Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sermon on the Mount

We're studying the Sermon on the Mount in the HS class I am teaching at church.  Fortunately, it is something I have studied in depth in the past, and the book I read while going through it was John R.W. Stott's "Sermon on the Mount."  It doesn't have an impressive name, nor does it have an impressive cover, but that book is SO good!  It really has helped in bringing out the importance of the message and all the ins and outs of it. 

We have been creeping through this passage of Scripture, but I think it's exactly what we should be doing.  We've studied 26 verses in 4 weeks.  Slow huh?  But when we focus in on just one topic, we can really explore it and see how it ties in with other parts of the Bible, and really learn the application of each part.  

This week (tomorrow) we'll be studying murder.  Jesus said not only is murder wrong, but thinking anger and using insults is as well.  And he includes them all in the same discussion!  How could what we think be as bad as actually killing?  As I explored my study aid and went through the Scripture myself, here's what was revealed.  Insulting people, and anger, and ignoring people you dislike - all these things destroy life.  Your words and actions (or non-actions) carry much weight and when you use them against someone else, you are hurting.  That hurt sometimes builds to the point of depression, which sometimes results in suicide.  But regardless of the outcome, anytime you do these things, which start in your mind as angry thoughts and come out as insults, you are not valuing that person's life and are taking away from their ability to live a full life, as Jesus hoped for everyone.  

I can't wait to go through this with the kids.  I think it has enormous application in the life of a teenager and I think they'll get a lot out of it.  I highly recommend this book if you are studying the Sermon on the Mount.  I didn't get everything above from that book, but that's where I ended up after reading some of the things it did contain.  

Everyone counts.  If we could remember that and act accordingly, how different this place would be.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Truth + Grace = The Right Way

I attend a men's community Bible study on Thursday mornings before work at the Presbyterian church downtown.  This past week, one of the things we discussed was how essential it is to have a good balance of truth and grace.  If there is just truth, then the truth is we are all sinners, we can't save ourselves, and it's enough to crush us.  The grace that God extends to us though takes away the pain of the truth - we're forgiven, we're loved despite being unworthy, and our failures are not final.  On the other hand, grace by itself leads to disillusionment - there's no accountability, it doesn't matter what we do, everything's fine all the time, and there's no reality check, no reason why we should change.  The balance of the two is God's perfect way of letting us know the truth, but not letting us just sit with it and be crushed by it.  Truth comes and at the same moment so does grace.  

As Christians, we need to exercise this balance in our lives as well.  Many Christians want to go one way or the other.  There are those out there who like to point out everyone's faults, rip people up and down for their sins, and as we all know - the truth hurts.  They never mix in any grace - they're legalistic and they wield the truth like a club, hitting anyone in arm's reach.  There's no grace to soften the blow.  Then there are those who are just so full of grace they'd never tell you the truth.  You know, all your best friends who would never confront you about sin.  And the people who won't tell people the hard truth because "we're supposed to be gracious."  And we are, but not solely.  Grace without truth is just soft, warm fuzzy love and no one ever addresses sin, so everyone always feels like they're just fine.  

What we need is a healthy balance, as God has modeled for us in His relationship with us.  We need to confront people with the truth, but with grace.  Paul said to deal with people gently.  No, I'm not saying that even with grace we need to confront everyone we know about their sins - there's no job position in the Bible that calls for a sin accuser.  But at the same time, we are responsible for those around us, and we were told to not just overlook it all the time.  We need to use spiritual wisdom to know when it's for their own good, and then we need to use a mixture of truth and grace.  They're both important, and they should be used in the same amount.

I have seen this work in my church.  There was a difficult situation where I knew feelings would be hurt, but the truth was that it had to happen.  So I tried to just heap on lots of grace (not false grace either - I meant every word that I said, and it was a good way of keeping me focused on being gracious while dealing out truth).  And within a week, the ordeal was over, and everyone agreed that we were moving in the right direction and there was little to no long-term fallout.  The grace came along with the truth and it allowed us to confront a situation (not being so gracious we wouldn't say anything and let it continue), but also once the truth was out to begin healing the hurt that came along with it immediately (not letting the truth just camp out and do long-term damage by itself).  

This was God's design, grace and truth, so it ought to be modeled by us in our lives.  

Friday, December 19, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

This is not a post against Christmas.  It is a post against the way we "celebrate" Christmas.  My last Christmas post pretty much addressed this, so I won't go into it again here in detail.  The point it this: you're going to buy a bunch of stuff for people who don't need it, when instead you could be using that money to bring people clean water who will otherwise die because of it, or many other worthwhile things that help people.  Christmas is the celebration of the life of Jesus.  Let's honor that life by heeding His teachings and helping those around us, by being His hands and feet in a broken world.  Check out this website for more ideas and for some videos you can share with those around you.  If nothing else, you should at least take two minutes to view the video on the top right of the home page.  You can make a huge difference.  The only question is will you?  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Being Jeremy Keegan

I read some interesting writing by a friend of mine today and long story short I was inspired to just write something a little different today and go a little introspective.  So, here are some interesting things about me:
- I really like westerns, not so much Clint Eastwood as John Wayne, and my favorite western is The Cowboys.  
- One day I hope to have a farm on which we will raise animals and have a big garden and we'll be much more self-sufficient than we're currently able to be here in town.  I just like the idea of having a family on a farm, working the land, being surrounded by natural beauty.  
- I enjoy different styles of music at different times of the week.  On Mondays, I like to get pumped up with something faster.  Wednesday nights I like something quiet.  Fridays I like the "music of your life" - like Frank Sinatra and friends.  Saturday nights I prefer jazz.  I go through phases where I like country music, but it is usually country music from 30+ years ago, and right now is not one of those times.  
- I am learning to speak, read, and write Chinese (Mandarin).
- If I could get time to do it, I would absolutely love to sit down and read my two volume set of Sherlock Holmes stories cover to cover.  
- My favorite bird is the pelican.  I'm not sure what our connection is, but I'm very taken with them.  One of my favorite things to do on vacation is wake up early and head down to the shore to watch the pelicans.  
- I really like to cook.  I would call myself an "experimental chef."  My favorite thing to cook right now is chili.  
- I used to be afraid of roller coasters as a kid.  Now, as an adult, I can't get enough of them - the bigger, faster, and crazier the better.  
- I have a white german shepherd named Jack.  As a puppy he destroyed most of my furniture. But he's my buddy and the day he goes will be one of the worst days of my life.  
- My two favorite TV shows are the Simpsons and MASH 
- Things that annoy me are unflushed toilets, people that don't smile back, being interrupted, gossip, and when people discontinue making food I really like.
- I cry every time at the end of the movie Hardball - every time.  
- My favorite board game is chess.  
- I am very interested in doing things that help the environment, like drinking right out of the milk carton to save water by not having to do as many dishes
- Something I want to be when I grow up is a writer.  
- I love having a family more than I ever could have imagined, and I would be fine having several more kids.  

I really enjoyed writing this, and hope that it entertains, informs, and inspires you to share more of yourself with those around you.  Relationships.  That's where it's at.  Opening up, being real with people.  Try it today!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

God - megalomaniac or extreme lover?

I ran across this question and subsequent answer on J.D. Greear's blog and saw that it provided permission to reuse and reproduce it, so I thought it was worth sharing here.  I encourage you to read this in its entirety before you render a verdict.  I started to get a little pumped up midway through, and then right after that, I found what I had been missing.  I think this is a very unique and important thought process we need to have.  Enjoy!

Why God Is Not a Megalomaniac in Demanding to Be Worshiped

The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS)
Providence, Rhode Island

By John PiperNovember 20, 2008


Several years ago Wayne Grudem told me that I should come to ETS more often because I am surrounded by people at my church who largely agree with me and may not challenge me in the way I would be challenged here at ETS. Here people will be more critical, and I will be helped to avoid error and refine my thinking.

So here I am, and I am looking for criticism—or at least penetrating questions that will help me avoid error and sharpen my biblical thinking. That means I aim to leave half my time for questions. That also means I can only give a few theses and a few arguments.

What I am presenting is the nub of what I have been saying over and over for about 25 years. This will not be new. I hope that your questions about it will help me do better if the Lord gives me a few more years, because this message is close to the heart of what I believe he put me on the earth to say.

Thesis 1

My all-shaping conviction is that God created the universe in order that he might be worshipped with white-hot intensity by created beings who see his glory manifested in creation and history and supremely in the saving work of Christ.

Thesis 2

I am also persuaded that people need to be confronted with how self-exalting God is in this purpose. To confront them with this, I give a quiz:

Q 1: What is the chief end of God?
A: The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy displaying and magnifying his glory forever.

Q 2: Who is the most God-centered person in the universe?
A: God.

Q 3: Who is uppermost in God’s affections?
A: God.

Q 4: Is God an idolater?
A: No. He has no other gods before him.

Q 5: What is God’s chief jealousy?
A: God’s chief jealousy is to be known, admired, trusted, enjoyed, and obeyed above all others.

Q 6: Do you feel most loved by God because he makes much of you, or because he frees you to enjoy making much of him forever?

Thesis 3

I press on this because I believe that if we are God-centered simply because we consciously or unconsciously believe God is man-centered, then our God-centeredness is in reality man-centeredness. Teaching God’s God-centeredness forces this issue of whether we treasure God because of his excellence or mainly because he endorses ours.

Thesis 4

God’s eternal, radical, ultimate commitment to his own self-exaltation permeates Scripture. His aim to be exalted glorified, admired, magnified, praised, and reverenced is seen to be the ultimate goal of all creation, all providence, and all saving acts.

  • “He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:5-6).
  • God created the natural world to display his glory: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalms 19:1).
  • “You are my servant Israel in whom I will be glorified” (Isaiah 49:3); “. . . that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory (Jeremiah 13:11).
  • “He saved them [at the Red Sea] for his name’s sake that he might make known his mighty power” (Psalm l06:7-8); “I have raised you up for this very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (Romans 9:17).
  • “I acted [in the wilderness] for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out (Ezekiel 20:14).
  • [After asking for a king] “Fear not . . . For the Lord will not cast away his people for his great name’s sake (l Samuel 12:20-22).
  • “Thus says the Lord God, It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act [in bringing you back from the exile], but for the sake of my holy name . . . . And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name . . . and the nations will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36:22-2332). “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My namebe profaned? And My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 48:11).
  • “Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:8-9).
  • “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (John 12:2728).
  • “He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
  • “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
  • “I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).
  • “Whoever serves [let him serve], as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified” (1 Peter 4:11).
  • “Immediately an angel of the Lord smote [Herod] because he did not give glory to God” (Acts 12:23).
  • “. . . when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints and to be marveled at in all who have believed (2 Thessalonians l:9-l0).
  • “Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory, which thou hast given me in Thy love for me before the foundation of the world” (John l7:24).
  • “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
  • “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the lamb” (Revelation 21:23).

Thesis 5

This is not megalomania because, unlike our self-exaltation, God’s self-exaltation draws attention to what gives greatest and longest joy, namely, himself. When we exalt ourselves, we lure people away from the one thing that can satisfy their souls—the infinite beauty of God. When God exalts himself, he manifests the one thing that can satisfy our souls, namely, God.

Therefore, God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the most loving act, since love labors and suffers to enthrall us with what is infinitely and eternally satisfying, namely, God. Therefore, when God exalts God and commands us to join him, he is pursuing our highest, deepest, longest happiness. This is love, not megalomania.

Thesis 6

God’s pursuit of his glory and our pursuit of our joy turn out to be the same pursuit. This is what Christ died to achieve. “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). When we are brought to God as our highest treasure, he gets the glory and we get the pleasure.

Thesis 7

To see this and believe this and experience this is radically transforming to worship—whether personal or corporate, marketplace or liturgical.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Gospel Message

There is a reason why the story and teachings of Jesus was told 4 different ways by 4 different guys and made it into the BIble in 4 different books.  BECAUSE IT'S IMPORTANT.  Anyone who has studied literature will tell you how repetition is a literary device used to show importance (and other things).  Is it any wonder there is so much attention given to the life of God who came down in flesh?  This must be given priority in our study and teaching.  Now, that is not to say that the rest of the Bible isn't important or shouldn't be taught - because it is and should.  You wouldn't understand the Gospel without the rest of the Bible.  Everything before it leads up to it and sets up why it was necessary.  Everything after it describes what to do with it and what will happen because of it.  But don't miss this - the essentials are in the Gospel.  If you are structuring your life around Deuteronomy primarily, you're misusing your Bible.  The OT provides you the backstory of the history of God and people and that all points to and leads up to the Jesus part of the story.  It is vital to read the OT so that you get a better picture of who God is, how people had relationship with Him, and there are many beneficial things to learn there.  Also, a lot of people like the writings of Paul.  All that stuff is good, but the story of Jesus is in there 4 times for a reason - because it is the most important part.  Whatever part of the Bible you are reading, keep all this in mind, and it will enrich your understanding and will keep bringing you back to the Gospel.  One last sidenote - are we teaching and preaching it as that important as well?  Same arguments listed above apply to teaching - do we have that understanding?  Christ followers need to primarily be living the life Jesus Christ instructed them to.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Our Lives as a Witness

More and more we are finding that our lives are our witness to those outside the faith, but what does that actually mean for us?  Pastor of The Summit Church in NC, J.D. Greear had some amazing thoughts on his blog today, so I thought I would just let him speak on this subject, as I couldn't say it any better.  (go to his November 19, 2008 post)

My favorite part is  "we are to live in such a way that our lives BEG a question from people that are watching."

Is this you?  Is this me?  It should be...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Cart Before the Horse

I am reading "unChristian" right now and it is a phenomenal book.  The premise is that many of the things we "Christians" do right now is actually rather un-Christian.  The writers have spent years researching and compiling their findings into this book to show how outsiders view the church and why we need to change.  We are viewed as sheltered, hypocritical, antihomosexual, and several other things.  They have many small sections in the book that have been written by many other pastors and Christian leaders and a theme seems to be popping up regularly, and I am encountering it in sermons on podcasts as well, and it is this:  We have put the cart before the horse too long in evangelism and it's time we turned it around.  

What they mean is that for a long time we have been asking people to make a decision as their first act, and then get to know Jesus.  We have emphasized the importance of the decision - with good reason, as we see the decision as being the point where they ask Jesus into their hearts, hence receiving salvation - and this is what most Christians are passionate about, saving people from an eternity in Hell.  But, if we take a look at where Christianity has led in the last 50 years, with that as the emphasis, has it been the right emphasis?  Many people make decisions and then fall by the wayside - they turn back to their old lifestyles, they stop going to church, they aren't brought into a small group or a church family where they can be discipled and loved.  Of course this is not the case in every situation, but there seems to be an overall lack of enthusiasm about Christ and it's coming from Christians.  Maybe it's because they decided to become one before they really knew Jesus.  

The premise of the writers I am referring to above would say that nonbelievers shouldn't make a snap decision, but that we as churches should invite them to come and be with us, and learn who God is and see what He's done in our lives first.  Then, they will be drawn to Him through us - they will learn who Jesus is and what He's done and they will see lives that have been changed and hear stories of restoration and grace and that's what they will be drawn to.  

Some would say, well that message is what we call the Gospel, and if it is preached one time, then they've heard it and can respond - what more is there to be done?  I don't have a comprehensive answer for that, and I'm not trying to say the old methods were wrong.  But there is a new generation out there, and they are a skeptical and cautious group that sees right through our masks.  If we call ourselves Christians, they are going to wait and evaluate that claim before deciding anything about us.  If we push them for a snap decision, it will push them away in many cases.  

We also need to get a lot more serious about discipleship.  If we have a bunch of people running around claiming to be Christians who, when questioned, can't explain what exactly they believe in or why, then we are presenting ourselves as blind and ignorant followers of something unknown to even ourselves.  C.S. Lewis said, "If you can't turn your faith into the vernacular, then either you don't understand it or you don't believe it."  

There are a lot of labels Christianity has on itself right now, many of them not good.  What are you doing to change that?

Monday, November 10, 2008

What is Christmas?

I just heard a Q-talk by Chris Seay on consumerism.  I have been feeling this for a while now, and have mentioned it a couple times but not gotten supportive response.  I am overwhelmed thinking this right now.  Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ - at least for Christ-followers it is supposed to be that.  It celebrates the beginning of a life that was lived out differently, in stark contrast to the pop-culture of His day.  His was a way of caring, grace, peace, generosity, love, and holiness.  Christmas is a celebration of the beginning of THAT LIFE.  

But what is our usual habit of "celebrating" Christmas?  We spend hundreds (some spend thousands) of dollars buying ourselves and each other things we do not need.  Exactly how does that celebrate the life of Christ?  I'm not sure it does.  There will inevitably be the person (or maybe everyone) out there that will tell me the tie in for the gifts and Jesus and will justify it in light of this discussion.  But justify this: a child dies every 15 minutes simply because they don't have clean water, yet we spend $600 giving our kid a room full of toys.  

What I'm getting at here is not that it is wrong to give gifts.  I am ALL for giving meaningful gifts that come from our God-given talents and abilities (things like baked goods, poems, photographs, and the many other things we can do and create).  Even smaller gifts, like a book or a journal - something someone really needs, that's ok too.  But this addictive consumerism that takes over us and we buy and buy and buy and we are constantly taking inventory of how much stuff we've bought compared to how much we think someone else will buy for us, cause we can't look like the cheapskate - THIS HAS TO GO.  What about that process celebrates Christ?  

Here's a radical idea.  What if we narrowed down our gift giving to one or two meaningful, from the heart, gifts and took the rest of the money we were going to spend and sent it to the Rwanda Clean Water Program so kids could get clean water and stop dying.  Or there are tons of other ideas out there in which we can use our money (which we have a ridiculous abundance of - just look at your Christmas bills if you think I'm wrong) and use it for the good of those who are not as blessed as we are.  Your family could sponsor a child, or buy mosquito nets to help prevent malaria, or decide to buy gifts only from a website that is fair trade, send Operation Christmas Child boxes, or many other things.  Isn't this more of an actual celebration of the life of Jesus than just consuming?  

If my suggestions make you mad - and you're mad at the idea that we do away with the huge spending on piles of gifts, I urge you to prayerfully and Scripturally consider your habits.  I challenge each of us to choose habits this Christmas that honor the life of Christ, instead of choosing ones that ignore it.  Read the Gospels and tell me what Jesus would think of our Christmas.  All the money we throw away each December - that money can be STOPPING problems in other parts of the world.  It's your choice.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I come second

I just finished reading an amazing book by Eugene Peterson called "Working the Angles." The three angles are prayer, scripture, and spiritual direction. There's no huge imagery or illustrations that tie deeply into the whole "angle" thing, and there's no subliminal reason that there's only three. In Peterson's mind, there is only prayer and scripture for us to be putting energy towards, and we are also supposed to have and be a spiritual director.
The concepts that he brings out about prayer, Scripture, Sabbath, and many other things are so life-changing. He says prayer doesn't start with us. God spoke first, so any speaking we do is second and ought to be in response to God. Wow, kind of changes the idea of "starting a meeting with prayer." He also talks about how God spoke His Word, and then it was written down later. God's Word is spoken, and as such, it is arranged in narrative form. When we submit to others our teaching from the Scripture, are we giving it that value? That whatever verse we pick is deeply and inseperably tied to a huge story that God literally SPOKE to us. Do we read the Bible like that? Again, God spoke, we listen - we come second. He also discussed how we see our day to day structure. The day begins when we go to sleep - because we get out of the way and God does amazing and infinite things as the sovereign creator that He is, and then we wake up later and ask to be a part of it. The Jews saw each day ending at sundown, and beginning in the dark while they were asleep. God comes first, creating and moving in the details things we can't possibly imagine, and then we get up and become a part of it each day. We come second.
Whether you agree with his ideas or not, I think it is worth considering the overall point that everything we do ought to be done with a proper posture and mindset - that God comes first and we come second. This one thread should run constant through the way we pray, the way we live out each day, the way we study the Bible and interact with each other, and maybe even the way we prepare to go to sleep. Think about it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I was listening to Ed Young's sermon on iTunes from this past Sunday and he put words to a distinction we need to recognize.  The term tolerance used to mean "acceptance".  You tolerate it, you accept it.  In this way, Christians should be tolerant.  And it is something we try to be - accepting.  We accept people with various lifestyles, problems, attitudes, etc.  Or at least we should.  But today it has a different connotation, which goes askew of this original meaning.  Now it means "approval."  Now, in order to be tolerant, we not only have to accept something, we have to approve of it, or applaud it.  If we do not approve of lifestyles, problems, attitudes, etc., we are labeled as intolerant.  There is a need for us as Christians to be tolerant (accepting) of all people, but we need not applaud their lifestyles and actions when they go opposite to our values and teachings - AND THIS INCLUDES OURSELVES.  People who attend church regularly need to stop approving of their own lifestyles and habits as well, when they also run counter to a life that would honor God.  So, we should be tolerant (accepting) of everyone, but not to the point where we applaud things we know to be sinful.  When people do come, the opposite reaction is not the best either - to condemn them for what they are doing.  What the church needs to do when people are hurting or need help is to put down our stones and get our our bandaids (thanks Jud).   If imperfect people can't come to the church and receive all the help they need, where can they go?  If we're not that place, what are we?  

Sunday, November 2, 2008

An Ongoing Conversation

In Eugene Peterson's book "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction" he says that he realized at one point that the most important things he could do as a pastor were Scripture and prayer.  Scripture, being God's Word, is a way for God to communicate to us, to literally speak to us.  And for those of us who read it often we know it can come to life in front of us and jump right into our souls and speak to something we've been working on or tell us something we need to say.  Prayer on the other hand is our way of communicating to God, and sometimes we know God also communicates to us through prayer as well.  He realized that he must also combine the two as much as possible - prayerfully reading Scripture, and praying scripturally.  And there's lots of other comparisons and illustrations you can draw from his ideas if you want.

The thing I pulled from those ideas is that there is supposed to be an ongoing conversation between you and God when things are as they should be.  Brother Lawrence called this Practicing the Presence of God.  Every fiber and moment in life is created by God and full of His purpose.  We, as His men and women, need to be in tune with God at all times.  How better to know what His will is for our lives, and how better to know what He wants us to do in a given situation, or what to say to someone?  And what a great constant reminder of who's really in charge and where we should go first when things come up.  

Through my first week of doing 60 minutes for 60 days, I have already noticed a difference.  I bring more things to God, and I notice Him more throughout the day, and I feel that I am beginning to view more of life through a God filter because He's on my mind more.  But I am also noticing just how big of a problem I have as well.  There are times when I am on a photo shoot for work and I all of the sudden notice that I haven't heard my watch chime in a couple hours.  I at first wonder if it is still working, but alas the problem is that I was so engrossed in work I overlooked/ignored God.  Also, there are times when I hear the chime but I don't really stop what I am doing, but instead give God a quick hello, how are you kind of response instead of truly pausing to acknowledge Him.  

The good news is, I have 52 more days to improve.  I am already planning to probably never not have a chiming watch again, as it is such a good way to stay in touch with God.  And I am finding that I don't know more about His will for my life yet, but that I am more willing to be a part of it each day.  I can't wait for Christmas!  

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I was on the Deadly Vipers website this morning, and watched an interview with Jud Wilhite and Mike Foster from Catalyst last year.  Something they said just kind of stuck out to me so I thought I'd mention it here.  It was a statement that is simple, yet profound and worth repeating to lots of people, but especially myself.  They said, as leaders, we need to be people of "radical grace, and radical integrity."  As I thought about that, I realized you can't really add much to that.  Show people grace, and act with integrity, both of which we get from God.  Everything else falls under that umbrella somewhere - being humble, honest, preaching the Gospel, etc. - all of these happen, and happen well with people who are full of grace and integrity.  The further I go into this calendar year, the more the importance of our relationship with God is being brought to my attention.  And, the more I see people living without it.  As pastors, or leaders - we can't do this in the lives of other Christians - we can't make them have a good relationship with God.  They have to want to.  And since everything else (integrity, grace, etc) comes from having a relationship with God - it seems like that better be at the top of our priority list - for ourselves and for those around us.  

My first 5 days of 60 minutes for 60 days has gone pretty well.  When I am out on a photo shoot, I am realizing that I don't hear the little chime sometimes (too engrossed I guess).  But I can already tell that I am much more constantly connected to God than I was a week ago.  This has been a great decision and already I am feeling much closer to God, which is helping in my daily living.  

Sunday, October 26, 2008

60 Minutes for 60 Days

While I was at Catalyst a few weeks ago, I had some very amazing men speak to me about their churches and about God, and I was positively impacted by many of them.  One such man is John Burke, who is the senior pastor of Gateway Church.  He also wrote "No Perfect People Allowed" which is in my library, and on my short list.  He told us how one of the things his church is doing to bring people closer to God is a 60 Minutes for 60 Days campaign.  During this time, everyone in the church sets a time telling device (watch, cell phone, etc.) to chime every hour, and when it does, you stop and take a moment or two to acknowledge, talk to, worship, etc. God.  Once we hit the door for the way home on Sunday morning, we begin immediately getting distracted from God by the rest of the world.  This is a great way to be constantly reminded that He is right there all the time, and that He desires relationship with us all the time.  

They began this a few weeks ago, and I am starting mine today.  I wanted to do the 60 days leading up to Christmas as a way to build my relationship up between now and then, and hopefully enjoy an even more meaningful Christmas celebration.  I don't usually wear a watch, so it will take a little time to get used to having it on all the time, but I really think it will be worth it.  It's a modern day way to begin practicing the presence of God, like Brother Lawrence and so many others have done in the past.  And hopefully, my paying more attention to God will conversely make me pay less attention to other things that are the sinful distractions in my life.  Try it for yourself!  

Monday, October 20, 2008

Standing in the Gap

Ezekiel 22:30 "I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one."  This is one of the saddest commentaries on the Israelites from the Old Testament, but is it a relavent commentary still today?  God had said that the land was thick with cheating and murdering, lying and stealing, and all kinds of wickedness - so there needed to be someone or some people to rise up, and build the wall back up in order to protect the land from evil, people to stand in the gap and keep the Enemy out...but He found no one.   My TNIV note said God was looking for people of integrity.  John Maxwell says you have integrity when your deed matches your creed.  There is still a need for men and women of integrity today who will stand up and begin to build a protective wall around this land, who will fight to keep the Enemy from advancing to the inner regions.  I'm not talking about publicly condemning sin and telling everyone how evil Satan is.  I'm talking about not being a channel through which those things flow.  Being instead a wall that doesn't allow it past.  God is looking for you to stand in the gap with integrity in order to be part of the wall that protects His creation instead of helping to destroy it.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


To say the least, the three days I spent in Atlanta last week are going to play a HUGE part in my future.  I attended Catalyst, a conference on Christian leadership.  It was so awesome.  I couldn't possibly talk about all the things I heard and was influence by, so I am updating my links on this page with some blogs and homepages of the guys who really made an impact on me.  I encourage you, for the good of the Body of Christ and how it will be carried on into the future, to check out some of these sites and open yourself up the be influenced by men who are doing huge things for the Kingdom of God right now.  My only challenge to you is to think about this:  what year is it?  Now, what year is your church operating out of?  If your church has been doing things the same way for 10 years, it has probably lost quite a bit of relevance to today's culture.  Never would I suggest we change our theology, because God and His Gospel never change and are always good.  But in order to reach people that nobody else is reaching, we might need to do things nobody else is doing.  Reread these words and let God work in your heart and challenge you.  Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but our ONLY goal here is to reach more lost souls - not to preserve the past.  But neither should any church seek to be so relevant that they become disconnected.  The Gospel is our message, and it needs no help - we only need to bring it, to people, today.  We've been changed to bring change.  Are we trying to preserve tradition at the risk of losing the Gospel?  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Becoming a father has been one of the biggest challenges of my life so far.  And he's only 4 months old!  I can't begin to tell you how I am worried already about broken bones and trips to the dentist and his defiant attitude that is only so far away.  But, I think I'm doing alright.  Taking the first week of his life off from work was a great decision and I was really able to take care of my family and bond with Ross, and not to mention I got to change a couple hundred diapers!  It was hard to go back to work, but not nearly as hard as when Sarah went back to work.  She only works about two days a week, but on those days, I hardly see Ross at all.  And I hear storied of how he is doing all kinds of neat stuff at grandma's house that I never get to witness.  It's pretty hard sometimes.  But only in that I miss him, and want to hold him and interact with him.  

The first several weeks, all the constant crying was hard, but I got some good advice from two people that really helped.  First, a coworker said (from experience) - you need to get some good earplugs, to take the edge off of the screaming, allowing you to calm down enough to still do what you need to do.  See a baby's cry is designed by God to absolutely shoot right through a man like nothing else, and that's so we'll do something about it.  But the earplugs were great - I only used them twice, but both times I was able to not get SO tense that I got frazzled.  The other advice came from Sarah, and she said, when you start getting upset, just hand him off to me.  I at first wanted so much to be able to "handle it" that I would fight the urge to call her in - like I couldn't take care of my own crying baby!  But she was right, sometimes you just need to switch off - when you are tense, the baby senses that and you won't be able to calm it down because you're not calm.  (Coincidently, I got to be the calmer one once recently, and now I understand the full circle of it).  

It is difficult, but I wouldn't change a thing!  I love Ross, and I like having a baby around, and I can't wait for the things he is going to do in the future (famous last words, I know).  But I was quite surprised to hear a piece on the morning news this morning that suggested that new fathers are very susceptible to depression because it's so hard, and you should seek counseling and anti-depressants to handle it.  They even recommended visiting a website called .  That IS sad.  I wonder if some of the dads who are that depressed were actually ready (commitment wise) for fatherhood, or if they sort of became daddies and it wasn't their desire at that time.  My advice to anyone out there thinking of becoming a father soon - go spend some real time with couples who have infants and young toddlers and talk to them.  Hold their babies and play with their kids, and maybe even change a diaper (although really, it's not nearly as bad as you think it will be - honest!).  Sarah and I have kept up good communication since Ross was born, and we have been able to alter things for the family as needed.  I was spending Saturdays golfing for a couple weeks and then studying in the evenings, and wasn't really spending quality time with the family.  We talked about this and I changed my priorities and schedule and it's been better for all of us.   And future dads, talk to other dads, and ask them the questions you really want to know, and how they have dealt with things.  Most assuredly every couple benefits from having God in their relationship, and having access to his counsel and love and peace.  This is a vital part of our family life and should be yours too.  God can get you through anything, even being a father, without resorting to the internet or pills.  

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Battling My Biggest Opponent

I put this together almost a year ago from one of my treks up to Reddish Knob.  It seemed fitting for my thoughts this morning.  I have been reading a book by Os Guinness called God in the Dark.  It's a book about doubt - where it comes from and what to do with it.  The chapter I just finished talked about exactly, dead-on what I have been going through the last couple months.  
In the last 4 years, I have taken 3 years worth of seminary classes, I have read approximately 60 books on Christianity, have been involved with weekly Bible study, daily Bible reading, prayer, preaching (infrequently), and much discussion on matters of faith and spirituality.  I am not mentioning this for bragging purposes - no, in fact I am still a beginner seeking to learn more and more - I mentioned it to set up the context of the situation.  The thing that has been nagging me quite a bit (and increasingly more and more) lately has been temptation.  The areas that the temptations come from are things that I know to myself to be unquestioned, resolute areas that I flat out would never go.  But the thoughts have been coming more frequently, they have been getting more rationalizing, and more persistent.  
The conflict that arises is, how can I - someone so involved in my Christian walk, someone who reads so much, who studies and all that - how can I struggle so much with these temptations?  Am I really not such a good Christian?  Is my faith really weak?  I have prayed for help in this arena, but have seen only negative progress.  Why???  What's going on here?  What can I do to fix this?
As I was reading this morning, it was as if God was writing me a letter to provide me the answer I had been looking for.  Here are some of the quotes from different people in the chapter I read today:  
"Moods never go by praying, moods go by kicking.  A mood nearly always has its seat in the physical condition, not the moral.  It is a continual effort not to listen to the moods which arise from a physical condition, never submit to them for a second.  We have to take ourselves by the scruff of the neck and shake ourselves, and we will find that we can do what we said we could not." - Oswald Chambers  
"Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?"  - Martyn Lloyd-Jones
"...address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself"  - Martyn Lloyd-Jones
"Unless we train our emotions they will lead us around by the nose, and we will be captives to every passing impulse or reaction." - Oswald Chambers
"For my part, I run with a clear goal before me; I am like a boxer who does not beat the air; I bruise my own body and make it know its master." - The Apostle Paul in Corinthians

The problem was not that there was anything wrong with my faith.  Christian truth is still true, and my faith is as strong as it really is.  The problem is that I have been letting my emotions (that change with each passing situation around me) dictate my thoughts and suggested actions and I have been a slave to emotion - my faith has been captive to emotion.  I have been listening to myself (and we all know how our imaginations can run wild if not kept in check) instead of talking to myself (bringing the harsh reality check in when it's needed).  
My biggest opponent is my undisciplined self, and the emotional rollercoaster that is allowed to run free if I don't do something about it.  I prayed for outside help - what I needed to do was grab the bull I was sitting on by the horns and take charge myself.  When those temptations arise from now on, I will confront them with preaching, with reality checks, with menacing and bruising force (metaphorically).  I am a tough guy - and I'm tired of being pushed around and feeling like there's nothing I can do.  It's time to get tough with myself.
Emotion has its place in life, but that place is not in the driver's seat.  Think of all the times that people's emotions get out of control and how that dictates their actions - faith should dictate our emotions, not the other way around.  I feel strengthened today, and I hope you do too if you've been dealing with similar issues.  
C.S. Lewis says "Faith is the art of holding onto things your reason has once accepted, in spite of our change of moods.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Church

This last Sunday I went to church at Nags Head Church, which is the church we go to when we are on vacation at the beach. Over the last several years I have gotten to know a few of the people there a bit, including the pastor's son, Nathan. I just added his blog as a link to visit from my site because his story is one of absolute trials and faith. I'm not worthy of telling his story for him, so please just read his blog to find out what he and his wife and daughter have been through and the story they have to tell - it will melt your heart, strengthen your faith, and rock your world. I don't know him all that well, but Nathan is a friend of mine and he has taught me a lot about church. There are many things that Nags Head Church has: a cool building shaped like a wave, a phenomenal worship band, a Spirit-led and God-honoring pastor who is an exceptional leader and preacher, and a group of wonderful people as the body there. I absolutely love attending there, it blesses my heart so much that it hurts me inside to leave after only one worship service a year. And that's the way it should be.

For all the things that that church has or doesn't have, there is one thing that they are that can be summed up in one word: genuine. They are genuine Christians and it shows in everything they do. The worship wraps around you and you fall into it because it is so genuine and Spirit-led. The words of the pastor, whether they are stern, joking, instructional, or story-telling, they are all genuine, spoken to the people, straight from God.

Is my church genuine? Am I? These things are a lot more difficult to see in the mirror than they are in someone else. It made me take a good hard look at myself and ask, when people are around me, do they see a genuine Christian, or do they see someone who talks the right way and knows some things but doesn't seem quite like the real thing. What is the experience like at my church? It is different. Maybe it's different for me and not for others, but I think regardless, it may not be quite as genuine. As a member of my church, I include myself in the Church I talk of.

If we're not where we need to be, why? What needs to happen in a church in order to get the body functioning as genuine Christians all of the time? If there was an easy answer to that, all churches would be healthy and wonderful because we would know how to do it. As an up and coming Christian leader, I struggle with this immensely - what should the Church look like (what should it be), and how do I get people from outside of that framework into it?

In his book The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer says, "We Christians are the Church, so whatever we are doing is what the Church is doing." Well, that's a good answer, but it's a scary one too. That puts the responsibility on the people in the church, not just the pastor. The whole can not be greater than the sum of its parts. What each church actually is - is the sum of each member of that church and what they are currently doing. If the church is made up of a bunch of genuine Christians with servant's hearts who are surrendered to God's will - you will have a church that is the very same. If your church has a decent leader, but the people generally are just Sunday morning attenders and they're not in God's will and are not surrendered and genuine in their daily lives, then the very same things will be true of your church. Again, this clearly shows that the personality, if you will, of a church does not stem from the pastor, but from all of the people in that church. What am I doing as a Christian? Do I understand the parallel consequences of what I am doing to the type of church I am a part of? The kind of Christian you are is a direct influence upon the church you regularly attend. And every person there has the same level of accountability and responsibility in this regard.

As I continue to reflect on my time at Nags Head Church, it creates a clear picture in my mind of the type of Christians who make up that church - because it comes through not only in the worship, or the message, but the entire experience - from the time you park to the time you leave the property. Now, if I don't think my church experience is the same (as good), then who's partly to blame for that? ME. If I want my church to be a certain way or do a certain thing, I need to be that way and do that thing first. What we do and who are are is what the Church is doing and what the Church is. Think about that, and ask yourself what kind of church you want, and what you're going to do about it in your own life.

Some final thoughts from the message brought to us last Sunday. "We must change so others can be changed by knowing us." "Let it be said of us that we lived our lives as a blessing to others." "In what significant ways is my life being changed by the Word of God?" "I've been changed to bring change."

Let these words be the words we live by as Christians. I will challenge myself with these phrases in order to ensure that I am a vital part of whatever church body I attend. I pray you would challenge yourself with these too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Nowadays, things are different. On June 26, Ross Vernon Keegan came into our world and everything has been different. I see the world differently, my priorities have changed, and I am growing in new ways every day. Being a father is one of the most challenging and rewarding things in life. With a demanding full-time job, and earning a Master's degree on the side, it is very difficult to balance everything. So far so good though. The one thing getting me through is the absolutely remarkable wife God blessed me with - Sarah. She is so amazing with Ross. She is so patient, nurturing, and wonderful. No one can calm him like she can, and he smiles for her more than anyone else too. I get frazzled from time to time, but she is my strength and my rock in those times. I can't imagine raising a child with a better person.

I am about halfway through seminary. Through my academic and personal reading and studies, there have been so many new things that I have begun to think about. What exactly is the Emergent Church Movement? Are these guys on the right track or steering off course? Tozer's book "The Knowledge of the Holy" reminds me that I can't ever define God - so how do I know Him? We have discussed that in our Bible study recently. The more I read the Bible, the more questions I have, but we don't reach God through reason but by faith. How do I let go of those questions in the right way in order to actually strengthen my faith, instead of fill myself with doubt? I have been challenged in the ways of church government in some of my recent activities in the church. I am frustrated with antiquated language and ideas. I could go on and on.

I have been doing well with reading through the entire Bible in a year, except the month of August was pretty much disregarded. The more I got behind, the more daunting it seemed to try to catch up. I am on vacation next week and plan to do all my catch up reading then and be back on track for September. It has been one of the biggest blessings in my life though to have such regular contact with God's word. The interaction between what I am reading daily and the books I am also reading, as well as what I study in school is so interesting and enriching on both ends.

I am close to finishing up Tozer's book, and I have Peterson and Lewis books on deck next, as well as a couple by some new guys that look interesting. I think if I was able to, I would read for 2-3 hours a day. Man, am I dreaming though! Oh well, little strokes fell great oaks.

A young woman in my Bible study just left to do a year long mission trip to India. You can check her out at Pray for her whenever you get a chance. Her name is Kim.

I think that's about it for now. I am going to a Christian leadership conference in October called Catalyst. The host is Andy Stanley, senior pastor at NorthPoint Community Church in Atlanta. He is one of my really big guys right now. I listen to his sermons a lot. I think the conference is going to be a huge boost for me spiritually, and possibly in the area of future plans. As always, feel free to comment anytime, just to say hi, or ask questions, or discuss whatever.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Covenants

Most Christians are familiar with the term "the New Covenant", but many don't know the whole story of the covenants. There are actually five covenants mentioned in the Bible. A covenant is a way in which God expresses His plan to humans, in the form of a promise. We have been talking about the covenants in Transformation and had some great discussion last night. A good understanding of the covenants opens up a greater understanding of the other stuff that's in the Bible and how to properly apply it. God's intention throughout all time has been to bless man. But man keeps rebelling, to God modifies His covenant throughout history in order to keep blessing.

The Noahic Covenant
The first covenant was made to Noah. You can find it in Genesis 9:11 and God basically says, Never again will I destroy the earth with a flood. This was an undonditional covenant, meaning man didn't have to do anything in order for God to keep His end. Regardless of all else, God wouldn't flood the earth again. And we have the rainbow in the sky to remind us of that still today.

The Abrahamic Covenant
The second covenant was made to Abraham. In Genesis 17:1-8, God changes Abram's name (meaning exalted father) to Abraham (meaning father of many). He also promises that He will make Abraham's descendants a great nation, that will be God's nation, and that He will give them Canaan as their own land. This too was an unconditional covenant, meaning God would do this, regardless. As you read what has happened in between the first and second covenants, you see that man in general has continued in its wicked ways, so God now wants to establish just one nation as His own, to be "a kingdom of priests."

The Mosaic Covenant
The third covenant was made to Moses, in Exodus 19:5-6. This covenant had a condition though. It basically said, IF you obey Me, then I will bless you. The implication here is the opposite - that if you don't obey God, you will not have His blessing. In fact, in Deuteronomy 28, Moses even explains it very clearly that obedience will be followed by blessing, disobedience will result in God cursing you (through failing crops, disease, military defeat, etc.). (Cursing is not synonymous with cussing.)

The Davidic Covenant
The fourth covenant was made with David, in 2 Samuel 7:14-16. This covenant was also conditional but was conditional not on the entire nation, but upon the kings (David's descendants). God says that if the kings obey, the people will be blessed. God also promises that He will establish that throne (the line of David) forever. This covenant had the same implication as the other though, that if the king was not obedient to God, the people would not receive blessing.

The New Covenant
The fifth and final covenant is the New Covenant, and we find it in Jeremiah 31:31-34. In this covenant God declares that this covenant won't be like the old ones, but instead He will forgive their sins and remember them no more. This is a covenant He will establish in the future, which He ended up doing through Jesus Christ. "I will be their God, and they will be my people...they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest." And we know that this was implemented because Jesus died for all of our sins, thus allowing us to no longer be separated from God, but be in relationship with Him in a way that wasn't possible before. And this is the covenant that we are under still today.

There are several reasons why the covenants are so important and foundational to our understanding. First, the Bible is God's Word to us about our past, present, and future and how He is involved in all three. It is a theological history book, showing us what role God has played in human history, and also what His plan is for the future. As we read that history, we can use these covenants as landmarks to see what God was doing in order to bless man throughout history. If you are reading say, in the book of Joshua, and you read that someone disobeyed God and was put to death, keeping in mind the Mosaic covenant allows a proper application of that Scripture. God won't put someone to death today for disobedience, why? Because we are under a different covenant now. All of our sins are forgiven. But, back in that day, there was a different covenant, and that's how it worked. Everything in the Bible is worthy of application to our lives today, but it needs to be properly applied. A good understanding of the covenants is one thing that helps us to do that. We can apply from something like that that God REALLY desires obedience from us. We can also be thankful that God established the New Covenant with us.

Reading about the covenants also helps us really see just how much God wants to have a relationship with us and desires to bless us. He could easily have given up long ago, but instead He established continuing covenants to let us know He has not given up and He still desires great things for us.

Another way that the covenants can be of assistance is that they can literally be landmarks as you study the Bible. If you know when in history God made the various covenants, then regardless of what you are studying, you have a better overall understanding of what the situation was at that time, based on the covenant that the people were under.

In our Bible study last night, there were many great questions about the covenants. Hopefully this will inspire you to study them, and develop questions and then seek to answer them in fellowship with other Christians. What other overarching themes are in the Bible that help us to understand the finer points of our theology? Get into God's Word and discover them today. It is impossible for us to have great understanding of something we refuse to read.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Power of the Monk

In school we have been studying monasticism recently. People desired to escape the immoral society and get out into the wilderness alone with God in order to train themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. The one problem in their early thinking was that they stayed there alone with God and never returned to society.

But they were definitely on to something important. In today's society of instant gratification and media surrounding us we often don't ever think that it might be a good idea to step away from that from time to time. But let's face it, with everything going on around us, it's hard to keep up good relationships with those we want to. How much more difficult is it to keep up a relationship with God, whom we can't see or hear physically? He's there, but we don't see or hear him because of all the distractions. We need to get back in touch with the discipline of Solitude.

Two books that everyone should read regarding spiritual discipline are The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard and Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster - in that order. Dallas talks about our big problem in Christianity being the concept of WWJD. We somehow have come to think that if we just want to bad enough, we can make good decisions in the moment - imitating all the good decisions Jesus made when facing the Pharisees and being obedient even to death. We think we can be like Jesus, but we miss an important part of the equation. Much of Jesus' time was spent alone, in a quiet place (like the desert, or a garden, or mountaintop) - fasting and praying, spending time alone with God. And this is where He drew His strength from. It was always after a time like this that He came back to society and did something amazing. He would strengthen Himself in the Lord, through solitude and prayer, and then do the "Jesus things" we try to imitate. But we never imitate His discipline. It's like me watching baseball all the time and thinking that if I were to get the chance to hit against a major league pitcher, I could probably hit a pretty good one - maybe even a homerun - because I am so familiar with it - from watching. But the problem is I never put the time into disciplining myself like major league hitters do. Practicing their swing thousands of times, weight lifting, eating right, studying pitches. I would have false confidence. And many Christians suffer from this - and it harms their overall journey on the spiritual path of life.

We can't be like Jesus in part, we have to imitate the whole. We have to be well-versed with Scripture like He was and practice the disciplines. This is what the monks valued - practicing and honing their spritual skills. One problem some of them had though was that they never returned to society to benefit anyone else with that spiritual strength. And this is a problem we have today too. Sometimes we believe that our Christianity is about us and God. We just need to work on our relationship with Him on a personal level and once we've achieved that, we're happy. But that's because we're selfish. We negate everything Jesus taught us, and in fact, much of the teaching from the Pentateuch as well - that we are supposed to take care of those around us, guiding them towards Jesus. But if we never take our relationship with God back into society, we fail this most important mission - the Great Commission.

So, I admire the early monks for seeing the value in solitude, but I urge everyone (especially myself) to then turn around and come back to society with that renewed strength and be the salt and light this world so desperately needs. Solitude. Think about it...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Recent Thoughts

I have not been a good little blog host in about, oh almost 5 months now. What can I say? Life comes at you fast. It was very shortly after my last post that I found out my wife was pregnant with our first child. Yesterday I felt it moving in her belly for the first time. July 1 (or roundabout), we will receive our first child, the greatest gift God has given us thus far besides our salvation and each other.

My wonderful cousins Becky and Duane got me some Andy Stanley cds for Christmas which I have listened to 4 times already. He talks about Christian leadership and the things he has to say are really good. Here are some of his big topics:

Never compromise integrity for progress.

Live every day confident that God is with you.

Leaders need to challenge the system, while acting under authority.

Leadership problems stem from heart problems. Guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy can be overcome with confession, forgiveness, generosity, and celebration.

I finished two classes last semester in Hermeneutics and Baptist history. This semester I am taking two courses in Christian history. After this semester, I will be halfway through my degree course on my way to getting a Master's in Divinity from Liberty.

My New Year's resolution this year was to begin a life-long habit of reading my Bible daily - and reading it through in its entirety each year. So far, so good. The more you read the Bible, the more we connect with God and His plan for our lives. And the more times we read the same things, the more wisdom we draw from them (that is of course, the Scriptures).

I am starting a new Bible study group at our church called Transformation which is for 18-29 year olds. Romans 12:2 says that we should not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This is what God's Word is all about - changing our lives. Then we take our changed life out into the world and become the salt and light that will preserve and illuminate this dark, decaying world.

I hope to return to more frequent posting effective immediately. Probably by now nobody is even reading this as they have given up on me as a poster. Maybe there will be some curious souls out there who will check it out. Take care and God bless. Come back soon.

The picture below is me on top of Reddish Knob - the tallest point in Northern VA (I think).