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!


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 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!