11Jul

Giving Books Away!

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For the next 48 hours they are practically giving away books at the WTS online bookstore. I just bought 20 books for $40 and saved $300. I was able to snag several stellar commentaries on different books of the bible. If you are looking for a great books for $1.99 check out this sale.

Note worthy titles are:

Sojourners & Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church by my good friend and favorite seminary professor, Dr. Gregg Allison

Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey by my friends at Sojourn in Louisville, Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper

And all the commentaries!

9Jul

Alone with Jesus

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1872 version of Alone with Jesus by J.C. Lanphier given to me by Becky Panter.

A sweet friend of mine recently gave me a copy of a late 1800′s version of Alone with Jesus: Gleanings for closet reading by J. C. Lanphier. She found it at an estate sale and thought it was cool because the title and theme of the book was based on the text of scripture that I was preaching my first sermon series from. She had no idea that I would be very familiar with J.C. Lanphier — the founder of the historic Fulton Street Prayer Meeting in New York City that broke out in revival in 1857.

The book is filled with rich readings, devotions and poems that invite the reader to gaze upon the glory of God. Here is the poem that the book is named after — Alone with Jesus – from Matthew 6:6.

Alone with God! the universe shut out,
Earth, sense, and time, excluded and forgot;
All memories vanished of the parted past,
All prospects of the future overborne
And swallowed up in that one might sense,
That all-engrossing consciousness of God!
Alone with God! all earth-born love absorbed,
All earthly ties dissolved — all thoughts of those
Long held most dear, Elisha-like, who clung
Around the parting soul to Tabor’s brink,
For a brief space (brief to eternity),
Lost in that all-pervading thought of God!
Alone with God! angelic hosts around
“In burning row,” attending, but unseen,
Angelic harps unheard, though far and high,
The sounding cadence of their anthem rolls;
The sea of crystal, and the streets of gold –
The wall of jasper, and the gates of pearl,
Unnoticed all, replendent though they be,
The throne, and Him who sits thereon, beheld,
Naught else besides, in solitude sublime!
And does thou shrink, my spirit from the sight
Of uncreated majesty, and quail
To meet the Eternal, naked and alone?
Alone with God! I shrink not — He is great –
His awful glory, when unveiled, might well
Consume the spirits He hath made; but still
I shrink not. He is holy, too and just,
And very terrible: He dwels in light
That no man can approach, no mortal eye
Can look upon and live; but there is One
Beside Him whom I dare to meet alone –
Whom I have met alone at midnight hour,
In dark Gethsemane’s sequestered shades,
Alone, though trembling friends and armed foes
Peopling the solitude, were round us there;
Whom I have met alone on Calvary’s hill,
Though taunting crowds and dying men were there
Whom I have met alone on Tabor’s mount,
Unmindful of the little band that there
Held heavenly converse, sacredly amazed.
Alone with Jesus! no, I cannot shrink
From that blest fellowship, unbroken, deep,
And soul-absorbing in the spirit land,
So oft intruded on in this dark world,
By mortal joys and sorrows that would rob my soul of that communion, pure and high.
Alone with Jesus! on the Savior’s breast
Fondly to lean, and think on none but him;
How oft my spirit feels lost in the crowd
Of fellow worshippers below, above,
And longs, like his small band on earth, to be
“Led out into a desert place alone,”
To hear his voice, and share his love, as though
That voice and heart of love were only mine.
Alone with God! in that blest solitude,
Could earth be wanting with its fleeting joys,
Or even its most abiding; and most pure
To fill the measure of a finite soul!
In that august communion could the loss
Of mortal converse shade the holy light,
Or mar the sacred joy which, as a tide,
A swelling tide of ecstacy, rolls in
Upon the spirit conscious but of God.

7Jul

What season of life are you in?

A few weeks ago I was reflecting on how we tend to have different priorities and passions in different seasons of life. Susan and I have found it very helpful to see life in “seasons.” It is often easier to look back to identify seasons than it is to actually forecast when a current season will end or when a new season will begin. The awareness that life is woven together in dozens of different seasons, gives us strength to endure difficult seasons and gives us sobriety when we find ourselves in a season of plenty or privilege.

As I was reflecting, this fun little season break down came together. I used a different descriptive words that capture the human experience in our context for different age brackets. My friend Corey Boyd helped me finalize the list.

Ages 1-11        —       reliant 
Ages 12-15     —       rambunctious
Ages 15-21     —       rebellious
Ages 22-28    —       romantic
Ages 29-55    —       responsible
Ages 56-67    —       restful 
Ages 68-80   —       reflective
Ages 80+       —       soon to be resurrected

I’m unapologetically an optimistic idealist. However, there is a fine line between idealism and romanticism. There seems to be a natural shift that takes place from seeing life through a “romantic” lens to seeing life through the lens of responsibility. Some people might call it selling out. Some people might call it cashing in your dreams. I just call it normal seasons of life. Of course, this list isn’t driven by any data but is simply a fun list generated by life observation.

What do you think? What would you add? What would you tweak? What season or combination of seasons do you find yourself in?

7Jul

Global little minds.

I’m amazed at the global perspective that living in NYC for 5 years gave my little 7 year old, Jack. So many of his friends from school were from different countries or visited family in other countries during breaks. We often had people from other countries eating holiday meals at our apartment. Jack has maps of the world and different countries all over the walls in his bedroom. The other night we decided we’d begin praying for a different country every night, finding it on his map. Tonight was our first night and he chose Cyprus because a little girl from his class in NYC, Anna, was moving to Cyprus for four years. So I googled a quick prayer search for Cyprus and this was the first video that Jack and I watched. It was truly a priceless moment with my little man tonight that left me in tears.

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I’m so grateful that at 7 years old, Jack sees the world. It is my hope and prayer for Jack, that he’ll go anywhere, at anytime, to do anything for Jesus. Is that your prayer for your children? Begin praying it now and watch God change your heart. Another pray you can pray for your children is “God save them, send them where you want them to go, and spend them out for your glory.” If you pray it for 20 years, then when your 20 year old daughter comes home and tells you she’s moving to Afghanistan to love the people there and share Jesus with them, your heart will be prepared to send her.

24Jun

We are being chased…

…by goodness and mercy.

The Psalmist closes Psalm 23 by saying,

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

My first three weeks at FSBCS have been filled with God’s goodness and mercy. The warm reception of the church family and the immediate love I have received from them has been sweet. Everywhere I’ve turned these last few weeks, I’ve run head-on into God’s goodness and mercy. Pastoral visits, sharing meals with church leaders, visiting kids camp — the list goes on!

We bought a house just minutes away from FSBCS and tomorrow is our big move! Susan, her aunt Donna, and our three oldest kids are on a cross country adventure even as I type. They made it to OKC yesterday and are driving a little past Albuquerque today. They’ll have about a six hour drive into Scottsdale tomorrow. I wrap up speaking at a student missions event in Glasgow, Kentucky tonight. Tomorrow morning, Parker (my youngest son – 23 months) and I will fly from Nashville –> Phoenix.

The woman we bought our house from, has four grown children — 3 boys and 1 girl — just like us! They also lived a season in Louisville, Kentucky — just like us. She is downsizing significantly and was happy to learn that this family from New York City would benefit from many of the items that she wouldn’t need any longer. She graciously gave us: a kitchen table, an outdoor grill, a couch, a lawn mower, lamps, end-tables, and tons of tools. We are being chased.

After living in tiny New York City apartments for the past five years, Susan and I feel like kids the night before Christmas as we prepare to move into our new home! You can follow our family blog in the weeks to come as I’m sure Susan will be posting pictures of our new home.

The goodness and mercy we’ve been experiencing through the tangibles of a new church family, a new home, and a kitchen table are simply echoes of God’s supreme expression of goodness and mercy to us — his son Jesus Christ who chases us every single day pursuing a relationship with us.

You too are being chased. Slow down enough today to be caught. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

8Jun

10 biblical prayers you can pray to hallow God’s name

For my first sermon series at FSBCS, we’re studying the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6:5-13. Jesus instructs us to begin our prayers by hallowing God’s name. Hallowing God names simply means to make holy, consecrate or revere. When we faithfully hallow God’s name in prayer, our faith is fueled and our lives begin to be reshaped. Here are ten biblical prayers to get you started in hallowing God’s name.

The heavens declare the glory of God (You), and the sky above proclaims his (your) handiwork. Psalm 19:1

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty, the whole earth is filled with his (your) glory. Isaiah 6:3 

Therefore you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 2 Samuel 7:22

There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you: there is no rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:2

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psalm 63:3

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes faiths for the courts of the LORD: my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Psalm 84:1-2

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom  and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:13

“Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.” 1 Chronicles 29:10-11 

19May

Arizona Awaits

I will never forget yesterday.

Yesterday, First Southern Baptist Church of Scottsdale, Arizona called me to be their pastor.

Over the last couple of months, Susan and I have had the privilege of beginning to get to know the people of FSBCS through their Pastor Search Committee. Our journey has been marked by a powerful sense of God’s leadership. His hand has been unmistakeable. His providence has been stunning. Our hearts are overflowing with joy, peace, and anticipation.

This past weekend was a rush. Susan and I flew in on Thursday and did a little house hunting. Friday and Saturday were jam packed with meetings and Sunday I preached in view of a call.

We were pretty blown away by the affirmation of a 99% vote of the congregation. To God be the glory.

I’m so glad they captured this sweet moment on video. We will treasure it for years.

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We cannot wait for our kiddos to meet these wonderful people, our new church family.

I will fly out on May 30th and officially begin on June 1st. The family will most likely follow some time in late June. Thanks for all those who have been cheering us on and praying with us — and thanks for praying with us through this transition.

16May

Learning to say “no”

Most of us have been there. We’ve said yes to too many things. We’ve over committed. We’re getting burned out because of all we are involved in. We love people and we want them to love us. We think the only way is to say “yes” every time.

It’s not.

We can say “no.”

I’ve been a fan of Ben Arment for some time. You may know him as the founder of Story.

He wrote a short blog post over three years ago that has never left me. I trust you will find it helpful. Here it is:

When someone asks you to do something you really don’t want to do, there are three options:

  1. Say yes and then not do it
  2. Say yes and then get bitter about it
  3. Say no

It’s natural to want to be liked by people and not let them down, but options #1 and #2 are more likely to sour relationships than option #3. In fact, I’m willing to bet #3 creates more respect.

Pretty simple.

What do you think? 

12May

Does your walk with God feel stale?

Do you ever get trapped into a rut where spending time with God feels like a burden? Maybe time alone with God begins to feel like going through religious motions instead of something fresh and life giving. Reading the Psalms slowly, are a good anecdote for me when my walk with God feels stale. It is difficult to read the Psalms and not come face to face with the greatness of God. The Psalms assist us in reawakening our hearts to who God is. Daily personal worship flows from our hearts when our vision of the greatness of God is renewed. In Psalm 145:1-3, the Psalmist speaks of how unsearchable the greatness of God is. And as a result his life is marked by daily praise. Take a slow read below and see if your heart is stirred toward praise. Perhaps you can open your own bible and read all of Psalm 145. Sometimes, my heart needs the light of several Psalms before the coldness is melted and my soul is reawakened. Either way, the Psalms never let me down — presenting a grand view of God, engaging my heart and giving me a song to sing.

I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable. Psalm 145:1-3

 

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