Monday, June 30, 2008

The church is bigger than you think

The Church Is Bigger Than You Think. That is the title of a book I read at the recommendation of our associate pastor, Stan. The book is really talking about God's worldwide mission and the church, but I was thinking about the fact that the church is bigger than I think, even here in Newark.

In the short time I have been here, I have been blessed by many church leaders (pastors and others) reaching out to me personally, and our congregation as a whole. I am sure I will miss a few, but here are several of them.
Hockessin Baptist
Evangelical Presbyterian - Newark
Love of Christ - Bear
Faith Baptist - Pike Creek
Bible Fellowship - Newark
Brandywine Valley Baptist - Wilmington
Red Lion Evangelical Free - Bear
Mission Fellowship - Middletown
Newark Church of the Nazarene
Hope Community - Newark
First Alliance - Wilmington
Bethany Baptist - Newport

So often we think we are on an island, and yet God is up to something in New Castle County that is much bigger than we think!

Friday, June 27, 2008

VBS, Day 5

Well, VBS '08 is in the books. The decorations are down, and the halls will be mostly quiet next week. I will miss the kids and adults around. It was a good time. Actually, make that a GREAT time.

Sometimes it seems hard to measure what you accomplished. We can count the number of kids who came, but we have no idea of the impact it made in their lives. We can count the number of workers who helped, but we can't quantify their service and hours of love. We can look out into a sanctuary packed full of kids and family members, and we can pray that God used the week for His glory.

But, still I wanted to share some success stories from tonight.
  • A lady who doesn't regularly attend OBC handed me a 'donation' for our church in humble gratitude for our ministry to her children. Her children loved VBS!

  • Another lady shared with me that her neighbors are members of OBC. They are in their seventies, but have become 'adopted' grandparents to her children. This 'senior' couple invited the kids to Vacation Bible School. The kids came, had an incredible time, and plan on coming this Sunday!

  • Three of the ladies in our church had a yard sale last weekend. While setting up for the sale, a neighbor walked by with her child, and the ladies invited her child to VBS. The lady not only brought her kid, but also ended up serving snacks at VBS (I know because I had some lemonade and cookies from her!).
I am sure there are other stories that we will continue to hear, but each of those reminded me that God is at work all the time. Pretty amazing stuff!

I mentioned tonight at Family Night that it is humbling and encouraging to see so many people use their time, gifts, and love for Jesus!

Isaiah, Bible reading, and confessions from an imperfect pastor...

The confessions...
  1. I sometimes 'get behind' in my Bible reading and have to catch up. I think it is good to have a plan for this very reason. There is nothing inherently godly about a plan, however, it can be used to remind us that God's word demands that we intentionally spend time in it.

  2. The book of Isaiah has often intimidated me. It is some tough stuff, and I often get buried by it. However, there is some AMAZING stuff in it. I can't think of any OT book (maybe any book of the Bible) that articulates the gospel as well as the book of Isaiah does.
So, since I was 'behind' I had to read Isaiah 54-59 today.

A few thoughts...
  • 54:10 - Even if the mountains are removed, God's compassion for his people will never be removed!
  • 55:2 - I often go after much that doesn't satisfy. There's a good, biblical word for this: idolatry.
  • 55:8-9 - I often think of these verses out of their normal context. Check it out. You might too.
  • 56:3-7 - God has the nations in mind. An understanding of the love of God = an understanding of His heart for the nations.
  • 56:5 - Having a 'name that is better than sons or daughters' reminds me a lot of the message of Hebrews.
  • 57:15 - God has always honored humility. ALWAYS.
  • 58:1-3 - Just because we observe religious practices or talk about desiring to know God's will, it doesn't mean that our heart is really in tune with God. Read this chapter, but know you will be convicted in reading, and probably need to repent. I needed to!
  • 59:1-2 - Our sins impact our relationship with God.
  • 59:16 - God has made provisions for these aforementioned (you like that word, do you?) sins. We have 1 rescuer. 1 hope. And that is our savior, JESUS.
Pardon me for being a little fired up about my Bible reading, today! I am humbled, challenged and excited. All at the same time!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Just as I mentioned the other day that there are different methods to help instruct our prayer, I also came across another basic method of reading the Bible. It is the COMA approach (I found this in some material from Matthias Media). Coma stands for:
  1. Context - Where does the content of this passage fit into the bigger story of the Bible? What has happened so far? What is still to come? What is the main thrust of this book of the Bible?

  2. Observation - What type of writing is this book/passage? Is there any way that the passage can be naturally broken down into smaller sections? Is this a poem? A proverb?

  3. Meaning - What does this passage tell us about God, Jesus, God's people, or the world? What might this passage have meant to its original hearers? How can we sum up the meaning of this passage in our own words?

  4. Application - Why does this matter? How does this passage instruct us today? Does it require us to change our understanding of who God is, what God does, or how God works in relation to his people or the world? Does it require that we change the attitudes we hold, or the way we live?
None of this is rocket science, but I think it is a helpful framework for solid transformational Bible study.

VBS, Day 4

4 down, 1 to go. It's kind of funny, the kids are learning the drill, but coming in at 9:00 pretty tired. Today, the kids learned some great truths about the source of Truth, the Bible. They learned through many different avenues that the Bible is God's Word, and we can trust it to be true.

They have learned a bunch of songs that will hopefully stick with them for a long time. God is still at work in many kids lives, and we are praying that He continues to open doors.

What's your 'outlook' look like

As I was looking at the sidebar for Microsoft Outlook, I noticed a couple of tabs. They were: MAIL, CALENDAR, CONTACTS, and TASKS.

It's amazing how much those things say about what is important to us, isn't it?
  • MAIL - How are you communicating? Who are you communicating with? What are you saying?
  • CALENDAR - How do you spend your day? How are your priorities reflected by your day?
  • CONTACTS - Who do you know? How well do you know them? What level of contact do you have with them: email address, work phone, mobile phone, IM address?
  • TASKS - What do you need to do today? What is important? Who do you need to call? What stuff is important?
These questions say a lot about what's important to us.

VBS, Day 3

Forgive my being a day late on the VBS post. Yesterday was a great day. It was a day that we really emphasize the gospel and what it means to the VBS'ers.

In the morning worship rally, we talked about God being the king over everything. We also talked about the fact that we often say "no" to the king, even though He loves us. We also realized that God is right for punishing us for doing wrong, saying "no" to Him, and sinning. But, then we got to the GOOD NEWS that Jesus has come to rescue us from our punishment and our sin by dying on the cross. We stressed that we have to be sorry for our sin, and thank God for what Jesus has done for us, and ask Him to forgive us and help us live our lives with Jesus as our king.

In the Bible study time, our leaders went over this again as well, and many kids responded with questions, and a desire to know more. Some of the VBS'ers told their leaders that they had trusted in Jesus for their salvation, so we are following up with them.

We want to be careful not to give them false assurance, but to work hard to lay a good foundation for their faith! I would ask for you to pray for those who will follow up with them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of hearing Lashey and Joyner. I downloaded this CD from iTunes. I love many of the songs, but a new one (to me) was this song. I recognized the tune but not the words. But, I was blown away by the words! I felt like the tune enhanced the words. There also is a great remake of And Can It Be (my favorite hymn) on the CD.
Alleluia! Sing to Jesus
by William C. Dix, 1837-98

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus;
His the scepter, His the throne;
Alleluia! His the triumph,
His the victory alone.
Hark! The songs of peaceful Zion
Thunder like a mighty flood:
"Jesus out of every nation
Has redeemed us by His blood."

Alleluia! Not as orphans
Are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us:
Faith believes, nor questions how.
Though the cloud from sight received Him
When the forty days were over,
Shall our hearts forget His promise:
"I am with you ever-more"?

Alleluia! Bread of heaven,
Here on earth our food, our stay;
Alleluia! Here the sinful
Flee to You from day to day.
Intercessor, Friend of sinners,
Earth’s Redeemer, hear our plea
Where the songs of all the sinless
Sweep across the crystal sea.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Grace through the disciplines

I mentioned in a previous post about some time away I had to study, think, and pray.

One thing that I felt that the Spirit convicted me about was the need to pray more and to be focused in the spiritual discipline of prayer. Books by John Piper, Graeme Goldsworthy, and Philip Yancey were very encouraging and challenging.

One particular element that Piper recommended concerning prayer was the 'IOU'S method.'
  • Incline our ears (Psalm 119:36) - in other words, bend our ears in a direction that we can hear from you
  • Open our eyes (Psalm 119:18) - make us see past the sin that blinds us to the truth that sets us free
  • Unite our hearts (Psalm 86:11) - make my whole heart be desiring you, not just portions
  • Satisfy us (Psalm 90:14) - make me satisfied with no less than your abiding presence in my life each day
Each of these requests change our focus, and makes sure our hearts are trusting in Christ. I would encourage you to use something like this to make sure you are not just praying like this, "Lord, bless_____, and give me _______, and bless ________, and give me ________."

VBS, Day 2

Today at VBS, over 200 kids learned that "Jesus is God's Son." Many new faces, and hopefully more new faces are on the way!

They learned through teaching, videos, recreation, music, and a host of others ways! It was a great time. From the playground, to the gym, to snacktime, to the worship rally, there were lots of smiles all the way around!

By the way, some nice girls had a 'portable' snack-table with cookies and lemonade. They were nice enough to share some with me!

OBC's "Game Changer"

NBC10 has recently run a short piece on one of my great OBC friends, Jonathan Owen. It is a great piece and Jade who does the interview recognizes the importance of Jonathan's faith!

It is awesome to see God using all things for His glory.

Jonathan, YOU ARE LOVED!

Monday, June 23, 2008

VBS, Day 1

Good day. A lot of hustle and bustle, but now the church (with all of its neon green shirts, palm trees, volcanoes, and pineapples) is pretty quiet.

All told, I think we had 180 kids today who learned that "God is real." They heard about Moses, and hopefully realized that because God is real they can believe that He is the one true God.

I know that the missions lesson (my wife taught in this area) centered on how God used a cricket tournament in Jamaica to reach not only Jamaicans, but even countries that appear to be closed to the gospel. God is real!

Connie's (our children's minister) prayer is that "God will change these little lives throughout the week." AMEN.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Recently, I was able to take a few days, get away, and seek God. I always value the time when I can do that. It is a time when I can refocus my energy on walking with Christ and serving Him here at Ogletown. I normally end up thoroughly convicted, but significantly refreshed.

I will share a few things over the next couple of days, but here are some of the resources that I brought along for the trip.
As I said, I will share in the future of how God used these to encourage my spiritual growth.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I have read where some people who go to conferences will 'live-blog' the event giving people play-by-play updates on the conference.

Well, next week I will do my first live-blogging here during VBS at Ogletown (embarrassing pictures will most likely be included!). Beginning Sunday, I will be sharing the fun for those who aren't a part of the event that is VBS. We will be learning to "Live God's Unshakeable Truth" as part of being on the "Outrigger Island."

Stay posted!

In the 50's in June = Curtis is happy

I went outside this morning to a nice morning in the 50's! I love it. I celebrated the cool morning with a trip to Starbucks. My favorite barista, who happens to be an OBC worship leader, made a great caramel macchiato!

My joy is not found in high-priced coffee beverages or great weather conditions (although I receive both of these as God's gifts to me this morning). But, it sure doesn't hurt my happiness, either.

Happy Day

As of yesterday afternoon, I have 1 mortgage and no leases on homes! Furthermore, that mortgage is for a home in DE not TN!

Ahhhhhhh! In case you need translation, that is a sigh of relief and gratitude to God for allowing our house to be sold in TN. I haven't mentioned it in too many public settings, but I know many people have been praying for it to sell, and God answered in His perfect timing and His perfect way.

(That's the sound of Shawna and me smiling!)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

200 posts in less than a year

This is the 200th time I have posted on the OBC blog! It has been a good experience for me, and hopefully beneficial to you who read.

Going forward, do you have any advice on what to add or subtract on the blog. It really is meant to be an extension of my heart to serve the body of Christ. So if I am not doing that well or I could be doing it better, I welcome the insight! Feel free to click the "Post a Comment" and let them fly!

I thought about something today. I love being here! I can't imagine any place that I would rather be pastoring right now. That's a big statement for me to make when you consider that I believe the Sooner State to be a foretaste of the Promised Land (those words are sure to fire up the Texans who read the blog). :-)

In all seriousness, God's grace is truly amazing, and my wife and I count it as His gracious plan for us to be at OBC!

God gives grace in many ways

The New Testament writers talk about God's grace being something that does not come in one form, but may take shape in a lot of ways in our lives.
  • It has come in the form of SCRIPTURE. I posted on this the other day, but my heart has been refreshed lately by hearing from God in his word.

  • It has come in the form of a couple of BOOKS I am reading. They have pointed out to me a need to fight for joy in the Christian life, and have given me instruction into the greater plan of God for this world.

  • It came in the form of an EMAIL reminding me that God is bigger than anything, and that I should have radical joy in Him.

  • It came in the form of an 'accidental' CONVERSATION with someone who's flight got canceled, so he had availability for lunch. In that lunch I felt that God was stirring my heart for a message OBC needs to hear.

  • It has come in the form of a PODCAST I listened to reminding me that one way I can serve OBC well is to pay attention to 1 Timothy 4:16.

  • It has come in the form of a TEXT message I received who reminded me of Psalm 139 in which the Psalmist asks God to search him.
So, that is my short list of ways God's "streams of mercy" have been "never ceasing" in my life lately. I think that does call for a "song of loudest praise."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

One another-ing

Tonight, I am going to begin a couple-week study on Wednesday nights concerning the "One Anothers" of Scripture. There are at least 26 different types of commands associated with that. Clearly, God expects that His people live in a loving relationship with each other. One particular 'one another' comes in Galatians 6:2 which reminds us to bear one another's burdens. I read this definition:
Bearing one another's burden is taking upon yourself a fellow believer's difficulty, problem, or oppressive circumstance as if it were your own and taking any possible action to alleviate it.

Meet my new secretary

Charis stopped by the office to organize my files! Based on her first day on the job, my assistant Susan doesn't have to worry! As cute as my "Sweet Pea" is she couldn't seem to get anything in the right file, and actually enjoyed throwing things out of the cabinet rather than putting things in.

On another note, Charis turns one today. Her name means 'grace,' and she has been full of God's grace to our family this past year. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the most beautiful grace-filled little girl I know of!

Monday, June 9, 2008

15 minutes: what could you do with it?

Following up on the post I did yesterday based off of the sermon on Sunday, I thought I would 'walk' through my Bible reading today. Reading and seeking to apply God's Word consumed 15 minutes of my day. (A side note...I don't think many of us are so busy that 15 minutes is more than we can spare. Some who read this may spend 30 minutes a day in Bible reading or more, but this post is to evaluate what you could do if you only have 15.)
  • STEP ONE - I prayed asking God's guidance and my heart to be soft in reading His word. Based off of a Bible reading plan that I use, I realized the reading for today is Deuteronomy 13 and 14.

  • STEP TWO - Before I read, I wanted to understand the context of what I was reading so I looked up the passage in How to Read the Bible Book by Book. It alerted me to the fact that what drives Deuteronomy is "a deep concern for Israel's uncompromising loyalty to Yahweh." It also told me that "The reason the Israelites are to love Yahweh in this way is that he first loved them." Also, I was reminded that "the only hope for Israel to bless the nations is for them to obliterate all forms of idolatry and to walk in the ways of the God who redeemed them to be his people." It hinted that chapter 13 will speak of loving God while chapter 14 will speak of loving our neighbor. The book gave a basic overview of chapters 12-16, and covered in broad strokes what I would be reading.

  • STEP THREE - With an idea of context, I now could proceed to the NIV Study Bible and read the text. The chapters seemed to have info that was pretty antiquated including very specific dietary laws. In addition, chapter 13 was very harsh concerning how to deal with every possible hint of idolatry.

  • STEP FOUR - Some observations I gleaned from my reading were: (1) God's word should always be looked to above man's words, (2) Part of the punishment for sin is a motivation for others NOT to do it, (3) Some of God's promises are conditional, (4) Outward practices can reveal our hearts, (5) Tithing was to serve as an educational tool to the Israelites to revere God (6) God sets boundaries, but even in those boundaries, we are given freedom to enjoy, and (7) God remembers the disadvantaged of society and we would do well to share his heart for them. I jotted these down in a notebook. There are surely many more things that can be said.

  • STEP FIVE - In my reading I came across some helpful observations in the NIV Study Bible: (1) God tests to see if he has all of our hearts, (2) a synthesis of this passage with a Numbers passage that also gave instruction concerning the tithe, and (3) God's desire to be unique in being worshiped in a centralized location rather than the idols who were worshiped anywhere people wanted. (This reminded that even in the OT, there were exclusive ways to come into the presence of God)

  • STEP SIX - I closed out the last remaining minutes with a glance at the New Bible Commentary. I found this quote to be extremely helpful: "The measures commanded here are severe indeed, but they should be seen against the background of the powerful temptations which did indeed come to Israel during her history in the land of Canaan. The books of Kings are a story of chronic failure in this respect. Idolatry would, and did, undermine the very purpose for which God chose Israel, which was in the end the salvation of the world." Another thought that was instructive is: "The tithe as presented here is typical of Deuteronomy, however. It is celebrated by all Israel at the central place of worship. It is marked by joy in worship of the one God, and symbolizes the oneness of the people by stressing the fact that all share in it. And it shows a people that were at the same time obedient (in bringing its tithes) and blessed with abundance of the land (in the feast which the offering itself affords them)."

  • STEP SEVEN - I prayerfully considered what in my life was not in accord with what I read. I realized that often I don't share God's passion against the idols in my life. I repented of the things that were beginning to draw my heart away from Him. I also was convicted that religious practices should lead to an ultimate joy. I further realized that I don't express the same compassion for the disadvantaged that God does here and Christ does in the NT! I asked God to change my heart, and began to realize some immediate tangible ways that could change. I ended with a short prayer time.
15 minutes! What spiritual fruit could come from a year's worth of 15 minutes?

More thoughts tomorrow...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Resources from today's message

I am always up for a book, or recommending one. But, what I have listed below, are resources that could give you a better handle on THE BOOK. The resources I plan on sharing in today's sermon are:
a Bible reading plan

a study Bible

a guided tour of the Bible, book by book

a commentary for the entire Bible

a very basic theology book
So there is the summary. I have other recommendations that might suit other circumstances, but this could be considered a starter kit. I think you could purchase these 4 books for $65 + shipping. It may be the best money you could spend if it leads to a love and application of God's Word.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Are we paying attention?

I read this verse in last night's Bible study.
The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. - 2 Chronicles 33:10
How serious does that sound? It sent chills up my spine when I read it. For the people of Judah, their lack of listening led to much pain.

However, a few verses later in the chapter you can see that the pain led to repentance which led to forgiveness. God is good to humble us, even when we don't desire to pay attention to Him.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

$2.69 could = less stress

I mentioned Psalm 131 in Sunday's message. Many of my thoughts on that Psalm have been formed by this little booklet about stress which can be purchased for $2.69. It may be the best $2.69 you spend all day. Too good not to share.

Somethin' for nothin'

Did you ever get somethin' for nothin'? That was my experience today. I parked in a parking lot in downtown Newark. I think the rate is 50 cents an hour. As I was pulling out of the lot, the attendant said, "Are you from Oklahoma?" (She saw the license plate on the front of my truck.) When I assured her that I was a born-and-bred Sooner, she let me leave the lot for free. Seriously.

As that great theologian Merle Haggard once said, "I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee!" Alright, so I am not from Muskogee, but I do know that I parked for free today!

Somethin' for nothin' is a good deal almost every time.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Anybody missing their pet bird? We found her!

So, my wife and son are in the back yard and what do they find, but a peahen! (I would say 'peacock,' but that is not accurate! It is a female peacock, therefore it is a peahen! You did not know I knew that much about such fowl, did you?) Note the picture. I am not making this stuff up!

So, did anybody out there lose their bird? Can we get a reward for returning her to her rightful owner? And, what do I do about Canaan, who is not really eager to play in the back yard now that he realizes he has to share the back yard with an oversized fowl?

One more observation. Canaan has a poster on the refrigerator that lists common North American birds . He improvised a drawing of a peahen to add to the poster, as it did not have a picture of this bird. By the way, he drew the peahen with a blue marker. Can you tell which is the 'addition'?