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Showing posts from June, 2009

The road trip begins

Today we began our road trip to visit my parents in Colorado. Things got off slower than expected. Natalie spent the morning finishing packing while I watched the kids and did some cleaning around the house. We rolled out of Yucca Valley around lunchtime and grabbed some lunch on our way out of town. Thank you Carl's Jr. for those delicious bacon western cheeseburgers.

The afternoon drive went smoothly. We saw a few dust devils spiraling through the desert north of Lucerne Valley. Had a quick pit stop in Barstow and stretched the legs at Home Depot, and then made the long push up the I-15 to Vegas. While the kids napped, we listened to messages by Bryan Chappell and John Piper, and Natalie started reading the missionary biography Sensei. We rolled into town shortly after 5 pm and went straight to the Mandalay Bay resort, where the Shark Reef Aquarium is located.

After scanning a few restaurant menus, we quickly realized that food at the Vegas resorts is very pricey. Thankfully, the …

Tom Ascol on the SBC

I enjoyed reading this article by Tom Ascol and believe it captures some of the bright moments of this year's SBC annual meeting:
Dr. Al Mohler's motion to commission a task force passed tonight at the Southern Baptist Convention. Specifically, the motion requests that
the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting June 23-24, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky, authorize the President of the Southern Baptist Convention to appoint a Great Commission Task Force charged to bring a report and any recommendations to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, Florida June 15-16, 2010, concerning how Southern Baptists can work more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission.There was brief public opposition during the time for debate. The most rancorous opposition came from a pastor who is convinced that the problem with the SBC is the rise of Calvinism in our ranks. He likened it to the Primitive Baptist movement and blamed all the ills the conve…

10 highlights from the SBC convention

The 2009 SBC National Convention just ended tonight. This was my first national convention. Here are ten highlights from the past two days:
Strong support for the Great Commission Resurgence task force. This group, composed of 18 SBC leaders, has been appointed by Johnny Hunt to evaluate every SBC program and institution and bring a report to the 2010 convention on how ministry can be done more effectively for the glory of God. The GCR was the leading reason I wanted to attend this year's meeting.Some great fellowship and great laughs with my dear Christian brothers from California: Bret Capranica, Justin Peters, Tony Chute, Chris Morgan, and Walter Price.Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The school had a special lunch, tours, chapel service, and cake reception this afternoon to commemorate the event. Bret is trying to convince me to pursue a PhD now instead of a DMin. We'll have to see.
Listening to the missions and Disaster Relief repo…

Vacation Bible School 2009

Here are a few of my favorite photos from this year's VBS Summer Camp. We had 47 kids this year, and when adding all youth volunteers, summer missionaries, and adult workers, we had a total of 73 people involved in the program. What a joyous week of ministry. We are all exhausted, but praising God for His sustaining grace and for the many gospel seeds that were planted.

Tonight was our second time doing a "Family Fun Night" to close out VBS, and we had a great time. A total of 101 attended! Once again, the slide show was a huge hit, and the kids did an amazing job singing all their songs, remembering motions, and reciting verses. We were able to make a few adjustments to last year's program that allowed things to run a little more smoothly. One of my favorite improvements was that the summer missionaries helped "patrol" the bounce house so that I was better able to mingle with all the parents. (Delegation is so important!) Also, we gave out award certificate…

Mishnah madness

Sometimes, pastors and teachers rely on the Jewish Mishnah to give historical background to the New Testament. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Mishnah was the "collection and codification of Jewish oral laws, systematically compiled by numerous scholars (called tannaim) over a period of about two centuries" (see Mishna (Jewish laws)). This effort was done by the rabbis at the end of the second century AD.

For many reasons, Mishah studies and citations should be used very cautiously in biblical studies and preaching. It should not be assumed that everything in the Mishnah accurately describes the situation in New Testament Palestine 150 years earlier.

Case in point: the Jewish trial of Jesus Christ. Most people point out how illegal the proceedings of the Sanhedrin were during Jesus' trial. It certainly was unethical, and it may have been illegal, but it is anachronistic to simply cite the Mishnah in proof that the Jews violated their own law. Robert Thomas explai…

Imprecatory prayers

Wiley Drake is a Southern Baptist pastor in California who recently appeared on The Alan Combs Show and made some shocking comments about praying for President Obama's death.

In response, our state convention president Walter Price had this to say: Imprecation is, in essence, putting a curse on someone or asking God to curse them. Nowhere in the Bible are Christians encouraged to curse anyone, especially those with whom we disagree or those who would do us harm. In fact, we are commanded not to do so and to do just the opposite.You can read more of Walter's excellent response here.

How, then, do we approach the "imprecatory" prayers found in the Bible? Does God intend us to do the same toward our leaders? Commenting on Psalm 58, Steve Lawson explains:
Government leaders are appointed by God for the good of the people. They are to serve as his agents through whom he works to provide law and order for society (Rom. 13:1-6). But leaders often become corrupt, and they minis…

Reflections on my first years as pastor

This month marks the three-year anniversary of my role as full-time pastor of our church. These have been some of the most wonderful years of my life, because my wife and I have finally been able to fulfill our calling and devote ourselves entirely to the church, using all the gifts and training God has given to us.

This morning, I feel the need just to jot down a few thoughts on a young man's first years of ministry, including some things to do and things to avoid:
Be loving. It is often said that people "don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." This has been proven again and again. Most laypeople could care less about my seminary degree, and even less about my GPA or the number of commentaries on my shelf. They simply yearn for a shepherd who is going to know, love, pray with, talk with, and visit them. Sometimes, it takes a card of encouragement, a home visit, a hospital visit, or even the funeral of a loved one to win the affection and trust…

Steering a conversation toward the gospel

Years ago, when I worked in a customer service call center, we were instructed to always "control the call." In other words, as salespeople, we were to steer the phone conversation as much as possible through questions and suggestions to help lead the customer along and determine what product would best suit them. Some customers were notorious for just "chatting" on the phone, not realizing that other customers were often on hold, waiting to be served.

In our evangelism, the stakes are infinitely higher, because souls are involved. We too as Christians must learn to better "control the conversation." I don't mean forcing the gospel into a conversation in an inappropriate way, but learning through questions and answers to steer a conversation in the right direction, toward spiritual things and eventually toward a presentation of the gospel.

As I said last week, there are four common steps in evangelism: raising awareness, initial contact, pre-evangelism,…

The Betrayal of Jesus

Yesterday, we studied the Betrayal of Jesus recorded in John 18:1-11. It was amazing to see how our Lord endured such suffering and injustice, yet remaining firmly in control the whole time. We considered three astonishing facts about Jesus' betrayal that show how He was in control:
Jesus knew Judas' trap, but stepped forward (John 18:1-4). While Jesus was comforting, instructing, and praying for His disciples in the upper room (chs. 14-17), we now learn that Judas was conspiring with the chief priest and gathering a large crowd of soldiers to arrest Jesus. The betrayal appeared as a tragedy, but Jesus "knew all the things" coming upon Him, and had actually arranged and permitted them to unfold in this way.Jesus had divine power, but surrendered (John 18:5-9). When Jesus declared "I am," He pulled back the veil of His humanity one last time before the cross, revealing His divine glory and reminding everyone who was really in charge here. He could have annihi…