Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Reformation Day

A moment that shook the world.  Happy Reformation Day!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Saying Goodbye

It's funny getting to the age where you have people that you send off from college into careers, not seeing them as peers but more like your kids.  I'm at that age.  This past Sunday, we prayed and sent off a friend and his fiancee to start a new position in a church across town.  I'm super-excited for them and pretty dang sad for us.

He, she, and they babysat our kids.  He housesat while we were on vacation.  He's travelled with me for ministry.  They've spent a good number of hours in our living room and our around our table.

And now they're moving on.  The relationship will still be there but not the day-in and day-out connectedness.

And that leads me to think about who the next person might be that God would raise up.  I like pouring into younger people.  And the Queen is an expert at that kind of relationship.  And so in mourning, we'll start asking for the next opportunity.  I have some friends from college who live in the DFW Metroplex who do this so well, staying invested in the young singles of their church.  And I know there are others, those who inconvenience themselves for the sake of the Kingdom.

And then that leads me to you, dear reader.  If you're at "that age" (whatever the number may be), do you have someone into which you can invest?  Do you have someone you can ask about life and be told the truth?  Do you have someone to whom you can offer wisdom?

And if not, why not?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Oh.So.Proud.

Through my completely awesome wife, a.k.a. The Queen, we have connected with the homeless coordinator for students in one of our local (and large) school districts.  Out of 39,000+ students, some 1,100 are classified as homeless, meaning they have no physical address to call their own.

Eight of those students (4 in one family, 2 and 2) just got relocated to apartments in the area but sans furniture.  Our church, friends, and several people who just thought it was a good idea rallied behind these folks and furnished their apartments.

When the call came originally, I didn't know how much we'd get.  But I knew that if we didn't try, we couldn't very well call ourselves the church.  If God didn't provide, at least we took a run at it.

But He did.

And families were blessed.

And I'm one proud pastor, husband, dad, and friend.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 10.28.12

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 10.28.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio by visiting sermons.heritagepark.org.  You can also find the sermon audio via our podcast on iTunes.


The Holy Spirit
Part 2 – The Forgotten Ministry
Romans 8.14-16


The Holy Spirit’s forgotten ministry is His confirmation of our sonship.

He confirms our sonship through His leadership (v.14).
  • He points us to Jesus
  • He often gives “senses” of what we should do

He confirms our sonship through adoption in love (v.15-16)
  • God reveals Himself as Father (v.15)
  • We are not naturally His kids (v.15)
  • God continually affirms our sonship (v.16)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween, please meet George Lucas


To link to the original Snakes are Scary post that explains the Friday insanity, please click this link.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I love doctrine, but I love Jesus more

I love doctrine.  I love studying it, talking about it, and living it.  But I love Jesus more.  What I mean by that is if you disagree with me about something doctrinally, there are some things that are more important than that disagreement.  That's not to say that doctrine isn't important nor that some doctrines are worth breaking fellowship over.

But some aren't.

And so rather than talk about the order of how God saves people, why not tell people about how God will save them if they'll turn to Him?  Rather than fuss about the validity of the gifts of the Spirit, why not show someone in need some mercy?  Rather than talk about how wives submit and husbands lead in the home, why not just get on loving a wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her?

I love doctrine.  But I love Jesus more.  And if the doctrine we hold isn't expressed in our daily lives, why hold it anyway?  The whole point is to live and love differently, not just think differently.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Empty, Full

Empty me of the selfishness inside,
Any vain ambition, and the poison of my pride.
Any foolish thing my heart holds to
Empty me of me so I can be
Filled with You.

Empty Me, by Chris Sligh

That's a song worth listening to in Christian music.  More than that, it's a prayer worth praying.

But I'm glad the last line is in there.  In teaching on the Holy Spirit this fall, I'm thinking a lot about Paul's command to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5.18).  And I think about that in light of Jesus' admonition that if He cleans your house out, it better get filled up with something else or the demons (literal or figurative) will return with all their friends for a frat-style toga party and never leave (Luke 11.24-26).

So a simple exhortation for you and me on a Wednesday:  don't think about emptying yourself, think about being filled.  The filling of the Spirit in my life is the best way to dislodge and displace the sin that remains.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pace, Volume, Debates, etc.

We had a quiet night around our house last night.  The kids played, read, and generally just hung out.  The Queen took care of a few things she needed to address.  I read a little bit, got some things updated on our computers, and kissed everyone at least twice.

At some point the Queen commented how much she loved moments like last night.  Me too.

Compare that to the debate last night - loud, abrasive, interruptive, and so on.

Which is your life more like?  Sometimes our pace and volume puts us on one side when we wish we were on the other.  But the choices are definitely ours and the good is so often found outside of the task list.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Movements and Obedience

Powerful movements of God begin with obedient actions of His people.

When you see the Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost, it was because the disciples (all of them, not just the famous eleven) waited on whatever it was that Jesus had promised.  When a guy rises from the dead and spends 40 days with you, listening and obeying what He says isn't really all that optional.

When God shook the world 495 years ago next week through the pen of Martin Luther, it was because the things in the Church didn't line up with the things in the Scripture.  So Luther stood, God helping him, upon his convictions.

When the New World's social order was set ablaze by the Spirit of God, Edwards, Whitefield, and a host of others were not only preaching the Gospel but requiring of its hearers what it required of their own lives:  obedience, not comfort.  They were not without fault but were marked by obedience.

When God opened up the mouth of a southern fundamentalist Baptist preacher and, through his conferences, brought the Gospel to a large portion of the world, untold thousands came to know Christ.  And undergirding the movement of Billy Graham was the man he was committed to be, marked by accountability and transparency.

And if God's going to use you and me, it will not be without our obedience in every area of life.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 10.21.12

Here are the sermon notes from today's sermon, the first in the series I'm teaching on the Holy Spirit.  If you want these notes in PDF or the sermon audio, visit sermons.heritagepark.org.  You can also get the audio on iTunes via our podcast.


The Holy Spirit
Part 1 – The Big Who?



What is the Holy Spirit?
·      First answer:  not what but who?
He is a Person who has thoughts, emotions, and a will.
He is God – a member of the Trinity.


What does He do?
 Biggest answer:  He points us to Jesus (John 15.26, 16.14).

He points us to Jesus through His Word (John 16.13-15).
He inspired the Scripture (2 Peter 1.21).
He opens our eyes to the Scripture (1 John 2.27).
He brings to mind what we have learned (John 14.26).


He points us to Jesus through conviction (John 16.8-11)
When we are convicted of sin, the extra temptation is to run from God.
The Holy Spirit draws us to God to find forgiveness.
The forgiveness for sin only comes through Jesus’ death and resurrection.


He points us to Jesus through transformation (John 16.20-22)
As we behold Jesus, we become like Him (2 Cor. 3.18)
Our character changes into His character (Galatians 5.22-23)
We kill sin with His help (Romans 8.13)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Snakes are Scary: Dad having fun




To link to the original Snakes are Scary post that explains the Friday insanity, please click this link.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tozer, being prophetic again

I love A.W. Tozer as an author.  He spoke 60+ years ago and it rings true today.

We may as well face it:  the whole level of spirituality among us is low.  We have measured ourselves by ourselves until the incentive to seek higher plateaus in the things of the Spirit is all but gone...[We] have imitated the world, sought popular favor, manufactured delights to substitute for the joy of the Lord, and produced a cheap and synthetic power to substitute for the power of the Holy Ghost. (from Of God and Men)

That land on you anywhere today?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Marks of a Backslidden Christian

I'm completely hijacking this from joethorn.net.  But he gets the credit!  And if you're not familiar with the oldish term backslidden, think about a person who once walked with Jesus but now is not (whether they appear to be or not).  And before you get too antsy about the list, ask yourself if any of these apply.  

I present to you the 25 Marks of a Backslidden Christian...


1. When prayer ceases to be a vital part of a professing Christian’s life, backsliding is present.
2. When the quest for biblical truth ceases and one grows content with the knowledge of eternal things already acquired, there can be no mistaking the presence of backsliding.
3. When the biblical knowledge possessed or acquired is treated as external fact and not applied inwardly, backsliding is present.
4. When earnest thoughts about eternal things cease to be regular and gripping, it should be like a warning light to the backslider.
5. When the services of the church lose their delights, a backslidden condition probably exists.
6. When pointed spiritual discussions are an embarrassment, that is certain evidence of backsliding.
7. When sports, recreation and entertainment are a large and necessary part of your lifestyle, you may assume backsliding is in force.
8. When sins of the body and of the mind can be indulged in without an uproar in your conscience your backslidden condition is certain.
9. When aspirations for Christlike holiness cease to be dominant in your life and thinking, backsliding is there.
10. When the acquisition of money and goods becomes a dominant part of your thinking, you have clear confirmation of backsliding.
11. When you can mouth religious songs and words without heart, be sure backsliding is present.
12. When you can hear the Lord’s name taken in vain, spiritual concerns mocked and eternal issues flippantly treated, and not be moved to indignation and action, you are backslidden.
13. When you can watch degrading movies and television and read morally debilitating literature, you can be sure you are backslidden.
14. When breaches of peace in the brotherhood are of no concern to you, that is proof of backsliding.
15. When the slightest excuse seems sufficient to keep you from spiritual duty and opportunity, you are backslidden.
16. When you become content with your lack of spiritual power and no longer seek repeated enduements of power from on high, you are backslidden.
17. When you pardon your own sin and sloth by saying the Lord understands and remembers that we are dust, you have revealed your backslidden condition.
18. When there is no music in your soul and no song in your heart, the silence testifies to your backsliding.
19. When you adjust happily to the worlds’ lifestyle, your own mirror will tell the truth of your backsliding.
20. When injustice and human misery exist around you and you do little or nothing to relieve the suffering, be sure you are backslidden.
21. When your church has fallen into spiritual declension and the Word of God is no longer preached there with power and you are still content, you are in a backslidden condition.
22. When the spiritual condition of the world declines around you and you cannot perceive it , that is testimony of your backslidden stance.
23. When you are willing to cheat your employer, backsliding is apparent.
24. When you find yourself rich in grace and mercy and marvel at your own godliness, then you have fallen far in your backsliding.
25. When your tears are dried up and the hard, cold spiritual facts of your existence cannot unleash them, see this as an awful testimony both of the hardness of your heart and the depth of your backsliding.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spurring Conversation

Good conversations spur me on in life and ministry.

There are two places I pretty consistently have good, spurring conversations.  The first is at the lunch table.  I get the opportunity to eat lunch with different people and dive into topics that might not normally come up at lunch tables.  I try to go in with a key question or two that allows those things to come up if they need to come up.  There are times when I leave with a full belly and a full soul.

The second place I find spurring conversations with dead people.  Please don't think seance.  Instead, think people who have lived a life, gone before, and left behind a legacy.  They have books, letters, sermons, music, journals, thoughts, essays, poems, and speeches.  The reason those things are still around is because of the powerful force they unleashed in the world and the impact it had.  Ripples are felt from where their life met the water of existence.  Echoes are heard from where they sounded.  Impact.

And so if you don't have some people like that, you might want to find some.  It makes for good conversation.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Get your tissues...then long for righteousness

Thirty-six.  Mother of two.  With Jesus as of four days ago.  Though He's been with her throughout and will be with her family in her absence.

How long, O Lord, before you return and put your enemies (and ours!) under your feet?




Eff Cancer is right.

Videos like this just make my heart burn for the day when death, cancer, Alzheimer's, trafficking, abuse, and a million other ills are forever put down.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 10.14.12

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 10.14.12, as I wrapped up the series called Clarity.  To get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio, visit sermons.heritagepark.org.  You can also get the sermon audio via our podcast on iTunes.


CLARITY
Part 6 - Context 
2 Timothy 3.10-17

Matthew 28.18-20: rationale for all we do, resources we draw from

Teaching to transform means teaching people how to obey Jesus.

Profitable
  • God’s Word is the way to fruitfulness and freedom.
  • God’s Word is always right and is always best.

    Goal
  • The goal: that we be ready for our calling.
  • There are things that God will not do through you if you’re not ready for them.

    Classroom
  • We need a mentor to learn from.
  • We need a community to learn in.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Snakes are Scary: Love and Hate at Seagate

I'm sure people were drawn to Jesus...




To link to the original Snakes are Scary post that explains the Friday insanity, please click this link.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Religious Junk Mail


Don't you love junk mail?  I get junk mail like everyone else, but mine also has that religious, mean-spirited edge to it sometimes.  I received a strange and disturbing junk mail letter the other day that I opened because I thought it was something else.  

This letter comes from one Baptist group and denigrates another Baptist group and was a waste of 45 cents of postage and the cost of the paper it was printed on.  Here's the statement that disturbed me:  "[Group] is needed more than ever.  The [Other Group] is unrelenting in attempting to draw churches away from [Group] and restrict their freedom."  And you thought over-the-top scare tactics were for politicians and talk-show hosts.  Apparently, they're for preachers too.

Never mind the stupidity of the claim of restricting freedom and so forth.  What lies behind that is the paranoia and lack of perspective that comes with the Kingdom.  We are not called to be builders of organizations but seekers of the Kingdom.  

Jesus is the One who promised to build His church upon the rock of the faith-filled confession that He is Lord.  Focusing on the Kingdom frees us to celebrate when God moves in His people, no matter their denominational label or locale of church membership.

As a pastor, I want to always be focused on the Kingdom and seeing it come on the earth as it is in heaven.  I want that to be more than a line from a rote prayer, but instead a passionate cry from our heart that God would do in us and through us exactly what He wants and that His glory would fill the earth as the waters cover the seas.  

The Kingdom matters most.  It's what remains long after organizations have gone.  It's what comes in the lives of men and women and brings Jesus' transformational power.  It's what lasts when the world shakes because it cannot be shaken.  Seeking it means all the rest of the things we need will be added to us.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Blowing your nose in the car

He was blowing his nose in the back seat.

The only problem was he didn't have a Kleenex, a piece of paper, a paper towel, a cloth, a handkerchief, or anything else.  He had his hands.  They were working for him.

Me:  Please don't blow your nose in the car when you don't have anything to blow it into.

Ninja:  I'm using my hands.

Me:  But you don't have anywhere to put it.

Ninja:  I'm using my mouth.

Queen:  *gag* *almost puke* *gag*

Me:  *headshake*

But no, I've never been guilty of intaking things that weren't good for me and doing so willingly and against common sense.  No, not me.  I've never watched too much TV, spent too much time in front of my laptop, overeaten at the buffet, listened to music or talk shows that do my soul more harm than good, dwelt on a thought that I should've taken captive, or kept a relationship I should've let go.  No not me.

I've never been guilty of doing that.  But I might know some people who have.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Taking responsibility

You ever noticed that we live in a culture where it's never anyone's fault that something went wrong, went awry, or just plain didn't happen?  If you don't believe me, just ask them.  They'll be happy to avow that it wasn't their fault.

I had a moment in 10th grade where Mr. Nash, the geometry teacher from one of Dante's lower rings of hell, gave an assignment and I didn't do it for some reason or another.  I turned in a piece of paper with my name on it.  He gave me a 4.

Yes.  A 4.

We had a situation like that pop up in our house.  You can hardly believe that a pastor's family isn't perfect, I know, but it did happen in our domain.

The Ninja was supposed to get some homework done.  He didn't.  The Queen or I was supposed to sign that it got done.  We didn't.

The teacher did an unbelievable thing:  she sent home his paper with a failing grade on it.  Shock.  Dismay.  Awe.

Gratitude.

The work didn't get done.  She said it didn't get done.  The grade was perfectly in line with the work (and the parenting).

And it was a great opportunity to talk to the Ninja about how he needed to make sure his homework got done.  And, yes, we took responsibility that we didn't sign the paper and double-check the work.  After a few moments of writhing and it's-not-fair whining, I think he got it.

It'll be better for our culture, our families, our churches, and our souls if we can embrace that it just might be our fault and own up to that.  Along with sin comes the temptation to deflect its evil to someone else's account.  Thus, Jesus has us own our sin via confession before He'll take it from us.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Confidence in the Bible

I enjoy teaching the Bible.  Maybe you'd expect a pastor to say as much, but I really do.  I like the study part.  I like the framing it up part.  I like the delivery part.  I like the how-could-I-do-it-better part.

But the thing I like most is seeing how it changes people's lives.

You know what makes that easy?  The confidence I have in the Scriptures.  Historically and culturally, the Bible keeps passing test after test.  Time.  Cultures.  Continents.  Languages.  Persecution.  Coups.  Shifts.  You name it.  The Bible has stood the test.

The stats are easy to find and verify.  We have thousands of copies of the manuscripts.  We have early copies of them (within a few decades of the events themselves).  On and on it goes.  It's easy to have confidence in something like that.  It's easy to stand and declare as Truth what God says.

And it's a privilege to watch it change lives.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 10.7.12

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 10.7.12, continuing the series called Clarity.  To find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio, visit sermons.heritagepark.org.  You can also find the sermon audio via our podcast on iTunes.



CLARITY
Part 5 - Content 
2 Timothy 3.16

Matthew 28.18-20: rationale for all we do, resources we draw from

Teaching to transform means teaching people how to obey Jesus.

          Scripture
  • One theme: God establishing His Kingdom among His people.
  • One hero: the Messiah.
    o Implication: the Bible can never contradict itself.
  • Transmission question: do we have accurate copies to study?
  • Translation question: do we have reliable books in our laps?
    o Implication: God is the great communicator and we can understand the Bible.

    Inspired
  • God-breathed these words, using personalities and perspectives.
  • Scriptures don’t are not just reporting, they are revelation.
    o Implication: demands obedience.

    You can agree that it’s Scripture and that God wrote it and even seek to understand it. 

    You don’t have a relationship with a book but with the God who wrote it. John 5.39

Friday, October 5, 2012

Snakes are Scary but so is this: interesting juxtaposition

Let me admit a couple of things...

1.  I'm a gun owner.

2.  I'm a Bible owner.

3.  I'm an American.

But this juxtaposition is odd to me for some reason:




To link to the original Snakes are Scary post that explains the Friday insanity, please click this link.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ted Nugent, a friend, and a boil on a leg

A friend dropped by the office yesterday and told me a story.  Apparently their cat at one point got a boil on its leg which was big and puss-filled and ugly.  Under the advice of their not-a-DVM neighbor, lancing it became the option of choice.

So he volunteered to hold the cat.  The neighbor was the lancer.  The cat was the lancee.

Can you guess the next part?  The cat got lanced.  The holder got bit on the hand.  The neighbor got a heck of a show.

But the bite wasn't bad.  More like a mild scratch.

Until that night.

At midnight, with a swollen, aching hand and streaks of red running up the arm into the shoulder, my friend thought it might be something worth being concerned about.  After a few hours of pain, fever, nausea, and appropriate cat-cursing, an ER visit was made.

He had never heard of Cat Scratch Fever before, not even Ted Nugent's version.

Some IV antibiotics and a night in the hospital later, all was well.

It was too funny of a story not to retell, so I did.  But there's also a moral to be had.  Some of us think we have things in control when we have no idea what we're dealing with.  And some of us think marks we have are small little issues when they're big, hairy, hospital kinds of deals.

Any application for you today?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...