Blog

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.

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.

11Sep

Last Week – Part 2

Regret is a wonderful thing to avoid.

Last Sunday was a rich Sunday. I came in pretty spent from a wonderful and worshipful weekend. My message was on relating to the city. I sought to help our people understand how significant NYC is in God’s global purposes. Secondly I challenged those present to consider staying in NYC longer than they had planned, to continue to shine light in the darkness propelling the church in the city forward. Two statements that I asked those present to finish have seemed to get a little more traction that I anticipated. They were,

“I came to New York City to (or because) __________________.”

and,

“God brought me to New York City to (or because) __________________.”

Have you grappled with these two statements any? Could it be that God has global and eternal purposes for bringing you to the city that never sleeps? Could it be that His ways and His thoughts are higher than ours? Wrestle with this reality today. Engage in God’s mission of sharing the love and message of Jesus with your neighbors today. Resolve to never look back on your time in New York City with spiritual regret.

27Mar

Quotable Spurgeon

Churches are not made that men of ready speech may stand up on Sundays and talk, and so win daily bread from their admirers. No, there is another end and aim for this. These places of worship are not built that you may sit comfortably and hear something that shall make you pass away your Sundays with pleasure. A church which does not exist to do good in the slums, and dens, and kennels of the city, is a church that has no reason to justify its longer existing.

- Charles Spurgeon in Christ’s Words from the Cross

23Mar

Words

Words are mysteriously powerful. Instilling hope, healing a hurt or creating one, words have more power than we often realize. When the right words are spoken by the right person our lives can be interrupted even transformed for the good. The four gospels record a wealth of the stunning words spoken by Jesus Christ. Was He Lord or a lunatic? Just a good teacher or the Son of God?  Examine with us some of these surprising words of Jesus in our sermon series simply titled “Words.” Ten weeks of “Words” begin March 28th.

18Mar

What Did You Do For St. Patrick’s Day?

(Special Guest Blogger Nathan Tubbs)

Many times, we Christ-followers can easily get caught-up in celebrating holidays in the manner that the world has approved. We buy endless amounts of presents, we host egg-hunts, and we wear green in order to avoid being pinched. While we succeed in celebrating, we fail in using these celebrations as outreach. What we tend to forget is that holidays offer perfect opportunities for us to share our faith with non-believers. As many people walked the streets of my neighborhood last night, clad in green, with a drink in hand, I wondered how many of them even knew why we celebrate the life of Patrick.

Therefore, I was determined to rebel against this status quo. Although there is nothing wrong with attending parades or parties, I felt led to do more. So, last night, as I taught an ESL class filled with immigrants from countries that lack gospel-access, I taught about the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. The new vocabulary words my students learned last night did include words such as leprechaun, pot of gold, green, parade, and lucky charms. However, the contemporary celebration of the holiday was not our only focus. They learned several other new words including missionary, church, saint, holy, slave, and Christian as I told them of his time as a slave, his conversion, his desire to follow Christ’s leading, and his eventual mission to Ireland that resulted in the conversion of almost an entire nation. My students left class knowing that we were not celebrating a story of tiny green men who grant three wishes and hide pots of gold, but we were celebrating a life that was profoundly changed by the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

In a few weeks, we will celebrate Easter. While we will have opportunities to attend egg hunts and eat tons of candy, we will have an even greater opportunity – to share Jesus with our friends and neighbors. Many of those around us have never heard the true story of Easter. Take the time to share it with them. Invite them to worship with you on Easter Sunday, or share with them in conversation about why you enjoy the holiday. Whatever you do, don’t waste the opportunity to share of God’s grace.

(Nathan & his wife Leslie are seeking to plant a church in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn.)

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