Monday, December 13, 2010


Reading Isaiah 25 is like a preview of Revelation 21-22. I truly have never realized how many connections are made between these two books.

But this verse (25:9) certainly drove my anticipation for Jesus' return.

It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him. Let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reading in...

A lot of my reading of Scripture lately has been in 2 books: Proverbs and Isaiah.

From Proverbs: I am learning the value placed on speech and (more accurately) NOT speaking every time there is a break in conversation. There seems to be a premium in Proverbs on being careful with your words. Truly, a wise person will be wise with their words.

From Isaiah: I am seeing the devastation of idolatry. I read yesterday from Isaiah 17 and realized how easy it is to look to the work of our own hands, rather than to our Maker. It is easy to forget the God of our salvation and the Rock of our refuge.

The consequences of idol-worship are devastating, the destruction caused by ill-advised speech is enormous, but we have a Savior who is able to deliver us and change us from the inside out.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Giving and receiving criticism - a display of love (Part 2)

In the previous post I spoke to what I naturally tend to expect/want when I face criticism. I think it is wise to spell out in golden-rule fashion how that should impact how I might give criticism to others.
  • I should give others the space to not be perfect 100% of the time. Scripture speaks of overlooking minor faults and forgiving those.
  • I should realize that I do not sit in the seat of others. I should extend patience and kindness. I would do well to invest some time into thinking through things from their perspective, not just my own (and even in doing so, I should not think I am all-knowing). I should try to consider the fact that I really don't know everything that is going on in their world. I should not assume that I do. It would do me well to even verbalize that to another person.
  • I should give someone the benefit of the doubt in the motives category. I never truly know WHY someone does something (unless they say so). With that in mind, it is generally a good rule to not assume people are acting with clearly evil intent.
  • I should give the opportunity to others to explain their situation and decision before jumping to conclusions. This is not always easy, but I think it is a wise investment of time to do so. Proverbs says that a fool is only interested in expressing their own opinion. If I really desire that I better communicate with someone, I will be compelled to listen and not only speak.
  • I should realize that it is very hard not to take criticism personally. We can say "it's not personal," but all too often it feels VERY personal when we levy criticism. I think I could grow in my sensitivity to the fact that often criticism is hard NOT to take personally. It might slow my tongue down.
  • I should do some damage assessment of my criticism. Maybe this could be viewed as a law of unintended consequences. It might be wise for me to ask, "is this really worth it?" Might this impact other relationships? Would this put someone in such a defensive posture that little good and much harm would come out of it? Once again, I might be slower to speak, and slower to criticize if I considered the potential damage I could cause. I wonder how many families, relationships, and churches could be spared if we thought just a few minutes more about this.
  • I should consider whether I really have the best interests of another person in mind when I criticize. The alternative to their best interests is often my own wishes. Often, it is easier for me to be right than to be loving. It is easier for me to want the approval of a listening ear than it is for me to be a loving servant to others.
  • I should be sensitive to timing in other people's lives. Can I think of reasons why this may not be the right time to approach this? Would this criticism be better received a few days later? Are they coming off a big high or a deep low? Are there other time-sensitive pressures that are noticeable from their perspective? I think answering these questions would change so many difficult discussions.

Giving and receiving criticism - a display of love

Love your neighbor as yourself. I don’t believe that Jesus is teaching we need to work hard to love ourselves. Truly, that isn’t hard work; it is natural. Jesus assumes we will love ourselves in a self-sacrificial way, and that natural, fleshly self-love can actually instruct us in ways to love our neighbor.

Particularly, this has some bearing on how we criticize others and how we handle criticism. At times, rebuke is in order. At times, people and systems need critique. Such critique is not necessarily unchristian. It is part and parcel of living in a fallen world. Having said that, I find there is often inconsistency with how I give criticism and how I receive it. These thoughts represent a desire to close the gap of that particular inconsistency. They shouldn't in any way function as a list of demands I place on others, but rather a helpful guide to me in loving others.

  • I want people to give me room not to be perfect. If I want that for myself, I should give others the space to not be perfect as well.
  • I want people to realize that they do not sit in my seat. They don’t have a view of the situation from my vantage point.
  • I want people to realize that I am least trying to do what I think is right. I often am very frustrated to have people judge my motives.
  • I would rather have the opportunity to explain myself, than to have someone jumping to conclusions.
  • I want people to realize that it is very hard not to take criticism personally.
  • I want people to do some damage assessment of their criticism.
  • I want those who have my best interests in mind to give me honest feedback.
  • I want people to be sensitive to timing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grow in Grace, Pt 2

Continuing on from the previous post...

This year, I have seen myself more clearly and more often as the older brother (from the story of the prodigal son). It was very clear to me in the story of Jonah, that I have a tendency to not be as excited about God showing grace to others. I expect grace to me, and appreciate it, but I have a Jonah-syndrome that often makes me question whether others are as deserving. God revealed to me that the older brother AND the younger brother were estranged from the Father. Jonah AND the Ninevites were disobedient. The good news is that God is interested in saving both the UNrighteous and the SELFrighteous.

Christ comes to save sinners of the 'righteous' variety and the 'immoral' variety.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Grow in Grace

Over the next few days, I would like to share some things that I believe God has taught me over the course of 2010.

If we are supposed to grow in God's grace and knowledge of Him, I desire to see progress in my life. In addition, I want to grow in my understanding of our times and the world in which we live.

I believe I have grown in my understanding of the basis of prayer. One of the primary reasons I should have confidence in prayer is that God has given every indication that he wants me to pray, and it is his delight to answer requests. The series of messages on Luke 12 had such a strong impact on me. Especially the fact that “it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.” That is a pretty amazing statement. I don’t have to prove my seriousness to him in an effort to arm-twist him into giving me what I am asking for. Rather I need my heart in alignment with his kingdom, not my own.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Needed or Need?

A few phrases from Jesus have been on my mind recently.
  • Those who are well do not need a physician. (Mark 2)
  • Joy in heaven doesn't occur over those who are so righteous that they don't have anything to repent of. (Luke 15)
  • Christ didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners. (Mark 2)
Often, I have thought that these things really speak to those who are in need of the experience of conversion. In that light, they are of great value to those who have never been rescue, those who have never been saved, those who never have been converted. However in recent days, I have come to realize they have something profound to say to those who already have been rescued, to those who have already been converted, to those who have already tasted of the life-changing work of the gospel.

These words help me realize that as a believer, I am in need of the gospel more than ever. I need a Savior, a rescuer, a healer, a substitute, a deliverer, a physician, a Father, a friend who will lay down their life for me. All of those things I need today!

What strikes me here is that if we look a little bit below the surface, we should realize something profound.
  • We are all sick spiritually. Not just in the past, but we are being made whole even today. Therefore, we are in need of a physician. So, Christ is here for the spiritually sick. I didn't just need His healing when I came to Him in faith, I need it today as I come to Him in faith.
  • We have much to repent of. Not just in the past, but even today we are growing in our joyful, obedience. We have much room to grow. However, as we repent of our sin, there is joy in heaven. So, the angels in heaven throw parties over the conversion of outsiders, but I think there is celebration over Christians who 'get it,' who come to Christ in repentance over post-conversion sin.
  • We are not righteous on our own. Therefore, we are in the category of people that Christ is calling. If I am righteous in and of myself (or think I am), Christ really has no purpose for me. I am my own Savior (what a scary thought). But, I would much rather join the person who cried out to Jesus, "Lord! Have mercy on me."
The point is that Jesus' message of good news isn't just something we needed (past tense), but something we need. Believers need the gospel!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Instructive verses on the fear of the Lord

Although probably no list could be complete concerning the fear of the Lord, these verse have been especially helpful to me in preparing for speaking about the subject.
  • Psalm 36:1
  • Romans 3:8
  • Romans 1:18-32
  • Proverbs 1:7
  • Prov 9:10
  • 1 Peter 2:17
  • Prov 10:27
  • Prov 19:23
  • Prov 14:26-27
  • Prov 22:4
  • Prov 31:30
  • Psalm 33:6-9, 13, 18-22
  • Rev 1:17
  • Isaiah 6
  • Job 40:3-4
  • Psalm 34:9-10, 16
  • Luke 12:5-7
  • 1 Peter 1:17
  • Hebrews 10:31
  • 2 Corinthians 5:11
  • Matthew 25
  • Matthew 5:22
  • Romans 8:1, 15-17
  • 2 Timothy 1:7
  • Luke 1:74-75
  • 1 John 4:18
  • Proverbs 8:13
  • Proverbs 16:6
  • Deuteronomy 4:10
  • Deuteronomy 17:18-20
  • Luke 1:30
  • Luke 2:10
  • Matthew 28:5

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I received an email update from the Joshua Project concerning a people group in Morocco of nearly 500,000 people. These were the words...
There may be no followers of Christ among this people group, but we expect many to soon be born into the faith. Pray for them. Pray they will be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
A group with the population of New Castle County and NO followers of Christ is so sobering. And yet the email continued with a verse that I needed to be reminded of. It is Isaiah 52:10 which says, "The Lord has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, That all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

As I pray for those who do not YET know Christ...

Lord, would you make the good news be GREAT NEWS to people in our area today! Give us boldness to share with others our hope. Help us make Your Word fully known. Open doors for us to show Christ's love and share Christ's work to a world that needs it desperately. Give us clarity. Help our lives (even with our sin) not to detract from the good news. Guard our mouths and the danger we face of using it to harm instead of to build up. Let us make the best use of our time, especially as it relates to people.

Lord, put people in our path who need You, and then allow us to obey your command to make disciples!

From Colossians 4:2-6

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

As I pray for OBC...

Lord, may you continue Your good work among us, and make our church a people who...
  • are filled with the knowledge of Your will. May we not just know it, but also obey it.
  • walk in a manner that is pleasing to You May we obey, not to earn your favor, but as a result of it.
  • are bearing fruit in good works. May others see our good works and glorify You!
  • are increasing in knowledge of You. May we know your ways and your heart better than we did a year ago.
  • are strengthened for joyful endurance and patience. May we continue faithfully and filled with hope despite pain and disappointment.

"Shamelessly plagiarized from Apostle Paul in Colossians 1"

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Preparing for Sunday

I am (Lord-willing) going to share from Isaiah 55 on Sunday. Here are the notes so far. Maybe my thoughts will be more organized by Sunday!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Article I cannot help but sharing

I read this article from the Wall Street Journal on Manute Bol, a former NBA player. I am appreciative of the writer's efforts in articulating the impact Christ should have on a life. It is rare to read this kind of stuff.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Road to nowhere

For the Christian, the pathway to sin is the road to nowhere, or at least nowhere good.

I was reading in a Baptist Confession of faith the effects of sin on the life of the believer.
  • Sin incurs God's displeasure
  • It grieves God's Holy Spirit
  • It diminishes our comfort
  • It makes us experience hardness of heart
  • It makes our conscience accuse us
  • It hurts others and brings a scandal to them
  • It brings God's chastisements on us
Having recognized all of that, it is still good to know that if we are true believers, sin will not have the last word, but Christ will give victory over sin! Repentance can be renewed, and faith in God can be pursued.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hidden in your heart

Growing up in a Christian home, I remember learning "Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you." (Ps 119:11)

I remembered that verse when I read another verse from the Psalms today (40:10), "I have NOT hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation."

So, putting the 2 together, I should store up God's word in my heart, learning to treasure it. However, I should be ready to speak of deliverance, and God's steadfast love in public. So, while my faith should be and is very personal, it was never meant to be private.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Glad songs of salvation

I was reading in Psalm 118:14-15, which says that
"The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous."
I was reminded of yesterday's singing in our services where we sang things like...
  • In Christ alone my hope is found.
  • Lead me to the cross, where your love poured out.
  • You alone can rescue, you alone can save.
  • Come ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore. Jesus ready stands to save you, full of pity, love and power.
  • Down at the cross where my Savior, down where for cleansing from sin I cried, there to my heart was the blood applied. Glory to His name.
  • Have you been to Jesus for his cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Surely God is pleased and Christ is honored by glad songs of salvation, sung by those who are His!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What does it mean that God wrote His Word?

As I was reading/preparing last week, I read this verse, specifically speaking of the 10 Commands
Ex 32:16 - The tablets were the work of God and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
Several places in Scripture we read of God's written Word (Ex 34:1; Deut. 31:9-13; Joshua 24:26).

What is the specific value of God writing His word? Certainly we learn from stories that we hear and that are passed down. But, I appreciate the value of the written word as Wayne Grudem expresses in Systematic Theology: "The reliability, permanence, and accessibility of the form in which God's words are preserved are all greatly enhanced when they are written down (50)."

I am grateful especially for the accessibility of God's written word. Even throughout history, the development of the printing press, and more recently the internet has given people the opportunity to read the very words of God in their own language.

I am grateful for ministries like Wycliffe and projects like One Verse, and the work they do in Bible translations for those who don't have God's written words in their language.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"What do you enjoy most about being a pastor?"

"What do you enjoy most about being a pastor?" That is the question a good friend asked me yesterday. It was followed by a lengthy pause.

I am not really good at superlatives (i.e. the most, the best, etc.). But, still there are some things that came to mind when I thought about that question (and a few more after I gave it some extended thought).
  • I think any time you are operating in the realm God calls you, you see more of Him and come to know Him better. That would be at the top of the list. My responsibility and privilege has drawn me into knowing Him better. I agree with Paul in Philippians 3: "I want to know Him."
  • I love being able to dig deep in Scripture and see fresh insights. I have been reading the Bible for as long as I have been able to read. I had 13 years of Christian school chapels, 4 years of daily Christian college chapels, plus seminary for 5.5 more years (that is not to mention weeks of Sunday School lessons, AWANA, and children's church). Still, studying and preaching gives me the opportunity to see things I have never seen before. What a privilege. It is even a greater privilege to share those with others.
  • I love the opportunity to invest in people's lives in a spiritual sense. Often I get to speak with those who have strong faith, struggling faith, and sometimes no faith or misguided faith. Hearing myself articulate my personal faith and hope in God and His Son Jesus never fails to bolster my faith.
  • I guess I would also add this: serving as a pastor gives me a front row seat to God's work in people's lives. As a pastor, I believe that God gives you a heart for the people who He has called you to serve. To live, love, and grow with them is a huge privilege.
So, there are 4. I am sure given a few more minutes of time would allow me to come up with dozens more.

Monday, June 14, 2010

10 things that stand out from the 10 Commands

I have taught through the 10 Commands on Wednesday night at church, and have been impressed in many ways by what I have learned by taking a fresh look at a familiar subject.

  1. God's rescue comes before He tells His people what to do. After saying "I brought you out of Egypt," he says, "You shall" and "You shall not."
  2. Each of the commands represent a host of sinful of activities. For instance, "do not kill" also speaks to anger, revenge, etc.
  3. The 'negative' commands have positive implications. So not only is there evil to be avoided but good to be done if we are to honor the spirit of the command. For instance, if we "shouldn't steal," we should be generous, hard-working, sharing people.
  4. The 'positive' commands have negative implications. Honoring our father and mother means we won't do certain things.
  5. Christ obeyed these commands perfectly. He fulfilled the law.
  6. These commands speak to a relationship. Four speak to our relationship with God, while the other six speak to our relationship with each other.
  7. Too often the commands are used as a club to use against non-believers. We get frustrated by 'godless people' who are commandment breakers, when in reality the commands were given to people inside the covenant.
  8. The world would be a better place if people lived by God's intention in these 10 words.
  9. There are big categories involved in these 10 commands: God's name, how we worship, how we spend our time, how we love others, how we behave with regard to the truth.
  10. God is good to tell us how to live and what He expects.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

As June begins

I am grateful for what God is teaching me. In no certain order...
  • I am re-reading Colossians and being challenged each time I read it. What a vision for believers and Jesus' church is laid out there.
  • I continue to delve into Exodus and see the heart of God in more ways than I can express. I have been challenged by our Wednesday night study of the 10 Commandments.
  • I am seeing more and more how I should pray rather than fix or worry.
  • I recognize often that I am not nearly as patient with my wife and my kids as God is with me. Lord, forgive me.
  • I have enjoyed some old hymns and some catechisms. They have been very instructive. There is so much over the course of church history that is so instructive.
  • I am looking forward to having hundreds of people on-site the week of VBS later this month.
  • I have begun preparing for a Bible study I am leading starting late this month on The Gospel-Centered Life.
  • I am more and more reminded of my inadequacies, and yet more and more convinced of Christ's sufficiency.
Teach me your ways, God, and help me to have a listening heart.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Some thoughts on Revelation

Yesterday, I spoke from Revelation 21-22. Undoubtedly, no book generates questions and speculation like Revelation does.

But, I wanted to share an email I got from James MacDonald's ministry Walk in the Word (if you go to this page you can subscribe to the same email). It is well worth the read.

"Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near." - Revelation 1:3

The book of Revelation was never meant to be the personal property of scholars with their diagrams and charts. You, too, can read and understand it. And our verse today reminds us that we will be blessed by reading this last book of the Bible.

Why has there been so much confusion about the book of Revelation? Let me give you three reasons quickly. First, people can misunderstand or become overwhelmed by the heavy symbolism in Revelation. But symbols are to be understood the same way you understand anything else: literally. An example would be when Jesus said, "I am the door" (John 10:7). It's obvious He didn't mean, "I'm a nine-foot plank with a knob." You understand the figure of speech—the picture - literally. Jesus wasn't focusing on the literal physical makeup of the door, but on the literal purpose of the door - to provide access.

Secondly, people overlook the historic context. This book can't mean to us what it didn't mean to the people for whom it was originally written. The book of Revelation is Jesus' message to Christians who were suffering under the Roman persecution in about 90 AD. They were suffering for their faith - in prison and being tortured. They were persecuted because of their allegiance to Jesus Christ. Some of them were beheaded, burned at the stake, or fed to the beasts. The problem is that in Western-world, watered-down Christianity, some of us believe that we're not going to suffer, that everything's going to be perfect and great if we have God. A lot of the wrong theology about Revelation is rooted in a wrong understanding of what God really promises about the Christian life. Keeping the original audience and context in mind will help us to understand.

Thirdly, people often miss the fact that there are frequent Old Testament allusions and quotes in John's writing. We don’t know the Old Testament well enough, so when we're reading Revelation we just say, "Oh, I think it means this." If we ignore the way the Old Testament explains Revelation, our understanding will be off the mark.

If we avoid these three errors in reading Revelation, we can expect to experience God's promised blessing on our lives.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Letter to our church concerning missions

Next Sunday (3/28), our church will be voting on a motion from our missions committee recommending our church to support the Bracht family as they go to Nicaragua. We will be discussing this as a church this coming Wednesday (3/24).

I felt the need to share with those who are interested some of my thoughts on this subject. To that end, I have written a lengthy letter which will be available at church or which can be accessed on our website.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Children's Bibles

Someone recently asked me if I had any recommendations on children's Bibles. Of course, when it comes to books, I am seldom without a recommendation!

Anyway, I had 3 different Bibles for 3 different reasons. All of these have been useful in our family times reading through Scripture.
The Big Picture Bible - I love the way it encompasses the overarching theme of Scripture into each individual story.
The Jesus Storybook Bible - This Bible takes each individual story and shows how traces of Jesus can be found in them. I have emailed back and forth with the author and she has been very encouraging.
The Picture Bible - Some trusted friends gave us this Bible at Christmas. It is in comic book format, so I was somewhat skeptical...until I looked inside. I should've trusted my trusted friends. The Bible is SO thorough. Many Bibles (for understandable reasons) choose not to tell every story or even many stories, so they can concentrate on the major ones. This Bible went into detail in some of the OT historical sections and the book of Acts. I was majorly impressed.

Which Bible is my favorite? All three, I am a bookworm, and I guess a "Bibleworm."

Reflections on Psalm 119

As a church family, we invested a lot of hours into reading Psalm 119. Personally, it consumed a good portion of my life for the last month. I felt the need in my soul to write an epilogue. I had to write out what I believe God taught me and where He changed me through the extra effort given to these 176 verses. So, here are the things that stand out the most.

I saw a mini-theology (is there anything in Psalm 119 that is ‘mini’?) of who God is and what He does. Over and over, I saw an attribute of God, or I would write down an activity of God. I am not sure that I saw anything new concerning God’s character or his actions, but I certainly saw in a concise clear form a glimpse of Him.

I have realized that God wants me to love His revelation of Himself. I appreciate the synonyms for God’s Word found in this Psalm. It makes me realizes that ALL the commands, ALL the precepts, ALL the testimonies, ALL the righteous rules are things to be treasured, because they speak of a God who must be treasured.

I appreciate that God makes room for short, simple prayers. In the psalm, I found freedom to say, “help me,” “give me understanding,” and “save me.” The brevity of the prayer is not an indicator of the passion behind the prayer.

I have come to understand that confidence in God and vulnerability are not antithetical. Truly, they indicate reality for all of humanity. So, while the psalmist makes bold assertions of his faith in God, he also gives reason to believe he felt less than secure at times. That is not unchristian, that is the reality of Christians. We live with hope, but it is not a hope that is beyond being assaulted.

I certainly have found some new verses to think on. “You are good and you do good” still goes through my mind often. I have prayed, “I am yours.” I have verses to think about when I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep.

I have been blessed to think about our position on this side of the cross. I think we may take this for granted to often as believers. The psalmist did not have the embodiment of all that he was talking about. He never had seen and read of Jesus. We have. What an enormous benefit.

I have most identified with the last verse of the psalm. I have gone astray like a lost sheep (prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love), seek your servant (here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for your courts above), for I do not forget your commandments.

Thank you, Lord, for this psalm. I say with the psalmist in v. 16 “This psalm has been my delight, and I will not forget it.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Threads - some recommendations

As I have gone through the Threads of Psalm 119, a few books have been especially helpful.

Threads in general
Speaking the Truth in Love by David Powlison (has an entire chapter devoted to the Psalm)

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
Desiring God by John Piper
The Dangerous Duty of Delight by John Piper

Future Grace by John Piper
The Cost of Discipleship by Deitrich Bonhoeffer
What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
The Prodigal God by Tim Keller

Knowing God by J.I. Packer
The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer

Why Does It Have to Hurt by Dan McCartney

Monday, March 15, 2010

Comfort and security

Yesterday, I spoke from Psalm 119 on the issue of where we find our security.

One of our church members sent this from the Heidelberg Catechism. I think it succinctly summarizes my burden from the message.

Q: What is thy only comfort in life and death?

A: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who, with His precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.

"Clean up your act" or "you need a clean heart"

It is so easy when dealing with a 'discipline issue' in the lives of kids to come across with the attitude of "You need to clean up your act!" I think that is my default position.

And yet, is that grace-based, gospel parenting? I was reminded again last night that children (or their grown-up parents) often don't need a lecture/sermon on how they need to start acting better. At least, that isn't the first thing we need. What we need most desperately is a view of our heart from God's perspective. Having that view, we need that heart which is corrupt and selfish to be clean. And that is where the gospel has the megaphone. The gospel is what "cleans our hearts." The promises of the New Covenant in Ezekiel and Jeremiah promise just that.

Too often, when I am talking to our children it is easy to fall into the 'clean up your act' mode. It may show more about my heart than I might realize. Perhaps, I think I can clean up my own act, and rather than coming to God's throne for mercy and heart transformation, I may opt for my own plan and my own effort.

God help me to have a clean heart, and not just make another failed attempt to clean up my act.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 22: Psalm 119:169-176

169 Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding according to your word!
170 Let my plea come before you;
deliver me according to your word.
171 My lips will pour forth praise,
for you teach me your statutes.
172 My tongue will sing of your word,
for all your commandments are right.
173 Let your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live and praise you,
and let your rules help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 19: Psalm 119:145-152

145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!
I will keep your statutes.
146 I call to you; save me,
that I may observe your testimonies.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in your words.
148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promise.
149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O Lord, according to your justice give me life.
150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose;
they are far from your law.
151 But you are near, O Lord,
and all your commandments are true.
152 Long have I known from your testimonies
that you have founded them forever.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Prayer for a people group

I have an email sent to my inbox each day. It is an email reminding me to pray for a certain people group in this world that needs Christ. Today’s group particularly struck me. The group is the Badhai people, located mostly in India. In that country, there are an estimated 518,000 people of this tribe. That is about the size of New Castle County.

And yet, there are “no known believers among the Badhai.”

God, break our hearts for the nations. Millions who don’t believe in You, and millions who have never heard.

Day 17: Psalm 119:129-136

129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
because I long for your commandments.
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your way with those who love your name.
133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from man's oppression,
that I may keep your precepts.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
136 My eyes shed streams of tears,
because people do not keep your law.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 16: Psalm 119:121-128

121 I have done what is just and right;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Give your servant a pledge of good;
let not the insolent oppress me.
123 My eyes long for your salvation
and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love,
and teach me your statutes.
125 I am your servant; give me understanding,
that I may know your testimonies!
126 It is time for the Lord to act,
for your law has been broken.
127 Therefore I love your commandments
above gold, above fine gold.
128 Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right;
I hate every false way.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day 15: Psalm 119:113-120

113 I hate the double-minded,
but I love your law.
114 You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in your word.
115 Depart from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commandments of my God.
116 Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live,
and let me not be put to shame in my hope!
117 Hold me up, that I may be safe
and have regard for your statutes continually!
118 You spurn all who go astray from your statutes,
for their cunning is in vain.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross,
therefore I love your testimonies.
120 My flesh trembles for fear of you,
and I am afraid of your judgments.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 14: Ps 119:105-112

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
107 I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
108 Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.
109 I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.
111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 13: Ps 119:97-104

97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 12: Psalm 119:89-96

89 Forever, O Lord, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
91 By your appointment they stand this day,
for all things are your servants.
92 If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have given me life.
94 I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.
95 The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,
but I consider your testimonies.
96 I have seen a limit to all perfection,
but your commandment is exceedingly broad.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 11: Psalm 119:81-88

81 My soul longs for your salvation;
I hope in your word.
82 My eyes long for your promise;
I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
83 For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
84 How long must your servant endure?
When will you judge those who persecute me?
85 The insolent have dug pitfalls for me;
they do not live according to your law.
86 All your commandments are sure;
they persecute me with falsehood; help me!
87 They have almost made an end of me on earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your steadfast love give me life,
that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A few thoughts from today's reading

If you have some extra time today, a couple of worthwhile exercises from Psalm 119 would be to fill in these blanks...

In Psalm 119, God is described as a God who_________________.

If God answers the prayers of Psalm 119, then He will _________________.

This is what I mean from today's reading, God is a God who makes and ...fashions people (73), whose rules are righteous (75), who in faithfulness afflicts people (75).

And if God answers the prayers of Psalm 119, then He will give me understanding (73), comfort me with His love (76), bring his mercy to me (77), put the wrongdoers to shame (78), make my heart blameless (80).

What a God and what prayers the psalmist makes!

Day 10: Psalm 119:73-80

73 Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
75 I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
78 Let the insolent be put to shame,
because they have wronged me with falsehood;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your testimonies.
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 9: Psalm 119:65-72

65 You have dealt well with your servant,
O Lord, according to your word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.
68 You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.
69 The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
70 their heart is unfeeling like fat,
but I delight in your law.
71 It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
72 The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Two things worth doing...

A couple of things that I think an American Christian ought to think about doing... Get a passport, and register to vote

Why these two?

Registering to vote - It strikes me that our freedom in America is a privilege, responsibility, and a stewardship from God. Not every nation is blessed to have the opportunity to participate in the political process as American citizens can. So, being a faithful steward would seem to invite us to at least cast an informed vote as we have opportunity.

Getting a passport - I heard a person encourage Christians to do this once, and I thought it was a great idea. It is in all reality a way to "sit on go" in case God were to ever the open the door for you to serve Him internationally. That would be one less hassle, one less obstacle to your obedience.

I don't think either of these would be 'tests of spirituality,' but I do think they could serve a Christian well. Something worth thinking about.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 8: Psalm 119:57-64

57 The Lord is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies;
60 I hasten and do not delay
to keep your commandments.
61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.
63 I am a companion of all who fear you,
of those who keep your precepts.
64 The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 7: Psalm 119:49-56

49 Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
51 The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.
52 When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord.
53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.
54 Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
55 I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.
56 This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 6: Psalm 119:41-48

41 Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise;
42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word.
43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules.
44 I will keep your law continually, forever and ever,
45 and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.
46 I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame,
47 for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.
48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What do short prayers indicate?

A few thoughts on today's reading...

If ever there was a psalm that showed us how to pray short prayers, this is it. The psalmist could use lengthy prayers, as we have realized how painstakingly crafted this psalm is. And yet, 1-word and 2-word prayers dot the landscape of this psalm.

Teach me, give me, lead me, incline my heart, turn my eyes, confirm, turn away.

The more I read this Psalm, the more I believe that God wants to be in a constant mode of thinking about Him, praying to Him, and doing what He says.

The length of the prayers does not indicate the depth of the relationship with God, but the frequency of the prayers surely has to indicate something!

Day 5: Psalm 119:33-40

Digging on Day 5

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
38 Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.
39 Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good.
40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Real life in Psalm 119

As I was reading 25-32 today, I was reminded of a couple of things...

The psalmist found himself in some desperate situations. Like v 25, "My soul clings to the dust," and v 28, "My soul melts away for sorrow." Intense emotion is described with figurative language, but make no mistake, the psalmist is hurting. I can't help but think that we all have been there at times. Feeling like we have hit the bottom, only to experience more pain.

And yet the psalmist prayed. Give me life, teach me your statutes, make me understand, put false ways away from me, graciously teach me, let me not be put to shame. I have been struck recently that God may be more honored by short prayers, than long, verbose, pious prayers. "Help me, be near to me, encourage me, stabilize me, calm me." Could these prayers have been close to the psalmist's lips? I think so.

I also noticed the statements of pursuit and determination toward the end of the section: I have chosen the way of faithfulness, I set your rules before me, I cling to your testimonies, I will run in the way of your commands. What a response to the reality of the situation and the strength gleaned through prayer.

Thank you God that I can read the 3000-year old words of someone who followed You and be encouraged today!

Day 4: Psalm 119:25-32

25 My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me
and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Don't miss the pronouns

As I have been reading through Psalm 119, I am reminded of how many pronouns are in the chapter. I mentioned on Sunday the synonyms for God's Word that are there, but the pronouns even outnumber those.

This is a personal psalm in which there is a personal "me-you" relationship described. It begs the question, do we know God that intimately? Are we able to speak of Him and to Him on such rich personal terms.

I am encouraged that God has given us language for prayers and ways to describe our relationship with Him.

Day 3: Psalm 119:17-24

Here is the 3rd installment of reading through Ps 119 as a church...
17 Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
19 I am a sojourner on the earth;
hide not your commandments from me!
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your rules at all times.
21 You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments.
22 Take away from me scorn and contempt,
for I have kept your testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against me,
your servant will meditate on your statutes.
24 Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counselors.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Some thoughts on reading through 9-16

I am struck in reading the Threads assigned reading (Ps 119:9-16) today by a few things.

The declarative sentences. The author writes some things that are intensely personal and we get to overhear him.
>> I seek you
>> I have stored your word in my heart
>> I declare your rules
>> I delight in your testimonies
>> I will meditate
>> I will fix my eyes
>> I will delight in your statutes
>> I will not forget your word
Promises and statements. A bunch of them.

In the mix also are a few prayers...
>> Let me not wander from your commands
>> Teach me your statutes

Can I make the same statements? Can I pray the same prayers?

Prayer of pursuit

I read this in A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' name. Amen

It was a reminder of much of Psalm 119.

Day 2: Psalm 119:9-16

The text of reading for the day: verses 9-16...

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 1: Psalm 119:1-8

So, our Threads journey through Psalm 119 brings us to the 8 verses that begin with the Hebrew letter 'Aleph' (1-8)...

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord!
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
4 You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
8 I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

So, you want to read Psalm 119... (Part 2)

Picking up where I left off yesterday...

Make friends with 176 people – Imagine that you have walked into a room with 176 guests who are there for a banquet. You may know a few on a first name basis. You may know some in a deeply personal way. Some you may have never met in your life. Now, take a moment and talk with them. Learn their story. Ask them questions. As you do this, you will become more familiar with them. You may even seem resemblance among them. Some may look like cousins or sisters. Some will look very similar to others, some very different. I appreciate David Powlison introducing me to the Psalm with this analogy. There are 176 verses. We know some very well. We may know about “hiding God’s Word in our heart” or about “Your Word is a lamp to my feet.” Some verses we have yet to really grasp. So, my encouragement here is to spend time with the verses. Ask them questions. Ask God to make these verses personal friends of yours. I think that as you do this, you will see some common threads running through the verses. Some will seem similar to others. Those are the threads that I want to call our attention to.

Think feast not fast-food – I remember hearing Paul Tripp say that we often approach the Psalms as spiritual fast-food, something quick to pick up on the run. He suggested that we ought to go to the Psalms with a mindset of eating a Thanksgiving dinner. We will eat and eat until our hearts are content, and there will still be leftovers. So, don’t “drive-thru” this psalm as if you can pick up a quick bite. Enjoy the flavor of each dish that is there, and stay at the table to enjoy the post-dinner conversation.

Follow the path to Jesus – Don’t miss Jesus who is also the self-disclosure of God. He is there in Psalm 119. He is the embodiment of all the good described in the 22 stanzas. When you read about the ways of God being just, you cannot help but be reminded of the fact that Jesus Himself was just and is just. You find common ground between the words of this Psalm and the words of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. God is intent on us knowing Him. He gave us creation, a conscience, His Word and His Son. Don’t miss what He is saying.

So, there is a ‘freshman orientation’ of sorts if you are new or unfamiliar to the psalm. I desire that God uses the psalm to grow my hunger for Him, and I pray that for you as well.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So, you want to read Psalm 119… (Part One)

Looking forward to starting Psalm 119, I jotted a few ideas down...

“Where do we start?”

That is the question that was going through my mind when I saw our church’s parking lot piled with more inches of snow than many Delawareans could remember seeing for a long time. Eventually, with the help of snow blowers, snow plows, shovels, ice-melt, backhoes, and tractors, our property was inhabitable again. But, the point is we had to start somewhere. You may feel like that when you look at Psalm 119. Where do I start? I want to share some ideas that have helped me in answering that question for myself. Not all of these ideas are original (I don’t have too many original ideas), but all have been personally valuable. They will inform my teaching and preaching over the next several weeks, and so I felt that it might be useful to share.

See God’s Word as a revelation of God Himself – I think one of the greatest helps in reading the Bible is to remind yourself that Scripture is a pathway to God. It is a pathway because in it God reveals Himself. We see who He is and what He is like. We see how He treats His people, and how He cares for the needy. We see what He requires and desires. We are not simply reading for information, or even inspiration. We are reading to know God in a deeper way, and He has promised to make Himself known through His Spirit by His Word.

Appreciate the nuances – I think that it is so vital to understand what the writer of the psalm is pushing for in using so many synonyms for God’s Word. He uses words like precepts, law, judgments, testimonies, rules, commandments, statutes, and some others. If you tune out the subtleties of each word used, I think you miss an ocean’s worth of spiritual benefit. So, dig deep into what a testimony or a statute really is. Think through the magnitude of the reality that God wants your heart and mind to dwell on them and enjoy them.

Appreciate the intricacies – We often forget that the psalms are poems. Hebrew poetry is different than our run of the mill rhyme schemes, but it is no less intricate than any poetry we may know. In addition, each section (of 8 verses) is known by a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This is because each of the verses in that particular section begins with the same letter. Imagine, 8 thoughts beginning with the letter ‘A ,’ and then 8 thoughts beginning with the letter ‘B.’ That is not something you trot out overnight. There is detail and precision given to each line. It ends up being a masterpiece.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Psalm 119 on the horizon

This coming Sunday we will begin a study of Psalm 119 called Threads (God-willing, unless He chooses to bless us with another 2 feet of snow).

We are trying to connect our church body with this Psalm through some different means.
  • We have a Facebook group that you are encouraged to join where we will be having some online discussions about what God is teaching us. I also will be posting a portion of Psalm 119 each day on the blog, and I welcome comments here.

  • In addition we will have journals this coming Sunday (and available online) to record and collect our thoughts about what God desires for us to learn through this study.
God is already using His Word to challenge me in some unique ways, and I feel like the profit for OBC to hear from God in this psalm will be great.

Tomorrow, I will post a few thoughts about how to begin thinking about the longest chapter in the Bible.

I look forward to connecting more in the upcoming days!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The offices are closed and our Wednesday night activities are canceled.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

If the Lord wills

Yesterday and today, I gave a lot of thought to a couple of verses. A couple of things led up to this. 1) We had planned on having a guest speaker this weekend at Ogletown, and that didn't happen, due to the PHL airport closures, 2) we had planned on having services tomorrow, but that isn't going to happen.

So, a couple of verses...
"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." (James 4:13-17, ESV)
I may have another opportunity to highlight some things from these verses, but here are a couple for now.
  • 'if the Lord wills' is surely not a magic formula, but it is a humble recognition.
  • How often do I really recognize God's sovereignty over the things of life?
  • How often do I really recognize that 1) I am not in control of many things, and 2) human life is pretty fragile?
  • God's providence ensures that we live.
  • While none of us would want to be classified as an 'arrogant person,' it is the height of arrogance for Christians to live a functionally God-less life.
  • This is quite connected to the Lord's prayer (i.e. Your will be done)
Just a few thoughts from someone who had planned on sharing a few thoughts tomorrow morning however, the Lord willed otherwise.


Due to the weather, our Sunday morning services are canceled. Look for a post later tonight on "When God changes your plans!"



As before we are monitoring the weather conditions and expect to make a decision about all Sunday activities later this afternoon or early evening.

Keep safe.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Futility, humility, and faith

As I have watched some of the news featuring the devastation in Haiti, I have been tempted to despair. I hurt for those who are there. I hurt for children who have lost their parents. I grieve to know that so many were already poor there, and I cannot imagine what this must mean for them.

The nation of Haiti has lived in harsh conditions for so long, it almost seems futile to think anything can be done for them. I say "almost" because my heart needs to be corrected. As I was praying yesterday, I realized that the magnitude of problems should lead me to humility. However, with God there is an answer to futility. It is not with our efforts to try harder or do better, but it lies in faith in an Almighty God who can do more than we could ask or think.

And so, I am led to pray. I pray for those friends who are there. I pray for those who need the basic necessities of life. I pray for the children who have been orphaned. I pray for safety for millions. I pray for relief workers and government officials. I pray for missionaries who will share the love of Christ. I pray for God's glory to be seen even in tragedy.

So, I pray. Not in futility, but rather in humility and in faith that God is working good out of this earthquake.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Prayers for Haiti

I believe that most of our hearts are broken by the tragedy in Haiti. Our church is seeking to organize some efforts to assist.

First, we are committing to pray for men and women and children whose lives have been devastated. The needs are overwhelming. We take our big requests to a God who is ready to do the impossible.

We also through our benevolence have already contributed to the Baptist Global Response. This is the Southern Baptist arm for emergency response. As such, every dollar that they receive will go directly to aid Haitians rather than pay for overhead.

In addition, we look forward to taking up a collection on January 24th for those in need. The collection will primarily go to the Baptist Global Response, but a portion will also be sent to Cody and Maria Whittaker via Global Outreach International. Cody and Maria were with Ogletown for a couple of years before moving late 2009 to Haiti as missionaries. You can hear their heart through reading their blog posts.

Both of these organizations are gospel-focused, and we are encouraged by the fact that 100% of what we contribute will go to relief.

I thank God in advance for the generosity that I know is in the heart of the people of Ogletown.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My prayer for OBC from Sunday's message

God, grant to us your people

A hunger and thirst after your righteousness
A desire to do all for your glory
An urgency to love you and our neighbor
A burden to walk by your Spirit
A passion to imitate you in all your goodness
An ability to make the best use of our time
A consistent walk in light of the gospel
A heart that is set on your kingdom and your will

And may we see that you are intent on answering all of these things in the ordinary events of our lives.

We ask in faith, and hope with confidence that because of Jesus you will work out your will in our lives.


The beauty and simplicity of Proverbs

Tonight I am leading a Bible study about prayer. I came across these verses in preparation for it.
Proverbs 30:7-9
Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, "Who is the Lord?" or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.
Two requests worth asking God for even today!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Retention pond

Most days I pass by a couple of retention ponds. In this season of cold weather, I have noticed how much more likely they are to ice over than a stream that is running. I also have seen that even if a stream begins to freeze, it is much more quickly thawed than the retention pond.

I believe it was nature's reminder to me today, that my life should be one that is passionately stirred up for God. I should be moving in the direction of following Him. I should not allow my relationship with Him to become stagnant. As it becomes more and more stagnant, it is easier for me to be cold toward him, and for that coldness to last longer.

God, give me a heart that moves toward you rather than getting stagnant.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New year, new information

What am I reading?
  • In the Bible, I am utilizing a plan that is taking me through Psalms, Genesis, and Matthew this month.
  • As far as books go, I am reading several things for our current sermon series, God at Work, Luther on Vocation, and Vocation. I also am enjoying an interesting read called Money, Greed, and God.

What am I looking forward to at church?
  • Our membership class on the 17th
  • Our baptism service on the 24th
  • A combined Ogletown service on February 14th

What am I praying for?
  • Greater unity at our church
  • A greater realization that ALL of life matters, even the details (actually, especially the details)
  • A profound move of Jesus to draw people to himself