Monday, April 28, 2008

Tough questions

I read some tough evaluating questions concerning preaching from a post by a pastor in the Chicago area.
1. Does this message exalt the gospel of Jesus Christ?
2. Will people know what to do after hearing the message?
3. Am I saying anything that will distract from the point I am trying to make?
4. Do I, at any point, make much of myself in this sermon?
5. Would I like this to be the last sermon I ever preach?

In addition, someone sent me these questions from Dallas Willard.
1. Does the gospel I preach and teach have a natural tendency to cause people who hear it to become full-time students of Jesus?
2. Would those who believe it become his apprentices as a natural "next step"?
3. What can we reasonably expect would result from people actually believing the substance of my message?

Challenging stuff!

$1 - How is it going?

I mentioned in a previous post that a friend of mine was doing an experiment to see how far $1 can go. Since then, he has posted an update and created a Facebook group.

The Hill family has given our $4. Also, I have heard from some of the girls involved in GA's on Wednesday night, and our college students that they have decided to help Herman. In addition, some of my Chattanooga friends have joined in.

I love seeing God's people use their creativity and influence to bring Him glory and to show others His love. Thanks Terry.

Update: Terry has posted update #2.

What I wish I would have stressed yesterday

Sunday afternoon and evenings often seem like a time where I think of all the ways I could have made the message more interesting. I also think of 100 things that I could have said or should have said.

If I could get a do-over for yesterday, I probably would emphasize the fact that if we are believers God IS at work in our lives. He IS conforming us to His image. Sometimes we see slow progress in ourselves and in others, but that doesn't mean that God is idle or that we are stuck in neutral.

He is the God of all grace and He is working in us to make us more like Jesus.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Better way to start a morning

Surely, there are better ways to start the morning than seeing this.

But, still I felt convicted when I read about what I am supposed to do even with high gas prices.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pressure to 'convert'

I received in my box a Phillies hat the other day with a card that 'congratulated' me on my new team. (Thanks Howard)

Even the family is puttin' on the pressure to become a Phillies fan! (Check out the Phillies shirt and shorts)

So far, I've been to two games, and the Phils are 0-2. Maybe I am bad luck!

Not just books. I am broadening my horizons.

Although I love to read (which can be seen by the 10 books I recommend every week to read), I also enjoy a wide variety of music. The word 'variety' might be defined in a later post, but I certainly listen to a lot of Christian music (when I am not listening to preaching podcasts).

One of my favorite worship leaders / singers is Matt Redman. Matt is from the UK, but since I first heard "The Heart of Worship" on an old-school Passion album, I have always been encouraged and challenged by his music. I have had the privilege of watching him lead worship 4-5 times, and have always felt drawn to worship God in a passionate way. I also appreciate his (1) attention to Scripture, (2) ability to write a variety of songs, and (3) humility.

So, here are my favorite Redman songs (the ones that are linked are linked to iTunes and for 99 cents they can be yours).
It is difficult to list my favorites because there are so many others. (Better Is One Day, Father, Let Me Dedicate, Here Is Love, Wonderful Maker, Undignified, God of Our Yesterdays, Let Everything That Has Breath, Facedown, Worthy, You Are Worthy)

What a way to start a week

Certain verses in the Bible hit you in different ways. At times they encourage me in certain areas, and at other times they encourage me in other areas. How good is God's word?

I was reading this morning from 2 Corinthians. Paul is speaking of some of the suffering that the Corinthians were experiencing and also that he had experienced. This is what he had to say in verses 9-10.
Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

So, I was challenged at the beginning of the week to set my hope and rely on Him, not myself.

Friday, April 18, 2008

1 dollar - an experiment

A friend of mine, Terry Foester has given us a task in his article: "bigish small news, what can 1 dollar really do?"

The task? Minister the love of Christ with 1 dollar. You have to check it out. It is well worth your time to read it, and even if you choose not to be involved in the 'experiment' he proposes, you will be challenged and better off for having read it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Don't waste the 4th

We are coming up on the day (May 4th) when we celebrate what God has done and is doing at OBC. We move into Ogletown Exchange in just a few short days. I think the day will be one that will remind people of (1) God's goodness, and (2) our responsibility to wisely use the opportunities and resources that God has given us. With that in mind, I am calling on Ogletown to NOT waste that day.

How can you avoid that trap we might be tempted to fall into?
  1. Pray NOW that God will use that day, and come expecting to participate with other believers in praising God.
  2. Be a part of the celebration choir that will lead us in worship that day. Practice is this Saturday morning.
  3. Don't come empty handed that day. Bring men's socks and underwear so that we can generously serve New Castle County in general and the Sunday Breakfast mission in specific. I will clarify this on Sunday, but we are looking for CLEAN and UNUSED socks and underwear. I hope I did not need to clarify that, but you never know, do you? :-)
  4. Volunteer that day to serve the needs of our guest and congregation. The list of opportunities to serve that day and a sign-up list is available in the Welcome Center of the congregation.
  5. Invite friends and family to be with you as a part of that special day.
  6. Remember that on May 10th, we will be opening the Exchange to the community for a fun day. Invite people on that day to come with you as well.
Can you tell I am just a little bit excited!?

Some books I am reading, some on the horizon

I am reading some great books right now...
  • Who Stole My Church? by Gordon MacDonald - The subtitle is "What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century."

  • Not the Way It's Supposed to Be by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. - If you want to get a good description of the nature of sin, I know of no better book.

  • Created in God's Image by Anthony Hoekema - This book has been invaluable for the Broken series we are going through on Sunday mornings.

  • God at Work by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. - I wish every person that works, is retired, or doesn't work would read this book. I am sure you will hear more about it later.
And then there are some more that I will be reading soon, if God wills.
  • Solomon Among the Postmoderns by Peter Leithart - I am reading through Ecclesiastes, and this book seems to make some great comparisons to that book and the age we live in.

  • The Call by Os Guinness - Not sure what to expect with this book, but the author has given me some insight in the past.

Mighty Is the Power of the Cross

We sang this in the 9:45 and 11:00 services on Sunday. It was written by Chris Tomlin, and as I was preparing for Sunday's message, I couldn't help but think of it again.

What can take a dying man
And raise him up to life again?
What can heal the wounded soul?
What can make us white as snow?
What can fill the emptiness?
What can mend our brokenness?

Mighty, awesome, wonderful
Is the Holy cross.
Where the Lamb lay down His life
To lift us from the fall.
Mighty is the power of the cross.

What restores our faith in God?
What reveals the Father's love?
What can lead the wayward home?
What can melt a heart of stone?
What can free the guilty ones?
What can save and overcome?

It's a miracle to me
It's still a mystery
It's a miracle to me
The power of God
To those who believe

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Image and evangelism

On Sunday, we began a look at what it means that every person is made in the image of God. Someone sent me a message this week that reminded me of the implications this has on our responsibility of evangelism. I ran across some great thoughts concerning the implications that God's image has on evangelism. Consider what one theologian said about it...
We are not to consider that men merit of themselves but to look upon the image of God in all men, to which we owe all honor and love. Therefore, whatever man you meet who needs your aid, you have no reason to refuse to help him. Say, "he is contemptible and worthless"; but the Lord shows him to be one to whom he has deigned to give the beauty of his image. Say that he does not deserve even your least effort for his sake; but the image of God, which recommends him to you, is worthy of your giving yourself and all your possessions. (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion)

Monday, April 14, 2008

B2B = Back to blogging

So, I was thinking (are you surprised?).

I am...
  1. glad to be back 'home' in Delaware.
  2. feeling very loved (really overwhelmed) by the OBC family.
  3. appreciative that all the 11:00 service attenders put up with me croaking my way through the message.
  4. glad Trevor won the Masters.
  5. reading an awesome book that expresses much of what I talked (croaked) about yesterday.
  6. feeling that this aforementioned awesome book makes me think that I have never had an original thought in my life. What I thought I had 'discovered' in my study Friday afternoon at 316 Red Mill Road had been published in 1986. Oh well.
  7. disappointed that I did not get to use the word fecundity in my sermon yesterday. I had read it in 2 or 3 books last week, but I let the moment pass.
  8. thinking about converting to a Phillies fan (but only with the caveat that I will NEVER convert to an Eagles fan).
  9. appreciative that Happy Harry's had a generic form of Claritin-D so I didn't have to go into major debt to deal with my allergies.
  10. smiling at Megan's announcement about our church's special project for the 4th. She did a great job, but I am smiling at all the different directions the announcement could have went!
  11. eagerly anticipating our new associate pastor's arrival! (Get here soon, Stan!)
  12. relieved that my tax return is in the mail.
  13. glad I ate at Newark Deli and Bagles today.
  14. overwhelmed by my email inbox. I delete 10 and 15 more appear!
All in all, I am glad to be back.

At God's mercy

I have heard people express the thought that because of their situation, they were really at "the mercy of God." I was thinking about that statement, and for a Christian, that is a really good place to be.

As a matter of fact, I cannot think of a better place to be! Being at the mercy of Someone who relishes showing mercy is an incredible gift given to those who are 'in Christ.'

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The blog is not dead...only on vacation

I have been on vacation! So, vacation = no blog posts. I have been down South, so I will have much to say, when I get back online!

My prayers are with Blake as he preaches tomorrow! I will miss OBC.