Monday, December 31, 2007

Reading in 2008

I was talking to a friend (who has a great blog, by the way) about my reading plans for 2008. I am going to try to plan out some of my reading this year, so that I am not drawn to read things that are only on one topic. My goal is to read something from five categories each month: Older authors, theology, ministry/preaching, culture and secular society, and miscellaneous.

So based on that, here is what January will look like, God-willing.

Based on this blogger's recommendation, I am going to try to read a Puritan author a month. I am going to deviate a little from his schedule and read Overcoming Sin and Temptation by Owen in January. I am planning on preaching on this subject soon.


I am cheating on this one, because I am halfway through Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics by Graeme Goldsworthy. He is a great writer. The half I have read though makes me know the second half will be equally worthwhile.


I have read some on this subject, and some by this author, but How People Change seems to be pretty interesting to me. It is one of the primary goals of my preaching each week, so reading about it surely couldn't hurt.



I am interested in The World Is Flat, not so much from an economic point of view, but because I think the principles in the book have great impact on world evangelism. And based on the church's mission, I think we have to evaluate new opportunities to share the gospel.


With the family, I plan on going through The Jesus Storybook Bible. Every review of this Bible has been positive, and I think we all could benefit from this each evening.

New Beginnings

Generally, the new year is a good time to begin certain things. I have found it to be a great time to recommit myself to some of the spiritual disciplines like Bible reading and meditation, scripture memory, and prayer. Here are a couple of resources that I am really likely to use in 2008.
These are just some of my preferences, so I thought I would share the links. If you already have something working for you, then God bless you as you use it!

God, would you open doors for your word!?

For those of you who were at OBC yesterday, you remember (hopefully) that I have asked our congregation to take the next seven days (beginning yesterday) to pray for God to open doors for His word to be shared. I was encouraged last night when I spent some time with some of the OBC family, that a prayer was offered to God for open doors!

In review, pray that God would open doors by...
  1. Putting people in a position to hear
  2. Allowing them to understand the message
  3. Giving them faith and repentance
Those are the things that only God can do!

I did not get to share some of these verses in all of the services yesterday, so here are some specific "open door" passages.

Acts 14:27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.

1 Corinthians 16:8-9 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

2 Corinthians 2:12-13 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.

2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas from the Hills

Guess who had a lot of fun today!

My "main man" and our "sweet pea" in their Christmas PJ's

Demonstration of what a moose looks like.

Reaching for presents!

The fireman theme was a common thread!

This was a great Christmas with several firsts:
  1. Our first Delaware Christmas!
  2. Our first Christmas with 4 instead of 3!
  3. My first Christmas not getting gift cards from my inlaws. (They got me real stuff this year)!
  4. My first year speaking on Christmas Eve. (It was great to see Jim Manning and Emily Troutman in the choir loft. I think it's a good fit!)
So, Merry Christmas to all!

FYI

If you came last night to our Christmas Eve services, you will understand this...
  1. Canaan's bow and arrow have already broken twice today. Cheap stuff, but what can you expect when you pay $1.

  2. We have been forced to establish a "no shooting arrows in the house or at your sister" policy. That policy has been 'challenged' for clarification [our son is very much a letter of the law person] so we have also had to add a "no aiming arrows in the house or at your sister or anyone else" policy as well!
Fun times.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It's Christmas, Charlie Brown!

This was the first year that the 4 of us watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special together (Our daughter wasn't exactly in a place where she could see it last year). So, here are my favorite things about the Charlie Brown Christmas.

6. The singing. I love the facial expressions of the kids as they 'ooooo' to "Hark the Herald Angels."

5. The tree. We had one like it growing up. And we used it every year...like for 17 years! Good memories.

4. The dancing. Canaan has mastered a few of the classy dance moves. I will keep my dance moves restricted to the elf-moves.

3. Pigpen. I smile every time I see the cloud of dirt around him building the snowman.

2. The music. I got the soundtrack last year, and have listened to it quite a bit this year. It's classic.

1. Luke 2. I don't know of any other primetime special that will point to the gospel, like Linus' reading of the Christmas story.

Christmas at O B C

Well, in the next 2 days, we will have 5 services at Ogletown. It should be a special time as we celebrate God coming to earth to rescue us!
  • On Sunday, we will have our normal services at 8:30, 9:45, and 11 am.

  • On Monday, we will have our Christmas Eve services at 5 and 6:30 pm.
In both of these services we will end our December sermon series of Isaiah 9 by taking a look at the great verse of Isaiah 9:6!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
I hope to see you there, and if you are unable to come, I wish you joy in the great hope of Christmas: Jesus himself!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two-Thirds Disease

I confess...I start more books than I finish. I guess there are better odds of that than finishing more books than you start!

That's where the 2/3 disease comes from. I get 2/3 into the book, and start reading 2 or 3 more. However, progress has been made recently in that department. I have finished 3 books recently. They are...
  1. The Kite Runner - pretty intense secular fiction book, but it definitely gave me a heart for the people who are without Christ in Afghanistan. I didn't read the book for theology, but much of the pain of the Afghan people breaks my heart!

  2. When People Are Big and God Is Small - DO NOT read this book...unless you want to be impressed with the bigness of God. You might have heard similar themes in my message Sunday.

  3. The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor - when older pastors talk, I listen. When it is John Stott, I listen intently. An 86 year old Anglican pastor has been a huge help to this 31 year old (yes, I had a birthday) Baptist pastor!
So, there it is, maybe I have conquered 2/3 disease!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What does a pastor do on a Saturday night?

Well, when the sermon is done, we can have a little fun.
Check out this link!

Friday, December 14, 2007

I like this Delaware thing...

Today, I have 2 more reasons to be grateful for moving to the First State. So, what are they?
  1. I got to have some BBQ for lunch today. Where did I find this BBQ? It was at Where Pigs Fly, down in Dover. I call your attention to exhibit A. Notice the menu/placemat, remnant of a BBQ sandwich, the mason jar of Pepsi, and the white bag filled with a cup of pulled pork BBQ, to take home to Shawna! Good times! I think it ranks just below Rib-n-Loin, Porker's, and my all-time favorite Shufords (for all you Chattanoogans), but it was a GREAT lunch. I have a new favorite place in Dover.

  2. Tonight, the University of Delaware plays for the national championship! Even if they don't win, they have had a great season. But, I hope they do win.
Two things close to my heart, BBQ and football. I know Blake and Greg would say neither thing should control our joy, but I will say that they both can make me happy! :-)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Article about adoption

The VP (Dr. Russell Moore) of the seminary I attended recently wrote an article about adoption. It was too good NOT to share.

Our Expansion Project

If you haven't noticed or driven by OBC lately, we have been building a pretty large facility! Today, our newest construction worker stopped by the office to tell me, "Hello." I couldn't resist taking his picture.

Shhh. Don't tell the people in charge of child labor laws. :-)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I am convinced...

I am convinced that nothing makes me more encouraged about my faith than sharing it with someone else. God has opened doors recently for me to share specifically and personally about what I believe (about God, Jesus, faith, salvation, etc.). I find that in those moments of sharing, it is as if I find myself celebrating the gospel, and finding more reasons than I already knew to be a follower of Christ!

I think we as Christians are often intimidated by sharing our faith, but it seems that for me, nothing gives me more confidence in my faith, than sharing it! God help me to do it more.

Who needs lunch to have a great day?

God is good. Before lunch today, I was given much grace from God. What am I talking about?
  1. I had a great time in prayer and reading God's Word.
  2. I had a breakfast meeting that encouraged me in the Lord about this church and the gospel.
  3. I had a talk with a friend in the ministry I had not heard from in 8-9 years.
  4. I had a cup of coffee with an OBC believer who is passionate about God's love for the nations.
Wow! Not every day is that encouraging, but I am glad God let's us have some like that from time to time!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Been Thinking About

In case you have lots of time to spend reading various and sundry things, here are some great thought-provoking, down-to-earth, articles that would well be worth your investment of time in reading them. The title of the articles is Been Thinking About. Enjoy!

Books on Christmas

Over the years there have been a few books that have been enlightening concerning the historical nature and biblical implications of Christmas.
Some are better than others, but all of them have been helpful to me.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Promising and tragic

I read today from the first several chapters of the book of 2 Chronicles. What a story! It is amazing to see God orchestrating Solomon's rise to power. It was not Solomon who decided to be great, but God who lifted him up. It is encouraging to see Solomon's initial humility. It is challenging to read of Solomon's impression of God. In desiring to build a temple, Solomon is overwhelmed by the greatness of God, and realizes that he is more than inadequate to build such a structure. It is gripping to see the kings and queens of other nations give gifts and their allegiance to Solomon.

And yet, the story of Solomon has a tragic ending. His heart is drawn away from God. His son is stubborn. His legacy is certainly not that of his father, David. Ecclesiastes is a book that is often attributed to him, and it begins "Useless, Useless." Such a promising life, such a tragic finish.

But, I also am reminded of the words of Christ when, speaking of Himself, he reminded us that "something greater than Solomon is here." As I look to people to be examples of how to live (even if they are Bible characters), I am often disappointed in what I see. I see traces of grace, but often I see the same flaws I have. But looking to Christ there is never disappointment. We can always look to Him as "someone greater."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

People I have met - Dr. David Barnhart, my college Greek teacher

In a previous post, I mentioned that we are influenced greatly by the people we meet and the books we read. So, here is installment one along those lines.

In college I took Greek for five semesters (It was my minor). For each of the five, I learned Greek from Dr. Barnhart. He was one of the best teachers I have had in any course of study, period. What made him such a great teacher? Among other things...
  1. His knowledge and love for the subject.
  2. His constant attempts to make Greek understandable.
  3. His sense of humor.
  4. His tough exams which made me make sure I knew the subject, not just memorized facts.
  5. He made sure to show us how we could use Greek in future study and ministry.
  6. He made an old school textbook work in a contemporary setting.
  7. He taught us how to think, not just what to think.
Dr. Barnhart would probably not approve of my use of computer Greek resources like this one. He wanted us to know it so well that we wouldn't be "slowed down" by such tools.

My college Greek textbooks (in case you wanted to know. I am sure you are on the edge of your seat):
So thank you, God, for the ministry of Dr. Barnhart! What a difference it has made in my love for Your Word! I study harder (and hopefully better) because of the godly respect he instilled in me for the Bible.

Unwind and rewind

Every Sunday is special, but today stands out for several reasons...
  1. I missed preaching a bunch, but...

  2. I enjoyed Greg and Blake sharing about joy.

  3. I got to sit by my wife during the sermon.

  4. I got to hear the choir/instrumentalists preparing for next Sunday night. The music was great. I can't wait.

  5. I got to hang out with some of our high school students tonight. Good times.

  6. Another person joined our church, and a boy expressed his faith in Christ and his desire to be baptized.

  7. I found out that half the church eats at the Border Cafe for lunch.

  8. I got a chuckle out of the fact that the Advent candles wouldn't light in the 11:00 service. What do they say about the "best laid plans?" Oh well.

  9. I met tons of people new or fairly new to Ogletown.

  10. The tours of the new facility went well, I think. I caught the tail end of a couple. Chilly, but encouraging!
Oh well, I am not sure how good I am at unwinding on Sunday, but I am so glad God has us here, and I cannot wait until next Sunday.

It's great to be a Blue Hen...

Okay, so I am not an official Blue Hen by birth or by schooling, but I am a resident of the state (Yes, I paid my $435 to transfer the title of my car to this great state). So, I have a little state pride in how good the athletes of Delaware have done this year.

Today in the 9:45 service we had a bunch of the athletes here in our services. So far, I've met players from the volleyball team, the rugby team, and the football team (who are headed to my old stomping ground Chattanooga this Friday to play in the national championship game).

I am so glad that God has placed so many Christians on the campus to share the good news of Jesus there. And I am also glad that OBC can be a church they can be a part of, even if it is not their home church.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Let It Snow...

Outside my window, I looked up this morning and noticed it was snowing. No big deal to most people in this area, but my Southern instincts kicked in:
  1. Take the requisite walk outside (in case that is all the snow you see this year).

  2. Go to the store and stockpile eggs, milk, and bread (my assistant, Susan, mentioned that her husband is always puzzled by this, wondering if people just like to make a lot of French toast).

  3. Turn on the radio and listen for school closings.
For some reason, I don't think my Southern-snow instincts will serve me well in Delaware.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The People You Meet and the Books You Read

Here is a quote I read...
You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read. - attributed to Charles Jones
I think that the quote is a little simplistic. For instance, an illness could change us into a different person. A personal tragedy could impact us significantly. Also, a change in our relationship with God could transform us into a different person.

However, I think there is some truth to the statement. We are heavily influenced by people and books. So, I thought I would begin in the near future some blog posts about "Books I Have Read" and "People I Have Met." I think it's a great exercise for us to evaluate who and what has influenced us for good or for bad.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Favorite Christmas CD's

Okay, one of the best parts of Christmas for me is the Christmas music! (Not the best part, but one of the best parts!) So, here are some of our favorite CD's in no particular order (all the links are iTunes links).
  • Let It Be Christmas by Alan Jackson - I love the track "Let It Be Christmas." Growing up in Georgia, it's hard not to like Alan!
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas - Every year the gospel is told on primetime network TV, thanks to this special. I love Schroeder playing the piano (Beethoven's Christmas Music)!
  • Still the Greatest Story Ever Told by the Gaither Vocal Band - Although I don't listen to a lot of Southern Gospel, this CD is one of my favorites. If I started listing songs that I like on this CD, I would list all of them.
  • These Are the Special Times by Celine Dion - Shawna and I have enjoyed this one since the ole' college days. I especially like "Another Year Has Gone By."
  • Faith by Kenny G - Love the CD, and being a history fan, I love the Millennium Mix of Auld Lang Syne.
  • Elf [original soundtrack] - The movie is silly (but hilarious), but this soundtrack is a lot of fun. The cover of the CD makes me laugh.
  • The Messiah by Handel - Straight Bible. Great music. "Every Valley," "And the Glory," "For Unto Us a Child Is Born."
Songs that are worthy of honorable mention:
I am open to adding some new music to this eclectic Christmas collection (i.e. Elf and The Messiah). Any suggestions?

Also, is there a song about "Christmas in the Mid-Atlantic?" (It just doesn't have the same ring as 'Christmas in Dixie')

Two good friends,1 great CD

Tyler and Jenny Somers lead worship at OBC! This coming Friday, they are going to release their first CD, called "a prelude." Actually, the CD release will be at OBC at 7:00pm. I have had the privilege of getting an opportunity to listen to the CD in advance. It's great. The first song on the CD is called "American Dream." Powerful song. Check it out at their site.

Lottie who?

Every year during the Christmas season, Southern Baptists emphasize giving to a special offering called the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. I mentioned it this morning in our services, but wanted you to know where you could find more information concerning it. God is doing great things, not just at Ogletown, but around the world. This is one way we can be a part of it.

Unwind and rewind

Sunday night is kind of the time where I unwind and rewind the days events. This weekend was a good one, I think, for Ogletown. Just a few thoughts...
  • I love the fact that through the Advent portion of our service, we reminded ourselves that God keeps His promises. That is part of the core meaning of Christmas.

  • To hear the congregation sing "Amazing Grace" was pretty powerful. It's awesome to be able to sing about grace!

  • I was encouraged that 3 people joined today. Not just because they joined, but because each of them had expressed to me personally a desire to not just sit on the sidelines, but to be connected with the faith family at OBC.

  • The church itself was decorated nicely. Big thanks goes out to those who worked to make that special for us.

  • Next week, we will look at some more of Isaiah 9, that talks about the joy that the Light brings.

  • I am looking forward to the building tours next week. You will be amazed at the building, I'm sure.
Anyway, God is good to us at OBC!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Old words, powerful words

I read this yesterday in a book by John Bunyan called Grace Abounding to the Chiefest of Sinners.

I find to this day seven abominations in my heart:
  1. An inclining to unbelief,
  2. Suddenly to forget the love and mercy that Christ manifests,
  3. A leaning to the works of the law, (We've talked a lot about this at OBC lately)
  4. Wanderings and coldness in prayer,
  5. To forget to watch what I pray for,
  6. Aptness to murmur because I have no more, and yet ready to abuse what I have, and
  7. I can do none of those things that God commands me without my corruptions thrusting themselves in.
“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Romans 7:21)

These things I continually see and feel, and am afflicted and oppressed with, yet the wisdom of God does order them for my good:
  1. They make me abhor myself;
  2. They keep me from trusting my heart;
  3. They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness;
  4. They show me the necessity of flying to Jesus;
  5. They press me to pray unto God;
  6. They show me the need I have to watch and be sober; and
  7. They provoke me to pray unto God, through Christ, to help me and carry me through the world.
Some great things to think about. I am not sure people write like that anymore.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The biggest tent ever

Tonight, my son and I got to build what we referred to as the "biggest tent ever." I use the word 'tent' with the widest possible latitude. I thought I would share some pictures.

Here's the "tent"...


Here we are inside!

Okay, so we exaggerated a little, maybe it wasn't the biggest tent ever but it still was a great time!

The most wonderful time of the year

Although I know that the average stay of a pastor at a church is not that long, when I read something like this, I can't help but be glad I am not in THAT profession!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving @ Ogletown

Although I was not able to be a part of either of these activities, I am encouraged by a couple of things at Ogletown this Thanksgiving.
  1. We shared a Thanksgiving meal with many people in the community. I think there were 80-90 OBC'ers who made that possible. Great job, guys. My prayer is that we can do more and more of that in the months and years to come.

  2. Our church sent out a small team of people to Nigeria to minister in that country. This isn't OBC's first trip there, and I am sure it will not be the last. I pray that OBC grows in a love for the nations!
God is doing great things at our church! I am so encouraged that we are not just reaching out to those across our street, but we are going to the world to make disciples.

God is great to let us play a part in His plan!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving References

Here is a list of verses I compiled a while ago to remind me how much thanksgiving is mentioned in the Bible. I hope you have a great day on Thursday, and we'll hopefully see you on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Come, Ye Sinners

We have been talking a lot about grace at OBC lately, I wanted to post the words to a song (by Joseph Hart written in 1759) that I think expresses some of the heart of Mark 1-3.
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

Chorus
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Wow, what truth is contained in those words. I think daily reminders of those kind of truths would be a huge spiritual shot in the arm.

There are two newer versions of that song. If you have iTunes and $.99, you can get them: one is by Matthew Smith, and the other version is by Todd Agnew. I love both versions.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

U D V B (i.e. Univ. of Del. Volleyball)

I mentioned in an earlier post about Delaware athletics. I got another taste of that last night. I got to see the UD Volleyball team play in their conference tournament. A couple of the seniors on the team come to OBC, so it was great to see them play! This was the first NCAA volleyball I had ever seen in person. After watching a few points, I was very glad to be sitting in the stands and not facing the "kills" of the Blue Hens. I was highly impressed as they dominated the other team. It was a great atmosphere.

Anyway, they won last night, and won the conference tournament tonight. Congrats are in order, and I am glad I got to see them play.

Grace in the Law

This morning in the message, I referred to the law as something good that God gave to the Israelites. It was actually grace to those who received it.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?"
Isn't this God's grace? God gave the law for people's good, not to beat people down. And yet this verse also certainly makes the point that God is the master not the commandments and statutes.

I pray that God helps OBC grow in understanding that a right relationship with God comes through Jesus Christ, not relentless rule-keeping!

Friday, November 16, 2007

We need each other...

We need each other and we often don't realize it! This week, however, has been such a reminder of that to me. I have had at least four situations in which I needed wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and fresh perspective. God has been gracious to provide that to me this week from people within our church and from other circles. I have realized again this week, that God has not made us to try to live on our own. Some of the first words that God spoke in Genesis 2 is that "it is not good for man to be alone." Many times we immediately think that the remedy was God giving Adam a wife. But, that is not the only aspect of the remedy. God gave Adam, not only a wife, but a person! Thank God, I still think that it is good for us NOT to be alone.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Someone was listening

I got this email, and I had to share it...
Just a note about Sunday's sermon - My kids are great at devising games to play in the back seat of the car while we are traveling someplace - even to the grocery store. On Monday while we were driving home from some errands they made up a new game - how long can my son balance something on his head while his sister counts to 20 (a rather calm game for them - no balls bouncing from window to window or other flying objects involved). They tried various things found in the backseat of the car - shoes, books, toys and clothes. My daughter was getting frustrated because her brother kept everything on his head until she counted to 20 so I thought I would help her a little bit my reaching around the seat and gently tugging at the hair on his legs to make him squirm. Well all I heard was MOMMY didn't you hear Pastor Curtis on Sunday! He said NO HAIR PULLING! It is in the rule book. I had to apologize for pulling hair and not listening to the sermon at church but he got something from your message :)
You gotta love a kid who listens to your preaching!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

2 questions, 1 observation

Questions...
  1. Why would someone tell me, "You better lock your car doors. You live in Delaware now!"

  2. Why does almost every person I meet carry an inhaler? Did the search team that brought me here fail to disclose some allergy/asthma/pollution issues? :-)

Observation: Any day becomes a good day when you eat lunch at this place. Hence, today is a good day!

UPDATED: It's 4:00p, and I would like to recant about the lunch. I think my stomach disagrees that today is a good day! Maybe Cheeseburger in Paradise was a bad idea!

Interesting Site

I am not sure how many of the OBC blog readers can read Greek (please spare me the "It's all Greek to me!" You have no idea how many times I heard that in college/seminary). :-)

But this website makes Greek a little more accessible for people who want to study their Bible in fresh ways. It is amazing what is available online (for free)!

PS: I can't help but mentioning 3 other sites that I enjoy (9Marks, Na:Humble Orthodoxy, and DesiringGod).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Again and again

Have you ever been reminded of something a couple of times?

I wrote the other day about Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). Well, I was in a conversation the other day about them as well. Then, I listened to a message about them, and I also have been listening to a powerful song about them. So, here are a few 3 Hebrew Boys links.
Great stuff!

Could've, Would've, and Should've

Could've, Would've, and Should've. That is the essence of how I feel after a Sunday many days. There is SO MUCH in Scripture that I feel like I can't emphasize it all. And then about 1:00pm in the afternoon, I will think to myself, "That's how I should have said it!" Oh well, too late. No do-overs or mulligans in preaching. So, if I had to do today's message all over again, I might emphasize a couple more things:
  1. Meeting God through Jesus is described in John 14:7. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him." He doesn't know of a way. He IS the way to God.

  2. The utter inability of ours to keep God's rules, or the rules we make up, or the rules others make up for us to keep.

  3. That Colossians passage was too good for me read it so quickly. What passage was that? Just read the entire book. It's worth the time.

  4. I think I could have explained more clearly the parallel to the marriage relationship that God has with us (His bride).
All in all, I thought God was gracious to us today at Ogletown. He allows an imperfect preacher the privilege of opening His word and explaining it to His people (thank you God). Jeff and his crew, and Tyler/Jenny and their crew allowed us to express our hearts in music. I am so thankful God has given us music!

Anyway, avoid rule-keeping righteousness this week like the plague! I am still preaching, huh!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Learning the Ropes of UD

As long as I am a "Hill," I am not sure I will bleed anything but Sooner Crimson and Cream. (Even the OU fight song says, "Sooner born, and Sooner bred, and when I die, I'm Sooner dead.) However, I think I have picked up a new football team, who fortunately plays in a different conference/division than OU.

Today, I was invited to see the Blue Hens, excuse me, the Fightin' Blue Hens play. Although the result was disappointing, the game was amazing, featuring 5 overtimes. Unbelievable. I was also so impressed that Joe, the quarterback, took time to sign autographs and jerseys for kids after the game. I know losing was a heartbreaker, and yet I think he put the game in its proper place, and made a lot of little kids' day by not just going to the locker room. (By the way, my son has already said he will play football for the Blue Hens someday - lookout for him in 2023). So, I won't renounce allegiance to OU, but I think I have a new team to cheer for in addition.

Oh yeah, I also am pumped up to cheer for the Blue Hens in volleyball. They have had an awesome season (28-4, so far), won their conference for the regular season, and I have been introduced to a couple of the team members who have been coming to Ogletown (Go Megan and Colleen!).

Great times! I'm glad I'm here.

Friday, November 9, 2007

God's Will

A question a lot of people ask is, "How can I know God's will for my life?" Although there are a lot of answers out there, I think there are some that are a LOT better than others. Here is where I would steer a person concerning the subject (recognizing I am VERY fallible)...
I think any or all will be a great aid in answering the question above.

You may know this already...

Currently, OBC has audio of each of our Sunday morning messages available online. Many of you attend, listen to (and endure) each of my Sunday morning's sermons, but you might miss one, so you can access and download it online.

Susan has also set up our website to enable podcasting, if you have iTunes. In addition, there is much information on the internet about podcasting.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A great resource

There are some great resources on the internet. One particular person who has been an encouragement to me is Sam Storms (he leads Enjoying God Ministries). He is a blogger, but he also has written books on some great subjects. They have been helpful to me. His website has a lot of resources that I think you could profit from. You can also subscribe to his newsletter. I wanted to give a snippet of today's email newsletter. I won't post it all, but will try to whet your appetite for more.
Knocked Down, but Not Out (November 8th)
Last night I spoke briefly with a long time friend who is facing yet another round of intense treatments for a recurring brain tumor. The dosage level of pain medication which he requires simply to survive each day is almost incomprehensible. When I got off the phone, visibly shaken, Ann asked me how he was doing. It seemed only fitting to answer: “He’s afflicted in every way, but not crushed; quite obviously he and his family are perplexed, but not driven to despair; I’m not sure if he feels persecuted but I know he doesn’t feel forsaken; he’s certainly been struck down, but just as certainly not destroyed.”
You will be blessed by subscribing!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Lunch with a friend

I caught up yesterday with a fellow blogger in our church, Jonathan. (You ought to check out his blog.) Jonathan has been a friend to me (and my family, especially my son) since I met him a couple of months ago. Recently, he completed a half-marathon. I get tired just thinking about it. The unique thing with Jonathan is that he completed the half-marathon and he has physical disabilities. You have to read the blog entries where he speaks of the endurance and strength that God gave him to do this. They are "amazing" to use one of Jonathan's favorite words!

Although I think it speaks to Jonathan's strength that he persevered in the race, I think it speaks to his grace-filled walk with God that he gives all glory to God. Although Jonathan and I share a lot in common (we are both big John Piper fans, for instance), I have a lot I can learn from him as well.

Jonathan is a special to me, not because of his disability, but because we share something great in common: our love for Jesus Christ. People like him make me realize regularly how blessed I am to be a pastor here!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Words of Praise in Daniel

The last two days I have been struck in my Bible reading at the reality that God is in control of everything. Specifically, it has been amazing to look at how pagan, godless kings end up living in his perfect purpose. I noticed several passages in Daniel that reminded me of this.
Daniel 4:3 How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.
and then again...
Daniel 4:34-35 At the end of the days I lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
one more in Daniel...
Daniel 6:26-27 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”
Who would say such things in Daniel? Daniel himself? What about Hananiah, Mishael, and Azaraiah (or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego for all of you Babylonians)?

No, the first two sayings were from Nebuchadnezzar (a pagan Babylonian king) and the last was from Darius (a pagan Medo-Persian king). Not the ones you might expect to lavish praise on God. But, then again one day every knee will bow to Jesus Christ!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Refusal

I refuse to gloat about things like this, because I know "pride goes before destruction." So, I will not gloat, especially since I am this close to Philly. I will be humble, and not call any more attention to it! :-)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The translation I prefer/use

I have had a few people ask which translation I use for preaching/teaching. My answer is the English Standard Version (ESV). Although I know that there are MANY beneficial translations, my spiritual life has greatly benefited from the ESV. I have enjoyed reading it, studying from it, memorizing it, and preaching and teaching from it. I ran across this website that highlights some of the benefits of it. If you have a minute take a look at it.

A couple of reasons I enjoy the ESV...
  1. It is a fairly literal translation which translates word for word rather than thought for thought.
  2. It is extremely readable.
  3. I appreciate the scholars who translated it, and pastors who recommend it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Some Personal Favorites

Not that you asked for these, but it might be of some interest
  • Bible and Study Software: Libronix with Logos
  • Music Organization: iTunes
  • Personal Library: Book Collector
  • Blog Reader: Google Reader (although I used to use Bloglines)
  • Web Browser: Mozilla Firefox
  • Work Computer: Dell Laptop
  • Home Computer: iMac
  • Home/Work/Event Calendar: Google Calendar
  • Primary Online Source for Buying Books: Amazon (and Cumberland Valley)

Anybody want to add anything? Feel free to comment.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Lots of Firsts

These last 2 months have filled with lots of firsts. Today was a different kind of first. I had the privilege of leading a funeral service for a dear person who was the mother of one of OBC's members. (It was my first one in this state, although I have been privileged in many ways to do this before.)

I say privilege intentionally. First of all, I love the OBC family, and I was touched by many in the church who were there in support of the family. I am privileged to pastor such a people. But, I also know it is a privilege anytime to share at a Christian's funeral. Although it is difficult at times (and I can sympathize and grieve with the family), I actually can honestly say that I enjoy leading these services. Why would I enjoy such an opportunity?
  1. It is a great reminder to me (and others) that we will all die, and our time on earth is limited. It makes us reevaluate priorities in light of that.

  2. Christians have so much hope and confidence on this kind of day. I almost want to shout, "This is the day we long for!" I know death can be tough. I will undoubtedly have my heart wrenched by my loved-ones death in the future, but for the Christian "to depart and be with Christ is far better!"

  3. I greatly value the opportunity to share with people outside of our church (or any church) a "reason for the hope that lies in us." Many of them would NEVER go to church, but they are there and I feel a great responsibility to say, "Our hope in Christ prepares us for this, and this is why..."
So, I count myself privileged today, and look forward to the time where there is no more death, no more tears, because we are in the presence of Christ forever.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Connections in Newark

Recently, I went to this conference in Washington, DC. I was reminded there of something I have been burdened about since I have moved to Delaware. And that is the need for "friends" who are partners in the gospel.

I have been encouraged by 2 specific initiatives: Together for the Gospel, and The Gospel Coalition. Both of these groups/organizations have men whom I respect greatly working side by side for the Church.

Specifically here, I have been blessed to meet and spend time Rick Beno and Jon Boulet from Hockessin Baptist and Jay Harvey from Evangelical Presbyterian. These men are pastors working in their churches for the same thing OBC is: for God to work in our area bringing people to a recognition and response to His Word. It is great to be able to call them friends and I hope our friendship can result in God's Word growing and bearing fruit in the Newark area, not just at Ogletown!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Impressed, Challenged, Encouraged...

Last night, I had the privilege of talking with a few guys in our church. I can call them "young" (they're close to my age, so that is young, right?). As I heard their testimonies, I heard something significant from both of them.

Both of them had been impacted greatly by older men who have chosen to invest in their lives. These "older men" are not seminary trained, they don't get paid by the church, they aren't officially recognized by the church to do this. So why do they do it? Why do they take the time to invest in younger guys and walk with them through life?

My guess is that there are several reasons, so I will speculate with a couple!
  1. They love Jesus and they love the Bible. Jesus modeled this, and the Bible teaches it.
  2. They love people. They love to see spiritual growth. They love to see God's hand at work in the lives of people.
  3. They probably had someone invest in them!

I am not sure if all of these are accurate, but I would bet (if I did such things, haha) that they are. What is awesome is that God is using the older men and the younger men to impact their families, OBC, their friends, and their jobs for the glory of God.

Excuse me, please, while I get a little "preachy" for a minute. This is not happening enough at OBC. I think the need is great, and I am praying often about it. I am praying that God would raise up mature Christians who want to pour their lives in other men and women. As I said, the need is great and I really desire to see it happening more. And yet more than just seeing the need, I saw a glimpse last night of what God can do through that investment that will ultimately last forever.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Paul, why did you use those adjectives?

Listen to these words of peace to the church at Thessalonica spoken by Paul
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (ESV)
Two adjectives sort of surprised me, or at least stood out to me when I read this today. Paul recognizes that God loved us and gave us two things (among many others) through grace: eternal comfort and good hope. Not just comfort and hope, but comfort that will endure forever, and hope that is of good quality (as opposed to being worthless).

The Thessalonian church needed those words, and I think we do as well. We need to be reminded that comfort and hope are stronger when they are given from an eternal perspective. Sometimes, I think we get too used to living on earth, that we forget to realize God has an eternal plan. Lots of things can give comfort here (money, chicken noodle soup and crackers, a hug), but those things in no way could be looked at as eternal. Lots of things give us hope (maybe I will get a promotion, maybe the Cowboys can win a playoff game, etc.), but those hopes are not necessarily good.

How much better is our grace-filled encouragement of eternal comfort and good hope!

God is good, all I need to do is open my eyes!

Recounting the goodness of God in a few ways that I have already seen this morning (and it's still fairly early)...
  1. Today is my official "spiritual" birthday. Although it was many years ago, it is still fresh in my mind. Far beyond just remembering a date, I know that God has changed my life!

  2. I got to spend time at breakfast with an OBC'er who has a passion for God and has shared his faith with others around him. Two people he has worked with shared with me that he has impacted their lives for Christ! I love people who don't leave their faith at church, but take it with them!

  3. My computer says the high is supposed to be 55 degrees today. I have been waiting for some Delaware fall weather! I think we have some today. I love it.

  4. I had the privilege of hearing a word of testimony/prayer from Tony Graffanino who plays baseball for the Milwaukee Brewers. I have to confess that I am often VERY VERY (I meant to use the same word twice, even if spellcheck doesn't approve) skeptical of athletes who speak at Christian events. They seem to get a platform, not because of their holiness, but because they are Christian celebrities. At the risk of overgeneralizing, often, I believe that their words seem a little hollow, generic, and full of cliches. However, that was not the case with Tony. I heard him boldly share the gospel in such a complete way that God had to be honored. I had to repent of my prideful pre-judgment of him, and thank God for anyone (baseball player or not) who has boldness to share the unbelievable message of grace and hope that is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, God is good, and if we open our eyes a little bit we can see it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

You are not alone.

Another theology lesson from my theology teacher (i.e. my 3 yr old son)...

We were eating today at my son's favorite restaurant. You get three McGuesses as to what the name of the restaurant is! He is going to see his grandma (i.e. get whatever he wants for a couple of days), and he is pumped up. Anyway, in the midst of eating his Happy Meal (in reality he played with the toy more than he ate, but that's beside the point), he told me "You are not going to be alone, daddy! God is going with you." Later he said, "Even when no one is with us, we are not alone!"

It made me smile, nearly cry, and thank God that my son has the seeds of the knowledge that God will never leave us. He will walk with us always. What a treasure! I think Mommy has been at work doing what the Bible tells us as parents to do.

So, you are right Canaan, even though no one is with me, I am not alone. Thank God.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A good weekend

For many reasons, this past weekend was an enjoyable weekend. In random order...
  1. The weather was beautiful!
  2. I got to go to someone's 80th birthday celebration. (My normal birthday parties are for 3-4 year olds, so this was significantly different.
  3. Sunday's services went well. I enjoyed preaching, I hoped OBC enjoyed listening. :-)
  4. I DID get to play golf on Friday in answer to my unofficial prayer request.
  5. The NFL team from Texas that will remain nameless (but it starts with "D" and ends with "allas") won another game. I could get used to this!
  6. I bought some subs from Wawa. I love those self-serve kiosks. That could be addicting.
  7. The NFL team from just north of here did not fare so well. (Sorry, I couldn't resist picking on the Philly fans.)
  8. I was introduced to a great book that I will share more about later. I am a few pages into it, and think it might be the best book I have read this week!
So, all in all, not too shabby.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The coolest moderator at Ogletown

We had our quarterly business meeting this past Wednesday night. What should be noted is that OBC has the coolest moderator, I think, in the entire Southern Baptist Convention (perhaps the coolest of any denomination). What other moderator wears shorts and an authentic African shirt (my son thought that the shirt had "jellyfishes" on it) while moderating a session of church business? None, I know of!

You are way too cool, Bill!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Does God answer prayer?

You might have expected a serious post after the title, so sorry to disappoint! I know God answers prayer, so I invite you to join me in prayer that it NOT rain tomorrow at 8:00 am when I get the opportunity to play my first round of golf north of the Mason-Dixon line.

In all seriousness, God does answer prayer and He surely is interested in every aspect of our lives, but I am sure that He does not owe me a round of golf tomorrow. So, your prayers may be better directed to more noble pursuits than a hack golfer chasing a white ball through the woods! :-)

Coming this Sunday to Ogletown

Over the last few weeks on Sunday mornings, I have been sharing about the gospel. Well, as I have said (more than once, I think), we will never "move on" from the gospel or outgrow it. What we will do this Sunday, though, is move on from a sermon series about the gospel.

In light of that, we are going to look at a picture of Jesus through the eyes of Mark. Specifically, we are going to look at why so many people are drawn to Jesus (they were in Mark 1 and they still are today). So, if you like Jesus, you ought to come so you can hear more about him. If you don't like Jesus, you ought to come to make sure you haven't missed an aspect of who he was and is that you might like. So, that leaves 1 category of people: those who should come Sunday to Ogletown to hear about Jesus! Life's simple, isn't it? :-)

Seriously, I think we all have our ideas and (mis)perceptions about Jesus. Hopefully, looking at Mark over the next several weeks will correct those.

So, see you Sunday at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ephesians 3:20-21 is a reality!

Sometimes, we get strong reminders of the goodness of God. I mentioned a couple of days ago about my sister who was having eye surgery. This morning she had surgery on her other eye. My mom just let me know that the surgery was a success. There was a great risk that permanent damage could be done, so you can imagine the relief. The doctor who did the surgery commented that even though it was an extremely difficult surgery, she "felt God's hand guiding her." As far as God working in even small details, my mom had prayed that the anesthesiologist would not need to poke Jaydeane several times (which has been the case many times in the past). He was able to get it right the first time. It shouldn't surprise us when God does great things, but I think it should amaze us! I would fit in that category. Our family feels so indebted to the people praying in Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and even here in Delaware.

I will continue to pray specifically about this for my sister and my parents over the next few days, but I was directed to Ephesians 3:20-21:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Book Recommendation

I mentioned a book yesterday, and I wanted to give a few places to buy it. The book is When Sinners Say, "I Do." It was written by Dave Harvey a pastor in Pennsylvania. It is very easy to read. Although it is humorous, it challenges me BIG TIME!

You can order it through Amazon or Cumberland Valley or the Sovereign Grace Store.

P.S.: Check out the comments to find another source for a good price on the book.

Have you ever been to a wedding reception?

Last night, we had our covenant/installation service. If you missed it, it was a great time where OBC and I were challenged in the relationship of pastor/congregation. It was an awesome night for us. It was great to have Jim McBride and David Lee there. The two of them have meant much to OBC through the years, and have already blessed me in great ways (aside from Jim's mention of the Cowboys). Taking the Lord's Supper was a great way to end the series I have been preaching on the gospel. It was also great to enjoy the reception afterwards. Being the good Baptists we are, we had a long line of people waiting for food.

However, I got some distinct reminders of our wedding reception for a couple of reasons...
  1. Shawna and I didn't get to eat any food (except for the piece of cake I ate while no one was looking). However, several kind souls packed us "doggie-bags."

  2. We came home with lots of cards to open. The Ogletown showed their generosity to us, and we are grateful for it. I can honestly say though, that the biggest blessing has been the prayers and words of kindness that the pile of cards represent! (FYI, the gift cards didn't hurt our feelings, either) :-)

  3. What we didn't have at our wedding reception was Canaan, of course. But, last night he went from person to person who had no problem loading him up with all kinds of cupcakes, punch, etc. Thanks a lot guys, I thought you were my friends. :-)
What has blown us away is the kindness that has been shown to us. There is no room for doubt that we are loved, and we feel it. I hope OBC can sense that the love is reciprocal!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It's Saturday, and I can't wait until tomorrow...

I could share this every week, but there is something that makes me SO look forward to Sunday. Every week, the reasons may change, but the excitement is there. So for the 14th...
  1. We are going to dedicate a child (and his parents and our church) to the Lord asking God to receive glory in the life of this child.
  2. We are going to celebrate the Lord's Supper as a church family. This will be my first at OBC.
  3. Once again, we get to open God's Word and see how the gospel can go to work in our lives and at our church.
So, I hope to see you tomorrow!

Oh yeah, by the way, this makes Saturday a pretty good day as well. But, I am not sure what this result will be, so I won't include it in the "reasons I am looking forward to Sunday."

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Shanes

If you missed the Shane and Shane concert last night, you missed a great experience. Mitchell Hall on the UD campus was packed (which resulted in the balcony being pretty stuffy, but I digress!). It was great to walk in and see so many of the OBC family serving. There are so few places I go in Newark where I actually know people, so that was a good time.

However, it was unbelievable to hear Shane and Shane sing. They have great voices (understatement), but their passion is something pretty unique. The songs that they write/sing are also unique. Many of them are urgent, passionate prayers. They express a heart that burns for God. I know what will be playing in the office for the next few weeks.

Anyway, great job Emily, Blake, Don, GreenRoom, BSM for a great night of worship.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

One of the reasons we are glad to be in Delaware

After months of 100 degree weather, we were primed and ready to enjoy the fall weather. It looks like it might finally be here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Something for you to remember

I am not in the habit of using the blog for personal requests, but I will take a moment of personal privilege to do so. Many of you reading this would have never met my sister, Jaydeane. She is 5 years older than I am, and is mentally handicapped. She has never spoken a word, and yet she may be the sweetest person you could ever meet. She lives with my mom and dad in Augusta, Georgia.

I could talk all day about her, but the point of this post is to ask for prayer. Recently, she had to have knee surgery. Her kneecap has come out more times than I can remember. In addition, she has in essence gone blind over the years because of the cataracts in both eyes. She had surgery today to remove the cataracts in one eye, and will have surgery next Wednesday to have surgery on the other eye.

Today's surgery went well. Thank God! But, the whole episode has had a major impact on my family. If I could ask for your prayers (I know God hears them), I would ask specifically that you pray:
  • For strength for my parents (you can only imagine how this has impacted them)
  • For some sense of peace for my sister (who has no idea what has just happened to her eyes). She has to wear a patch over her eye, which has thrown off her routine.
  • For my sister's eye to heal without infectin
  • For the medical team who will do the surgery next week
As I said, I am not in the habit of using the blog to be a prayer request hotline, but I know that God cares for those who have special needs. It seems like those who were disabled in Scriptures gained the attention and special treatment by God (I think of Mephibosheth, and the crippled, the blind, and others who came into contact with Jesus). He loves them, and I cannot help but wonder if they sense God loves them even more than we do at times.

Thanks in advance for your prayers!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Layers of Promises

My attention was drawn this morning to a couple of verses in Isaiah.
41:10 - fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
and
43:1-3 - “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Notice how the first promise comes with information on exactly why we shouldn't fear: God will strengthen us, help us, and uphold us. One of those things would be nice to know, but God piles on 3 things to reinforce His commitment to us. The next verse He piles on descriptions of His love toward us: He redeemed us, called us by name, and made us His.

God extravagantly reassures us with His promises. What a good God!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Like a father with his children

Sometimes I think through the message on Sunday afternoon, and think of all the things I could've said better. I also think of other things in the passage that for whatever reason we were not able to cover. One of those hit me, probably because I am a dad. It is in 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12. It says, "For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory." Although the context is referring to ministry, what great insight this is into the role of a father!

I am supposed to exhort my children. I am to be a voice in their lives of instruction and wisdom.

I am supposed to encourage my children. The word speaks of speaking to them in a comforting way. Life's tough, and someone needs to help them navigate it.

I am supposed to "charge" my children to walk in a manner worthy of God. That may mean discipline, it may mean long talks, but it will most certainly will mean a large investment of my life.

What a great job description!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Canaan's Book of Friends

This morning, Canaan mentioned that he wanted to take a look at his "book of friends." After some quizzing as to who and what that might be referring to, we were directed to Ogletown's directory. He said that was his book of new friends.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of the scene.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Announcing Two New Additions...

Did you like the title of the post? Is that deceptive? I wanted to announce 2 new additions to my collection of books. Both by the same author, and I have started both and anticipate finishing them soon (they are pretty small, but great reading).
The author, Mark Dever, pastors in Washington D.C. and directs 9Marks Ministries. If you get a chance, check out their website.

P.S. Two other additions this week (in-the-not-so-small-you-could-read-it-over-a-weekend category). 1 and 2 Thessalonians by John Stott, and The Epistles to the Thessalonians by Charles Wanamaker! Hopefully, the sermon will be better Sunday, because of these guys.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A few other blogs

Ecclesiastes says "Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh." Can I adjust that, a little to say "Of publishing blogs there is no end..." Those of you who have navigated the blogosphere know that to be the truth. So, I present you some of the ones that I think are the cream of the crop. I read blogs for different reasons, but I think most of the posts on these are extremely helpful in understanding culture, loving the church, and worshiping Jesus Christ.
If you want to limit your blogreading to @ Ogletown, I will have no complaints, but I thought I would put some others out there! I will most likely list others later, but these can occupy time for a while.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Our perspective

Let me give you a secret, I get regular lessons in theology. I have a special tudor (if you check out the comments, this should be spelled "tutor." Thank you Carlos for pointing that out!) who makes sure I understand reality. My tutor? My 3 year old son. I know I mention him often, but he says and does a lot of things worth mentioning. I got a clear lesson tonight.

As I was laying on the couch, my son, out of the kindness of his heart, offered me "his" blanket. I put it in quotes because it is really "my" blanket. I was given the blanket 12 years ago. It is clearly mine, not his. Somehow however, he has "acquired" it as his own. Don't we do that with "our" stuff? What we have "acquired," really is not ours, but we often forget that detail. Sure, we give token credit to God ("He's given me so much"), but ultimately it is our stuff in our mind. Wow, I act like a 3 year old more than I care to admit.

Thanks, son, for some great theology lessons.

P.S. The picture is courtesy of Photo Booth on the ole' iMac.

Amazed by God's patience

I was reading 1 Kings 3 today and I was amazed at God's patience and grace toward sinners (like Paul said, I am chief among them). Particularly in this chapter, God takes the initiative in granting grace and favor to Solomon. Solomon asks for wisdom and discernment; God gives him much more. Not because Solomon requested it, but because God wanted to do it. Extravagant? Maybe by our perspective, but it is totally normal with God.

Was Solomon destined for a life of godliness? No, and God knew that. Yet, God still granted him favor. How gracious is our God!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Morning in Newark

A couple of observations from this Sunday...
  • I have finally found a time in which the roads are empty here in DE. If you drive down 273 at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning, you are guaranteed to be one of the few people on the road. No school districts, and I only had to make 2 u-turns!

  • If you go to Starbucks (on Main Street) at 6:45 am on a Sunday morning (especially after a UD night game), you could very likely be the only person there, I was. Take a look at the picture. Main Street 6:45 am.

  • If you are missing the Sunday morning sunrises at Ogletown, you are missing something INCREDIBLE. (Easy for me to say...I look at sunrises, while my wife gets 2 kids ready. Something may not be right about that.)
Anyway, I am learning to love this place in just a short time!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Questions to help a new Delawarean understand important issues here

Getting adjusted to a new part of the country is an interesting experience. I thought I would ask for some answers to questions I have, after living here for 2.5 weeks.

Question 1 - Why do I have to make so many U-turns? I think I make more in a day here, than I have made in a couple of months anywhere else.

Question 2 - I am going out on a limb here, but I think there are parts of town in Wilimington that may not be completely safe at night. Is that accurate? I think I was in one of those places last night.

Question 3 - How can there be that many cars on I-95? Furthermore, how many people live around here? Every single road seems packed with traffic, all the time.

Oh well, I am not complaining (I have loved every minute here, except those 30 minutes going 2 miles on 95), just asking!

Sunday Preview

Sunday comes every week! You realize that more when you preach every week. :-) Truthfully, if the ole' sermon is not coming together, Sunday coming is not what you want to be reminded of. But, there are times when you just can't wait for it to come. I think I am in that category this week. In lieu of Sunday coming, here are a few thoughts...
  1. If you want to be way ahead of the general population, read Romans 7 and 8 this weekend. It couldn't hurt to read those chapters every weekend, but we are going to look at them this Sunday.

  2. If you know of someone who has struggled with guilt and feeling condemned by others and by God, do everything you can to get them here Sunday. I am not promising a great sermon, only a great attempt through the Bible to show God's heart for the biggest sinner in the world (that surely includes me)!

  3. SPOILER ALERT: If you don't want to know where I am going with Sunday's message do not read The Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney. He articulates my passion for Sunday so well in that book, if you read that you could get an excused absence from Sunday. :-)

  4. I have also been challenged and blessed by reading What's So Amazing about Grace? by Philip Yancey (FYI, I am sure that I don't agree with everything Yancey says, but then again, I am not sure I agree with everything I say). Yancey always does an "amazing" job of making the Bible come alive. He really does a great job of painting grace in a contemporary, powerful way.

  5. I am doing something new Sunday. On the handout you get coming into the church, I have included a section entitled "taking it home." It is my attempt to make Sunday more than just a sermon. I want the message we hear to "have legs" and walk with us throughout the week. I guess we'll see how it goes.
That's enough for now. Can't wait to see you on Sunday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bible Reading from this morning.

I just wrote about my Bible reading plan. Today, I was in Psalm 78. A few things jumped out at me...
  • This is a great chapter recounting Old Testament history and theology

  • Verse 5 & 7 - God established a testimony to be passed on to children. This was done so that the children "should set their hope in God." What an awesome goal in parenting.

  • Verse 21-22 - God is angered by our lack of belief and trust in his saving power.

  • Verse 38-39 - Even in his righteous anger, he is compassionate, atones for our sin, restrains his anger, and remembers our condition. Wow!
Read Psalm 78 today if you get a chance, but expect to look in the mirror and be convicted. And expect to see the gracious hand of God in our lives!

Devotions, Quiet Time, Personal Bible Study, etc.

Whatever we might desire to call it, I think most Christians recognize that it is important to regularly be before God in prayer, meditation, and in reading Scripture. Just a side note, imagine what people did before they had access to a copy of Scripture. They would have to remember in their mind what they had heard, and meditate on that. Thank God for copies of the Bible in our own language. But, back to the matter of spending regular time with God. I wanted to give some insight into some of what I have done recently in that area. I am sure I will discuss this more later.

My Bible reading is directed from a plan developed by a Scottish preacher years ago. I actually use an adaptation of that plan created by D.A. Carson. You can find it in a couple of books he has written called For the Love of God. It is a devotional book that highlights a thought from the passages I have read. I actually have a hard copy of the book, but I get an email sent daily to me with the reading plan and the devotional sent to me. You can get that by clicking here. Over the last year, the plan (actually it has been the Word, not the plan, but you know what I mean) has been a great source of strength.

One disclaimer...the plan has you reading 4 chapters a day. I know that is aggressive for someone just beginning to read the Bible and understand it. So, if that is too much, scale it down. But spend time in God's Word!

More about prayer and meditation later...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On the way to work this morning

Today as I came to work, I had some extended time to pray (Fog had slowed the traffic to a crawl, and traffic was rerouted due to the dreaded fender-benders). I was praying for a friend of mine and I began thinking about some of my high school/college/seminary friends:
  • I have a friend who is planting a church in Oklahoma City
  • I have another friend doing collegiate ministry in Knoxville, TN
  • I have another friend who is a missionary in the Middle East
  • Another friend pastors in Pennsylvania
  • Another friend has planted a church in Midland, Texas
  • Another friend is in Washington state serving a church there
I have so many friends (not even named here) who are in ministries around the world. But, those aren't the only friends who are serving Christ.
  • I have a friend who is a lawyer in the DC area, and actively involved in serving the students of his church
  • I have another friend who is a contractor in Georgia, and is diligently leading his family in a way that honors Christ
  • I have a brother-in-law who is a policeman and a sister-in-law who is a stay-at-home mom who are actively serving a church in Michigan
So many of the people who I went to college/seminary with are still serving God faithfully. For some of those people that means being in full-time paid ministry. For many others that means being faithful servants in their church (minus the paycheck).

I am glad for the people at OBC as well who have decided to serve whether noticed or unnoticed, recognized or unrecognized, paid or unpaid. Colossians 3:23-24 reminds us that we work for God anyway. He sees it, He rewards it, and He is honored by it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Evening Post

Although Monday was my first "day on the job," I have to admit that being here for Sunday services makes it seem more official. Some thoughts on the first Sunday...
  1. The sunrise this morning was incredible. I got to see the church with the sunrise in the background. Thank you God for the blessing of creation.

  2. Baptizing 4 people was such a treat for the first Sunday.

  3. There are a lot of people that come through these doors on Sunday.

  4. There is so much more I wanted to say in this morning's message. I guess it is good that (Lord willing) I am going to be here for a while.

  5. I had to remind myself of the gospel even between services! God is good to sinners!

  6. From the person who unlocked the doors, to the person who helped me out with the details of baptizing, to the people who parked and greeted those who came, to the ones who watched the kids, to the deacon who made sure I was taken care of, OBC is blessed to have so many servants. I am blessed to be here.

  7. I felt once again very grateful to be the pastor here.
Oh well, my favorite team (I will not disclose who that is for fear of a voting recount on my being called as pastor) is playing Sunday night football. I will blog more later.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A month is a long time (or at least it seems like it)

Over a month ago, I remember anticipating preaching at Ogletown for the first time. The feelings I have today are different and similar to that Saturday.

They are different because...
  • Obviously, I have gotten to spend more time (even if its only been by blog or email) with many in the church than I had before
  • I am not coming off a weekend of several meetings
  • I will come to church from a house, not a hotel

But, in many ways it is similar to each time I open God's word and teach because...
  • I have great confidence in the Word
  • I recognize a great dependence on the Spirit
  • I sense my (many) inadequacies, but God's overwhelming sufficiency
  • I absolutely cannot wait to share what God has taught me over the last several weeks.

As I said, there are similarities and differences, but I am glad that this Sunday has (almost) arrived. I am praying that God would give us a great day being changed by the Word, encouraged by the fellowship, and sharpened by his Spirit.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Just a thought

Have you ever had a verse that you have read before, but it speaks to you in a fresh way? I read this verse this morning...
My tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long. Psalm 71:24
So, who is going to hear from me about the righteous help of God today? Who can I share it with? What a challenge!

A PRAYER CELEBRATING GOD'S HELP

Father, you are our help.
Far more than just helping us,
You are our source of help,
You help us by giving us peace, hope, and guidance.
You stay close when others don't or can't.
You reaffirm your grace.
You reassure of your purposes.

God, we need that help!
Our minds are not sharp enough.
Our wisdom is not superior.
We do not exercise sovereignty.
We cannot claim omniscience.
We know nothing of omnipotence.

So we ask for your help,
Rejoicing that it is ours for the asking.
We ask for
Your gracious sovereignty
Your all-wise omniscience, and
Your humbling omnipotence.

We praise you for your help, and do not hesitate to speak of it.