Sunday, April 29, 2007

San Antonio Awakening

I was thrilled to read in Baptist Press that Southern Baptist Convention President, Frank Page, is intending for our 2007 annual meeting in San Antonio to focus on prayer, revival, and spiritual awakening. You can read the entire article here.
The theme of the convention will be: 2 Chronicles 7:14, "... and if My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land". In more ways than not, the SBC meeting is like a church business session on steroids. I am hopeful that Dr. Page's priority on prayer will transform our meeting into something much greater than just doing business. Imagine if messengers from our cooperating churches could actually come together in unity and beg God for transformation in our churches and in our communities. Imagine if business sessions were postponed or deemed unneccessary as groups of men and women became lost in prayer. Imagine if spontaneous songs of praise were to rise up as worship became the order of business. Imagine if we didn't have time to worry about parliamentarians and protocol because our faces were humbly planted on the floor. Imagine if revival ignited and if returning messengers carried the sparks back into their individual churches. Imagine if our meeting in June marked the beginning of a great awakening of our mostly-sleeping SBC churches. Imagine if God actually began to heal our land . . .

Friday, April 27, 2007

What Does a MEMBER Look Like?

I created an acrostic a several years ago that summarizes biblical expectations for church members. Consider it one small step in the process of "equipping the saints for works of service"

MEMBERS of the church....

Meet with God daily
Express worship weekly
Minister diligently
Bring offerings consistently
Equip themselves fully
Reach out faithfully
Sacrifice lovingly

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Why do I talk so much about building the church?

Tonight, during AWANA, one our children approached me with a great question. He asked, "Pastor: why do you talk so much about building the church?" My answer was simple, ". . . because Jesus talked so much about building the church!" Read Jesus and you must conclude that the Kingdom of God is ever-expanding and growing!

Jesus statement to Peter comes to mind first, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:18).

Through the parables, Jesus taught of a growing kingdom. For example: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches." He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough (Matthew 13:31-33). And again, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how (Mark 4:26-27).

I talk so much about building the church because the church is built with the souls of the redeemed. As long as there is still one more person who hasn't found salvation and restoration through Jesus' gospel we must keep building. When is the church big enough?--only when "everyone" has called upon the name of the Lord. Until then, we keep building! It is our purpose! It is our function! It is our life! Rick Warren recently said, “I am addicted to changed lives.” May we all share His addiction!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wiccan Symbol Approved for Grave Markers...

The Wiccan symbol has been approved for use on military grave markers in the nations military cemeteries. The Wiccan Symbol becomes the 39th religious symbol that is approved and available for use by families of deceased military personnel. The various symbols represent the wide spectrum of religious belief in America. There is even a "whirl" that is symbolic of atheism.

Barry Lynn, director of Americans United, called the decision to allow the Wiccan symbol "a proud day for religious freedom in the United States." What do you think?

Associated Baptist Press has an article on the decision to approve the Wiccan symbol here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Joy of Living...

Philippians 1:21-26

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (v21). How many times have we heard this verse quoted as a an admonition to couragiously embrace death? I've often quoted this mantra at funerals in an attempt to make death seem more appealing to those of us who fear it so often. Recently, when I was working through some dark and despairing days, this text came alive to me in a very unexpected way. An enlightening clue to Paul's meaning is hidden in his very next statement:

"but if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me;" (v22). My Greek study revealed an amazing possibility. "Fruitful labor" translated literally would read, "fruit of my labor". Perhaps instead of meaning that his life would continue to produce "good fruit", Paul is saying that his continued life would produce more of this kind of fruit, which is in fact, suffering! Is it possible that Paul is writing out of an emotion of deep despair and pain, and therefore death is very appealing to him? I believe that it is likely. It doesn't mean that Paul is suicidal but it does mean that the pressure of suffering is immense and the release of death is to be preferred.

" . . . and I do not know which to choose." (v22). Note that Paul is not convinced in his mind which course he will choose.

But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake" (v22-24). As Paul comes to grips with his decision, he declares that it would be in his best interest to go on and be with Christ. "Depart" is word picture that envisions untying a boat from the dock. It's not only "better" to is not only "much better" to go...but it is "very much better" to go! And yet, Paul recognizes the necessity of living--not for his benefit but rather for the church.

"Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again" (v25-26). Paul chooses life for two reasons: for the progress of the church, and for the joy of the church!

It is true that for many of us we need to be willing to let go of the enticements of this life and to embrace death. But it is also true that for those who are suffering and dying inside--those who despair of living--there is a call to live! "To live is Christ (suffering) and to die is, of course, much better . . . however, I will choose to remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy".

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Questions for Huckabee?

Tim Ellsworth is going to be interviewing presidential candidate and Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee. He is currently fielding potential questions at his blog Here's your chance to ask Governor Huckaby whatever may be on your mind.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Six Critical Aspects of Pastoral Ministry...

There was a very good article in the January 2006 edition of SBC Life describing the role of the pastor. Roger Willmore, senior pastor of Deerfoot Baptist Church in Trussville, Alabama wrote the article which is an excellent summary of pastoral ministry. I wanted to pass it along to my church and so I thought that I would share it with you here. Willmore quotes from John Piper, David Wiersbe, Erwin Lutzer, Thom Rainer, D.L. Moody, Stephen Olford, and others as he briefly examines six areas of pastoral life. I'll share here a few quotes that hit each of his main ideas. You can link to the article to read the entire thing.

The Pastor's Character: "The New Testament does not give a job description but a charcter reference" (Alec Motyer). "Character issues that demand attention are: personal relationship with Jesus Christ; disciplined personal discipleship; personal holiness; faithfulness and loyalty to wife and family; peaceful temperament; financial responsibility; and biblical and doctrinal soundness" (Roger Willmore). "God is more concerned about who we are than what we do, and if who we are does not please Him, then what we do is virtually useless" (Stephen F. Olford).

The Pastor's Duties: 1. Nourishing Sheep, 2. Protecting Sheep, 3. Seeking Sheep, 4. Sacrificing for Sheep, 5. Knowing Sheep, 6. Model Integrity to Sheep, 7. Managing Sheep, 8. Healing Sheep, 9. Loving Sheep, 10. Leading Sheep, and 11. Uniting Sheep (David W. Wiersbe).

The Pastor's Relationships: "Relationships are chief among all the pastor's duties" (Willmore).

The Pastor's Priorities: "This one thing I do..., not these forty things I dabble in" (D.L. Moody). "Praying is more important than preaching, preaching is more important than administration, the family is more important than the congregation, faithfulness is more important than competition, and love is more important than ability" (Erwin Lutzer).

The Pastor's Example: "Jesus mentions five specific aspects to remember in shpherding: His Sheep, His Voice, His Life, His Hand, and His Father" (John 10, Willmore).

The Pastor's Importance: "Did the pastor and his preaching play a part in your coming to the church?"--97% Yes! "What factors led you to choose this church?"--90% The pastor and his preaching! (Thom Rainer, survey of 353 formerly unchurched people).

Read the entire article in SBC Life here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lost Tomb Scholars Backtrack!

It seems that several of the "scholars" who appeared in "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" are now backing up and changing their testimony. This is not surprising since the scholars who originally discovered the tomb did not feel that there was any connection to the biblical Jesus. According to the Jerusalem Post,
The most startling change of opinion featured in the 16-page paper is that of
University of Toronto statistician Professor Andrey Feuerverger, who stated
those 600 to one odds in the film. Feuerverger now says that these referred to
the probability of a cluster of such names appearing together.
Feuerveger is not alone in his change of mind. The DNA scientist, Dr. Carney Matheson, who supervised DNA testing carried out for the film has concluded that the DNA testing proves absolutely nothing. And what about that creative interpretation that "Mariamne" is the same as "Mary Magdalene"? The Post states,
Professor Francois Bovon, who is quoted in the film as saying the enigmatic
ossuary inscription "Mariamne" is the same woman known as Mary Magdalene - one of the filmmakers' critical arguments - issued a disclaimer stating that he did
not believe that "Mariamne" stood for Mary of Magdalene at all.
So it sounds like the "Lost Tomb of Jesus" has turned out to be nothing more than fanciful imagination!

Read the entire article at the Jerusalem Post here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

First Win!

My youngest son, who is 12, won his first baseball game of the season in the Northern Colorado 12 and under Competitive League. They faced the Fort Collins Muckdogs who embarrassed the team last year with a 20-0 romping. This year was different! Final score....18-13 Windsor Wizards! My son, who is playing his first year in the competitive league, was 1 for 3 with a sacrifice and 3 RBI's. He contributed defensively from left field where he made a couple of crucial outs. The Wizards face Cheyenne on Thursday...

By the way, I missed a Trustee meeting as well as a Decision Counselor follow-up meeting at the church in order to be at the game. Priorities? God, Family, Church . . .

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Harvest!

We had a great day of worship at Cornerstone this morning! We combined our usual three services in one big service at the Windsor High School. It was absolutely wonderful to be worshipping together as one body. In some ways, our church has become like three "small" churches independent of each other. Days like today are very refreshing when we can all come together. We had set an attendance goal of 1000 due in large part to the seating capacity of the High School Auditorium. We fell considerably short of our goal due in part to some cold weather and slick highways to the south. Several families who were planning to drive up from Denver did not make the trip because of the weather. Nonetheless--we had the second highest attendance ever in the history of our church!

Total Attendance: 500

The worship was great this morning with all of our singers and musicians doing their very best. Combining the services allowed us to have more greeters and ushers than normal and we even had a choir. At the conclusion of the message, I led in a public "prayer of salvation" and then invited all of those who had prayed the prayer and who desired a new start with Christ to stand up and come forward.

Public Decisions: 23
  • Professions of Faith: 11
  • Recommitments: 5
  • Miscellaneous: 7
As we concluded the public invitation, those who had come forward were escorted into the hallway to team up with counselors who prayed with each of them and helped to determine why they had come forward and how we as a church can assist them as they move forward in their Christian journey. Those who remained in the auditorium were asked to fill out a decision slip and place it in the offering basket.

Decision Cards:
  • Professions of Faith: 2
  • Recommitments: 40
  • For Baptism: 4
  • Interest in Membership: 13
We will be following up on all of those who have made decisions in the very near future. Praise God for a great day of harvest!

Total Professions of Faith: 13
Total Recommitments: 45

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Stations of the Cross...

Each Good Friday our Ministerial Alliance, of which I am a part, hosts a procession of the cross. I am always moved by the gathering of the different personalities of the Body of Christ. Individuals and families from many different churches gathered on Friday evening at 6:00 at the Anglican Church of the Ascension. This is one of the newest congregations in our community and they have purchased a small church building that at one-time housed the Catholic congregation in Windsor. I've seen the building used as an antique store and most recently as the home of a Baptist church-plant called, The Ancient Path. The service is built around the "Stations of the Cross" and as we progress along a route following the cross, we pause inside several of our church buildings to consider the sufferings of Jesus. This year the church buildings that were used included: The Anglican Church of the Ascension, The First Christian Church, St. Alban's Episcopal Church, and The First United Methodist Church.
Read more here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Iraq Updates...

If you have any interest at all in what is happening in Baghdad, then you will want to begin reading this blog. It's called "Iraq The Model" and features personal commentary on what is happening in Baghdad. It is written by residents in the city. Check it out here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

If you ask them...they will come!

I want to share with you some encouraging news that comes from a recent survey of 469 “formerly churched adults”—those who in the past regularly attended church but no longer do so. This survey was conducted last summer by LifeWay Research. According to the survey, 59% of formerly churched adults left their church because of “changes in life situation”. The top life-changing situations that were submitted included, “simply got too busy to attend church”, “family/home responsibilities prevented church attendance”, “moved too far from church”, “work situation”, and “divorce/separation”. That’s why they left!

Now here’s the good news! More than 2/3 of formerly churched adults are open to the idea of attending church regularly again! 4% of these adults are actually looking for a church to attend right now and the majority of the others are open to returning to church! Now keep in mind that the survey indicated that these people on average have not attended church regularly in 14 years.

Now here’s the really good news! What would motivate the “formerly churched” to return? The top reasons why people would want to return are, “in order to get closer to God”, “in order to be around those with similar values”, and “in order to make friends”.

Now get this, when asked what would inspire them to regularly attend church, the following answers were given: (more than one answer could be given by each respondent).
  • 58% said that they would attend if they felt like it was time to return.
  • 41% said that they would attend if a friend or acquaintance invited them.
  • 35% said that they would attend if they knew there were people like them at church.
  • 31% said that they would attend if they felt that God were calling them to visit a church.
  • 25% said that they would attend if their children asked them to go with them to church.
  • 25% said that they would attend if an adult family member invited them to go to church with them.

Easter is an awesome opportunity for us to reach out to the "formerly churched" and the "unchurched". Make sure that you don't celebrate Easter this year alone!