Lottie Moon

Gotta love this...

Posted by Jack | at 3:04 PM | 0 comments

My reading list

After some thoughts, research, and suggestions, I have settled on my reading list for 2010. This is not to say that these will be the only books I will read, but it will give me something to aim at as opposed to how I usually go about it (a.k.a no plan whatsoever). In no particular order, here they are:

Shepherding a Child's Heart – Ted Tripp (Parenting)

When Helping Hurts – Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert (Missions)

The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God – D.A. Carson (Theology)

The Walk – Stephen Smallman (Discipleship)

How to Read a Book – Mortimer Adler (General)

Orthodoxy – G.K. Chesterton (Classics)

Simple Student Ministry – Eric Geiger and Jeff Borton (Student Ministry)

Through the Gates of Splendor – Elisabeth Elliot (Biography)

The Hole in our Gospel – Richard Stearns (Missions)

1-2-1 Discipleship – Christine Dillon (Discipleship)

Our Accountability to God – A.W. Pink (Classics)

Counterfeit Gods – Tim Keller (Theology)

There are a couple that I hope to add to the list. I had a hard time narrowing them down and I hope I get through these 12 so that I can also read:

Family Driven Faith – Vodie Baucham (Parenting)

The Life and Diary of David Brainerd (Biography)

The Meaning of the Pentateuch – John Sailhamer (Theology)

So come January, I will kick it all off with "Shepherding a Child's Heart."  Anyone else game?

Posted by Jack | at 11:57 AM | 2 comments

My crazy kids

Alright, my kids are crazy and here's proof on my wife's blog.

Posted by Jack | at 10:43 PM | 0 comments

Next year's reading

So I am working on putting together a reading list for next year.  I want to map out 12 books (one per month) to read over the course of the year.  This would be a minimum, but would give me a goal and a plan.  I want to get one or more from the following categories:
  • Theology
  • Christian classics
  • Discipleship
  • Missions
  • Student ministry
  • Parenting/Family
  • Christian biography

Would love some suggestions and help!

Posted by Jack | at 10:01 AM | 3 comments

Psalm 96 and Missions, Part One

The Psalms are full of calls to worship.  You seemingly can not turn a page without sensing this overwhelming focus.  Psalm 96 is no exception to this.  The first four verses read as follows:

"Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods."

God by His very nature is worthy of praise. His perfections showcase His splendor.  He is glorious and has done done glorious things.  He is eternally holy, good, righteous, and just.  There is nothing in Him that is unworthy in the slightest of praise.

This is the first reason I believe this Psalm is focused on missions.  Our God is great and worthy of praise.  Missions is a calling of those who are not worshipers to place their attention, devotion, and affections on the only One worthy of praise.  When we tell of the Gospel to those who have not heard, we are telling of the marvelous works of God and the all satisfying power of His grace.

This Sunday night, our pastor shared a quote by John Piper that I have read and used before.  It seems fitting to include it here:

"Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church.  Worship is.  Missions exists because worship doesn't.  Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.  When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.  It is a temporary necessity.  But worship abides forever." John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad, pg.17

We are both called to worship and to seek worshipers for our great King.  That's missions.

Posted by Jack | at 1:24 PM | 0 comments

Caleb and missions

Last night our church had an emphasis on international missions.  Carrie and I decided to do something bold and daring: we brought all three boys into the service.  Caleb did really well last week during our Ethiopia report and Josiah would sleep, so we thought we could chance it.  Noah, however, starting crying at one point and as he was in my lap and Carrie was holding a sleeping Josiah, I took him to our family room in the back of the sanctuary.  Within a few minutes Caleb had escaped and joined us.

I really wanted to be a part of the service.  About the time that I was second guessing my decision, Caleb asked what Pastor Michael was talking about and I said "missions."  Without missing a beat he asked me, "Daddy, why do you keep going to Africa?"  I told him that there were people there who don't know Jesus and Daddy goes so that they can hear about him.  Then I told him I would take him with me one day when he was older.  "When I'm 4?" "No a little older." "Oh, OK, when I'm 5?" That small conversation made it all worthwhile.

I prayed over him as he was going to sleep last night that God would give him heart for the nations. I eagerly look for that day!

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 6:4-7

Posted by Jack | at 5:55 AM | 1 comments

Piper on Missions

I am not sure which text he is preaching from, but Piper gets at the idea I am presenting in the coming posts so much better than I do.
Here is the video...

Posted by Jack | at 9:23 AM | 0 comments

My wife

So this past week, I have been thinking a lot about why my wife is great.  Here are just a few of the many reasons I am so blessed.

  1. She buys me coffee creamer.  No big deal to some, but I don't really need it.  She buys it because she knows the special holiday creamers I enjoy a lot.  So she makes a point of buying them.  So good.
  2. She likes college football almost as much as I do.  I mean how many other wives remind their husbands that it is almost time for Game Day and throughout the week look for the channels that the games are coming on.  Love it.
  3. She pushes me.  Not literally (well sometimes...).  She doesn't let me make excuses or give less than my best.  I need that.
  4. She aggressively cuts coupons.  I am talking takes an entire morning to search blogs, websites, and newspapers to save money.  And then she gets things for free or for 19 cents.  What?  How ridiculously cool is that?
  5. She stays home with our boys.  All day every day.  I had all three of them the other night for a couple of hours and I stand in awe.  I mean I love them but when all three are going nuts, I don't know how she does it.  Seriously.  Its a special gift of grace.
  6. She wants our family to be Christ centered.  For example, she found this awesome activity for our family to do this Christmas called a Jesse Tree.  You can check it out here.
  7. She supports, encourages and sacrifices so that I can do what God has called me to do.  I would never be able to do all that I have done without her love and support.  She is my perfect helpmate and I am grateful for this gift.
These aren't the only reasons but they are the ones that have been swirling in my head this past week.  I know there will be more to come!

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.  Proverbs 31:10-12

Posted by Jack | at 10:58 AM | 0 comments

A great Christmas quote...

So the other day, Caleb gave a great quote...

"Noah, take baby Jesus out of your mouth!"

Merry Christmas.

Posted by Jack | at 10:26 AM | 0 comments

Some thoughts on missions

A few weeks ago, I returned from my second trip to Ethiopia. My original intent was to write a series of posts based on my experiences there. That still may come. Yet as I was thinking more about it, I wanted to expound on something I shared with our congregation as we reported on our trip this past Sunday evening.

There are some great texts in the Bible which guide us towards missions. A couple that come to mind quickly are some that we can be very familiar with:

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Acts 1:8
These passages are rightly used for missions. They encapsulate Christ's commands and give us a clear understanding of the directive before us. Yet these are not the only passages in Scripture that speak of missions. In fact, I believe the book of Psalms is very missional in nature.

Over the next couple posts I want to explore Psalm 96 and how it in particular can move us to a greater appreciation and desire to be involved in God's mission to the world.

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity." Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Psalms 96:1-13

Posted by Jack | at 9:30 AM | 0 comments

Yes, Richard, Yes!

I came across an article by Richard Ross about students and missions. Here is my favorite line:

"For the life of me I do not know why some theologically confused people in Utah would be the only ones to prepare and send out all their sons and daughters on an adventure that will shape their lives."

I almost jumped out of my seat screaming! YES, YES,YES! Oh that parents would pray that their children would love Jesus more than life. I pray that for my boys. It scares me beyond compare that they might go to one of the really hard places. It scares me to pray knowing that God might lead them there. Yet, who gives them life? Who saves them for His glory? Who is the wonderous King of the Ages who is sovereign over all?

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Posted by Jack | at 12:36 PM | 0 comments

Grace for the brokeness

I have often described sin as brokenness or being "busted up" inside. There are things about me that are definitely broken. Things that are so "busted up" that I painfully wish they would be fixed. They are weaknesses that I strive to overcome and yet progress often is set back by occurrence of another example of my multiple imperfections. The words of David Crowder in the song "Wholly Yours" seem to be my motto:

"But the harder I try the more clearly can I feel
The depth of our fall and the weight of it all
And so this might could be the most impossible thing
Your grandness in me making me clean"

It is amazing how my fallenness affects me. Outside of the moral realm, I fall short of being what I should be. For me it most often comes in the form of forgetfulness. The sheer number of times I sincerely meant to do something or told my family and friends that I would follow through only to be erased from my memory in the span of seconds is beyond counting. How many times has my precious wife asked me to help here to perform a small task or have I told someone, "Oh yeah, I need to do ___" only to have it prance away in the black hole that is my memory. I don't even want to try to count because it passed ridicuolous several miles ago.

Oh yeah, there are factors. There are at times reasons, even ones that are very good. Reasons that can even pass for good excuses and sometimes even earn forgiveness and understanding on the part of those who were forgotten. Yet even those factors only serve to highlight the fact that I am broken.

I only have one hope. Grace. In some ways I mean grace from others. But really I mean God's grace. The all sufficient, weakness-magnifying, sin-killing grace that flows like a rushing river from the cross. The grace Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Now I don't think Paul wanted to be weak or that by boasting in his weaknesses he meant that he would let sin just have its effect. I believe that in the situation he found himself in he embraced Christ's grace at an even deeper level. His brokenness and weakness was left there by God to deepen his dependence on and understanding of grace.

God's grace does not cover our weaknesses or take them all away. Some times it brings them to the surface and we see all the more the power and magnitude of the love of God for us. Christ loves the broken and needy. His grace is not the one-time fix all. It is the eternal love of God dispalyed to us in Christ in spite of us! It is sufficient for even those weaknesses we struggle with until this life is over. In fact, it is sufficient for eternity:

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-7

I believe everyday I am more and more aware of my deep need for God's grace in every area of my life. I am learning of its sufficiency and am prayerful that it will work in me in ways that in spite of my weaknesses will bring God much glory.

Posted by Jack | at 2:39 PM | 0 comments

Memories and motivation

I came across this today. I laughed harder today than when I watched it live. Chris I hope someone told you about Jesus.

Posted by Jack | at 1:54 PM | 0 comments

My flood

Earlier this week I watched in shock as my community was consumed with a slow and stead onslaught of water that seemingly took control of our every thoughts. The magnitude of it all is still swirling around in my head. It is so overwhelming. Carrie and I sat looking at our neighbors with a sense that we must do something and yet not knowing where to start.

And then Tuesday night I sat in a room with three men that I have grown to respect even more over the past few days. Our question was not if we would do something. Our question was where we will start. There was no doubt that God had sovereignly placed our church in a place to display his love to those we are near. And then His glory exploded on the scene.

Our small group of Christ followers has rushed headlong into loving and serving those most affected by this disaster. And God has given us the supplies to do just that. We have given out thousands of bottles of water. Today I was sitting in the garage a little worried that we would run short. In a matter of seconds (literally) a van pulled up with 1440 bottles of water. Within the next thirty minutes another 2000 had arrived. That is just one of a hundred stories I could write about.

I have thought of so many things I could write. I have thought of so many directions to go. My flood this week has been the tidal wave of love and concern shown by the people of Ewing Road Baptist Church. It has been the tenacity of the two men I work with who have thrown every ounce of their being into making things happen for those they have never met. It is in the countless people who are not from our community who will come, serve, and leave. It is in truck's full of food and countless bags of clothes. The waters have receded by the love I hope will be here to stay.

We are not heroes. We were not spared because of anything about us. By the grace of God we have been given an opportunity to show the love of Christ in a real way. God I pray that you would keep us faithful and please bring us more opportunities to show your love through us.

For those who have been part of the flood, thank you. I am overwhelmed.

Posted by Jack | at 9:12 PM | 0 comments

Ethiopia shoe collection

This November, we are returning to Ethiopia. While we are there, we will be doing a shoe distribution to people who have never heard of Jesus. Love meeting needs and introducing people to their Savior. Here is a promo video I made for our church.

Posted by Jack | at 3:24 PM | 0 comments

Train up a child

We have been working with Caleb on memorizing some Scripture. Now we are going to start working on application...

Posted by Jack | at 3:19 PM | 1 comments


Since most all of you are not hanging out in our living room on a nightly basis, I thought I would share a little of what goes on.

Posted by Jack | at 3:04 PM | 0 comments

On gravity and worship

Tonight we were on the back deck, getting ready to grill. Something fell from one of the trees and made a loud clank as it hit the roof of our small storage shed. Caleb, our three year old, asked, "what was that, Daddy?!" so I told him. Then he asked the obvious follow up question, "why did it fall?" I then began to attempt an explanation of gravity to him. In the middle of what I thought was a good explanation, he said, "hey Daddy watch my car!" and drove it down the steps.

As he drove his Hot Wheel monster truck down the handrail, I couldn't get gravity out of my mind. What would life be like without it? It is essential for all that we know. Without it, my grill would float away. Without it, my excitement over college football season would be pointless. Without it, driving to the hospital for the arrival of our third child would be precarious at best.

Gravity is God's idea along with electricity, atoms, seasons, and everything else we take for granted or think nothing of from day to day. When you take a moment and actually stop to think about how amazing gravity is, how can you not stand in awe of the infinitely creative, powerful, and sovereign Creator?!?!

"For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep!" Psalms 92:4-5

Posted by Jack | at 10:44 PM | 1 comments

Church Signs

I have a pet peeve. I deeply dislike church signs. I know, I know. I can hear the collective gasps now. I am a pastor. I should love the slimy little cliches that people love to put out on the front lawn of the church which in theory will save people and bring them in by the droves. Instead they make me angry. And some make me weep.

I really want to rant on about this, but I think I will stop. I think everyone should read this post by a theologian and pastor I greatly respect. It says a lot of what I have been thinking for years.

Posted by Jack | at 10:32 AM | 2 comments

When hope, joy, and boasting come from teenagers

God always has an amazing way to bring things together in life and in His word (it's like He is sovereign or something!). Last night our church celebrated what God is doing though us in the area of missions. We shared about our recent World Changers trip to Tallahassee, talked live with three summer missionaries from our student ministry, and prayed specifically for a student on a trip in North Africa and our team who will be heading to Ethiopia in November. It was a time of great joy for me personally and for many others in our congregation.

This morning in my Bible reading schedule, I came to 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, which reads:

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

Paul's message to the Thessalonian church was that their faithful living of the Gospel gave him great hope (Colossians 1:27), joy (Philippians 4:1), and a crown of boasting (2 Thessalonians 1:4). All three of these are based solely upon the work of Christ in and for these believers. That work was being shown in the way they lived their lives.

Last night and this morning, I realized that I too have hope, joy, and a crown of boasting before the Lord at His coming. My prayer is that this will just be the beginning of what God is doing through us for the great glory of His name.

Posted by Jack | at 9:25 AM | 0 comments

Sanctification by Pink

This morning I finished a book that at first I was not sure I was going to complete. It is said that A.W. Pink was one of the deep thinkers of his day, and The Doctrine of Sanctification proved to support that claim. However, the more I read, the more I was able to see his commitment to Scripture and depth of knowledge. It was a powerful and challenging book on a subject with which I find even greater interest.

The closing chapter of the book was focused on the role of faith in sanctification. Two paragraphs stood out as extremely powerful, especially for those who struggle with assurance of salvation. I wanted to share them here

O my Christian reader, what a difference it would make were you to steadily realize the truth that, every temptation you encounter, every defeat you suffer, ever distressing experience you pass through, is a call and a challenge for the exercise of faith. You complain that you are still the subject of sin, that it cleaves to you as the flesh does to your bones, that it mixes with your duties and defiles every act you perform. You often feel that you are nothing but sin. When you attempt to walk with God, inward evil rises up and stops you. When you read His Word or endeavour to pray,unbelieving thoughts, carnal imaginations, worldly lusts, seek to possess your soul. You strive against them; but in vain. Instead of improvement, things grow worse. YOu beg of God for humility, and pride rises higher; you cry to Him for more patience, but apparently His ear is closed. Ah, you are no learning the painful truth that in your flesh there dwelleth 'no good thing'....Nothing but faith in the sure Word of God can keep him from sinking into abject despair. This is the very time for him to maintain his trust in the sufficiency of Christ's blood and the excellency of his imputed righteousness.

This part of the chapter spoke volumes to me. I cannot count the number of times that I have felt this way or counseled people who were feeling the same. And yet as we grow in holiness, sin becomes much more horrible and evident in our sight. And we must not run headlong into despair but deeper into the arms of a holy Savior who "cleanses us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)

Posted by Jack | at 7:53 AM | 1 comments

The power of Scripture

I am grateful for Scripture. Not because I am a preacher. I am thankful because there is a supernatural comfort that comes when we least expect it. I am thankful because God still speaks through it to calm, comfort, and convict us. Sometimes when we least expect it.

When we are putting the boys to bed and are praying, we often thank Jesus for the Bible. I feel that so deeply this morning. The gift of the Word is beyond precious. May I never treat it any less.

"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward."
Psalms 19:7-11

Posted by Jack | at 8:10 AM | 0 comments

So I had a bad day....

Ever have one of those days? You know the kind where you want to go back to bed around 10 in the morning in hopes that it will all just go away? Yeah...that was my day yesterday. While I will spare you all of the details, I will give you a few:

Right before lunch I arrived at Caleb's dayschool to find he is in time out while everyone else is on the playground. It seems he and another little boy refused to listen to his teacher and were running around pushing and shoving. He and I had to have a "conversation" when we got home.

After work we drove out to a nearby town to pick up a swing for our backyard that we found on Craig's list. Really good deal. That is until we got there and I noticed the fluid coming out from the engine of my truck. The truck had overheated the day before and I spent all night fixing it, or so I thought. We loaded the swing and headed home. We didn't make it. So Carrie, Noah, Caleb, and myself were stranded at the Catfish Den in Hiram, Georgia. To make things worse, none of us had eaten.

God sent a Good Samaritan to help us (thanks Brian!) and our good friend Eric came out to follow us home. Its a good thing he did since we made it about 3 miles from home where the truck sounded like it was going to explode. Thankfully it didn't. It was nine o'clock and the boys are hungry and starting to melt down.

We loaded into Eric's car and pulled into McDonalds. It's closed for repairs. We drove to Wendy's which had large orders because McDonalds is closed. We finally got home around 9:15 and Eric and I took some water to the truck in order to limp it home.

That's when Reggie showed up. Reggie is a good friend from church who came to look at our computer. Yeah it was dead too. But Reggie is the man and he fixed it. That part wasn't so bad. In fact, that's kind of why I decided to post this.

I woke up this morning. That's good.
My coffee pot is working. That's good.
I have a great family and a warm home. That's good.
I have my Bible. That's really good.
My bad days have no bearing on God's goodness, love, mercy, grace, justice, righteousness, faithfulness, and overall disposition towards me. That's so good, good, good.

I don't like bad days. But I do love God. And even in the bad days I can say "Your steadfast love is better than life so my lips will praise You!" (Psalm 63:3)

Posted by Jack | at 6:52 AM | 1 comments

Don't be a sponge

This post is the third so far in a series about loving God with your mind. You can read the first one here and the second here. As I have continued to pontificate on this matter there seems to be an interesting facet of loving God with your mind. We must use our mind to sort through what is true and what is false teaching.

There are so many things in our culture that are labeled Christian. Everything from best-sellers to television pastors are easily accessible to someone who take even a few seconds to look. And many of these things are extremely popular. Yet the question I have is this: how many believers actually take the time and think through what is being placed before them. Just because a book is being read by thousands of people, do we need to take it's message as authentic and godly? Just because there is a cross or a fish on the cover, does it mean the person who put it out holds to the truth of Scripture?

There are a few passages that come to mind:

Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:20-21

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
Matthew 24:24

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
Acts 17:10-12

We as believers should seek those things which will edify us and draw us closer to Christ. Yet we must be careful to take everything and to examine it to ensure that it conforms to the words of Scripture. If it does, take it and treasure it. If it doesn't, don't swallow it and adopt it as your own. And don't simply disagree. Take the time to think why you don't agree and formulate some thoughts on paper.

Of course...to do all of this we must really be soaking ourselves in the Word. If we aren't then how would we know that something is amiss. Just a thought...

Posted by Jack | at 1:28 PM | 2 comments

Ethiopian coffee and Tozer

This morning I brewed the last of the coffee I brought home from my trip to Ethiopia. It made me think of all of the people I met there, especially a man I have come to greatly respect. Afework Debebe is someone that has my utmost respect and admiration. Affectionately called "The Godfather," Afework is the planter of a house church network in Ethiopia. My friend Matt Setliffe who works regularly with Afework called him "a modern Ethiopian Paul" and in my opinion it is a perfect description. He wants people to know Jesus. It was amazing to see his love for the people, pastors, and churches. The pastors there look up to him and rightly so. Please take a moment and pray for a man you probably have never met. Thank God for men like Afework and pray that he and the believers in Ethiopia would hold high the glory of Christ for all to see. If you are interested, here is a video from the trip we took in November.

On a completely different note, I would like to share a quote from one of my favorite authors, A.W. Tozer. I read this yesterday and it was extremely challenging. I hope it helps you as you think about what hinders your worship and service of God.

It is only when we introduce our own will into our relation to God that we get into trouble. When we weave into the pattern of our lives threads of our own selfish desires we instantly become subject to hindrances from the outside. If I mingle some pet religious enterprise of mine with the will of God and come to think of them as one, I can be hindered in my religious life. Then I'll begin to blame whoever stands in my way and excuse my spiritual breakdowns as being caused by someone or something that is working to "hinder" me. A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous, p. 148

Posted by Jack | at 7:12 AM | 0 comments

Jesus and Thomas the Train

So last night I was supervising the Splash Zone (a.k.a. bath time for the monkeys). Noah, our 1 year old was pouring water in his mouth, letting it pour down his chin, and grinning from ear to ear. Caleb our 3 year-old had a Thomas the Train bath toy in one hand and a toy submarine in the other. All of the sudden I realized what he was saying. The words were something like, "Hello Jesus....Hello God....I'm riding on Thomas....I'm riding on the submarine...Let's go underwater...OK!"

At first I wanted to laugh. Then I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, "Yes!" I want my boys to know and love Jesus more than anything. I want them to think about Him all the time. I want Him to be central in their lives. The fact that even when he is playing in the bath he is talking about Jesus makes me smile. (We'll work on some of his theology later...)

One day they will both be faced with a decision whether or not they will follow Him. I cannot make that decision for them. It must be their faith placed in their Savior. Until that time I hope that my conversations and actions take every opportunity to present the greatness of Christ to them.

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Posted by Jack | at 10:10 PM | 1 comments

The Death and Life of Discipleship

"The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death - we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise godfearing and happy life, but meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 89)

To abandon the attachments of this world is a tough order. However, those attachments are often more valuable to us than Christ. If we are to be His disciples, we must treasure Him above all else. The amazing thing is that in dying to ourselves we find life in Christ (Galatians 2:20). What joy to be a disciple!

Posted by Jack | at 3:46 PM | 0 comments

Why not disciples?

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20

I have always been a Southern Baptist. It seems that there are two passages from the Bible that most Southern Baptists either know or know they should know. One is John 3:16. The other is Matthew 28:19-20, the Great Commission. These passages have driven an evangelism and missions for years.

Discipleship has been heavy on my heart as of late. By discipleship, I don't mean classes or programs, but the act of sharing life with others that they may follow Jesus with you. The scary thing is that from my vantage point, there are not many who are committed to this idea. So many will give the religious portion of there life to Jesus, but don't willingly surrender it all.

Please understand that this is not a desire to bring condemnation down upon a church or denomination. I simply began to ask myself, "Why are there not more disciples?" I have a few ideas:

  1. Making disciples is hard work. To truly invest in someone's life to see them forsake all to follow Jesus and stick with them through the process takes time, effort, and energy. It takes grace to forgive and correct. Jesus spent three years with His disciples and they still had much more to learn. What does that say about us?
  2. Many of us have not been discipled. By this I do not mean that we haven't grown in our faith but rather that no one took the effort to pour into our lives so that we would be better disciples. As a result, we may not really think that we are supposed to do it.
  3. We often confuse "disciple" with "convert". When someone accepts Christ, they have taken the first step in discipleship. They still have to be taught all that Christ commanded. If we simply say that our job is done when someone accepts Christ we show that we have a deficient understanding of the meaning of what it means to be a disciple.
  4. We are absorbed in our own sanctification. Following Christ is a difficult life. In fact, without the Holy Spirit it is impossible. Because of this we can become so focused on growing in Christlikeness that we feel we have no time or resources to allocated towards discipling someone else. In this we miss the amazing fact that God uses our obedience in making disciples as part of the sanctification process in our lives!
  5. We feel inadequate. The thought of directing someone's spiritual life is too much for many of us. What if we teach them wrong? What if we don't do it right? What if they ask a question to which we don't have an answer? These are honest concerns. However they are not legitimate reasons to disobey Christ's command. God did not command a specific few to be discipliers while the rest sit around and think about heaven. We are all to be about the business of making disciples.
I hope to respond to these in a few days with some Scriptural direction for anyone who might struggle in these areas. Until then...

Posted by Jack | at 1:17 PM | 1 comments

A New Magazine I found

Bible Study Magazine and Mars Hill are giving away 20 copies of Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Church. Not only that, but they are also giving away five subscriptions to Bible Study Magazine and a copy of their Bible Study Library software! Enter to win on the Bible Study Magazine Mark Driscoll page, then take a look at all the cool tools they have to take your Bible study to the next level!

Posted by Jack | at 7:44 AM | 0 comments

How not to love God with your mind

To understand what it means to love God with our minds, I believe that it is beneficial for us to look at an example of how we can use our minds to not love God. Paul gives us great insight in the book of Romans.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 8:5-8

The natural bent of our minds is to focus on things which feed our flesh. Here flesh refers to the sinful nature we all inherit (Romans 5:12). In other words, we naturally will use our minds to think on things that are against God. We see this in the fact that Paul states that "the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God."

I cannot love God with my mind if I am using it to pursue those things which are hostile to Him. How could I? Would I not be considered an enemy of America if I sought to align myself with the thinking of Osama Bin Laden? Would I not be labeled anything less than a mutinous traitor?

So I must set my mind on things of the Spirit. I must meditate on Scripture, not merely read it. I must dive into difficult portions of Scripture and wrestle with them for meaning instead of avoiding them like the plague.

Setting our mind on the flesh doesn't necessarily mean that I sit around thinking of all kinds of evil things that I could do. In fact, I can set my mind on the flesh by simply being to lazy to use it for Christ. After all, the flesh says the it is too hard and not worth the effort.

I want to please God with my mind. That's where we will head next time.

Posted by Jack | at 1:59 PM | 0 comments

A new series

Jesus tells us in Mark 12:30 just how we are to love God: "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." There is a certain part of that verse that has made me pause. When I think of love, I think of the heart. My mind often goes to feelings. However, I don't usually think of loving with my mind, much less all of it.

Maybe because of this I truly began to ask myself what all is entailed in loving God with all of my mind. The more I thought (no pun intended), the more clear it has become. My hopes is to share in the next few weeks the outcome of these pontifications.

Any thoughts?

Posted by Jack | at 3:40 PM | 0 comments

Not serious enough. Maybe it should be?!

I really don't think anyone follows my posts. After all, they are so infrequent; who would hang around that long. I have been contemplating lately become a little more serious. Maybe something will come of this. But then again, I have started lots of things before that have trailed off into oblivion...

Posted by Jack | at 5:44 PM | 0 comments