Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Big Move...

There was an amazing number of people helping us move on Sunday afternoon--maybe 30. That's not preacher-exaggerated either. I didn't actually count but my friend Ed verified that there were, "at least that many". Thanks to all of you who gave me your Sunday afternoon. We had enough help to successfully get all of our stuff from the old house into the new house in less than three hours. That should be some kind of a record. I'm pretty sure that it's going to take months however--not days--to find my socks. In fact, I can't find much of anything that I need. All of the stuff that I don't need--I know exactly where that stuff is. Funny thing about moving is that I discovered unopened boxes left from our last move. Some of those boxes were still unopened from when we moved to Windsor from Texas amost ten years ago! Can you say, "throw it away"? Just how long should I keep research papers from seminary? I don't know but I've still got them. We are making some changes with the move. We are giving up our land-line and going exclusive with our cell phones. We've all got one and so it kind of makes sense just to use cell phones. The biggest problem that I can see is that Tina has a difficult time keeping her phone charged. The battery dies and it can be days before she gets it recharged again. I'm the kind of guy that waits until my phone completely discharges all of its power before I plug it in. I let it recharge overnight and then I'm good to go again for a very long time. I guess what I'm saying is that if you need Tina and her phone isn't being answered--try calling me and I'll let her talk on mine. Monday was designated, "create order in the new house" day. Today is "clean the old house" day. And Wednesday is "watch the carpet cleaners do their thing" day. Thursday is, "turn the keys in" day.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I'm thankful to be moving...

This is what our living room looks like this evening.  Tomorrow afternoon is the big move.  Fortunately, we're just moving a few blocks.  Our church will show up to help and all of our worldly possessions will be transferred for us into the new house.  I'm very much convinced that we we have too much stuff.  I'm not sure what to do about it though.  I'm wide open to the possibility of getting rid of as much as possible.  The big problem is that we have quite a bit of stuff that has been handed down for a few generations.  It's not so easy to give up family history.  I am thankful that I have a place to move to.  I am thankful that I have a church family to help me move.  I am thankful that that my family is here all together.  I am thankful to be the pastor of Grace River.  I am thankful that by this time tomorrow all of this stuff will be sitting somewhere else waiting to be unpacked...

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Law of Sowing & Reaping...

I am in the process of reading BOUNDARIES written by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. In Chapter 5, they list and describe what they call, "Ten Laws of Boundaries". The first of the ten is, "The Law of Sowing and Reaping" and it is summarized as "The law of cause and effect". The biblical basis is Galatians 6:7, "Don't be misled--you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant." Cloud and Townsend insist that the law is not punishment by God but rather a statement of fact about how things operate in this world. Just as gravity causes things to fall to the Earth, "Sowing and Reaping" causes actions to have consequences. They note however that sometimes, "people don't reap what they sow, because someone else steps in and reaps the consequences for them". This "rescuing" allows an irresponsible person to dodge the consequences of his behavior and thus to continue unchecked with problem behavior. They don't change their behavior because there few if any consequences. There is not enough pain to cause a change. Those who continually rescue others are called codependent. They find their esteem in being needed by irresponsible people. Their perceived purpose in life is cleaning up the messes caused by others. This type of codependent living is not healthy nor is it fulfilling for anyone. I've noticed that as a pastor I have some excellent codependent tendencies. It hurts to see others face the consequences of their behavior and I am greatly tempted at times to step in and rescue them. The reality of my "helping" is that I short-circuit the purposes of God to bring real and lasting change through consequential pain. I'm not really helping. A better alternative to rescuing is to simply be present and truthful--to walk with someone to the electric chair--without sitting in it for them. A very good friend of mine has been doing this with me for years. In fact, the analogy of the electric chair is one that he has shared with me. We can walk with people through their dark consequences and provide comfort for them without removing the sting of the consequence (and the learning curve that comes with it). A true friend would never want to remove the remedy (no matter how painful) that cures a fatal illness. Actions need consequences. Irresponsible behavior needs pain. Pastors need boundaries.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"You think that everyone should agree with your perfect knowledge. While knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church" (1 Corinthians 8:1).

We all have the arrogant ability to at times believe that we are without question in the right and thus others are beyond a doubt in the wrong. It appears that the Holy Spirit writing through the Apostle Paul has a different and higher agenda. God would have us focus not on the correctness of our belief but rather on the spirit with which it is held. We may very well be right--but if our staunch and unwavering views remove love from a relationship--then what have we really accomplished? The Holy Spirit shouts in reply, "NOTHING!" "If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn't love others, I would be nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:2). Instead of defensively arguing for a position, wouldn't it be wonderful to pause, to lovingly listen, and to attempt to understand the views of another? Maybe I'll try it today...

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Christ of Destiny

Colossians 1:15-23

C-reator:  He is, "the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (v15-17).

H-ead of the Church:  "He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything" (v18).

R-econciler:  ". . . and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His flishly body through death" (v20-22).

I-mage of God:  "He is the image of the invisible God" (v15).

S-avior:  "He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister" (v22-23).

T-otally God:  "For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him" (v19).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Praying Your Destiny...

Colossians 1:9-14

We each have a God-given destiny. It's not unlike rafting down a river filled with sections of violent white-water rapids. It's futile to try to paddle upstream. It's foolish to get out of the raft. However, even if we do jump out (or fall out) we will still be carried downstream by the rush of the water. There is a river of God's grace that is carrying each of us towards our destiny. The question is, how do we know where we are going?. The answer is prayer.

Paul reminds the Colossians in 1:9 that he is praying for them to, "be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding". He wants them to know and understand the will of God--the very will (God's purpose, design, pleasure) that is being accomplished in their lives. Following Paul's example, we should be praying for each other to, "be filled with the knowledge of His will".

Paul expects that his prayer will have at least seven results. They are listed for us in verses 10-12.

  • #1--"so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord". This means that we look like Jesus and that we act like Jesus.
  • #2--"to please Him in all respects". God is pleased when we stay in the boat in the middle of the river of our destiny.
  • #3--"bearing fruit in every good work". I love the fact that the promise of prayer is that we will "bear fruit in every good work". What about the bad works? They are buried in the bottom of the sea--they will not bear fruit! Hallelujah!
  • #4--"increasing in the knowledge of God". The more we follow God--the more we understand God and His ways.
  • #5--"strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might". This is literally, "empowered with power from His power"! God empowers His people to do the work that Jesus did--and the work that He desire to continue to do through His church.
  • #6--"attaining of all steadfastness and patience". Most of us will not reach our destination overnight--it's a process of waiting and enduring.
  • #7--"joyously giving thanks to the Father". Pray with thanksgiving giving God thanks for all that you see Him doing each day.

Why does Paul expect these rather dramatic results to his prayer? That's easy!

God has, "QUALIFIED US to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light" (v12). If God has qualified us, then there is absolutely nothing that we can do to make it better. No one can qualify themselves. And, if God has qualified us then only God can disqualify us...and He doesn't do that!

God has, "RESCUED US from the domain of darkness" (v13). He has already rescued us! We are free!

God has, "TRANSFERRED US to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (v13-14). Amazing Grace!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Secret to My Success...

Allow me to share one small paragraph from the "Church Planter Assessment" that Tina and I underwent on February 25th.

The paragraph is subtitled, "Spousal Cooperation" and on it we scored a 4.8 on scale from 1 to 5 with 5 indicating "exceptional behavior".

The paragraph reads, "His wife is the single most impressive spouse I have ever encountered in an interview. Her gifts are complimentary to his, she works independently, they have been through a lot of fire together and she seems very comfortable in the chaotic and insecure environment of a new church plant. He says, 'we don't make a move until I get a confirmation from my wife.' Smart man".

Monday, March 08, 2010

How to Cooperate with Your Destiny...

This is a brief overview of Sunday's message from Colossians 1:3-8.  We're talking about our destiny.  To cooperate with our destiny means that we cease to fight with the forces that move us towards God's ultimate purpose.

#1--We cooperate with our destiny by "thanks-praying" (Col. 1:3). I heard Eddie and Alice Smith teach on the need to surround our requests with plenty of thanksgiving. The idea is to be aware and to notice the things that God is doing (even the little things) and to thankfully ask for Him to continue to work. Ask yourself what you see God doing? Recognize it and then let your prayer build around it. God is accomplishing your destiny. Make sure that you are not fighting Him. Cooperate with his work in prayer by thanking Him for the progress that He is accomplishing towards your destiny.

#2--We cooperate with our destiny by practicing "Faith, Love, and Hope" (Col. 1:4-5; 1 Cor. 13:13; 1 The. 1:1-5, 5:8). These three little words appear together four times in the scriptures. They must somehow belong together. "Faith" is trust. "Love" is agape love or sacrificial love. "Hope" is not merely wishful thinking but rather joyful and confident expectation. Pursue your destiny surrounded by these three little words.

#3--We cooperate with our destiny by allowing the Gospel to grow within us (Col. 1:5-6). Colossians 1:5 says that the Gospel is bearing fruit and outwardly expanding in the world in the very same way that it is bearing fruit and outwardly expanding in us. The Gospel is necessary for our destiny to be realized. Idealy, we experience more of the Gospel today than we did yesterday. Each day brings new opportunity to experience the Gospel in fresh ways. It is truly a Gospel of grace.

#4--We cooperate with our destiny by having an Epaphras in our life (Col. 1:7, 4:12-13; Philemon 1:23). Read the passages and you will understand that this former mentor and pastor of the Colossian Church had a huge impact on the spiritual lives of his friends and disciples. He wrestled in prayer for them and was willing to do the hard work of walking with them and speaking into their lives. We all need an Epaphras who will go with us through the dark valleys.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Amazing Revival in Haiti...

Debbie Kaufman referenced this video in her blog "Ministry of Reconciliation" and it is well worth the three minutes that you will need to watch it. Debbie blogs at www.debbiekaufman.wordpress.com.

Friday, March 05, 2010

First Fruits

It's exciting to see the fruit that is being produced at Grace River. I received calls from two individuals today sharing with me some very exciting stories of God's activity.

The first person shared with me that on Sunday afternoon they were speaking with a friend who had just suffered some devastating loss in their life. This person was tired of the pain, tired of God, and tired of living. The thing that came to their mind as they listened to their friend was the message on "Destiny" that they had heard at Grace River earlier in the day. The summary of the message that they shared seemed to be exactly what was needed in the moment and this person shared with me that they felt like that sermon had saved this person's life.

Secondly, we had a young man present who is staying with one of our families. He seemed alert and engaged in the message on Sunday. He told this family that he was really thinking about what was said. Later that evening, well into the night, unable to sleep, that young man called for the mother of the house to come and share with him how he could give his life to Christ. Praise God! To my knowledge this is the first fruit of Grace River--the very first person to pray to give their life to Jesus.

"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Romans 16:20).

Thursday, March 04, 2010

How Different is Modern Christianity from that of the Apostolic Age!

I want to continue to share a few "power quotes" from my reading in John R. Rice's book, "The Power of Pentecost". Published in 1949, Dr. Rice states that he wrote the original manuscript seventeen years earlier in 1932. I find it amazing that he saw the same barrenness in our churches in the 30's and 40's that we continue to see afflicting us to this day.

Christianity is not true Christianity, not complete Christianity, if it does not reproduce the salvation, the joy, the power and victory over sin, the progress and making of converts of New Testament times (p23).

We should see in this day the same kind of results that New Testament Christianity produced. Any religion that is not based upon the New Testament is not Christianity. Any religion that does not hold up Christ the same Saviour, does not demand the same new birth on condition of the same penitent faith, is certainly not Christianity. Then we must rightly conclude that after one has trusted in Christ, after one has this same Saviour, this same new birth, this same indwelling Holy Spirit, and is become a new creature as were believers in New Testament times, one should certainly manifest the same power New Testament Christians exemplified! (p23-34)

If any doctrine varies from new Testament doctrine, then it is off-color, it is inadequate, it certainly does not truly represent Christianity. And likewise, the life that does not have the power New Testament Christians had is off-color and inadequate Christianity. The ministry of the gospel which does not have the power of God upon it as so many preachers had in Bible times, is not the New Testament type of preaching (p24).

Consider what happened at Pentecost. "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication . . ." (Acts 1:14). How strange, how unlike present-day churches! " . . . the multitude came together, and were confounded . . ." (Acts 2:6). Mighty crowds hearing the gospel with profound concern! How different form our empty churches and the indifference and disgust which the multitudes feel for the church and its ministry! (p24-25)

"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). Three thousand saved and baptized in one day! Today in the most evangelistic denominations in America it takes about twenty persons one year to win one soul. In many denominations there is a net loss in membership every year, and in literally thousands of congregations not a single convert is won to Christ in a year! Is this Bible Christianity? Do you marvel that the gainsaying world has no interest in our churches, in our ministry, in our Christian profession when these are so fruitless compared with Bible Christianity?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


This afternoon I began getting notices that some kind of spam is shooting out of my computer to all of my addresses.  I have updated and functioning virus software and everything appears clean on my machine....but some spam was sent.  So, I don't quite know what to do about it except to let you know that I didn't do it.  I'm running my virus software and hopefully all will be fixed.


Our Powerlessness Contrasted With Christ's Promises

These are some power quotes from my reading today in Dr. John R. Rice's book, The Power of Pentecost or the Fullness of the Spirit.

Powerless Christianity is not normal Christianity (p18).

In John 7:37,38 Jesus gave a wonderful promise: "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. he that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Here is a promise for the time then future. After Jesus was risen from the dead, His disciples, and not only those then His disciples but all that should believe on Him, had an unceasing, unfailing source of power promised. "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly [his innermost being] shall flow rivers of living water." And by this river this life-giving stream flowing out from a Christian's heart and life, Jesus meant the fullness of the Holy Spirit (p19-20).

If we are only empty cisterns, or if we are stagnant pools, we do not have what Jesus promised us! We are not obtaining our full birthright! We are not living up to our privileges! Every Christian should be a living fountian of the water of life. The Holy Spirit, within us and flowing from us, should bring life to those about us, just as a an artesian well brings life to the desert. So Jesus promised for those who should believe on Him. It is a promise for every Christian, the promise of fullness of power (p20).

Jesus said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father" (John 14:12). Here is a promise so great that few will believe it. Jesus himself did all his mighty works in the power of the Holy Spirit. Now He tells the disciples that they may do exactly the same kind of work as He did. He does not make a single exception. He does not say that some of His miaracles were too stupendous to be done by the hands of others. He does not say that the raising of the dead or the healing of the sick or the cleaninsing of the leper or the conversion of the the drunkard and the harlot and infidel were too much for these disciples. No, He said plainly, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also." And then He added that they should do even greater works, since His life was cut short and His public ministry ended at the crucifixion (p20).

Here is a startling teaching, but it is true. Jesus promised that the marvels, the power, the wonder of His own ministry might be repeated in the lives of multitudes of all who believed in Him (p20-21).

O Christian, believe it! God has for you blessings you have never claimed, power you have never used, an enduement you have never sought and found! And lest one should think that this promise was only for the twelve, or only for the Christians of apostolic times, Jesus made the promise clear. It is to him "that believeth on me" that Jesus promised, "The works that I do shall he do also" (p21).

Monday, March 01, 2010


Paul writes in Colossians 1:1-2,

Παῦλος (Paul) ἀπόστολος (an apostle) Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (of Christ Jesus) διὰ (through/by) θελήματος (will/purpose/design/pleasure) θεοῦ (of God) καὶ (and) Τιμόθεος (Timothy) ὁ ἀδελφὸς (the brother)
τοῖς (to the ones) ἐν (in) Κολοσσαῖς (Colosse) ἁγίοις (holy) καὶ (and) πιστοῖς (faithful) ἀδελφοῖς (brothers) ἐν Χριστῷ: (in Christ) χάρις (grace) ὑμῖν (to you) καὶ (and) εἰρήνη (peace) ἀπὸ (from) θεοῦ (God) πατρὸς (Father) ἡμῶν (of us).

I am including the Greek text because I think that it is really cool to be able to include it in the blog and I also want to highlight one word in the text that is the launching point for what I want to say. I have put the simple English translation in parentheses following the Greek word that it translates.
In the first verse, Paul says that he is an apostle of Christ Jesus "by the will of God".  The word "will" can include the idea of design, purpose, or pleasure.  Paul is clearly saying that his role as an apostle comes directly from the very hand of God.  It is God's idea.  It pleases God for Paul to be an apostle.  It is Paul's destiny to be an apostle.  If if God had a destiny for Paul, then it seems reasonable to expect that God has a destiny for each of us as well.  By searching the scriptures, I have discovered seven promises in regards to destiny.
D-ays (Acts 17:26; Job 14:1-6).  Paul preaches in Acts 17:26 that God has, "determined appointed times and the boundaries of habitation".  God has already decided when we will live, how long we will live, and where we will live.  Of course, we make decisions that affect these things but God is always able to say, "I knew you were going to do that".  His destiny for us takes into account the decisions that we will make.
E-ternal Life (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11; John 3:16-18).  "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ . . ." (1 Thess. 5:9).  Jesus makes it possible for us all to live forever.  It's our destiny!
S-piritual Wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:1-16; 13:9-12). ". . . but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory . . ." (1 Cor. 2:7).  God has destined us to know things that cannot be comprehened with the human mind.  The Spirit of God reveals to us the thoughts of God.  We are destined to think like God thinks.
T-rials (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5).  In speaking of his afflictions, Paul says that he has been, "destined for this" (1 Thess. 5:3).  There are some things that we can only learn through problems.  There are some things that God wants us to become that can only be shaped through difficulties.  These trials are a part of our destiny.
I-mage of Christ (Romans 8:28-34; Genesis 1:26).  The Bible promises, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son . . ." (Rom. 8:29).  This is amazing stuff--It is our destiny to look like Jesus!  Describe Jesus and you will have a good idea of how God views you.
N-ew Relationship (Ephesians 1:3-5).  Paul says that God, "predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the kind intention of His will . . ." (Eph. 1:5).  God has brought us into relationship with Himself as adopted children.  It's our destiny to be treated by our Father just like our big brother Jesus.
Y-our Inheritance (Ephesians 1:11).  "In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will . . ." (Eph. 1:11).  It's difficult to comprehend that God has destined us to share in Christ's inheritance.