This Changes Everything, Again

So I was at the Apple store today. Trust me it was not by choice, I'm a PC. Anyway, Morgan's computer had a big crack in it and was still under warranty. So she had to take it to the Apple store and the closest one is in Fort Worth. (Side note: there are Best Buy Geek Squads all over the place for PC users) As I was sitting in the car waiting with Lela watching all the people walk into Apple with their Starbucks fru fru drinks, girl pants, and v-necks (girls and guys), I noticed the iPhone 4 slogan and was intrigued. "This changes everything, again."

Before I go any further I must say this has been very sarcastic. I don't hate Apple people or fru fru drinks, just guys in girls' clothing. I've got an iPod and I'm really excited about the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte's return. Nor do I hate or have strong feelings toward iPhone users. My wife, brother, in-laws, and entire church staff have one. There is simply great truth to this slogan. Apple is fantastic at marketing and the slogan captures so well the iPhone phenomena. The truth is there will always be a newer, better device, that will "change your life."

1 Peter 1:24-25 says, "All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass whithers and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever." People will camp out for days to get the latest gadget and the slogan says it all; this will only satisfy you for awhile. Unfortunately the church has been sucked into this type of lifestyle. We consume stuff that is fleeting and call it the blessing of God. All the while the eternal word of God takes a back seat to what we deem as truth. We have no idea how to handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) but can spend hours navigating through our numerous gadgets. I saw a tweet this week that said, "The godly man is more preoccupied with his Bible than his electronic devices." Is our time consumed by things that are fleeting or by things that are eternal.

"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." Psalm 1

Ministry Is Tough

My dad always said, "Ministry would be really easy if it wasn't for the people." I've only been doing this for five years but something I've learned is the thing that will discourage you the fastest is people. The average life span of a student minister is three years and the leading cause of fall out is burn out. I realize "burn out" can be related to many things, especially with the challenges student ministry faces today, but the majority of hurt comes from people. This week has been one of those that makes you questions, "Why am I doing this?" It is impossible to please every single person that walks in the doors of the church and it is vital to ministry that you stand firm in your convictions. But when your convictions seem to be unpopular, you start to doubt them.

I am determined to have a quality based ministry and not a quantity one. Jesus seemed to know something about quantity when He said this is Luke 13. "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.' "But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from." When quantity becomes our objective we fill our pews with people who will knock on the door but will not be let in. The pressure to be about quantity is constantly overwhelming, especially when people start to leave.

This weekend I've found myself questioning this calling and these convictions. In fact as I started to write this post the fire was fueled, but I can't help but think back to my first church. Early on in that ministry my convictions were not popular and I felt the pain of loosing numbers. But when I left six months ago after four short years of ministry the quality was there. I only had a handful of students when I left but they were true Jesus followers.

My post tonight is a reminder to me. It's not about me. God has longterm plans for the ministry He has called me to. The pleasure of the Father trumps man's. Popularity is common. Moses wasn't always popular Exodus 17:1-4. David wasn't always popular 1 Samuel 18:6-9. Elijah wasn't always popular 1 Kings 18:22. Jesus wasn't always popular Matthew 13:57.

6 Books That Helped Me Understand The Bible Better

I saw this question presented at and got to thinking about what the six books are for me. Surprisingly I was able to come up with six and all six are books I have read within the past three years. Three years ago I got married, lost my dad, and started seminary within three months of each other. At that time I could not see how God would use such drastic life change, among many other things, to help me know Him better through His word. I've said this many times, I would not take back anything that happened three years ago because I have seen God refine me in suffering to draw me closer to Him. These are all books that fell in my lap, helped me understand the Bible better, and that understanding helped carry me through the darkest time in my life. I would also say that in the past three years I have read His word more than the rest of my 22 years combined. As I've read His word, He used these authors to bring better understanding. God in His sovereignty used some random books to bring me to where I am today. Each has given me greater passion for Him, His word, and the lost. My desire for this post is simply to praise God for what He has done in my life.

Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

I realize this is a daily devotional but it is written by a great theologian whom I have grown to love. When my dad past away, this was a part of my daily quiet time. Spurgeon's Christ centered hermeneutic helped me see the redemptive work of Christ throughout scripture. So often in this book he takes little random verses from the Old Testament and connects it to the blood of Christ. Through this book I better understood how every page of scripture echoes the name of Jesus.

Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper

In this, Piper focuses on God's plan for missions. His main thought throughout the book is that missions is for God. I began to see God's heart for the nations throughout scripture and realized that God longs for the nations to worship Him; not for the benefit of men but for the glory of Himself. Not only had I looked at missions selfishly as man centered, but I viewed scripture in the same light. This book helped me better understand God's work to make Himself known throughout the pages of scripture and history.

Finding the Will of God by Bruce Waltke

Waltke presents the question, "Is finding the will of God a pagan notion?" This is actually a book I read in an ethics class at SWBTS but really impacted my view of scripture. He comes to the conclusion that it is a pagan notion and our goal as His followers is not to know His will but to simply know Him. It had become somewhat of an unintentional understanding for me that I needed to understand "what God's will was for my life." This book helped me see more clearly that scripture is the proclomation of truth. Hope is found in truth, not knowing what the future holds.

In My Place Condemned He Stood by J.I. Packer and Mark Dever

This was suggested reading by one of my favorite professors at SWBTS. In our class we were discussing the atonement and he suggested that we read this book. He said, "This book comes from a Calvinist perspective but it is the best book I've ever read on the atonement." Needless to say it drew me toward a more reformed theology because what these two men have to say about the work of Christ on the cross is excellent. After reading this book I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of what Christ had done for sinful man. I understood exactly what total depravity meant and this gave me a clearer understanding of the gospel.

A Journey In Grace by Richard Belcher

After reading Packer and Dever's book and knowing where there theology lies, I told Morgan, "Babe, I think I might be a Calvinists." So to get a better grasp of what this meant, my pastor suggested this book. Now it is a little different from any other book on this list because it is a novel. In it a young pastor goes through a journey that leads him to the same conclusion I came to, I might be a Calvinists. Belcher does a great job of walking through all the controversy that goes along with reformed theology and the infamous five points. I'm still working through these points and believe we will never fully know the beauty of God's grace this side of eternity. But this book answered some tough questions in scripture that helped me understand it better.

Radical by David Platt

If you're familiar with Platt and this book but have not read it, you might assume he simply talks about the Radical Experiment his church is going through. Really this is a theology book. Platt, while dealing with some shortcomings in the American church, walks through different aspects of theology and defines so clearly what scripture teaches on them. Through this he challenges the reader to truly look at scripture as absolute truth. So often we say, "The Bible is inspired by God," but rarely live like we believe it. He challenged me not to just believe the truth but to live the truth.

Birth Control and Abortion

This is something Morgan and I became aware of a year and a half ago. Needless to say we found out six months later that we were pregnant. My dad actually counseled us to use the pill in our marriage counseling and we had no clue about this. I think believers need to be more informed about this before they make decisions that will impact their bodies in such drastic ways. Also, we need to consider the aspect in all of this of controlling something that scripture speaks of so clearly as a gift from God. Think about it. I don't think this is anything worth dieing over.

They Grow Up So Fast

I was holding Lela earlier this week and was thinking about how much she has changed in the last couple weeks and realized that I already can’t remember what it was like to hold her when she was brand new. I’m not talking about the emotions and feelings I felt when I held her for the first time, I will never forget those, but just the intricacies of holding a new born baby. (couldn’t hold her head up, didn’t move much, could only see things right in front of her, etc.)

Now she is a mover and a shaker. She wants to see and touch everything that is around her. Her interaction with books and little games we play is more intriguing. But she has started something that just melts my heart. She loves to show affection. Before it was amazing to come home to her smile but now it is even better when she reaches for me and gives me kisses. Given, they are extra drooly kisses but still they are kisses. The sweetness of these kisses though is nothing in comparison to the sweetness of His word.

Isaiah 40:6 and 8 “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

Peter says in his first letter this “word” is the good news that was preached to us and in this we have hope, even in suffering. Do we cherish Christ in our lives like we cherish the sweetest things in life? Do we cherish things in this life more than we cherish Christ? A kiss from my daughter will get me through the week but the word that brought me life will carry me through to salvation.

My Hero?

I've been fascinated recently by Americas new found hero, JetBlue's flight attendant Steven Slater. In my mind it was very clear what this guy did was arrogant and selfish. First, airplanes full of people tend to be tense and unpredictable. In the world we live in today this sort of behavior is irresponsible. Second, this isn't different from any other disgruntled worker who blows up at work, does something stupid, and leaves. But to my surprise, as I watched the news reports, people across America and the world are praising Steven as an American Hero. The more I listened to the reports the more I realized that this should not be surprising to me at all. This is simply the fallen world we live in.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people."

This list is full of characteristics that could be used to describe Mr. Slater's actions. These people who Paul says to avoid are the people we are attracted to. The list is endless of movie stars and athletes who Paul has just painted. These are the people we praise. The truth is the person who Paul describes is me. The truth is the person who Paul describes is each of us. We are all unholy lovers of self. There is nothing different between Steven and me.

Spurgeon says, "Carnal men, unrenewed men, have one nature--a nature which they inherited from their parents, and which, through the ancient transgression of Adam, is evil, only evil, and that continually. Mere human nature, such as is common to every man, has in it many excellent traits, judging of it between man and man. A merely natural man may be honest, upright, kind, and generous, he may have noble and generous thoughts, and may attain unto a true and manly speech; but when we come to matters of true religion, spiritual matters that concern God and eternity, the natural man can do nothing. The carnal mind, whose ever mind it may be, is fallen, and is at enmity to God, does not know the things of God, nor can it ever know them."

But praise be to God that he shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. My response should not have been shock but to pray for the lost to be drawn by God to Himself and be reminded of where He has brought me from. I have my Steven Slater days but find confidence in 1 Peter 1 that God will persevere me to the end. In the midst of my fleshly nature I can put aside the "passions of my former ignorance" and pursue holiness as He is holy. Not in my own abilities but by His blood that ransomed me "from the futile ways inherited from my forefathers."

So I'm Not A Blogger

Those of you who know me know that I am a very simple guy. I don't keep up with all the trends and have a few blogs I read every week. So this is a little uncomfortable for me. But there are times when I have stuff on my mind and say to myself, "I could write a post on this." This will be my simple attempt to write about what's on my mind with no aspirations of gaining any sort of following. My only hope is for this blog to encourage and challenge others for the glory of God.

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14