Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Major Mile Marker in our Family

We had an incredible weekend.  The most substantive part of that was Sunday morning and it had nothing to do with my brilliant, funny, witty, and insightful preaching.

It had to do with our oldest son.

He got baptized this past Sunday.  Yes, I did the baptism and it was probably the greatest thing I've ever done in ministry.  But this is about him.

He's 8 years old.  He can drive us crazy.  He can get angry too quickly.  But he's a great kid with a servant-oriented heart.  And he got to bear witness to the work of Jesus in his life on Sunday.  So cool.  So proud of who Jesus is making him to be.

Baptism, for anyone who's never seen one, is where we stick someone down in the water and let him back up.  All joking aside, it's a powerful symbol of our union with Christ by faith.  When going down in the water, we remember that Jesus also went down into the grave, carrying our sin far away.  When coming up, we remember that Jesus also came up from the grave to a brand new life, a life that He offers to everyone who would trust Him.  It's not that the baptism was something that made our oldest son more religious.  Far from it.  It represented what God had already done in him.

Nothing magic.  No potions or spells.  Just a beautiful testimony of how God, through Christ, works in people's lives.  It's a picture of how He works in an 8-year old's life.

No work of our own can do what has been done for us by Christ.  Our only response is to put our confidence in Christ.  If an 8-year old can do it...

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend, Neighbors, Gratitude

It's Memorial Day Weekend.  The officially unofficial kick-off to the summer.  As for my kids, two are already out of preschool, one has a mere three days of not-too-much at school.  Our neighborhood pool is open.

And we've got great neighbors.

A text at 2:30 on Sunday announced a pulled pork BBQ sandwich feast at one house.  Another already had plans for doing s'mores over an open fire pit.  One had found a creative (if challenging) packet of magic powder to make glow-in-the-dark sidewalk chalk.  My wife and I provided the yard, our normal cul de sac gathering spot.  Friends from two streets down got jealous and came down to crash the impromptu summer kick-off party!  And those are their words, not mine.

Wrapping up last night at way past dark and mosquito:30, I was grateful for such a cool set of neighbors.  And that expanded my gratitude that I live in a place where those kinds of things can and do happen.  And that expanded my gratitude that there's a system of government in place, albeit imperfect, that doesn't squash random block parties.  And that made me think of friends overseas in various places who can't just throw a shindig without collecting some scrutiny (although a fire pit after 98 days of no rain maybe should have drawn some attention).

And, finally, that made me thankful for all the people who have served and are serving now to protect our freedom and defend our country.  May God bless them.  May God bless you, dear reader.  And may God bless the United States of America.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 5.29.11

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday's sermon.  I also had the incredible privilege of baptizing my oldest son.  Awesome.  As usual, the sermon audio and these notes in PDF will be up sometime this week at sermons.heritagepark.org.  You can also find the audio on iTunes on our podcast.

Taking Aim at Work
Part 2
Ephesians 4.28

 The Gospel:  the thief is transformed into the philanthropist.

 The Gospel gives purpose to our work.
  • It is His means of providing for us on a regular basis. 
  • It provides us a way to share with family and others.   
  • Summary of Purpose:  through our work we love our neighbor. 

 The Gospel compels us to “good” work. 
  • Just Work (Proverbs 11.1, 15.27)
  • Diligent Work (Proverbs 12.11, 24)  
  • Honest Work (Proverbs 12.22)     
  • Excellent Work (Proverbs 22.29)
  • Good Attitude in Work (Proverbs 14.4)  
  • Stewardship of Work (Proverbs 6.6-8, 13.11, 12.28)    
  • Rest from Work

 Remember the goal:  the glory of God

Friday, May 27, 2011

Snakes are Scary: Memorial Day Weekend Celebration

It's Memorial Day weekend.  Get out with your friends and celebrate.  To get you ready and help you enjoy, I've assembled a helpful checklist...

1.  Yardwork

2. Get your batter just right

3.  Fire up the grill

4.  Remember that some prefer sliders

5.  Enjoy the pool

6.  Head to the water

7.  Be safe during water activities

8.  Close the day with a fireside chat with friends

Happy Memorial Day everyone.  And thanks to all who have served and sacrificed to keep our country free.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Seeing clearly in the dark

I was thinking about this yesterday in light of something I was reading.

It seems easiest to find and go after an enemy, someone with whom you disagree on some level.  Some are theological enemies.  Some are political enemies.  Some are annoyances that are easier to go after than endure.

It's much harder for me to turn the light on me (and you to turn it on you).  As any political season wears on, we always see attacks stepping up and actual policy content, actual argumentation and logic, and actual articulation of principles go down.  But it's easy to go after politicians, isn't it?  It's much harder to apply this to me.

If it's true that people by nature love the darkness rather than the light (John 3.19-20), then one great way to stay in the darkness is go after others.  That way, you can still act like, feel like, sound like, and look like you're in the light.  Rather than come to the light, we point out others in darkness.

But again, it's easy to talk about and point out.  Much harder to do.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


So our boy Harold Camping has admitted he made a mistake.  Mr. Prophet now says that the judgment day will be October 21st, 2011.  May 21st was a miscalculation and the beginning of spiritual judgment.  The new October date won't be spiritual he says.

What do you say after worldwide publicity has focused on your prediction and you're wrong?

"Whoops!  I meant October."

And here's where it gets really personal for me.  What do I say when I say something wrong?  Even if I have the best of intentions and it comes out wrong, what do I say?

"Whoops!  I really meant something else."  Mistake.

"Whoops!  You misunderstood me."  Blame you, not me.

"Whoops!  That's not what I said."  Denial.

Or, how about this one.  It's hard to say.  I'll admit that on a personal level it's hard for me to say.  But try this one on for size:

"Whoops!  I was wrong."

I'll be the first to admit, I don't like being wrong.  Something in me just thinks I'm right most (all?) of the time.  I've got this default setting that I'm right and can't be wrong unless proven so by incontrovertible evidence.

I think that's pride.

But I could be wrong about that.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Tribute to My Wife on our 13th Anniversary

I love my wife.

I really do.  I enjoy her.  I laugh with her.  I confide in her.  I try not to be a pain to her.  These are not reasons I love her.  They are results of the love I have for her.  It was 13 years ago today that I said, "I do" to her in front of family and friends.  I'd do it all over again in a heart beat.

Here's why.

She has an undying capacity to always do the right thing.  She may fuss and fume, but when the chips are down it's a done deal that she will do what's right.  I am consistently amazed by her fortitude in that and find myself grateful for it regularly.  I'm inspired by it.

She has a very sensitive meter to what's fair, right, and wrong.  Her world has very little gray.  In a world where there is too much gray, she's refreshing.

She can wear multiple hats successfully better than anyone I know.  She's a wife, a pastor's wife, a mom, a physical therapist, a photographer, a friend, a laundry doer, a floor sweeper, a shower scrubber, a friend, a student, an idea-generator, a mission tripper, a chauffeur, and a counsel-giver.

She asks great questions.

She has seen hard times, stared them down, and come out better for them.

She has a creative flair that pops up in her scrapbooking, photography, and other areas.

She wanted to adopt first.

I love you Ginny Henderson.  I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.  And I wouldn't want to do this life with anyone else.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 5.22.11

Here are the notes from today's sermon on work.  You can find the sermon audio and these notes in PDF at sermons.heritagepark.org about midweek.  You should be able to find the audio on our podcast on iTunes as well.

Taking Aim at Work
Part 1
Ephesians 4.28

The power of the Gospel affects every area of our lives.

Lie #1:  Work is for status, success, and satisfaction.
  • It becomes an idol we worship or a religious tool we use to worship our idols.
  • In doing so, we tend to rob God and our families.

Lie #2:  Work is a necessary evil, but it is evil.
  • “Because work was cursed in the Garden of Eden, it’s what I have to endure.”
  • In doing so, we tend to rob God and our employers.

The Gospel redeems our work. 

  • Work was originally a good thing (Genesis 2.15).
  • Work is commanded by God as a result of the Gospel.
  • He wants to exercise His dominion through humanity, bringing order to chaos.
  • He does this so His glory can be seen in the smallest detail of life.
  • Remembering work is cursed keeps us from packing it in when it gets hard.
  • Remembering work is redeemed keeps us from missing an opportunity to glorify God.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Snakes are Scary: Weather Forecasts Rapture

Here's hoping Camping has about the same accuracy as the weather guys.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Every summer my family goes to Pine Cove for Family Camp.  Hands down, no questions, it's the best week of our year.  It's a great time to hang together, do fun things (hello zipline!), connect, learn, be encouraged, play, laugh, and generally recharge.

I call it Sabbath.

Having gone for several years now, I can feel my soul building toward it.  It's like when I get down to 5 minutes left riding the bike at the YMCA.  I look down, know that I'm going to make it, and so keep going until I can rest.

Family Camp is like that for me, in particular.  It's rest and encouragement and connection.  Sabbath.  I have this sense in my soul that it's coming.  It will be a big, "Whew!"  Sabbath.

I reread the 10 Commandments several times last week in preparation for last Sunday's sermon.  One of the things that caught my eye in light of what my soul could sense and my calendar said was coming was that part about remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy.  I think there's a lot to be said about Sabbath as a principle (not necessarily a day).  We work hard.  But we also need rest.

But what kind of rest?

Sabbath was primarily three things.  Shooting for these three is a great goal every week.  Sabbath was first about God, connecting with Him, worshipping Him, and hearing from Him.  Keep it holy.  It's about God.  Sabbath was also about rest.  No labor.  No work.  No laptops.  No email.  No Blackberry.  Take a nap.  Go on a walk.  It's a beautiful reminder that the world goes on without us, that we're really small, not all that essential.  We remember that we actually have a soul.  We also get to remember that we are loved more than we can imagine and it has nothing to do with what we can accomplish.  Finally, Sabbath was about family.  Not only should I not work, but I can't lay it off on my kids either.  I'm supposed to be with them.  In those moments, I also get to speak of who God is and what He's done.  Sabbath.  It's worth it.  And it's commanded.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The power of routine

We have a routine in the morning at our place.  I'm up first, headed to exercise with a friend at the YMCA or walk the dog.  I get back, take some time to pray and read the Bible.  Down comes son #1, ready to watch the Weather Channel (shout out to Stephanie Abrams, Mike Bettes, and Jen Carfagno - and hello to our boy Adam Berg).  Mom's up.  Breakfast.  Daughter wakes up.  Shower.  Flip over to the Disney Channel.  Son #2 wakes up.  Lunches made.  Clothes ironed.  Out the door for school.

That's our routine.  Call us tomorrow at 7:00 am, you'll find us right in the middle of it.  Call us next Tuesday at 7:00 am, you'll find we're basically in the same place.  Summer changes some of it, but for the most part we still get up early and get our day started.  Routine.

There's a lot of power in that.  I know where I need to be and where we need to be at what times in order to hit the goal.  My kids know, too.  It's not that we always hit it, but we know.

That's also the power of practicing spiritual disciplines.  They build into us a kind of routine that trains us to expect things.  We train our bodies to expect discipline through fastingand not get everything it desires.  We train our minds to concentrate on important, eternal things through prayer.  We train our wills that it's better to bless others through serving than live entitled.


I'm as spontaneous as they come.  I'd fly to Australia for the weekend just because it's there.  But I also know that there's power in routine, in disciplining myself for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4.7).  There's power in the routine.  I just have to employ it.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The world will end!

Well, according to our soon-to-be-twice-failed prophet, Harold Camping, the world is going to end on May 21st, 2011.  No, seriously.  He has people.  He has radio.  He has billboards.  He has pamphlets.  He has a website.  And it's all pointing to May 21st.  He missed the September 6th, 1994, date.  Apparently his math was bad.

His formula?

(For all my nerdy math-type friends, including my mom and little brother - you'll LOVE this)

5 = atonement (huh?)
10 = completeness (again, huh?  I thought it was 7)
17 = heaven (Huh???)

So (atonement x completeness x heaven) x (atonement x completeness x heaven) = 722,500.

And that matters why?  Squaring the product of those three numbers is significant.  Well, according to our boy's calculations, Jesus died on April 1, 33 AD.  722,500 days past that is...

...wait for it...

...May 21st, 2011.

Outside of the quite obvious sin that's happening here by going against God's clear instructions that no one knows the day or time and shouldn't stress that kind of thing, what do you and I do with that?

Just a question:  if the world really did end on June 8th, 2017, would you be ready?  If your world ended because of cancer two years from now or a car wreck tomorrow, would you be ready?  Would your loved ones?

Love His appearing.  And be ready for it.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Awfully good post over at my wife's blog

There's an awfully good post over at my wife's blog.  It's so good, I'm not writing one today and pointing you there instead.  Go check it out:  www.4uruthie.blogspot.com.  And then figure out how to apply it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 5.15.11

Here are the notes from the second sermon on parenting in the series, Taking Aim.  You can find the sermon audio and these notes in PDF at our website, sermons.heritagepark.org.  You can also find the audio on our podcast on iTunes.

Taking Aim at Parenting
Part 2 – Deuteronomy 6.1-9

What our kids need most:  knowing God through the Gospel.

  • External Authority (v.1-2)
  • Unqualified Obedience (v.2-3)
  • Consuming Passion (v.5)

  • Our prayers are directed to the one true God (v.4).
  • Our prayers get offered for our kids and with them.

Teaching (v.7-9)
  • Our audience is heirlooms and arrows (Psalm 127.3-5).
  • Our content is delivered in a Gospel environment (Deut. 5.6).
  • Our content lays out the right way to relate to God within that environment (Deut. 5.7-21). 
  • Our method is the consistent, spontaneous, and visible witness about God.

  • Training is always after the heart.
  • The goal is for kids to learn to hear God’s voice and obey it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Just a reminder...

Adoption posts are up over at www.wearegraftedin.com.

(and apparently in the Blogger shutdown, it also deleted my last post about Lies Preachers Tell - I'll try to re-create)

Snakes are Scary: In the spirit of Lies Preachers Tell...

So, if I'm a preacher, lying about this is one thing I wouldn't want to lie about.  Just say these guys found you.  You'd never hear them coming.  In fact, they may have found you already and you just don't know it.

After Osama bin Laden was killed, The Patriot-News reached out to find former Navy SEALs living in the midstate to tell our readers about life in that elite fighting force. Reporter Dan Miller, an Army veteran himself, was told the Rev. Jim Moats was a former SEAL, interviewed him and wrote the story for Saturday’s paper. It didn’t take long for some readers to label Moats a fraud. The Patriot-News regularly interviews veterans to tell their stories. We do not regularly ask those we interview for proof of their service, believing these men and women would not lie and dishonor those who have fought bravely defending our country. Unfortunately, this time we were deceived, and we will discuss steps to try and ensure that it does not happen again.
The Navy awards the gold Trident medal to those who have completed SEALs training and have earned the right to be called a SEAL.
The same gold Trident can be bought at a military surplus store, and that’s where the Rev. Jim Moats of Newville got his.
Moats was never a Navy SEAL — even though that’s what he told The Patriot-News on Friday, and that’s what Moats has allowed his congregation at Christian Bible Fellowship Church in Newville to believe for five years. SOURCE

Nice apology though!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lies Preachers Tell: Finite sin deserves finite punishment...

Okay, so yet again, this doesn't come from all preachers, I admit.  But it's been pretty popular of late and to the sensible, modern, western mind, it overcomes a major objection.  Maybe you've heard this and maybe you haven't.  Maybe you have objections or maybe you don't.  Maybe you're one of the sensible, modern, western minds or maybe you're not.

The lie goes something like this:  why would God punish a 20-year old who has rejected Him and dies in a car wreck for 20,000,000 years (or more)?  That doesn't seem (wait for it - here's the sensible, modern, and western part) fair.  Typically, the argument moves toward either "God is going to let them into heaven anyway" or "God is going to punish them for a while and then they'll just cease to exist."

Here's the flaw in the logic of that question.  The logic that a finite sin cannot be fairly punished infinitely misunderstands the nature of sin.  You don't measure the offense by looking at the sin itself.  No one measures murder by looking at the murderer.

The measure of an offense is based on the value of the offended.

Murder a mosquito?  No problem.  Murder a child?  Big problem.  In the case of sin, God is infinitely valuable.  So you have the infinite value of the infinite glory of the infinite God.  Any sin, then, is not a matter of a temporal offense.  It is infinitely offensive to God.  Sin is an infinitely offense against the infinite value of the infinite glory of the infinite God.  Therefore it deserves an infinite punishment.

And that's what the Bible describes when it talks of hell.  It's an infinite punishment.

Which is why you, me, and everyone else must, in the words of the old hymn, flee to Jesus for refuge.  He took the punishment for that infinite offense.  Through confidence in Him, we find forgiveness and life.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

FYI - cross-blog announcement

FYI to you, dear readers.  Kelly, over at www.wearegraftedin.com has picked up the blog posts I wrote on adoption from a dad's perspective.  They are good folks who do good work over there, so jump on over and check it out.


Lies Preachers Tell: Forgiveness and Grace are one and the same...

I guess technically I haven't heard a preacher equate the two.  But I hear them all the time use the words interchangeably.  Grace and forgiveness, in their minds, are functionally the same.  Let me do some explanation...

Forgiveness, according to the Scriptures, is a release of debt.  You owe me $5.  I say don't worry about it.  Debt forgiven.  You didn't pay it off over 30 years at 5%.  You didn't negotiate it down to $2.50.  I forgave the debt.  So it is with God as He forgives our debt.  He does so because Jesus has paid it, not because He has swept sin under a cosmic rug and not because it wasn't a significant offense (more on that tomorrow).

Grace, on the other hand, is something much larger.  Grace is help.  The best definition I know:  it is God at work on our behalf.  It's fuel to do what God desires.  Now certainly forgiveness is a part of this.  When we need help with forgiveness, grace is available and expresses itself as forgiving grace.  But the two aren't the same.  Grace is a broader category.

So consider the following notes from a sermon I preached from Colossians about the broad-ranging nature of grace.  It's more or less a NT survey of where "grace" (Gr. charis) is used.  And what an amazing list it is...

Electing Grace – 2 Timothy 1.9
  • God at work to purpose our salvation in Christ from eternity.
Proclaimed Grace – Colossians 1.5-6
  • God at work to let the entire world know of the Truth of the Gospel. 
Calling Grace – Galatians 1.6, 15
  • God at work to reveal Himself to us through the Gospel.
Regenerating Grace – Ephesians 2.1-5
  • God at work to make the spiritually dead alive in Christ.
Repenting Grace – 2 Timothy 2.25
  • God at work to turn people from sin to Him. 
Believing Grace – Acts 18.27
  • God at work to create trust in Christ.
Justifying Grace – Romans 3.24
  • God at work to justly punish sin and declare the sinner not guilty.
Redeeming Grace – Ephesians 1.7
  • God at work to purchase forgiveness for His people.
Adoptive Grace – Ephesians 1.5-6
  • God at work to make rebels into His children.
Sanctifying Grace – Romans 6.14
  • God at work to make us more like Jesus.
Gifting Grace – Romans 12.6
  • God at work to grant us with divine enablements to build up His Body.
Ministry Grace – 1 Corinthians 3.10
  • God at work to accomplish His purposes through us.
Energizing Grace – 1 Corinthians 15.10
  • God at work to fulfill the calling He has given us.
Miraculous Grace – Acts 6.8
  • God at work to do the unexplainable.
Relational Grace – 2 Corinthians 1.12
  • God at work to restore authentic relationships between us.
Verbal Grace – Ephesians 4.29
  • God at work to edify others through spoken words.
Marital Grace – 1 Peter 3.1-7
  • God at work to create intimate marriages.
Strengthening Grace – 2 Timothy 2.1
  • God at work to fortify the oppressed.
Sustaining Grace – 2 Corinthians 12.9
  • God at work to support the weakened.
Suffering Grace – Philippians 1.29
  • God at work to identify us with Christ through suffering.
Comforting Grace – 2 Thessalonians 2.16
  • God at work to bring hope to the discouraged.
Vocational Grace – Ephesians 3.7
  • God at work to employ us in meaningful, helpful roles.
Financial Grace – 2 Corinthians 8.1, 6-7
  • God at work to provide for the needs of His people.
Everything Else Grace – Romans 8.32
  • God at work to meet every need.
Persevering Grace – Philippians 1.6-7
  • God at work to keep His people in right relationship to Him. 
Glorifying Grace – Ephesians 2.7
  • God at work to put on display His goodness to us for all eternity.

The thing we must do in light of this truly amazing grace is lean into Christ for all of it.  We need God's help in having full, fulfilling marriages.  We need God's help in doing our work with purpose and ability.  We need God's help in dying well.  We need God's help in using our words to make other people better people.  

You see, the mature Christian is the one who uses the most grace.  The more you lean into Him, the more grace you get.  Grace would certainly be amazing if it were only forgiveness.  But it's not.  And that makes it even more amazing.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lies Preachers Tell: One sin is the same as the rest...

Continuing on today, I thought I'd pick up this little beauty:  all sins are the same in the eyes of God.

If you've heard this, raise your hand.  Now put your hand down because you look silly raising your hand in front of the computer screen.  People get this idea from Bible passages like James 2.10-11 where the Spirit-inspired apostle reminds us that if we break one part of the law we are guilty of all of it.  You also might have heard the logic that since God is completely holy, any offense is a capital crime against Him.  Also true.

But this line of thinking is only half the story.  Half-truths are still full lies.

Certainly any sin is an impurity before the white hot holiness of God and cannot be tolerated.  But all sins are NOT the same.  Read the OT law:  some sins required restitution, some required death.  On every level you can think of, there was some delineation of sin.  Socially, some sins were worse than others and the consequences reflected it.  When someone stole because they were hungry, they were treated differently than stealing because you wanted what another had.  On the familial front, same thing (watch out all teens, because dishonoring mom and dad was - and is - seriously bad news).  Even Jesus Himself said that Judas had committed a "greater sin" (John 19.11).

I guess I point this out because sometimes we get into conversations and say in a well-intentioned manner, "Well, all sin is the same before God."  When we do that, depending on the conversation and context, we can sound like idiots and make God look bad.  The question forming in the non-believer's mind goes like this:  "So this God of yours thinks that the homeless guy stuffing a twinkie in his pocket is the same as Usama bin Laden masterminding and funding terror plots which kill thousands of unsuspecting non-combatants and leave thousands of children as orphans?  What kind of God is that?"  Fair question.

Does this leave us on shaky, relativistic ground?  Absolutely not.  Sin is still sin.  God still burns with anger against it.  Because of it, we all stand in desperate need of a Savior.  Jesus had to die for the "big" ones and "little" ones because they all separate us from God.

And thankfully He did.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lies Preachers Tell: It ain't about you...

So this week, I thought I'd bring up a series of lies that you and I have heard.  The content is interesting, for sure.  Even more so the source of the content:  preachers.  Maybe they mean well, maybe they don't, but they're not telling the truth either way.

Lie #1 has many expressions and corollaries and goes something like this:  if you were the only person in the world, Jesus would've died for you because He loved you that much.  Or, while He was on the cross, I was on His mind.  Or, popularly set forth in this song (key line:  you took the fall and thought of me above all).

Here's the biblical issue:  while the love of God for us, demonstrated in Christ, is beyond description and overwhelming, what appears to be happening at the cross is a dual display.  Certainly, God shows us His love for us there.  And we should never forget that.  Therein is the lie, though, because there was more happening at the cross than the demonstration of God's love.  I guess it's technically more a half-truth.  I'm for emphasizing God's love!  But I'm quite confident that putting us at the center of God's affections distorts what's happening at the cross.

A demonstration of God's love?  Absolutely.  But the cross also is a defense of God's justice.  According to Romans 3.21-26, God set Jesus forward as a propitiation (a sacrifice to satisfy God's just anger against sin) to demonstrate His righteousness.  Had God not dealt with sin at the cross, He could've been accused of being unjust.  As it is, He is both just and the justifier of the one who has confidence in Jesus.

I don't think we can preach enough about that.  I'm 1000% percent for preaching about the love of God.  But I'm also for preaching it in its context.  Jesus died displaying God's righteousness and demonstrating God's love.  In both cases, it's not about us but about Him.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 5.8.11

Here are the notes from today's sermon on the goal of parenting.  Sermon audio and these notes in PDF will be available sometime close to midweek at sermons.heritagepark.org or you can download the podcast at iTunes.

Taking Aim at Parenting
Part 1
Deuteronomy 6.1-9

Question:  What do your kids need most in this life?
Answer:  They need to know God through the Gospel.
  • The focus of the Gospel keeps us from idolatry.
  • The gratitude from the Gospel keeps us from entitlement.
  • The clarity of the Gospel keeps us from distraction.
  • The result of the Gospel, transformation, keeps us from worldliness.

How do we get there?
  • Modeling
  • Praying
  • Teaching
  • Training

Friday, May 6, 2011

Snakes are Scary: Mother's Day FAIL

Quite obviously from the UK.  Also quite obviously, a fail of epic proportions.  Again, from failblog.org.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Forgiving Sin, Redeeming Sinners

I had this conversation with someone yesterday and got up this morning still thinking about it.  So I'll post the essence of it because it might encourage you today.

Jesus Christ forgives sin and redeems sinners.

You may need to hear that as this:  Jesus Christ doesn't just forgive sin, He also redeems sinners.

I wonder if sometimes we forget that when we sin against God, confess our sin, and receive His forgiveness, that there's also a reconciling of the relationship.  The Enemy would want us to think that we might be forgiven but God's not really on our side anymore, that He's brooding and pouting, that He's still mad even though he went through the machinations to say, "You're forgiven" (not unlike my kids do sometimes - say what they're supposed to say to their siblings even though it's not coming from their hearts).

I offer to you that when He forgives, He also reconciles and redeems.  He brings you into right relationship.  He's not angry.  He's not pouting.

If He still held relational distance between Himself and you, then Jesus' death was merely judicial and not relational.  Jesus only bought us the legal forgiveness, not the relational wholeness.

That's clearly not the case.  Jesus purchased for us forgiveness.  And reconciliation (2 Cor. 5.18-20).  And adoption (Eph. 1.4).  And redemption (Eph. 1.7).  And we could go on.

Right standing.  Right relationship.  Forgiving sin.  Redeeming sinners.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Color this Dangerous: Spiritual Superiority

I had a conversation with two of our guys on staff at Heritage Park about a situation arising around here.  It's classic spiritual superiority.  There's a group.  They reach out to hurting and wounded people.  They declare themselves the real church, posture as real Christians, and talk about what the real message of the Bible says.

You know where this is going?

They have this rhythm.  Include you through friendship.  Exclude you through message.  Include you when you sign onto what they're selling.


Beware the guy or gal who has some secret knowledge about the Christian life.  Beware the man who looks and talks spiritually, but primarily when he criticizes Jesus' bride.  Beware the woman who will not submit herself to any sort of pastoral authority because she and her compadres have their own little church going that's "closer to the New Testament model."  Beware the crew that doesn't fellowship outside of themselves.

It happened in Galatia (see Galatians 4.16-20).  It's happening around here.  It will happen around you too, though I hope not.

The cross should humble us not cause us to feel superior.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When we won't come clean...

We had a moment at our house one morning.  It started with a simple question and turned into quite the drama.

One question about what was going on.

But then the insecurity-fed lie.  Then the feigning of ignorance.  Then the guilty look.  Then the defensiveness.  Then the new line of argumentation.  Then the illogical jumps between one thought and another and another and another and another.  Lie followed lie.  Cover-up led to cover-up.

Wait.  I've heard this story before.

A man.  A woman.  A garden.  A serpent.  Deceit.  Cover-up.  Hiding.  Blame-shifting.

Anything but confessing.  Anything but owning up.  Anything but coming clean.

But like in my house and like in the Garden, the father in each situation knew what was really happening.  The only thing that lying did was put distance between the father and children.  Telling the truth might have had consequences, but the truth is the path of relational wholeness.  Keeping it hidden only keeps the division in place.

Honesty precedes intimacy.  True in parenting.  True in marriage.  True in the Kingdom.

See it at work in the Scriptures...
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.  
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.Selah  
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah  (Psalm 32.1-5)

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Usama Bin Laden is dead...

I'm not celebrating the fact that an expertly fired bullet ripped through human flesh.  But I am celebrating that he will mastermind, fund, and/or carry out no more murders.

I'm not celebrating that he is, by all accounts, separated forever from his Maker.  But I am humbly celebrating that God is a God of justice.

I'm not celebrating the death of +/- 5 people.  But I am celebrating the courage of American Special Forces operators.

I'm not celebrating that he probably had an untold number of Pakistani officials and military officers on the payroll.  I am celebrating that our President said we'd go get him if we found out he was in Pakistan and that's exactly what we did.

I'm not celebrating the reality that anyone lost anyone.  I  am celebrating the fact that there are a lot of families, from 9/11 victims to military families since, that have a sense of closure.

I celebrate the fact that technology made more loss of life unnecessary.

I celebrate the fact that, maybe, his organization will really struggle from this point forward since it lost its visionary and primary funding source.

I celebrate the fact that the world might, and I do say might, be a more peaceful place when I wake up in the morning.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...