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.

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

  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


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!