Thursday, May 31, 2012

Not sure this is what Jesus had in mind...

Putting God to the test doesn't end well for the test-taker.  Printed in its entirety...

A "serpent-handling" West Virginia pastor died after his rattlesnake bit him during a church ritual, just as the man had apparently watched a snake kill his father years before.
Pentecostal pastor Mark Wolford, 44, hosted an outdoor service at the Panther Wildlife Management Area in West Virginia Sunday, which he touted on his Facebook page prior to the event.
"I am looking for a great time this Sunday," Wolford wrote May 22,according to the Washington Post. "It is going to be a homecoming like the old days. Good 'ole raised in the holler or mountain ridge running, Holy Ghost-filled speaking-in-tongues sign believers."
Robin Vanover, Wolford's sister, told the Washington Post that 30 minutes into the outdoor service, Wolford passed around a poisonous timber rattlesnake, which eventually bit him.
"He laid it on the ground," Vanover said in the interview, "and he sat down next to the snake, and it bit him on the thigh."
Vanover said Wolford was then transported to a family member's home in Bluefield about 80 miles away to recover. But as the situation worsened, he was taken to a hospital where he later died.
Jim Shires, owner of the Cravens-Shires Funeral Home in Bluefield, told ABC News that Wolford died Monday. Wolford's church, the Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus in Matoaka, will host a viewing Friday and a funeral service Saturday morning. Wolford will be buried at the Hicks Family Plot in Phelps, Ky.
Officials at the Panther Wildlife Management Area had been unaware of Sunday's event until they were notified by callers after the service.
"We did not know that this event was happening, and if we had known about it or if we had been asked for permission, permission would not have been granted," Hoy Murphy, public information officer for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, told ABC News.
Hoy said West Virginia state park rules prohibit animals other than dogs and cats on the property.
While snake-handling is legal in West Virginia, other Appalachian states, including Kentucky and Tennessee, have banned the practice in public spaces.
Snake-handlers point to scripture as evidence that God calls them to engage in such a practice to show their faith in him. Mark 16: 17-18 reads, "And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
Wolford told the Washington Post magazine in 2011 that he is carrying on the tradition of his ancestors by engaging in snake handling.
"Anybody can do it that believes it," Wolford said. "Jesus said, 'These signs shall follow them which believe.' This is a sign to show people that God has the power."
Wolford said watched his own father die at the age of 39 after a rattlesnake bit him during a similar service.
"He lived 101/2 hours," Wolford told the Washington Post Magazine. "When he got bit, he said he wanted to die in the church. Three hours after he was bitten, his kidneys shut down. After a while, your heart stops. I hated to see him go, but he died for what he believed in.
"I know it's real; it is the power of God," Wolford told the Washington Post Magazine last year. "If I didn't do it, if I'd never gotten back involved, it'd be the same as denying the power and saying it was not real."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A can of what?

There's no loss of talent here at the Henderson household.  The Queen called with orders to bring home a can of Cream of Chicken soup because we had three cans of Cream of Mushroom but no Cream of Chicken.  Cream of Chicken is important when you're making the ooey-gooey goodness called Glorified Chicken, so I was glad to comply.

I rolled into Kroger, saw the 25% less sodium and figured that would allow me to eat more chips and salsa next time I was at a Mexican restaurant.  I double-checked the sign and off I go.  7 minutes later I'm the hero and we're a few mere minutes away from dinner.

"Honey."  It was the Queen.


"You got three more cans of Cream of Mushroom.  All I wanted was Cream of Chicken and now I have six - count them, SIX - cans of Cream of Mushroom."

In my defense, I did look at the sign at Kroger.  But the cans and the sign didn't match.  It was a quick and easy remedy, but there's a good lesson for me there.

Sometimes the signs I'm reading and what I'm holding in my hand don't match, no matter what the sign is saying.  Attendance may be up but we may be struggling.  That guy may be all smiles but is rotting on the inside.  She may be bravely facing the world but remain a scared little girl in a middle-aged body.  I could go on and on.

Heck, in my own heart, I could have all the machinations of devotion and love but zero true substance.

You determine the health of the tree by the fruit of the tree, not the bark.  It's a lot better to look at what's in your hand than what's on the sign.  In Kroger and life, you'll get a better read on things.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May it not be said of us today

I run across things sometimes when I'm reading and I think to myself, "I hope this is [or is not] said of me [or us] today."  Case in point:
The Jews were much better off when Christ came than in the ages before.  It was the golden age of their Pharisaic religion.  Their golden, religious age crucified Christ.  During the time before Christ, there was:  never more piety, never less praying; never more indulgence, never less sacrifice; never more idolatry, never less devotion to God; never more temple worship, never less God worship; never more lip service, never less heart service; never more church-goers, never less saints.  (E.M. Bounds, Power through Prayer, ch. 8)
May it not be said of you and me today.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Big Fat Memorial Day Thank You

Thanks to both my grandfathers, one a SeaBee on Guadalcanal and the other a mechanic on B-17's stateside.  Thanks to my father-in-law who served so long and so well he retired with a bird on his epaulette from the JAG corps.  Thanks to my boy Scotti at church who served in Desert Storm and bears the weight of that.  Thanks to Brandon from church who is currently finishing up his schooling in the USAF and will be reunited with his family soon.  Thanks to my friend David who was a Marine in VietNam.  Thanks to Eric my neighbor and Gary, who's with Jesus now, for defending the borders through the USCG.  Thanks to both my neighbors named Bryan.  Thanks to my friend Terry who flew fighters before the Space Shuttle.  And to those I have forgotten, thanks to you too.  Your name may not be here, but you absolutely have my gratitude.

You have made our world a safer place and America a better place by your service.

May God bless America.  Please.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sermon Notes from 5.27.12

Here are the sermon notes from the concluding sermon in the Follow series.  You can find the audio and these notes in PDF at our website,  You can also get the audio via iTunes on our podcast.

Part 4 – Commit to what Jesus Demands
John 21.15-23

  •  For every time he denied Jesus, Peter was reconciled to Him.
  • Jesus’ goal was returning Peter to a passionate relationship.
  • God’s faithfulness in forgiveness is never in question. (1 John 1.9)

But His questions about love weren’t only about reconciliation. They were also about obedience.

  • Built into Jesus’ question about love is His question of allegiance.
  • He is not asking to be a priority in your life; He’s demanding to be the priority of your life.
  • Areas to examine:  unconquered relationships, ambition, and possessions. 
  • Two tests of priority:

o   If you knew it wouldn’t end well for you, would you still go?
o   If you were all alone, would you still obey?

His call never changes:  follow Me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

PLEASE Give me 3 minutes

Fast forward to the 12-minute mark.  The whole interview is incredible and packed with wisdom.  But if you only have 3 minutes, jump to the 12-minute mark.  This is J.I. Packer answering Carl Trueman's question:  "Dr. Packer, what would you say to younger people?"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

For my wife, on our 14th Anniversary

I love you, my beloved.  So much of what is sung below is true of me in relation to you...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

DVD's and Ministry Models

I spent a little bit of time yesterday getting copies made of DVD's of the End of Year Video that the Queen made for the Ninja's kindergarten class.  When completed, I ran a couple through my computer.  One of the randomly sampled ones didn't work.  Not good.

I walk down the hall to a TV/DVD combo and start checking them one by one.  23 of 24 worked.  The bad apple was thrown away.

I come home from the office and the Queen decides to check them in our DVD player, which is probably older than most children you know.  2 of the first 3 don't work for her.  Across the street she treks to check them on a much newer DVD player at the neighbor's house.  All were indeed okay.

And I tell that story to make a point about ministry models:  sometimes they work across broad ranges, sometimes they work only in certain areas, and sometimes they don't work at all.

I remember when everyone wanted to be Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven Church was all the rage - back before Purpose Drive Life took off.  There was the baseball diamond and the 101-201-301-401 system.

I remember when everyone wanted to be seeker-sensitive, and Bill Hybels and Willow Creek were the "it" guys of the day.  It go revealed that the disciples they were producing didn't look very much like Jesus and they had to change some things.

And there was bus ministry.  And there is now Gospel-centered everything.

For me, it's not that ministry models are bad.  I've learned from all of the above-mentioned models.  But like the DVD's, some of those only work in some areas or under some circumstances.  To try to replicate a model just because it worked somewhere else is a bad idea.  Learn from it?  Sure!  But replicate it, not so much.

Instead, I advocate this model:  listen to the Holy Spirit and learn from His people and then implement what He shows to be best.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Vanderbilt, the BCM, and a Bummer

Vanderbilt University recently ousted Christian ministries from campus that would not allow "non-Chrisitans" to be a part of their leadership.  They said it was exclusive, etc.  Their hypocrisy is unsurpassed, as they let the sororities and fraternities keep their exclusive leadership, but that's a different blog for a different day.

The Baptist group on campus (Baptist Collegiate Ministries) along with Reformed University Fellowship of the Presbyterian Church of America were two of the larger groups on campus and the main two who did not leave in protest.  Their basic reasoning was no non-Christian was going to be elected to leadership in their institution and so they weren't going to worry about it.

It's ironic to me that the BCM chose not to take a stand on this church-state issue.  The leadership of Vandy is clearly interfering with church-related work.  It's a bad precedent they're setting and the response from the BCM and RUF couldn't be more short-sighted.

Let's pretend a little scenario is going to play out.  Vandy next says you can't say anything bad against GLBT students, like calling their lifestyle a sin.  Instead of staying on campus now (because they have to "worry about it" since it's directly affecting their doctrine and practice), they leave.  And now the BCM is leaving because of the gay issue and not the church-state issue.  Guess who looks bad?

Universities and those who run them should stay the heck out of the practices of religious groups on campus unless there is physical harm involved.  And religious groups should have better perspective than to simply say, "Well, it's not hurting us now."  Because that kind of waiting hasn't gone particularly well in days gone by, has it?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sermon Notes from 5.20.12

Here are the notes from today's sermon in the series Follow.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio on our website,  You can also find the sermon audio on the podcast via iTunes.

Part 3 – Minister in Jesus’ Strength
John 15.1-11

Interactive Intimacy 
  • Interactive intimacy begins with an invitation.
  • The invitation is to be joined to Him by trusting Him.
  • Interactive intimacy continues with connection.

Bearing Fruit
  • He is glorified in those lives that reproduce the obedient life of Jesus.
  • The kind of ministry that Jesus is doing cannot come from our own strength.
  • What works?  There is no list 
  • Categories

o   Heralding – showing and sharing the Good News that Jesus reigns over everything.
o   Healing – calling down the Kingdom for the care of others.
o   Helping – doing good through generosity.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Always on Guard

I spend time working out three times a week with a friend.
And then I come home and eat a brownie.
One friend works on marriage #2 and works hard.
And then makes some regrettable decisions.
In a conversation today, I told a friend that I'm in ministry.
And most every day, I ask God that before I'd do something stupid to embarrass Him or my family, He'd kill me (a prayer I learned from Billy Graham).
Brownies are one thing.  Life is something else.

May we be always on guard, always watching - the Devil is like a roaring lion, seeking whom He may devour.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dead Men Speak

I love reading stuff by people who are long gone.  My reason is simple:  if they're dead and it's still being published, it's probably really really good.

So, today, I give you a prayer of a Puritan...
Thou canst not make me happy with Thyself
till Thou hast made me holy like Thyself.  
I'm hanging onto that one.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

So I'm in a meeting...

And I asked the same question three times.  Three times.  Three times.

I finally got a direct response to this question:  "How does your organization's training help our people share their faith in the workplace in a better and/or different way than how we're encouraging, training, and modeling for them to do right now?"

For those of you who are wondering (especially those new to Heritage Park), here is the way it seems to work best these days and in our context...
  • Be transformed by Jesus and live a life that reflects that
  • Be the kind of winsome and wise person people want to be around
  • Look for opportunities to tell your story of transformation
  • Open your mouth and tell how Jesus has worked in your life
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to speak through you
  • Remember that people aren't targets but people
  • Remember that you're inviting them to follow a person, not finish a prayer
I'm pleading with God that our church would be that kind of church where individuals are so deeply satisfied in Him and submitted to Him that our obedience leads to opportunities and that He'd give us the grace in those moments to open our mouths.  Through those kind of people, God changes families and neighborhoods and office buildings and cities and cultures.

But that's just me thinking thoughts... (and praying prayers)

Monday, May 14, 2012

The President, Gay Marriage, and Giving a Flip

The President weighed in this past week on his personal feelings about gay marriage.  If anyone was surprised that he took the stance that he did, that person should probably dig out from under whatever rock is home.  No one should've been shocked.

But we, at least those who follow Jesus, ought to be offended.

Offense #1:  the President and other proponents of gay marriage are denying the clear teaching of Scripture and thumbing their noses at God.  Proponents, of course, argue that (a) Jesus never addressed homosexuality at all and (b) there are lots of ways to read the NT texts like Romans 1 and (c) all those OT texts don't make sense because they say things like don't eat shrimp and pork either.  But suppressing the Truth to get your point across doesn't make you right, whether you're a president, a pastor, or a protestor.  I'll merely point to (a) above because the scholarship surrounding (b) and (c) is so overwhelming that even liberal commentators don't buy their argument.

People who say Jesus never addressed homosexuality are technically right.  He never uttered the word, "Homosexual."  But He talked a lot about the immorality that runs rampant through human cultures that turn away from God.  And in fact, it gets so much worse than that:  He locates the impetus for all sinful sexual activity (a.k.a. immorality, Gr. porneia) in the heart.  So we don't have a sexuality issue.  We have a sin issue.  And Jesus is in the business of changing homosexuals, adulterers, pornographers and consumers of pornography, fornicators, masturbators, and any other practicer of sexual deviancy you can name.  He changes people's lives.  That's what He does.  And the biblical teaching on sexuality is not shrouded in mystery - it's simply one man and one woman for life in the covenant of marriage as the context for all sexuality.

So giving a flip means we don't let people decide which parts of the Bible they like or want to believe or obey.  And that starts with us as followers of Jesus - we get to live out the commands contained therein.

Offense #2:  hiding behind the Golden Rule.  Treating others the way we want to be treated was (and is) not ever intended to allow sinful attitudes, outlooks, behaviors, and experiences to continue in a person's life.  I am personally still trying to sort through the legal aspects of things like civil unions and the implications of them.  But twisting the Golden Rule so that I can get my way or get my point across is bad news.  Jesus gave it so that we could live rightly related to one another, carrying out the righteousness that is ours through faith in Him and surpasses external niceties and religious prattle.

But I'm not mad at the President.  He's part of a cultural milieu that puts my individual desires in the position of most valued asset.  They are pursued and protected at all costs.

As followers of Jesus, we get to enter this milieu with grace and truth, love that embraces and takes a stand.  Doing one without the other is only half of the Kingdom.  And getting only half the Kingdom is not the deal you might think it is.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sermon Notes from Sunday 5.13.12

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 5.13.12.  We continued the Follow series and spoke about how we love as Jesus loves us.  You can find these notes in PDF at  Unfortunately, this is the second week in a row where our recording malfunctioned.  There is no sermon audio.

Part 2 – Love as Jesus does
John 13.34-35

  •  Loving proves we are disciples but does not make us disciples.
  • We will find ourselves redefining love or refusing to love those He loved.
  • The love we give one another has its source in Jesus’ love for us.

  • Jesus didn’t lay aside His identity to serve but expressed it.
  • The loving service He gave was not clean, comfortable, or convenient. 
  • He served the unfaithful (v.2). 
  • He served the undeserving (v.5). 
  • He served the unwilling (v.6-9).
  • We are to do exactly the same (v.15).
  • Our service can be a bridge to belief (v.20).

  • We cannot substitute, but we can sacrifice our lives for the good of others.
  • This kind of sacrifice is about God’s glory, not desired outcomes.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Snakes are Scary: We're back! And Jesus Do-Over

Well, after a 13-week hiatus of Friday hilarity, we are back.  If you don't know about or can't remember what the Snakes are Scary deal is, here is the original post.  But we're back.  And what a funny one (put your observational skills to work here...)

Jesus does it again.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Quick Family Update

Big day for us as a family.

The Bear gets his casts off today, seeing how well the Botox injections have worked on his legs.  Then some work to be done with his new braces and go from there.  He's done so well in how he's managed to start getting around that I have a lot of hope that it will all be up and to the right from here.

Peanut is doing great with the use of her arm.  If only her stubbornness would come around too.  She surely gets that from her mom.

Ninja is also doing great.  We wrap up soccer soon and have scheduled him to play coach-pitch baseball this summer, at his request.  Should be fun!

Thanks for all those who have prayed and supported us along the way.  We are a grateful people (HT: FA).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

There's some stuff to think about here...

In the power of the Spirit, go.  Let Jesus do what Jesus does.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What's it take to be a man?

We had a rite of passage moment the other day.

The Bear looks at his dear old dad and says, "Daddy - watch what I can do..."

Then he proceeds to arm-fart.  Now, if you're not familiar with the practice or simply grossed out, just know it's something little boys learn to do that other little boys teach them because older brothers taught them to do it.  And it's sort of funny...for the first few times.

But what followed was that parenting moment.  You know the one where you have this incredible opportunity to speak into a little life and shape it?

He arm-farts and says, "Daddy, I'm a man now."

Off I launched into biblical imperatives for men to be men, to love their own wives as Jesus did the church, to protect, provide for, and pastor his family, etc.  All these things that I'm just sure were shaping his heart to take on manhood greatness in the coming years.

And then he said, "But Daddy, I can do it with the other arm too..."

Well, I'm sure he got the lesson.  Right?

Then it hit me:  I can't claim to be a man without doing manly things.  As in the rest of life, my actions validate my claims.  Do I protect?  Do I provide?  Do I pastor my family?  Do I love my bride as Christ does the church?  Do I lay my life down?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Praying Knees

In the midst of moving back into our house after almost moving out of it but not selling it and therefore staying in it so moving back into it, we have a few projects going on around our place to make more storage and some rearranging happen.

One of those projects in which I am currently engaged is the assembly of some furniture upstairs, specifically some wardrobes and bookcases that will take care of storage needs upstairs.  Easy enough, right?  Yes.  Easy enough.

But I woke up Saturday morning after a Friday of assembly with sore knees.  It was then I realized that it was because I was on my knees most of the morning doing the assembly work.  No knee pads are needed, because I'm on carpet, right?

Well, I was still sore.

And once I got some coffee and Bible in me on Saturday, the Spirit spoke clear as a bell:  what if I had knees that sore from praying?

It wasn't one of those guilt trip, lay it on thick kind of moments.  It was a reality check.  We, as a church staff, have been reading E.M. Bounds' classic Power through Prayer.  It's been challenging all of us.  The Spirit was more challenging - even encouraging.  And what if my knees were really that sore from the time I spent in prayer?

My guess is my world would be different.  So, Lord Jesus, make me into that kind of praying man.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 5.6.12

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 5.6.12, kicking off the Follow series where we'll look at Jesus' teaching on discipleship.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at  You can also find the sermon audio on iTunes via our podcast.

Part 1 – Listen to what Jesus says 

John 8.31-­‐32 

  • False distinction: Christian vs. Disciple.
  • Jesus assumes we will follow Him because those are His terms.
  • Word: the standard and path for real life.
  • Intake: the spiritual nourishment from the Bible that comes from quality time in it.
  • Workout: the spiritual exercise of doing what Jesus says is best.

  • This is the freedom that comes from transformation.
  • Our lineage is precisely our problem (v.33)
  • Our actions continue our captivity (v.34-­‐35)
  • Our Savior liberates our lives (v.36).