Archive for the ‘Personal Updates’ Category

T4G 2012 – SBTS

A very generous friend from the area offered to take me to a conference last week. I was able to arrange for a week of vacation and on Monday we drove to Louisville, KY for the T4G 2012 conference held at the Yum! Center.

We were also able to save some money by staying at one of his friend’s houses who lived in the area and also attended the conference with us. One of the highlights of the trip was getting to know this brother better as well as his wonderful family. He works at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and on Tuesday morning I was able to get a personal tour of the whole place. While I was there I got to see the actual Bible that Spurgeon used to preach from. You could see where he had highlighted verses and several annotations in the margins noting where he had addressed certain verses in various editions of The Sword and the Trowel (a magazine he used to publish).

The campus had three separate chapels: small, medium, and large. My favorite was the medium chapel as it was all white and the pews had doors on the isles that you could close. It is really gorgeous and I guess it gets used for a lot of weddings.

I also got to look around the bookstore for a little bit and I’m pretty sure that I could have easily spent a couple of months there. While I was there I was able to get The Unquenchable Flame by Michael Reeves for super-cheap. I’m done with the first three chapters and it is a really enjoyable short book on the key issues of the reformation.

The bookstore also had busts of Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, and Bunyan, but they were a wee bit out of my price range. But they were super cool.

I also got to look through all the doctoral work that had been done that was located in the research section of the library. It was pretty neat to see all the stuff that people wrote their dissertations on. Some of the titles were so long you would have thought they were trying to get every letter in the alphabet in there.

If I ever do one I’m pretty sure I’m going to title it, “The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog.”

It will have something to do with preaching. I’m just not sure what. But at least I’ve got a title.

Over the next few days I’ll try to put up a few more entries about fun stuff from the trip.


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Easter Week

Well, the week leading up to Easter has come and gone. And boy was it a full one. I think it was probably the busiest week I’ve had since moving up here.

I basically had to do three services, three sermons, in four days. We had a Maundy Thursday service, then a Good Friday service, and then Easter Sunday service.

Once I was done with one service, I would just turn around and start on the next one. I was pretty amazed that it all got done. God was very good and it seemed like he was doing some good things among us each time we gathered.

We had about two dozen people at our Maundy Thursday communion service, and I pretty much turned it onto a giant scriptural walk-through what happened that evening. I’m hoping that I can use this same “script” again next year. In a sense it was more like a ceremony than a service.

This was the first Good Friday service the church has done in a long time. We had about three dozen people come out, but it was really good. How can you not want to preach on Good Friday?! I would take Good Friday over Christmas Eve any day. At least from a preaching standpoint.

Then we had Easter. We had way more visitors than any of us expected and we ended up having about twice as many people there was we had the Easter the year before. It was great to see new folks and to get to share the gospel with them. I did things a little differently this Easter and preached on four important implications of the resurrection.

It was a great but long week. It was great to serve the Lord that way, but I’m also glad it’s over and I’ve only got one sermon to do this week. Sort of feels like a vacation.

Speaking of vacations, on Monday morning, after Easter, a friend offered to take me to a conference in Louisville. I’ll have some more posts in the coming days about that. Another full, but fun time.

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Advent Presents Anyone?

Many, many years ago (I’m getting old) we celebrated Christmas with our first two young children. We got them a few different presents, only to find out that they played with the first one for about ten minutes, the second one for about ten minutes, and then the third one for the rest of the day.

Then the relatives came over and buried them in presents and they totally forgot about ours. I cried myself to sleep that night.

As a result, Ericka and I did some talking and we decided that we wanted to spread Christmas out a bit and so for the last several years we have given each of our kids one present each Sunday in December leading up to Christmas. And each time we did we would go over a different part of the Christmas story. It worked well both practically and spiritually.

This year we were more intentional about tying it into the season of Advent. It’s been a lot of fun, and real good for our family.

If you’re not very familiar with Advent I would encourage you to look into it. It has really helped us to stay focused on Jesus in the busy weeks leading up to Christmas.


And please keep praying for me as I have some very interesting meetings and have to make some important decisions and lead in some clear ways.

Things are going well at the church. Real well actually. God is bringing more and more people our way and many of them are taking some very wonderful steps of faith.

Lately I’ve given away two Bibles to people who are coming to our church who didn’t have one but wanted to get one so they could read it and have one to bring to Bible study. Pretty cool.

This week I’ve got two sermons. One on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas morning. Please pray that I would know what to hit on and that it would be short, sweet, and powerful.

Enjoy the Lord.

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So this last Sunday I was preaching on the passage in Luke where the angel(s) appear to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus, and I was trying to help the people see how God desires simple, hard-working, overlooked, shepherd-like people to possess the perfect peace that comes through Jesus… when all-of-a-sudden I could tell that I was going to cry.

I pretty much write out all of my sermons word-for-word, and it’s a good thing, or I don’t know how this all would have turned out. But even with the words in front of me, I still had a really hard time continuing.

I’ve had that sort of thing happen before, where you tear up for a second or two and then you can kind of push it back down and carry on without it getting too obvious. But that didn’t work so well this time. Next time I need to be careful about how long I make certain sections of my sermon.

For a moment or two I thought I might gain the upper hand, but then the merciful love of Jesus would just come over me like a wave and pull me back out to sea. It got so bad that one of the older ladies in the congregation actually came up to the pulpit to give me a Kleenex!

And now the weird thing is, the waves keep coming. I can’t tell me how many have hit me over the last few hours as I’ve been prepping for this Sunday’s sermon and sending emails and what-not. I’ve had to stop typing two different times just since I started writing this post.

You feel like an idiot… but it’s wonderful. A wonderful idiot, to be standing in front of your entire congregation overcome by the love of Jesus. To sit in McDonalds typing on a laptop, overcome by the love of Jesus and getting funny looks from people as they walk by with their fountain pops.

I just can’t believe how good He is. I know why he came. I can follow the Scriptural arguments. I know it’s all for the praise of his glorious grace, but I still find myself asking, “Why? Why me?”

He could have been just as glorified without me as with me, but here I am, the object of his special saving, forgiving, transforming love.

I just can’t come to grips with it. It always unsettles me. But I think I’m O.K. with that. I’ll just keep some tissues in my pocket and carry on, trying not to burst.

But anyway, if God wants to make me cry every time I preach, that’s his prerogative. I tend to think it might be a bit distracting, but it’s his call, not mine. So please pray that regardless of what he’s going to do with me this Sunday that it would not distract from the greatness of Jesus. Whether I’m dry or whether I cry, may it all be to the glory of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

But this Sunday might be a little bit harder than other Sundays for another reason as well. One of my aunts has said that she is planning on coming to church for the first time this Sunday.

The first funeral I ever spoke at several years ago was for her husband who died of cancer. Another simple, hard-working man who liked his Blatz beer. I would get a 50-cent-piece for taking his empties and bringing him full ones from the fridge… well, almost full.

If God would grant me the grace to communicate just the smallest fraction of his love for her, I’m quite sure I know what would happen. Pray that he would. Pray that he would call her to Jesus and that she would embrace him with all her heart. That she would cling to him and put all her eggs in his basket. Pray she would come to possess the peace and righteousness that is found in Christ.

And there are also going to be lots of visiting families at church this weekend because all the kids our doing their Christmas presentation. Pray that they would repent and follow Jesus. Pray that his joy would fill them to overflowing and totally transform every area of their lives. Pray that they would be arrested and convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. Pray that the love of Jesus would wash over them like it’s been washing over me and that he would wash their sins away. Pray that the cross would be an emblem of joy unspeakable. Pray whatever you want, but please pray.

I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but it’s all good. Thank you so much for your prayers. They are worth more to me than you could ever imagine. I can tell they’re working.

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The Heart of the Matter

Lord, cut through the appearances and the auto-pilot. Transform my heart and everything else will follow. I want a righteousness that is real and substantial and that will endure the trials, the temptations, and the Day of Judgment. Only you can do it Lord. I’m lost and hopeless without You. Have your Spirit do the work that only he can do in order that Christ may be glorified in me as fully as he deserves to be. For your name’s sake Lord; get the glory you deserve and get it through your work in me, and my friends and family as well. We love you because you first loved us. You are our hope and our strength.

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Shooting & Such

Last week Caleb and I went to the shooting range with a family from our church. It was a lot of fun. We mainly shot our .22’s but my friend also had a 12 pump shotgun and some clay discs with a hand thrower.

I haven’t fired a shotgun in quite a while and I’ve never shot at clays. Well, it turns out I’m better than expected. Man was that fun. And I’ve got to admit, there’s something very testosto-rific about pumping a big shotgun. Lot’s of fun.

I’m now in the market for a Remington 870 Express with a 28 inch barrel. Let me know if you’ve got one sitting around that you’d like to sell for cheap.

So a few days later I took my wife and all the kids out to shoot .22’s. We had a blast and Ericka turned out to be quite the Annie Oakley.

Lately God has been doing some very neat things at our church and answering some very crucial prayers.

Much of what I’m learning could be summarized in one word, “Faithfulness.”

God is faithful, and we should be too. Everything else will take care of itself. Just take it one step at a time and trust him to do what only he can do.

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Smallmouth Bass

A friend from church took Caleb and Rebekah and I fishing at an old quarry that’s now basically a small lake.

Caleb and I saw a bunch of fish literally jumping out of the water over in the shallows, and so I put a lure on and whipped it out there about as far as I could. It hit the water and then a second later I had one.

I let Caleb reel him in. It turned out to be a pretty good sized smallmouth. I took a picture with my phone, but in my excitement I hit the wrong button and never saved it!

Then when we got home Rebekah told Ericka that it was about 7-8 inches long! What?! Are you kidding me? Who’s teaching this kid measurements!

Then she totally redeemed herself and told my wife that it was actually about as long as the top of her leg. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Actually it was probably 13-16 inches and maybe 2-3 pounds.

It was fun though. Tried to get some more to hit, and I missed one strike, but that was it. If you don’t count me snagging Rebekah’s hat after it blew off her head.

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