Friday, November 30, 2012

Snakes are Scary: Aspiring Artists Advice

For all aspiring artists, a tip:

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I have at least one reader in the family...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thoughts on a Preaching Calendar for 2013

Last week, I completed my (very flexible) preaching calendar for 2013.  With much prayer, I try to lay out where I think we will head as a church family over the next year.  For all ministry types who might read this and have some questions, let me answer the best I can...

Some have asked why and a few have even talked about how unspiritual it seems to plan the preaching.    I've never understood the objection, but let me say that I have prayed this through and it's very open to change at any moment.  The reason I try to make the plans is so that I have a balance between OT and NT and so that I can let our staff know when they will be preaching.

What's on the calendar are the week by week breakdown of the texts I'll be studying and preaching, including the weeks of my vacation, etc.  Some I have broken down to the actual verses themselves.  Some are broader descriptions (like a 4-week series from the Psalms).

I pray.  I look over notes of past years.  I ask a few key people where we might need instruction or exhortation.  I pray.  I jot and write and scratch out and erase and pray.

And I make sure to say to myself and to my Lord that He can do what He wants to do any given week because if I'm His spokesman (in some sense), then He's the originator of the message for the people who have gathered.  He's the Chief Shepherd.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A post for Tuesday

Occasionally there comes a cloud dark enough that your eyes really have to adjust to the world around you.  It's not the sun has gone away.  Otherwise you couldn't see at all.  But the cloud hangs so largely and with such thickness that its shadow causes pupils to dilate, squinting to identify, and a wondering of what kind of world we really live in that it could get that dark in the middle of the day.

The sun isn't gone.

It's just obscured.  And to such a degree that darkness rather than light is the topic you talk about.

But the sun isn't gone.

It's a heavy kind of darkness.

But the sun isn't gone.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Just a reminder that life is short...

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.  Ours was certainly eventful.  I'll spare the details, but this is a reminder that life is short.

It's a vapor.

It's a mist.

It's a fog on a sunny morning.

So hug who needs to be hugged.  Share what needs to be shared.  Give what needs to be given.  Listen to what needs to be heard.

Martin Luther said that there were two days on his calendar:  this day and THAT day.  Live the former in light of the latter.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Snakes are Scary: I LOL'd multiple times

This video is just funny.  And the husband has been sleeping on the couch ever since...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

It's Thanksgiving!

It's Thanksgiving.  Go eat turkey and watch football.  Don't be on the internet looking at blogs.  And whatever you do, do NOT watch the following video.

I tried to warn you.  Now it's going to be stuck in your head all day...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful (3 of 3)

Our church is awesome.

That's because God is awesome.

And our church likes walking with that awesome God (cue Rich Mullins here).  Just this week, our crew jumped headfirst into a ministry project of generosity, blessing children who are classified as homeless by the local school district with Christmas gifts.  We had 64 kids on our Giving Tree in the auditorium.  They were all gone after a single day.  All of them.

I think about how our church has supported, loved, cajoled, poked fun at, encouraged, blessed, laughed at, laughed with, and walked with one of our staff members who had some health challenges this past year.  This past Sunday was the first Sunday this staff member was back with the congregation.  I said something from the stage and the church stood in an ovation, some of the folks even whipped hankies around like a bunch of non-Baptists.

I think about the consistent, faithful people who give of life and energy to serve in ways that no one really notices, with the smile of God as their only reward.

I think about one of our guys who had prayed for a lost coworker for months.  We'll baptize the coworker in a couple of weeks.

All of these are testimonies to what God is doing through this church.  And I'm grateful to be a part of it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful (2 of 3)

I'm so grateful for my kids.

They really are heirlooms from God, arrows to be sent out (Ps. 127).

They drive me nuts sometimes.  But in some ways that makes me more grateful, because I know God is using it to help make me more like Jesus.  Also, I am more grateful for my own parents who put up with all my ballyhooing, shenanigans, and stupid immaturity wrapped in a self-determinative, independent shell.

The Bear is a caring little guy, can be very thoughtful, and has a tremendous drive to serve.

The Ninja is tender, but a warrior, and can find the joy of life in the smallest thing.

The Peanut is aware, perceptive, and has the spirit of a survivor.

All of them have infectious laughs that I get to hear often.  They all enjoy being around me for some reason.  And I'm a blessed dad.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful (1 of 3)

This week, I wanted to take three days to express my gratitude to God for some blessings in my life.

I'll start this off with my #1 blessing:  my wife.

Proverbs says that he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains a blessing from the Lord.  The Queen is the clearest earthly sign of God's favor on my life.

Her life, more than anyone else, challenges me to become the man God desires me to be.  What's more, I want to be a better man because of her.  It's a strange magnetism, but I'm drawn closer to God and closer to Ideal because I married her.

She also finds time to keep our family running, bring God's healing to people through her excellence in physical therapy, and bless families through her photography busi-ministry-ness.

She's a caring friend and a strong companion.  She has a divine sense of right and wrong, justice and inequity.  And I've said this for years, but I know no other person who is so committed to doing the right thing (even if it takes a little while to discern what it is or bring her emotions around to it).

It's not that we don't have our spats, disagreements, tiffs, struggles, miscues, parental overloads, schedule conflicts, or at times out-and-out fights.  But at no point in my married life have I ever wanted to be fussing or reconciling with anyone else.

I am blessed.

Me, the Queen, and her dad at our engagement party (1997)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 11.18.12

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 11.18.12, the last in the series on the Holy Spirit.  You can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at   You can also find the sermon audio on our podcast via iTunes.

The Holy Spirit
Part 5 - Gifts
1 Corinthians 12

What is a spiritual gift? (v.4-7)

  • Charismata: a grace-gift that gives grace
  • Its expressions are not the same for each person or in each culture or in each season (v.4-6)

What are the gifts? (v.8-10)

  • Two essential categories: speaking gifts and serving gifts
  • One thing the gifts are not: a mark of spiritual maturity

Who gives the gifts?

  • Easy answer: the Holy Spirit
  • The best way to know your spiritual gift is by its affirmation in the Church

Why does He give gifts?

  • He gives gifts for the common good (v.7)
  • He gives gifts to build unity (v.14-20)
  • He gives gifts to build humility (v.21-26)

Who gets the gifts?

  • Each of us gets gifts, no matter our past
  • The church cannot be everything she is meant to be without you 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Snakes are Scary: A Stylish Baptism

What in the world...?

Addendum:  I have been told this was a spoof or at least tongue-in-cheek.  "Reality" TV seems to take itself pretty seriously though, so I'll let you be the judge.

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

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Have a Beer with Jesus

I like the song.  I really do.  Good for Thomas Rhett and good for country music.  One more reason I find my radio on it and not what passes for Christian music these days.

But Rhett's asking questions that have answers.  It's subtle, almost backwards, reminder that the more we know His Word the less we have to wonder.  Jesus has already answered the questions in His Word...

He didn't "turn the other cheek," but bore in His body our sin and took the justified punishment in justifying us.  His forgiveness wasn't dismissal, but payment through His own blood.

He hears us when we pray because we have confident access to the Father in one Spirit through Him.

We go to be with Him forever, because absence from the body is presence with the Lord (for believers).

He's coming back when the Father tells Him it's time.

He's been there from the beginning because He's God.

He changed a sinner's heart by the power of His Spirit who regenerates us, giving us new allegiance and affection.

Heaven is exactly where He said it is - with His Father.

The "other side" holds incredible and amazing bliss for all who have trusted Him, including our loved ones.  Undeniable and unending punishment for those who don't.

And finally, the living proof of our relationship is not the answers we provide to the questions we are asked but the value we consistently place on Him in our allegiance and affection.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Knowing a Father

I headed to the Y the other morning and as I'm waiting on my ride, I hear the Bear stir upstairs.  Not wanting to wake him up with my exit, I creep up the stairs like a cartoon character (minus the little twinkle-toes-when-they-step sound) and pull his door closed.

From the other side of the door:

Bear:  Daddy?

Me:  Yes?

Bear:  Where are you going?

Me:  To the Y to work out.  You go back to sleep.  It's way-too-early o'clock.

Bear:  Okay.

And then I crept back down the stairs in the same cartoon gait, waited for my ride another minute, and headed out.

How did he know I was there?  How did he know it was me?

Because I'm his dad.  We've spent a whole lot of time together in close contact.  He knows my gait pattern.  He knows my smell.  He knows what my breathing sounds like.  He knows the kinds of actions I regularly take.  He knows that it's okay to go back to sleep.

He knows me.

What if we could say the same thing about our Father?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A shiny penny and a dull quarter

I had the privilege of seeing this with my own eyes, hearing it with my own ears, and wondering how many times in my own life this is true of me.

The Ninja finds a very shiny penny and a very dull quarter in the couch or under something.  He graciously decides to give one to his sister, who is the only other person in the house.  He comes up to me and asks me what I think.

Me:  Ninja, it's really awesome that you want to give away something you found to Peanut.  That's very generous of you and I think you're awesome for wanting to do it.  (I'm sure I said awesome a few more times)

Ninja:  But dad, one is really shiny and I really want to keep it.  But I know the other is a quarter and it's bigger.

Me:  Yes, and it's also more valuable.  It takes 25 of the shiny ones to make up the one quarter, remember?

Ninja:  Yes, but the penny is shiny.  And it has 2009 on it.  And it's shiny.

Me:  But it takes 25 of those... (voice trails off for dramatic effect)

I honestly have no idea what happened in the end.  He could've kept them both for all I know (great parenting moment, I know).  I lost track because the Spirit of God welled up inside of me and started querying me...

Holy Spirit:  Hey, you like shiny things.

Me:  Yep.  And if they have an Apple logo or can hit a small white ball into a small hole cut in the grass, even better.

HS:  But it takes 25 of those... (voice trails off for dramatic effect)

Me:  ________________________________.

I'm sure the conversation with you would've gone differently.  But that's how it went with me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

This is too funny...

The Queen saw this on Facebook and it's stinkin' hilarious.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sermon from Sunday, 11.11.12

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 11.11.12, the next to last sermon in the series on the Holy Spirit.  You can find the sermon audio and these notes in PDF at  The audio is also available via our podcast on iTunes.

The Holy Spirit
4 - Experience and Expression
Ephesians 5.18-6.9

Experience v. Expression

  • The experience is validated by the expression.
  • Grieving the HS is what happens when your identity is not reflected in your activity.

3 Expressions of Spirit’s Filling

Worship (v.19)

  • Horizontal Nature – genuine care for God’s gathered people
  • Vertical Nature – genuine passion for God
  • 3 of 5 participles are here – if we get this, a lot falls into place (big God = smaller problems, smaller problems = more grace/love for people)
  • We give thanks always because God is in control
  • We give thanks for everything because we know God will use it
  • This expression is built on others.
  • Marriage - turning toward one another in sacrifice and submission
  • Parenting - purposeful in your authority and responsive in your obedience from heart
  • Work - productivity goes up, pride goes down 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Snakes are Scary: Voiding Checks

The person voided their church offering check because the drums were way too loud in his/her opinion.  And his/her heart was way too hard in mine.

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

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book Review: Rachel Held Evans' A Year of Biblical Womanhood

Actually, this is not MY review.  It's Kathy Keller's, who has an M.A. from Gordon-Conwell Seminary and is married to a highly influential pastor in evangelical life, Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City.  She's also, if I may point out the obvious, an accomplished woman, renown in ministry, theologically degreed, and in blistering disagreement with what seems to be a biblically unsound book.

The most devastating paragraph of the devastating review is this conclusion:

Rachel, I can and do agree with much of what you say in your book regarding the ways in which either poor biblical interpretation or patriarchal customs have sinfully oppressed women. I would join you in exposing churches, books, teachers, and leaders who have imposed a human agenda on the Bible. However, you have become what you claim to despise; you have imposed your own agenda on Scripture in order to advance your own goals. In doing so, you have further muddied the waters of biblical interpretation instead of bringing any clarity to the task.
As a woman also engaged in trying to understand the Bible as it relates to gender, I had hoped for better.
The full review is here:  LINK.

RHE is one of the people who has seemingly made it a profession of taking up other people's hurts as her own and parlaying that victimization into books, blogs, and bucks.  I can respect someone I disagree with, but it's tough for me to respect someone like her.  And now, based on this review, there is significant twisting of basic biblical interpretive principles to, once again, move books from shelves to nightstands.

Buyer beware.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Encouragement - a kind of lifeline

October was Pastor Appreciation month, which I think might have been made up by the Greeting Card industry.  But that's a different story.

I got a couple of cards, some cookies, and a few hugs.  And I loved them all.

I also have a drawer behind my workspace which has a file full of cards that have encouraged me through the years.  I do not pull it out often, but on occasion stick my head down there and poke around a little bit.  I do that because there are times when being a pastor is hard and I need some encouragement.  Not that other people in other positions don't need encouragement too, but I'll get to that more in just a second.

So for all church goers, how about a quick note or email of encouragement to the staff member of your choice?  For all Heritage Park family, please don't take this as a plea from me for more inbox material or an ego-stroke.  If you're a member of Heritage Park, please pick out one of our awesome other ministers and send them a note.

And finally, how about a note or word of encouragement to others in your life?  A coworker, a spouse, a kid, a parent, a grocery checker, a Sunday School teacher, or someone else?  And don't simply be positive, although that's good.  Instead, I challenge you to encourage them in the Lord, meaning you point them to Him in some way.  Other people in other walks of life certainly need the same kind of lifeline because their lives get hard from time to time too.  How many notes, conversations, texts, or emails do they get that do the exact opposite of encouragement, especially of encouragement in the Lord?

Try it and see what happens!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Today is Election Day: Go Vote

Some evangelicals, some friends, and some others have talked about how they're not voting this year.  I think that's a mistake on both the spiritual and cultural realms.

I have been places where there is no voting allowed.

I have seen places where the cultural erosion is not delayed by Christian engagement in the civic sphere.

I have talked to vets who have sacrificed significantly for the country I call home.

I have seen how twisted theology can become to support (or not support) a candidate.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will know who our next President will be.  Whether or not he is your choice, the God of the Universe is our Hope.  But we cannot and should not shift into reverse on the cultural and political fronts.  Tempering our hope in them?  Yes.  Ceasing our engagement?  No.

I commend to you that it's your civic duty to vote.  It's also your spiritual duty.  Even if you have to "vote against" someone by voting in favor of another, it's still better than being silent.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, November 5, 2012

GREAT Post from the Queen

I'll simply point you over there to see it for yourself.

Here's the link. Go read it.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 11.4.12

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 11.4.12, the third sermon in the series on the Holy Spirit.  You can find the sermon audio and these notes in PDF at  The audio is also available via our podcast on iTunes.

The Holy Spirit 
Part 3 – Filling 
Ephesians 5.18


  • Who is the Empty?
  • We are because we were made for Him.
  • What does He fill us with?
  • He fills us with Himself and shows us His love (Eph 3.14-21)


  • Did we get everything we need?
  • Yes, He is our seal and down payment.
  • The ongoing filling is inherent in the relationship.


  • He inhabits us and begins to influence us.
  • Every sphere of life comes under His influence.
  • You have to work to hide it, not work to display it. (John 7.37-39)


  • He deals with the mismanaged desires and their idols.
  • He points our desires to Jesus.
  • We need to know that Jesus is more real than anything 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Snakes are Scary: Don't be on this list

You have to kind of be in and around church to get this one, so if you're not, let me give a brief explanation.  The tithe is a gift that is given to the church, specifically one-tenth of the income.  Churches like ours do not receive monies from denominational entities, so all of our income depends on our people giving regularly.  Therefore, to post something like this is equal to the Wall of Shame...

For the record, I have no idea who gives what to our church.  And I'm fairly confident that shaming someone into giving is the antithesis of the "God loves a cheerful giver" and "It's better to give than to receive" teaching of the New Testament.

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

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In honor of All Saints Day: Trueman on Luther

Carl Trueman has posted a powerful piece playing on Martin Luther's 95 Theses that set off the Reformation, shaking and shaping the world.  Trueman writes of 9.5 Theses for the modern church that Luther would probably post.  Worth thinking about...

1.  Luther saw leadership as primarily marked by servanthood - "The minister, like his Saviour, was to serve the poor and despised and the things that are not."

2.  Luther understood worship as rooted in repentance - "[Luther] did not consider that the primary problem of sinners was that they were hurting...[but] that they were in deliberate rebellion against God and actually enjoying it."  Ouch.

3.  Luther did not care for they myth of cultural influence nor for the prerequisite cultural swagger necessary to catch the attention of the great and good - "He knew that the world really cares nothing for nuance nor for the friendship of the church and attempts by the church to befriend the world are always disastrous to the former."

4.  Luther saw suffering as a mark of the church - "Suffering and being regarded as scum by the world were to go with the territory."

5.  Luther was pastorally sensitive to the cherished practices of older Christians - "The contemporary cult of youth and innovation would have struck him as utterly wrong-headed and insensitive, a capitulation to the tastes and demands of the very category of people least likely to have anything useful or wise to contribute to how the church should go about her business."

6.  Luther did not agree to disagree on matters of importance and thus to make them into practical trivia - "Luther did not allow the tastes of his own day nor the urgent need of a broad confederation to lead him to set aside what he was convinced was the teaching of Scripture."

7.  Luther saw the existence of the ordained ministry as a mark of the church - "Luther quickly came to see that ordained ministers, those chosen by the church as exhibiting the moral and pedagogical abilities described by Paul, were the ones to whom the church was entrusted.  There is a lesson here for a world like ours, where the Beautiful Young Things with computer savvy can aspire to set the churches' agenda by sheer strength of technological ability."

8.  Luther saw the problem of leadership accountable only to itself - "The problem of unaccountable and influential leadership in evangelicalism is alive and well."

9.  Luther thought very little of his own literary contribution to Christianity - "If here were alive today, it is very doubtful that he would be running a website devoted primarily to promoting his own books and pamphlets."

Read the whole thing here.  It's worth your time.