Archive for March, 2008

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

I recently saw this video and thought it would be good to share with my readers.  This takes the testimony of Kirk Cameron and couples it with the teaching of Dr. John MacArthur in a clear presentation of the Gospel, the good news, about Jesus Christ.  This is what my life is all about: promoting and preaching this message.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

lily.jpgChristmas is one of my favorite times of the year, not only because I enjoy the holiday music and gift-giving and festive spirit but chiefly because of its reminder of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.  It is one of the most profound times of wonder and worship in my calendar.

However, there is no doubt in my mind that the most wonderful time of the year is what we Christians celebrate this Sunday: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is the highlight of the Christian year.  Without the Lord’s resurrection, there would be no Christianity, at least not true Christianity.  A religion might have come into being following the teachings of a very good, but very dead prophet, Jesus of Nazareth.  But the hope, the confidence, the joy of eternal life only comes from the One who possesses and offers such life.  Of course the New Testament says it best:

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:12-20, NKJV)

There is much more I could say on this, but again Scripture does it far better than I:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5, NKJV)

I often try to remind our congregation as we gather on Sunday mornings that the very reason we meet on Sunday morning is to commemorate the Resurrection.  We should remember and celebrate it each Sunday.  However, the truth of the resurrection should always remind us of another truth: the certainty of His imminent return.

So, just as the amazed disciples stared into the clouds after Jesus ascended into Heaven, we would all do well to pause to look upward this Sunday and every Sunday.  Perhaps this will be the day!  Even so, come Lord Jesus, our RISEN SAVIOR!  We look with love for your appearing!

Waiting…

A man’s heart plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)

Growing up, I always had a plan.  I would become a preacher.  A missionary.  An evangelist.  A secret agent.  Whatever the boy in me thought was the most important, the most exciting–these were my pursuits and dreams.

When I was 14 years old, I lived in Scotland with my parents, who were missionaries.  We took a trip that summer to visit missionary friends in Europe.  My plan became to be a missionary to France.

In college, I was exposed to urban ministry and how God was working in the city.  My plan became to be a church-planter in the great cities of America.

As I grew, the plans became more elaborate and researched.  The determinations became more serious and focused.

I never became a missionary to France.  I never started a church in an inner city.  I never trained to be a secret agent.  My plans were in shambles.  There were times I questioned myself about planning at all.

But along the way, I learned some valuable lessons about life, particularly the life of a follower of Christ.  I learned that WHAT I would do or WHERE I would go was not nearly as important as WHY I would do it and WHOM I would do it for.

As a young man, I had great dreams about what I could do for God.  Everything was about having the biggest and best ministry with the most impact and renown.  And sincerely, my dreams were about what could be done for God, not myself.  But they were my plans.  And I’m not sovereign or omniscient.  Not a bit.

I still make plans.  I believe in setting goals and trying to achieve them.  I want to recognize my strengths and God-given abilities and develop them and use them in the most efficient way possible.  But God changes things–sometimes when I least expect it.  And I’ve learned that’s okay.  In fact, I love to be surprised by God.  He always gives good gifts.

So, here I sit, one week after giving my last update on the latest plans I have: to become a senior pastor.  I have no doubt that God is in this transition in my life.  And though I wait on His perfect will for my life, I am not anxious.  Not at all.  He is showing me that He will direct my paths.  He is eliminating churches from consideration, and bringing new ones into my view.  In fact, I’m even having some initial discussion now with a church that wasn’t even on my radar until this week.

It’s exciting, this living by faith.  I never know what the next day, the next phone call, may bring.  But I know the One who knew about it when He formed me in my mother’s womb.

How can I not rest in His care? 

An Update

There are literally hundreds of churches looking for pastors.  It is really sad.  I had no idea there was such a dearth of church leadership in our country.  Of course, many of these men are retiring about a long tenure of leading their church.  Some, however, are leaving over moral failures.

I have been a bit particular here at the beginning where I send my resume.  I am completely dependent on the Lord’s leading through this process but am also trying to think clearly and practically as well.  I am primarily sending my resume to Baptist or Bible churches that have a philosophy of ministry I identify with.  I am also looking primarily for churches that employ blended worship, a mix of the old and new.  I am looking for churches whose members appear to be actively engaged in ministry, where prayer is prominent, where love is the prevailing spirit.  Obviously, I am not considering churches whose doctrinal statement would conflict with my understanding of Scripture.  I am also not looking for churches embroiled in conflict over matters of opinion like Bible translations, etc.

So far, I have contacted 14 churches directly, stretching from California to Virginia to Florida to Massachusetts.  Of these 14, two are no longer in consideration.  I am praying daily for the leadership and search teams in the remaining 12 churches that God will give clear direction to both of us.  I have also posted my resume on several websites including www.churchjobs.net, www.churchstaffing.com, and www.pastorfinder.com

In this period of waiting on the Lord, I am doing all I can do to be as prepared as possible for my new church family.  I am doing a great deal of reading and reviewing, both in areas of church leadership as well as in general biblical studies.  Of course, I am also striving to be faithful in my current ministry and preparing here for a smooth transition.

I have received literally hundreds of pieces of encouragement, from my church family and from you all around the country.  Thanks for that!  It is both a blessing and an affirmation to us. 

Ten and a half weeks to go!  Keep praying for us!

Who Am I?

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
   the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
   and the son of man that you care for him?
Psalm 8:3-4, ESV

I recently had the opportunity to hear Louie Giglio speak on the subject “How Great Is Our God.”  This was the first time I had ever heard Louie speak in person and I was captivated by the imagery he used and the way he showed Scripture to be both real and relevant.  To meditate on the greatness of God is beyond my comprehension.  It makes me say both “WOW!” and “WOE is me!”  But we do expect a God to be great, don’t we?  Even though the creative power and majesty of God is mind-blowing, it would be a huge letdown to think that our God was not great and mighty.

I recently showed the DVD of Louie’s presentation to our secondary school in chapel.  Many of the students left the room that day in tears.  Despite the wonderful teaching of our speakers in chapel, that’s a bit unusual.  They weren’t crying because they had been exposed to the greatness of God.  They were crying because they were forced to come face-to-face with the reality that the Almighty God, Creator of Stars, really does love them, as insignificant as they are.

And so, I want to start off this brief autobiography in exactly the same way that David did in the Psalm referenced earlier.

1. I am a creation of God, constantly amazed that He loves me and calls me His friend.  I am shocked that He made me in His image–shocked because I am so unlike Him in my sinfulness.  I am daily left speechless because of His daily renewing mercy toward me.  I am tremendously humbled that He put me into the ministry.  I am an avid student of His Word, which gives me life and purpose.  I am dedicated to His worship in all of my life with all of my being.  I am not ashamed to be His son, and I am not ashamed of His Gospel.

2. I am a husband, father, brother, brother-in-law, son, uncle and cousin.  My human family is very important to me.  My parents, through their example, led me to know Christ and want to serve Christ.  My relationship with my sisters gave me invaluable experience into camaraderie and conflict resolution.  My extended family through marriage has demonstrated to me the profound impact that acceptance and “adoption” can have in a person’s life.  My children bring me deep joy and help me understand in a small way the intimate relationship that God desires to have with me.  They also compel me to see the importance of discipleship and responsibility.  My wife is my life partner.  I can’t imagine life without her support, love, and strong sense of family.  She works as hard as I do in every area of life, and even harder in some areas!

3. I am a minister of God.  I say that with no pride but with absolute certainty.  It was God who placed the desire to pastor in my heart.  It was God who gifted me to teach His Word.  It was God who has led in my life to prepare me and sustain me in this calling.  When I stand in a pulpit and speak to people about God, I am confident in the message I am giving.  The message is not mine and I must never make it about me and my opinions.  I speak on His behalf with His words to His people.  It is an awesome privilege.  And then, beyond the pulpit, to serve with like-minded followers of Christ on a daily basis in administration, discipleship, and community-building–there is little as satisfying in life to me.

4. I am a citizen of two worlds.  As a heavenly citizen, I seek to live my life in accordance with the principles of God’s Word.  I follow higher laws than those on earth.  The law of love for my neighbor motivates me to give to those in need, to shine the light of the Gospel in my culture, and to stimulate good works in others.  As an earthly citizen, I obey and submit to my leaders, whom I recognize as God-appointed ministers to me.  I pray for those in charge and seek to build relationships with them that will bring them into the kingdom of God as well.  I oppose laws and ideologies that are contrary to the clear mandates of Scripture.  I pay my taxes!

5. I am a human being.  I love to travel and see the beauty of the world my Father created.  I enjoy communication with others, both in person and through electronic means, including blogging!  I like to appreciate and participate in the musical arts.  I even dabble in the culinary arts!  I enjoy playing games of all kinds, watching great movies, eating Philly cheese steaks, reading a good biography, cuddling with my family, keeping up on the news, learning new technologies, and mastering trivia.

The most important thing to know about me though is that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. He paid the ultimate price with His life on a cross to give me forgiveness and peace.  He rose from the dead to give me eternal life.  He put His Spirit within me to teach me and challenge me in my spiritual walk.  All that I am is because of all that He has done.  I am His.

The Aftermath

Well, I hope I don’t have to go through that again any time soon.

Hearing the announcement come from my pastor’s mouth made everything finally seem real.  I struggled through a few words of love and hope to the congregation, then walked around with watery eyes as person after person expressed love and encouragement to me.  Believe-it-or-not, the hardest people to tell were not the adults–it was the children in junior church.  These were some of my charges; I am as much their pastor as my senior pastor is to our adult church family.  Their sweet, innocent faces, obviously not understanding the whole reality of what I was saying brought a choke to my throat.  I have loved ministering to children in our church the last several years.  We have studied so much of the Word of God together.  Many of them have been saved and baptized in the last year.  I felt like a father saying goodbye to them.

While we do not know right now where God will lead our family, it was encouraging to hear so many of our friends affirm our decision.  They were so kind in their words.  God says that in an abundance of counselors there is safety.  I do have a sense of safety in our decision to pursue a senior pastorate, despite the unknown before us.  Our life of faith is again as active as it should always be.

Now we turn to a period of divided focus: finishing well here and finding our new ministry home.  I’ve put the resumes out and people are reading them.  Now we’ll wait and see what God will do.

Pray for us.

An Announcement

fotolia_4385318_xs.jpgSunday, March 9, 2008, is a new day.  It’s a new day that God has made, causing me to rejoice.  It’s a new day revealing the mercy and faithfulness of God.  It’s a new day for my family.

This Sunday, it will be announced that I am leaving Red Rocks Baptist Church. Continue reading