Friday, September 30, 2011

Keeping Our Eyes on the Guide, Not on the Giants

From the Cornerstone Church Pastor Post (September 14, 2011):
As Cornerstone Church celebrates its 10 year anniversary, I am drawn to the story of the Hebrew people in the wilderness as recorded in Numbers 13-14. These are the chapters that show 12 spies in the Promised Land, assessing God’s provision and strategizing on how they will take the land God has promised. At some point in their tour of duty, 10 of the 12 spies become petrified. They fear the giants and quit trusting their Guide. They are so scared that they’d rather go back to the chains of Egypt than proceed in faith to fight with God for the Land.
How foolish this sounds to us? What Jew would choose to go back to the horrors of German concentration camps? What African-American would choose to go back to the cotton fields of the pre-Emancipation Proclamation South? Oh, but are we that different? I’ve known churches that feared the unknown so much that they never tried anything different. They played the same songs, preached the same sermons, offered the same Vacation Bible Schools, kept the same carpet, and even kept the same leaders for decade after decade.
Do you know what happens to churches like that? The ones that fear the unknown so much they fail to hear God’s future plans for them . . . One of two things happens: 1) Nothing remarkable ever happens and everyone leaves and goes to the church that is trying new things or 2) Everything horrible happens and everyone leaves and goes to the church trying new things. In many ways at this 10 year celebration we can celebrate God’s faithfulness and victories. But we are only partway on the journey. We must not fear and run back to familiar territory. God has even greater things in mind for this church if only we walk out in faith. May we be a people who keep our eyes on the Guide and not on the giants. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

New Church Website

A big thanks to several members of Cornerstone Church and our designer Chris Hubbs on getting our new church website up and going.

Check it out:

While you're at it, check us out on Facebook and become a subscriber (a.k.a. "like us"):

Friday, September 23, 2011

How to throw the church under the bus...

What a pastor says: "The church is hurting my family." What a congregation hears: "You are not worth sacrificing for."
What a pastor says: "I sense the Lord moving us elsewhere." What a congregation hears: "God is not moving here." 
What a pastor says: "I don't see God blessing this church until..." What a congregation hears: "God won't use this groups of sinners; He prefers the group of sinners in (often the fancier) church building X down the street."
What a pastor says: "God has opened a door that we shouldn't turn down." What a congregation hears: "God has closed the door on this church."
What a pastor says: "God has used this time to prepare me for the next season of ministry." What a congregation hears, "You were my stepping stone to bigger and better things."

Some of these statements arise from honest intentions. Others are cruel shots across the bow designed to sting or to lay blame on someone or something else rather than shoulder personal responsibility. I really don't like it when we pastors spiritualize our lives so much that it comes across as throwing the church under the bus. Can't we be honest sometimes that the reason we are leaving is because there's some issue with us (good, bad, or otherwise)? We're struggling spiritually and we hope a change of venue might help. We are having issues with certain people. We want a new adventure. The pay isn't meeting family needs. We've dug a hole we can't get out of. I'm not sure where God is leading me, but I thought I'd give something new a chance. I'm not fulfilled. Maybe there's a better way...

How not to throw your church under the bus: 
We know from the example of Moses in Exodus that God sometimes opens doors that people are NOT supposed to walk through. After the doubters grumble and refuse to enter the Promised Land, we read in Numbers 14:11-12, "The LORD said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they." If this isn't a clear opened door by God, I don't know what is. But Moses cared more about God's glory than His own. He'd rather stick with his grumbling church than start over with a new crowd. He was willing to be run under the bus so that the people were not (not the only time he ever did this, btw). 

Moses did, however, flounder in his own faith (cf. Numbers 20). He wasn't a perfect leader. He's just a guy like most pastors I know who are in need of forgiveness and grace. But there was a shepherd who remained faithful even unto death. This is the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). We can find life in believing in Jesus Christ. Then, as we gaze on Christ Jesus, and are changed more and more into His image, I think we'll take a few more buses for our people rather than throw them under so we can move on to greener pastures. SDG

This was inspired last Tuesday when I was reading about the dangers of ambition in Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders

This Little Baby is 4 Weeks Tomorrow!

My three sons!
Elias wonders, "Who are these yahoos?"

Serious look

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

NFL Player says no to millions for something better...

Jason Wright (running back for Arizona Cardinals) is saying no to a 2 million dollar contract and yes to pursuing a graduate degree and improving the lives of inner-city children. A leader on and off the field, Wright has chosen what's the best over what the world says is the good.

Check out the whole article here:

I love this part of the article:

As a testament to his leadership, Wright would call running back and special teams only meetings Friday afternoons, and he'd answer any questions the young players - including first-round pickBeanie Wells(notes) - might have, ones they might be too embarrassed to ask a coach.
"He was the most unselfish guy I've been around," Cardinals running backs coach Tommie Robinson says. "He knew every position, and he made sure the guys in front of him knew everything.
"When you say Jason Wright, the vast majority of fans wouldn't recognize the name. But he brought intangibles you just can't coach. Either you got it, or you don't. Kids like that come along once every blue moon."
Added special teams coach Kevin Spencer, "When you walk out of the tunnel with him, you're a better football team."
Five-time Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald(notes), whom the club signed to an eight-year, $128.5 million contract in August, says Wright was beloved and respected in the locker room.
"He's one of the best teammates I've ever had," Fitzgerald says. "But Jason has a higher calling, and he goes by the Lord's plan. As a friend and a Christian, I admire his courage.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wise words on marriage...

Stanley Hauerwas, an ethicist at Duke, says that we always marry the wrong person. The sooner young couples can understand that, the better off they'll be. I hear young couples say, "You mean you don't want us to be soul mates?" But nobody marries his or her soul mate. You become soul mates by living life together through those years.
So often cohabiters are looking, in the first year, for what comes only after years—decades!—of life together. You are setting yourself up for dramatic disappointment if you think life works that way.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Twists and Turns of Parenting

Carrie and I recently read the article, "How to Land Your Kid in Therapy" by Lori Gottlieb (warning profane language in the article). This article suggests that involved, caring parents can often create kids who cannot cope with real life and end up in therapy. The author of the article (a therapist herself) observed time and time again that adult "kids" from "good homes" seemed to be struggling in life. She writes, "Here I was, seeing the flesh-and-blood results of the kind of parenting that my peers and I were trying to practice with our own kids, precisely so that they wouldn’t end up on a therapist’s couch one day. We were running ourselves ragged in a herculean effort to do right by our kids—yet what seemed like grown-up versions of them were sitting in our offices, saying they felt empty, confused, and anxious. Back in graduate school, the clinical focus had always been on how the lack of parental attunement affects the child. It never occurred to any of us to ask, what if the parents are tooattuned? What happens to those kids?"

This article came to me the same week I heard a Christian pastor lament that too many Christians are not helping their kids live by faith. These Christians (like me!) protect their kids at all costs from popular culture, secular schools, and heterodox beliefs. As a result, these kids live lives without needing God to get them through the day. Who needs God when Mom and Dad are around to keep the devil away? 

This article and the wise word of caution from my pastor friend have me asking, What does it mean to raise a kid who lives by faith in the Son of God? How do I help them learn not to merely cope with life, but to live with and by the power of Jesus? How do they handle the horrors of reality without abandoning the God of all creation who will one day redeem all of that fallen reality? How do I keep my kids from fighting against the world or running from it, but instead to love the culture-makers, to love their schools, teachers and classmates, and to love those with heterodox beliefs? Isn't love the most powerful force in the world? Isn't faith in God the key to the abundant life? O, God help this parent.

How to become a Christian (via Charles Spurgeon)

From: Charles Spurgeon's Sermon #654 "Memory—The Handmaid of Hope"

III. I must have a few words with SEEKERS. Always in this congregation we have some who are seeking the Lord—would to God we had many more! It were glorious preaching if all were either seeking or had found. If it were not for the mixed multitude who neither seek nor find, our work were easy work, indeed. Some of you are seeking God today and you are very much troubled with the fear that you cannot be saved. I will have a few words with you to recall to mind some common-place Truths of God which may give you hope.   First of all some of you are troubled about the doctrine of election. I cannot, this morning, explain it to you. I believe it and receive it with joy! And you may rest assured, however much it troubles you, it is true. Though you may not like it, it is true! And remember it is not a matter of opinion as to what you like or do not like— as to what you think or do not think—you must turn to the Bible and if you find it there you must believe it.  

 Listen to me. You have got an idea that some persons will be sent to Hell, merely and only because it is the will of God that they should be sent there. Throw the idea overboard because it is a very wicked one and is not to be found in Scripture! There could not be a Hell inside the man’s conscience who knew that he was wretched merely because God willed he should be—for the very essence of Hell is sin and a sense of having willfully committed it. There could not be the flames of Hell if there were not this conviction on the mind of the person suffering it, “I knew my duty but I did it not—I willfully sinned against God and I am here not because of anything He did or did not do, but because of my own sin.” 

 If you drive that dark thought away you may be on the road to comfort. Remember again, that whatever the doctrine of election may be or may not be, there is a free invitation in the Gospel given to needy sinners, “Whoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” Now you may say, “I cannot reconcile the two.” There are a great many other things that you cannot do. God knows where these two things meet though you do not. And I hope you do not intend to wait till you are a philosopher before you will be saved—because it is likely enough that while you are trying to be wise by persistently remaining a practical fool you will find yourself in Hell where your wisdom will not avail you. (my favorite part!)

 God commands you to trust Christ and promises that all Believers shall be saved. Leave your difficulties till you have trusted Christ and then you will be in a capacity to understand them better than you do now. In order to understand Gospel doctrine you must believe in Christ first. What does Christ say, “No man comes unto the Father but by Me.” Now election is the Father’s work. The Father chooses sinners. Christ makes the Atonement. You must go, then, to Christ the atoning Sacrifice before you can understand the Father as the electing God. Do not persist in going to the Father first. Go to the Son as He tells you.  Once more, remember that even if your own idea of the doctrine of election were the truth, yet if it were so, you can 
but perish should you seek the Lord—
“I can but perish if I go, I am resolved to try;  For if I stay away I know I must forever die.  But if I die with mercy sought,  When I the King have tried,  That were to die, delightful thought,  As sinner never died.”  

Trust Christ even if you should perish and you shall never perish if you trust in Him! Well, if that difficulty were removed, I can suppose another, saying, “Ah, but my case is of great sin.” Recall this to mind and you will have hope, namely, that “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom,” Paul says, “I am chief.” “I am chief.” Paul was the chief of sinners and he went through the door of Mercy. And now there can be none greater than the chief, and where the chief went through you can go through! If the chief of sinners has been saved, why not you? Why not you?   

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Week 2 Pictures...

 Mommy likes my feet; do you?
 Busy day at the office.
 Fancy new duds thanks to Auntie Carmen.
 These are my brothers...I kinda like 'em.
Thanks for coming Grandma Carol and taking my picture.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Summary of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible)

John Sailhamer writes:
1) The author of the Pentateuch wants to draw a connecting link between God's original plan of blessing for mankind [Genesis 1-2] and his establishment of the covenant with Israel at Sinai [Exodus 19]. Put simply, the author sees the covenant at Sinai as God's plan to restore his blessing to mankind  through the descendants of Abraham (Gen 12:1-3; Exod 2:24). 
2) The author of the Pentateuch wants to show that the Covenant at Sinai failed to restore God's blessing to mankind because Israel failed to trust God and obey his will. 
3) The author of the Pentateuch wants to show that God's promise to restore the blessing would ultimately succeed because God himself  would one day give to Israel a heart to trust and obey God (Deut. 30:1-10).

From a good article by Sailhamer in Trinity Journal: "Exegetical Notes: Genesis 1:1-2:4a"

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Elias' first week of life in the outside world...

Here we have our sweet Elias Jay getting ready to go home from the hospital on Monday.  Does he have any idea what he's getting himself into??

 Being born is hard work!!
The whole family when we first arrived home.

Bedtime reading with Samuel and Daddy.  They have a lot of literature to get through (see stack of books next to Sam)!

Day 5 of life.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Books Read in August

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by CS Lewis (read aloud book with Carrie)
A Treatise on Good Works by Martin Luther (Kindle Book)
The Message of Colossians & Philemon (Bible Speaks Today) by Dick Lucas (my favorite commentary while working through Colossians this summer)

Currently Reading:

A History of the American People  by Paul Johnson (a wise Brit speaking truth about the founding and progression of this fascinating country)
The Once and Future King by TH White (Arthurian legend retold)
Sir Gibbie by George MacDonald (fantastic tale)
Pilgrim's Regress by CS Lewis (read aloud book with Carrie)
The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from C. S. Lewis (I have been going through Lewis' daily readings since March)
Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders (reading this a few chapters a month with my mentor)