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.
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!