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.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Are You REAL . . . or just REALLY RELIGIOUS?

Many times what passes for Christianity in today's church is really nothing more than religion. I think that a large number of us who would profess to be Bible-believing conservative evangelicals are attempting to live a Christ-less Christianity. We know the rules, we know the doctrine, we know the language...but we are completely missing Christ! What words come to mind when we think of Jesus as presented in the Scriptures? loving? humble? sacrificial? It seems to me that Jesus lived his life very differently than we do. And He is supposed to be our example? I don't think so! Here's a strong message for each of us that would confess Jesus as Lord (especially pastors and denominational leaders).

Verbal gifts without love (agape) are just noise!

"If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13:1, NLT).

It doesn't matter if we are gifted in heavenly languages or if we know a dozen foreign languages. It doesn't matter if we are the greatest teacher or preacher. It doesn't matter if we can sell a million books or get 10,000 blog hits. What matters is love! Everything that is not said in love is just noise! Criticism of our "enemies" is just noise! Jokes at someone elses expense is just noise! Gossip--noise! Arguments--noise!

Mental gifts without love (agape) are nothing!
"If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody" (1 Corinthians 13:2, NLT).
It doesn't matter if I have the most orthodox and fundamental theology. It doesn't matter if I am always proven right. It doesn't matter if I comprehend deep spiritual truth that no one else every understands. It doesn't even matter if I can draw a crowd, grow a mega-church, or lead the nation's largest evangelical denomination.
Without love it is of no use to God or anyone else! Doctrine without love is legalism! Knowledge without love is arrogance! Faith without love is foolishness! Everything we preach, proclaim, and promise is absolutely worthless...unless clothed in love.

Sacrificial gifts without love (agape) are not worthwhile!

"If a gave everything I have to the poor, and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value whatsoever" (1 Corinthians 13:3, NLT).

It doesn't matter if go to live in a third-world country. It doesn't matter if you're killed by Muslim extremists. It doesn't matter if you get a mission offering named after you. It doesn't matter if you tithe 90% of your income. It doesn't even matter if you lead your church to contribute large sums to the Cooperative Program. Without love it is of absolutely no value!

Take a moment and evaluate your activity through the lens of Jesus' love. How are you doing? Are you REAL? or just REALLY RELIGIOUS?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Dr. Page's Issues

Dr. Frank Page, the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, has posted some "Issues of Importance" at the convention website You can read them here.

I am very encouraged and excited by what Dr. Page lists as "Hopes and Dreams". He says,

"I hope that our Convention has come to the point where honest dialogue is encouraged. I hope we have come to the point where a truly democratic process will be honored. I hope we have come to the point where we realize that we do not own this Convention. I pray that we will repent of our un-Christlike spirit that has been exhibited at times. I pray that we will recommit ourselves to the precious Word of God, to the Spirit of Christ, and to a desire to see this world recognize that the Gospel is relevant and real. I pray that we will involve a much larger number of men and women in leadership. Again, let me be very clear. I am not calling for an end to the conservative resurgence. I am calling for an inclusion of men and women from every size church across this nation who have not served before. Instead of seeing the same names come up over and over, I hope we will continue the work that Dr. Bobby Welch began of including a large number of newer persons (all of whom are godly conservatives) into the process of denominational involvement."


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I won!!!

In an amazing twist of fate, I won the "Wade Burleson Essay Contest". If you don't know, Wade Burleson is a Trustee with the International Mission Board who came to be known because of his blogging of events that were occuring within the IMB Trustee Meetings. Some would go so far as to say that the events surround Wade Burleson and his blog were influential in causing the "inner circle" presidential candidates at this years SBC to be passed over by the messengers in favor of a relatively unknown pastor, Frank Page. A few weeks back, Wade invited the readers of his blog (GraceandTruthtoYou) to write a brief essay on what they would do if they were elected president of the SBC. Here is my winning submission:

"If I were president of the SBC, I would...

#1--Seek to reconcile and rebuild relationships with both the BGCT and the BGAV. How can God truly bless us if we are at odds with our brothers and sisters? (Matthew 5:23-24).

#2--Hold "live satellite" conventions in every state convention allowing a truly representative convention. Wouldn't it be cool if every SBC church was actually represented and voting at the SBC?

#3--Reorganize each of our boards in order to streamline effectiveness and to minimize expense.

#4--Initiate a national ad campaign to proclaim the gospel and the positives of SBC churches. Answer the question: 'What are we for?'"

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Gigantic Asteroid Narrowly Misses Earth!!!

The world survived another day . . . barely. According to UPI, a huge asteroid (about a half mile wide) narrowly missed colliding with the Earth today. The asteroid had the power to wipe out a small country should it have impacted the Earth. Fortunately the asteroid passed some 268,624 miles away (about the distance from the Earth to the moon) and disaster was avoided. I just thought you would like to know . . .

Read the UPI story here