Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reading in Ecclesiastes

More books that I am reading as I study Ecclesiastes. (Oddly enough it is in Ecclesiastes that we read the words, "Of making many books there is no end!")
  • A Time to Tear Down and a Time to Build Up by Michael Fox (expensive, and written from a Jewish perspective, not Christian)
  • Ecclesiastes by Tremper Longman (Great commentary)
  • Solomon Among the Postmoderns (recent book that is extremely helpful in analyzing current culture through the lens of Ecclesiastes)
  • Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller (I am pretty sure Donald would like Ecclesiastes)
  • Against the Grain by Ray Waddle (essays and thoughts related to Ecclesiastes)
  • Ecclesiastes by T.M. Moore (helpful interpretive paraphrase)
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1920's version of Ecclesiastes minus the hope in God)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Is life meaningless?

This Sunday, we are going to begin a journey through the book of Ecclesiastes called MEANING(LESS). I have been reading through the book for several months, and am excited to learn more of the mind of God through this study. It seems like I haven't heard too many messages on the book, but it really has so many things in it that are extremely valuable for shaping our lives in our current culture. Each week we will look at things that promise to have meaning, and analyze them through the lens of God's Word and God's Son.

We will be starting off in chapter one. FYI, I didn't know this until the other day, but Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises begins with a quote from this chapter.

See you Sunday!

Good thoughts

I heard a quote today that made me think...
Nothing impacts a kid like what they do daily.
I think that is right, and I think more than kids may be included in that statement.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just walk across the street

I have a book on my shelves (that I have only skimmed) by Bill Hybels, and the title of it is Just Walk Across the Room. It is a book that is instructive and motivational concerning personal evangelism.

I think after the last two nights, I feel like I have been impressed to "Just Walk Across the Street." What am I talking about?

Just Walk Night One - On Monday night, our church hosted a party at Pride's Court Apartments (for those not from DE, the apartments are literally 20 yards from our property). With the ENORMOUS assistance from the group from Biltmore Baptist, we threw a party in the middle of the courtyard. Party = hamburgers, hot dogs, snow cones, slam-dunking show, inflatable games, concert, open mic talent show. It was a good time. Those who are residents in the apartments came out to see what was going on, and from all accounts had a great time. As part of the night, John Mark from Biltmore shared the hope that is in Jesus Christ, and Stan our associate pastor, shared OBC's desire to love our neighbors. Both were well received. I will share more thoughts about this another time, but it was a great first step in visibly demonstrating that we care about our neighbors, and don't just want them for what they can do for us.

Just Walk Night Two - Last night, I had an experience at my house. I was mowing my lawn (not my favorite thing to do), and I saw our across-the-street neighbors out in their front yard. They have a child about Canaan's age, so the two of them began playing. We ended up getting to talk with the couple, and hopefully began a friendship.

How many times do we miss opportunities to make new friends because we play in the backyard rather than the frontyard?

How many times do we wish our church could reach people, but we don't realize that sometimes all we need to do is "walk across the street." It is not an "end-all." But, I cannot think of a better first step to sharing the love of Christ! Just walk across the street!

Why do I need to..., part three

We are going to look at one more "Why Do I Need to_____" questions.

This week the question will be, "Why do I need to forgive?" I cannot wait to share with you the things that God has brought to my attention. I have never appreciated my forgiveness from God more than I have this week. I have never understood it like I do having spent some time meditating on the subject.

Just a few of the passages of Scripture and resources that have been helpful to me this week:
  • Matthew 18
  • Ephesians 4:32
  • When Sinners Say 'I Do' by Dave Harvey
  • The Reason for God by Tim Keller (especially his chapter on the true story of the cross)
  • What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey
  • Love in Hard Places by D.A. Carson
  • Whiter Than Snow by Paul David Tripp (this has been out less than a week)
I cannot wait to share with the OBC family the blessings of knowing that we are forgiven, and the hope and strength we have in Christ to forgive others.

Pray that God would use His Word to shape our hearts!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

50 years in the books

There were too many highlights from this weekend (our 50th anniversary weekend) to write them all down, but here are a few that come to mind...
  • Seeing the slides of the history of Ogletown Baptist.
  • Listening to Marvin Ford and Otis Doherty, former pastors of OBC, at the banquet. They are men of great faithfulness.
  • Seeing the OEx change from a banquet hall into a worship venue with the help of many OBC'ers. Great job.
  • The buses from Biltmore Baptist rolling into the parking lot (150 people!). I don't know if there could be a more joy-filled, servant-minded group in the world. Thanks guys for coming to the cool Mid-Atlantic.
  • Hearing our congregation sing, "The Power of the Cross" this morning.
  • Being reminded of the Hill family heritage by my dad's and mom's Bible.
  • Seeing the look on Canaan's face when he looked at the pig that had been roasted.
  • Downing 10 bottles of water at the picnic.
So many people did so many things to make this weekend possible. It was a ton of fun.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

God's Word at work

My most recent Scripture memory passage is 2 Corinthians 1:8-14.
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 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. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. For our boast is this: the testimony of our conscience that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and acknowledge and I hope you will fully acknowledge— just as you did partially acknowledge us, that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.

There are some great things that God has brought to my attention.
  • Paul was burdened beyond his own strength. But, this was to make Him rely on God. We sometimes think that God won't give us more than we can handle, but this seems to tell us that is exactly what He does! He wants us to rely on Him.
  • When God speaks of His power, it is often connected with raising the dead. The resurrection is significant.
  • Our hope HAS to be set on Christ for anything. We are not our best hope, He is.
  • We can help others through prayer. It is effectual in accomplishing God's purposes.
  • Our best behavior is based on the grace of God, not our works.
Just a few thoughts from a rich passage.

Meeting last night

Some of my favorite parts of last night's business/members/family meeting.
  • Eating real Southern BBQ (prepared by our friends at Eastaboga Baptist) in the 'pre-game' meal.

  • Talking through our plans to move our congregation to two services beginning in September, and what that will mean for us as a church. Jeff did an incredible job of helping us understand the audio and visual needs of the space at Ogletown Exchange. I am grateful for his sacrificial use of time.

  • Watching Stan lead our congregation in hand motions to help us understand his burden for making disciples here at OBC. I am pretty sure that is the first Baptist business meeting where that has ever been done.

  • Thinking through the implications of the passage of 1 Corinthians 12:12-28. We all truly are members of the body of Christ.

  • Hearing what God is doing in the immediate community, as well as in our county, and region.

  • Realizing that God continues to bless OBC with people who generously give to meet the needs of our budget as well as supplying resources for our expansion project, and other needs that arise. He is a faithful God!

  • Seeing some from our community playing basketball at Ogletown Exchange, and also feeling the excitement of our members about our opportunity to influence their lives. Great stuff.

  • Listening to Connie's excitement in talking about some new environments for Sunday School beginning in September.

  • Watching as people talked and shared after the meeting. I love seeing God's people enjoy each other's company. Truth be told that doesn't always happen after business meetings.

  • Hearing the worship team preparing for Sunday's gathering in the 'post-game' activities. We are in for a great day for our 50th Anniversary.
If you missed the meeting, you missed a great time where we felt that God indeed is working in this place! God is good, and we are blessed to be a part!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two thoughts about God's will

I posted a while back concerning God's will, but as I was leading our staff in a devotion, some thoughts came to mind. We were reading in Ephesians 1 (always an awesome place to read), and I realized:
  1. God has made the mystery of His will known to us. How so? In Jesus Christ, who provides redemption, forgiveness, and reveals the grace of God. The plan for His will is to accomplish a complete restoration of this world through His Son. That has been revealed, and the mystery has been made known.

  2. Much of God's will is not 'lost.' We often pray that we might be able to find God's will, and yet references like Romans 12:1-2, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and 5:18, and 1 Peter 2:15 tell us that God's will, although once a mystery, has been revealed to us.

Pumped up

I had the privilege of reading in the Psalms this morning. Fewer places in Scripture elicit the praise of God and ignite a passion for God that this book does! So, here are some God-thoughts that I enjoyed today. So, I will pass along the blessing I feel.
  • Psalm 135:6 Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.
  • Psalm 138:6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.

  • Psalm 141:5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.

  • Psalm 143:8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

  • Psalm 145:4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

  • Psalm 145:9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
  • Psalm 146:5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God,
  • Psalm 147:1 Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
  • Psalm 147:11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Is humility a virtue?

Is humility a virtue? Maybe not in the sight of a culture that seems to lift up a self-confident, have-it-your-way mindset. But, God weighs in on the subject, and His declaration is certainly the 'weightiest.' I read this passage - Isaiah 66:1-2 - in my devotions this afternoon, and wanted to share some of my response (which will be in parentheses).
Thus says the Lord:
"Heaven is my throne,
(You are high above everything)
and the earth is my footstool;
(Everything on earth is completely subject to you)
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
(Anything I would do for you cannot compare)
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be.
(It is your will that I have breath and life)
But this is the one to whom I will look:
(Thank you, God, for looking to human flesh)
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
(God, make me humble)
and trembles at my word.
(God, may I have a reverent fear that leads to love and obedience)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The influence is growing.

For those who keep up with the blog (both of you, haha), you might remember that my favorite daily devotional to use in correspondence with my Bible reading is For the Love of God by D.A. Carson. I get it emailed to me each day through ChristWay Media. A few months back, my wife began using the hard copy version for some of her devotional reading.

Well, apparently another member of our family is wanting to spend some morning devotional time with Dr. Carson. Shawna sent me this picture, and it brought a smile to my face.

I guess I have rubbed off on at least one of the kids!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Depositing God's Word in our hearts

Based on something I read recently, I have been encouraged to pick up a challenge to memorize Scripture. Here is the passage I am currently 'working on.'
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort." (2 Corinthians 1:1-7, ESV)
It is amazing what you see when you slow down and look at Scripture thought-by-thought, and word-for-word. My prayer is that my memorizing these types of passages will serve other believers (and non-believers). Here are some thoughts...
  • Paul's calling and being sent was by the will of God, not just his own idea or even the idea of other godly people around him. They surely recognized the call, but its origin was God.
  • Paul puts Timothy on par with himself, despite Timothy's youth, inexperience, etc. He gives him value in our eyes by calling him a brother.
  • The church is God's church, not mine or anyone else's. We are stewards, not owners.
  • The church is made up of saints, so you are reading St. Curtis' blog.
  • Grace and peace! Could there be two greater things that we could wish upon fellow believers? Furthermore, they come from God the Father and Jesus.
  • God can (and should) be blessed even in affliction.
  • God is the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort. All comfort, that's pretty extensive, huh?
  • He is the source of comfort, not us. What does that mean? In the end, the words I choose to share in attempt to comfort will only be comforting because God uses them to comfort. That takes a lot of pressure off of us, when we feel the need to say just the right thing.
God-willing, I will share some more thoughts on these verses as I am depending on the Spirit to help me commit them to memory.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lookin' forward to Sunday

This coming Sunday, we are going to be enjoying celebrating our Communion with God because of Christ.

Also, we are going to look at the subject of confession. I have already gone through a great deal of emotions/feelings (guilt, sorrow, forgiven, relief) in reading through the texts we might look at on Sunday. I believe Sunday could be a step toward realizing God's grace in amazing way.

Here are some of the texts I have been reading in preparation...

Three thoughts I cannot get past (you might hear these again):
  1. We often (in the church) create and encourage a culture of cover-up rather than confession. (This is not original with me, but I have been gripped by the analysis since I heard it)
  2. Our instinct is to cover-up our sins. We often deceive ourselves in this area.
  3. The irony is that we have a choice: we can either cover-up our sins, or experience God's grace in covering our sins. (i.e. Psalm 32)

If you need me this summer, I will be at...

I found a new spot in Hockessin called "The Creamery." This little gem makes me extremely glad to live in Delaware. The 'flavor of the night' last night was Black Raspberry Chip. We also tried some of the flavor "Dirt" (chocolate ice cream + oreo cookies + gummy bears = happy four year olds, one year olds, and thirty-one year olds).

Incidentally, I exercised before I stopped by The Creamery, so the calories were canceled out, and I ate my ice cream cone guilt free.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I don't make this stuff up

I walked in the house today, pretty tired, and ready for some rest. My son says, "Dad, I am going to take a little rest with you. I am tired of church!" I am pretty sure he meant he was tired 'from' church, but we all have been tired of church, haven't we? :-)

Also, we had another visitor in the back yard (you might recall our previous visitor). Imagine my surprise when Canaan said, "Look, there is a deer in our back yard. A girl deer." Grandpa has taught him well. He can spot the deer, even in our back yard!

We may decide to begin the Hill Family Wildlife Preserve!

Friday, July 4, 2008

In threes

In light of the holiday, there are 3 books that have made me really grateful to be an American.

Here are 3 authors who bring history to life
  • David McCullough
  • Jay Winik
  • James Bradley

Here are 3 of my favorite collections of stories.

I am a golf nut, and here are 3 great golf books by John Feinstein.

Here are 3 enjoyable business/marketing books I have come across

3 great biographies/autobiographies

I don't read fiction that often, but here are 3 compelling fiction books I have read over the last few years.

This time last year...

What a difference a year can make. This day last year, our family was packing into a USAir jet in Chattanooga to come up to visit with a certain pastor search committee in Newark, DE. Some great memories...
  • Charis was only 3 weeks old. She was such a good baby on that trip (she still is good, by the way).
  • Canaan was all-boy, excited about being on a plane (some things never change).
  • Shawna was doing amazingly (is that a word) well for having a baby less than 3 weeks earlier.
  • My stomach wasn't doing so well (wonder why?).
  • I was reading 1776 by David McCullough. Great read as we flow into Philly and stayed near the Delaware River.
  • We saw fireworks from the airplane coming into Philly. Very cool thing!
  • I was eager, anxious, nervous, excited, and ready for God to do some amazing things.
What a year it has been! I couldn't have asked for a better one. It's just hard to believe it's been a year.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

It's Thursday, but Sunday's comin'

Only those who are preaching-nerds will appreciate the title to the post.

Anyway, I am planning on talking about prayer Sunday. I have come to the conclusion that I could talk about prayer the next 52 Sundays, and still not really exhaust the subject, but you have to start somewhere.

If you want to look at some of the places we will be on Sunday, check out 2 Samuel 7 and Jeremiah 29. Rather than trying to roll out a guilt-trip on why we don't pray, I have been attempting to discern why we should pray, and what really is our source of prayer. I have a feeling we won't be able to cover all that I want to, but it's worth the try.

Some of the resources that have been helpful this week in preparing have been:
  • OBC'ers who are wrestling with the privilege, responsibility, command, and blessing that is prayer.

  • A book called Prayer and the Knowledge of God by Graeme Goldsworthy. If ever there was a big picture kind of guy, Graeme's the guy!

  • A book by Philip Yancey called Prayer. Yancey always seems to make me uncomfortable by putting the difficult questions on paper that are in my mind and heart.

  • A chapter of a book by A.W. Pink called "The Sovereignty of God in Prayer."

  • A message by Louie Giglio called "Who's Blessing Whom?" passed on to me by Emily, our college minister.
I will say this Sunday, but I have realized more and more that prayer is a mystery that is meant to be approached with humility. It's a mystery because of God's sovereignty, and it should be approached with humility because of our sinfulness.

See you Sunday!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Yesterday, I got a call on my cell phone. The person was asking for the American Eskimo Dog Rescue of Delaware. The conversation proceeded like this.

"Uhhhh. I think you have the wrong number."

"Well, your number was on the website."

"Oh great! Seriously, this isn't the dog rescue."

"Are you sure?"

"Quite sure!"

I know that my number was on a website somewhere in cyberspace, because I have gotten a bunch of calls for the ole' Eskimo Dog Rescue over the last few months.

I sent a few emails, and can only hope I am off the list. So, if you need help with your Eskimo Dog, I am not the one to call.