Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yay for Voices of Reason!

Except the part about the earth being here 5.5 billion years, of course. But this is nice to hear for a change:



And a very good explanation on a Christian perspective of gay marriage from Rick Warren:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Love or Long Love?


I read an interesting article on the plane home from New York the other day, that you should check out. Read it here. I know, you may be getting tired of talking about gay marriage, but there is something here I want you to notice.

There is something bigger here than the topic of gay marriage (at least in my mind), that is present both in the article and the video. See if you can spot it. I will come back to it later this week...

Meanwhile, I just had to comment on my trip with Amy to New York this weekend. We had a great time, she was totally surprised, and I'm the husband of the year so the rest of you can stop trying.

As we were walking the streets of Manhattan, I was contemplating how great it was to be able to fulfill a wish that Amy has had for years - to go to New York at Christmas time and see the tree in Rockefeller center. I had looked forward to her response since I bought the tickets over a month ago. I planned the surprise meticulously, trying not to forget any detail that could make it more meaningful for her. Now that we were there, I was loving it.

But what made it even more special was the fact that there were 15 years of memories together walking with us on those streets. There was 15 years of knowledge of what she likes and dislikes, what means the most to her and what she can give or take. Knowledge that a year or even five years of marriage doesn't give you.

New love is exciting and fun, but there was something about the trip that was deeper, more special because of our long love. It's hard to explain. It's hard to give the feeling a name. Part appreciation, part gratitude, part reminiscent, part "make every moment count because we're not promised tomorrow" (something I had no comprehension of 10 years ago). I don't know what to call it, but it was deeeep.

New love gets all the attention, but it's that same love fostered over time that is like a priceless jewel that you have to dig to the middle of the mountain to retrieve. It's a lot of work getting there, and you might be tempted to settle for a lesser jewel along the way, but if you can make it, the reward is exponential.



What about your marriage? What have you done to foster that long love in your own home? What have you done to treasure your spouse(especially you, men - God made your wife to need to feel treasured by you)?

It's really not that hard, once you decide to do it. It doesn't have to be a trip. I just used Amy's likes and dislikes as a springboard to make her feel special. For instance:

--I can deal with a little mess at home, but she likes it clean (no dishes in the sink, floor vacuumed, pillows arranged correctly on the couch, etc.). We used to argue because she felt like she wasn't getting any help and I thought she was being unrealistic about how clean the house should be all the time. Now, when I get home from work, I spend 30 minutes or so swiffering the floor (it's wood), doing the dishes and making the house look like she wants it so that she can walk in and relax instead of feeling like she has to clean. The difference in her response to me has been amazing. So, why didn't I just shut up and do that before? Good question.

--She wants to know that I think about her during the day. I used to say I did, but there was no real proof of that. Now, I try to find ways to let her know. Sometimes I show up at her work with lunch, sometimes it's just a text that says I'm thinking about her. Whatever. You'd be amazed at the power of the words, "I missed you today."

Basically, for Amy, every time I go the extra mile for her I am proving that I love her. Maybe your wife doesn't have those same needs, or maybe she wouldn't feel the same way about those things if you did them. Find out what her "extra mile" is and do whatever you can to fulfill it.

We saw 2 couples get engaged in front of the tree. They cried and everyone applauded- one guy raised his hands in victory when she said yes. It was pretty neat and I'm sure it's something they will never forget, but I couldn't help but wonder if they will make it to appreciate the benefits of a love that lasts.

Don't spend a second of time daydreaming of what it would be like to start over with someone else. YOU be someone else! Change how you relate to and treasure her and become what she has always wanted. You CAN do it, you just may not WANT to or see the NEED to.

Well, I dare you to do it for a month. You just may end up wondering what took you so long.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I didn't see this on the news...

"Texan Michael E. Schwab said that the woman driving the sedan on U.S Route 281 near San Antonio "was not driving like a Christian" and that "God said ... she needed to be taken off the road,” according to the Bexar County Sheriff's Office.

So, Schwab, 52, of Blooming Grove, Texas, rear-ended the car with his pickup truck — at more than 100 mph, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

Both both drivers suffered only minor injuries in the Friday morning accident.

Though Schwab told deputies "God said she wasn't driving right" and "it was Jesus' will for him to punish the car,” he did not describe the other driver's alleged transgressions of the holy rules of the road. Deputies determined the unidentified 35-year-old woman “had done nothing wrong,” according to a news release.

Schwab was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and his bond was set at $50,000."


I love the comments on the Prop 8 post. Keep em coming and next week I will weigh in with my own thoughts (I know, you won't be able to sleep till then).

For now, here is one more thing, just for fun...



And did you see the preview for the next season of "Dancing With the Stars"?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Anybody still out there?

I know I have been lax of late, but the blog has fallen onto the shoulder of my chaotic highway. I am going to try to post more again, mainly because I love the back and forth that goes on in the comments. We need to sharpen each other and be sharpened all the time. So with that, I post this gem of blasphemy. (It might take a minute to load):

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die


Alright, let's hear your defense of christianity the way you would say it to your gay brother (if you had one, of course)...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I...Can't...Resist...Any...Longer.

Okay - I have so far resisted talking about politics. I don't like bringing politics into the church. It's not like God is on the Republicans side - there are plenty of corrupt politicians on both sides of the aisle. Championing anyone from the pulpit seems beneath what the pulpit represents.

With that said, I can't help myself a week out from the election, to have some fun with some thoughts about it. So, I present to you....(the anticipation builds)....

"9 Reasons Why an Obama Presidency Might not be the End of the World"

1. It will force us to be less materialistic. Hey, if he taxes more of our income, there won’t be any money left over for those fancy toys that make us prideful (look what I’ve got!) and take time and money away from Kingdom issues! Thanks, Barry! Of course, it might also keep you from buying extras like, food, water, electricity and medicine – but let’s not be glass half-empty people, okay? Consider this verse:

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
(1 Timothy 6:10 NLT)

In other words, the love of, and the pursuit of money has been many people’s downfall. Let’s face it, many of us have never had to live at the level of “having nothing but the Lord” financially. We obsess over the next pay raise, the better paying job, paying this or that bill off to give ourselves more room in the budget, it really never ends. And it can seriously, sometimes fatally, affect your spiritual life.

What if all that was taken from you? Do you think you would be more devoted to Christ, or less? Would you have more or less stress? What would you do differently with your life? Would you spend more time with your family? Volunteer more? Enter the ministry? (shoot, if you aren’t going to have any money anyway – why not?)

2. We will be able to eliminate one more name off the list of guys who might be the Antichrist.

I have heard a lot of that rumbling lately, and I heard the same thing when Bill Clinton won the presidency. Sometimes we can’t put things to rest like that until we see the person in action. Turns out Bill just didn’t have any character.
The Bible doesn’t mention any countries that are involved in end times events that resemble America, so it’s doubtful that the Antichrist would come from here. Although, I think Barack is campaigning hard for the job.

3. We can finally drop the illusion that America is a Christian nation.

America may have been founded on Christian principles, but that does not make it a Christian nation. The very definition of democracy and freedom means we cannot declare ourselves to hold any religion above any other. Freedom of religion is great for people who want to be free to worship who they choose, but if I’m not mistaken in the Bible they call that idolatry. Can you imagine God saying in the O.T. that the Israelites could worship whichever god suited their fancy because he wanted them to be free? Ahh, no.

Sure, Christians have benefited from freedom of religion, but so have a bunch of false religions. Isn’t any country that allows the worship of false gods doomed to fail?

Barack Obama is not an exception to the American rule. He is exactly what America has become and what every democracy becomes if you give it enough time. One author said it this way:

“There is a moral law that teaches that if men and women are left to the consequences of their own freely chosen course of action, they will go from bad to worse-unless this tendency is reversed by divine grace.”

That has happened to every democracy that has ever existed and it is happening to us. I look around and I don’t see any reason why God would bless us, except maybe our support for Israel. The author goes on:

“So we read these words of doom, “God…gave them up,” “God gave them up,” God gave them over” (Romans 1:24,26,28 KJV)

There are a lot of things you can call America: Land of Opportunity, Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, the Shining City on a hill – but, Christian isn’t one of them. We turned that corner a long time ago.

Okay, that was pretty heavy. On a lighter note…

4. With no money to go anywhere, demand for oil will stay low and so will the gas prices!

“Yeah, mom, I lost my job today because of cutbacks and high capital gains taxes on my employer-but, look how cheap gas is!”

5. It will force us to face our fears.

Many of us are scared of what an ultra liberal will do given the presidency and a democratic congress to go along with him. Hey, maybe having to face this will finally let Amy get over her fear of clowns, and Pastor Keith will get over his fear of short people!

6. It will bring the abortion debate back to the forefront where it belongs.

We haven’t had an eager proponent of abortion in the Whitehouse, probably ever. This will be the first time that the president will be making the case on why you shouldn’t restrict abortion in any case or even save babies who have survived abortion.

He will be signing into law and defending legislation that pushes things that a vast majority of Americans won’t support. In fact, he promised Planned Parenthood that it would be his first order of business. It will bring abortion back into the American conversation in a way that it hasn’t been for a long time.

It seems like America has resigned itself to the reality of abortion. Maybe this will make them take another look at it. I’d like to believe that anyway. Okay, everyone start singing…”When you wish upon a star,”…

7. He might overreach and America will swing back the other direction!

Presidents always seem to have this knack of thinking that, because they won, that gives them a blank check to do whatever they want. If he follows through with all he wants to do, the backlash could be huge which would send most Americans running the other direction.

8. It will guarantee that Alaska will be well run, at least for another 4 years!

And finally...

9. It will drive us to our knees, where we should have been all along.

“If there isn’t a revival in this country of some sort…we’re moving toward a state that would be very much like pagan Rome.” - Stephen F. Olford, Stephen Olford center for Biblical preaching.

The Israelites never seemed to get serious about revival until things got really bad for them. They prayed this during one of those times:

Oh, that You would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in Your presence! As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil, Your coming would make the nations tremble. Then Your enemies would learn the reason for Your fame! When You came down long ago, You did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations. And oh, how the mountains quaked! For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like You, who works for those who wait for Him!
(Isaiah 64:1-4 NLT)

This is how God answered them:
The LORD says, "I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for Me. I said, 'Here I am, here I am!' to a nation that did not call on My name.
(Isaiah 65:1 NLT)

If this is what God is waiting for, let’s get on with the asking, the looking and the calling! If it takes a Barack Obama presidency to make us desperate for it, I say – Bring it on!

Before you start writing angry letters, understand that I don’t want it to happen. I don’t want him to win for all of the same reasons you don’t want him to. But, it may take that to get American Christians to respond.

Have we ever considered the notion that America doesn’t have to survive? (I know that’s heresy). Patriotism is great and all, but it isn't everything. If somewhere down the line, America bites the dust - Christianity will still thrive and grow, don't ya think? Maybe even stronger than it was because persecution will mature it so that it is not lacking anything (think James). I mean, if it makes you feel better, I don't think that's going to happen in the next 4 years, but if he gets a 2nd term, all bets are off. :)

What do you think?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Reminder...

I received a survey from an old student of mine from my first youth ministry asking me to answer some questions about how my ministry has changed over the years. I want to share with you some of what I wrote to him:

Question #2
What do you do more, less or differently.

I read the bible more and church growth books less. I pray more and plan less. It’s not to say that I don’t plan, or I am not interested at all in Church growth, but I have come to the realization that a lot of so called programs to grow your church are just good business principles brought into the church to get more people in the seats and grow the church without needing the Holy Spirit’s involvement.

We coax people into the church thinking that if they are there long enough they will change. In reality, they don’t really change, they just become more religious. They come to church and sing the songs and think they are spiritually ok.

I had to take a hard look at the fruit that was coming out of our church and I realized that a lot of what we were doing, we could do WITHOUT the Holy Spirit’s help. The fruit we were producing was not necessarily evident of God’s power in our midst, it was just the natural outcome after effective outreach and good leadership. But it lacked the kind of power that changes people forever. People were pretty much just better versions of themselves(sometimes not even that), instead of being a new creation.

If you have good programs and your service doesn’t put them to sleep, people will come. Numbers will go up and people will get excited (you hope) about the church. But does that mean God has transformed them? Not usually. Why is that? I believe it’s because it’s the result of our effort and not God’s power.

I said it this way in a recent sermon:

“I need to ask your forgiveness as your pastor. I have put methods and creativity before God. I have depended on my ability to say it right –
I will always be creative and I’ll do anything I can to reach some, but nobody is going to be reached by my or your creativity. God reaches people – and if he is not in it we’ve just created a bunch of false converts who worship themselves and are driven by their own needs and wants and not by what will give God the most glory.”

And then I quoted a sermon by another pastor:

“God removes his hand of blessing and power so we have to resort to all sorts of Madison avenue and Steven Spielberg type gimmicks and idolatries because God’s not doing anything so we have to manufacture something to make it look like something’s going on.”

That hit me right between the eyeballs. That’s exactly what my ministries did for years. I thought I was talented enough to pull it off myself. I would create some great event and then say a 30 second prayer beforehand asking God to bless my brilliance. I had success, but it seemed superficial and not in proportion to the work I was putting in.

I try really hard not to do that anymore. I, and the elders of our church, are meeting twice a month just to seek God. Not for direction – just for Him. Because we know if we have Him and His power displayed in our church, the direction will be apparent and the fruit will be obvious.

So I guess you can say I’ve had a sea change in ministry (that is the correct expression, isn’t it? ) I look at it a lot differently than I used to.


That's a good reminder to me as we head into Sunday. Let's pray that it won't be human ingenuity, but God's power that shows up.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We're Baaaacck!

Hi all!

Sorry about no post last week, but that's just the kind of week that last week was. (How many times can you fit the word week in one sentence? I Win!)

I have something great for you today. As we are all trying to read the Bible for all it's worth, I think you will find this helpful. It is about the study of hermeneutics, which is how we interpret the Bible.

As I have been studying for the "Follow the Leader" series, it has become even more apparent to me how important this is. Because I didn't know the context of the passages and because I didn't know what it meant for them(the people he was speaking to)specifically - I wrongly interpreted the meaning of these texts for years.

It's amazing how knowing context and language peculiarities make difficult passages much more understandable, like the "clear eye" passage in Matthew 6.

Anyway, here is the article. This guy is good to read if you want to explore the rest of his blog as well. He teaches at Asbury Theological Seminary, which a lot of Wesleyans go to.

Have a great week! Don't forget to share your thoughts with the rest of us

Friday, October 3, 2008

For Your Friday



Hope you had a fantastic week!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Another reason (as if you needed one) for not letting your kids watch MTV

Apparantly there is a new show on MTV called Sex...with Mom and Dad, where parents have the sex talk with their kids in front of tv cameras. Here is the story.

And just when I thought the world couldn't get any dumber...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stuff to Ponder

Here is a quote from Wilbur Rees to make you think:

"I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please - not enough to
explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of
warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of him to make
me love a foreigner or pick beets with a migrant worker. I want ecstasy,
not transformation; I want the warmth of a womb, not a new birth. I want
a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I'd like to buy $3 worth of God,
please."

That is a lot different than these words by Charles Spurgeon:

"But I now do from my very soul call upon thy name. Trembling, yet believing, I cast myself wholly upon thee, O Lord. I trust the blood and righteousness of thy dear Son...Lord, save me tonight, for Jesus' sake."

Song of the Week

I remember listening to this song by Delirious after I visited Andrew in the hospital (the guy who overdosed). I was driving home and it hit me how beautiful that name would be to a man so close to death because of his own bad choices.

The whole night seemed to illustrate his situation: It was dark out and it was late so hardly anyone was out on the road. Kind of erie and very lonely. Similarly, he was facing the darkest time of his life, alone in that hospital bed to consider how he had gotten to that place, and what he would say to God if he didn't live through the night. And then the words of the song come through - "Jesus, how sweet the name - the name that saves!

I don't know if Andrew was saved or not. He prayed the prayer, but I haven't seen him since. It will be tragic if he rejects the lifeline that Jesus threw to him that night. I can't imagine being more receptive to God than when we are near death! God had his full attention that night.

Then again, Andrew is not that different from any of us, is he? None of us are that far from death. Knowing how sinful we are, how fragile our lives are, and how fragile the circumstances are in which we live our lives (like the economy!), how sweet that Name should be to us. It should make us tremble and yet leap for joy. Makes it kind of hard to imagine just wanting 3$ worth.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quote of the Week

I really have to start notating who says this stuff. I cut and pasted this without the author's name, but it's too good not to share:

It is, of course, a uniquely Christian emphasis that all blessings are in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are not interested in a teaching or theory or rule of life which may be very good in and of itself, and may even say a lot about God the Father. If it does not include Christ, and make him central, we are not interested; it is not Christianity (page 48).

You'll notice that I thought it was important to remember that it was on page 48. It also, in hindsight, might have been helpful to remember what book I was talking about. Anyway, just another good reminder that it is Christ and him crucified that has to be at the center of all of our thinking and teaching.

Since God in His wisdom saw to it that the world would never know Him through human wisdom, He has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
(1 Corinthians 1:21-25 NLT
)

If we take Christ and him crucified out of the center, we remove the power and the wisdom of God. It occurs to me that applies to even truth that is taught in church. Good biblical principles are great and helpful for our lives, but the real power of a Christian is in Christ crucified. Any teaching without that as the foundation will always lack the life changing power that we are seeking when we read God's Word.

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NASB)


Again, here, the preaching of Jesus crucified is connected to the power of God. In fact, Paul says that if that was all we ever heard, it would be enough! He backs that up in this passage:

As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world's interest in me has also died. It doesn't matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God's peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.
(Galatians 6:14-16 NLT)


It is the most important principle we will ever know as a Christian, and, if we want God's peace and mercy, our whole life should be built around it. And, as Bill Oreilly says - that's the memo.

I mean, what else could we tell this guy....



Maybe if He just thought about it for a minute...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Freezing Tuesday!

Good morning, everyone!

Let me just start by saying my office is colder than Sarah Palin's hometown of Wasilla, Alaska. If you need somewhere to hang raw meat, come on over.

I have a lot of studying to do for Sunday so I can't take a long time here, but I wanted to throw out a couple of thoughts.

One hit me as I was driving down Walnut Ave. last week. A reality dawned on me that I thought might be a broader spiritual principle that applies to others also.

The Count family budget is very, very tight right now. Tighter than it's been in a long time thanks to a couple things. 1. The Pool. (I know you feel reaaallly bad for me right now, don't you?) 2. Amy's change from a salary job, to 100% commission.

As I was driving down Walnut, I was lifting this up to God and praying for Him to supply our needs. Not overly stressed, just relying on Him to get us through - and then it hit me: I couldn't remember the last time I had done that. There hadn't been a need to pray for that because paying our bills hadn't been a problem.

That led me to ask myself a question - Was I really depending upon God when I had more than enough in the same way that I was depending upon Him now? Who was I really trusting in for my daily bread? Was it God or my salary?

In my life, I've found that when I have more than enough I become self-reliant and less God-reliant. The urgency of the need for God's provision isn't there. I hit cruise control and I enjoy the ride. On the other hand, need brings me to my knees and therefore, to God.

It's funny, isn't it, that we try to get to the point where we are comfortable financially and yet that very thing might create distance between us and Him. Is it any wonder that God has to yank everything out from under us from time to time so that we don't forget who we are to depend upon?

And, silly us, as soon as we are knocked down from the top of Sunshine Mountain, we're trying to figure out how to get back up there - even though we might never be as close to Jesus as we were at the bottom.

I consider myself a lot like the rich young ruler. Jesus told him what He should do: Sell everything he had and give it to the poor.* He gave him the opportunity to voluntarily lay it down. Unfortunately, the guy just couldn't do it.

Everyday, each one of us can look around and see ways that we could voluntarily lay it down for Jesus - but the pull of materialism and self-preservation is just too strong. We can't do it. And so God, in His mercy, takes it away from time to time so that we will remember to rely on Him (and probably a host of other reasons).

I have less money right now than I have had in a long time, but ironically, I am more aware of how blessed I am than I was before. Praise God for His superior ways and wisdom!

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:11-13 NLT)


I don't think Paul is asking us to pat him on the back because he was able to be content when he had plenty. It's the fact that even when he had plenty, he knew it was a temporary thing. He knew he would face more times of need and perhaps that is what enabled him to be so spiritually minded and so close to Christ - he was never that far away from needing to totally rely on Jesus just to survive.

The blessing is needing Jesus and Him providing what we need. I wonder if we miss out on that blessing because we never really need anything.

Just a thought...

*incidentally, Jewish scholars don't believe that Jesus was saying that everyone should sell everything and give it to the poor, but he knew it was specifically what the rich young ruler needed to do because of his attachment to his money.

Song of the Week

Just to drive last Sunday's sermon home. I thought about using it in the service, but it seems like we are always short on time.
It's by one of the runner ups from American Idol, either last year, or the year before.
Some people think we could be twins.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A thought before bed

Hey, I just happened to notice that our last post generated 16 comments. That's great! in fact, all of them have done pretty well, except the post on tithing, which had only four.

Interesting....ehh, I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

Maybe there is a solution. There is a lot of talk going on right now about change. Do you need change in your life? Maybe I can help...(be patient and let them load)



And one more:



Ok, no excuses now, right? With the correct change everyone will be tithing from now on. No need to thank me, it's just my job.

I deleted another post!

Wonderful = The sunrise, a rainbow, Bluebonnets in the Spring.

Not wonderful = Getting halfway through a blog post and then deleting it by accident.

Sigh.

I'll try again later.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Good Morning!

Helloooo out there!

Just in case someone is listening in from Christ for the Nations, it was great to see Carmen and Rebecca in service Sunday. They prayed with Amy and I up front and it was greatly appreciated. (or as Wesleyans say - a good time was had by all)

I wanted to give you an insight into what I'm reading right now. I've become a bit of a revival fanatic of late and I went to Amazon.com to see what I could find on the subject. The nice thing about Amazon is that you can buy used books so I took a chance on some three dollar titles to see if I could hit paydirt.

The first book is entitled, "The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever" by Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter. Elmer Towns is a familiar name to me, so I took a chance. The Jury's out so far on the book as a whole (and I always hated giving book reports as a kid anyway), but I took a quote away from the introduction:

"When most people pray for revival, they're probably asking for a wonderful experience at church next Sunday at 11:00 A.M. But revival is more than a Sunday morning experience. When you pray for revival, you're asking God for life-shaking experiences that will cost you plenty.

Revival is agonizing: It so terrorizes you over your sin that you repent deeply. Revival is consuming: It leaves no time for hobbies, for chores around the house, for work, for sleep. Revival wrecks your appointment calender, interrupts TV times, demands your full attention...and wears you out.

Usually when we pray for revival, we're thinking about the bad guys, and we're telling God to "sic 'em" Little do we realize that revival begins with us, the people of God."

That jives with everything I've been learning about true revival. And I'm convinced that it is what has to happen before God will do anything of real significance in our church.

I've been studying for the new sermon series based on the sermon on the mount. It is interesting that the very first thing out of Jesus' mouth is this:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:3 NASB)


The Greek word here for poor means to crouch like a cringing begger. One of the meanings for the word Spirit here means our mental disposition. So, if you put the two words together, the ones who inherit the kingdom of God will be those whose attitude or disposition is that of a cringing beggar. Not in a pathetic way, but in a "I'm terrorized over my sin" kind of way.

The next verse:

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 NASB)


The greek word for mourn means "wail". Also, the word for comforted means, not to soothe, but to "to call near", ie. to invite. So those who wail will be invited to come near to God. He pulls those people closer to Him.

Now, I've always attributed this verse to sadness. If you are going through difficulty, turn to God because he will comfort you. I think we all would say that principle is true, but I don't think it necessarily applies here.

I find it interesting that he doesn't say what the people are wailing about. Wailing is defined in the notes on the verse as "audible grief." These people are clearly struggling, in agony even. Why? There is no context given except the previous verse - Those who are already poor in spirit. Those who are already crouched low because of their recognition of their sin. They not only recognize it, they are despondent over it. How could I have done this to God?

I love the fact that, instead of condemnation, they receive comfort and are drawn near to God. God loves, even rewards, this posture from us! These are the people that will inherit His kingdom! The next verse implies that the humble (the actual word used is mild) will inherit the earth. These verses seem to tie in pretty well together, don't they?

Question: Are will willing to agonize and be terrorized if it means revival will come? I guess the question really is, how bad do we want it? I guess we'll see...

And this is totally off the subject, but wasn't that a killer song at the end of worship Sunday? Wow.

Anyway, have a great week and be sure to share your thoughts with the rest of us.

Friday, August 29, 2008

For What It's Worth...

A couple of different people have sent me this article from Dutch Sheets in response to the revival in Lakeland, Fl.

I have to be honest, that most of the charismatic movement today makes me very nervous. (If you remember, Dutch Sheets is the guy in the "mess us up" video that we have talked about in earlier posts). Admittingly, I have never been a part of it and it is easy to dismiss things that you have never experienced. So, for that reason, I know that I have to be very careful not to judge something that I don't completely understand. My tendancy is going to be skepticism on this branch of Christianity, but then again I'm skeptical of most of modern Christianity anyway - so they shouldn't feel bad. :)

Additionally, I know that I am not the smartest guy in the room. I certainly can be wrong (I mean, hey, anything's possible) and I have to constantly remind myself that I am supposed to be quick to listen and slow to speak so that I don't embarrass myself or the name of Jesus.

Having said that, let me give a couple thoughts. Number one - I really liked what Dutch had to say. I thought his assessment of the charismatic church in general was very good. I appreciate his humble stance and his desire to remain in the center of God's truth. It's hard to disagree with someone who is accepting full responsibility for something. But let me do it anyway(Ha!)...

Overall, I appreciate the letter: content, tone, direction - everything. With one exception. He did not go near far enough. He said he didn't condemn the Lakeland meetings. It's great that he didn't endorse them (although later he says he endorsed some of it), that's going farther than most other Charismatic leaders would have done - but this meltdown didn't happen because mistakes were made by Todd Bentley or any of the people helping him. I believe it was the inevitable result of something that was never, even a little bit, of God in the first place.

Maybe I don't know enough about it to say that. I apologize if I am going too far - but everything I ever saw looked demonic in nature. The uncontrollable jerking and shaking, Emma the angel, the violent way He (supposedly) healed people, all the things that Pastor Sheets said made him "uneasy". He thinks God was still moving in spite of these things. It seems like a better explanation that fits the context of what was happening is these were counterfeit signs and wonders that the Bible says Satan can perform. (2 Thess. 2:9) What other conclusion can you come to when Todd Bentley is telling people to "believe in the angel (Emma)" if they want to be healed?

Anyway - that's my two cents.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On The Lighter Side

Many of you have been asking how the pool is going so I thought I would give you the word from our man on the street (or pool). Hey, Owen, how is the progress coming?



It's also precious when the mom realizes what is happening. Sorry, this one is not for the queezy - I didn't know the camera was still on.

Now for the serious stuff...

Welcome, all gluttons of punishment, to another episode of - "A Spiritual Kick in the Teeth!" (cue themesong) Today we are going to hit you where it hurts. I guess, because we are participating in this blog, we all fancy ourselves to be people that are truly seeking God and are attempting to line up our whole life (not just the convenient parts) under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This will be a true test to see if that is really true, because nothing probably gauges it better than watching the direction your money goes. Let me take you back to the quote by David Wilkerson that I used on Sunday:

"We are not ready for the coming of Christ! Is this the Church triumphant? Covetous. divorcing, depressed, worldly-minded, grasping for materialism and success, competitive, lukewarm, adulterous, rich and increased with goods, unaware of spiritual blindness and poverty, pleasure-loving, recreation-minded, consumed with sports, politics, and power - is this the Church Jesus is coming for? Simply coping, filled with fear and anxiety, satisfied only to have good health and happiness?"

If your money could speak (and it does, more than you know)would it say that you are materialistic? Would it say that you are rich towards God or yourself? How much money do you spend on pleasure, recreation (schlitterbahn passes, anyone?) and sports in comparison with how much you give to God? If you had a tight month and you had to choose between eating out and going to the movies or tithing, which one would you choose?

When Amy and I were dating, I loved spending money on her. I couldn't make it fast enough. I would sit in my church office, thinking of creative things to do for her and where to take her and all that. I sacrificed things for myself just so I could see the look on her face when I did something for her. Noone had to tell me to do it, it was my pleasure. I was (and still am!) in love! So, then, why is it like pulling teeth to get Christians (who supposedly love God) to give? Why is it so easy to find an excuse why we "just can't give this month"?

As I continue to think about revival and what brings revival and what keeps it from coming, I can't help but talk about this subject. Because if there is one area that I consistently teach on several times a year, and yet it goes largely unheeded - it's giving. I don't think there is a more taught on, yet ignored, teaching of the Bible. Let me give you a couple things to read:

This is a great article on tithing by a man named Dennis Rupert. Read all of it!

This one is from Keith Drury, one of my college professors. This is not so much on tithing, but on the attitude of giving in general. I love stuff like this, because it isn't just teaching on the subject, but it gives me an example to follow of someone who is trying to do as much as they can to fight materialism in their own life and to give as much as they can to the Kingdom of God.

And while you are reading that,
listen to some music by the Newsboys.

Just a reminder that the mp3's I post on here are legal to download and copy for yourself. Or if you prefer the visual version...go here. Sorry, I couldn't embed the video because embedding was disabled by the person who posted it. It's definitely worth a watch, though.

Happy Reading! Let me know what you think.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Hope You're Hungry

I know I'm early, but you just have, have, have to read this article by Dave Wilkerson. Make sure you read and don't skim- it is awesome. It is exactly what we have been talking about.

A Christless Pentecost

We could take weeks disecting the whole thing. Tell me what you think

Song of the Week

Just a reminder of who He is!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Video of the Month!

Okay, I have to be honest-this just makes me laugh.





Yes, I wasted 15 minutes of my life watching it too and, like you, I feel stupider having viewed it. That being said-I have some questions:

1. Am I the only one in the room that wonders how college age kids don't think this is absolutely retarded?

2. Do you get the feeling that most of those kids were "messed up" before they got to church? Maybe, like, in the parking lot with some rolling papers and munchies?

Anyway, I think this can be useful to us. Obviously, we can have a bunch of knee jerk reactions to it, but what is really wrong with it? If you had to explain it to someone, what would you say?

Take your best shot, but stay conversational - don't get preachy. ie: "This is what is wrong with the church today", etc. Really try to explain why we don't believe this is of God. Make sure you don't make fun of how anybody looked (ahem: worship leader), just stick to the facts. Okay? Alright, let's hear it...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's Tuesday!

Good morning, Everyone! Just want to give a shout out to our college peeps who may already be homesick and are looking to this blog to give them a touch of home. Be assured that you are missed, and that your parents are already redecorating your rooms to be used for something else.

Our post today is something for you (and the rest of us)to ponder as you encounter new people, challenges, and worldviews in school. I came across this great post on the web that I want to share with you:

In his book "The Normal Church Life," (An Exposition of the First Epistle of John), P.G. Mathew states, the book of First John deals with four main themes: (1) orthodox doctrine (2) practical personal holiness, (3) the Christian community life of love, and (4) the assurance of Salvation.

This epistle flies in the face of today's secular society because our secular culture hates uncompromising imperatives. Our society has an absolute commitment to moral and philosophical relativism. The surprising thing is that today's churches have become like-minded. Few churches preach orthodox doctrine; even fewer require practical holiness. We hear very little today of sin, repentance, holiness, judgment, or hell. The prevalent view is that mere mental assent to the facts of the gospel constitutes salvation, so that one can accept Jesus as Savior yet continue to live in sin and still expect to be saved! Any call to obedience is labeled as legalism. "Carnal Christianity" has become the norm.

John writes with authority and clarity: "This is love for God: to obey His commands" (1John 5:1, 3). Unlike the "carnal Christian," the one who is born of God will believe sound doctrine, will live to please God and the brethren, and, thus, will enjoy assurance of salvation.

To say you "know God" (1John 2:4), and have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3), yet not obey Him or grow in holiness, is patent, self-refuting nonsense. If you do not walk in the light of Jesus, you are walking in darkness. If that be the case, you are not living according to the truth (1John 1:6), you are lost because only the truth can set you free (John 8:32), and you have no fellowship at all with God because "in Him is no darkness at all" (1John 1:5). If you claim otherwise, you are deceiving yourself (1John 1:8), and accusing God of being a liar (1John 1:10)... -- Toby Miller


I have no idea who Toby Miller is, but what he says is central to what I have been struggling with for some time. When I started this blog, it was for the purpose of connecting and spurring on those who are hungry and thirsty for deeper fellowship, understanding of the Scriptures, and more of God in general.

I am coming to realize, that is going to be a very small number of people. Most people who call themselves Christians could not pass the test of 1 John. We have sent some of our graduates to Christian colleges like OWU and CFNI (my apologies to any acronyms I have forgotten). My guess would be that 75% of students on those campuses that claim to be Christians, probably aren't.

The worry I have for myself, and for those who just went off to college, and anybody else who rubs shoulders with people who claim to know Christ, is that we will be sucked into the contemporary definition of Christianity that is full of carnality, self-righteousness, selfish ambition and hot air, instead of love for God and His commands, and love for people. Go ahead - read 1st John, and see if most Christians you know would pass the test. See if you pass the test!

We were recently looking for Sunday School teachers for the youth and for two of the kids classes. What do you think the bible's qualification of that leader should be?

Consider Acts chapter 6 when the qualification for SERVING FOOD was to be someone who was full of the Spirit and full of wisdom.

A couple other well known leadership passages are 1 Tim. 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9.

Compare those qualifications to our qualification list most of the time:

1. Breathing (this is important, but not required)

2. Willing (again, this is desired, but not necessarily required for leadership)

3. They must at least claim to be a Christian.

4. Not an axe murderer. (We are pretty insistent on this one)

5. Charismatic. (If they are good with people - hey, they must be leadership material!)

We've accepted our list because the need is great, and there is a shortage of qualified candidates, and the ones who are qualified are already doing too much. Thankfully, we scored great teachers and leaders in all three of our classes - but if they had not come forward, what would we have done? We would have been glad just to have someone "cover" the class. After all, we can't afford to be too picky, right?

The list of people who truly "hunger and thirst after righteousness" is scary small. I'm afraid that we have accepted a "norm" for Christianity that is the opposite of the real definition of Christian.

I've said all that to say this (which I hate when people say that, because if that's the case why didn't you skip all that and get to the this right away?). This is what is on my mind this week:

Uno. We can't compare ourselves to other people who claim to be christians to see how we are doing. The people we are comparing ourselves to may not be Christians. They may go to a Christian college, they may listen to Christian music and they may even be studying for the ministry - that doesn't mean they are saved. To look at others for approval instead of God's Word is to accept compromise as a way of life.

Dos. one of the reasons we are in this predicament is because we are basically ignorant of the Bible. We, who claim to be God's children and even ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ probably couldn't quote 10 verses of the Bible if our life depended on it(The 10 commandments and Jesus wept don't count). I used to be an Elvis fan (some would say freak). I could tell you all of his movies and when they were released and a multitude of other facts that noone in their right mind should care about. Some of you are that way about a favorite sports team or TV show. Can you name all 12 of Jesus' disciples? I rest my case.

Three. I wish I was more afraid of offending God than I was offending people. We have to start lifting up and holding each other to a higher standard. That's why I started this blog. So we could learn together, sharpen each other, and, if needed, correct each other (in private, of course).

Only a fool despises a parent's discipline; whoever learns from correction is wise.
(Proverbs 15:5 NLT)


Mockers hate to be corrected, so they stay away from the wise.
(Proverbs 15:12 NLT)


A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.
(Proverbs 15:14 NLT)


If these verses are true, why do avoid confrontation like the plague? Why are we terrified to confront someone because of the possible repercussions of suggesting to a brother or sister that what they are doing/thinking is wrong? Could it be because they(we) aren't hungry for knowledge, and they(we) despise discipline and they might avoid us so they don't have to answer for their actions? We know they aren't going to receive it well and so we keep our mouth shut. On either end, that's a sad state of affairs for the Church.

So, wherever God may lead you - don't be afraid to be set apart and shine for Him!

Well, that's all for today. I'll post a new song tomorrow (I know you are beside yourself with excitement)and I'll be looking for what you have to add to the discussion!

With Love!!

Phil

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Here I Go Again...sort of.

I am much less irritated now (at least no more than normal) so I am going to give posting another shot.

I'm not going to go back, though, and post what I originally wrote because I have been thinking a lot about what John Miller posted about Joshua from the comments yesterday (Here is the Link).

It's amazing to me how much Jesus is mirrored and foreshadowed in the Old Testament. We alluded to that on Sunday through 2 Timothy:

You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 3:15 NLT)


Even the O.T. gives us the wisdom we need to become saved because it really tells the story of Jesus, albeit not perfectly or completely.

I was studying the book of Joshua today for Sunday and I found even more through Rahab, when she let down the spies from her window. Take notice of the condition the spies gave her to spare her life when they came back to take the land:

Before they left, the men told her, "We will be bound by the oath we have taken only if you follow these instructions. When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house. If they go out into the street and are killed, it will not be our fault. But if anyone lays a hand on people inside this house, we will accept the responsibility for their death.
(Joshua 2:17-19 NLT)


Sounds an awful lot like the passover, doesn't it? But instead of blood it is a scarlet rope. She was to hang it from her window (instead of over the door) and when they saw it, her and anyone who was in the house where the scarlet rope hung would be saved. Then the spies hid in the mountains for,(is this significant?)3 days before they went to tell Joshua what had happened. Joshua waited for...anyone? Bueller?... 3 days before he told the Israelites to follow the ark of the covenant into the promised land. In Joshua chapter 1, Joshua had told them to get ready because in, hello, three days they would be leaving for the promised land.

The crossing of the Jordon on dry ground is still another illustration of salvation through Jesus. As the ark went forward across the Jordon,they were to follow it. The waters parted just like they did at the Red Sea, and when they came through the other side God would then defeat their enemies and lead them into their place of rest. It was an illustration of our passage from death to life when we follow Christ.

It really is quite amazing when you think about it. God was writing the story and illustrating it before anyone knew what the plot was. May His name be praised.

I posted a song of the week yesterday (in the lost post) but I've changed it after reading Joshua.

Song of the Week


Click Here! Or else!

This is Bebo Norman. You gotta love anyone with a name like Bebo. This song is going to make it into our worship sets before long. I like it alawt!

And then I came across this video of the song which is, frankly, a little creepy.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I am severly irritated

I just wrote my whole blog and then clicked the wrong button and lost it all.

If you need me, I'll be in Owen's room jumping off the top bunk.

It is just way too depressing to start over again right after a tragedy of this magnitude,(I'm sure that there has been a case study done somewhere) so I will repost it later when I don't feel like pulling my hair out. Okay, maybe I should pick a different example that takes longer...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Day late, Again!

At least I'm not a dollar short! I was trapped at home again yesterday with our kids and Owen takes possession of my laptop once I walk in the door. All I could do was helplessly look on while he watched the same DVD about 40 times.

Anyhoo, today I want to go back to the comment section from last week. The scriptures that Pastor Keith posted are powerful (and I am going to add one verse for good measure):

The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don't participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don't let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
(Romans 13:12-14 NLT)


First, I'm struck with how many times in scripture that the old us and the new us are compared to outfits that we can take on and off. This isnt the only passage that tells us to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ".

Have you ever found yourself to be picking up those old clothes again? I have. And it looks like I have much to say about what outfit I will put on.

Yes, I need the Holy Spirit to fill me and give me power to live, but at least part of it is my decision to take off the old clothes and put on some new ones. For sure, the first passage that Keith quoted from Galatians 5 shows that our choice without God's Spirit empowering us is going to cause us to lose that battle that is constantly going on with our flesh, but am I determined to cooperate with Him?

I particularly like Keith's closing thought - "don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires."

The Greek literally means to not give forethought, care or supply to fulfill a longing that is forbidden.

For me, this is powerful. I have talked about radically amputating things that would cause us to sin. I had to cut off all chances of access to pornography, because if i were to fall to any sin - it would be that one. That meant internet reporting software and filtering of not only the internet but the tv, too. We are careful what movies we go see or rent and it has become such a part of our routine that we don't even think about it any more. We just do it. And the result is that, not only am I protected, but my whole family is too.

But this scripture takes it a step further. It says don't even give forethought of how you would fulfill that longing. It means that as soon as I find myself even thinking about ways that I could work around the blocks that I have put in place to protect me, I am in trouble. The first round of defense is exactly what Keith said - in our heads.

I feel like I am somewhat of a broken record on these things. I keep talking about the same things. But christian leaders are way too passive about it. A combination of the church's inability to hold people in leadership to a higher standard and the ability of people to keep their sin private has led to people teaching others when they themselves have yet to take off their dirty clothes.

God forgive us for being so callous and dismissive of His commands. God help us to put on the shining armor of right living and right THINKING (because the battle for right living starts there).

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sobering Thoughts on a Dolly Morning

Hey Everyone!

As we prepare to get rained on for the next couple of days, let me rain on your parade a little bit with a meditation that has been kicking my rear end lately. Take a look at this partial list of the sins of the flesh listed in the book of Galatians:

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 NLT)


Okay, Okay, I know that you haven't dusted off your sorcerers hat in a long time, but, if you are like me, some of the other ones nailed you right between the eyes.

*Impure thoughts, anyone? That is still a battle I fight everyday.

*Hostility? Only towards people who drive slow...or fast, and have 25 items in the 20 or less lane at Walmart. Oh yeah, that's everyone in New Braunfels.

*Jealousy? I struggle with jealosy and envy with other ministries who seem to be succeeding more than I am.

*Outbursts of Anger? Hello, I have kids. And my fuse with Amy is way too short.

*Selfish Ambition? As much as I would love to think this isn't true of me...

*dissension, division? This was the problem for the church in Galatia. Every church struggles with it to a point.

Okay, now here is a list of the fruit of the Holy spirit that are suppossed to be evident in our lives:

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
(Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)


Alright. Now, with both lists in mind (and dont shoot me - I don't write the mail, I just deliver it), which list describes you more accurately?

Is that not a humbling revelation? For those of us who teach and lead it has even stronger implications:

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.
(James 3:1 NLT)


In the past, I would have said the solution was to "do better" and be more like the second list than the first. But I am realizing that the second list is only reachable through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in my life. Where is it? Why don't I experience it more fully? Why don't you?

What do you think?

Song of the Week

From the Lead Singer of Mercy Me

Aparrently he has two hymn solo projects out. I love the treatment on this song, so I may pick up the others, too.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Late Post!

Sorry, I haven't had time to post the usual Tuesday stuff today. And since I am off to a board meeting, it's not going to happen today...

But one thing that you can do is post an encouraging comment to Kathryn and Tina on our Peru mission trip. I am sure they are discouraged because Gina got denied entry into Peru because of some brewhaha between Peru and Panama. The Peruvians don't know what they are missng! So,Gina needs our encouragement, too. You can get all the details and post a comment here:

www.districtmissions.org

See you tomorrow

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

One for the family in Michigan

Sydney was baptized on Sunday and I just happen to have the video. This is so her Grandparents can see her, so indulge me on this one...

Another Tuesday!

Wow, the weeks are going by fast! Our passage study today is James 4:7-10:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:7-10 NIV)


That is the version that I have always known, but the NLT is good too:

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.
(James 4:7-9 NLT)


This goes along with what the sermon was about on Sunday. So many Christian's loyalty is divided between Christ and the world. So many Christian LEADERS are this way as well. If you want a list of them, look in the mirror. This passage tells us what to do if that has happened to us. Also look up James 1:5-8 (yes, you will have to open your bible)because it directly applies to this and it tells us the result of having divided loyalty.

Remember, the purpose of this is to help us become better disciples of Jesus - not just to give our opinion. So, let's respond from the viewpoint of how it affects us, not how we would preach it to others. I think that will be more helpful.

Song of the Week

To help us focus on the most important things, instead of just good things. As a tip, if you let it play after the song is done, you can hear the previous songs of the week, too (there are a whopping 3 so far). Btw - these are all legal to download too.


An Oldie but a Goodie


That's all for now,

Phil

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Happy Tuesday!

Thanks, Charles and John for participating in last weeks bible passage study. Let's spread the word and get more people involved! Any of you who just stumbled on to this page, feel free to join in. Pretty soon we will all be on a first name basis.

Many people are surprised to find out that Dayspring belongs to a denomination. The Wesleyan church just revised their membership requirements and some of us at church have been discussing it. Today's post will be on that line - on the subject of being set apart. Where do you draw the line between holiness and legalism?

I want you to read this post I found by a Free Methodist pastor (very close to Wesleyan theology and practice). He gives some excellent insight. Tell me what you think...

Open Arms and Cross Bearing

Also, if you are new to the blog, please join in on last Tuesday's conversation. I would provide a link, but why do that when you can just scroll down a couple inches?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Other Worthy Blogs

There are a couple of blogs that I am sure you are going to want to visit as a favor to your LOVING PASTOR! If you could visit and leave a comment for them, they would think they had just won the Lotto:

Sydney Count's Blog

Bailey Count's Blog

I know that my readership is in the tens, so I would hate to hoard all of those for myself. Thanks for indulging me and my kids need to be noticed.

Great Song of the Week

This has been out for a while but I just heard it for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It made me wish for the day that I will see God face to face.

Glory by Selah


Again, you'll have to download the clip because I am far too cheap to upgrade my account so that you can save 3 minutes and just play it on a web player. Enough with the instant gratification!!

Edit: Scratch that. Instant gratification is back! The player is working now.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It's Tuesday!

Good morning peeps! (What does that mean anyway?)

It's Bible study time!! Every Tuesday morning I am going to post a passage and, through the comments, we will apply it together. This is just another way for us to push one another on to greater levels of obedience and service to Jesus.

Our very first passage is one that the Gs (General Superintendent) of the Wesleyan Church used in the ordination service at District Conference. It has stuck with me ever since He shared it. I am going to post just a couple verses but i recommend that you read not only the whole chapter, but the previous chapter as well to be able to pull as much meaning out as possible. Here are a couple of good resources for getting as much out of it as possible:


Inductive Bible Study Cheat Sheet

Same idea, different ministry site

There is plenty there to keep you busy for a long time. Too often we glaze over a passage and take the most obvious application (or the one we've always heard) and move on. So, let's take a week and let one passage really sink in, and see what we get from it. ok, here is the passage:

So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field. There were twelve teams of oxen in the field, and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away. Elisha left the oxen standing there, ran after Elijah, and said to him, "First let me go and kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you!" Elijah replied, "Go on back, but think about what I have done to you." So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant.
(1Ki 19:19-21 NLT)

Ok, I'm anxious to hear your comments and applications - I better not hear crickets! I will add my thoughts on Friday.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Great Video

Starts slow but great at the end. A great reminder. Did I mention it's great?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Great Stuff

One of the challenges I face is to clearly and succinctly explain what someone must do to be saved. It sounds like it should be easy - especially for a pastor! But, haven't you ever started to explain it to someone and realized it was taking far too many words and far too long to explain?
I came across this explanation from J.I. Packer who is a contemporary theologion:

To the question: what must I do to be saved? the old gospel replies: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. To the further question: what does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? its reply is: it means knowing oneself to be a sinner, and Christ to have died for sinners; abandoning all self-righteousness and self-confidence, and casting oneself wholly upon Him for pardon and peace; and exchanging one's natural enmity and rebellion against God for a spirit of grateful submission to the will of Christ through the renewing of one's heart by the Holy Ghost.

And to the further question still: how am I to go about believing on Christ and repenting, if I have no natural ability to do these things? it answers: look to Christ, speak to Christ, cry to Christ, just as you are; confess your sin, your impenitence, your unbelief, and cast yourself on His mercy; ask Him to give you a new heart, working in you true repentance and firm faith; ask Him to take away your evil heart of unbelief and to write His law within you, that you may never henceforth stray from Him. Turn to Him and trust Him as best you can, and pray for grace to turn and trust more thoroughly; use the means of grace expectantly, looking to Christ to draw near to you as you seek to draw near to Him; watch pray read and hear God's Word, worship and commune with God's people, and so continue till you know in yourself beyond doubt that you are indeed a changed being, a penitent believer, and the new heart which you desired has been put within you ("Introductory Essay to John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ," p. 21).



Let Charles Spurgeon lead you in prayer:
Join with me in prayer at this moment, I entreat you. Join with me while I put words into your mouths, and speak them on your behalf— "Lord, I am guilty, I deserve thy wrath. Lord, I cannot save myself. Lord, I would have a new heart and a right spirit, but what can I do? Lord, I can do nothing, come and work in me to will and to do thy good pleasure.
Thou alone hast power, I know, To save a wretch like me; To whom, or whither should I go If I should run from thee?
But I now do from my very soul call upon thy name. Trembling, yet believing, I cast myself wholly upon thee, O Lord. I trust the blood and righteousness of thy dear Son...Lord, save me tonight, for Jesus' sake." (From Iain Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1973], pp. 101f.)


Great Song of the Week

Michael English has a new cd out. I have only heard one song, but it's great. He still has the pipes, too. http://www.box.net/shared/uy8386dog4


you'll have to download the clip to listen - the player isn't working. I will fix that when I get a brain. If anybody knows how to embed this, I would welcome the tutelage. I said tutelage!


Great Website of the Week


http://dayspringpastor.blogspot.com/


Duh!





Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Look, I'm a Baby Blogger!






Welcome to the official blog of the pastor of Dayspring Christian Fellowship. I say official because obviously there are many unofficial Phil sites out there that hang on to my every word and like to pretend they know me. There are so many that google has refused to list any of them because it bogs down their servers! Go ahead, just google me and you will see - there is nothing out there!! Just another testament to how powerful my influence in the blogosphere is.

Ok, so I may be slightly full of it. Actually, I am just a guy that hopes to encourage and be encouraged by people in my own church and maybe a few others. My goal is for us to spur one another on to greater levels of holiness and discipleship for Jesus' sake.

So I will post things that I am reading and learning and I hope that you will do the same (and by you, I mean the 2 or 3 people that will ever stumble on to this blog).

I will post my first thought later tonight (and by tonight, I mean 6 months ago for you reading this). Right now I have to leave the office and clean up the mess that my autistic son made while I was gone with the kitchen sprayer. Actually, I wasn't gone with the sprayer, but...well, you know what I am trying to say.
Be Blessed,

Phil