Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Study - Pastor Dad

I spent time with my lovely wife last night studying a short book by Mark Driscoll called Pastor Dad. This book gives good biblical insight into the joy and responsibility of being a father. I can tell you that I have already been convicted by some of the things Pastor Driscoll has said and we’re only a couple chapters in. Although painful, I know that this study will be worth it’s weight in gold as I strive to be a better father to our three children. I think Sabrina has been convicted as well and I know that God will use this to help mold her into the mother she wants to be.

In reading chapter 2, the most convicting section to me is on page 9 where it talks about hypocritical fathers who tell there children to do something, but don’t do that themselves. I’m not one to tell my children, “Do as I say, not as I do,” but I am guilty of holding them to higher standards than I hold my self. For example, just this week I admonished my daughter to clean her room. She is very bad about not putting things back where they belong when she is finished with them. I’m the same way. So in essence, just me telling her to clean her room and put things back where they belong was telling her, “Do as I say, not as I do!” I need to hold myself to the same (or even higher) standards than I hold my children to. Otherwise, I’m a hypocrite. So I repent of the sin of hypocrisy and pray for the grace to live out the standards I wish my children to live out, so that they will not only hear it in my words, but also see it in my life.

Since we have our book study on Thursday nights, I’ll make it a point to share what how this book has benefited my wife and I in my Friday posts. So until next time, Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lessons From A Friend I Didn't Really Know

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a friend I never knew. James Holton “Holt” Rowland, 16, entered eternity on November 10, 2010. I knew of Holt, but didn’t really know him personally, only having spoken with him a handful of times. The last time I remember seeing Holt was on October 14, 2010 at a wild game supper at Bristol Baptist where I was leading worship. I wish I would have gotten to know him, as I feel I have missed out on a great blessing.

As I listened to the men who were asked to share memories of Holt yesterday at his celebration service, I heard the testimony of a young man who loved Jesus. That wasn’t just something that Holt said. It was shared that most often he didn’t even have to say it because his love for Christ was evident in the way he lived his life. It was manifested in the way he loved his friends, family, baseball, church and community and in how he lived out the great commandment - to love God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength and to love his neighbor as himself. Holt understood that there was nothing inherently good in him; that good could only be found in God. And Holt lived and died bringing glory to God.

I came away from Holt’s service with a new perspective on my own life. Learning of Holt’s life challenged me to take inventory of where I’m at in my walk with Christ and showed me that I have a lot of growing up to do. As I pondered what kind of legacy I would leave if I died today, I came to realize that there is so much more I can do to exalt and magnify Christ in my time here on Earth. There are three specific areas where I must, as Holt reminded me, decrease so that Jesus may increase: my family, my church, my community.

If I could sum up in a single phrase what Holt Rowland’s life has taught me, it would be “Bloom where you are planted.” Many times I think that in order to glorify God and make His Name great I have to do something on a grand scale so that a lot of people will see it. But when I dig down to the root of this idea, I see pride and the desire to exalt myself rather than Christ. It pains me to admit this, but ultimately it is the truth. The sovereign Lord of the universe put me where He did so that my life would be spent pointing to Him and not me. So that is exactly what I commit to do from this day on. To bloom where I’m planted so that Christ may be exalted and worshiped.

If I could tell Holt something today, I would tell him how much I admire his love for Jesus and for people. Because of our kinship in Christ, I count him as a brother and a friend, though I never really knew him. And, because of Jesus Christ, I know that I’ll be where he is one day. Although I don’t fully know how it all works up there in Heaven, I hope that I will get to spend at least a small fraction of eternity getting to know Holt. One thing is for certain, I’ll know where to find him - worshiping at the feet of the Savior he loves.

See you later, Holt.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Only Trust Him

There are times in life when we feel we have made the right decision, only to see our lives begin to snowball, seemingly out of control, while we watch and wonder if we should have done something differently. A few short months ago (May to be exact), my wife resigned her position as a public school teacher and became a stay at home mom in order to home school our three children. This has always been a dream of mine and God did a huge work in the heart of my wife in regards to homeschooling. With many confirmations along the way to making this decision, I just knew that we were right in the pocket of God's will.

Now here we are, only six months in and I find myself wondering if perhaps I missed God somewhere along the way. Through a series of unfortunate and uncontrollable events, we find ourselves in a very uncomfortable financial position. Though we've made cuts to our monthly budget and have avoided frivolous living, doing away with things that are not really a necessity and trying to stretch each dollar to make the most of it, it seems like the harder we paddle to keep afloat, the deeper into financial abyss we sink. Amazingly, while God has provided miraculously for us on several occasions, it seems that behind each miracle is another pit to fall into.

Of course this kind of situation creates stress. And a stress-filled life is a breeding ground for fear, anger, bitterness, and all other negative attitudes that seek to rob us of the freedom and joy we have in Christ. As we tell each other to just trust God and He will provide our needs, it almost becomes cliche, to the extent that we preface our sentences with, "I know we have to trust God, but...". And then I feel guilty because maybe I don't trust God. I feel like I'm standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and God says take a step. "But God there is nothing there to stand on," I reply. The absurdity of that statement causes me to cringe, as if all of Gods promises and proofs are not enough to hold me up as I step out onto thin air. It's as if I'm saying, God I can trust you with something as big and impossible and eternal as salvation, but I can't trust you with something as meager and temporary as bills. Yet that's where I find myself. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, the view to the bottom taking my breath away, as God calls me to step out. Fear grips me as I think up a million reasons why this isn't a good idea.

And then I remember Who it is who has led me to this place. The Sovereign of the universe has orchestrated the very melody that has brought me to this crescendo and now as He beckons me to come, so that He may display His glory in the awaiting chorus, I'm reminded, once again of His words to me:

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Fear not, I am the one who helps you. (Isaiah 41:13)

So I will.

I must.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Poetry for the Glory of God

I've enjoyed poetry ever since I was in high school. I think it was Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" that really got me hooked. So I started writing poetry for fun. Most of the poetry I wrote was autobiographical in nature. After I was saved, I stumbled upon John Piper's Advent poems. They completely rocked my world! From then on I've set out to write poetry that is theologically sound and that I hope will bring glory to God.

I've always loved the Shakespearean sonnet. Something about the rhythm and meter just fits with me. So for today's post, I would like to share with you a sonnet I wrote.

To An Honest Atheist - A Sonnet Inspired by Psalm 19 and Psalm 14

Consider earth outstretched with grandeur scene
whence plant springs up beneath the suns warm ray.
While dark beholds the sparkling bright moon beam,
within the peaceful pond wee tadpoles play.

From mountain lakes wandering streams do ease
and join together singing frothy song.
Form raging rivers, pour out into seas.
Full clouds shed rain, small flower grows up strong.

Soon time does come for fragile flower bloom,
for coloring the vast expanse of fields
until poor flower fades, frail child of doom,
gives up of life, lush fruit it gently yields.

What nature speaks a skeptic finds so cruel,
denouncing God exists proves him a fool.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Far More Precious Than Jewels

"He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD."

I've always wanted a wife. As a child I would pretend that my invisible friend was actually my wife. I wanted someone to love and protect. To trust and have fun with. To share the joys and pain of life with.

My wife and I will have been married for 12 years May 2011. I can honestly say, I have experienced God's love and grace in the woman He has sent me. I have seen Him at work in both of our lives individually and in our marriage together to conform us to the image of His Son and teach us the relationship He has with His bride, the Church. Jesus truly is the glue that holds our marriage together and there is great security in knowing that "what God hath put together, let no man put asunder". The Bible speaks the truth when it says, "House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD."

For the glory of God, and in honor of my wife, I would like to share a verse from a song I wrote several years back:

I stand amazed when I think about this lady
You have given the strength to put up with my ways
What awesome love is this holding us together
I pray she'll stay with me until my dying day
And I stand amazed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Missed Opportunities

I believe the Christian life is very practical. It's not all supernatural, spiritual phenomena. It's a very nuts and bolts, everyday living type of lifestyle. Jesus was 100% man. But because He is also 100% God, we can forget that He had to deal with flatulence and halitosis just like the rest of us. We focus on the supernatural miracles He performed and resign the fact that we cannot do those things. Well that's the point. If we could, we wouldn't be dependent on Him.

I have been thinking and praying a lot lately about how to live the Christian life in the United States of America in 2010. What should biblical Christianity look like in a land of wealth and affluence? I sometimes think that it would, in some sense, be easier to be a Christian in an atheistic Communist country where Jesus is all we have. Where, if He doesn't provide our bread that day, we couldn't eat. Where the distractions of television, pop culture and leisure don't exist and every minute of every day hinges on our dependency on Jesus Christ. Where when we get sick, we cannot depend on professional health care, but only on the Great Physician. In thinking this way, I have prayed that God would give me opportunities to be a Christian witness in very practical ways.

And then He does...

and I miss them.

I stopped to get a haircut yesterday. During the course of the haircut, the barber shared with some other people in the shop that he would be undergoing rotator cuff surgery and be out for a couple months after that. I heard him. I felt bad for him. I even told myself that I would be praying for him. When the haircut was done, I paid him, thanked him and left. Later on, I remembered him and was just about to pray for him when the thought hit me that I should have prayed for him while I was with him. What a witness for Christ that would have been. And it would have cost me nothing. And I missed it. I had to confess and repent, asking God to give me more opportunities. I trust He will. And I trust that I will take those opportunities, not because of anything good in me, but because He will complete the work He has begun in me, not for my sake, but for the glory of His Name.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Toil in the Fields

"In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty."

At the local church my family attends, we have been challenged over the last couple of months in regards to being a beacon of hope in our community. Our pastor has asked the question, "People in our community see the church, but do they see the Church?" Our revival speaker challenged us with the question, "What would the response in this community be if this church disappeared tomorrow?" These are very sobering questions that force us to examine our lives and decided whether or not we are going to be the salt and light in our community.

So there has been some exciting talk going on lately. A lot of talk about going outside the walls of the church building and seeking for opportunities to build relationship with the people who live in our community. Chatter about forsaking everything else in order to follow Jesus. Unfortunately, talk is cheap. The fields are white unto harvest, the laborers are few, and mere talk tends only to poverty.

I wish for this blog to be a online journal. The reason is two fold. First, accountability; if I don't post what God is doing around me, then it means I'm not joining in His work. Secondly, as a testimony and witness of what God is doing around me so that all who read will know that there is a God in heaven and He is active in our lives today, seeking those to save and conforming them to the image of His Son.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Come, Now Is the Time to Worship

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23

The best definition I've ever heard for the word worship was given by Voddie Baucham. Quoting one of his professors, he said, "Worship is setting our mind's attention and heart's affection on God and praising Him for who He is and what He has done for us in Christ." Well said. It is with this definition in mind that I strive to lead the time of worship on Sunday evenings at my local church. I attempt to select songs that proclaim biblical truth about who God is and what He has done for us in Christ, and then encourage our congregation to focus on the revelation of these truths and respond in adoration, thanksgiving, and joy. My goal has been to help them become active participants in worshiping God, rather than either spectators who look around and watch everyone else sing or robots who multitask by singing the same old familiar hymns all while thinking of the endless things that need to be done in preparation for the upcoming work week.

However, lately it has been becoming more clear to me that worship is not something we only do in a church service. As Beth Moore put it, "What happens in worship doesn't stay in worship; we live it out." I've been studying the book of Habakkuk. This little book, often overlooked on the way to the major prophets or the Gospels, gives us a vivid look at worship playing out in real life. Habakkuk is struggling with the fact that the people of Judah are living in vile sin under a wicked king and God seems to be nowhere around. Then God assures Habakkuk that not only is He present, but He is working His plan to judge Judah and is going to use a heathen nation, the Chaldeans, to do it. So now Habakkuk complains to God that He shouldn't use a wicked nation to judge God's chosen people. And God simply answers by saying that the wicked, both of Judah and of the Chaldeans will get their due and those faithful to Him will be saved. Then what takes place in the final chapter is utterly breathtaking. Habakkuk prays to God, acknowledging the futility of those who would try to do battle against the Mighty Warrior whose power knows no rival. And then Habakkuk breaks into a song, rejoicing in God's the steadfast hope of God's faithfulness to His people according to His promises. Habakkuk begins setting his mind's attention and heart's affection on God and praises Him for who He is and what He not only has done, but also for what He is going to do. Even in the midst of unspeakable economic uncertainty and inevitable invasion by an unstoppable enemy, Habakkuk is able to focus on the only One who can and will deliver him and his country. And what is utterly amazing is that Habakkuk isn't turning to God in hopes that He will save him, but worshiping the God whom he knows will save him.

May we do the same in the days in which we live. May we live worship out. May we focus on the One who has saved us and has promised to never leave us or forsake us. And may we praise the One who has promised that He is coming back to get us, that where He is we may also be.