Thursday, February 28, 2008

Defending your faith

In technical terms, the study of defending your faith in Christ is called apologetics. I know that some Christians are more inclined to think and read in that realm more than others. If you are one of those people, I think you will be very interested in The Reason for God. It is written by Tim Keller, a pastor in New York City. I am several chapters into it, and have already been greatly encouraged and enlightened. It is somewhat in the genre of C.S. Lewis, but much easier to read.

One more thing, Keller has a website concerning the book that you might want to check out.

So, happy reading!

P.S. I was at Borders tonight and took this picture!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fact or Fiction

To clarify from this morning's message...
  • FACT - We are going to have Wii Night next Sunday night

  • FICTION - I am ready to admit that my sister is a superior Connect Four player

  • FACT - People disagree about things (even at church)

  • FICTION - The pastor gets to sing whatever songs he wants to sing (you had to be in the 11:00am service to appreciate this)

  • FACT - My Wii skills are pretty lame, but they will be on full display at Wii night

  • FICTION - It is acceptable to angrily storm off after losing a game of Connect Four to your older sibling

  • FACT - Today was a great day at Ogletown!
Hopefully, that will preempt any potential misunderstanding. :-)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wii Night - You read it here first

We have been talking about the Wii in the last several messages on Sunday morning. The time has come to play the Wii. What am I talking about? On Sunday night, March 2, there will be several church members throughout the greater Newark area (i.e. Pike Creek, Bear, Glasgow, Middletown, etc.) who will open their homes for Wii-playing. Anyone and everyone connected to the OBC family is invited to take part. Even if you have never played before, the Wii is something you can pick up on pretty easily. No excuses. I promise, you won't embarrass yourself greatly by trying it out (emphasis on the word greatly, haha).

What's the point? Have you heard the saying, "The church that plays together, stays together?" Actually, I just made that up. But seriously, I think it would be great for people of all ages to meet each other, have fun together, and quite possibly make some new friends within the Ogletown family. What could be better?

You will get more details on Sunday, but mark that night on your calendar, sharpen your bowling skills, golfing skills, boxing skills, etc. and get ready for Wii Night at Ogletown. Aren't you glad you read the blog?

Am I a good example?

In preparing for Sunday's look at Philippians 4, my mind and heart were drawn to verse 9.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
So Paul gives four different things for people to emulate in his life. It made me ask some questions about my own life in Christ, and whether I am having an impact on people. So, here are the questions...
  1. Are people learning from me? Am I teaching them? Not just publicly from the platform, but also in regular conversation and interaction.

  2. Are people receiving things from me? Am I giving anything to be received?

  3. Are people hearing me? Am I in a position in their life to be heard, and am I speaking?

  4. Are people seeing me? Am I allowing people close enough to me to be seen.
I don't measure up to that word to the Philippians, Paul. But, thank you, God, for the reminder that I should be giving my life in tangible ways for the gospel!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What if you are studying a book of the Bible

I definitely have no shortage of book recommendations in my repertoire. Truth be told, I don't think all books are created equal. That definitely is the case for commentaries on certain books of the Bible. Often, I get asked for a recommendation for commentary on a particular book of the Bible.

So, I thought I would walk through my process of recommending a commentary for a particular book...

If someone wanted a 1 volume commentary on the Bible, I would point them to the New Bible Commentary. That is something every Christian could benefit by having.

If someone were looking for a commentary on a certain book of the Bible, I would have several recommendations...
  1. Many of the best commentaries on certain books of the Bible are part of a series. You can buy an individual book without purchasing the entire series.
  2. Some of these series' are more detailed and harder to understand than others. The more detailed often means more expensive.
  3. I think the most easily understood and helpful commentary sets would be MacArthur's New Testament Commentaries, the Bible Speaks Today series, the Tyndale Commentaries.
  4. If you wanted a little bit deeper level commentary, you might check out the New American Commentaries or the NIV Application Commentary set (with both of these sets, some volumes in the set are better than others, in my humble opinion).
  5. Some of the best commentary sets that deal a lot with Greek and Hebrew are the Pillar New Testament Commentaries, and the Baker Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament.
Just some thoughts. What a privilege to be living at a time and in a place where so many good resources are available.

Yet another rite of passage

Today, I had the privilege of eating at one of Delaware's finest places. Good nutritional value was the priority of the day, so I decided to stop by Jake's in Newark. Unfortunately, I couldn't enjoy the outdoor seating, due to it snowing and being 28 degrees, but the grease, the hamburger, and the fries were well worth it even minus the outdoor experience.

I decided to hold off on getting a shake. That great discipline on my part will afford me a valid reason to return.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Black and blue day

Okay, just so you know, today was a black and blue day. What do I mean? I was sitting in staff meeting this morning. I looked down at my shoes (which are black). And then I noticed my socks either had really faded or....they were blue. It was the latter.

When I picked them out this morning, it was dark in my room. Oh well, the kind staff at OBC was nice enough NOT to call attention to it, but what a way to start the week.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sermon suggestions

When someone offers a suggestion as to what you should preach on, you never know what you might get. However, this was one worth sharing! It was a note I got today from one of the sweet elementary students at our church.
Dear Mr. Hill,
You are very good at your sermons. I learn from them. I have a friend that doesn't follow God. She is very good, but I want her to come to V.B.S. I'm not forcing her. Her mom has a problem too, she doesn't like to leave her daughter anywhere by herself. I do not know what to do. Can you write me back by mail? My home is _________. You could do a sermon about this subject if you want to. God bless you.
Do you want to guess what I will keep in my desk for many years to come? And guess what! I may just do a sermon on that subject.

Thank God for a girl who is desiring to see her friends 'follow God.' God give our entire church that kind of heart.

What a day!

Ogletown Baptist has a lot of boasting to do! But not in ourselves or our church. Far from that, we boast in what Jesus Christ is doing. He truly is the one who deserves the praise, but we can praise Him specifically for several tangible things today...
  • We baptized a lady in our 8:30 service.
  • We baptized a UD student and an elementary student in our 9:45 service.
  • In our 11:00 service, a lady joined, a family of 6 united with our congregation, and another family of 4 joined as well.
  • I met guests from Kenya, Jamaica, and Cameroon today. Many of them had been at OBC before, but it was my first time meeting them. It reminds me of the celebration that heaven will be with the people of God from all nations!
Furthermore, we could add that many worshipped today, many prayed, many were taught Scripture, many were encouraged by conversations. Truly, God is good.

What an encouraging day. How awesome it is to have a front row seat to see what God is doing here at OBC!

Purity and Intimacy

I remembered a great thought today when I was reading. I first heard it from Andy Stanley at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA.
Purity paves the way for intimacy.
What a great reminder for relationships with spouses (as well as future spouses) and our relationship with God!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Remembering Sunday

If you have iTunes, you can check out the song I referred to by the Youngbloods, those great theologians.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tough Questions

Sometimes, you have to wonder whether blogs are only meant to point to other blogs. I normally try to resist linking to a hundred different articles, but there have been a couple of posts that have gotten my attention. You can find them here and here.

These posts deal with the role that music currently has in Christianity. The author attempts to make us think about that by asking some interesting questions.
  • Do you get bored when someone reads a longish passage of Scripture in your church? Do you start wishing they’d get on with the music?
  • Do you need music playing in the background for the reading of Scripture to affect your emotions?
  • Does a prayer seem too “plain” or “stark” to you if it doesn’t have music playing behind it?
  • Do you feel depressed a few weeks after a worship conference because you haven’t felt close to God in a long time?
  • Do you desperately look forward to the next conference you’re going to attend because you know that, finally, you’ll be able to feel close to God again?
  • If you’re in a big church with great music, are you able to worship when you visit your parents’ small rural church?
  • Do you ever feel worshipful in the middle of the week, at work, at school, etc. just because of thinking about God and his grace? Or does that only happen when the music’s playing?
  • Do you tend to feel closer to God when you’re alone with your iPOD than you do when you’re gathered with God’s people in your church?
  • Do you feel like you just can’t connect with other believers who haven’t had the same “worship experiences” that you have? Can you only connect with other believers who “know what it feels like to really worship?”
  • Is your sense of spiritual well-being based more on feeling close to God, or knowing that you are close to God because of Jesus Christ?
Some tough questions!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What a question!

I was reading through Philippians in preparation for tonight's Bible study and next week's message and I was confronted with this question:
Am I giving people ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus?
Paul answered that question humbly, but confidently in Philippians 1:26. He affirmed that he was doing that so that in him, the church at Philippi would have adequate reasons to boast in Jesus Christ. What a challenge!

Although we live for God, not just to impress people, a fundamental role in our life on this earth is to live in such a way that we give people a great cause to worship and celebrate Jesus.

God help OBC to do that.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Great quote

I ran across this great quote from D.A. Carson, and I am not sure of the original source. If you attend OBC, I can pretty much guarantee you will hear it again. It is at the heart of what I was sharing on Sunday.

what binds us together is not

common education,
common race,
common income levels,
common politics,
common nationality,
common accents,
common jobs,
or anything else of that sort.

Christians come together
because they have all been loved
by Jesus himself.


Monday, February 4, 2008

I was thinking today (scary thought, huh)

I was thinking today about our church. Since August, I have felt a weight of responsibility that I have never felt in my life. It never seems to go away, even though I know there are many others around supporting what God is doing here. I guess that goes with the privilege and responsibility of being a pastor.

However, whenever I feel the weight of that responsibility, I am so often reminded of several things.
  1. Our family is experiencing joy here in ways we have never felt before. It is not tied to circumstances, but comes from a peace that we are where God wants us.
  2. I am enjoying the opportunity to open God's Word and share freely to the family at OBC.
  3. I have come to love and appreciate the people who God has placed in leadership at OBC. They are godly and have wisdom that is so beneficial to me.
  4. I have grown to appreciate the servant spirit of so many here.
  5. My family is constantly encouraged, loved, and prayed for.
  6. I believe that our church is poised to show Newark and the surrounding areas that Christ loves them.
  7. Our ministry to UD is growing and reaching many students who are finding OBC to be a great church home.
  8. God is raising up people at Ogletown who share a love for Christ, a love for the church, and a love for those who don't know Christ.
I know that church-life is not always perfect or easy, but it is a gift from God, and we are thankful for it. No one knows, except for God, what is in store for Ogletown. But, each day I think more and more that it could be something very special. I am glad I have a front-row seat!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

From the "You're Not As Young As You Used To Be" department

Today, the Hills went to a park. Good times. Canaan and I threw the football around on the basketball court, and we also played a little on the playground. You see from the picture, one of the things we got on makes you go round and round. I used to be a master at this. Emphasis on the 'used to be.' Unfortunately and apparently, my balance isn't what it once was. Consequently, I ended up on the ground, Canaan did also, after trying to spin ourselves around quickly. Canaan got a much-too-hearty laugh at his daddy, and I got a sore neck...and back...and side...and, well, you get the point.

So, if I seem a little sore tomorrow, and don't move around as much when I am speaking, you have the inside scoop!

Friday, February 1, 2008

A great thought from a great seminary prof

One of my favorite seminary professors, Hershael York, wrote a great post recently. It is called, "I'm Sorry If You Were Offended." I have often found that I want to excuse my sin, by thinking the other person shouldn't have had a problem with it. This blog article does a masterful job of calling that out!

February Reading List

In a previous post, I listed my intentional reading in five categories for January 2008. I also am keeping track of books I have started on the side of this blog. I did pretty well, I think. I at least read all but one of the books on the list and I skimmed that one.

So, we are on to February. Here is what I am thinking.
  • Older authors - Mystery of Providence by John Flavel. This is a Puritan who I have heard a couple of things about, but never read any of his writings.

  • Theology - God of Promise by Michael Horton. This book serves as an introduction to Covenant Theology by a very respected theologian.

  • Ministry/Preaching - City on a Hill by Philip Graham Ryken. Ryken pastors 10th Presbyterian in nearby Philadelphia. I have a head start on this book, and already LOVE what I am reading.

  • Culture or Secular Society - Reconciliation Blues by Edward Gilbreath. This book details the evangelical culture's response to the African-American community. I have read many recommendation for this book.

  • Miscellaneous - Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. Rob, a pastor in Grand Rapids, Michigan, certainly has a strong influence in the current Christian community. I have tried to read this book before without success. I thought I would try again.
So, we will see how it goes!