Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How to become the Pope

I've thought about applying, but...

Monday, February 25, 2013

I'm finishing a book and it's...

I sat there trying to come up with the right word.  It's...


It's good.  It's powerful.  It's a reminder.  It's inspiring.

The book is for my next doctoral class with Dr. David Larsen, preaching professor at TEDS.  The book is his historical survey of biblical preaching from the Old Testament to today.

It's astounding.

I keep coming back to this very simple formula.  But formula's not the right word.  It's more like a recipe.  But it's sequential, so there's something about the timing of it all where one follows the other.

I know it's simple.  I know I've heard it all before.  But the wave-after-wave testimonies from the lives I'm reading about has a powerful effect of bringing it home, making it fresh, and challenging me.

The formula-recipe goes like this:  text - holiness of life - Gospel.

Wave after wave.  Wave after wave.  Preacher after preacher.  Century after century.  Movement after movement.  Wave after wave.  They all have the same refrain:  text - holiness - Gospel.

I'm seeing it in how God shaped their lives and the lives of their listeners through them.  He sparked revivals, movements, denominations, and consequential stirrings through this simple sequence.

It all begins with the text.  And holiness of life must match it.  And the Gospel must ring forth truly and clearly.

And it changes people's lives.  Amen.  May it ever be so in me, in your pastor, and in the pastors around the world who are committed to Jesus.  Amen.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 2.24.13

Here are the sermon notes from today's Sermon on Ephesians 1.1-6.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at sermons.heritagepark.org.  You can also find the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Saints and Sons
Ephesians 1.1-6

God’s outlook on us:  blessing.

God makes saints and sons in Jesus Christ.

  • What:  a holy one
  • Who:  those who have faith in Christ
  • How:  chosen by God to be holy and blameless before Him
  • Implication for the church:  we are a collection of saints in the saint-making business
  • Implication for your life:  your past is not greater than God’s grace.

  • What:  heirs in the family
  • Who:  those who have received His grace
  • How:  loving adoption into His family

His grace leads to His praise.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Snakes are Scary: Dining Out

If you ever wondered...

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

10 Signs We Have Lost Our Minds

I stole this right off Trevin Wax's blog, so he get's full credit.  It's too good not to repost...
Documenting the bizarre beliefs and inconsistencies that surface in contemporary discourse…
1. We worry about the shallowness and superficiality of online relationships, so we go to FaceBook and Twitter to register our concerns.
2. We are so focused on the newest and latest things that we leave behind the oldest and most foundational things.
3. We’ve turned the virtue of prudence into the vice of prudishness and the vice of impropriety into the virtue of authenticity.
4. We ban soda from schools but make condoms widely available… because corn syrup is a more serious matter for youngsters than sex.
5. We decry the exploitation of women, but cry “censorship” when someone wants decency standards against objectifying women on television.
6. We chide a pregnant mother for smoking because of the harm it does to her child, but we applaud her choice to walk into a clinic and have her baby torn limb by limb and extracted from her uterus.
7. It’s arrogant to buck the current push to redefine marriage, but not arrogant to buck the consensus of virtually every society before us.
8. Citizens who would like to keep the money they earn are “greedy.” Politicians who would take their wealth and give it away are “generous.”
9. We believe in tolerance: everyone can believe whatever they want (as long as they don’t really believe it).
10. We believe every religion should be open and inclusive, but not open and inclusive enough for a Jesus who claims to be Lord of all. 
~~~ Frustrated with our failure to live up to our ideals, we do away with them altogether. And then we feel better for being worse. ~~~

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Incredible Video on the Good News and Marriage

This is a long video, longer than the ones I normally post or dare even ask you to watch.  But I promise, it's 15-minutes of power.

The power of a God who redeems broken people and busted pastors

The power of a wife who sticks with her husband

The power of a man who gets honest, gets help, and gets healed

Skip & Barbara Ryan Story of Rescue from PCPC Video on Vimeo.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Safely Following

I read this in my Bible reading plan (thank you, M'Cheyne) from Luke 22.54, "...and Peter was following at a distance."

After a promise to be faithful to the end.

After a pledge of his very life.

After a swipe at the servant named Malchus, though only getting an ear.

After a promise that his faith wouldn't fail, though sifted by Satan.

After all this, he followed at a distance.

Because it's safer to follow Him at a distance - His demands aren't as sharp, His commands aren't as clear, His agenda not as consuming.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 2.17.13

Here are the notes from today's sermon that kicked off the series in Ephesians.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at sermons.heritagepark.org.  You can also get the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Getting Started
Acts 18.24-19.20

Ephesians is a broad book, covering many topics, and so will speak to a broad section of people. 

Incomplete (18.24-28)
  • Apollos knew Christ and His ways, but not as completely as he needed.
  • For those in this situation, the need is instruction.
  • Application:  what questions do I have that can be answered?
  • Getting more instruction propels us outward on the mission.

Ignorant (19.1-10)
  • The disciples were being as faithful as they knew how but did not know Jesus.
  • For those in this situation, the need is revelation.
  • People need to hear the Word of the Lord, especially in times of persecution and hardship.
  • Application:  if “that person” came to you in need, what would be your message?
  • Getting revelation allows us to walk in the power of the Spirit.

Surrogate (19.11-20)
  • At best, these are people living through someone else’s faith.
  • At worst, these are parasites living off someone else’s faith.
  • For those in this situation, the need is repentance.
  • Getting repentance brings clarity to the source of power and wisdom.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Snakes are Scary: Bad Valentine's Day Cards

Two true cards from the middle part of last century.  I'm guessing these relationships weren't terrific.

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

To all:  you are more radically loved than a card could ever say.

To my Valentine, you are the joy of my life and I would not want to do any of this without you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I Quit Praying for Something

I long ago quit praying for something.

That sounds bad coming from a pastor.  But it's true.  I don't pray for a few things anymore - one in particular.  I don't pray for ease.

I have two close friends walking through job situations, one much tougher than the other but both very present, very felt, and very tenuous (at best).  I pray for provision.  I pray for clarity.  I pray for righteousness.  I pray for blessing.  I pray for favor.  But I don't pray for ease.

Other friends at another church are walking through rough days with the church itself.  Wisdom.  Confession and repentance.  Health.  All of those.  But not ease.

In my own life we have decisions to make that are and will affect our family.  Clarity.  Wisdom.  Perspective.  Courage.  But not ease.

Why?  Because the road of ease is rarely the best road ultimately.  I'm not spiritual masochist, loving the pain that comes along with the road called Other.  But I do know there are benefits down it, in particular a faith refined by fire, purer than gold, resulting in praise to Jesus and attaboys to us (1 Peter 1.6-7).  And that's worth it.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Never Made a Sacrifice (?)

I am reading a book for my next doctoral class about preachers in history.  I am continually stunned by how they preached and how they died at the hands of those to whom they preached.  It reminds me of this great quote from David Livingstone, the missionary to Africa...

For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office.  People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa.
Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay?  Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter?  Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege.  Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. 
I never made a sacrifice.
- African missionary David Livingstone, Cambridge University, December 4, 1857.

What kind of person talks like that?  The kind of person who is passionate and clear-headed in Jesus.  The kind of person who knows that there is surpassing value in knowing and following Him - a surpassing value over every other boast, offer, promise, or treasure.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why I Love My Church Family

We had an annual event yesterday after our worship service called the I Love My Church Family Luncheon.  Hilarity was involved.  Food.  Ninety minutes of time together around tables.

Our church is still at the size where that's possible annually.  I love that part.  And I love that so many stayed around to spend time together, to laugh (a lot), and to enjoy the company of being together.  I can't help but wonder how many stories, meals, jokes, and guffaws were shared by the early church too.

Around the room, I could see stories.  Redemption over here.  Perseverance over there.  All together.  All sharing the moment.

That's what church ought to be.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 2.10.13

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday (2.10), finishing the series on Elijah in 1 Kings.  You can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at sermons.heritagepark.org.  You can also get the audio via our podcast on iTunes (though we've had some issues as of late with this - sorry!).

Part 6 – When a Prophet Goes to Work
1 Kings 17

When a Prophet goes to work, he reveals God – just as when he calls, it’s God calling.

The Lord is God over…
Omniscience – His awareness
Omnipresence – His availability
Omnipotence – His authority

The Lord is God over rain and ravens.
He is aware of everything in the natural world.
He is available for everything in the natural world.
He has authority over everything in the natural world.

The Lord is God over false gods.
Our gods have names too:
The Lord demonstrates He is God over our idols.

Sending Elijah to Sidon meant an invasion of enemy territory.
When the Lord sends you to other lands, you do not go alone.

Affirmations of Awareness:
He knows where you are
He knows your situation
He knows about “that thing” in your family
He knows the relational dynamics
He knows your intention
He knows where you feel “lack”
Often challenged at that exact point
He is available in every circumstance
He has authority over every circumstance

He is fully aware of those who face death and its cause.
He is available for those who face death.
He has authority over everything – death included.