Saturday, December 27, 2014


Praying for a team that is soon to be leaving from our church and headed into a small country for the sole purpose of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. As I sit and meditate on it all, I'm awestruck by the realization that right now, wherever they are, whatever they may be doing, there are people counted in the elect of God. Unbeknownst to any one of them is a stirring deep in their soul of the spirit of a lost sheep, longing to hear the call of it's shepherd. They are, likely, fully unaware of miraculous and powerful workings within them as the gardener is tilling and preparing soil for the sowing of seed. These people are just going about their day, oblivious to an intersection and intercession occurring in their midst. No matter who or where they are, physically or spiritually, God is readying them.

In the fullness of His timing and through the work of His immense grace... working through the surrendered and obedient lives of those who are going, the shepherd will call, the seeds will be sown upon the good soil, and light will be brought forth into the darkness. Those who are of God's elect, your spirit will hear the voice of your Shepherd, and you will recognize His voice, and follow Him. Your garden will be perfectly prepped and will receive the seed of the gospel, it will take root, and bear lasting, life-altering fruit, and that light will shine down a path of righteousness.

The process is so assured that we need to, right now, today welcome our new brothers and sisters. Embrace those who have been missing from our Father's table, and celebrate the return of our prodigals. We celebrate in the Kingdom that is both here and not yet, that is visible yet hidden. We trust in the word of God that all those He calls will come, and all who come will be justified, and all who are justified are glorified. All to the praise of His glory.

Welcome to the family, my soon to be brothers and sisters. I'm praying for you.

Monday, November 10, 2014

love your wife

Had a men's breakfast this week... an incredibly encouraging time to come together as the men of our church and seek to go deep into the Word. I nearly didn't make it, I really wanted to make it, I deeply need deeper relationships with men. I made it there, late, but there. Not only did I make it there, but I also managed to sit down at a table full of an incredible, multi-generational mix of men. Listening to a bit of teaching on spiritual leadership of the home and family worship amid a group so dynamic was refreshing and wonderful.

Through all the scriptural references and real-world application, one verse stuck in my mind, and sent me into focusing on one very important aspect of spiritual leadership: our relationship with our wives.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:25-29)

If we read this to be an instruction on how we, as men, are to love/lead our wives, then we should be following the example of Christ. Jesus washed over His bride with the water of His word that she would be without blemish in His sight. Instead of following the example, our culture of men seems to accept the idea that a man is to expect our bride to simply present herself into our presence spotless, wrinkle-free, and beautiful, completely disconnected from our words or actions. Our expectations of who our wife should be, how they should speak, look, act, continue to grow... and yet we do nothing but expect. And we start to wonder why it is that our wife doesn't quite "do it" for us anymore. We don't feel about her the way we used to... our minds (and eventually our eyes) begin to wander. We find ourselves discontent, and we run from our marriages, blaming our wives for just letting themselves go and not caring about themselves like they should. 

Perhaps one giant leap to be made in the turn-around of the abysmal numbers associated with marital struggles in the church, up to and including divorce, would be for us to start actually start heeding the word of God. Perhaps we, as men of the church, need to step into the ordained office we accepted at the moment we chose to enter into the holy union of two becoming one. God's design for marriage includes an inherent need for the husband to be the spiritual leader of the home, and that starts (and primarily remains) in the husbands role to lead his wife. The example of Christ's love for the church includes an exhortation and instruction of how we are to accomplish this leading. We are to wash over our bride with the water of our words, that she would be without blemish in our sight. We should be building our wives up with our words, thoughts, and actions. We need to be praying for her, and praying that we would love her as we love ourselves. A wife who is made to feel and believe that her husband is purifying his bride, that he would be presenting her to himself will feel the nourishment and adoration their husband has for her. Likewise, the husband who earnestly seeks to wash over, cherish, and fulfill the needs of his wife's soul will consistently find her beauty to be without flaw. We should see the promise in the words to the Ephesians that the effort that is invested by a husband into the leading of his wife will return on that investment, as filling and gratifying as loving himself. 

Men, lead your wives. Pray earnestly for their fulfillment and joy, but do not dare to stop at only those prayers, put feet to them, and actively seek to wash over her. Even on the hard days, especially on the hard days. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


God saves sinners. He takes those He foreknew, predestined, elected, and pursues them with a relentless tenacity, and with steadfast assurance that He will find those of His people who are lost. Upon finding them, He carries them back to  His table, seats them at the feast, places royal robes upon them, and welcomes them back into the family.  Those who have been brought to the table, who have felt the pursuit play out in our lives, are the products of unfathomable grace. We did not choose to be pursued, we did not seek the table earnestly, we did nothing to set ourselves apart from those who God has not yet called to Himself. There is no mark on us that distinguished us from them. We did not choose the time or the place of our conversion. We can't be so arrogant as to think that if it weren't for the divine election of our soul in eternity past that we wouldn't be riding the same wide path that leads to eternal, conscious torment in Hell. Instead, for some reason, God has chosen to manifest His glory in us. He has chosen to display the mighty power He has, the power to take utterly destroyed, broken flesh, and restore the wrecked vessels of our lives so that we might behold the beauty of His mercy, and others might see the reflection of His glory in us. Being regenerated through justification and transformed through sanctification, we are testaments of the will of a living God. God then uses His rebuilt people to speak through and shine through that more of His children will return to Him. We become part of the pursuing reach of God. He compels us to speak love, life, truth. We become the mouthpiece through which the Good News of Jesus is proclaimed. We enter into the same lineage of those who came before us....

We become like Jonah, or like Peter... failures if the highest degree, redeemed by amazing grace, and called to proclaim a message. We speak that message, trusting that (as it always has) the Holy Spirit will empower the words of our heart, and will penetrate the hearts of those who have been granted ears to hear and minds to understand. The Spirit will stir an uneasy understanding in the core of those who truly hear the words spoken to them, and the soul will recognize the calling of its Creator. God the pursuer will call them up out of death and darkness. He will pursue them in their rebellious, wicked, evil ways. He will reclaim His lost treasure. Even when our words fail, and sound like garbled trash, the spirit speaks to the soul of those who can hear it... And we know, and trust, that all those God pursues, He will find, and those He finds, He will call, and all those He calls will come, and all who come will call on His name, and all who call on His name will be saved.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014


In continuing to facilitate a study through David Platt's "Follow Me", I am again reminded that God is Sovereign in all things.
As the new Discipleship season at our church was approaching I was feeling no leading or guidance in which of the studies to take, assuming I would simply default to which ever study my wife decided to take. Until, one evening I received a phone call asking if I could be available to lead this particular study. Never being one to turn down an opportunity to teach, I agreed. Through 2 weeks now, and I am enjoying the words of David Platt, and his teaching.

In this morning's daily study, Platt writes this:
"When we consider what it means to follow Jesus, we typically think in terms of His leading us where He wants us to go. We think of Jesus out in front and us following behind. In our mind's eye there is always a gap between us and Christ- a separation."

Where do we get this imagery from? Are you like me, and when you think of Jesus and His disciples, do you picture a scene similar to Forrest Gump, running across America? A bearded, dirty, white guy out for a run, and a mass of people running behind him? Do you picture yourself in that pack? Are you running hard, trying to catch up to your "Jesus"? Aren't you exhausted?

The words of Jesus, the imagery given by Him, and the writings of the Apostles all point to a radically different picture. They offer us a Jesus calling to Himself all who are weary, heavy laden... offering rest and peace. We find the offer of a yoke that is light, and an abiding love. We find a Jesus who walks with His disciples, who brings them into and through the storms. Ours is not a Christ who runs to the horizon and yells back at us to keep up, He is a rescuing Shepherd that throws the sheep over His shoulders and will carry us home. We are told that we are united to Christ, co-heirs of the promise. Adopted sons of the Father.

To use Platt's example, we are branches of the vine. We are so intimately connected to the life-vein of Christ that we only grow as an outcropping of His life. As a vine branches, it sends itself into action, bringing forth new life as it grows into a branch. As the branch begins to grow, its core remains the vine, and the new life is created. The branch is cared for, pruned, prepared to produce the fruit for which it is intended to produce. The connection is intimate, the life is no longer the pursuit of a branch looking for a vine, it is a vine that has sprung to life in a branch.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


It has been a rough season.

That phrase, and the many arrangements of it, have been commonplace in conversations around this house lately. Work-hours have been plentiful, and work-tasks have been stressful, time at home has been minimal, and filled with schoolwork. Money has been tight, though needs have been met, wants are amassing. Kids have been growing rapidly, both physically and in feist. Daily battles have been waged against the strong-willed defiance of a son... and while I appreciate the strength he displays, I don't appreciate the tears of my wife as she is often left to fight him alone. The season swirls on, and the path winds... not knowing how, when, where, or why it moves as it does, I have found myself struggling in resilience, tired, and discontent. I have been actively seeking a change in employment for over a year, and every promising lead has ended with a recalling on my lack of experience, or in an exciting offer accompanying a pay-cut. 

I hit the pillow with a desperately painful thud, and give way to the exhaustion of my soul. I long for days spent with my family, and of life spent among the day-dwelling, spirit-energizing friends God has placed in my life. I miss feeling alive. Then, one day last week, wrestling with these feelings, angry at the season, I finished a study of Romans and moved on to 1 Timothy... I have long loved the letters Paul wrote to Timothy. They have long felt like letter written directly to me. And as I read that morning, I was again convicted by the words of Scripture. This time it was 1 Timothy 1:6-10
  But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot   take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But  those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful  desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of  evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves  with many pangs.

A common passage, and one that I have read over many times... but on this particular morning, lamenting my current job, hours, status, pay-scale, etc... it struck differently. I definitely did not feel as though I was desiring riches, or anything along those lines, but I can easily say that I was not willing to find contentment in that which I have. I felt the warning of the text, saying that whereas I might not feel as though I was desiring wealth, I was denying the contentment of a life lived under the grace of Christ, and failing to live under the authority of Jesus in every aspect. I was threatening to find myself in love of money. And therefore, dangling myself over the fires of temptation. I saw myself running headlong back toward the path of ruin and destruction... 
No matter the "godliness" of my efforts in my life, and no matter the "righteousness" of my desires for a new job, and for better hours, and better pay... if I fail to live in contentment, accepting the God would have me here, in my current job, my current season, for whatever purpose He may have for me in the future, then I am opening myself to the temptation of the love of money. And willingly walking in that path risks a craving strong enough to lead some away from the faith, and accepting the piercing promised to those who choose to wander away.

I fell asleep in prayer that morning. But the desires of my heart were called on the carpet. I need to rest in the arms of an all-sufficient Savior. I need to trust that the plans He has for me are ultimately to the praise of His glory. I need to know that He will place me where He needs me to accomplish His will through my life. 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Of older brothers and anguish

Tonight, we had the second week of our home-based discipleship studies. This week we were reviewing the parable of the Prodigal Son. We are all familiar with the story, but most people have never really taken the time to dive into the deep implications of what Jesus is telling the people.

As we were discussing the response of the older brother in the parable, a hypothetical came up: What would this story look like if the older brother would have reacted with the same grace, mercy, and love as the father did when the younger brother returned home?

The thought that ran through my head were the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 9:2-5 "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen."

The anguish of Paul over the desire to see his brothers come to saving knowledge of Christ is such that he would give up his own salvation for them. This is the heart of a believer who has been affected by the unfathomable grace of God through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. The full atonement of Jesus' blood and the imputation of His total righteousness should change our hearts. If the older brother had a regenerated heart within him, his response to the return of his younger brother would have been completely different. I picture a scene where the older brother runs out with his father to embrace the younger. When the father declares to the servants to fetch a robe and ring, the brother would have responded, "Father, if you'll permit me, I will let him have my robe, and my ring. Let him have these that are mine, and sit in my place at your table." He would have then turned to his brother, embraced him, lead him to his seat at the table, and washed the dirt off his feet. He would have been willing to give up everything he had that marked him as a son of this same father, so that his formerly lost brother would be recognized as being back in the sonship.
The father would have turned to his elder son, embraced him, be pleased by the willing heart of his son, and told this son that it was not necessary for him to give up his own sonship for his brother, that there was enough room at the table for them all to sit together. They would have then walked together, into the dining hall, embracing one another, and celebrated the return of a lost brother. All those in attendance would have rejoiced, and the father would have received the glory for the reunion of this family.

We should do the same, as children adopted into the family of our Father, and welcomed to His table. When we see our Father rise up, eyes on the horizon, as His endless pursuit of His lost child continues, when we see Him begin to move toward one who is still far off... we too should rise, and run in the steps of our Father and embrace the returned. Our heart should be one of love, and a love that would sacrifice all we have in order to bring our brother back to the table. Because of the degree to which grace has been lavished upon us, we too should lavish grace of those who approach the table.

Be willing to give up everything for the sake of one... be willing to humble yourself that you would not reject one whom God has called to Himself through Christ.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Advance the line

Life is war

You don't have to believe that for it to be true. Even more so, I suppose I should say that the Christian Life is war. But that isn't really what I mean, being a Christian does not suddenly create a war within our life nearly as much as it just makes us acutely aware of the war that already is existing within our life. Accepting Christ and entering into a relationship with Him doesn't start the war, it just transports us to the front lines of the battle.

Think back to DDay, or (since most of us were not physically present for that particular landing) think back to the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. For most of us, or lives have been spent in the transports, approaching the beach. We know that our lives will be a series of battles, and we are willing to fight in order to live another day in peace. But something begins to change as we approach the shores, the tensions of the war start to grow thick. As Jesus starts to call us to Himself, the hatch begins to drop before us and we are confronted, faster than we ever expected, with the reality of what this war is. As a new Christian, all we know for sure is that we have to move ahead, off of the transport, because to stay there assures our immediate destruction from the guns that are tearing down so many of those around us. So, out of the compulsion to move ahead on this journey, we make a massive leap of faith and enter the beach.

For most us,  the start of our journey of faith looks a lot like this beach landing. All we know is that we need to advance the line, but when we look up, all we see is this massive obstacle in our way, and we see it tearing apart so many people around us. We think that if we can just remove that obstacle, then we can move forward. For some of us there are multiple entrenched guns, battlements on the beachhead that we feel are all that stand between us and victory. These are those massive sins in our lives. This is the mindset that says, if only I could defeat the porn addiction, defeat alcohol, defeat laziness, whatever our particular gun is, if I could just take it out, then the war is won. So, at the compulsion of our spirit, renewed with the call upon us, we advance on the gun. We take the beach...

The problem is, as soon as we  take the beach, we see before us, an entangled web... a root system, supply chains, fortifications, reinforcements, enemy camps, and a seemingly unending sea of relentless death and destruction. Taking the beach wasn't the victory. We are faced with a new (albeit similar problem), stay on the beach, resting in the vacated, vanquished foothold of the enemy, and wait for the forces of our enemy to fall upon us... or, take up our weapon, fall in line, and begin the grueling work of warfare. We must choose what we will do, await our death and destruction, or advance the line at the command of a great general. We never realized that the massive obstacles of the beach would be the easy part of the war. Just like removing those large sins in our life, we have revealed the network of smaller entanglements within our lives that have been feeding those sins. In the end, we know that our only chance of advancing through this life and ultimately claiming our victory is to begin to move forward and put to death each foothold of the enemy that we come across. We know, now, that the path from the beach to our ultimate victory is not a straight-line walk, it is a battlefield. We come to understand that in order to make this march, we will confront the enemy, engage in battle, and we much come to accept that we will likely be wounded, beaten down, at times crushed in these fights, but we will find that we are never truly defeated. We wake up, day after day, and we advance the line.

But how?

In hindsight, history has come to realize that the moment that troops landed on the beaches of DDay, victory in Europe was ensured. Not because it was going to be easy to take the beach, and not because upon taking the beach, the enemy would surrender, but because by taking the beach, we had plugged into the bloodlines of the Axis' beating heart. It was an arterial blow, and the unrelenting advancement was an aneurysm, dissecting its way toward the destruction of evil. The battles were still fiercely fought, and many were wounded, and killed along the way, but the victory was sure. This is the truth in our metaphor as well. As soon as Christ's calling on our life dropped the hatch on our transport, and we entered into the reality of our sins, as soon as we landed on the beach, victory was already assured. The battlements of our massive sins would be defeated, the revelation of the network of the enemies bloodlines would be unfurled, and the advancement of righteousness in our lives was assured. The pursuit of Christlikeness within us is assurance of victory, not assurance of never being in battle, being wounded, scarred, hurt... but assurance that as we continue to put to death the sins that are so deeply rooted in us, Christ will see us through to victory.

The war is won the moment He calls us into battle. But we are not expected to just sit on the beach and await the victory to be delivered to us, we are called to stand, advance the line, and actively pursue the victory that was once for all delivered. When the thrill of taking the beach wavers into the unbelief at the revealed network of sin that is woven throughout the very fabric of our being, and the path seems insurmountable, in that moment, we are called to advance the line, put to death the sins that ensnare us, and begin to sever the supply lines of our enemy.

In Christ, it goes further, to realize that victory was won before the war was declared. Victory would be delivered to all whom Christ would call onto the beach and into the battle. Our Great General has said that all that the Father has given to Him, He would not lose one...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I have a confession to make... I don't really want to be a Christian.

I mean that. Most days, if given a choice of my will, I would not willingly choose to follow Christ. My default mode, my flesh-centered, self-righteousness infested core would choose to remain in active rebellion against my Creator. But here is the kicker... even on those days, I am compelled to continue walking this path, seeking the glory of God in all things, because at war with the default mode is a spirit that is not simply my own. This spirit was placed into me, and the alteration to my hell-bent course of life was set because, even in my rebellious desires, Christ called me out of darkness.

This call did not come because I was actively seeking God. It did not come because I had suddenly stumbled across just the right prayer, at the right time, said with the right conviction of my spirit. It came when I wasn't really worried about much of the things of God. For a long time, I thought the journey began because I had hit a wall and decided to define for sure what I believed about the Bible, Jesus, and God. I believed that in that moment, I stepped into discovering my faith and that through His grace that Christ then called me to Himself and I began to walk down the path into newness of life, and that I had been changed and forgiven. And you know what? it is a nice little picture.

Problem is that it is not quite the right picture. Christ did not call my name and raise me from death because I decided anything. As I have been growing in the understanding of my salvation, I have come to realize that the only reason at all that I sat down that night and decided to define my beliefs was because Christ had already made a call on my life. This subtle, effectual call is what stirred in my soul for the weeks leading up to the moment that I hit the wall.Those months were among the darkest of my life, as I (unknowingly) threw myself into full rebellion mode. Its funny how our old nature recognizes and reacts to the sound of our Savior's voice. When the rebellion finally left me stained, broken, and exhausted... Jesus was still there, His calling me out of sin had not stopped. He (knowing me better than I do) pointed me to Romans. I began to devour the words of Paul in the name of defining what I believed.

As time has passed over the last 10 years of my life since then, Christ has continued to work on me, in me, and through me. This sanctifying work is hard, it hurts, but it is so worth it. But there are still those days when it seems so impossible that my old nature creeps back in, and attempts to call me back. Its the days when it calls the loudest that I find myself wanting to run away from Jesus. But then, the memory of all that Christ has brought me through, and the promises of Scripture that He who began this work in me will bring it to completion... its the knowledge that all whom the Father has given to Christ will be saved... and knowing that none that Christ has called to himself will perish. Its the assurance that that good work was started in my life, apart from my own will, and that despite of the whims of my will, that that good work will be completed in the same way it began, by the free and sovereign grace of God... His unmerited favor and unconditional love compel me to want to live a life worthy of the calling that I have received. Not for my own glory, but that through me God might be glorified and His son magnified, such that no one would doubt His presence in my life.

If you follow Christ, it is not because of anything you have done, or will ever do... it is because His glory shines in the regeneration of totally depraved sinners and the disrobing of the filthy rags of our own righteousness and the great exchange for the royal robes of the righteousness of Christ our Lord and Savior. You follow Christ because, just as He did with the first disciples, Jesus approached you and called out, "follow me". Your relationship with Jesus started on His terms, by His will, and for His glory... and it is sustained it the very same way.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

don't appease the Deep Magic

So, I'm sitting on my couch watching The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe...

In the scene of Aslan's death, we are to find ourselves drawn to the sacrifice of our own righteous king who laid down His life that we might live. Its a powerful, emotional, gut-wrenching scene. But tonight, as I was watching, I was struck by something different that I thought I'd put down in here...

As the White Witch stands over Aslan, after having him bound, shaved, and humiliated, she stands and declares, "Tonight, the Deep Magic will be appeased!" She states this to great cheers of triumph from her minions.

For whatever reason, it has never struck me in any way before, but tonight... it is a clear warning. The desire of the witch is that the absolutes be followed in perfect accordance. It is even her statement to Aslan in the preceding scene, making threats of an overturned Narnia if she is not granted the blood of the traitor Edmund. Her chief end is to uphold the merit of the law, and to threaten a reckoning if the demands of her will are not met. She threatens (and succeeds for many years) to hold Narnia in bondage based on her absolute view of the Deep Magic. This should serve as a fervent warning to us that if all we seek is the righteousness of the Law upheld in our lives, our legalism defies the promises of Christ. If we hold so tight to an absolute that we would threaten to overturn the Kingdom of God should the rules not be kept in perfect order, then we are not the recipients of faith, grace, and mercy that we believe ourselves to be.

Following Aslan's return to life, we find that he can give a much more accurate translation to the Deep Magic. He even goes so far as to say that the White Witch had improperly interpreted the words. We must be willing to look to the one who was there wen the Word was written in order to begin to grasp the fullness of what it says... we can not begin to lean on our own understandings, especially when it comes to the depth of the Law.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

a busy mind

In his book, The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis makes many... and I do mean MANY great points that allow us to give thought to the ways of how demons think, move, act, etc... and he does so with a comic reprieve that allows us to come to a place of understanding the absolute impossibility of anything of Satan overcoming the bride of Christ. If you have never read the book, go... like right now, go... give it a read

At one point in the book we read in a letter from Screwtape, to his nephew Wormword a great look into the truth of our Christian experience...

 “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”

Have you ever found that your worst days, your deepest struggles, or your moments of strongest doubt often occur during moments of inner silence? Maybe I'm strange, but I have a fairly constant inner monologue... and I have found it to be true in my life that as long as I keep my thoughts running, and keep my mind alert to my surroundings, that sin seems to be less likely to creep into the corners of my life. Even more so when I am most in-tune with the inner voice, and tending to it with study of the scripture, listening to sermons, investing in my relationship with Christ. As that relationship grows, my monologue revolves more around the things of God, and my focus is more on seeking His glory in all that I do. It is the moments when I try to shut down or ignore my mind... the moments when I try to quiet things too much, those are the times when I find myself suddenly coasting along the soft, gradual slope of sinful thought. My sinful nature must be held in check, and that requires actively placing into my consciousness, the things of God. When these thoughts are removed from active thought, I default to my simpler nature, and thus the words of Screwtape are proved to be true. It is not the work of Satan to fill our minds with sin... but to block out thoughts of glory. Our great enemy knows that is the path of least resistance.

If the Word of God is living and active, then shouldn't we keep it so in our minds? Don't spend so much time trying to quiet your mind... rather tend to your thoughts, weed out the garden of your mind, nourish the seeds of God's glory. It is much easier to see a snake in the grass when the garden is well tended than when the weeds are high.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I sometimes fear that I am running out of words. Which is unsettling in the scope of how many words I say in a given day... I feel that fear most when I sit down to write. I have written a large part of a couple different posts this evening, just to erase them because I just didn't have the words. 

Words are powerful, and in the hands of different people, their power can be wielded in greatly influential ways. I often get caught up in thinking that my words are just wasteful, being stolen from a voice that could make real change or impact in this world. I fear the reality that I am simply a thief in the night, seeking to prevent the true conveyor of meaningful thought from laying down the true intent of the words I use. Among my greatest fears is to be discovered as a fraud. Not because I am one, but because I fear I am ignorant to being one. I often fret over the words I have used up in my lifetime that were used for little more than manipulation and destruction of those around me. 

I count the times in my life, and the many people in my life that I have hurt with words, and I am grateful for the forgiveness of so many of them. I am immensely more grateful for a God who called me out, who brought me to Him, and who has gifted me with this love of words. I know that He has entrusted the power of words to me, and He has words for me  to put together. I am praying that I would continue to seek being better at treating this gift properly, and that more of my words would be for the purpose of edification, teaching, and out of love. I feel confident that, though my words on this earth are numbered, that when I do finally run out of words, that what is left behind will be a clear message not of pain, manipulation, and deceit, but words of grace, love, and redemption.

Monday, April 14, 2014

humble confidence

Having been confronted lately (many times) with the thoughts of living a life in the power of the Spirit, under the authority of God's sovereign grace, and doing all things for the glory of God, and the contrasting life of living in the strength of the flesh, trying to earn the favor and blessing of God, and seeking to allow God to share in my own glory... one verse keeps coming to mind... "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may received mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

I remember spending a fair amount of time over the last year, wrestling with this particular verse. How the heck am I supposed to feel as though I can confidently approach the throne of God? I am, by nature, a very confident person (nearly to a fault), and I like to believe I carry myself with that confidence in my life, but to approach God in this same way? How does that mesh with the idea of being humble? Aren't I supposed to make myself humble in order to receive grace? But then, Hebrews tells me that I receive  grace when I confidently approach God. This rambling series of questions continues for awhile.

I don't know that I have fully reconciled the issue in my own heart, but I do know that the Bible does not contradict itself, and I know that God is not a God of confusion... so there must be a way in which confidently approaching the throne of grace can be seen as a humble task. So, how do we walk with humble confidence?

It must be done, and can ONLY be hoped to be done, by walking in the Spirit. Living a life that is in step with the Gospel of grace alone, faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. I cannot begin to hope to approach the throne of God with confidence if I spin my wheels trying to earn His favor by performing works of the flesh. If I approach every task before me believing that I must complete them in a certain way, on a certain time line, and with a certain amount of determination, otherwise God will be disappointed in me, upset with me, or deem me unworthy, then how can I ever feel as though I have done enough, or done it well enough, to confidently approach God? At best, I can then approach God with an armload of my own accomplishments, and hold them up, boldly confident saying, "Look at what I have done for you!" In my experience, trying to impress God with your own righteousness does not end with the receiving of mercy, or the finding of grace. So, if trying harder, to work more fervently does grant me plenty of confidence, it still fails in granting me the humility needed to approach the throne of grace.
Instead, I must simply cling to the promises of God. If I am able to begin by humbly admitting that there is nothing within me that will grant me the righteousness necessary to approach God, and that I am fully dependent on the sovereign grace of God, and the redemptive blood of Christ for my salvation, that my hope is placed in nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness, then I can know that the dirty rags of my own, hard-earned righteousness are removed, and the spotless garments of Christ's righteousness is placed around me. Clothed in the royal dress of my God and my Savior, and clinging on to nothing else, I am then filled with a confidence of knowing that I did nothing of myself to earn this right standing, and the confidence of knowing that I must do nothing else to earn God's favor in my life. It is THAT confidence, which is found by first humbling oneself to the need of an all-sufficient Savior, and is rooted in His finished redeeming work, that allows me to then approach the throne of grace, to find not only that grace which surpasses all understanding, and the mercy that is so desperately needed, but also the power through which to walk along in this life by faith.

It is a humble confidence found only by living in the Spirit, and not by works... remembering that it is by grace we have been saved through faith, that it is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I find myself to be in a familiar, if not a likable, place... a place of feeling stunted, slowed, exhausted

Its a place that I spend time in when I find my time has been invested in activities that don't fuel me, edify me, hone me. Some of these activities are necessities in life, things like work or school. But then, even most of those types of things are only draining because I have shut them into a closet that prevents me from engaging with them in a way that glorifies God. I find that when I approach these mundane activities with the attitude of worship, seeking to walk according to Scripture, and doing all things to the glory of God, that my life is lived much more in step with the beat of Christ that pulses within my veins.

A pulse is a funny thing. At work, a pulse is everything. No matter the situation, when things start to go wrong with a patient, the ultimate question starts with "Do they have a pulse?" As long as the answer to that question is yes... then, ultimately, everything is ok. Not ok in the sense that everything is fine, and no further intervention is needed, but ok in the sense that me and my friends aren't about to go full-blown code blue on you. The evidence still points to a problem, you are still heading into a bad way, but your weak, thready, inconsistent pulse means I have time for interventions. Maybe you need fluid, maybe you need drugs, maybe I just need to wake you up, but chances are, if I can identify the root cause of your current downward trend, I can fix your pulse... as long as it is still there. Stalling in any of these actions, or if those actions are ineffective, your pulse will almost certainly disappear. If that happens, can my friends and I get it back? Sometimes... ultimately its a coin flip, you lose your pulse (surrounded by those who are qualified and able to help) and its a 50/50 shot, and that intervention is a violent, torturous process that leaves a person permanently scarred... alive, but changed.

The same is true in our Spiritual life, our walk with Christ and the relationship He has called us into is pulsing through the veins of our soul. The strength of that pulse is maintained best when we are mindful of its state on a regular basis. Even when things seem fine, when life seems to be coasting, and the waters are calm, we might be easily missing the subtle changes of the pulse. My dad is often full of great quips on life, and one that always stuck with me was that "you can only coast downhill"... and I would have to say that here lately, I have been coasting. It has been happening long enough that the symptoms of an altered pulse have started to show up. I missed some of the earliest warnings, the subtle hints, and have arrived at the place described earlier... stunted, exhausted. My pulse is weak. I can rest in the comfort of the promise that the presence of this pulse is enough to know that it will never be lost, it will never stop... but it can get too weak to allow me to function. So, with these findings in my assessment, what interventions need to be taken?

The first thing I try with my patients is waking them up... this is an effective technique to get a small bump in vitals. Usually enough for temporary help. The problem is, it has to be done over and over again, and if the root cause is not found, eventually it will take more than a wake-up to help. These wake-ups are usually nudges found during a sermon, through music, or encouragement from someone. I've been getting these, and they have been working, but their effectiveness is waning.

When the wake-up nudge starts to lessen in efficiency, deeper intervention starts to be required... fluids, medications intended to increase cardiac output, medications to correct chemical imbalance, the spectrum starts minor and quickly deepens into more powerful intervention. For our spiritual pulse, we start with taking in the Living Water, ingesting the Word, spending time investing in our relationship. These are the maintenance tactics, and when the pulse is weakened, it can be a need of increasing the flow. At times, it may be an intensifying in the spiritual disciplines. Changing the routine, the things that have become mundane, refocusing on the importance of seeking the glory in all things. These interventions are generally very effective in strengthening the pulse.

If a pulse continues to weaken through these interventions, there will come a time when an impassioned, fervent attempt must be made by those who are watching over your pulse. These deeply powerful interventions can be very effective in restoring a pulse. They hurt, the scars fade, but never leave, but they are necessary. We hope that we never allow ourselves to coast into this place, ignoring the weakening of our pulse along the way... or we want to believe that we would never find the allure of our own glory so strong as to pull us into this point... but many of us will find ourselves here at some point. For those of us who have been through this level of intervention, we cling to that shred of pulse that was found, and we remain watchful of the early warning signs... we don't ever want to be back here. For those whose pulse cannot be found, we must concede that its likely that the pulse of the Gospel was never present in those veins, and let them go, hoping that life may soon break through the fortress of death.

Myself, having been through the deepest levels of intervention in my past, I am disdainful of these small blips of irregularity in my pulse lately. I am even more upset that the wake-up nudges have started to become less effective. I am hopeful that a preemptive assault will shift focus back into the right path, and place me back in-step with a strong pulse.

Monday, March 24, 2014


"Daddy, 2+2 is 4!" ... "That's right, what about 4+4" ... "Ummm, (counting) 8!?" ... "Yep, 8, so how about 8+8?" ... *silence*... "I don't have enough hands!" ... "Yeah, but I think you can still get it, whats 8+8?" ... "8+8 is 16!"

This was the conversation with my soon-to-be 4 year old on the way home from church yesterday. Talking to her while driving is one of my favorite things. I love listening to her mind work, and her discovering new answers to questions, not to mention her musings on life. She is a very smart little lady, and has managed to learn some basic addition (and even a small touch of subtraction), she can count to 10 in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language, and she is rapidly picking up literacy skills. We, as parents, feel insanely blessed to have her and her brother. He just turned 2 and is equally amazing. Perhaps my favorite thing about watching them learn is that we have made much effort to not push or persuade them into learning something. We try to ensure that we simply give ample opportunity to learn any number of things, making ourselves available and encouraging them in whatever it is they choose. We love to see their interests in different things build. We provide them with the tools they need, and offer help whenever they need it, and the end result seems to be an organic love of learning and a willingness to try new things.

I don't say any of that to make it seem that we have found the hidden secret to successful child-rearing, simply that we have found something that works for our kids. The real moral of this story has to do with a little girl who momentarily felt that she didn't have what she needed in order to complete a task.

Upon running out of fingers to count out 8+8, there was a moment of doubt at her ability to correctly answer the question. In that moment, she had forgotten something that she knows very well... 8+8 is 16. We do this so often with God. We have a problem laid out in front of us, and we count the tangible resources we have... deciding that we are unable to do what has been asked of us. If only we had been gifted more of "x", we would be able to solve "y". We give up, we choose to leave the task undone. Sometimes all we need is a reminder from our Father that we don't need more of "x", the solution to "y" is well within our grasp. For my little lady, its because she has spent time with her parents, practicing addition, and she just knows (and stores the knowledge in her mind) that 8+8 is 16. For our situations in life, seeking God's will in a problem, or His direction for a decision, we can trust that (if) we have hidden God's word in our heart (as we are called to do), that we can draw upon that stored knowledge and trust that we have the solution we seek.

Hint: the ultimate answer to whether or not you should do something, change this direction of your life, or whatever is rooted in the knowledge that the chief end of man is to glorify God. So, whatever it is that you are doing, or whatever change you are choosing to make... can it be done to the glory of God? If so, then go for it... if not, don't! If you have to alter definitions of what it means to glorify God, then chances are that you won't be...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

releasing it to God

I am not one to often be found in a place of uncertainty. I've been blessed with a kind of self-assurance that is difficult to scramble, a (sometimes) quiet confidence that has guided me through the good parts of my life. God placed within me an ability to know, discover, discern, and a desire for action. The times in my life that those abilities align with the Holy Spirit's leadings in my soul have led to moments of great spiritual awareness and direction... not to mention growth. Those are exciting times, and I long for them to be a more abundant occurrence.
That has not been the case lately, I find myself trying to figure out what it is that I am to be doing. I know that my career is not currently what God would have for me to be doing. Though I also know that what God would have me to do would be to glorify Him through whatever I am doing... I can't say that I have been doing that well lately. I have been so focused on finding whatever it is that God is leading me to do next in my professional life that I have been ignoring His glory in my current work...

I interviewed for a position this week. I honestly don't know if God would have me to make this shift or not. In my world of knowing, confidence, and self-assurance, I hate not knowing. I do know that circumstances surrounding my applying, connecting with, and interviewing for this position ensured that they did not have the opportunity to see me at my best. I sent them the wrong resume the first time (I had recently updated it, and sent the old copy), I missed the call from the recruiter and then had trouble using their phone system to leave her a message (leading to an embarrassing number of attempts to call her), when we finally did make contact we set up an interview, upon setting up the interview, I remembered that I signed up for extra shifts at work the night before and night after the interview thus ensuring I would be exhausted at the time of the interview. I then managed to make it to the interview with my hair misbehaving, my eyes red, massive bags and circles, to sit down in front of a panel of 6 people (3 of whom do the job I was currently interviewing for). I attempted to wax poetic about myself, showcase my talents and giftings, and present myself as a great candidate for the job. The problem is, as practiced as I am at keeping my ego fenced in while I am meeting people who don't know me well enough to understand me, when I get tired, that filter malfunctions.

I want to be able to trust that all of those roadblocks served one of two purposes:
1) If they offer me the position after all of that, it'll have to have been a God thing, and I will feel confident that He would have me embark on this next great adventure.

2) If I am not offered the position, I will feel assured that I was chasing after something that was not of God, and each of those stumbles was there to ensure that I would not pursue it further.

Tonight, I find myself struggling as I wait to learn which of these cases is true. I have hymns blasting in my ears, silently offering up worship, trying to release my anxiety to a God that I know and trust to be sovereign over ALL things.

I'm also toying with the idea of opening a coffee house/roaster/pastry shop... if anyone wants to invest in everything I would want/need to do that...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

extended grace

If we count ourselves among those who have been called out, set apart, and free recipients of the sovereign grace of God, then how can we choose to not extend that same grace to all whom we come into contact with in our world? 

I'm thinking over this question tonight, and it worries me to see the people of God, who are so willing to claim, and at times, presume upon the grace of God, and yet who do not show this grace to those in our culture and society who need to experience it. 

I am not speaking to the condoning of sin, but rather to the condemning of people for their sins. We too were yet sinners when Christ died for us, we too were dead in our trespasses apart from saving faith. We too struggled with sins of pride, sexual immorality, greed, and so on, and so on. And it's not like we accomplished anything of ourselves to be pardoned for those sins... we were simply slaves to the shared sins of ALL mankind who have now been called out of that slavery by the singular, powerful, effectual calling of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And as such have been loosed from our shackles of sin to join into the family of God as co-heirs of the glorious riches of Christ, as a father lavishes his son with the inheritance of his wealth. 

As recipients of this grace, and the inherited, imputed righteousness that bears out with all who believe, we know that we have done nothing to earn favor with God. There is nothing that separates us, who have been saved, from those who still sit under the wrath and judgement of a holy God except for His calling us, by name and raising us up from the depths of our sins. And because we are able to see this truth, we need to be able to stand with those who still are enslaved by this broken and fallen world, and share with them the beauty and love of the One true God, and allow His glory to shine through us that through us, He might call their name, regardless of who they are, regardless of the filthiness of their sins, and that the light of the gospel might shine brightly forth in their heart, that they might, under the power of Christ alone, repent of their sin and join with us in the family of God. 

How dare we tread on the cross of Christ to think that we deserve a say in who does or does not receive the opportunity to experience the grace that was given to us. 

I don't pretend to believe that I succeed in this at all either, but I do know that through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit active with the depths of my soul, that each day Christ is interceding on my behalf that I might become more like Himself, and that I may be more able to look beyond a person's sins (that I only recognize because their scars are present in my life, when I gaze upon the mirror of my past) and that because of that, I can extend grace. 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if you claim to be in this family, extend grace...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

small group, big impact

I've been spending a decent amount of my free time lately re-reading through some of my older posts. I think it is interesting to look back at the words that were on my heart a few years ago and to see how God has been working in my life to deepen the understanding and knowledge of His grace. I was sharing a little of my testimony the other evening, and as I was talking, it was the first time in a while that I had stopped to look back over my personal "great awakening". My journey into the Word of God, defining what I believe, and why I believe it started around 10 years ago, and through the ups and downs of life in those years, I can say with great confidence that I am most definitely not the same man now that I was then. Even more so, it threw back into light that it has really been the last 4 years of my life that the foundational bedrock of my beliefs has been solidified and that God has been able to build upon His foundation in my life. As I come to realize the timeline that is apparent in this change, it is impossible for me to miss one important fact:

It was just over 4 years ago that I finished my first nursing degree and was able to finally stop working every weekend, and as such, I was able to plug into a small group community in our church. This small group of men, and the investment that they have made into my growth as a man, aiding me in responding to the call of God in my life, calling me to more diligently seek after His glory, have been immeasurably valuable in my life. I never knew that there was any importance in connecting with my peers for the support, accountability, love, reproof, and edification that comes from small-group community. Our church offers many such groups, and several that exist for married couples, but there is also a class just for men, and one just for women. I love the flexibility in this, allowing each married couple to determine what they need most for their individual growth as well as their marriages. For us, the ability to commune with same-sex only peers has been incredible.

If you aren't involved in this kind of group, or any kind of small-group community, do yourself a favor, seek one out! If you need a place to seek, come check us out at FBC Nixa. Join the community, invest into the community, and watch the grace abound!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

emotional bulimia

I just spent a little bit of time looking at my mom's Facebook page... apparently I felt the need to punch my own heart. I suppose there is no real harm in the activity itself, it allows me to break myself down emotionally and release alot of feeling. I am not one who enjoys crying, or feeling things on a deep level, and so, I sometimes struggle with building up emotions. Not even just bad ones, even some good ones. I have improved, through much work and effort, in putting my emotions more on the surface. My inability to do so began causing any number of problems, usually leading into general grumpiness, shortness, and sometimes hostility towards my wife. Whereas the buildup in often of a multitude of emotions from all across the spectrum, once you mix them all up and fence them in... they always come back out as anger.

The worry now is whether or not I am entering into what I'll call emotional bulimia. I stuff the emotions in, maybe not like I used to, but still more than I should. And then when I start to notice myself getting easily provoked, angry, grumpy, whatever, I force myself into an emotional release... purging myself of this pent-up emotional gunk. I wish I could be someone who more easily flowed through their feelings, its just not how I am best wired. Its clearly something that requires more time, and something that I have probably be neglecting lately.

Throughout His life on this earth, we see evidence of Jesus experiencing the full spectrum of human emotion. And knowing that Christ lived without sin, we can deduce easily that there is no sin found in experiencing, and expressing emotions in a proper way. The biggest take-away I see from a quick review of being Christ-like in dealing with these issues is to deal with an emotion as it reveals itself. Never does it appear that Jesus is repressing a response to whatever He may have been feeling. And by never repressing, He never overreacted. His emotions were always able to be dealt with at face value, never complicated by feelings He had yet to relinquish. Jesus didn't give in to this cycle of emotional bulimia. He simply trusted in the sovereign grace of His Father for all things, thus allowing Him to absorb whatever emotion, discern the appropriate response, and then to act upon that response at the proper time. Its an easy process to write down... yet so hard to put into practice.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

for the love of God

I have spent a fair amount of time, and used quite a bit of online space, to speak to the parallels between the love God has for us and the love we have for our kids. Its a topic that is rich in fundamental, convicting truths that have allowed me to understand (a little better) the way that God loves me. But underscoring any and all of these thoughts along the way has been this nagging that I was missing (or worse, misinterpreting) something very important about God's love for His children. I want to take a few moments this morning to hash this out with some thoughts I have had floating in my head for a long while...

The love I have for my kids is a deeply rooted love. These kids are not simply a couple of awesome individuals whom I get to cherish, teach, learn from, and so on... we are connected in a much deeper way than that. The love that a parent has for their child is chemical, its visceral. There is a deep connection of knowing these little people because they are the fleshed out result of the romanticized thoughts of two people becoming one in the scope of Biblical marriage. For the man, this love calls onto the carpet a deep longing of protection and leading, loving your kids with all that we have. We see the best parts of ourselves intermingled with the best parts of their mother, and we know that if we properly care for this child, that they posses incredible potential. For the mother, it goes one step beyond into the truly visceral knowledge of the child. They have truly shared their flesh, their bodies coexisted in a way that its nearly incomprehensible. The mother has a natural desire that mimics the father's, but it goes well beyond this. This child is a physical part of them.
This beautiful realization of the love of our children depicts the great love God has for us... but does so incompletely. God does feel each of these points, I think, with each of us being made in His image. As His beloved creation, God demonstrates great love for us that do seem to be rooted in the depiction of love. I just don't think that it tells us the whole story. The issue with this type of love... its too automatic. It breaks too easily. If you don't think that't true, take a look around at the neglected, abused, aborted, and unloved children. If we rely on this kind of love alone from our God... we are opening ourselves up to missing out on the fullness of His love, grace, and mercy.

I have wrestled with trying to understand this better, and I have been readily redirected to remembering that God has also adopted us into His family. We are not fully born into the family of God. Though we are created to be in His family, we choose to live in rebellion of our Father and to live outside of the full benefits of this family. So, to reconcile us, God becomes our adoptive father. It is this adoptive love that makes the difference. An adoptive love fits much more completely into the idea of Agape love as a choice of the will to act to the benefit of another regardless of outside factors. I began to think that the love of an adoptive parent was the more true understanding of God's love.
The adoptive parent is unburdened by the chemical, flesh-bound love of a child that is so often failing in our world. It is a love that is based upon the choice to love a child that someone else was unwilling (or unable) to love. Their love is a pure choice of their will to act to the benefit of this child, regardless of who this child is or was. They have pursued this child, waited for this child, prayed for this child, and now receive this child with open arms into an intentional relationship. Its a great picture of a God who pursues the downtrodden, rejected, and broken... the intercession and prayer for those who are heavy-laden... and the calling home of these to a place of peace and rest.
The problem here is that we are speaking only to the pretty side of adoption. We see just as much (and sometimes more) pain, abuse, neglect, and harm done to a child in an adoptive home. The adoptive love is quickly and easily replaced by these other feelings, and it still falls short in helping us to find deeper understanding of God's love.

So, the natural love of a parent/child relationship falls short on its own merits in encompassing God's love... yet so does the adoptive love. Both are flawed views. But, here's the thing I have learned to appreciate most about God over the last couple of years... God is not like me.

In an exercise in gaining insight into God through the study of "The Saving Life of Christ" last year, we examined the attributes of God. The list consisted of things like: love, hate, grace, wrath, just, forgiving, etc. We all recognize that these are aspects of God that we see displayed throughout the Bible, and knowing that God does not contradict Himself, we must accept that He is all of these things. The problem we face is having to come to understand that it is not that God lives within a balance of these things on a spectrum, the way we often think of it. We often think that God just exists in a proper balance between love/hate, wrath/grace, justice/forgiveness... and that He then moves Himself to one end or the other of the spectrum based on the circumstances. We think this, because that often how we exist... we are loving, except when we become hateful, we are gracious, until you earn our wrath. But remember, God is not like you. He exists in the totality of each of these... He exists fully saturated with each, and perfectly so. His love is only perfect because His wrath is as well, grace is only fully gracious in concert with the perfection of His wrath... so on and so forth. So, in light of this, we must also be willing to conclude that God fully loves as not only a natural parent loves the children born of His own flesh, but also as an adoptive father making a willful choice to act to the ultimate benefit of the child He has chosen.

God's love is not simply on a spectrum between the two, it is the fullness of both. You have been created, in His image, place above all other created things, set apart to be His workmanship. He is connected to you viscerally, as a parent is to a child. But, we have traded that birthright, chosen to live outside of that family. So, He pursues us as an adoptive father. Willfully bringing us back into His family, lavishing us with a love that is beyond the chemical automaticity. He is not balancing the two, but expressing the two in the full perfection of God through Christ.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sunday (and Monday) morning conviction- Hebrews 13:17

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
Hebrews 13:17

I love it when God speaks clearly. Yesterday morning, I listened to a sermon preached from the pulpit of FBC Nixa, and delivered by Phil Shuford. He exhorted our congregation in the proper way to receive a pastor, helping us to be prepared for the arrival of our new Lead Pastor. This morning,
I listened to another sermon, this one being preached from the pulpit of FBC Buffalo, and delivered by Tim Haupt. It was a conclusive sermon rounding out the marks of a holy church. It was the final sermon in the 5 year tenure for Tim at Buffalo, as he has been called to be the new Lead Pastor of FBC Nixa. Each of these sermons focused some attention on this valuable verse from Hebrews.

It wasn't like I had never heard this verse before... but, as it was unpacked by each of these men these last couple of days, I was landed with a refreshed burden...

I knew, in all of our searching for a pastor, that we were searching for the man that God had prepared and called to be our shepherd. What I had not spent nearly as much time thinking about was that this man (assuming he would accept the call) would be taking upon himself the responsibility of watching over the souls of our church. I can not even begin to imagine the weight that sits upon a pastor, coming to a new church, and accepting the call to willing take responsibility to give an account for these people. He doesn't know us, he only knows that this is his calling. The shear obedience and love required to willingly shoulder this is astonishing to me. I know myself, and I wouldn't wish the account of my soul upon anyone... let alone the souls of my fellow members.

A couple of thoughts from this... First, a huge thank you to each of the pastors who have willingly shouldered the responsibility to look after the souls of your people. The calling on your life is deeper and more complex than most people will ever appreciate. Second, I need to ensure that I am placing all that I am in the grace of Christ. I need to be fully surrendered to His callings on my own life. Tim has accepted the call to watch over my soul, he deserves my submission to Christ in my life... not because of anything he has done, but because he has submitted to the calling of Christ in his own life as well.

I hope that each of us at FBC Nixa are wiling to fully surrender to the call of Christ, submitting to each of our callings into the work of Christ to advance His kingdom in our community and beyond. I hope we will take seriously the challenge of brother Phil, presented through these words from Hebrews. I am reminded of the last message that he brought to us, we cannot rest on the service we have done in the past, and assume we have done all we have been called to do... we must continue to do the work of ministry to which we are called.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

pastor search: heading into a vote...

Sitting in church this morning, the wind blowing the snow at near-blizzard capacity, and listening to a man boldly, with the full authority of his calling, proclaiming a message of perseverance, integrity, and power, I was humbled and content in looking back over the past 8-9 months.

I do not know, as I sit here on my couch this snowy afternoon, what will happen in just a couple hours from now. Our church will come back together, and soon thereafter a vote will be held, and the decision of our church will be made. I want, with all that I am, to believe that the conviction I have felt in my heart over the past several months is true, that the man who was presented in front of our church today is the man that God has called and set apart to be the pastor of our church. I believe it with every fiber of my being that this man and our church have been uniquely fitted together at this time and in this place to join together and further the glory of Christ and advance His kingdom among our community. And, as I sat this morning to hear this man preach once again, I was taken back to the many resumes we read, the many sermons we listened to, and the several people along the way who have been praying for this day... it was a journey that was fully and completely dependent on the sovereign grace and guidance of God. There were no accidents along the way, only this intentional guidance of a God who loves His people.

I believe it was by this same intentionality that this man was in our church, preaching this morning. Even if, after all of this, we learn that he is not the man that God has called to our church, it was not by accident that he was here this weekend, or that he preached the Word this morning. And if he is the man that God has called, then this morning served as an amazing introduction into an exciting new time in the life of God's church at First Baptist Nixa.

I believe I know what the vote tonight will bring, and I feel strongly that the right decision will be made and that discernment and direction were made clear by each of those who sought God out in prayer... at the same time, I want to find contentment and joy in the outcome of tonight's vote... and I want to be confident that those fruits are in no way contingent upon the outcome. I want them to be rooted in Christ alone. It is Christ whom I serve, and in Him alone do I anchor my peace and my joy.