renewal – we must not allow that to happen. Continue your work of whispering in his ear that he has achieved much in the spiritual realm, he will believe it. His satisfaction with current circumstances will allow us to usher in laziness and apathy. We may not possess much influence, if any, over one who is passionate, but much can be done in the life of the complacent.

Similarly, Wormwood, I approve of your crucial timing with the firing of our victim’s lust triggers. You are wise to note that in the company of others our person resists valiantly against our efforts to reacquaint him with his lustful passions. Fortunately for us, few of our Enemies followers truly believe in the power and strength they can harness through sincere fellowship. Therefore be encouraged to persevere in your efforts. When he is alone remind him of the pleasures he will experience through his fantasy world. Coax him down the long, lonely path of selfishness, pleasure, and pride. In the darkness of night he will be most susceptible to your schemes – turn your suggestive whispers to bold commands. You must show some resiliency here, Wormwood, for he will initially put up a bold fight for he knows firsthand how he should behave, but keep in mind the power of perseverance. The longer he is isolated the more prone he is cave in under the pressure.

Lastly, and perhaps of utmost importance when he caves be ready to suffocate with shame. Our fellow is highly prone to wallow in humiliation and guilt. How I desire for all stay in their cages of shame, for there they find no capacity for reconciliation. Howl over our patient and echo words of worthlessness. You know full well the magnitude such words can have over one who has reached their breaking point. Smother out any signs of confession or repentance – we have no hold over the reconciled. Fight with every ounce of energy to defeat our person with a feeling worthlessness. Above all he must never be reminded of the price that was paid for his life, for there he finds the power of humility and grace.

Your affectionate uncle
I would encourage you to write your own version of a Screwtape Letter. It's an eye opening exercise that is designed to help you understand your personal struggles with obedience to Christ. Let me know how it goes!
If you are interested in getting your own copy of The Screwtape Letters then check out this link:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Las Vegas

Earlier today my mom read this and sent it to me. I liked it and thought I would put it up here for everyone else. It's pretty thought provoking.

Splinters in the soul
Remember the "What Happens Here Stays Here" Las Vegas campaign? You're going to be seeing a lot more of it in the near future, according to today's Wall Street Journal. The city has tried in recent years to lure you with promises of affordability in a recession, but no more. Now we're going to be told that we can "enjoy some forbidden fun, or indulge in extreme behavior like conspicuous consumption," according to the Journal.

A few years ago, our family stayed a night in Las Vegas en route to a vacation in California. We'd never seen the city, and wondered what we'd missed. Turns out, Vegas isn't much interested in catering to a Baptist preacher. I don't know anything about "shooting craps" except that it doesn't sound like something they teach at the seminary. I was equally lost watching the other ways people lose money. For a neophyte like me, it was less fun than a monthly deacons' meeting (something I never thought I'd say).

But I am interested in their old/new slogan. The city can promise that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but I'm doubtful. Unless they have invented a way to purge memory banks when we cross the city limits, I'm pretty sure they suffer from the law of unintended consequences like the rest of us.

In Numbers 32, the people of Israel are preparing to cross the Jordan River and take their Promised Land, but some of them want to pitch tents and build cities where they are. Their warriors are willing to help the rest of the army conquer the land, but they intend to settle in their current circumstances. Moses gives them permission, so long as their men fight as promised. But if they don't, "you will be sinning against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out" (v. 23). What he said to them, he said to us.

I have learned the hard way that there is no such thing as secret sin. In four churches I served over 25 years as a pastor, I watched as friends struggled to make peace with their past. Private thoughts and personal transgressions are like splinters in the soul. We can ignore them for a while, but the longer they remain, the more they fester. One of my students at Southwestern Seminary nearly died from a blood infection resulting from an unattended wood splinter in his thumb. I've seen the same thing happen to marriages, families, and ministries. What happens where you are today, won't stay there.

The good news is that our Father in heaven is ready to forgive all we confess and forget all he forgives (Jeremiah 31:34). Where has guilt found you today? Name that sin, repent of it, and ask God to forgive it. When guilt pushes on that splinter again, claim the fact that it is gone and God is gracious. Do this every time guilt returns, until it gives up and you are free. Why not start now?

This is taken directly from Dr. James Denison's

Monday, May 11, 2009

Off the Field Antics

The Dodgers and Giants are teams that don't like each other too much. This point was made rather boldly last night as Dodger Casey Blake thought it necessary to taunt his opposing pitcher, Brian Wilson. Why was this such a big deal? Well partly because this is the biggest Dodgers news since the Manny suspension, but also partly because the nerve that Blake struck with Wilson was deeply emotional.

Brian Wilson has performed a sign with his arms after finishing his work on the mound for a while now, so my sources say. This arm-crossing gesture is done as a tribute to his late father and as a sign of his faith. Well, last night after Casey Blake took one of Wilson's pitches past the outfield wall he also emulated Wilson's gesture - no doubt poking fun at him. Wilson, after the game, was upset and speechless. His emotions were running wild.

Is Wilson justified in being so upset? Is Blake really a bad guy after doing this? This makes me wonder how many times I get my feathers unnecessarily ruffled for a mindless joke. I question whether or not it does me any good to get all worked up over the times when other people don't take me seriously. Is it prideful of me to allow such obscure events to control my attitude and impact my response? I think I've got to overcome these little, obscure things and rise above it. Sure, some words and actions may hurt and sting to the core. But ultimately they should never get close to upsetting us. If this was the case then I think Christ would've had more to say when his accusers hit Him in the face, plucked out His beard, and spit in His eyes. He understood that His faith was far more important than their insensitive actions and, maybe, so should we.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

You Only Live Once

So there's this advertisement not far from my apartment that reads, "You only live once. Make sure it's enough." The product they're trying to sell is Dos Equis. I'm not real sure why that statement is supposed to make me want to buy beer, but it does give me something worthwhile to think about.

When I think about "living enough" many ideas come to mind: Am I actively pursuing my life dreams? Am living without regrets? Am I taking risks? Am I being the husband I promised I'd be? Am I living a life that glorifies Christ? That last question, to me, is by far the most important.

Or maybe let's look at the way Rick Warren puts in his most famous work The Purpose Driven Life: "The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God. It is the reason for everything that exists, including you." With his words in mind the question now becomes, "Am I living to show the the glory God?"

In order for me to accurately show God's glory I would first have to know God. Check. Next, comes the part that is less comfortable. In order for me to show the world how incredible God is I must loose sight of the lame person that I am. As long as my eyes are selfishly fixed on me I'll never see God's glory much less translate it for the world to see. This is a place that few people linger, though we should. We should spend diligent time in the arena wrestling with ourselves if only to destroy our pride and ego's. After that mission is complete (which it never is) can we successfully move forward with honorable duty of making much of the one true King.

How is God glorified? Glad you asked. God is glorified the most in us when we are satisfied the most in Him. At least that's what Piper has to say on the subject. And I like his simplification. The quest now rests with us being supremely satisfied in Him, His love, His works and making Him known to the world. After all, He is the world's most interesting Man/God/Spirit.

Are you living enough?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mom, Dad, and Fishing

With the warming of the weather and cabin fever swelling up inside I keep thinking back to how much I'd love to be at home wetting a hook. This office with its shelves of books becomes less and less appealing as the school year slugs along. Don't get me wrong, I've loved the new experiences and adventures, but there are times when all I can think about is being back in the place where part of me still lives.

Growing up in Georgia was incredible! As a kid, my parents encouraged me to "get out from in front of the TV" and get outside. I often took their advice. Whether it was playing baseball, soccer, football, hunting, exploring or whatever else I just loved being outdoors. One of my favorite things to do growing up was fishing. My parents had a small pond that was semi-secluded where I could get off by myself and cast away the day. Sometime close to the age of 11 they started paying me for doing little chores around the house. At the end of a busy Saturday I'd earn a few bucks and head off for the bait and tackle shop just down the road. After about 5 minutes on my bike I was drooling over the fancy lures that lined both of the aisles - just like I hoped the fish would later drool over them. I typically exhausted my allowance on lures that were the most colorful, biggest, or most expensive, surely they were the best. After tying one on to the end of my line I rarely achieved success. Instead, within 20 minutes I'd be halfway up a tree chasing the $4 spinner bait I had worked all day for. My casting skills were about as good as my lure selection. With maybe 1 or 2 fish I'd proudly walk back home and show off my catch of the day to mom. She always ohh'd and ahhh'd over the little things, making sure I know how proud she was. Dad, on the other hand, was more concerned with making sure I cleaned the slimy fish so they didn't go to waste. With his help we cleaned the fish together while the mosquitos cleaned us. The next day my skin was red and itchy with the poison ivy that covered the same tree guilty of snagging my expensive lures - but mom knew how to take care of that, too. I doubt I'll ever forget those boyhood summers spent around the small pond. And though the fish were never really big enough to boast, my memories of home are never too small to forget.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doeor of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly...who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat."
-Teddy Roosevelt

Christ was an arena man. I believe He understood this way of life long before dear Mr. Roosevelt uttered the above words. Christ was indeed a man of great enthusiasm, great devotion, and He certainly spent Himself in the worthiest of causes. He lived a risky life and put it all on the line. His motivation was of the purest form and His achievement would be the greatest ever in history. His achievement, though, was not His own - He refused for it to be. Instead, this arena man decided to extend His most glorious achievement completely to us. An act of grace for which I am eternally thankful.

May I now embrace life with the exact same attitude He possessed. May I now enter the arena with an unwaivering focus. May I now pursue goals that only He could accomplish through me. May I now risk everything for His name's sake. May I now be filled with the purest motivation. May I now humbly share in the victory Christ has achieved for me and live life to its fullest.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Very Cool Websites

Earlier today I received an email from the seminary that discussed a former student's current ministry to teens. The grad, Tim Kimberly, works with a website called The website is amazing! In only a few minutes of browsing I found discussion forums where literally thousands of people are engaged in spiritually-minded discussion. There are also spotlights on the sight that include things like, bible reading tips, and much more. One of my favorite links is to a website called This website really blew me away. It utilizes googlemap images, connects them with Biblical location references, and even provides a detailed description of what makes the location signigicant from a Biblical viewpoint. I will definitely be using this in upcoming youth discussions! Here are the links to both of these great websites:

Do yourself a favor and check them out!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Break Mission Trip

Ty Pennington probably has my newest favorite dream job. He's the host of Extreme Home Makeover and makes a living changing lives by building homes. Who wouldn't want to do that? I know I would! On our mission trip during spring break we did a mini version of just that. I loved it!

In a town called Dona, TX a family lost their home 2 months ago in a fire. For now the whole family (father, mother, and 6 daughters!) lives in a travel trailor on their property! The trailor is about 20 feet long! That's were we stepped in. In four days we completely framed their new home and boxed in their roof. They should be moving into their new home in about a week. It was amazingly gratifying to spend my time with my church helping folks who really need it. The experience really opened up my eyes.

Our church also led multiple VBS's, soccer clinics, quilting workshops for women, and 2 block parties. It was incredible to see our people unite under the His name and work for His people. When all was said and done it was reported that over 50 people joined the Family! Incredible! I am so thankful to be used by Him and for Him!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Never, Ever Forsaken

At times I am utterly without words. As I gather information about another shooting not far from my home in southern Georiga my eyes swell and the my emotions run wild. What would cause a man to kill his mother, an 18-month old baby, and numerous others? How can people become so violent and relentless?

Michael McLendon killed 11 people (including himself) on Tuesday, March 12.

It confuses me and breaks my heart - partly for the families of the deceased, the community, the friends - and partly for Michael. The investigators have yet to find a motive and doubt that they will. I am no psychologist or personality profiler, but I would wager that Michael McLendon had reached a point of hopelessness. A life without hope will take desperate measures. My last message was in response to the murder of a church pastor, husband, and father who was shot in cold blood while standing in the pulpit of his church of more than 20 years. I am also aware that there has been a school shooting in Germany just this week.

A confused, hopeless boy, Tim Kretschmer, entered his high school armed and prepared for murder. After killing 9 students and 3 teachers he fled killing more civilians on his spree. Finally, just like shooter Michael McLendon, he took his own life. He was 17. Once more I grieve for the school, the community, and the family members affected by this awful event - but also grieve for Tim. How awful he must interpret his life in order to even think of something so breathtaking.

Again, I am not qualified to even hypothesize as to the reasons these two people resorted to such extreme measures. But part of me wants to say that they lived lives with no hope. Some German investigators have claimed that 17-year old Tim was simply taking out his frustrations on women as a result of not having any luck with girls (of course this is not verified). Either way, I feel in my heart that if these fellows possessed the supernatural love and hope of our Savior these events would have been avoided.

I am thankful that regardless of all the evil actions of this world I have hope in my Jesus. I know that if I were to wake one day without my car, my home, my health, my family, my wife, my church, my friends, my country or anything else...I can bank on Him. He will never leave me or forsake me.

I think of Christ word's on the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Many claim that Christ was forsaken by God the Father - I believe that this is perhaps one of the biggest blunders in modern Christian thought. God is omnipresent, omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient, faithful, and true to His word. Just as He told Moses and Joshua that He would never leave or forsake them He tells us (Hebrews 13:5, Joshua 1:5, and Deuteronomy 31:6 & 8). Why would He claim such acts of loyalty only to set a contrary example with His own Son? I don't believe He would. I believe, rather, that Jesus was pointing us back to God's faithfulness when He uttered those words on the Cross. Psalm 22 is an incredible example of what it means to count on God even when it seems that all hope is lost. I am thankful that even when Christ was dying for my sins He realized that His Father "has not hidden His face from Him" and "listened to His cry for help" (Psalm 22:24). And I am thankful that He promises to be there for me.
When the world seems to be falling apart I can count on my God to hold me till the end.
I am never forsaken.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Life: Tough

Reverend Fred Winters sounds like a class-act guy. Winters graduated with his Bachelors from Southwestern Baptist Seminary, his masters from Wheaton College, and his Ph.D from Southern Baptist Seminary. He has pastored his church for over 20 years and also taught at Midwestern Baptist Seminary. Perhaps his greatest milestones in life are his wife and children. To be sure, his church and family loved him.

Earlier today life was very routine, I would imagine, for Reverend Fred Winters and his family. No more. As quick as a gun trigger can be pulled everything changed. Reverend Winters took a shot in the chest leaving his family with a shot in their hearts. Church members and law officers are dumb-founded as to why such hostile actions occured. Nonetheless, for a community, church body, and family life took on a whole new meaning today. Here's a link to the story:

It breaks my heart.

Why does God allow such devastating events to happen in our lives? Why does it always seem that just when we get a grip on things life gets slippery? What goes through the minds of men and women who justify committing such unthinkable crimes against others?

Questions always tend to outnumber answers. There are aspects to this life that don't make sense - things we wish we could change. But no matter. We serve an incredibly sovereign, just, good, and loving Father who always knows what is absolutely best for us. Always.

Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

It is impossible for me to make sense of this incident. I simply can't fathom taking another person's life. There is no way I could approach a family who has experienced an event of this magnitude and to tell them that they just need to "find the good in this" or that "everything will be just fine." But as my pastor says, "Jesus is about more than just the good stuff - the miracles, the blessings, and the eternity in heaven - He's also about the Cross." And as tough as the Cross is, we must find a way to embrace our own in service to our King. Life is tough and I'm not denying that, but I believe with all my heart that even in the painfully difficult moments God is good.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Is it right to have certain rights?

About a week ago my wife and I watched as Hollywood dispersed some of its most coveted awards - Oscars. The film that dominated the night was without doubt "Slumdog Millionaire". I've yet to see the movie. I've yet to see any of the movies, actually, that received nominations. But I did listen to quite an interesting acceptance speech given by the actor who starred in the hit movie "Milk". Sean Penn, who won best actor for playing Harvey Milk, gave me a lot to think about with his well constructed words. To people who previously voted against homosexual marriage Penn said "Sit and reflect...antcipate great shame." He further stated, "We've got to have equal rights for everyone." Watch his speech here:

I am in no way suggesting that people like Sean Penn should carry much weight in our decisions as responsible Christians. But, do people need to be given the ability to decide for themselves whether or not they can marry anyone they choose? Are we denying people their freedom of choice by not allowing them to be homosexually married? Or are we right in determining that because our Bible's condemn homosexual behavior that our government should, too?

It is not illegal for people to sleep around with others before they are married. Our laws do not forbid idol worship, greed, dishonoring the Sabbath, or even disobeying parents. So when do we need to draw the line? I guess I am trying to imagine how Christ feels about the whole issue as it pertains to whether or not this should be an actual law. I feel as though He offers us the ability to make choices in life. Joshua decided in the Old Testament that he and his house would serve the Lord. Judas decided that 30 pieces of silver was a worthy price for betraying his Rabbi. And for centuries humans have been making decisions that affect their lives, our world, and their eternity.

But hear this: I am in full support of God's sovereignty and in support of our freewill - I believe they coexist in delicate balance. If God hadn't chosen me I would never have been able to accept Him. God's ways are much higher than our ways, so for me to say that I completely understand this mystery would be a lie.

That being said, let's go back to Penn's words: "We've got to have equal rights for everyone". Do you think that people need to have this RIGHT? Or should it remain the right of the majority to determine what rights all people should have? The more I think about this the more confused I get.

What do you think?

Friday, February 20, 2009


I had a very interesting coversation over lunch today concerning the topic of discipline in the church setting. I have a suspicion that the church (the term "church" here is being used very broadly to reference all protestant churches in our society) has lost its touch with the need for church discipline. What I mean is that our churches are slap full of members who are not fulfilling their mandates as believers. This could manifest itself in habitual absence from the local assembly, immoral behavior, failure to tithe adequately, or other circumstances. My opinion is that members who demonstrate their unwillingness to fulfill their mandates are wrongly treated by the church leadership. The leadership of the church is responsible for addressing such issues in a biblical manner. When questionable behavior is swept under the rug by the leadership members are sent a very strong message about their lifestyle - live however you please and you will not face any consequences. This message is then passed on to those outside the body of believers. Translation: The Christian church is nothing more than a group of people who call themselves righteous, but live life very much the same way as unChristian people.

Maybe I am taking this too far. Maybe I'm not taking it far enough. What if the reason that so many "Christian" men and women have such difficulty living holy lives is because deep down they know that they will not have to answer to Christian leaders. Paul took this problem very seriously during the era of the early church. He explained very explicity an outlined procedure for how to deal with members with questionable behavior. If the church practiced this procedure more what would the demographics of the typical church look like? Would they be any different? Probably.

I propose that one reason our churches lack the zeal to pursue disciplinary actions when they are deemed necessary is because they realize that the person receiving the discipline will withdraw their membership. And this creates a mountain of problems: the disciplined person maligns the local church, takes his tithe, takes his family, and joins another local body.

On the flip side, however, taking disciplinary action could prove very fruitful. One could hypothesize that members who are taken seriously by their church leaders will also take their church, and hopefully their personal faith, more seriously. Not only so, but also the unchurched population may view the church with more respect.

Or maybe I'm just naive.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Winds Will Blow

There are moments, days, weeks, or possibly even longer periods of time when life has a tendency to get tough. One person has said, "In life we can't determine the direction of the wind - we can only adjust our sails." How true! Life can be marked and measured with the trials and hardships a person encounters. Some have suggested that actually it is the rough times that need to be embraced, not spurned. Case in point: The Holy Spirit led Christ into the wilderness. He purposely led Him into a time of difficulty and testing. After 960 hours (40 days and nights) of intense focus He wasn't merely relieved of His wilderness experience. Instead, the tough got tougher as He was severely blindsided (if God can be such) and battled by the nemesis. And through all of the trials, hardships, tests, and battles God the Father was glorified. Jesus adjusted His sails, so to speak, to ensure that His ship stayed the course. We must do the same. The course is narrow and frought with its share of wild - but what good what a life be if it were only filled with smooth sailings? As another man has said, "Smooth seas don't make skilled sailors." The winds will blow - how will you respond?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Taken, Human Trafficking, and Christ

Last night Claire and I got together with some friends to see the movie Taken. It was a fairly intense movie with plenty of action, which I am a sucker for. But the movie also had a couple of themes that have been turning over in my mind for a while. For starters, the plot has a lot to do with illegal human trafficking. I am becoming more and more aware of this horrendous practice and every time I am exposed to it I can't stop thinking about it. In college I watched a documentary that dealt with illegal sex trafficking of young mothers and their daughters in Middle Eastern Countries. Stories from the rescued are very similar. The mothers and daughters are kidnapped during the day when the husband/father is working. He arrives home to see his family gone - usually never knowing what has happened. Some children, on the other hand, are purposely granted to "employers" who convince the parents that their children will be working honest jobs for decent wages. This, however, turns out to be a lie and the children then enter the underground sex market. It's heartbreaking to mentally trade places with victims like these. The movie deals slightly with these types of issues which is great because it continues to raise awareness about an issue that is growing on a global scale. The other, more positive, theme that I latched on to is the idea of a father pursuing his child at all cost. Liam Neeson portrays the father of the kidnapped victim and, without using too much detail for fear of spoiling a good film, demonstrates certain Christ-like qualities. The concept of a father going to such lengths doing whatever he deems necessary to free his child mirrors rather vividly the model of our Heavenly Father. It was a great reminder for me and I hope that you will see the same Love given the opportunity. The movie struck a nerve in me and I am now interested in learning more about the ruthless act that has become known as human trafficking. Without doubt this a problem that needs to be taken more seriously and more proactively. Dilemmas like these must not be swept under the rug. Instead, the people who truly possess hope should rally together in hopes of putting an ending to such an evil trade. You can learn more here: .

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Summit: Open House

Well, last night our youth group hosted our first Summit: Open House. The reason for this event was to give the "young at heart" a taste of our weekly program. It allowed us to minister to the adults in a pretty fun and creative way. The concept of purposely putting these groups of people together was very intimidating to me, especially given the topic of our discussion. Our students definitely proved themselves to be huge contributers. They brought a certain spice that only they can. The topic of the discussion was basically the idea of youth and mature teaming up to achieve one common goal: Becoming disciples, creating disciples, and glorifying Christ.

The crisis is that we are faced with young boys and girls who are crying out to be taught how to be become Godly men and women. We, as the Church, have dropped the ball and so allowed our youngsters to walk through life with little to no guidance. Thus we have, in John and Stasi Eldredge's words, a world full of un-intiated men and women. These folks are left to figure out life on their own. Mom and Dad have exited the highway many miles ago. Others have determined that they needn't overstep their boundaries. Hey, "The school system can handle it," or "Why not let our government step in," we reason. Unfortunately this mindset may prove to be a major downfall for our youth. Instead we must take a more proactive approach. We must engage.

Joe White, who has been regarded as knowing more about teenagers than anyone in North America, has much to say on this topic. First and foremost, we must realize the power of parents. The roles of the mother and father must be taken with much seriousness and responsibility. They are on the front lines, so to speak, in the battle for creating disciples of youth. When they embrace their God-ordained responsibility families become stronger and youth develop more maturely.

But the local church also has a responsibility. And perhaps this role isn't necessarily as clear as it needs to be. The local church should be pooling its resources to provide families with the knowledge and the ability to develop disciples in the home. When the "church family" takes priority over the family at home then our vision of what's truly important becomes skewed. Rather than parent's realizing their responsibility to develop disciples in the home they forfeit that job to the local church's youth program. This only becomes the job of the church when, sadly enough, children are orphaned and have no other parental figures to show them the way. No, I don't believe the local church was designed to raise kids properly. The local church is far more than that (perhaps a topic for another discussion). By equipping families properly the local church offers a service that will indeed help fulfill its mandates, thus glorifying Christ and making disciples.
Hear my heart on this: I am not attacking family or church. I am only delivering my perspective on a possible cause to the given crisis coupled with a possilbe (and I think highly probable) solution. Whatever it takes, though, my prayer is to see people becoming disciples, creating disciples, and glorifying Christ.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Well, I'm supposed to be studying hard for my Greek class, but I am too interested in this website I just learned about that is on a mission to change the world. The company designs and makes shirts which are sold to raise money. The money then goes to create clean water for people who are without one of life's most essential needs. The coolest thing about this website and company is that is was founded by a guy who is still in high school! That blows me away! He is certainly a dude who is seeing things properly and actively working to make things better. I am definitely impressed. I can't wait to get my shirt and help an amazing cause. Well done Mr. Miller. Check the link on the side to find out more!


Father, I am incredibly thankful. Who am I that I should receive Your miraculous love? Who am I that I should receive Your blessings? I have so much that comes directly from Your loving hand: devoted wife, supportive parents and siblings, encouraging friends, dedicated church family, physical health, and the prayers of your saints. Why should I receive these blessings from You? I have no answer Lord. Only out of the abundance of Your mercy, kindness, compassion, and love. You are so loving, Father. You show us how to live with perfect love because You are perfect love. I am blessed with countless intangibles. Your love is good. Your love is beyond compare. You are God. Thank You for watching over my family. Thank You for meeting our needs. Thank You for peace, joy, and prosperity. Thank You for being patient with my stubborn soul. Thank You for this nation and its leaders. Thank You for medicine and healthcare. Thank You for food, clothing, shelter, and all the extras. Thank You for blessing me with laughter and fun. I have much for which to be thankful.

Lord, I pray for the people in my life who are experiencing turbulent circumstances. I ask that Your Holy Spirit would drench my friend who is struggling with a spiritual crisis. She is regularly bombarded with numerous philosophies of life and I can tell that she wants Truth. I am asking for You to guard her heart against Satan's arrows. Protect her from the influence of her society and worldly friends. Replace her fleshly thoughts with Holy Truth and make her see the Light.

Jesus, please tend to the needs of my friends who are undergoing a family health emergency. Use this time to solidify their family and their faith. Draw them together as one as they have united in Your Name. Guide the thoughts and actions of the medical team as they address the physical needs of their loved one. Give them Your peace and joy - regardless of what may come of this trial . Love them in a way that they can sense Your Spirit.

And Father, please continue to develop me as Your son and servant. I have far to travel in this process, for sure. Let me refuse complacency. God please instruct me on the right ways to honor You and glorify You to this world. I pray that Your message of selfless love would permeate my being and pour out of my life onto all that I encounter - through word and deed. I pray that I would "set myself on fire and burn for the world to see" as Wesley prayed. May Your fame be the concern of my life. Teach me to use the influence and resources I have from You to meet the needs of others in a God-exalting fashion. You are worth my life's devotion. Help me to live in You.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Busy Busy

I can't say enough about how refreshing DNow was for my heart last weekend! Physically though, it was draining! And because of all the energy I put into the planning process I am now a little behind in some other areas - like school. Seminary is probably one of my favorite things right now, but often it can become very overwhelming. No one ever said it would be easy. I am extremely thankful to have this excellent opportunity to be a student of DTS - even in the difficult times. It will be interesting to see how hard of a time I have playing catch up over the next few days. With prayer and discipline I think I can do a decent job, but we'll see. I've been listening to the Hank Murphy Band and to Lecrae today - good stuff. The message presented through their music is phenominal. It's impressive to know that God is using so many different means to spread His gospel. It's a great reminder that my goal shouldn't necessarily be to become a good student, good pastor, or good husband. Rather I need to become a servant of the One who served me in the greatest way possible. All the other responsibilities will become easier when I get my focus established properly.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Disciple Now 2009: GameTime

What an incredible experience for me! I thoroughly enjoyed DNow and I am very thankful for the way I was refreshed spiritually. I am certainly drained physically, but my spirit is encouraged. Planning the retreat was intimidating, to say the least, but all in all I'm thankful for the way everything came together. The church family of the Crossing thoroughly impressed me as I watched them work together with the attitude servant. Everything they did was above and beyond the call of duty. Our guests, Hank and Nathan, were right on. Hank never ceases to hit home with my heart through his ministry of music. His lyrics, talent, and passion combine to create moving music. Nathan was well studied and very relational in his discussions. All of his stories and illustrations brought home his Biblical teaching. I am very thankful for the work God has performed in their lives.