Love

Sunday Morning Sermon for 4/21/13

Here is the audio and notes for Sunday morning’s sermon.  You can listen by clicking on the sermon entitled “Escaping the Snares” in the playlist at the right or by following this link.  Notes are available below or as a PDF at the audio link.  May you be richly blessed through the Word.

Escaping the Snares

2 Timothy 2:14-3:9

Sermon notes 4/21/13

  1. Departing from iniquity

    1. On a firm foundation – Matthew 7:24-25

    2. Set apart as holy – 1 Peter 1:13-25

  2. Standing for truth

    1. Dealing with brothers – v. 22-23

    2. Dealing with unbelievers – v. 25; 1 Peter 2:11-12

    3. Getting rid of snares – Judges 1:27-2:5

  3. Overcoming evil

    1. Escaping false freedom – 2 Peter 2:17-22

    2. Finding true freedom – Galatians 5:13-14; 1 Peter 2:13-17

Categories: Disciples, Forgiveness, Freedom, Galatians, Gospel, Love, Podcasts, Sermon | Leave a comment

Sunday Morning Sermon for 4/14/13

Here is the audio for the sermon from this Sunday.  You can listen by selecting the sermon for this date in the player to the right.  The sermon title is What’s the Difference.  You can also listen to the audio by following this link.  The notes are available below or on the audio site as well as a PDF file.  May you be richly blessed through the Word.

What’s the Difference?

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

Sermon notes 4/14/13

  1. What about “judge not”?

    1. Matthew 7:1-5

    2. Romans 14:10-13

    3. James 2:12-13; 4:11-12

  2. Making a right judgment

    1. James 3:13-4:12

    2. Upholding the standard – Romans 15:14-18

    3. John 5:30; 7:24

  3. Who do you judge?

    1. Yourself – 1 Corinthians 11:31-32

    2. Those who are brothers – 1 Corinthians 5:11-12

      1. The obvious and the opinions (Romans 14:1)

      2. Using grace – Titus 2:11-15

Categories: 1 Corinthians, Disciples, Forgiveness, Love, Podcasts, Sermon | Leave a comment

Sunday Morning Sermon for 5/13/12

We had a fun service again this week.  One of our teenage guys gave a “short sermon” that he had prepared on God’s relentless love (which is the reason for my opening comment).  I thought he did a great job.  The sermon this week picks up on that love theme and speaks about why love grows cold and what we can do to keep it from getting cold.  Notes are available below.  By the way, I am trying a new file storage site to stream the audio so please let me know if you notice any problems or differences in the quality.  I haven’t found a way to use it to play in the post either, so let me know if that is a problem or not.

One other note, I appended the end of the service where I explained our Mother’s Day gift for the ladies on to the end of the file.  I know that sometimes folks like to hear things like this.  I always think it is interesting to hear more than just the sermon from time to time as well.  I like this because it really shows the joy that we share every week.

May God richly bless you through His Word.

Click here to play the sermon (it will open in a new window and you can click back to this one to look at the notes if you wish)

Note: the new site that I was trying out appears to be out of commission so the link above may or my not work as you are reading this.  If the link fails try pushing the play button below instead.

Love Grows Cold

Revelation 2:1-7

Sermon notes 5/13/12

  1. What happened to their love?

    1. Great start – Acts 18:24-19:20

    2. Good leadership

      1. Timothy – 1 Timothy 1:3

      2. John the Apostle

    3. Abandoned love

  2. How does love grow cold?

    1. Matthew 24:11-12

      1. Lawlessness

      2. Forgetting the first things – Revelation 2:4

    2. Is your love cold?

  3. How does love grow hot again?

    1. Revelation 2:5 – repent and start again

    2. John 15:9-17

    3. 1 John 3:4-18

      1. Know His commandments

      2. Do His commandments

Categories: John, Love, Podcasts, Sermon | Leave a comment

It’s Not Okay

WARNING: The subject matter of this post may be considered offensive by any and all who read it.  I would be concerned if the subject didn’t bother you quite frankly.  You may not want to read this.  Proceed with full awareness that you have been warned.  Some of the links in the stories referenced and linked from this post may not be safe to click on if you are reading at work .  The subject at hand is porn.  By clicking on the more link to view this post, you are taking this on with full awareness. Continue reading

Categories: Christianity, Culture, Love, Marriage, Parenting, personal, Sex, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Red and Yellow, Black and White

Every so often, a story appears in the news and splashes even larger onto the national scene that cries out about the evils of racism and racial inequality.  The latest instance is the story of Trayvon Martin in Florida.  This is certainly a tragedy as a young man is dead.  But another problem is now growing out of this tragedy.  Scores of people are taking sides and starting a war over the races of those involved.  In an effort to make it a white/black scuffle, I even saw one media story refer to the man who shot Martin as a “white Hispanic.”  Seriously, this kind of thing is not helpful.  As more news trickles out, it becomes less and less believable that this is a blindly racist incident.

Frankly, racist gets tossed around so much in places where it doesn’t even apply that it will become like the boy that cried wolf at some point.  Does it exist? YES!  Is it under every rock and tree and responsible for every bad thing that happens to someone who happens to be in a minority group? NO!

I think we have proved as a human race that skin color is always going to be an issue for some, a source of contention for others and a focus of animosity for still others.  I wish it weren’t so.  In my own personal life, I have friends and loved ones of every skin tone I can think of.  Red and yellow, black and white, doesn’t matter in my sight.  I know that some people hate even using those color designations and I get it, I am more of a peach tone myself, but if you let that become your focus then you are missing the point already.  I know that ignoring skin tone isn’t the case for everyone, but I would hope that it might some day become so.  A friend over at SBC Voices did a piece on audacious prayers today and that would be one of my most audacious prayers of all time.  God please help us to see people for something beyond the tone of their skin.

Categories: America, Culture, Love, politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Problem of All or Nothing

God is holy and perfect and commands us to be “perfect as He is perfect.”  Perfection: it is a standard that we all know we cannot keep.  Those who spend a great deal of time thinking about it are in real danger of driving themselves crazy.  It is this insistence of perfections that drives the “wretched urgency” that Michael Spencer, AKA the Internet Monk, used to opine about back in the day.

But we humans have a hard time with not taking this the other direction entirely.  Since we know we can’t be perfect, we have developed whole theological systems that essentially say, “why bother.”  Jesus paid it all, you can do nothing; so just fall on Him and do nothing.  What’s wrong with this?  You are saved by grace and that not of works lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8).  Right?!?  So just sit back and relax and quit.  Be still and know that I am God, if you will.

It is the problem of all or nothing.  If all isn’t enough, then why bother.  If nothing will get me there, then why not.

I saw an interesting quote from Dallas Willard posted by a friend of mine.

“In most churches we’re not only saved by grace, we’re paralyzed by it. We’re afraid to do anything that might be a “work.” The funny thing is we will preach to people for an hour that they can’t do anything to be saved, and then sing to them for a half an hour trying to get them to do something. This is confusing. People need to see that action is a receptacle for grace, not a substitute for it. Grace is God acting in our lives to do things we can’t do on our own. Grace is not opposed to effort; it’s opposed to earning.” -Dallas Willard

This is the problem of all or nothing boiled down into a couple of sentences.  That same Bible that tells you that there is nothing you can do to earn salvation, still calls you to a life of service and obedience once you have been saved.  Keep reading from that quote I earlier pulled from Ephesians:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  – Ephesians 2:8-10

The problem is that if you don’t take all of Scripture to place a single verse in good context, you may find that nothing you say makes good sense.

We don’t handle this dilemma well.  Might I suggest a solution with a little humor in it.

“If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” – G.K. Chesterton

Stop making it all or nothing.  God takes care of it all, but not so that you can do nothing until eternity.  Rest period doesn’t start until then.  In the meantime, do all that you can, badly if you must.

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, devotional, Discipleship, Faith, Fun, Grace, Humor, Love, Salvation, theology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

One Word 2011 – Growth – A Wrap Up Post

Growth.

It was just a word at the start of the year that stuck out to me.

Could have been more about change – but it wasn’t

Could have been about just maturity – but it wasn’t that either.

So much has played into this idea that I am not sure where to start.  Do I feel like I have grown in the last year?

Yes.

And I will continue to grow as the years pass on, but I will spend this post looking at some things that I can see specific growth in in the past year.

Growth as a father: Being a dad is one of the biggest challenges of my life.  Being an example is not an option, it is a given.  I am keenly aware of the ways in which my life will shape the lives of three young people that God has blessed me to look after.  It has been a growth process this year as I have tried to be more intentional in the ways that I raise up my children to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.  I have found great encouragement and purpose in learning to lead by example more.  I have grown as a father and I will continue to walk this path with humility and God’s grace and grow year by year as my children grow into men and women of faith and character.

Growth in ministry: Opportunities to minister were abundant and I found myself growing and stretching in this area more than I would have expected.  Having finished work to be certified as a Disaster Relief chaplain through the SBC, I figured it would be a while before I could put most of this training and skill set into real world practice in a disaster.  Family and church commitments were certain to keep me from going too far from home for disaster situations and yet I got the chance all the same.  Flooding on a historic scale in Minot brought me face to face with keeping a commitment I had made – to go and serve as a DR chaplain if it was nearby.

There are so many ways that I have grown as a result of the experiences in Minot this summer that it would be impossible to catalog them all.  A passion for DR work that I didn’t even know existed has been found and I am now considered the “point man” for our DR response in the North Dakota side of the DBC.  This included a trip to Alpharetta for training so that I can train others to be a DR chaplain as well.  I am excited to see how God will use this in the future.

I also continued to have the opportunity to fill the pulpit and minister to another church here in town.  I was asked to stretch and grow in this area as well.  It was a privilege to preach and minister in a wholly different context than what I am normally used to being in and it has been a growing experience for me.

Growth as a blogger:  I set several goals for myself this year as a blogger and some of them were directly related to this particular thing.  In doing so, I learned something about myself along the way.  I have a strong tendency to “jump in with both feet” before I stop and consider the cost or the ramifications.  This is kind of a dangerous thing is some places and it is something that Jesus cautioned about as well.  Blogging is not my life.  In a way, my journey through this year has helped me to grow in such a way as to put blogging in perspective.  I no longer come by and check the stats everyday here or at my other two blogsites.  I have actually missed the occasional comment for a day or two before noticing it was there.  I plan to be a little more intentional in my blogging in the coming year to be sure, but I am already a lot less obsessive about it.  And as for arguments on the comments of this blog and others: well, I really have better thing to do with my time.  This isn’t to say that I am not up for a good discussion.  Discussions and even disagreements keep life interesting and keep me learning, and that is enough for me.

Growth in my personal health: I mentioned this area more than once and as the year comes to a close, I figure I am at a standstill in this one.  I took up some efforts to run, but those met with setbacks due to physical issues (there are my flat feet getting in the way).  I haven’t given up on that quite yet, but running isn’t a realistic thing around here this time of year either.  I eat better overall and I am still making adjustments in my diet.  My weight is stable, but I still want to take it to a little lower number in the coming year.  If there is one area where I didn’t see “growth” in the way that I expected and hoped to, this is the one.

Growth – the final word:  There is probably more that I could write and might even want to write.  Growth doesn’t get confined to a season and never return, even though it is often seasonal.  Growth isn’t always realized in ways we expect or even want it sometimes.  It does come hand in hand with living.  Living things grow.  Often in ways that are easy to see as well as ways that are imperceptible.  That which ceases to grow, dies.  So may we all continue to grow and may God bless you to grow in the likeness of His Son above all other growth.

Categories: Christianity, devotional, Discipleship, Faith, family, Fun, Growth, Love, ministry, One Word, personal | 3 Comments

One Word 2011 Update

Regular readers are aware that there has been a break in regular posting for the last couple of weeks. As a way of getting back into the groove, I wanted to give an update on what’s going on lately. My last post was the day before my anniversary. My wife and I were excited to celebrate 15 wonderful years of marriage together and had the benefit of visiting grandparents (my mom and dad) to watch the kids for a night so we could get away and really celebrate. And since my parents were here for a couple of weeks, I took some time off from blogging as much as I could. I still helped out some at SBC Voices, but the rest of blogging got put on hold.

I figured I would jump back into the swing of things with an update on the OneWord2011 as it touches most other areas as well.  I am currently writing the post while watching over our garage sale out front.  It is amazing to watch how people interact at a garage/yard sale.  Some folks drive by and slow down to see if something catches their eye from the road but don’t want to invest the time to stop.  Others get out and do a quick once over everything and then head almost sheepishly back to their car.  Some get out and look things over and chat for a few minutes and might even buy a little thing or two.  Others come in and go over every little thing and buy nothing.  It runs the gamut to be sure.

By way of updating on growth, which is my OneWord for 2011, I am excited to be back on track for some of my fitness/health goals.  I have started a running jogging program called C25K, which is supposed to help you go from couch potato to 5K runner in 9 weeks.  There should be enough good weather to get that in before it turns back to cold and winter.  I had to start and then restart after allergies kicked in and parents came to visit, but I am pleased that I have been able to stick with it so far.  I feel better already and even found myself able to walk 9 holes of golf this past week, which was a struggle just a couple of years ago.

I am obviously still working on my writing habits as well.  I am going to use some advice that I saw at Jon Acuff’s site, Stuff Christians Like, especially one about writing a little bit to start and not publishing things on the first draft as much.  It does help my writing style, but there will certainly be posts that come much more off the cuff still.  But I will scale back the ambitious 3 posts a day goal and make that something to “grow” into as I go forward.

I am continuing to grow in so many ways.  Some of them are just between me and God or me and my wife or me and my kids, but all of them are amazing to watch as God continues to work in my life.  Like the old song says, He’s still working on me.

Categories: family, Fun, Growth, Health, Humor, Love, Marriage, One Word, personal, summer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Where a Kid Can Be a Kid

Anyone remember that Toy-R-Us slogan from years ago?  They may still use it for all I know, but it talked about letting kids be kids.  There are some days a lot of adults would like to be kids again, and there are some adults who act like they still are; but kids, well, they should be given the chance to grow up in due time.  One of the things I have told my kids is that I want to do what I can to allow them to be a kid for as long as they should be.

What do I mean by that?  I don’t want to overload them with things that are too mature for them to know or worry about and I want to protect them from those who think otherwise.  Part of this involves teaching them wisdom and how to recognize quickly what is potentially hazardous from what is likely benign.  Before you ask, I have had many “talks” with my oldest and a few less “talks” with the younger ones.  We aren’t shying away from talking about sex or any other potential minefields that the world wishes to erect for my kids to walk through in their way.  We are teaching them how to walk around the minefields as best as we can.

But I am heartbroken for all of those in their generation who won’t get the same protection from being forced to “grow up” before their time.  The world has taken aim at these young ones and desires to force them from their childhood far too soon.  Cases in point:

Giving condoms away to 11 year old kids in Philadelphia.

“Playing it safe just got easier,” the website reads. “If you live in Philadelphia and are between the ages of 11 and 19, you can now have condoms mailed directly to you for FREE. Maybe it’s difficult for you to stop by one of our sites to pick up condoms. Or maybe you’re just shy or feeling weird about picking up condoms.”

There are no words to convey how I feel about this assault that is directed at 11 year olds.  These people have no clue what sex is about if they even think that it is a remotely good idea for 11 year-olds to be engaging in it.  Amazingly, they almost kinda realize it too as the director concedes that 11 might “seem a little young” to people.  This of course doesn’t stop them from dragging out that old canard that kids are doing it anyway and we need to find out why they are doing it.  I can tell you why they are doing it, because nitwits like them are suggesting that it is OK or inevitable that they will do it.

“Abstinence is one end of the continuum and we certainly want to encourage kids to be abstinent, but for the kids who are not, we want to educate them,” he said. “Abstinence is certainly one end of the continuum, but abstinence-only programs don’t work.”

To the contrary, abstinence-only programs are undoubtedly the most successful because they don’t send out mixed-signals.  We don’t send firemen out to tell kids not to stick their hands in a fire and then give them an asbestos glove in case they want to try it and a tube of burn cream for when they give in to the urge and get burned.  This is essentially what they are doing with sex education that goes beyond teaching the reasons to abstain.  Tell them no and then give them protection for when they will do it anyway and then give them medical attention for the diseases they will invariably contract.

Want to have truly safe sex?  Wait until you are married and have it only with your spouse who has done the same thing, no risk for STDs, no risk of out of wedlock pregnancy when you are 12.  Or to use the fireman analogy.  If you want to make sure you don’t get your hand burned or burn down anything else, keep the fire in the fireplace where it belongs.

Categories: Culture, False Teachers, Love, Marriage, Parenting, Sex, Signs of the Times, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Father’s Eyes

I got a new toy this week.  It is a standalone DVD recorder from Sony.  It was a refurbished unit on clearance from one of my favorite tech sites, so we decided to grab it in hopes of dubbing off a bunch of our old home movies.  So today, I pulled it out of the box and after struggling with some cabling problems (I keep tons of old cables but can’t find the one for our camcorder.  I dug an older camcorder out of the box and managed to get something going to try this thing out.

As I write this post, I am watching the video of my first son digging into his first birthday cake after earlier seeing the video of my other two children doing the same thing.  I have sort of seen these in reverse order, but it is precious to walk back down the memory lane of these events.

As an obsessive dad, I filmed non-stop action of each of my kids tearing their cakes apart and stuffing them in their mouths.  In the background you hear the voices of those at the party, but you never see most of them.  The focus is on the kid at the center of the spotlight and it stays there.  The reason I did this is because I didn’t want to risk missing a moment of the excitement for anything.  Of course the whole thing isn’t exciting for most who watch it, but I have the eyes of a father.

I admit that as an earthly father, I have  my moments of distraction.  It isn’t like I always stare at my kids nonstop, but there are times when I zero in a give them complete focus.  It lets them know that I love them.  Scripture talks about this aspect of God’s love for us.  Jesus says that if we as earthly fathers know how to give good things, how much more does our Heavenly Father give good things for us.  The Bible also talks about Him “singing over us.”  One of my favorite “modern hymns” is called How Deep the Father’s Love for Us, because it is so powerful in its expression of this love.  In the first verse it says this:

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

You may feel wretched or unloved, but let me assure you that nothing is further from the truth.  The Father is not without compassion.  John 3:16 isn’t just some sappy sentiment.  He loves you and gave His only Son for you.  See yourself through His eyes.

Categories: Christianity, devotional, family, Gospel, Grace, Love, Parenting, personal, Salvation, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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