Friday, December 29, 2006

Advanced Reader's Copy

My sermon for this coming Sunday . . . as of now.

Enjoy :)

It's called, "Being the New Self in 2007"

Monday, December 18, 2006

Chaos on Wheels - Jr. High Event

Download flier here:

Chaos on Wheels – Bike Stunt Show with games, prizes and live band

Saturday January 6, 2007—1:45-6:30PM

Leave First E-Free Church Parking Lot—1:45PM

Live Performance and activities—3:00pm-5:00pm

Location: Polk County Convention Complex

$7 covers your car ride and admittance into the show. You can write $7 checks to First Evangelical Free Church. You must fill out a permission form to attend. Download a form at the web address provided below.

Bring an additional $5-10 to cover your meal after the performance.

For more info check out these websites . . .

(permission form)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Peter Scazzero Quote -

"Why is it that most people in our churches seems to be radically different on one level from their neighbors--they pray, read the Bible, go to church, give money to the church--but on another deeper level, they are very similar?" - Peter Scazzero

I will try and address this issue when I preach on December 31, 2006 at First E-Free at 11AM.

Monday, December 11, 2006

the going ons

Life in Boone, Iowa, continues to be a maturing adventure.

In recent weeks, my wife and I have been trying to make some big-time decisions. Every time we begin to talk about important issues, I hear a little voice saying, "RUN!" By God's grace, I have tried to jump into these discussions with focus. Why is it that men often run from critical moments? I think it goes back to the Garden of Eden when Adam let his poor wife get deceived by the serpent while he stood beside her mute and impotent. I don't want to be like Adam. I want to be a man who speaks, leads my wife graciously, and longs for the best, no matter the pain that often goes with choosing what's best over what may just be good. Though I fail regularly, I am learning to "man-up" during these discussions.

Also, in recent weeks our church has been going through some critical times. We are seeking the Lord for our future. We are trying to make godly decisions. We are trying to listen to the voice of God. Our church is over 100 years old, has 250 attendees and over 100 members who all have differing ideas on where God is leading us. Pray for our leaders. We need wisdom.

Recent Life Highlights: (1) I joined a basketball league that plays Sunday nights. Men in their twenties up to men in their sixties hoop it up with intensity. My body hurts this morning :) (2) I started a Bible study with a good friend. We are doing a little Bible survey to try and find the overall picture of God's story in the Old and New Testament. (3) My wife and I are almost done with Christmas shopping. We did some shopping last Thursday and then celebrated our love for each other by doing something we do very well . . . we ate delicious Italian food at the Olive Garden. I love food. (4) My pal Andy got married on Saturday and I got to see some of my ol' school buddies. (5) Also, I am really enjoying this year's Christmas season. Starting last Sunday our music director has hit the Christmas hymns hard, and I love it. What an amazing season to remember our Baby King Jesus. (6) Oh, and I finished my ordination paper. It ended up being over 4o pages full of all my ideas on God, salvation and the glorious return of Jesus Christ. Sometime in March or April I will stand before an ordination council for 5-6 hours defending my beliefs. I'm excited . . . it's a joy to minister in the Evangelical Free Church of America.

Monday, December 04, 2006

40 more years of wandering

In the book of Numbers, God sends 12 spies into the promised land to have them investigate all the rivers, towns, and vegetation the Lord has already promised to give His people, the Hebrews. Upon returning only 2 out of the 12 have the courage to go in and receive the abundance the Lord has promised. The other 10 express fear. The 10 saw giants, armies, and other obstacles that caused great fear. They doubted the promises of God and they ignored His word. Unfortunately the Hebrew people listened to the 10 spies and failed to trust the courageous few. The result was devastating. For the next 40 years, the people of God were unable to go in and experience the promised abundance the Lord had in mind.

This occurs all too often in the life of individual Christians and local churches. Instead of following what God's word has laid out for our lives, we get scared. We see obstacles and hear nay saying opinions instead of following the Lord. In the end we get punished. It's not that God smites us with a lightening bolt, but instead the due course of our actions and decisions get played out in our lives. When we fail to follow God's Word and leading, choosing fear over love and trust, we will suffer the consequences.

My life has experienced these consequences and I've witnessed churches experience years of wandering because they failed to follow the Lord, choosing instead to listen to the scared voices of the faithless.

May we learn a lesson from our pasts and the Scriptures this morning.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quote of the day . . . it's been a while

As I was reading Francis Schaeffer's The God Who is There I found this to be a powerful truth, "As a man is faced with God's promises, Christian faith means bowing twice: First, he needs to bow in the realm of Being (metaphysical)--that is, to acknowledge that he is a creature before the infinite-personal Creator who is there. Second, he needs to bow in the realm of morals--that is, to acknowledge that he has sinned and therefore that he has true guilt before the God who is there. If he has true moral guilt before an infinite God, he has the problem, that he, as finite, has no way to remove such a guilt. Thus what he needs is a nonhumanist solution. Now he is faced with God's propositional promise, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be save.'"

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Powr of God's Word

Copied from this article:,,PTID314526|CHID598014|CIID2277966,00.html


But not only did God create everything from nothing, God also created everything by his Word.

"And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light" (Gen 1:3).

If you and I make something, we need raw material to work with. We’ll have to expend effort and energy. If it’s complex, we’ll need help. Not so with God. At no point has God ever been frustrated in his creative plans or designs. He did not have to struggle to create anything, nor has he ever needed the help or cooperation of others. As Paul says in Romans 4, "He calls things that are not as though they were"; and then they are. God creates by speaking.

When the Bible refers to God’s Word, it’s not necessarily referring to an audible voice. Rather, God’s Word is the expression of his wisdom, power, and love. We have it in written form in the Bible. But ultimately, as Hebrews 1 tells us, God "has spoken to us through his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe" (Heb 1:2). John says the same thing at the opening of his Gospel. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). Jesus Christ is the creator of everything because Jesus Christ is the Word by which God creates.

This also means that whenever and whatever God creates, whether it’s light or life or spiritual life, it’s an act of powerful, irresistible grace. Nothing forces God to speak. But when he speaks, things happen. It’s not just that the potentiality for things is created. No, things happen. Nowhere is the gracious power of God’s creating activity more vividly illustrated than in Ezekiel 37. There, God instructs Ezekiel to speak God’s words to a valley of dry, dead, bleached bones. When he does, life enters into those bones and they get up.

We see the same in John 11. Jesus calls out to the corpse of Lazarus, and Lazarus gets up and walks out of the tomb.

The bones didn’t say to Ezekiel, "I don’t want to get up." Lazarus didn’t say to Jesus, "Not now, ask me again next year." No, when the voice of God rings out in gracious, creative power, not even death nor unbelief can resist his power.

This is why we should preach the Bible expositionally in our churches. We could do lots of video and song and dance and entertain people better. We could write our own stories, or read and talk about really insightful things that other people have written, filling our churches with those who are interested. But as heralds of God’s Word, our goal is neither to entertain nor to intellectually stimulate. Rather we desire that people who are dead in their sins will find life; that people who are spiritually blind will see. And for that, only God’s Word will do, as it is spoken to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Preacher, whose voice are your people hearing? Christian, whose voice are you listening to?"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Impact 2007 it's here!

You can start signing up for IMPACT today!!

High School students, don't delay.

Download the form and turn in your $65 deposit by Wednesday December 7th. The sooner I get these forms in the better.

The total cost will be $105, but the balance is not due until we pull out of the church parking lot on Friday night January 5th.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Haggard apologizes to congregation November 5, 2006

I thought these letters were very powerful.

Here is the letter by Ted Haggard, read on Sunday morning to his former congregation:

To my New Life Church family:

I am so sorry. I am sorry for the disappointment, the betrayal, and the hurt. I am sorry for the horrible example I have set for you.

I have an overwhelming, all-consuming sadness in my heart for the pain that you and I and my family have experienced over the past few days. I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment to all of you.

I asked that this note be read to you this morning so I could clarify my heart's condition to you. The last four days have been so difficult for me, my family and all of you, and I have further confused the situation with some of the things I've said during interviews with reporters who would catch me coming or going from my home. But I alone am responsible for the confusion caused by my inconsistent statements. The fact is, I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem.

I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life.

For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach.

Through the years, I've sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving to be effective in me. Then, because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn't want to hurt or disappoint them.

The public person I was wasn't a lie; it was just incomplete. When I stopped communicating about my problems, the darkness increased and finally dominated me. As a result, I did things that were contrary to everything I believe.

The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry. Our church's overseers have required me to submit to the oversight of Dr. James Dobson, Pastor Jack Hayford, and Pastor Tommy Barnett. Those men will perform a thorough analysis of my mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical life. They will guide me through a program with the goal of healing and restoration for my life, my marriage, and my family.

I created this entire situation. The things that I did opened the door for additional allegations . But I am responsible; I alone need to be disciplined and corrected. An example must be set.

It is important that you know how much I love and appreciate my wife, Gayle. What I did should never reflect in a negative way on her relationship with me. She has been and continues to be incredible. The problem is not with her, my children or any of you. It was created 100 percent by me.

I have been permanently removed from the office of Senior Pastor of New Life Church. Until a new senior pastor is chosen, our Associate Senior Pastor Ross Parsley will assume all of the responsibilities of the office. On the day he accepted this new role, he and his wife, Aimee, had a new baby boy. A new life in the midst of this circumstance -- I consider the confluence of events to be prophetic. Please commit to join with Pastor Ross and the others in church leadership to make their service to you easy and without burden. They are fine leaders. You are blessed.

I appreciate your loving and forgiving nature, and I humbly ask you to do a few things.

1.) Please stay faithful to God through service and giving.

2.) Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have fallen. I desperately need to be forgiven and healed.

3.) Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life. Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So, forgive him and, actually, thank God for him. I am trusting that his action will make me, my wife and family, and ultimately all of you, stronger. He didn't violate you; I did.

4.) Please stay faithful to each other. Perform your functions well. Encourage each other and rejoice in God's faithfulness. Our church body is a beautiful body, and like every family, our strength is tested and proven in the midst of adversity. Because of the negative publicity I've created with my foolishness, we can now demonstrate to the world how our sick and wounded can be healed, and how even disappointed and betrayed church bodies can prosper and rejoice.

Gayle and I need to be gone for a while. We will never return to a leadership role at New Life Church. In our hearts, we will always be members of this body. We love you as our family. I know this situation will put you to the test. I'm sorry I've created the test, but please rise to this challenge and demonstrate the incredible grace that is available to all of us.

Ted Haggard

Here is the letter from his wife, Gayle:

Dear Woman of New Life Church,

I am so sorry for the circumstances that have led me to write this letter to you today. I know your hearts are broken; mine is as well. Yet my hope rests steadfastly in the Lord who is forever faithful.

What I want you to know is that I love my husband, Ted Haggard, with all my heart. I am committed to him until death "do us part". We started this journey together and with the grace of God, we will finish together.

If I were standing before you today, I would not change one iota of what I have been teaching the women of our church. For those of you who have been concerned that my marriage was so perfect I could not possibly relate to the women who are facing great difficulties, know that this will never again be the case. My test has begun; watch me. I will try to prove myself faithful.

I love you all so much, especially you young women -- you were my delight.

To all the church family of New Life Church -- Ted and I are so proud of you. You are all we hoped you would be. In our minds, there is no greater church.

As you try to make sense of these past few days, know that Ted believes with all his heart and soul everything he has ever taught you, those things you are putting into practice. He is now the visible and public evidence that every man (woman and child) needs a Savior.

We are grateful for your prayers for our family.

I hold you forever in my heart.

Gayle Haggard

Quit reading . . . go vote

Today is election day. Please pray and then go vote.

Pray that God would lead you to vote for the candidates who live for and stand up for truth. Those who care about life for the born and unborn. Those who care about poverty, AIDS, justice, protection, and about allowing individuals to have freedom to follow and find Jesus Christ.

No really . . . quit reading and go vote!

Friday, November 03, 2006

What is really happening with Haggard, the NAE, Politics, Indiscretion, Hypocrisy, Lies???

Yesterday the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted Haggard, stepped down from his post due to some allegations involving gay sex and prostitution.

In the Christianity Today article they quote Haggard as saying he has never had an affair and that he is faithful and steady with his wife.

The AP article listed below writes, "The acting senior pastor at New Life, Ross Parsley, told KKTV-TV of Colorado Springs that Haggard admitted that some of the accusations were true.

"I just know that there has been some admission of indiscretion, not admission to all of the material that has been discussed but there is an admission of some guilt," Parsley told the station."

There is an attempt to prohibit gay marriage in the CO political system this coming Tuesday. Some say this recent allegation is just a smear campaign to prohibit the success of conservative legislation, but others believe the hypocrisy of Haggard puts a big question mark on this whole process.

I pray the truth comes out, that this man's marriage can be salvaged no matter the severity of the truth, and that the people of God attending Haggard's 14,000 person congregation can keep their focus on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. Also, if the allegations are found to be faulty, I pray Haggard's ministry can continue.

Practical response - read and apply 1 Cor. 10:12-13

12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (NIV)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

quick response to McKnight

In my previous post, I commented on my enjoyment of Scot McNight's presentation to Westminster Seminary on the emerging (very similar to the Emergent U.S.) church. I thought his analysis made sense. It was a clear presentation and I appreciated the chance to read the transcript in full. Though McKnight and other emergent writers/thinkers convey some powerful and unique ideas, I still see the Emergent Church as a dangerous conversation and movement (and village for that matter.)

A few quick reasons -

As a point of agreement, I also believe a correct practice of the Christian faith (orthopraxy) is very important. The Bible is loaded with admonitions toward sacrificial, agape-filled living. Jesus came to free us from our sin that we might LIVE a new life and experience freedom from the shackled lifestyle we once experienced under the curse of sin. We will be judged by our actions. We will be judged on whether we accept or reject Jesus Christ. What we do is VERY important according to Scripture.

But, like many before me have articulated, orthodoxy (a right understanding of God and His Truth) precedes orthopraxy. Actions flow from beliefs, plain and simple. The emerging church wants to slam any Christian body who stands up for a standard set of doctrines, but could these bodies be placing rules on beliefs to protect from the ungodly fruit of incorrect belief. The emerging church wants to have right ecclesiology (right understanding and church practice), but how can we do church unless we decide early on what kind of beliefs will make up our church. For heaven's sake, how can you even accept a biblical ecclesiology without a load of orthodox beliefs concerning what is Scripture, who is God, what kind of fellowship we have been united to by the work of the Holy Spirit, blood of Christ, drawing of the Father, etc. Orthodoxy, firm, rich, and deep beliefs are the backbone to any kind of church or personal orthopraxy.

How could we know what kind of actions were godly without some sort of measuring rod based on orthodox belief?

A lot of this discussion comes back to the EC's position (or nonposition) on Scripture. Some stand up for the inspiration and authority of God's Word. Many deny inerrancy. Others take a historical critical approach. Some embrace NT Wright's critical realism.

Until the EC comes down officially on what God's Word is and what it is capable of saying, their movement is on a sandy foundation. Until then, I cannot ignore what many suggest when they say the emergent conversation is just a bunch of liberals talking in the sheep clothing of evangelicalism.

The scary thing is Tony Jones has declared war on conservative evangelicals when he warned his crowd, "But I will say this: if the moderates ignore the conservatives, the conservatives will win." (
according to his blog posting 10/16/2006)

These emergent folks (which by the way, why do they get such a cool name and I get called a conservative?) have been done having a conversation for a long time. They are planting churches, writing theology books, and calling others to join their movment. And then they complain when others critique their work, saying they're just asking questions. Well, I'll repeat something I've said 100 times over the last 3 years . . . the emergent crowd is asking the right questions, but they are not coming up with the right answers.

Oh, Lord help us to be humble enough to recognize your truth does not need to be innovative and emergent but rather help us to be faithful to Psalm 145:4 "One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts."

Let us be humble enough to accept the truth that has been passed down and respond as Alexander Maclaren (a more conservative McLaren) encouraged us years ago, "Christian progress does not consist in seeing new things, but in seeing the old things more clearly: the same Christ, the same Cross, only more distinctly and deeply apprehended, and more closely incorporated in my very being."

Monday, October 30, 2006

Wow . . . a good read by Scot McNight

Scot McNight delivered a clear message called "What is the Emerging Church?" to Westminster Seminary. He allowed the emerging church crowd (which he is a part of) to define themself. I enjoyed the read. Read by clicking here

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Experential Worship - great site

I am going to try one of these experiential ideas tonight. These are great ideas that the Holy Spirit could use in powerful ways -

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Solid Training from Kara Powell

Yesterday, I had the privilege of sitting under 2 different trainings by Fuller Seminary professor Kara Powell. In the morning I travelled with my wife to a Serve Our Youth (SOY) ministry training event. My wife is an employee of SOY. Kara utilized the deep design method to help SOY evaluate their current situation and ideas for improvement. I encourage you to check out this an article off the Youth Specialties website that has info on the deep design method: click here

Then on Monday evening I took 5 of First E-Free of Boone's all-start youth leader team members to West Des Moines for a different training from Kara Powell. We learned a lot about doing ministry more holistically and addressing the real needs that kids need. We want to build assets into the lives of the youth we serve to bless them and send them into the world on a good-footing. Kara and the team at Fuller Theological Seminary and the Center for Youth and Family Ministry (C.Y.F.M.) have teamed up and done some facinating research in regards to the 40 Development Assests. There's an article on the CFYM website that I think gives a good summary of some of their work

Kara did a great job in both settings and I even got a free book out of the deal. You can read the first chapter of her new book "Deep Ministry in a Shallow World" if you click this last link:


Boone E-Free joined hundreds of other students at a Middle School lockin lost Friday night October 13. It started at 8PM with a concert by Remedy Drive then we heard a former Iowa State basketball player Jake Sullivan share about the importance of giving our lives over to Jesus Christ. We then spent 2 hours bowling, 2 hours ice skating, 2 hours roller skating, 1 hour eating pizza (at 4AM!!) and then our final hours at a sports complex. It was one wild night!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tino and Morgan's Wedding

Carrie and I attended the wedding of our neighbors and friends back at the end of September. They were married in 2005 civilly, but waited to have a ceremony until their 1 year anniversary to invite family and friends. The wedding was performed by Morgan's dad. It was a Lakota Sioux ceremony which is why Tino is wearing a breastplate. It was a gorgeous Friday evening wedding with an amazing sunset background.

Boone Scenic Valley Railroad

It's official, Carrie and I are Boonies. We've lived in Boone, Iowa, now for a little over 2 years, but we finally road the illustrious Boone Scenic Valley Railroad. It was AWESOME!

You need to check out their website ( and listen to the Boone Scenic Valley Railroad theme song. We took the coach train to Frasier. We went over a amazing (and bit frightening) high bridge, crossed the Des Moines River, enjoyed our 22 mile round trip and saw the gorgeous Boone County fall colors. The trees were just beginning to change color!!

We road with our neighbors Tino and Morgan. You can enjoy the poem I wrote about them here:
In my next blog entry, will post some of their wedding pics!!

Carrie's Birthday night at youth grouop

Carrie got to celebrate her birthday with 30 of her closest jr. high and high school friends last Wednesday night.

By the way, her birthday cake was very cool. For you musicians out there, notice that the music is that of "happy birthday."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Rest is the Youth Pastor's Missing Ingredient

In response to Mr. Brandon Barker's thoughts on my blog entry concerning idleness . . .

I think there is a huge difference between biblical rest (sabbath) and idleness.

One very convicting verse lately for me has been Isaiah 58:13-14, "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. The mouth of the LORD has spoken." NIV

This verse is giving directions and commands for our our times of rest (sabbath). We must not "go our own way," "to speak idle words," and not "do as we please." When I use my times of rest (watering horses, sharpening the sword, praying, worshipping, etc.) well, then I can find my joy in the Lord and be refreshed. One key idea I see in Isaiah 58 is that Sabbath rest is not about leisure, but about seeking God.

I struggle with work by being idle and overly busy at times. I also struggle with rest by being restless, anxious, and overbooked constantly. When I rest well, I usually work well, but it doesn't work the other way around for me. I am learning (being convicted) that I need to be a better at rest which seems to lead to better faithfulness in my role as a worker in God's field.

There are different times in ministry. Sometimes we work long hours and days. Only a fool would make that the norm of ministry. We do need "down times", slow periods, planning and prayer sessions, time pouring over God's Word, learning theology and ministry practices, etc. But to me this is not idle time, but a wise pastor gearing up for the crunch times. My problem is I fail to sit down and pray. I fail to rest and instead make excuses for idle behavior.

I believe that youth pastors who rest well are taking a wise step toward working well, but it takes discipline to be good at both rest and work.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Idleness is the Youth Pastor's Playhouse

This morning I spent a few hours with the Lord and He convicted me of idleness, laziness, and distraction in my role and responsibilities as a pastor last week. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 commends the Church to warn those who are idle . . . well I surely felt warned and I share these thoughts with you to keep you from going down the pattern I have walked "off and on" since I entered the ministry. I challenge you to pray through the verses listed in regards to your life and commitment to serving God dutifully.

Here's what I wrote in my journal this morning:

Jeremiah 48:10 "A curse on him who is lax in doing the Lord's work! A curse on him who keeps his sword from bloodshed!"

Context: YHWH God is pronouncing judgment on Moab through the prophet Jeremiah and prophecying their coming doom. Cursed is the person or people who fail to obey God when called to be God's agent in Moab's destruction.

Application: God has called me to be a part of a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:10-20), and when I am lax in God's work I stand under a curse. I need to be engaged in battle wielding the sword of Truth bringing down strongholds. Is my sword blood-stained?

Proverbs 20:4 declares that a lazy laborer will not bring in a harvest. In fact, Proverbs 24:30-34 says a sluggard's reward is poverty, thorns, weeds and ruin. 2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 challenges me to earn the bread I eat, to avoid being a busybody, and to never tire in doing right.

Often in ministry I become a busybody, whether it is surfing the internet, blogging, loading my schedule with unintentional meetings and appointments, reading without a purpose, etc. O Lord forgive me for my idleness; give me strength and wisdom to be diligent in ministry. I want to be faithful to the Lord's work. I want to be engaged in the spiritual battle, a warrior with a bloodstained sword, and ultimately sharing in the victory of Jesus Christ.

Homecoming in Boone

Here's some dapper looking students displaying their homecoming threads for this past Saturday's dance.

I hope you all had fun!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Piper and Driscoll on the same team

I don't know how much you follow the blogger wire, but there were a few comments floating late this weekend and early in the week that Dr. John Piper and Pastor Mark Driscoll were at odds.

Driscoll has posted the email exchange between he and Piper and it's quite encouraging to see brother in the Lord committed to the Gospel.

Click here to see the article:

To my birthday Beauty

Today is my wife's birthday. She loves birthdays!! She grew up in a home that went the extra mile on birthays. Each year I get a little better at loving and honoring my wife on this big day.

I think it gets easier each year. Because each year I see more and more reasons why I am so blessed to be married to her. She is so encouraging, caring, and fun. She has a passion to know Jesus and make Him known. She loves Christ's church and enjoys serving and encouraging the people of God.

She is wonderful. Thank you God.

Psalm 18:22 says it all, "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

postmodernity still in the news

Here's a fabulous and long article on the Emergent Church. If you want to just jump to the bottom of the article and read the Four Areas of Concern you will be most blessed. Tony Jones in his blog said he felt this was an even-handed presentation of the Emergent Church. I think it summarizes the Emergent Church's beliefs and also reveals some key areas of danger: The Article Found Here

Though I've only read a few books and a few articles on both sides of the Emergent debate, I stand behind the conclusions of this author, Justin Taylor.

Desiring God Conference 2006

John Piper and the Desiring God Ministries held an entire conference to challenge people to live faithful lives in the Postmodern World. Feel free to listen and download these sermons from different speakers who love God and His Word.

The Supremacy of Christ and Joy in a Postmodern World
John Piper

The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World
Voddie Baucham

The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World
Tim Keller

The Supremacy of Christ and the Church in a Postmodern World
Mark Driscoll

Speaker Panel
Justin Taylor, Voddie Baucham, John Piper, Don Carson, David Wells

The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern
Don Carson

A Conversation with the Pastors
Justin Taylor, John Piper, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll

The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World
David Wells

Monday, October 02, 2006

Just look at those good looking students


This past Saturday night our church had the kickoff for our fall spiritual life campaign.

This year's campaign is an 8 week tour of the Evangelical Free Church of America's Statement of Faith. We will look at doctrine and practical living in response to the truths we are learning. It's an exciting campaign.

We are writing our own curriculum. We have a great team of adults and students who will help with various activities. The kickoff was a great event with the whole church participating to make it a special night. Thanks to all the people who help bring food, set up tables, lead us in worship, organize games, and overrall provide a great night for oru church body.

I love it when the Body of Christ serves and blesses one another. It's the way church was meant to be.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

REVJAB: New Covenant Living: Three Flaws in the Presbyterian Reasoning For Infant Baptism

REVJAB: New Covenant Living: Three Flaws in the Presbyterian Reasoning For Infant Baptism

Eschatology and life

Eschatology is simply the study of the "last" or "end times." To many people, end times are insignificant. They think Christians spend way too much focusing on the future and too little focusing on the present. Today we have poverty and strife. Let's focus on that and worry about heaven another day. Others think eschatology is of supreme importance. They spend hours, days, weeks studying the end time passages and trying to understand God's intent for the final days.

I am probably in the middle. I find the end times to be very significant. How God chooses to interract with his creation and his people during the final days of this present age should be known and understood by Christians. If we as Christians, however, fail to serve the people in our lives today, we fail to serve Christ for He has called us to live this kind of life (Matthew 25:34-40). We need to live boldy since Christ has already come and been victorious over sin and death. This entails obedience to God, love and service to humanity, a commitment to making the saving message of the gospel known, and thus an overral orientation to living for the glory of God.

One specific academic who has tried to reconcile a biblical eschatology and a realized (or life focused on the end in mind) eschatology is George Eldon Ladd. I read a great article by him today on Historic Premillenialism that I recommend to those with a theological mind or are interested in hearing a different (dare I say more biblical) end times view than Tim LaHaye's Dispensationalism or the amillenialism of Covenant theology. Here's the link to the article:

Friday, September 29, 2006

early meandering thought on covenant/dispensational theology

As mentioned yesterday, I am reading Renald Showers' book "There Really is a Difference" discussing the fundamental differences between Covenant and Dispensational Theology. The author is a strong dispensationalist who sees many flaws with the Covenant Theology. I am hoping to better understand these 2 systems as I begin to write my ordination thesis in the upcoming weeks.

Wikipedia explains Covenant Theology this way:

Typically, Covenant Theology views the history of mankind's redemption from sin under the framework of three over-arching theological covenants:

  • the Covenant of Redemption
  • the Covenant of Works
  • the Covenant of Grace

These three covenants are called "theological covenants" because they are not explicitly presented as such in the Bible, although covenantalists see them as theologically implicit. I personally believe some Covenant Theology is attempting to explain the Bible and God's dealings with men in too simple of categories. Also, the inability for Covenant Theology to find a place for Israel and much of the unfulfiled Old Testament prophecy makes their system sit on a shaky foundation.

Dispensationalists explain the history of God's dealings with men quite differently. They claim to "rightly" divide Christianity into 7 succinct dispensations. "These periods are marked off in Scripture by some change in God's method of dealing with mankind, in respect to two questions: of sin, and of man's responsibility," explained C. I. Scofield. Unlike Covenant Theology, Dispensationalists can use specific examples in scripture when God speaks to people and declares a special relationship with humanity. There are 7 (though Dispensationlists have varying opinions) main dispensations when God has established covenants or new dealings with certain individuals or groups of people. They are:

  • the dispensation of innocence (Gen 1:1–3:7), prior to Adam's fall,
  • of conscience (Gen 3:8–8:22), Adam to Noah,
  • of government (Gen 9:1–11:32), Noah to Abraham,
  • of patriarchal rule (Gen 12:1–Exod 19:25), Abraham to Moses,
  • of the Mosaic Law (Exod 20:1–Acts 2:4), Moses to Christ,
  • of grace (Acts 2:4–Rev 20:3 -- except for Hyperdispensationalists), the current church age, and
  • of a literal, earthly 1,000-year Millennial Kingdom that has yet to come but soon will (Rev 20:4–20:6).

I personally believe, however, Dispensationalists work a little too hard to make the Bible fit their system rather than letting the Bible speak for itself.

I will give more of a book review later. But now I would like to give one brief example on how both Covenant and Dispensational theologies seem to want to explain things and lump some things together to make a coherent system, but in this attempt have to make or force the Bible to say things it really does not.

For instance, one of Covenant Theology's greatest modern theologians Louis Berkouf has said, "The covenant of grace, as it is revealed in the New Testament, is essentially the same as that which governed the relation of Old Testament believers to God." That stands in the face of Jeremiah 31:30-34 when it says God will establish a new covenant one day that is very different than the one established previously. Another danger zone I see is when Covenant Theology sees the Church existing in the Old Testament. Acts 11:15 (referring to Pentecost in Acts 2) makes it quite clear that the Church was not established or find its beginning until the giving of the Holy Spirit, which obviously marked a time when God would interract with His (new) people in a way He had never done before.

One minor statement against Dispensationalism would be against their constant desire for Scripture to speak in order to fit the system. One example is their description of the Dispensation of Conscience. Dispensationalists believe God established a special relationship with humanity from the Fall of Adam to the covenant with Noah. What marked this time was that humanity would be ruled by their conscience and restraint by the Holy Spirit. They were to obey, but obviously they failed. Another "key" distinction during this dispensation (according to Dispenationalists) was that God prohibited capital punishment. After Cain killed Abel, God and Cain had a coversation that went like this . . .

Genesis 4:13-16

13 Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me."

15 But the LORD said to him, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. NIV

According to a Dispensationalist, God stood against capital punishment until the new Dispensation of Human Government (recorded in Gen. 9:1ff) when He spoke specifically to Moses about murder. This is the type of Bible proof texting that drives me a bit crazy. From Gen. 4:14, it's clear that Cain and all of those living at the time recognized capital punishment as the appropriate (and I assume established) response to the taking of another person's life. It's clear that this particular act of God is one of mercy. He is not marking out the difference in dispensations, but He is showing unmerited favor to Cain who has taken the life blood from his brother.

Side note, Dispensationalists work very hard to make distinctions between Israel and the Church. I've always wondered what they do with OT and NT verses like these:

Deuteronomy 30:6
The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.
Romans 2:29
No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.

Hosea 2:23
I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one.'
I will say to those called 'Not my people,' 'You are my people';
and they will say, 'You are my God.'"
Ephesians 2:11-13
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision " (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
Philippians 3:3
For it is we who are the circumcision , we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—
Colossians 2:11-12
In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
Ephesians 3:6
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel , members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

It seems Covenant Theology may be oversimplifying the relationships/covenants/dispensations of God's work in history, but Dispensationalists may be over analyzing and chopping up the bible in "nice" and "neat" segments in history.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

theological apologies

Over the years I have gained a passion for theology and Christian thought.

I want to apologize that I failed to live up to this blog's name of "Matt's Meandering Thoughts." I have failed to do meandering and instead have turned this into a photo gallery of ministry events. Since many of my thoughts on life are in regards to this ministry, those pictures are valuable and do represent much of my meandering thoughts. BUT, they do not reveal all that goes on in my simple brain. I am constantly wrestling over doctrine, theology and Christian practice.

I will try in upcoming weeks to be more faithful to discussing that side of Matt's meanderings on a much more regular basis. To some you'll appreciate it. To others you'd prefer I just post pictures and shut up about my attempts to understand God, Christianity, etc. I appreciate your grace, comments, and continued friendship.

All to Him,
the meanderer, matt

p.s. At present I am reading Showers book "There Really is a Difference" discussing the fundamental differences between Covenant and Dispensational theology. It is facinating. I will provide commentary when I finish the book. FYI, I'm somewhere in between :)

See You at the Pole 2006

It was a beautiful day for God. We exist to bring Him glory, and when we live out what we were created to do . . . we experience God's joy and His pleasure.

About 40-50 students came to pray at the Boone High School. Students led the whole thing: singing, various prayers, and small groups. Back at the Middle School 10 or so students came to their pole to pray and seek the face of God. It's a beautiful thing to see students serve, honoer and seek God.

You can download this video for yourself at: 2006.wmv

Or you can enjoy watching it right now on this blog:

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Adoration Picture Show

special thanks to Gary Reedy who procurred many of these photos:

West Side

So, a bunch of my students think showing off gangs signs is really cool, especially the "west side" symbol. As I was driving on Hwy 30 in western Iowa, I enjoyed coming across this little sign.

It's not a gang sign, just a sign for the little town of Westside, Iowa.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Vault and Adoration

Vault (also VAULT) is a carbonated beverage that was released by The Coca-Cola Company in June 2005. Coca-Cola is marketing Vault as a hybrid with the slogan "Drinks like a Soda, Kicks like an Energy Drink," as well as "The Taste. The Quench. The Kick." and "Get to It!" It is a citrus flavored beverage that contains many of the same ingredients as the Coca-Cola beverage Surge, which was discontinued in 2002. Due to Vault's similarity to Surge, representatives of Coca-Cola have given some credit for the release of Vault to, a website community dedicated to bringing Surge back to store shelves.

Coca-Cola representatives and the American Beverage Association state that Vault contains 47 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. serving, thus, 70.5 mg per 12 oz. can, and 117.5 mg per 20 oz. PET bottle. This amount is substantially higher than Surge's 52.5 mg per 12 oz. or Mountain Dew's 55 mg per 12 oz. (

This tiny can of sugary soda produced all kinds of craziness at our high school fall retreat. We had 3 girls (Tasha, Sarah and Erin) decide to stay up all night. Others acted in ways not “normal” to normal human civilization. Needless to say, we had a fabulous weekend filled with tons of fun.

This retreat was called “Adoration,” and the entire weekend was spent looking at biblical worship. On Friday night Tim Olson (our guest speaker and worship leader from the Grace E-Free Church in Eagle Grove) looked at Romans 12:1. Students were challenged to be “living sacrifices” to God, in response to the Lord’s abundant mercy. Saturday morning, Carrie Proctor led the students through the Bible’s explanation of idolatry and the proper response Christians should have to the idolatry in our lives. On Saturday evening Pastor Tim Olson closed with a message on Romans 12:2, pleading with our students to let God’s Word renew them and transform them into more obedient Christ-centered worshippers.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Brave New World

I salute those brave men and women who risk it all to plant a new church. Today, Carrie and I drove to Denison, Iowa, to preach to a young church plant whose new pastor was out of town. This young body of 30 worshipped with great enthusiasm, welcomed us and one another with love, and seemed excited to be lights in their community.

I ate dinner with 3 members after the service. All 3 expressed a desire to be a church that pursues God and serves their neighbors. One gentleman stopped and gave a ride to a lady caring loads of groceries right after the service, being a few minutes late to our meal. A simple gesture, but the type of grace that the Christian Church has been called to offer.

Pray for this church and the many others that are trying to worship God and be a blessing to their communities. If you are interested in church planting ideas check out Church Planting Village

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This week's adventures

In 2 days our high school students take off for a 24 hour retreat at Camp Hantesa just outside of Boone, Iowa. This retreat, called "Adoration 2006," will focus on what true worship is. A life style of Christ-centered adoration, selflessness, and a healthy preoccupation with God's glory, not our own. Pray for the adults who will be serving the students: Scott, Gary, Carol, Carrie, Dave, and Matt. Also pray for our worship leader and speaker Tim Olson.

Then on Sunday, Carrie and I travel to Denison, Iowa, where I will be preaching on Genesis 1:26ff in a church plant a friend has been serving as pastor for a few months.

Also, this morning at 6:30AM a good friend left here after staying for 1.5 days. It was good to have Dan around. He's a man who desires to serve Christ's kingdom, and I am always encouraged to hear about his life and heart.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

BLITZ - check it out

Junior high students must go to Blitz this year - check out the info here

Feel free to download a permission form from this website -

This is an 8PM-8AM all-night affair for 7-8th grade students from Boone and the Des Moines area. You do not want to miss this event. Sign up today!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Our high school fall retreat is 3 weeks away. You can sign up today. Click this link HTtp:// to download the pdf file and fill out the form and send it to the church A.S.A.P.

Adoration 2006 will put into action some of the themes we have been teaching on Wednesday nights. It will also serve as an introduction to our small group curriculum we will be beginning in October.

Our guest speaker and worship leader will be Tim Olson, a good friend of our ministry and youth pastor from Eagle Grove, Iowa.

Every student will glean something special from the weekend. Call Matt or email him with any questions you might have -

The registration covers 4 meals, the sessions and all activities. You will not need any extra money, but you are encouraged to bring additional snacks in your carryon luggage. Feel free to bring cards and other games for you cabin and free time.

For more info click here

Thursday, August 31, 2006

N.T.Wright - interesting fellow

Some of you know that I find N.T. Wright to be a facinating, yet extremely academic writer. I read and reread his stuff and am just beginning to get some of it. He has been very useful in helping me understand some Jewish culture at the time of Christ and his early followers.

If you read my friend Dan's Blog, you will read that in due time John Piper will be publising a book attacking some of N.T. Wright's views - read blog entry here. Piper believes N.T. Wright has unorthodox views in regards to justification and imputation, two Reformed doctrines Piper (and I) treasure deeply.

I have been reading various articles lately to catch up on those who stand against N.T. Wright's ideas. If you want to read up on these articles, you can visit them below -

"Justification by Faith is the Answer: What is the Question?" by Stephen Westerholm* - probably one of the easisest reads and best articulated

"N.T. Wright on Justification" by Charles Hill

"The Attractions of the New Perspective(s) on Paul" - Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Inc.

Understanding Imputation - an mp3 messsage

"Reformed Confessionalims and the New Perspective on Paul" by Kim Riddlebarger


Monday, August 28, 2006

Tickets to the Gun Show . . .

I work with one of the coolest men on the face of the planet. He is very smart. He knows stuff about birds, theology, civil war history, philospohy, ministry, family life, and his vocabulary is huge. So all weekend in Boone I kept seeing signs for a gun show and I felt it was my responsibility to make sure people got their directions right and found the gun show that the whole town was talking about.

I love you Pastor Steve, and consider it a rare privilege to serve the Body of Christ with you.

Our Kickoff

We had a little BBQ and pool party at the Des Moines YMCA Camp this past Saturday. I liked it!!

Intro to Bill Kynes Primer on Hermeneutics

Bill Kynes is a Evangelical Free Church pastor who is addressing postmodernism and the reading of scripture. His first chapter is provided for our perusal on the Inter-VArsity press website found here

Did I read that sign right??

Toilet out of order. Please use floor below

In a laundromat:

Automatic washing machines: please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.

In a London department store:

Bargain basement upstairs.

In an office:

Would the person who took the step ladder yesterday please bring it back or further steps will be taken.

In an office:

After tea break staff should empty the teapot and stand upside down on the draining board.

Outside a secondhand shop:

We exchange anything - bicycles, washing machines, etc. Why not bring your wife along and get a wonderful bargain?

Notice in health food shop window:

Closed due to illness.

Spotted in a safari park:

Elephants please stay in your car. (I sure hope so.)

Seen during a conference:

For anyone who has children and doesn't know it, there is a day care on the 1st floor.

Notice in a farmer's field:

The farmer allows walkers to cross the field for free, but the bull charges.

Message on a leaflet:

If you cannot read, this leaflet will tell you how to get lessons.

On a repair shop door:

We can repair anything. (Please knock hard on the door - the bell doesn't work.)

Friday, August 25, 2006

What do you think?

In a recent article by Christianity Today (see it here), they report that Clean Flicks has lots its ability to manipulate Hollywood films in order to remove swearing, violence and sexual scenes. Hollywood feels the removal of such scenes infringes on the art and creativity that is intentionally put into films to make them the best they can be.

What do you think? Does a person have the right to edit what is viewed in their own home? Why can ABC remove scenes when they show a film on TV, but Clean Flicks cannot on a DVD a person orders online?

I am torn. I agree that some movies dramatic effect would be missed if some of the thematic elements were removed. "Shawshank Redemption" and "American History X" would lose its power without the horrible gang rape scenes and vulgarity attached to prison life. "The Passion of the Christ" and "Schindler's List" would not present the real past without the horrifying violence. Some romance movies would fail to present the passion of individuals without bedroom scenes.

I question, however, whether an individual cannot choose to have those items removed over their own personal convictions. If I have the option to fast forward through things I consider garbage, why can't I just have them removed entirely from a DVD? In a few years will Hollywood sue me for a violation of artistic rights if I just watch 90% of the scenes of a movie because 10% of the movie violates my personal convictions?

Express your thoughts . . .

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The books craze continues . . .

1. One book that changed your life:
"Desiring God" by John Piper - I loved the book itself and it increased my passion to know God and experience Him, but even more important is how Piper introduced me to rich Calvinistic theology.

Piercing the Darkness
2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
"Piercing the Darkness" by Frank Peretti

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
The Bible.

4. One book that made you laugh:
"How to Talk to a Liberal if You Must" by Ann Coulter

My Name Is Asher Lev
5. One book that made you cry:
"My Name is Asher Lev" by Chaim Potok

6. One book that you wish had been written:
"The Continued Tales of Asher Lev"

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
I like Dan Leman's answer
Personally, I think a lot of Martin Luther's theology went a bit over the top.
One book . . . that's a tough one . . . "Mein Kampf" by Adolph Hitler

A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada
8. The book(s) you are currently reading:
"The History of Christianity in the United States and Canada" by Mark Noll (seminary class)
"The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne (reading out loud with my wife)
"The God Who is There" by Francis Shaeffer (my book at the office)
"The Lord of my Rocking Boat" by Carole Mayhall (my book at home)

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
"The Wind and the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame
Complete "The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Finish "Jesus" and "The Resurrection of the Son of God" by N.T. Wright

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

my bud mark

Mark Hennager and I go a bit back. I met Mark when he was a spry 7th grade student at First Evangelical Free Church of Ames. I had the privilege of serving as his small group leader when I was a young pup freshmen at Iowa State University. I had a few other ministry opportunities with him before I graduated as well. For the past 7 years we've kept in touch. We've emailed, chatted online, eaten some food together, and shared life. I have always admired his perseverance in life. He has a great personality, a good heart, and a sharp mind. I have prayed many prayers for this young man and trust the sovereign God for great things in his future. Pray for him as he starts his second year at the University of Northern Iowa and takes on anothe reason of rugby. I love this guy!

baptisms are cool

Baptism is the Christian rite of passage that Jesus commanded all his followers to obey in Matthew 28:19-20. When a person recognizes their sin and commits to following their risen savior Jesus Christ, an amazing spiritual change takes place (2 Cor. 5:17). We enter into a new spiritual relationship and covenant with the Living God. In the Old Testament God entered into a physical covenant with the people of Israel. They would be his special and chosen people on the earth. To mark this physical covenant, the Israelist performed the physical rite of circumcision. In our new spiritual covenant, no physical rite is sufficient. Baptism does not save a human from hell, it is only a response to the new spiritual reality that occurred at the moment of conversion. Baptism is a picture of us dying with Christ (going under the water) and being raised again.

Two students were baptised on August 6th. I really loved the service!!

I am so proud of the faith that is lived out by Drew and Chuck.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pictures of our group at Surge 2006

Our kids played lots of card games. Mostly Egyptian Rat Screw, Kings in the corner and Combs (like spoons but with combs). When I fell asleep, I think they even slipped in some games of Texas Hold'em. They also helped me construct a cross with 2 sticks and electrical tape. The Boy Scouts would have been proud. We also did a high and low ropes' course. Everyone successfully climbed to the top tower in one fashion or another and then took the zip line down for a little fun. We went boating, jet skiing, had a great time on huge inflatables in a little bay of the lake, and spent some time swimming in a pool and the lake. We had sessions every night, quiet times every morning, competitions, and late night adventures. surge 2006 was awesome!

Ashley, Pierce, Anthony, Brian and Dustin . . . 5 amazing junior high students.

A special thanks to Valley Church for hosting and doing so much work. Also, it was a delight to worship with Westchester and Johnston E-Free churches.

God is great, God is good.

I need to get to my sermon prep for the week. My senior pastor is on a vacation with his son (kayaking in Canada). He left me some work to do. Pray that I can get all this done, keep remodeling the kitchen with my dear wife, and work a bit on my new seminary class.

Did I mention that students are awesome!!