Archive for the ‘Meditations’ Category

God was there.

Lake Monroe, IndianaSave me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. (Psalm 69:1-3, NIV)

These words pretty well summarize what David experienced–not the David who penned these words but David Richards, my brother-in-law.

David died last Friday.  He drowned in Lake Monroe, about 60 miles south of Indianapolis.  He was a strong, 33-year-old father of three who was just out to have some fun with his boys, like they had done many times before. Continue reading

SHEPHERDS, DAY ONE: “Step on the grass. Shoot a deer. Dig for oil. NOW!”

 

Dr. John MacArthur, Shepherd's Conference 2009

Dr. John MacArthur, Shepherd's Conference 2009

The first day of the Shepherd’s Conference found me driving in pouring rain up I-5 past a terrible car wreck, through deep puddles of water, and searching in vain for a parking spot on the Grace Community Church’s lot.

 

HA!  A little rain isn’t going to ruin this day!  I found a parking spot along the street a few blocks away, waited for the rain to subside, and walked to the church campus.

How do you describe the buzz of 3500 pastors from around the world all gathering together in one place?  I don’t know.  Electric, maybe?  Everyone was giving off an air of anticipation.  Lots of smiles, hugs, and refreshments all around.  I found a seat on the organ side (for Janz) and waited the beginning of the first keynote. Continue reading

Live from LA! Shepherd’s Conference 2009

shepconfAs I write this, I am sitting in my hotel room in Burbank, California. I am eager to experience the Shepherd’s Conference for the first time. Each night, I will post a recap of the conference that day.

Why am I here? There are myriads of ministry conferences a pastor can attend in the 21st Century. I, however, am not interested in the latest ministry fads, the latest church growth techniques, or the latest superstar speakers.

I am interested in one thing, the passionate, expository preaching and teaching of the Bible. Continue reading

By Faith…

In our search for God’s next ministry location for us, my family is starting to get “faith pains.”  My kids are asking me several times a day, “Dad, did [name of church] call today?”  “What about [name of church]?”  Last night, my wife looked up at me and said “I don’t think I like waiting very much.”  Of course, as the unwavering spiritual leader of the family, I give them all the exhortation they need to continue to trust and not be anxious. [false piety intended]

What I don’t tell them is that Brian gets the “faith pains” too.  Even though the Lord has given us some very positive experiences through this process, the waiting doesn’t get any easier.

Part of the problem is that we are so accustomed to instant gratification.  We live in a society that demands such immediacy.  Particularly in our cities, the “rush hour” is a misnomer; our real problem is a “rush” lifestyle as we scurry from one event to the other.  When we are forced to a standstill, by traffic jams or extreme weather, we get angry.  We call it “road rage”; God calls it sin.

Recently, I had the privilege to visit a rural section of the Midwest.  As I drove through miles and miles of countryside filled with fields of corn and soybeans, I started reflecting on the differences between that culture and the culture in which I currently live.  There is a patience and a calmness in people from “the country” that people from “the city” can learn a great deal from.  Many of the people in this particular area are still involved in farming.  Now there’s an occupation with some history!!  I didn’t know much about the particulars of farming so I asked lots of questions.  Although with the advancement of technology, farming has made incredible strides, it is still a job that requires patience.  Seed can only be planted so quickly.  Corn will only grow so quickly.  Flooding, drought, bugs, and animals can slow and even destroy productivity. 

A city boy would be greatly frustrated.  “Why does it take so long to grow?”  “Why are the work days so long”  “Can’t you make that tractor go faster?”  “You do all this FOR CORN?!”

The farmer will just smile and continue with his work.  You can’t hurry the work of God.  He establishes the timing.  He brings the sun and the rain.  It’s just the way things are supposed to be.

It’s interesting how at different times in our lives certain biblical characters give us needed hope and guidance.  For some going through deep waters, the testimony of Job is significant.  For those needing to be inspired by the huge task ahead, Nehemiah provides a sterling example.  For me, right now, Abraham’s my guy.

Of course, I know the stories of Abraham–have since I was small.  But now, in a sense, I’m walking in his shoes:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8, NKJV)

I could put my name right in there with Abraham.  The Lord is leading.  I am obeying.  I haven’t a clue where I’m going.  And…

I believe God.  I really do.  I firmly believe not only in his all-encompassing knowledge but also in his personalized plan for my life.  I am so excited for what He has for me.

I’m sure there were times when Noah paused from his ark-building to wonder when the rain would fall.  I’m sure Moses looked up to God and wondered how much longer they would wander in a desolate wilderness.  And I’m sure that there were times that Abraham wondered where God was taking him.  I wonder too.

But what marks followers of the one true God is that we continue to trust, we continue to follow, we continue to obey.  It’s called faith.  We don’t have to know the end of the story right now.  We just have to know the One Who has already been there and Who is leading us there step-by-step.

I think I know why I enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the “country.”  It’s because God has called me to be a shepherd.  I can’t wait to meet my next flock!

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!

What Do You Think About This?

I’ve been reading Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts by Harold M. Best.  Speaking of the geography of worship, Best says this:

God in Christ is our eternal dwelling place, yet Christ is one of the stones, the Keystone, in a building made of redeemed stones.  He is both the eternal dwelling place and the chief part of another dwelling place–the Church, whose only life is to dwell in him.  The church is a fellowship of mutually indwelling believers, members of one another.  Finally, each member is a temple, in which Christ comes to dwell as the hope of glory.  Temples within temples within a Temple–mutual indwelling, the surety of which is as fixed as the very being of God and as far removed from forsakenness and desolation as the east is from the west.  How else can futile words deal with this rich truth?

Then, in the next chapter, relating to corporate worship, Best seeks to bring down to earth the seeming mysticism of the previous concept with the following words: Continue reading