Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Time to think, time to read, time to pray

Because of a little inclement weather this morning, I had some time alone. I was reminded of how refreshing God's Word is.
  • I read that the Lord is my rock, my fortress, my refuge, my salvation, my stronghold, my God. Wow! (Psalm 18)
  • I need to purpose in my heart to walk in a holy way (Psalm 17)
  • God's sovereign purposes in the life of Jacob, Joseph, and Joseph's brothers are fascinating. What a dramatic story. What a faithful God!
  • The early church (in the book of Acts) seemed to talk and think about the Spirit much more that I do.

I also had some time to pray. Through that time I realized...
  • How valuable the people at Ogletown are (not just to God, but also to me)
  • How difficult some of the situations are in the lives of people who call OBC home
  • How great is the need outside of our church to have lives transformed by God's grace
Anyway, just some thoughts from this morning. Thank you God, for icy, quiet mornings.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Humiliation is...

Humiliation is having to post a picture on Facebook because your team didn't win a game. That is all I am going to say.

FYI, if you don't live in a Facebook world, count yourselves fortunate. Also, if you are on Facebook, I would be glad to be your "friend"! Something about that sounds like I am back in 3rd grade.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Be Still My Soul

Yesterday, as we looked at Psalm 131, I mentioned this song written by Katharina Von Schlegel. What a great series of reminders to begin your day with!

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do you know where you are going? part three

We don't know the future, but that doesn't prevent us from asking God to work His will out in our midst. And so a few more things I have been asking (and thanking) God for...
  • A growing sense of the need for desperate dependence on God in prayer. Many in our congregation grasp this need with urgency, but many of us are too lethargic in this area. I am praying that we will hunger and thirst after righteousness by pursuing God in prayer.

  • An impact on the 'least of these,' especially within our county, and especially within the city of Wilmington. I read the paper and see the violence that often exists in Wilmington. I recognize that through economic conditions, poor choices, and a host of other factors, we might have the opportunity to show the love of Christ to many who are in need in '09. I have serious doubts that programs and plans (government or otherwise) can have the impact that a group of Christians who love Jesus and people can have. I am praying that those of us at OBC will have that kind of heart.

  • A church where we realize God loves the WORLD not just our little domain. We have given to support gospel work among the nations. We have taken trips to share the message of Jesus, but I am praying that now more than ever our entire church will be gripped with the great amount of 'lost-ness' that exists in our world. There is only one Source of hope, and that is Jesus. I believe we can take great steps to ignite our concern for those apart from Christ.
So, God is working at Ogletown. We have not yet arrived, but God help us to stay headed in the right direction.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Do you know where you are going? part two

So, picking up from yesterday. Where are we going? Where is God working? Here are some more hopes/dreams/realities...
  • Believers that are increasingly saturated with, shaped by, and sharing the gospel. In our congregation, we are growing in our awareness that "we are far greater sinners than we ever imagined. But God's grace is far more amazing than we dared to hope." (thanks to Tim Keller for the thought)

  • A body that is made up of all ages. Dozens of college students. Many senior adults. The preschool building full, and many new grandparents. Young people starting off their careers. Older people retiring. The older teaching and encouraging the younger. The younger challenging and giving life to the older. That is characteristic of the body of Christ and OBC continues to grow in this area.

  • People who impact their neighbors. Neighbors in the sense of our own Ogletown community. More people than ever are realizing that OBC does care about the people who live in the 19713 zip code. But it extends further. The neighbors of those who call OBC home have to see the hope of Jesus in our lives. Our 'neighbors' at the University of Delaware (20,000 of them), should be impacted by the transforming work of Christ. We have to continue to ask God to use us to show Christ's love to this area.
As you can tell, Ogletown is headed in a direction that seeks to be far more than just a place to attend or an event to be at. We are a people who want to reflect and share Jesus Christ!

I will share more at another time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hunger for God

In light of an earlier post about God serving us, I found this quote in a book by John Piper called A Hunger for God. He speaks about a parable in Luke 12 about the return of Christ.
I refer to this as a stunning parable because it portrays the returning Christ as a “master” who nevertheless “will gird himself to serve, and have them [his servants] recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them” (Luke 12:37). This takes the breath away. The one we wait for, who will come in the clouds with the holy angels and the glory of his Father and terrify the nations—this one will magnify his greatness in mercy and servanthood and make himself the servant of our joy forever.
That thought certainly doesn't make me proud, but it does assure me that I am loved.

FYI, you can actually read an online version of the entire book for free on Desiring God's website.

Do you know where you are going? part one

I saw the cover of a Christian magazine for pastors yesterday. On the cover, it had a picture of a cool-looking guy and the caption read, "So-and-so knows where he is going, do you?"

Wow! Do I know where I am going? Truth be told. In some ways, I could say, "I hope so!" In other ways, I would have to answer, "Sorry, not a clue!"

As I think about the year ahead of Ogletown, I would have to say that I am excited and overwhelmed at "where we are going." I don't have an intricate plan, a manual, or a special angelic revelation as to where OBC should be going. However, I do have an old God-breathed book, the Spirit of God, and the people of God. These give me more confidence than any man-made manual or plan.

So, where do I see God taking us in '09? A couple of hopes/dreams/realities...
  • A body that continues to grow in diversity. We are moving in that direction. Each week, I see it and it makes me so grateful. Every week, people from many races, ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic conditions, denominations join together to worship together as the people of God. We haven't arrived, we have a long way to go, but we are going and growing toward a picture of Revelation where every tribe and tongue is joining in a choir celebrating the Redeemer who gave us redemption. A taste of that every Sunday and throughout the week is encouraging.

  • A body that grows in concern for each other. I see signs of it. I see people sacrificially loving their brothers and sisters. Not just talking about it, but doing it. I believe that God will use this to make a powerful statement to our community. They will know we are believers in Jesus because of our love for each other!

  • A church where membership matters. Not just because you are part of an exclusive club. But, because a formal commitment to a group of believers is the pattern of Acts and should mean something to us today. I sense a growing willingness on the part of people to say, "OBC is my family. For as long as God has me (and my family) here, we are going to be identified with this assembly of believers."
These are just a few things on the horizon at OBC. I will share more later.

Serving or being served

I was challenged today by a concept that I had never really mediated on. The concept is this: the early church as described in the book of Acts was much more intent on being served by God rather than serving God.

Why does that jar me? It must be that I need to grow in my understanding of grace. I think my whole life should be devoted to serving God. I think that is only right. I have Scripture to back that up.

But, I believe I have missed something in all of that. The concept of God “serving me” seems to make me say, “No, Jesus! You will never serve me. I am the one who is supposed to be serving you.” Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s what Peter said when Jesus was intent on serving Him. “I am among you as the one who serves.” That is what Jesus told the disciples, and I don’t think He has adjusted His position on that.

Okay. I am starting to get it. Starting to get it, mind you. I am nowhere close to grasping this like I hope to one day. But I am a person that is in desperate need of being served by God. If He doesn’t do that, I have no hope. If I don’t experience His grace, I have no other source of help. I am a needy person. Without Him, I can't do anything (see John 15:6).

So today, I am adjusting my prayers. I am asking God to serve me with His grace. It feels uncomfortable, but I am aware this morning more than ever of my need to be served! Of course, I want to serve God, but today I know more than serving God I need to be served by Him.

Monday, January 12, 2009

09 Resolutions for 2009

After much careful thought, I have come up with some resolutions...

I resolve to...
  1. Avoid buying a treadmill (I've tried that before with no luck).

  2. Resist the urge to join the Y (been there, done that, didn't work, I never went).

  3. Eat more Reese's PB Cups in 09 than I did in 08.

  4. Read less.

  5. Drink more Pepsi rather than healthy drinks.

  6. Spend more money at Starbucks buying high-priced drinks.

  7. Use the idle time I have (as a result of reading less, see #4) and watch ESPN more.

  8. Find new snack food to enjoy, paying little attention to its health content.

  9. Rarely use sarcasm on the blog! :-)

Any other suggestions for resolutions?

Prayer from the Bible

As I was listening to a message this morning (by David Platt who pastors The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham), my attention was drawn to a passage in Acts 4. When the church was being persecuted, Scripture records that the church committed themselves to prayer.

Their prayer started "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them." That is the essence of Psalm 113 (that we looked at yesterday in church). It recognizes that God is HIGH ABOVE us. Their prayer also was a plea for God to REACH DOWN to rescue them.

I am often amazed and challenged by the passionate prayers of the people of God that are recorded in Scripture. Thank God for them.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

One word...Reese's

Since the "eating of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup on stage" a few Sundays ago, the loving OBC family has provided me with lots of reminders of their love.
  • a LARGE Reese's mug filled with Reese's PB cups. Come by the office sometime and get one. The mug sits on my desk.

  • a Reese's PB Christmas ornament

  • a Reese's PB Snowman

  • a CASE, yes a CASE of Reese's PB cups. This was courtesy of some nice Retired (Old) Men who Eat Out (otherwise known as ROMEOS)

  • a Reese's PB t-shirt

  • Many other Reese's PB cups in all shapes and sizes
It's nice to know you are loved.
And it's nice to eat Reese's PB cups!

Thanks!

Psalm 113

This Sunday, we will begin a few weeks of looking at the Psalms. The psalm for this Sunday is 113.
Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord!
Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!
The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord!

This psalm is connected with the Exodus, the Passover, the song of Hannah in 1 Samuel, and the song of Mary in Luke 1.

I read this quote from a little (but powerful) book by Derek Kidner on the Psalms...
"The Most High cares for the most humiliated."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New years, new starts

Many Americans make New Year's Resolutions. Many have "been there, done that" and have not found it to be that helpful.

I personally appreciate a new year. I think God gives us time and seasons to remind us that while those things change, His faithfulness doesn't. So, then I can rely on His never-changing faithfulness to help and sustain me throughout 2009.

As I have begun a new year of Bible reading, I have been reminded of the value of the discipline of spending time in God's Word. This morning my heart was encouraged as I read my 'daily assigned reading.' God uses time spent in His Word in such a great way, and if you were lacking in that area in 2008, maybe you could use the beginning of 2009 to renew your pursuit of God in this area.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

No place like home

You know you are ready to come home from vacation when you can't help but wondering how things are there! I missed worshiping at OBC today. Other churches are great, but it's just not the same.

Anyway, I know Stan did a great job, and I look forward to being back next Sunday.