Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sermon Notes from Easter Sunday, 3.31.13

Here are the sermon notes from Easter Sunday, 3.31.  You can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio from  You can also get the sermon audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Part 7 – Believe that Christ is Raised
Easter 2013
Ephesians 2.4-10

Driving Point:  Jesus Christ is raised – our response is faith.

Jesus Christ is raised

Overwhelming message of the NT is that Jesus Christ died and rose again.

Objections (building the case)
  •  He didn’t really die
  • His Body was stolen
  • Bible is not reliable

If true, what does that mean?
  • If it’s true, then it changes everything
  •  It not only means something, it demands something – a reorientation of life

  •  I don’t want to let go (v.5-7)
  • God is boring (v.10)
  • I’m not Good Enough

Our response is faith
  • The positive orientation toward the One who is God
  • A certain allegiance to the One who is God

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The darkness and doubt of Easter Saturday

A repost from last year's Easter Saturday.

The air of Easter Saturday is heavy with the fog of doubt and confusion, grief and loss.  Yet there is a tinge of the aroma of hope.

Just about everything we know about Easter Saturday can be summed up in one word:  nothing.  The silence is deafening.  I can only imagine what's running through the individual and collective minds of the followers (and deserters) of Jesus. 

"I guess we bet on the wrong horse here, didn't we?"

"All along I've been wrong.  How can that be?"

"I thought He was someone else, someone special."

"What in the world am I going to do now?"

It strikes me that most of those thoughts and ponderings that I'm imagining have at their core how am responding to what's happened.  That's part of the problem I guess.  Easter Saturday is not about how I'm feeling about what happened on Friday.  It's about how God is at work even in the death, the grief, the loss, the devastation, the doubt, the silence. 

There's a lot of patience required in those moments.  And confidence that the One who promised is Faithful to see it through (1 Thes. 5.24).

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good (?) Friday

A repost of last year's reflections on Good Friday.

The man on the cross is no mere martyr who identifies with the oppressed - He is the Son of God being the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

Some would identify Jesus as the symbol of all who would suffer oppression, injustice, hardship, loss, grief, and hatred.  He certainly did suffer those things and promised that those who follow Him would as well.  But you can suffer and become bitter.  You can endure hardship and come out hard-hearted.  So no, He's no mere symbol.

He's the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  That's what He's doing on the cross.  He can be more for us than that as He agonizes there, but it must start there.  His atoning work becomes the portal for all the other things God will do (Rom. 8.32).

I write this at 3:01pm, the hour according to the Bible that Jesus cried His last words and breathed His last breath.  Indeed, it is finished.  Amen.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday

A repost of last year's reflections on Maundy Thursday.  They still hold true:

Jesus on Thursday: In the world you will have trouble, but take heart because I've overcome the world (John 16.33). That's a perfect picture of the coming Easter weekend.

No one claims the first half of that promise:  in the world you WILL have trouble.  That's not framed, not on anyone's fridge, not on a coffee cup or Bible cover or any of the other inane things most Christian bookstores sell.  We love the back half.  It's the front half we have problems with.

But Jesus not only spoke it - He modeled it.  Thursday night into Friday is bloody and brutal.  Friday is death and darkness and separation and wrath.  Saturday is doubt and questioning and silence.  But take heart, because He overcame the world on Sunday.  

Prediction on the front end so we'll know He's faithful to His promise on the back end.  That's (part of) what Maundy Thursday means to me.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Excellent thinking on Gay Marriage by a friend

My friend and co-laborer Doug Hankins has put into writing an excellent post on Christian interaction on the gay marriage issue.  

Some highlights:

With the recent state elections moving in the direction of affirming same-sex marriage as a normative political and social value, many Christians are being pressed into an awkward and unforeseen circumstance: They must come to terms with how to respond to the question – What do you think about gay marriage?
Not to claim any wisdom of leadership, especially of a Fortune 500 company, but Schultz could have responded in many other ways to Mr. Strobhar’s question.  His curt and ungracious response was a misstep for sure. But, Mr. Strobhar was equally guilty of pushing Mr. Schultz’s button with a self-described “maverick” style of aggression.
In this case, [Rob] Bell has nuanced his position without holding to the plain teaching of scripture.  In other words, Bell has left the Bible by the wayside and is holding to his own choose your own adventure Christianity — which is not Bible Christianity at all.
Dan Cathy.  Hateful oppressor of gay people? Nope.  Evil CEO with an evil agenda? Not quite.  Homophobic wealthy white Southerner?  Negative.  Shane Windemeyer called Dan Cathy “respectful” and “civil.”  

He closes with 3 salient points for followers of Jesus:

1.  Make growing in your satisfying relationship with Christ your goal

2.  Know and boldly speak the truth
3.  "Loving" is the best method for everything

You can read the whole post here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Check this out...

What a funny little exchange.

Remembering like this can be such a good exercise in (a) humility and (b) that not everything we deem essential is all that essential.  Only a few things really are.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, March 25, 2013

I *LOVE* March Madness

It's absolutely true.  It can border on idolatry this time of year.  No kidding.

We have brackets posted outside my office.  My brothers and I play.  Our mom is in on the deal.  Several folks at church are in too.

I love how Florida Gulf Coast is destroying brackets everywhere.  Even though I picked them, I (kinda) like it that Gonzaga went down to a really good and crazy hot Wichita State team.  I love it that the guard from Ohio State jacked a 3 right in a guy's grill to win the game.

Little schools making their mark.  Little guys making their mark.  Little things making their mark.

Like a little leaven that works its way all the way through the lump of dough.  Like a little mustard seed that produces a plant that even birds can nest in.  (Try on for size Matthew 13.31-33)

That's what the Kingdom is like.  Seemingly small.  Overlooked and outmatched.  But irrepressible.  Unstoppable.  Unmanageable.  Like March Madness.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 3.24.13

Here are the sermon notes from Palm Sunday, 3.24.  I don't preach on Jesus entering Jerusalem, but annually take the opportunity to talk about the cross and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus.  You can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at  You can also download the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Part 6 – The Dead Live
Ephesians 2.1-7

We have a big problem
  • We are dead in our sin (v.1)
  • We follow God’s enemy (v.2)
  • We indulge our desires (v.3) 
  • The result:  we are under God’s wrath (v.3)

God has a beautiful solution
  • He is motivated by rich mercy and great love (v.4)
  • He made us alive with Christ (v.5)
  • He opened the spiritual realm to us (v.6)
  • He will forever display for us His grace (v.7)

But we have a problem here:  how could God actually do this and remain God?

Christ is our propitiation (Romans 3.23-26)
  • His sacrifice appeased God
  • His sacrifice pleased God

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Reliable Pattern for Spiritual Growth

I see this all over the Scripture.  I originally ran across this concept in a conference where Dallas Willard was teaching and have tweaked it some since then.  But I do see it all over Scripture.

Here's the pattern for spiritual growth:  soaked in the Word, active in the disciplines, faithfully enduring trials (whether large like cancer or small like traffic).

Consider this passage from 1 Timothy 4:6-10:

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. (v.6)  Soaked in the Word.

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.  Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (v.7-8).  Active in the disciplines.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.  For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (v.9-10).  Faithfully enduring trials (toil, strive - these are words we love, right?).

So in which are you lacking?  What will you do to address it?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Decision-Making Time (a prayer)

If ever you want to pray a biblical prayer for help in making a decision, I commend to you this one:

Make me to know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your Truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I will wait all the day long (Psalm 25.4-5)

Actually, the whole psalm is very good to pray during that time.

Notice this, though:  the psalmist wasn't asking for an answer first but transformation.  He wanted to know the ways of God and afterward to understand the path.

Which would you want more from God - a map or a Guide?  And your answer will be the tell-tale signal of whether you want a benefit or a relationship.  We know which one He'd prefer.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Blurbing for St. Patrick of Ireland

I know I'm a couple of days late on this, but I wanted to sneak in the family update yesterday.  Sunday was St. Patrick's day and a great time for all Irish lads and lasses to celebrate being Irish.

But St. Patrick wasn't about green beer, getting pinched, or anything leprechaun-ish.

He was about the Gospel.

Patrick was born in 389 on the west coast of England, his dad Calpurnius being a municipal officer of some sort and apparently a deacon in their church.  In 405 at age 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates and worked in Ireland in County Mayo as a shepherd.  He escaped and returned to England.  In 430, he returned to Ireland as the bishop of the Christian church and sought to evangelize and plant churches.  Estimates include about 100,000 people gave their lives to Christ because of Patrick's ministry and some 365 churches were planted.  Wow.

No shamrock needed.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Quick Family Update

For those who are kind enough to follow this blog and actually read it, you may already know the information I am posting today.  For those who do not, here's a quick family update.

On 2.27, the Bear had surgery (again).  This time, the hardware from last time was taken out (we still have it!) and a tendon transfer on his feet was done.  This will hopefully put him on as stable a base as possible as he rounds the corner into puberty's growth spurts.

He has about 3-4 more weeks in casts but has done exceedingly well with both attitude and pain management.  This is a marked improvement over last time where his pain was so overwhelming that managing it was a full-time effort.

So thanks be to God who hears our prayers and yours, who has compassion and mercy for 10-year old boys and parents of the same, and who has shown Himself faithful in a thousand ways.  Furthermore, thanks to all who prayed, called, asked, brought food, sent goodies, cared, stopped by, and checked in. We are abundantly thankful.

Trent (for the fam)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 3.17.13

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

Part 5 - Praying with Paul (and the Holy Spirit)
Ephesians 1.15-23

What had they become?
  • Disciples who trust the Lord Jesus
  • Disciples with love for His people

How can we become like them?

Know Him well
  • The goal is interactive intimacy
  • The Spirit will always point us to Jesus by leading us to the Bible
  • Our experience has the Bible as its anchor.

Own His graces
  • The Hope of His Calling
  • The Rich Inheritance of Saints
  • The Surpassing Power of Resurrection

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Is what you are doing marvelous?

I read this verse this week and just can't get past it...

...when He comes on that day to be glorified in His saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed... (2 Thessalonians 1.10)

Jesus is going to return.  He will do so for sure, for certain, without question.  When He does, He will be glorified in His saints (that's us - those who have believed).  He will be marveled at by us.

He will put Himself on display gloriously and marvelously.

Until then, are we putting Him on display gloriously and marvelously?  Is what I'm doing marvelous, making Him look like He really is?

Are you?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Griping about Church

I don't hear much (as in hardly any) griping from our people.  Let me start with that disclaimer so that none of you think I'm thinking specifically about you.

Imagine that you are a husband and someone is griping about your wife.  She's too bossy.  She's demanding.  She's hypocritical.  She's out of touch with reality.  She's financially irresponsible.  She's a bad mom.  She's a workaholic.  She's snobby.  She's cliquish.  She's irrelevant to the world around her. She's incapable of answering basic questions.  She's old-fashioned.  She's a fad-hound.

String 4 or 5 of those together.  If you're a husband, your blood she about ready to boil even simply imagining someone talking about your wife.  Mine is, and I'm the author of this blog post!

Imagine how you'd feel if some or all of those things were actually said about your beloved.  Is your chest getting hot?  Face getting red?

Now put an eternal exponent on that and you'll have a sense of how Jesus feels about someone talking about His Bride, the Church, for whom He shed His blood.

It's not that you can't be critical.  As a pastor, I'm the first to admit our imperfection and first to appreciate a solid critique.

But it is Someone's wife you're talking about.  And that should shape everything you say.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I'm Guilty

I ran a stop sign.

Even if I didn't know I did, I did.

Even if I didn't think I did, I did.  The citation tells me so.

Even if I wish the policeman were dealing with speeders (of which we have many) or other lawbreakers, I still did.

Even if I could redefine the word "stop" to mean something like "pause, I still did.  Guilty.

Guilty.  No excuse, blame-shifting, ignorance, or ignoring the clear standard will clear my name.  I'm guilty.

And it's the same way in our spiritual lives.  We're guilty of sin.  We can plead ignorance.  We can make excuses.  We can point the finger at others.  We can compare ourselves to others.  We can deny that sin is really sin.

But we're guilty.

And there's only one plea we can offer:  nolo contendre.  No contest.  Guilty.  Without a leg to stand on.

But it's when we do that the grace of Jesus is given to us.  Pride is smashed in our penitence, and grace drops like confetti at God's parade of forgiven children.  Instead of aridity and sweltering summer heat, there is refreshment in the bones [Ps. 32].


Monday, March 11, 2013

My week last week (in pictures)

Some of my faithful followers (all 3 of you) know that I am in the process of pursuing my D.Min. (Doctorate of Ministry) at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  I was up last week for a module.  This is my experience in pictures...

The night I arrived...

At my hotel... (clever little folks)

My walk to the classroom building (that's the Admin building across the way)

It started snowing...

I drove in 8" of snow that fell on Tuesday

Tough to find a seat...

But cleared gloriously!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 3.10.13

Here are the sermon notes from today's sermon on Ephesians 1.11-14.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at  You can also get the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Part 4 – Our Inheritance
Ephesians 1.11-14

God granted us an inheritance
It’s unearned
It’s personal
It’s in the future
It’s in Christ
It’s for Praise

What is it?  Eternal Life in His Kingdom

Our inheritance is certain
Sovereignty of God
All can be included
Seal of Spirit
Down payment