Saturday, December 30, 2006

Home Sweet Home!

We're home save and sound! The day began with not too much optimism. Everything that I heard on the news indicated that it would be Sunday at the earliest before the roads opened. The weather was great--bright and sunny--and yet the interstate remained closed with only pessimistic reports. A little before noon (the stated time to either commit to another night at the hotel or check out) a rumor was circulating that they "might" open the road at 2pm. That was all the hope that I needed. We packed our gear, loaded the van, and vacated our motel room and began the waiting game. 2:00 became 3:00 and it was nearing 4:00 when the road finally opened. The boys and I had been waiting at the interstate on-ramp for about an hour when a couple of Colorado's finest opened the gate and led us westward towards Denver. The roads were great and we were able to do 75 most of the way. We arrived home about 7pm with a well-shoveled drive (thanks!) and a "happy-to-see-us" dog.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Road Closed!

We have awakened to the news this morning that I-70 is closed until further notice. Fortunately, we have a nice room at a nice motel where we can hang out today. It's my understanding that we have to decide by noon whether we want to keep the room for another night or not. I'm pretty sure that we'll keep the room--don't want to spend the night at the truckstop.

I would much prefer to be home but I also understand that God many times has things for us to accomplish at times and places that we would neglect were it not for his insistance (closed roads). And so, I will resist the urge to stay isolated in my room and will make it a point to visit with anyone that I can, as often as I can, in order to be God's servant at the Comfort Inn in Limon, Colorado.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Limon, Colorado

We left Abilene, Texas this morning and made it as far as Limon, Colorado before finding a comfy motel (with pool and internet). We were starting to get quite a bit of ice on the road and it was really foggy. I could hardly make out the hotel signs from the interstate. We are just about two hours from our home and will hopefully make the final journey tomorrow. But if we don't--at least we have a pool and the internet (and a nearby Arbys).

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Vacation...

I'm not sure what day I'm supposed to be on...sort of got lost in the snow storm. Anyway...the boys and I are on our way back to Colorado by way of various places we hold dear. We had a wonderful couple of days at Tina's mom's home in Bastrop seeing lots of family. Yesterday, we traveled to Conroe where Tina's sister and her husband have been staying for the past several months. They are IMB missionaries to Mexico and we were fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with them just prior to their return to Mexico. They have been staying at a very nice missionary home that West Conroe Baptist Church provides. It is one of the nicest missionary homes that I have ever seen. Thanks to this great mission-minded church for not only providing housing but for opening up their church family to these modern-day apostles ("one's who are sent"). Tina is staying behind for a few extra days to help her sister finish up final details. The boys and I are in Abilene tonight. We came through Fort Worth and walked around the campus of Southwestern Seminary. Unfortunately, it was all locked up for the holidays. We had a nice time walking around just the same. We came from there through Granbury where we have spent much time in the past and eventually made our way to Lipan, where I pastored for six years prior to coming to Colorado. The current pastor, David Peacock (my former youth pastor at FBC Lipan) gave us a great tour of both the church and the parsonage (our former home). Not much has changed in Lipan! We grabbed a coke at the Pak-a-Sak and headed out for Abilene. God was with us and allowed us to find a great room at a great price with an indoor pool. We even found a Chinese buffet--can't get much better than that!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Vacation: Day 2

Not much to report...just lots and lots of snow to shovel. I reached the end of my driveway and struck asphalt about 1:00 this afternoon. I navigated the Monte Carlo down the narrow-walled passageway that I had dug and had a nice drive around town. Tomorrow, I will dig the mini-van out and perhaps we will make another attempt at I-70. It's open now and hopefully will be smooth sailing.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Vacation: Day 1

As we usually do...we stayed up late last night packing and getting ready to leave early this morning. I had a Bible Study to teach at 6:30 last night which was especially important because I opened the class by baptizing a mom and her teenage son. The study went well with some awesome stories of how God has been speaking to some of the attendees. I got home about 8:00, did the necessary preparations for travel--like filling up the gas tank and cleaning out the van. After washing a few loads of laundry and skillfully packing, I hit the sack about 11:30 with an eye on the weather channel. Beep--Beep--Beep! I jump out of bed and take a quick look out of the window and am relieved to see absolutely nothing--no snow anywhere. After a quick shower and cup of coffee, I get the family up and we are in the van ready to go by 5:30. It's starting to flurry just a little bit as we head out of town, stopping only to return an overdue video game. The weather starts happening pretty quick and before even an hour passes we're driving on snow-pack. We're almost to Bennett, Colorado (I've never heard of it either) when we hear the dreaded announcement on the radio: I-70 is closing in both directions! NOooooo! Now, I'm not one to take chances in the snow--I don't like spending hours or even days waiting at a truckstop of the roads to reopen. We turn around and slowly retrace our path back home with the roads becoming ever more treacherous. We pull back in the house about 11 and unload the van. What a day! The snow is supposed to continue through tomorrow and so I don't have any hopes that we will be able to try again until Friday at the earliest.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

We're Heading South for Christmas

Well...the family and I will be loading up the minivan and trying to beat the bad weather out of town tomorrow morning. There is a nasty storm headed our way but I think that I can get out ahead of it by leaving early and driving fast (ha!). My day 1 driving goal: Oklahoma! I'll let you know how far we get tomorrow and any exciting adventures that occur (assuming I get a hotel with internet access).

My site hits are way down but I am going to resist the temptation to mention Wade Burleson, the Southern Baptist Convention, alcohol consumption in the Bible, or even personal prayer languages. Other bloggers might make use of such key words to build their audience--but not me. I'll trust that the people who find their way to my sight will do so without me mentioning, "The Secrets of Revelation" or other such hit magnets.

I'll see you tomorrow...hopefully in Oklahoma.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Congratulations! You are the TIME magazine "Person of the Year"!

Evidently, your use of the internet has made a dramatic impact on the state of the world.

You can read more about yourself at the TIME magazine website by clicking here.

By the way, if you want to see your face on the cover of TIME, you will have to get a hold of an actual copy of the magazine. It has a mirror that will allow you to admire your image as you celebrate your accomplishment.

This is going to look great on your resume...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Is God really JEALOUS?

Is God really JEALOUS?

Right in the middle of the Ten Commandments, God speaks a remarkably revealing statement, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). Is God really jealous? Is the maker of Heaven and Earth, the all-powerful, all-knowing God really jealous? Apparently, yes!

What causes this jealousy? The answer is revealed in Exodus 20, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (v3-5). What is God jealous about? Us! God is jealous whenever we, who were created to love and adore Him, turn our affections to someone or something else. The Apostle Paul appeals to God’s jealousy when confronting idol worship in Corinth. He states, "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?” (1 Corinthians 10:21-22). Anything or anyone that we put ahead of God is a demonic idol and provokes God’s jealousy.

We tend to think of “jealousy” as a negative emotion stemming from insecurity. Does God’s jealousy indicate that He is lacking in self-confidence and thus less than perfect? Absolutely not! In fact, since God becomes jealous, it must be seen not as a weakness but rather as a virtue. Let’s clarify by looking at a different emotion—anger. Like jealousy, we usually think of anger in a negative light. When we’re angry, it’s usually sin for us. We kick the cat and scream a lot. However, when God is angry, it’s never sin! In fact, it’s a virtue. It is a “righteous indignation”. It is anger directed at injustice or oppression. T.W. Hunt in The Mind of Christ (LifeWay Press, 1994) suggests that each virtue (love, joy, peace, patience, etc) has a Satanic opposite as well as a good-intentioned perversion. For example, the satanic opposite of love is “hate” and it’s perversion is “possessiveness”. In the same way, the satanic opposite of faith is “unbelief” and its perversion is “presumption”. So what would be the satanic opposite of “jealousy”? Perhaps it would be “not caring at all” or some form of emotional detachment. The perversion, on the other hand, is what we most often see in our own lives—a selfish, insecure, possessiveness. Godly jealousy must lie somewhere in the middle of these two ungodly extremes. He cares and thus is righteously offended whenever we give devotion that is due only to God to something or someone else.

For further reading, see J.I. Packer’s classic work, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1973). He deals extensively with the subject in Chapter 17, “The Jealous God”.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The WSJ on Giving...

A very interesting commentary appears in The Wall Street Journal Online in regards to giving tendencies. It seems that there are significant differences in the giving habits of Americans. Let me share just a few eye-opening quotes from the WSJ commentary.

"Americans who weekly attend a house of worship are 25 percentage points more likely to give than people who go to church rarely or never. These religious folks also give nearly four times more dollars per year than secularists, on average, and volunteer more than twice as frequently."

Comparing those who support bigger government vs smaller government, the WSJ points out that, "People who oppose government income redistribution donate four times as much mney each year as do redistribuiton supporters."

"People who opine that government is 'spending too little money on welfare' are less likely to give food or money to a homeless person that people who oppose greater welfare spending."

"Couples are more likely to give to charity, and the simple act of raising children appears to stimulate giving as well. Data show that people who see their parents behave charitably are far likelier to be charitable themselves as adults."

"People who fail to donate money to charities are only a third as likely as donors to give money to friends and strangers. Non-donors are half as likely as donors to give blood. They even are less honest: Non-donors are much less likely than donors to return change mistakenly given to them by a cashier."

"America's working poor give away at least as large a percentage of their incomes as the rich, and a lot more than the middle class."

"Today's conservatives outperform liberals on most measures of private giving."

You can read the entire article here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Women Talk 3 Times as Much as Men

It's long been suspected and now has been demonstrated to be true--women talk a lot more than men! They also talk faster and use more brain power in their communication. A study has even demonstrated that women get a heroin-type high from listening to their own voice. You can read all about it here.

The Need for Tears...

I don't cry much. It concerns me at times because I'm pretty sure that we're supposed to cry. That's how God made us. There is even a whole book of the Bible entitled, "Crying" or "Lamentations". The 9th message that I'm bringing from Amos deals with crying and leads me to believe that "getting in touch with our emotions" is one of the ways that we will survive prosperity.

Amos 5:8-17 reveals four reasons to weep:

  1. We will weep when we are exposed to the awesome power of God (v8-9).
  2. We will weep when we begin to see the "least of these" as God sees them (v10-13).
  3. We will weep when we desire holiness like God desires it for us (v14-15).
  4. We will weep when we are in the presence of God (v16-17).

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Black Friday...

My youngest son has been saving up his money for well over a year with his eyes on a brand new laptop computer. The plan for savings started simply enough--I challenged both of my sons to start putting some of their income (odd jobs, birthday cash, etc) into a savings account. To motivate them, I agreed to add an additional 10% to whatever they had in their account at the end of each month. A little more than a year later--my youngest son's account balance: $347.29! He's been talking about a laptop for quite sometime and has been "shopping around" for the past month or so. And so it was agreed that we would get up at 2am on "Black Friday" and head to the electronics store and wait for the 5am opening. I set my alarm for 2 hoping that I would actually get up. "Beep....Beep....Beep..." I reach for the snooze as I hear, "Good morning dad....Let's go!" I pry open an eye and there he is, standing beside the bed, fully dressed, coat on, ready to go! After a quick shower and a fifteen minute drive down empty streets we arrive at the electronics store. To our shock...a line has already formed halfway around the building. A brief survey reveals more than enough line-standers to deplete the limited suppy of bargain laptops available. We journey home empty-handed yet optimistically planning our return for the "Day after Christmas" sale.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Fellowship...

Windsor is a unique town in many ways, not the least of which, is the way in which the pastors and ministers of our community seek to serve each other and work together whenever possible. There is a great friendship among our pastors in Windsor. We have coffee together in local coffee shop, we gather for lunch once a month, and we communicate with each other how we are living our lives both at church and at home. It is not unusual for us to sit in each others offices sharing our burdens and seeking council.

Tonight, our churches will gather together for a Thanksgiving Eve Community Service. I'm going for no other reason than to see my friends--my brothers and sisters who serve in Windsor with me. We are meeting tonight at Father James' church--Our Lady of the Valley, which happens to be Catholic. I'll be there along with as many as I can drag from Cornerstone. In addition, I expect that I'll see friends from the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, the Episcopal Church, The Church of the Brethren, the Christian Church, and the United Church of Christ. I'm sure that the Ancient Path will be there (Baptist General Conference) as will the new Presbyterian church plant. And there are most likely others that I have overlooked. No one will be compromising their doctrinal distinctives tonight--just loving the diverse Body of Christ and giving thanks to Savior whom we all serve. It begins tonight at 7pm.

Oh yeah...we're eating pie together following the service.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Nostalgic Faith...

I have titled the series of messages that I have preaching from Amos, “How to Survive Prosperity”. It seems especially difficult for Christians to survive the blessing of God—just as it was for Israel in Amos’ day. We seem to turn God’s blessing into curses pretty easily by walking away from Him when times are good. I hope to get outlines from each of the messages up on the blog eventually, but at the very least, I’ll get the current message posted. The instructions to survive prosperity have progressed as follows:

#1—Receive God’s Message (Amos 1:1-2)
#2—Obey God’s Directions (Amos 1:3-2:5)
#3—Practice God’s Justice (Amos 2:6-8)
#4—Live Under God’s Protection (Amos 2:9-16)
#5—Speak God’s Message (Amos 3:1-8)
#6—Battle God’s “Near-by Enemy” (Amos 3:9-15)
#7—Walk in God’s High Places (Amos 4:1-13)
#8—Seek God’s Present Activity (Amos 5:1-7)

The passage in Amos five begins with a funeral song to mourn fallen Israel. The virgin (unfulfilled/youthful nation) has fallen in battle alone with no one to assist her. She is defeated—1000 go out to battle but only 100 return! We can easily apply this to our contemporary American church that is on the decline while churches in India, Korea, and China to name of few are flourishing.

Verses 4-6 contain the heart of the message: Seek God’s present activity and stop living in the past! Twice, we are told to, “Seek God in order to live”. Sandwiched between the two declarations are three commands: “Don’t go to Bethel”, “Don’t go to Gilgal”, and “Don’t go to Beersheba”. The importance of these three cities is emphasized by Bethel being mentioned three times, Gilgal twice, and Beersheba once. All three of these cities were centers of religious worship with Bethel begin perhaps the most frequented and Beersheba the least. These are well-known places where people would travel to worship. The religious significance of these cities is crucial to understand and apply this passage. Beersheba is where Abraham traveled to and lived following his attempt to sacrifice Isaac to God (Genesis 22). Gilgal is where Joshua and those who would participate in the conquest of the promised land first camped after having miraculously crossed the Jordan river (Joshua 5). Bethel is where Jacob set up a stone as a pillar after having had a dream where he saw the angels of God ascending and descending upon a ladder. He declared the the place to be “The House of God” (Bethel) (Genesis 28). The Israelites celebrated God’s past activity in these places while denying Him the opportunity to act in the present. They worshipped a dead God! We too, often worship God as if He were dead. We don’t expect Him to act as He has throughout the pages of scripture. We don’t expect miracles! We don’t expect “real” communication! We don’t expect healing and true spiritual transformation! Don’t live in the past! Don’t go to Bethel! Seek God today! He has yet to perform His greatest works!

Blogging again...

I received a "site report" this morning from "blogger" and was reminded that I have a blog. Since I have become so haphazard in posting I imagined that absolutely no one was taking a look. However, I was wrong. So...with gritted teeth and a firm jaw I will once again set out to become a faithful blogger. I'll get started just as soon as I finish my first cup of coffee, take my boys to school, have my prayertime, work on my sermon, respond to Sunday's guests, have staff meeting...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Chuck Norris on "Chuck Norris"

Chuck Norris, believe it or not, has a column in which he addresses many of the "Chuck Norris Facts" that are being circulated. My friend in Virginia, Nathan Solomon, knows them all. If you don't know what I'm talking's an example: "There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live". Anyway, check out his column here. Here's a brief exerpt of what you will find:

"Alleged Chuck Norris Fact: "Chuck Norris' tears can cure cancer. Too bad he
never cries. Ever." There was a man whose tears could cure cancer or any
other disease, including the real cause of all diseases – sin. His blood did.
His name was Jesus, not Chuck Norris. If your soul needs healing, the
prescription you need is not Chuck Norris' tears, it's Jesus' blood. Again,
I'm flattered and amazed by the way I've become a fascinating public figure for
a whole new generation of young people around the world. But I am not the
characters I play. And even the toughest characters I have played could never
measure up to the real power in this universe. "

Who did I vote for?

I treasure my right as an American to vote! It's an incredible opportunity that our freedom allows that is denied in many parts of the world. Throughout history, it has been a minority of states that has allowed this important right. With that said, I think that everyone who is able should make the effort to vote. In fact, I think that everyone who can vote should take the effort to investigate the issues and the candidates in order to cast an educated vote. I also understand that it is sometimes helpful to know how those that we respect have voted so that we can add that to the mix. As I share with you the candidates that I have voted for, I would strongly encourage to make your own decisions based on your values. Don't just copy me! Vote your conscience!
  • Representative to the 110th US Congress - District 4 - Marilyn Musgrave
  • Governor - Bob Beauprez
  • Secretary of State - Mike Coffman
  • State Treasurer - Mark Hillmn
  • Attorney General - John Suthers
  • State Board of Education - Bob Schaeffer
  • Regent of the University of Colorado - Brian Davidson
  • State Senate - Scott Renfroe
  • State Representative - Kevin Lundberg
  • Weld County Commissioner - Bill Garcia

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Gay Marriage in Colorado

There are two items on the November ballot in Colorado that impact marriage: Amendment 43 and Referendum I.

Referendum I is an attempt to create "Domestic Partnerships" and if passed would have the effect of of including the words "or domestic partnerships" everywhere the word "spouse" now appears in Colorado law. In other words, this is gay marriage. A same-sex couple would go to the courthouse and get a license and become "partnered".

Amendment 43 adds the definition of marriage to the Colorado constitution as "a union of one man and one woman". This is the current law already in Colorado but as recently as yesterday in New Jersey, judges ruled a similar New Jersey law as unconstitutional. You can read about the implications of the New Jersy ruling for Colorado in Baptist Press here. Focus on the Family has also written an insightful article that you can read here.

There are several websites that examine Referendum I and Amendment 43 in greater detail. I would encourage you to take a look and make your own decision. I would recommend you start here.

By the way, you can vote early in Colorado at any of several voting centers throughout Northern Colorado. Vote in Windsor at the Community Recreation Center. I voted last Monday for Amendment 43 and against Referendum I.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Spending some time with my dad...

I drove down to Pagosa Springs, Colorado on Tuesday to spend a few days with my dad. He and my mom have held a timeshare in Pagosa Springs for the past 15 years and they have made the pilgrimage each of those 15 years to spend some time together recharging. This is the first time that my dad has made the trip without my mom and I wanted to join him. We have had a wonderful time just relaxing, enjoying the scenery, talking, and eating. We are scheduled to head to my house tomorrow (depending on the weather). There is no snow here...just beautiful sunshine. However, we will have to drive through the snow and ice that is being displayed on the news in Colorado Springs and Denver in order to get home. I have had time these last few days to work on upcoming sermons from Amos. I have a few more message outlines to share in the very near future. I also want to walk through the election ballot for our area and describe my votes. Blessings!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Amos on "Justice"

One of the first casualties of prosperity is "justice". Those who "have" always seem to want more and are willing to do whatever it takes to advance. No doubt that God has blessed America, not unlike the way in which He had blessed Israel. They had conquered all of their enemies and were living "high-on-the-hog" (lamb?). The unintended consenquence of Israel's prosperity was a tendency to abuse the very poorest among them. Amos 2:6-8 identifies four areas of injustice within Israel during Amos' time. These four areas of injustice are just as big a problem in our day.

#1--Financial Injustice (v6). The poor were sold into slavery to pay off debts acquired through unjust and abusive courts.

#2-Positional Injustice (v7). Those without position were stepped on and denied access to advancement opportunities.

#3--Sexual Injustice (v7). Prostitution was forced upon the poor as an occupation of last resort.

#4--Religious Injustice (v8). The gains received from the poor by unjust means were flaunted before God and included in worship.

Time could be easily spent detailing similar abuses in our own day in each of these areas. Multiple examples exist! Instead, let's just remember that all that have and all that we are is intended to glorify God and to help out our fellow man--especially the least of these. Let me challenge you to examine your life in these four areas and determine if you are guilty of any abuses of justice.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I've been too busy to blog...

I've been too busy to blog for the past several weeks but I wanted to at least stop in and let you know that I'm still here. I will try to make a fresh start on Sunday as I drive to Pueblo with my Youth Pastor for our annual state convention. I'll try to share some of the things are going on that may be of interest to those of you across the state and in other far away places.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

What does a Member of the Body of Christ look like?

A member is someone who...

M--eets with God daily, 24/7, to become like Christ!

E--xpresses worship with other believers weekly!

M--inisters diligently wherever there is a need!

B--rings offerings consistently to bless the Body of Christ!

E--quips themself fully as students of Christ!

R--eaches out faithfully to grow the Body!

S--acrifices lovingly to strengthen the Body of Christ!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Message of Amos...

Here's a shot of me enjoying some early morning coffee last week out in the field. It's actually cold instant coffee. Yuck!

We've begun a new series of messages taken from the Old Testament book of Amos. It appears to me that the prosperous, self-indulgent nation that Amos addressed is very similar to our own. In fact, the warning that Amos issues has clear application for our church and our individual families. Israel, throughout it's history, has tended to abandon God when times are good and to call out to God when times are bad. It seems that the blessing of God has often become a curse to them. We risk the same mistake. Over the next several weeks, we will learn from Amos, "How to Survive Prosperity". Let's start with what the message of God looks like.

God's message is:

1. Burdonsome (v1) - Amos means "Burdon-bearer". God has given each of us a ministry burden to carry. It is whatever you are passionate about.

2. Visionary (v1) - Amos was given a vision. He did not dream up what he was going to do for God but rather God revealed to Amos what He was already going to do.

3. Appropriate (v2) - Both Uzziah and Jeroboam ruled during times of prosperity. The message that Amos brings was perfect for the times in which he lived. The message we carry is equally relevant to our day.

4. Authoritative (v2) - "The Lord roars from Zion". The message of Amos is filled with authority like a lion's roar. "And from Jerusalm he utters (places) his voice". God places his voice wherever he chooses. He often places his voice through you and me. The place where you live and work is the place where God has chosen to speak his voice through you. We have confidence in our message because it is God who has placed us and God who is speaking through us.

5. Scary - (v2) - The warning is really scary. The lush pastures will become barren and the summit of Carmel (Orchards) will dry up. The prosperous times will end. The blessing will be removed. God will not bless what He cannot direct. The message of God must be heeded in order to continue to see the blessing of God.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I'm back from the field...

I have lots of stories to tell but no time at the moment. I also have a camera full of photos to share. I took a water-proof camera instead of the digital into the field and so I have to wait until I can get the pictures processed before I post any. If I have an opportunity...I'll try to swing into a one-hour place tonight or tomorrow and get it done. Let me just say that I am very tired and I have some rather rank clothing to get cleaned. I'll get back to you after my nap...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I worshipped at First Baptist--Jacksonville today...

FBC, Jacksonville has three Sunday morning worship services--two that are more contemporary and one that is more traditional. I attended the 9:45 service which is one of the contemporary services. I arrived at exactly 9:45 and had a little bit of trouble finding a parking space. The church is fairly large for this Colorado boy and I had to drive around a bit before I discovered where I was supposed to be. I didn't see any designated guest parking spaces and chose a spot towards the back of the lot. No outside greeters were visible but there was a steady stream of people going in a side door and I chose to follow them. Walking towards the open door I could hear that the service had already begun. A worship folder was handed to me and I followed the line into the worship center. The Worship Center was pretty full and I didn't immediately see any open seats. I stood still for a moment and then walked across the back of the sanctuary before starting down the center isle towards the front. About halfway to the front a smiling man held up one finger...I nodded yes...and he showed me to a seat on the second row. The worship music was very good. They had about five vocalists on the stage with a band back behind and to the side. The band consisted of drums, bass, and three acoustic guitars. No piano was used. They had a really good sound and I was able to follow their lead into worship very easily. The songs did not flow into each other--there was a clear break between each song. Overall the music was very good. There was a greeting time included in the service and all of those seated around me took the time to speak to me. The pastor is Dr. Mike Turner and he did a good job presenting the message. He had a great introduction and the points in the message were relevant and tied to the biblical text. He referenced the military and the war in Iraq several times which is the right thing to do when you're in Jacksonville, NC. The bulletin listed the names of 61 individuals related to the church who are currently deployed! Pastor Turner was friendly and clearly communicated the message. The invitation struck me as formal and primarily an opportunity to join the church. Several came forward to join and those who came for baptism were celebrated as "desiring baptism into the fellowship". Nothing was said of their salvation, their relationship with Christ, their life-change, or potential decision-counseling that they would be receiving. This, of course, is just my impression on this one Sunday. Overall, it was a good experience and I was certainly able to worship. I felt very comfortable with the environment and did not feel out of place in my blue jeans. I did not get my guest slip turned in--the offering was taken in the middle of the service and I had not actually even opened my worship folder at that point. I did fill it out, intending to hand it to a greeter or someone on my way out but I did not see anyone.

you can check out FBC's website here.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Letter from a Marine

I received this heart-stirring letter, from what must be a North Carolina Marine, detailing the experiences of bootcamp. My good friend David Peterson made sure that I received a copy of the letter. It is moving enough that I thought I would share it with you.

Dear Ma and Pa,

I am well. Hope you are. Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer, themarine Corps beats working for old man Chester by a mile. Tell them to join upquick before all of the places are filled. I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed till nearly 6a.m. but I am getting so I like to sleep late. Tell Walt and Elmer all youdo before breakfast is smooth your cot, and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay.Practically nothing. Men got to shave but it is not so bad, there's warm water. Breakfast isstrong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., butkind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food, but tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit by the twocity boys that live on coffee. Their food plus yours holds you until noonwhen you get fed again. It's no wonder these city boys can't walk much. We go on "route marches," which the platoon sergeant says are longwalks to harden us. If he thinks so, it's not my place to tell him different. A "route march" is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the cityguys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks. The country is nice but awful flat The sergeant is like a schoolteacher. He nags a lot. The Captain is like the school board. Majors andcolonels just ride around and frown. They don't bother you none. This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medalsfor shooting. I don't know why. The bulls-eye is near as big as a chipmunkhead and don't move, and it ain't shooting at you like the Higgett boys athome. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don'teven load your own cartridges. They come in boxes. Then we have what they call hand-to-hand combat training. You get to wrestle with them city boys. I have to be real careful though, theybreak real easy. It ain't like fighting with that ole bull at home. I'm about the best they got in this except for that Tug Jordan fromover in Sibley I only beat him once. He joined up the same time as me, butI'm only 5'6" and 130 pounds and he's 6'8" and near 300 pounds dry. Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellersget onto this setup and come stampeding in.

Your loving daughter,


Thursday, September 21, 2006

I'm back at Camp Lejeune

I flew back to Camp Lejeune yesterday and resumed my training today. I've missed a few things that I will need to catch up on. We went out into the woods today to do "land navigation". I didn't have a clue what we were doing. We did successfully traverse the thick underbrush to find 1 of 2 checkpoints. The five chaplains were teamed together for this exercise. We will get another shot at it next week out in the field.

I don't remember if I've shared anything about the four other chaplains that are training with me. There is one other Southern Baptist, one affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, one independent Baptist, and a Roman Catholic Priest. We all are getting along very well as a team and I will miss these friendships when we go our separate ways at the end of training.

Friday, September 15, 2006

My Father-in-law's Homegoing

I received word this afternoon that my father-in-law had passed away. He had been in poor health for sometime. My wife was able to travel to be with him for the final days of his life. We are thankful for that blessing. Tina and her mom filled the hospital room with the sound of their voices singing hymns in his final hours. I will travel tomorrow to be with them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Gas Chamber...

Today, I went to the gas chamber! The chamber itself is a simple block building with a very elementary system of creating gas. Small gas canisters are exposed to heat (burner) and "poof", CS gas begins to fill the room. You can read all about CS gas here. We were transported by 7-ton trucks to the Lejeune gas chamber where we divided into groups of 25. MOPP Gear (like a chemical suit) was distributed and we were given a safety brief. When our turn came, we ran in formation to the gas chamber, put our masks on and entered the chamber single file, lining the four walls of the chamber. We were instructed to make sure that our masks were on correctly and then the training began. Gas was released into the room and the fun began. Even with the mask, I could sense the gas. It was kind of hot (peppery) and my eyes were watering slightly. The back of my neck was burning like a real good sunburn. Once the gas filled the room we instructed to close our eyes, take a deep breath, hold it, and break the seal of the mask allowing gas into our mask. Maybe 10 seconds later we were allowed to clear our masks and breath again. Clearing the mask is a simple step of opening a vent in the mask and blowing air out. You then reseal the mask and continue breathing. My eyes watered a little more and my nose began to run. Next, we took our masks off entirely for about 10 seconds and put them back on again. I was tempted to panic not knowing how long I would have to hold my breath but it went pretty quick. I struggled to get my mask on again and sucked in a little gas but was able to get my mask sealed and cleared it a few times and was still ok (eyes burning quite a bit and nose running a lot). Finally, the door was opened and we were told to file out single file like we came in. One difference--we were instructed to take off our masks, open our eyes, and breath in the gas before we left. I couldn't get out quick enough. Back outside, I could hardly keep my eyes open and my nose was running like water. It took about five minutes and then I was pretty much ok. it wasn't fun--but it was a great experience!

Monday, September 11, 2006

I've never been this dirty before...

I've been pretty dirty at various times in my life but nothing like today! I did two different obstacle courses today. Both of them involved stinky swamp water, mud, and me right in the middle. I was up early again today, as is my custom, and was in formation by 6:00am. We marched two miles to the "Litter O Course". This is a series of obstacles that a team of four converses while carrying a litter (gurney) containing a 175 pound medical dummy. The course begins mildly enough with some small waist-high walls to climb over. It quickly becomes a series of water obtacles that involes crawling through mud, swimming through stagnant swamp water, and climbing muddy embankments. All of this while keeping a 175 pound dummy safely out of the water. I was absolutely exhausted while at the same time soaked and saturted with mud and muck. The second course was just as challenging only without the litter and the dummy. There was just as much muddy water! I couldn't take my camera along but here is a picture that sort of represents the idea.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Little Bit of History...

I received a deep love for history from my mother and my grandmother. I love to see and experience historical sites. I find myself in the middle of Camp Lejeune's rich history. In September of 1941, the 1st Marine Division set up camp in the middle of a sandy pine forest along the Atlantic coast of North Carolina. Lejeune now encompasses 246 square miles of Marine training ground. It's huge!

I am doing my training at one of many smaller camps that make up the Lejeune complex. Camp Johnson or Montford Point, was begun in 1941 as the primary Marine boot camp for black marines. The nations military was still segregated at that time and would remain so for another decade.

More than 10,000 students are trained at the various schools that are located at Camp Johnson each year--of which I am one.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Tribute to My Bride

It was 21 years ago today that Tina and I stood at the altar of the Woodland Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee and pledged our lives to each other. Without hesitation I would do it again a thousand times! My wife is stunning in her beauty and endless in her talent. She is far more than I deserve and I glory in the grace that has allowed us to share a life together. We are partners in life, partners in parenting, and partners in ministry. Tina is the wife of my youth and the love of my life! 21 is just the beginning!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Marine Corps Leadership Traits

The Marine Corps has identified fourteen leadership traits that they wish to develop within Marines.
  • Justice--to administer rewards & punishments impartially and consistently.
  • Judgment--to make sound decisions based on the known facts.
  • Dependability--to properly perform according to expectations.
  • Initiative--to take action in the absence of orders.
  • Decisiveness--to make prompt decisions with confidence.
  • Tact--to deal with others in a way that avoids offense.
  • Integrity--to demonstrate upright character.
  • Enthusiasm--to perform duty with sincerity and exuberance.
  • Bearing--to create a favorable impression in appearance and conduct.
  • Unselfishness--to deny one's own personal advancement and comfort.
  • Courage--to calmly proceed in the face of danger or criticism.
  • Knowledge--to maintain proficiency in the scope of one's understanding.
  • Loyalty--to remain faithful to country, corps, unit, seniors, subordinates, and peers.
  • Endurance--to maintain physical and mental stamina never quitting.

The church would do well to encourage these same standards. Most of the problems that churches and denominations experience could be eliminated with just a little Marine Corps training.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Worship at Blue Creek Baptist Church

I worshipped at Blue Creek Baptist Church this morning. I located Blue Creek on the internet and chose to worship there because it was the first Baptist church listed and they have a very nice website. You can view it here. I pulled into the parking lot about twenty minutes early (I have a hard time showing up on time). I waited just a few minutes and then made way across the parking lot to the open door. I noticed "visitor parking" places were available right up front. There were plenty of other spaces available and so I bypassed the "special" parking. No one was outside yet and so I made my way in and began looking around a bit. Without too much trouble, I found the worship center and found a good seat. There were a few people already seated and several folks came over and introduced themselves to me. I found the church to be extremely friendly. More than one person came over and began to converse with me as well as others who just said, "hello". Blue Creek has a very nice facility and it is very comfortable. My first impression was good and I'm sure that had I come in closer to ontime I would have been greeted outside as well.

The worship service was a classic traditional/contemporary blend. The style was traditional with clear breaks between every song. The hymns were sung with piano only. The contemporary selections featured the full band (They were very good). I'm not sure why the band did not play on the hymns...perhaps an attempt not to offend "hymn purists". The congregation did not really sing out as a whole and seemed more in the observing mode. Overall, it was pretty well done and I had no problem worshipping God. They used overhead projection for the song lyrics and announcements. The screen disappeared for the sermon.

Pastor Terry Hinson is a very good communicator. He spoke from John 5:16-20. The sermon was based on Henry Blackaby's, Experiencing God. Pastor Hinson is working through the 7 Realities of Experiencing God and was speaking on Reality 3--"God invites you to join Him in what He is doing". It was an excellent message!

I felt very uncomfortable twice during the service. Early on, the church had a time of greeting. I was asked to remain seated as a guest while everyone else stood to look at me. All churches should do away with this form of guest torture. I hate looking at everyone's "eye-level" behinds while they look around for these strange aliens called, "visitors". The other moment of discomfort was at the conclusion of the service when the pastor took the guest cards and read the names of the guests and asked for a hand to be raised in response. I understand the purpose--I just don't like being singled out in that fashion.

Overall--Blue Creek is a great church with their eye on the ball! They have some very innovative ministries designed to reach their community for Christ.

"For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel" (John 5:20).

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Here's What I'm Learning...

In addition to the physical training that I'm experiencing, there is a whole lot of academic instruction going on as well. Here are the classes that I have taken so far:

Marine Corps History and Traditions
Organizational Structure/Chain of Command
Principles of Marine Corps Leadership
Ministry in Military Operations Other Than War
Develop and Implement a Command Religious Program
Facilitate Ministry in Combat
Law of Armed Conflict/Ministry to Enemy Prisoners of War
Mortuary Affairs
Prepare Area Religious Brief for Commander
Pastoral Care to Casualty with Combat Stress

I am tested once a week on the content of the instruction and so quite a bit of study time is required. I'll go into detail on the content of some of the classes in the future.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I got soaked today (twice)

Today was an interesting day of training. Of course, it began early as I've grown to expect. I had my very first written exam this morning at 6:00am. I scored 93% (thank you very much!). We had a "Group Ability Run" later in the morning after the sun had risen. The run involved all four platoons that are involved in various types of training at the Field Medical Services School of which I am also a student. I chose to run with the "medium" group which turned out to be a good choice. I ran well and finished among the front of the pack. That's where the fun begins. The 4th Platoon (of which I'm now apart) has a nasty habit of finishing the run with lots (and lots) of exercises. In the midst of that--Ernesto chose to start dropping huge quantities of rain upon us. So...there I was...exercising in the mud absolutely soaked. Later in the day we went outside to do pull-ups (in the rain, of course). For the second time in the day I was soaked. The way it works is that you do as many pull-ups as you can and then someone holds your feet to help you do a few more. I did the three that I can do and then began to receive my obligatory help. I chose, at that point, to let go with one hand and do two more pull-ups (assisted) with one hand. The surrounding troops roared with laughter and applause (always the ham).

Just so you know that I'm not suffering too much. My room is pretty nice. It's somewhat like a motel room in that I have maid service every day (no more making my bed). I have cable tv and wireless internet. I share a bathroom and a kitchenette with another chaplain. It's actually pretty nice. I'll get the camera out this weekend and upload some pictures.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

LeJeune - Day 1

0400: Alarm goes off. (That's 2am Windsor time)
0405: Secondary alarm (cell phone) sounds.
0410: Third and final alarm (watch) chirps.
0415: Shower & Shave
0425: Get Dressed (khaki uniform)
0430: Buff shoes and reinspect uniform for flaws.
0440: Watch Fox News.
0445: Head out to find "Chow" Hall (still very dark outside, hot & humid).
0500: Eat Breakfast.
0530: Search for correct school building.
0600: Begin school (Meet staff and lots of administrative paper work).
0900: Navy PRT (Physical Readiness Test) 1.5 mile run, push-ups, sit-ups. (finish first among five chaplains--under 12 minutes for run...)

The rest of the day was filled with classes and receiving equipment. I have a full pack (too many items to tell you about at this point) that I will get to carry around on several long hikes.

I finished the day about 4:00pm, grapped a quick nap, and joined my fellow chaplains for dinner. I prepped my uniform for the next day and was asleep by 9pm....

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Camp LeJeune -- Travel Day

Let me just that I'm tired! I arrived into Jacksonville, NC last night at about 7:30pm. I picked up my rental car that the Navy provides (Kia Spectra) and headed for the base. It's a big base! I had to pick up a vehicle pass at the Main Gate and then head back to the section of Camp LeJeune where I'm training (Camp Johnson). I had trouble locating the quarters where I'm staying and the location of the key to my room. Let's just say that I was finally in my room by 8:30pm unpacking and preparing my uniform for the next day's adventure. I went to sleep early (9:00pm) knowing that the first morning of training would come early (6:00). That's 4:00 Windsor time!!! More to come...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

1/2 Million SBC $ Headed to Lebanon/Israel

A recent Baptist Press article describes the enormous amount of aid that Southern Baptists are pouring into the war ravaged areas of Lebanon and Israel. The following are a few notable quotes from the BP article.

"So far, Baptist partners in both nations have distributed $100,000 worth of supplies –- food, water, temporary latrines and showers, medicine and cleaning supplies -– to people displaced by the fighting. 'We never show any kind of favoritism,' a Southern Baptist relief consultant said. 'We’re distributing aid to anyone who has need, regardless of their faith.' An additional $250,000 has been earmarked to provide more of the same, as well as blankets and portable heaters for the region’s rapidly approaching winter. Food supplies are especially critical, which is why Southern Baptists also have purchased more than 250,000 cans of tuna fish. High in protein, tuna was an obvious choice because it’s already part of the Middle Eastern diet, the consultant said. The cans are slated to be shipped to Lebanon before the end of October."

"At a cost of $300,000, the tuna bumps the total amount of Southern Baptist aid to those affected by the conflict to $650,000, making it this year’s second-largest relief project."

“The main difference between other aid work and ours is that we’re not only there to provide assistance, but also to walk side by side with them, developing personal relationships while listening to them and ministering to their physical, emotional and spiritual pain.”

“I had a lot of anger directed at me because I was an American,” a Christian medical worker said. “But after you would allow them to vent for two minutes, it was very easy to say, ‘I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, I am His servant, and I am commanded to love you.’ And immediately they would say, ‘Welcome -– let us drink tea together.’ It’s easy to reverse their opinion.”

You can read the entire article here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I'll be blogging from Camp LeJeune

I'll be flying to North Carolina on Monday to receive some training with the Marine Corp. I intend to keep a blog journal of how it goes. I should be able to describe my activities every day. I have been getting back in training shape over the past few months and I think that I am ready to go. My biggest hurdle to clear was in the area of pull-ups. We don't have to do them in the Navy but they are required in the Marine Corp. I only need to do three. The problem is that a few months ago, I couldn't do any. I'm pleased to report that last night I did four. I'm running three and one half miles in under thirty minutes as required. My sit-ups and push-ups are just fine. My training will be a combination of Physical training, Classroom instruction, and Field Exercises. I'll return home as a lean, mean, praying machine!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

USS New York built with steel from WTC

Here is something to be proud of! The USS New York is expected to launch in mid-2007. What makes this Navy vessel special is that is has been built utilyzing 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center. According to Associated Press, "USS New York is the fifth in a new class of warship designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft. " The steel from the WTC was used in the bow of the ship. AP reports, "Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, La., to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept. 9, 2003, 'those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence,' recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. 'It was a spiritual moment for everybody there.' Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the 'hair on my neck stood up.'"

The USS New York's motto? --Never Forget!

You can read the AP story here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Colorado Honored for Church Planting

The Colorado Baptist General Convention has been honored by the North American Mission Board as one of fifteen conventions who have led the nation in church plants over the past six years. Colorado ranks 7th in the number of new church plants and ranks 2nd in the percentage of new church plants. You can read more about it here.

You will also want to take the time to watch the video at the CBGC website. We are beginning emphasis on our state mission offering and the video features one of the recipients of these funds. Around half of our churches in Colorado are small enough to have bivocational pastors. These men are heroes who do an amazing job in serving churches while holding down a full-time job somewhere else. The video features a church of less than 100 attenders with a bivocational pastor who have managed to put together a health clinic in their community. It's simply amazing! Watch the video at the CBGC website here. It's my honor to be able to serve on the Program Committee of our state convention's Executive Board which gives me some influence into where our state mission funds are distributed. I can honestly tell you that your offerings to the Nicy Murphy Offering in Colorado are very well spent.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The "S" in "Blessing" (part 1)

The "S" in "Blessing" is SALVATION! The believer who is properly using their spiritual gifts will be seeking to save as many as possible. In fact, spiritual reproduction will be a natural byproduct of the believer's everyday life. 1 Corinthians 14:20-25 contrasts the results that one would naturally get from the exercise of tongues and the excercise of prophecy within the worshipping body of the gathered church.

Paul begins with an strong admonition to be mature in thinking. "Brethren, do not be children in your thinking . . . be mature" (v20). The text literally says to be perfect (mature) in your understanding (thinking). The admonition is needed because the Corinthians saw their giftings as an indication of their spirituality. Those who had the more obvious and flamboyant gifts (tongues) were considered to be the most spiritual. We make the same mistake when we spiritually elevate teachers and pastors simply because of their giftedness. As we will see, gifts are not proof of spirituality--but rather the sign of true spirituality is the ability to reproduce new believers. To be mature in thinking means to think like Christ thought (Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus constantly spoke of the Kingdom of God as ever-expanding (reproducing). Just look at the kingdom parables for many examples.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Just a couple of things to share today....

I have officially become "old" today. I dropped of my oldest son for his first day of High School this morning. I walked him in, brushing past the goth kids dressed in black (what have I done?), got in a quick, "See ya later", and watched him disappear down the crowded hallway. Minutes later I walked my youngest son to his homeroom for his first day of Middle School.

If you like "Christian" satire....try

If you like church signs....try

If you like world champion football here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Who are you and where are you from?

I thought it might be fun (certainly interesting) to find out who is reading the blog. Somewhere between 15-20 of you stop by and check-out the post each day. Would you be so kind as to introduce yourself? Feel free to use an alias if you are needing to protect your privacy. Just share a little bit about who you are, where you are from, and what you do. I can't wait to hear from you.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The "E" in Blessing

The "E" in "blessing" stands for "Equip". A definition that is perhaps oversimplied would simply be "putting on equipment". When you equip someone you give them needed equipment.

My 9th grade son is playing football (actually he has been running a lot) and the season has yet to begin...just daily workouts in preparation. His equipment has consisted of shorts, a t-shirt, and his cleats, which are really all that he needs for conditioning drills and exercises. However, this past Friday he received an alotment of equipent consisting of pads, a helmet, a practice jersey, a game jersey, etc.--equipment that he will need to seriously play the game. Come Monday, the team will start hitting and playing more aggressively. A well-equipped player need not fear injury. With equipment on, the players will practce a little harder, run a little harder, and hit a little harder!

Likewise, a well-equipped church member need not fear injury. They can serve a little harder and certainly hit a little harder.

1 Corinthians 14:13-19 includes an inventory of equipment that we need to be passing out to each other. The discussion is wrapped in the vocabulary of tongues-speaking but certainly has application for those of us who do not possess the gift. The context is the gathered assembly of worshippers and so these are pieces of equipment that each of us should be seeking to distribute every time the church gathers together.

5 Pieces of Equipment that someone needs from you today:
  1. Prayer (v13-15)--Whether we are praying "in the Spirit" or "with our mind" our prayers are to benefit those around us. In the assembly we should be ministering through prayer constantly. The translation of the prayer offered in the spirit is important so that we can become involved in the lives of those for whom we are praying. Don't leave the worship service without lifting someone up in prayer. It's equipment that they need in order to hit harder. Take the effort to physically lay hands upon someone and vocally bless them through prayer.
  2. Singing (v15)--In the same way our singing is to benefit those around us. Sing loud, sing passionately, sing your praise unto the Lord! Someone in the worship service needs to hear you sing! Equip them!
  3. Thanksgiving (v16-17)--The Greek word for "bless" in the text is "eulogeo" (not sure if that is the right transliteration). It sounds a little like "eulogy" and carries the same meaning--"to speak well of". Our testimonies of thanksgiving both bring honor to God and bring encouragement to our fellw worshippers. The moment we pass out of a trial someone around us is perhaps entering into a similar trial. We can equip them to pass through the fire by sharing how we have overcome. Never hesitate to brag on God! God has placed someone around you who needs to hear your story. Equip them!
  4. Affirming (v16)--The text mentions the importance of "the Amen" in worship. We need to be quick to affirm truth when we hear and to affirm each other when God works within us. Every time you recognize God's activity--let our a hearty "AMEN"! It's equipment that someone around you needs to hear!
  5. Teaching (v18-19)--Finally we need to be teaching each other. The older women need to be guiding the younger women and older men need to be guiding the younger men. The cancer survivors need to be walking with the cancer sufferers. Empty nesters need to be spending time sharing their wisdom with new parents. Every one of us should have a person who is speaking into our lives and another person into whose life we are speaking. Teach! Mentor! Speak into someone's life! Equip them!

Let me challenge you today to be looking for someone that you can equip! They're already looking for you!

Friday, August 11, 2006

My Top Ten Favorite Blogs...

I thought I would pass on links to some of my favorite SBC blogs. I tend to take a peek at these just about every day. There are several others whose content I peruse each day, but these are my favorites (in no particular order).

#1 Grace and Truth to You,
#2 SBC Outpost,
#3 12 Witnesses,
#4 Baptist Blogger,
#5 Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee,
#6 Caught in the Middle,
#7 Coffeespoons,
#8 Purgatorio,
#9 The Arkansas Razorbaptist,
#10 OK Preacher's Christian Resource Center,

Please share your favorites. I hate the thought that I might be missing out on something really good.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Criticism vs Intercession

"When we discern that people are not going on spiritually and allow the discernment to turn to criticism, we block our way to God. God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede".

--Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The "L" in Blessing

1 Corinthians 14 gives clear direction for the proper use of spiritual gifts within the church. The gifts are meant to be a blessing to the church. Whenever we gather together as an assembly, we have at least two main purposes: to glorify God, and to bless someone in the body. Chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians describes the nature of the church--a living body made up of diverse parts. Chapter 13 describes the essence of the church--sacrificial love. Chapter 14 describes the interaction of the church--mutual blessing.

The "L" in "Blessing" is language. In order to be a blessing to the gathered church, we must speak in a language that can be understood.

"But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?" (1 Cor. 14:6). Paul is not saying that tongues are bad...he has just stated through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that, "I wish that you all spoke in tongues" (v5). What he is saying is that the gift of tongues is a lesser gift because is does not easily build up the church. It is not easily understood! It would be better to speak one of the other speech gifts so that you will be understood and that the church would be edified.

Three illustrations follow:
  1. A song will not be recognized if a musical instrument is played skillfully (v7).
  2. Battle commands will not be underestood if a bugle is not played skillfully (v8).
  3. Human languages will not be understood if we are not trained to interpret them (v10-11).

All three of these illustrations support the point that sound is not necessarily helpful if it is not understood by the hearer. The application is obvious! Are you being understood? Are you speaking in a way that communicates clearly?

"So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church" (1 Cor. 14:12). There is nothing wrong with being zealous for spiritual gifts, in fact it is commanded in verse one, "Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts . . . " What we need to do is desire and seek to add to our lives the gifts that build up the body. Look for ways to bless somebody! Speak in a language that can be understood!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Me and Dr. Blackaby...

Amazing! For the second time in my life I have been given the honor of appearing immediately before Henry Blackaby! Yesterday, I referred you to Okpreacher's blog where my answers to "7 Questions" were published. This morning, as I was reading through the blogs that I monitor each day, I made my way to Okpreacher's site and, low and behold, there he was....Henry Blackaby answering "7 Questions"! I "paged-down" and sure enough, there I was, appearing right before Dr. Blackaby. In fact, if you look carefully, I think you will see that my picture is actually a little larger than Henry's picture. At least my head is bigger (feel free to laugh). You can see it for yourself by clicking here.

Now as I said, this is the second time that I've spoken immediately before Dr. Blackaby. I have to go back a few years to tell you about the first time. I was in my final year at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth and my turn had come to preach in "preaching lab". This is a high-pressure situation where your fellow students, as well as your preaching professor, grade your ability to write and present a biblical message. Once you conclude your message, the students are all allowed to take critical "pot-shots" at you and many choose to take full adavantage of their opportunity to share their gift of discouragement. The professor speaks last and, of course, has the final word. I survived the volly of questions and successfully fended off the lame criticisms of my almost perfect presentation. I would proudly receive an A for my efforts!

Leaving the preaching lab, I made my way down to the chapel (as was my custom) to hear the day's speaker. That's when it happened--he was announced--"Please give a warm Southwestern welcome to Dr. Henry Blackaby". It took only a brief moment for my mind to realize the honor that had just been bestowed upon me...yes I, Dave Samples, had just spoken immediately before Henry Blackaby. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

In humble recognition of this honor, I know proudly provide a link to Dr. Henry Blackaby's website for your convenience. Click here. I'm sure it will only be a short time before Dr. Blackaby returns the favor....

Monday, August 07, 2006

I'm answering "7 Questions" today

I want to refer you today to a fellow blogger who has honored me with a brief interview that he calls "7 Questions". You can find it here. If you look back through his archives you will find several notables who have also answered "7 Questions" including Frank Page, Ronnie Floyd, Paige Patterson, Morris Chapman, and others.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The "B" in Blessing

We are "blessed" to be a "blessing". You've heard the phrase, but in truth it is more than just something you might read in Reader's Digest. Our role as blesser is solidly biblical! 1 Corinthians 14 details eight aspects of being a "Blessing". Let's begin with the first of eight: "B". Whoever would be a blessing to the church would be first and foremost a "B"-UILDER!

"Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts . . . " (v1). Both of these verbs in the Greek text are imperatives meaning that this is more than just a suggestion--it is a command! You must pursue (continually hunt) love! At the same time, you must desire earnestly (strive for) spiritual gifts! Love is pursued by hunting for God. "We love because He first loved us". "The fruit of the Spirit is love . . ." Paul devotes a whole chapter (13) to defining the sacrificial aspects of love that can only be developed through an intimate relationship with the Father. We are clearly to be pursuing spiritual gifts with the same energy that we are devoting to pursuing love. Both are important! What is the purpose of love?--to build up the Body of Christ! What is the purpose of giftings?--to build up the Body of Christ!

Verses 2-5 compares and contrasts the gift of prophecy with the gift of tongues. The purpose of the comparison is to elevate prophesy as a superior gift. In the process of comparison the primary purpose of the gifts is made clear for us. The point is not to diminish or put down tongues but rather to elevate prophecy. In other words, prophecy is much easier gift to build up the Body with.

5 Biblical Statements on the Gift of Tongues:
  1. "For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God" (v2). Tongues is inferior because only God understands the message. Men do not understand and the church is not edified as well as if the message is clearly understood by everyone in the assembly. Note that the tongue in which he is referring cannot be the foreign languages of Pentecost. Those pentecostal tongues were certainly spoken to men for their edification.
  2. " his spirit he speaks mysteries" (v2). Compare this with Romans 8:26-28. Again, tongues is inferior in the assembly because it's mysterious--not easily understood.
  3. "One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself" (v4). It's not a bad thing to "edify yourself"--it's just not helpful to the gathered church. There is a certain amount of "self-edification" in all of the gifts.
  4. "I wish you all spoke in tongues" (v5). Now here is where we have to remind ourselves about the inspiration of the Scriptures. This is not Paul's opinion! This is not even Paul's voice--it is the "God-breathed" Word. God says, "I wish you all spoke in tongues!". Tongues is not bad--it's a gift and God gives good gifts! Though tongues is inferior to prophecy--it is still a gift of God. Let us never dismiss what God desires to place in us as bad or unneccessary. Let us trust that God knows what he is doing. As a side, let me also declare that God has not chosen to gift me with tongues but I do know several wonderful godly people who possess the gift.
  5. "Greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying" (v5). The point is to speak something that will build up the church. In the assembly--use the gift of tongues quietly in your heart. If God gives you the interpretation--then share that with the Body that they may be built up!

8 Biblical Statements on the Gift of Prophecy:

  1. "...desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially tht you may prophesy" (v1). Strive to speak for God. Desire to be his ambassador!
  2. "But one who prophesies speaks to men" (v3). Prophecy is superior gift because it allows for the clear communication of God's thoughts and desires to the church.
  3. "...for edification" (v3). It builds up the church. Note that it's not truly prophetic if it tears down.
  4. "...and exhortation" (v3). It encourages the church. Note that it's not truly prophetic if it discourages.
  5. "and consolation" (v3). The idea is to comfort and motivate. It's not truly prophetic if it pushes people away. God's word is always redemptive in nature!
  6. " who prophesies edifies the church" (v4). It's all about building up!
  7. "Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy" (v5). Again, God's desire is that we would all be His spokesmen. According to the Authoritative Word, God wants you to be a prophetic voice.
  8. "Greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues" (v5). If I offered you a brand new tv set, would you choose a small portable black and white or would you choose the plasma big-screen? Ask God to give you a prophetic voice that you might build up the Body of Christ.

Whatever your gift--use it to build of the Body of Christ! Build with your singing! Build with your serving! Build with your giving! Build with your speaking! Whatever you do--BUILD!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The 10 Commandments on Your Fingers!

Many years a go, I saw a really creative memory tool for remembering the Ten Commandments. I saw this on a placement and I wish that I was creative enough to reproduce it for you. I've used it hundreds of times to help teach the ten commandments.
#1--Worship only God...Hold one index finger up signifying that there is only one God.
#2--Don't make idols...Hold up two fingers and make a scissors cutting
action with them.
#3--Don't take the Lord's name in vain. Hold three fingers up to
make a "W". Watch your Words!
#4--Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Hold up four
fingers. This is 4 people in a car with 4 tires on their way to
#5--Honor your mother and father. Make a salute with you whold hand
(5 fingers).
#6--Don't murder. Aim one finger (like a gun) at the 5 on the other
hand and say "bang".
#7--Don't commit adultery. Hold up five fingers. The hand with
only two fingers up represents a "V" for virgin.
#8--Don't Steal. Hold up eight fingers. One hand will only have
three fingers up. In the old days they used to cut off a thief's
fingers. This thief got caught twice.
#9--Don't Bear False Witness. Hold up 9 fingers. Only one is
down. It's 9 against 1. Who is telling the truth?
#10--Don't covet. Hold up all ten fingers and make a grabbing

That's the Ten Commandments on your fingers!

Monday, July 31, 2006

How to Be a Blessing!

God got it right when He gave us specific principles for interacting with each other. 1 Corinthians 12-14 is a is an awesome "how to do it" manual for service within the church. Chapter 12 describes the organizational make-up of the church. The church is not an organization but rather a living organism with a variety of diverse parts each uniquely and intentionally placed within the Body by God Himself. Chapter 13 describes the manner in which the church operates--through sacrificial love. Chapter 14 then is a detailed summary of how this living organism known as the Church can function in unity in spite of its diversity.

How can you be a blessing to those with whom you relate? 1 Corinthians 14 can be broken down in the folowing outline:

B-uild (v1-5) We are a blessing when we build up other people!
L-anguage (v6-12) We are a blessing when we speak in such a way as to be heard!
E-quip (v13-19) We are a blessing when we allow others to participate!
S-eek (v20-25) We are a blessing when we draw the lost to Christ!
S-elf Control (v26-33) We are a blessing when we can humbly restrain our service!
I-mpropriety...avoid it! (v34-36) We are a blessing when we are not an embarrassment!
N-otice Truth (v37-38) We are a blessing when we can recognize true authority!
G-it-er-done (v39-40) We are a blessing when we allow God to work through us!

Over the next several weeks...we will focus on each one of these ingredients of "Blessing" taken from 1 Corinthians 14.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Evacuated From Lebanon...

Marty Duren of shares an interview with a friend of his that was recently evacuated out of Lebanon. This friend was doing some mission work and shares some interesting aspects of the evacuation as well as insight into the Christian Church in Lebanon. You can read the brief interview here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Upcoming Marine Training . . .

I will be in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in September for Marine Expeditionary training as part of my duties as a Reserve Chaplain in the Navy. I found an excellent article that describes the training that you can read here.

Six Miraculous Years!

July 23rd marked my 6th anniversary at Cornerstone! This has been an amazing ride! God has really blessed our church. Here are just a few indicators of God's activity at Cornerstone:
  • There were just 45 worshippers on my first Sunday back in 2000. We are now averaging almost 300. That's a 567% increase!
  • 259 New Members have joined our fellowship in the past six years!
  • 92 people have been baptized and 69% of those baptisms have been adults!
  • A new Children's Building has been built!
  • 2 Staff Members have been added: Youth Pastor & Children's Minister
  • Budget income for my first quarter at Cornerstone totalled $15,722. Our most recent quarter totalled $66,556. That's a 323% increase in giving in six years!
  • We have grown from 3 active Deacons in 2000 to 11 this year!

Praise God for His wonderful works!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Spiritual Gifts are for Right Now!

The Apostle Paul defines the motive for spiritual service throughout 1 Corinthians 12-14. He defines the church as an interconnected body of many parts or members. Each is unique, each is gifted, and each is essential! Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians addresses the motive for service with our unique giftings. Paul says that the only acceptable and worthwhile motive is sacrificial love. It doesn't matter how good a communicator you are (v1), how smart you are (v2), or even how much you sacrifice (v3). If agape love is missing--your service is of no use to God or anyone else! He goes on to clearly define love in verses 4-7. Don't dismiss this revealed high standard too quickly as out of reach or beyond you! God expects and demands this manner of service from His servants. The impossibility of the standard IS MADE POSSIBLE through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Remember, the fruit of the Spirit is first of all, LOVE. Jesus, himself said that we can love because God has first loved us! Your motive in service (love or something far less) is a clear indicator of the vitality of your relationship to God. No Love--No God! Know God--Know Love!

Paul's next point related to Spiritual Gifts is revealed in verses 8-13, Spiritual Gifts are for this life only! Only love lasts into the next life! Spiritual gifts will not be needed in Heaven. The gifts that we have been given only give us partial knowledge, partial understanding, partial power. "But when the PERFECT comes, the partial will be done away" (v10). What is the coming "Perfect"? It can only be Jesus Christ! Nothing else fits the definition. Paul goes on to say that when the Perfect comes we will see clearly, face to face, we will know fully even as we are fully known (v12). Only when Jesus returns will this happen! The canon of Scripture has not allowed me to know fully. It has not allowed me to see clearly. I find myself still looking through a dim mirror (literally polished bronze) trying to make out the image of God. That's why there are so many different "Bible-believing" denominations. We don't all see the same thing--we easily misinterpret what we dimly see. Paul's point is that we should spend our time investing in love--investing in our relationship with God. The skills I hone are not going to last--only love lasts forever!

"But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love" (v13). Why is love greater? Because of the three, only love lasts into Heaven! Faith is for now--not then! Faith is the evidence of things we cannot see. What use is faith when we can see all things? Hope is for now--not then! What use is hope when there is no pain or tragedy? Let me challenge you to invest in love! Spend hours alone in the presence of God receiving His love and receiving His Holy Spirit. If you spend enough time with Jesus--you'll start acting like Him!! Then, and only then, will your service be of value.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tina Samples Makes the News!

There is a great article in the current issue of the Rocky Mountain Baptist describing some of the work that my wife Tina has done with hospice. In addition to being our Worship Minister at Cornerstone, Tina is a Music Therapist. Thanks to Claudine Boatman for taking the time to interview Tina and to get the story out. You can read it here.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I had lunch with the President today . . . sort of

As many of you know, I am a Navy Reserve Chaplain proudly serving my country two days a month and two weeks a year in our nation's military. I am a part of a MEFREL unit which is "Navy talk" for Marine Expeditionary Force Religious support unit. That's right--I'm a Marine Chaplain! Anyway I was doing my weekend duty today when my fellow chaplains and I decided to head to chow. We were nearly to the Dining Hall when we found ourselves face to face with an armed patrol who motioned for us to halt. Moments later dozens of police motorcycles with lights flashing zoomed past us followed by a caravan of suburbans. Then . . . there he was . . . just 40 yards away. . . the President of the United States . . . cruising by at 50 mph. I could make out his profile through the bullet proof glass as he drove by and I managed to snap a quick picture on my Nokia cellphone. If I can figure out how to get the picture from my cellphone to my computer, then I will post it here.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The More Excellent Way . . .

Paul promises in 1 Corinthians 12:31 to show us a, "more excellent way" to serve the Body of Christ using our Spirit-given gifts. The "more excellent way" is defined in Chapter 13 as sacrificial "agape" love. Paul says that we can have the greatest of speaking gifts (v1), the greatest of wisdom gifts (v2), and even use our gifts in a way that involves much sacrifice (v3)--yet, if we are not motivated by agape--it's all meaningless! Our spiritually-gifted service must sail on an ocean of love to be of any value to God. And lest we redefine love to meet our selfish ends--God provides the definition for us in verses 4-7. Replace the word "love" with "Jesus" and the paragraph makes perfect sense. But replace the word "love" with "Dave" and it quickly becomes a joke. Why are we so far from Jesus example of service? Here's the answer--we are not truly filled (saturated, baptized, immersed, flooded, overwhelmed) with the Holy Spirit. Most of us are still serving in our limited power and we get what we can produce--not what God intends to give. The Scripture says, "We love because He first loved us". Have we really received the love of God? God promises, "The fruit of the Spirit is love . . . " Have we really received the Holy Spirit of God? According to the authoritative Word of God, here is what true Spirit-powered service looks like:

It is patient.
It is kind.
It is not jealous.
It does not brag.
It is not arrogant.
It does not act unbecomingly.
It does not seek its own.
It is not provoked.
It does not take into account a wrong suffered.
it does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
It rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things.
It believes all things.
It hopes all things.
It endures all things.

I don't think that any of us will have to look very far to find gross shortcoming in our own service to God. How different would our churches be if we served in the Spirit instead of the flesh? How different would our families be if we served in the Spirit rather than the flesh? How different would our denomination be if we served in the Spirit instead of in the flesh? We must repent of our self-sufficiency and seek God for nothing less than total Spirit saturation.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Various thoughts . . .

We had the most incredible family of bluegrass musicians in our church this morning that I have ever heard. The Bost Family Traditions came to us out of Arizona and were amazing. I have hosted a lot of "singing groups" in my day but The Bost Family is truly something special. You can check out there website here. It's rare that I would promote a group but let me encourage you to invite this family to come sing and play at your church. You will not be disappointed! They are really good!

The conflict in the Middle East has become noteworthy for the entire world. Israel claims that Iran and Syria are supporting the Hezbollah terrorists. Newt Gingrich says that WWIII has begun. You can read the story in The Seattle Times here. As a result of the conflict, gasoline has surged over $3/gallon here in Windsor.

We're signing petitions in our church to oppose a ballot measure to recognize same-sex civil unions here in Colorado. You can read more about it at
Also the Rocky Mountain News did a story back in April that clarifies the issues. Read it here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Rules of War . . .

The U.S. Supreme Court has recently determined that the "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay must be afforded Geneva Convention protections as "Prisoners of War". You can read about it here.

I know a little something about the rules of war as defined in the Geneva Conventions. I serve our nations' sailors and marines as a Reserve Chaplain in the U.S. Navy. As such I have received quite a bit of training and have beccome quite familiar with the rules of war known as the Geneva Conventions. These Conventions serve a noble purpose. The first Geneva Convention was signed in 1864 to protect the sick and wounded in war time. Since then there have been many treaties agreed to by a variety of parties and three additional Geneva Conventions to try to regulate the behavior of nations at war. The Society of Professional Journalists provide a great online_reference_guide to the conventions that is really easy to navigate. You might want to check it out if you have more interest.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Geneva Conventions is that they clearly define who is covered and who is not covered. According to the SPJ Reference Guide,

"The Geneva Conventions and supplementary protocols make a distinction between combatants and civilians. The two groups must be treated differently by the warring sides and, therefore, combatants must be clearly distinguishable from civilians. Combatants must wear uniforms and carry their weapons openly during military operations and during preparation for them. Combatants who deliberately violate the rules about maintaining a clear separation between combatant and noncombatant groups — and thus endanger the civilian population — are no longer protected by the Geneva Convention.

And so, terrorists who engage in combat but do not wear their nations uniform, are clearly not afforded protections according to the Geneva Conventions. And yet the Supreme Court has now given them that protection in spite of the exclusion that the Geneva Convention so emphatically declares.

More tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It's Been a Bad Day . . .

"It's been a bad day. You've been looking back. And all you can see is everything you wish you could take back. All your mistakes. A world of regrets. All of those moments you would rather forget." --Matthew West, "History"

I really have grown to love Matthew West's music. It passionately speaks to my heart and expresses how I often feel about my own life. My wife, Tina gave me the "History" CD awhile back because she thought the lyrics would really speak to me. As usual she was right on! I could've written these songs (and then I would be on tour instead of writing about my bad day).

Yesterday was one of those devastating days that just never ends. Let me tell you a little bit about it. I got up late and had just enough time to make it to a 7am appointment at the local coffee shop where I was to meet with a really good friend. My friend (still is my friend) has left our church primarily because of the way that I handled an opportunity that his wife placed before me to purchase some insurance products. Evidently, I was a jerk (which I'm quite capable of) and I didn't say "no" quite graciously enough. This meeting was my attempt to save the friendship and ease my guilt (I'm a recovering "people-pleaser" and I feel really crummy (is that a word?) when people are unhappy with me). The meeting went very well and the friendship continues. Of course he shared all about his new church and how wonderful it is. Those of you that are pastors understand that to hear about the new church is like hearing about your spouses new lover. It's a sucker punch to the gut! I walked away from the coffee shop a little after eight feeling absolutely lousy. The friendship is saved--but even today I still feel pain.

The rest of the day was filled with busy appointments and unexpected drop-ins. I heard about some criticism (excuse me..."concerns") that a few individuals in our church are making about some new ventures we're moving forward on. Of course, I'm just hearing rumors--no one would actually come and share with me that they have "concerns". Lunch was skipped to finish work on budget proposals that needed to be submitted to our church Trustees. I found a spare hour sometime during the afternoon when I was actually able to shut the door and let the Father love me for a while. God reminded me in Psalm 78 of his care and for my need to trust Him no matter the circumstances.

Did I mention that we're in the process of moving into a new house? We're about 91% moved which means that I don't really know where I live right now. Now, let me take a moment to share with you how really wonderful my church is. The fact that we're moving is a result of how loving Cornerstone is. After 20+ years in the ministry, I can tell you that there is no greater church on the planet than the church that I'm serving right now! The church has just purchased for us what can only be described as the nicest house that I have ever lived in. I love my church and they obviously love me too! Anyway, I spent some time at the old house about four in the afternoon helping my son look for his baseball uniform only to discover that it is at the new house across town.

I coach my youngest son's baseball team and we have a stellar 1-6 record. The majority of our losses have come by less than 2 points. We're a much better team than our record indicates. Well, you probably can see this one coming . . . after two hours of play we're in the bottom of the last inning defending a two run lead. Yep . . . we lose by one! The boys are crushed! I do my best to pick them back up, afterall, we play again on Thursday. My presence at the game meant my absence at an important Trustee meeting (I sent the youth pastor in my place).

As I'm pulling into my driveway (the new one), my cell phone rings and the youth pastor shares with me that the Trustees are standing in my front yard (the old one) wanting to walk through the house to see what we need to upgrade for the youth pastor to be able to move in. "Could I come over and let them in?" Let me remind you that we are about 91% moved--meaning--the house is a wreck! We have garage sale left-overs still in the garage. The remnants of my boy's last "Clash of the Titans" is still left cluttered in the back yard. Piles of various "throw-aways" vs "keeps" are still scattered throughout the house. My dirty laundry is piled in the basement awaiting closure. Well--so much for pride! Exhausted I head over and show them the house and lay down what's left of my esteem. An hour and a half later I pull into my driveway (the new one) and sit down to my reheated dinner at 9:53pm. I've had a bad day!

And so this morning . . . I am listening to Matthew West sing "It's been a bad day . . . " And with tears on my cheeks and joy in my heart I sing along with Matthew on the chorus, "Yesterday is history. And history is miles away. So, leave it all behind you. But let it always remind you of the day. The day that love made history."

You can check out Matthew West's website and hear some song samples from "History" here.