Sunday, March 29, 2009

Making a Move...

Today was one of the hardest days that I've had in a long time. Today we told our church family that we are moving to Indiana this summer. I'm very excited about what the Lord has in store, but it is also very hard to think about leaving so many close friends. God has been so good to us while we have lived here.

How do you tell people that you love that you are leaving? I couldn't find an easy way to do it. We have spent over 13 years with our church family laughing, and singing, and ministering together. And lots of eating too! And every now and then there was some crying and lots of praying. When you go through so many events with your church family, it brings you close.

And yet, when God is calling, we must follow. In my heart I know that staying when God said to move, would only bring difficulty. And I also know that this move isn't just about our family serving in a new place, but also someone new serving here. I know that God has great things in store for Calvary and for our new work, if we all will be faithful in seeking Him.

For now, my wife and I covet your prayers. We have a lot to do in a very short time. In the weeks ahead, I hope to share what we are looking forward to in Indiana, and how we have come to this place in our lives.

But tonight, I just want to say thank you to my Church Family for their incredible support, and love and for the Lord who has allowed us to labor together.

Acts 20:32 And now a I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Whether You Are an Arminian or a Calvinist, This is Still the Most Important Prayer Request in the World.

Two years ago the Lord changed how I pray after we studied the Lord's prayer at Church. Every prayer ultimately should end with the goal of Hallowing the Father's name.

Read Piper's take.

Rested and Refreshed

How often do you take a break?

Exodus 31:17 It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’”

You've heard it often - "Even God has to take a break once in a while."

We are built to work and to rest and we need to be about both of these things. I've neglected the latter at times, and it usually comes back to get me.

A friend sent me a book by Wayne Cordeiro entitled Leading On Empty. I've been a little "extra" stressed lately, but I don't think I'm near to the point of stress that is displayed in some of the stories in this book. And yet, I've found some preventive things in this book that I think will be a huge help in ministry. So if your feeling a little stressed, here's some things to consider:

1. Solitude is a healthy and prescriptive discipline; Isolation is a symptom of emotional depletion.

Intentionally getting away to spend time with God and to renew and refresh your soul is a great thing. Escaping from cares and worries by hiding or running away is a sign that you are heading for depression. What are you seeking solitude or isolation?

2. Draining and Refilling.

What drains you? What fills you?

Pastor Cordeiro gives examples of both in his ministry. For him excessive counseling was an example of something that drains, while dinners with his wife was an example of something that fills.

Over-empathizing has been draining me a lot these days. Listening to and playing music is something that refills me. We all will be drained, and we all need to be refilled. If you are not refilling, eventually your engine will stop. What can you do this week to refill?

3. Concerns and Personal Responsibility
"When we mis-define concerns as personal responsibilities, it will eventually confuse us and diffuse our energies"

Pastor Wayne shares these concerns: A Neighbor's messy yard, a teacher's inability to keep a student's attention, what we think others feel about us. These things are concerns, not personal responsibilities. So what do we do with concerns that are becoming worries? We take them to God regularly, until he grants us peace.

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Powerless Cross.

I know it has been a while since my last post. We were working intensely on hosting this year's Illinois State Association Meeting at our church and it's finally over.

During Dr. Garnett Reid's message on Saturday, one verse that he referenced struck right at my heart. This same verse was also in my devotions for yesterday.

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

There are two things that stick out to me from reading this verse.

1. I don't have to save, baptize or convert. That's not my job. My job is to witness, to preach and to herald. I don't need to feel guilty about not converting someone or saving someone. I must preach the gospel.

2. I can empty the cross of its power. This is a scary verse to me. Somewhere along the way words can become "eloquent wisdom." Paul didn't have a projector, or a creative team, or Photoshop. But he still feared using an eloquent wisdom when delivering the gospel. He didn't want anything to jeopardize the power of the cross.

Here's my question - When does our preaching cross the line into eloquent wisdom?

How do we promote doing things well without promoting "eloquent wisdom." How do you know if you are rendering the cross powerless?

I'd love your thoughts on this one.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Prayer

My Father I pray that this would be the cry of my heart...

Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Precious Blood

Whenever I hear the words "Precious Blood," I usually think about Jesus. But this verse in Psalm 72 reminds me that our blood is precious too!

13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. 14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.

Lord, help us to value others, even as you value us.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Latest Project

I've been working on a new website for the Illinois State Association of Free Will Baptists. It has been a lot of work, but a lot of fun too.

This has been my first "real" venture with Wordpress, and I must say I'm impressed. Hopefully in the next few weeks, I can put together a series of posts on about the process.

I think I'm going to do my next project in Wordpress. I couldn't believe all of the features that the widgets provide and how easy it is to add pictures. I think that's one of the things that has been lacking in the couple other Content Management Systems that I have tried.

If you have some time, leave some comments on the Introducing post. I'd like to see how the comment feature is going to work.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Going Forward

I've found myself in a few spots like this one recently - knowing that I must go forward, but so unsure of how to get across...

15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

Basically, God is saying "stop crying and start moving."

This is the big leap of faith. It's Noah building the ark, when he hasn't seen rain...It's David against Goliath against all the odds...It's the old saying "Watch out for the first step, it's a doozy." It's the huge leap where faith and obedience meet.

Lord, help me to move forward.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Even God Runs out of Patience Sometimes

Here's a reminder that God does have a limit to His patience...

2 Chronicles 36:15 The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy.

Lord, keep us close to Your grace, and far from Your wrath.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Would You Listen to This Man?

Would you listen to this man?

1. He built places of worship dedicated to false gods
2. He worshiped the stars and the hosts of heaven
3. He desecrated the house of God
4. He burned his sons and offered them as sacrifices
5. He was involved in witchcraft and sorcery.
6. He led others away from God.
7. He killed so many innocent people, their blood filled the city.

His name is Manasseh and and you can find his story in 2 Chronicles 33 and 2 Kings 21.

And by the way, God did listen to him.

2 Chronicles 33:12 And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.

Man, I wish I could have heard that prayer.

Lord, Your grace is truly amazing.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Only God Knows

The ESV translation of Exodus 2:24 caught my eye...

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

We usually use the phrase "only God knows" as way of saying that no one knows what's going to happen. "God knows who will show up today."

But what this passage reminds me is that God DOES know. He knows and cares and has compassion. He heard the cry of His people and He was about to answer in a mighty way.

What's going to happen next in life?

Only God knows.

I'm so glad He does.