Ecclesiola in Ecclesia

"That Christians are not to conform to the world is a familiar concept of the New Testament. It is not so well known that Jesus also saw (and foresaw) the worldliness of the church itself and called his followers not to conform to the nominal church either, but rather to be a truly Christian community distinct in its life and practice from the religious establishment, an ecclesiola (little church) in ecclesia." -John R.W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount


"Turn Off Your Brain"

Tonight as I was rubbing Amy's back I began talking about a few thoughts that I'd gathered from Matthew 6:1 (which is the text I'll be preaching from this Sunday). This same type of sceneria plays out quite often between Amy and I: while she lays on her stomach or side, I delve into some heavy discussion. Usually she listens and engages me in the conversation, but tonight she rolled over and said: "I love you but could you just turn off your brain tonight and rub my back quietly." I laughted and continued to rub her back until she fell asleep. Although I did quiet down, I couldn't manage to "turn my brain off." Maybe I need to consider drinking less caffeine.


Fall and Pumpkins

There are a lot of things that I enjoy about the fall season: cool mornings, changing leaves, and corn mazes to name a few. But one of my favorite fall offerings is the pumpkin. So whether I'm carving, eating, or drinking, I like a large dose of pumpkin during the fall. And every year there are so many things to satisfy all of us who are pumpkin lovers: pumpkin picking, pumpkin carving, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice beer, pumpkin candles, and pumpkin smashing for those with a slight destructive streak. I'm curious...how many of you enjoy pumpkins? If you do, tell me about your favorite pumpkin activity, memory, food, or drink. Share a recipe, a memory, or whatever...if it involves a pumpkin, feel free to write about it in the comment section.

Water in the Wilderness, Rivers in the Desert

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise." -Isaiah 43:19-21

God redeems His people and refreshes them as they return from exile. He calls them to take notice of His great acts and guides them to a new place. He raises them from death and breaths new life into them. The prophet Isaiah declares that God will do a mighty work for Israel as He brings them from the hands of the Babylonians (vs.6,14). He will once again set the captives free so that they will sing his praise. Truly, God did this for Israel. His words are true and faithful. Yet, the greatest exile and redemption has come in the person and work of Jesus.

"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing'" (Luke 4:16-21).

As God's chosen people, let us daily look to Christ our Redeemer. May we respond to Him with songs of praise and adoration and lives that bear witness to the grace that has been given to us. For we have been united with Christ in His death and raised with to life with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly places. Therefore, we must also consider ourselves "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:11). So, let us go forth today and live for the honor and glory of God our Father. Let us remember the Son Jesus Christ. Let us be guided by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Goodbye Old Friend

After waking up this morning, Amy noticed that my mountain bike was missing. Apparently, my bike was stolen last night or some time yesterday. Thankfully they were not able to get Amy's bike because there is a large travel carriage (that the girls ride in) attached to the back of her bike. I am going to miss having my Gary Fisher Mamba mountain bike. We've made many great memories together, but my sadness is a bit lessoned because I know a couple of things about my bike. First, the front suspension is broken. I broke it a while back after a hard ride down the mountain. Second, the front tire has a slash in it that will not allow it to be pumped up. Granted, the bike is still ridable, but whoever tries to ride/sell it will probably be disappointed. Nevertheless, it really was a great bike and I'm going to miss having it. I think the worst part about the whole incident is knowing that someone came onto our property without our knowing. That certainly makes me uncomfortable.


Grace Proceeds Faith

As most of you know our oldest daughter's name is Alora Grace, and our youngest daughter's name is Adalynne Faith. Of course, Amy and I spent a lot of time thinking about what we would name our children, but it wasn't until recently that I realize that we had affirmed an important theological truth in their names: Grace preceeds Faith.


Now I Know My Alpha, Beta, Gammas

The other night I asked Amy if she wanted to help me study Greek, but she was a bit reluctant because she didn't know any Greek. So, I decided to teach her the alphabet and a few vocabulary words. By the end of the night, she could read all of my vocabulary words back to me and read a few verses from the gospel of John. We had so much fun together. Now I guess it's time for her to start learning the paradigms for verbs and the declensions for nouns. Granted, she probably doesn't have time for all that, but I am thankful for her willingness to help me as I study at Erskine.



I'm excited! Remedy is coming from David Crowder* Band on September 25th. Buy it at the store or preorder here.


Throwing Each Other Out of the Window

In a recent post, Reggie Kidd laments the Churches tendency to engage in civil war instead of going to battle with our common enemies of the faith. Today, we do find ourselves in the midst of conflicts with those who oppose our faith in the Triune God. Whether the attack is coming from militant Islamics, Mormons, or some other group the battle is certainly raging. Yet, instead of placing our time and energy into battling against our common foes we are more concerned with going to battle with our fellow brothers and sisters. Granted, those internal conflicts do need to be addressed, but we shouldn't be throwing our allies out of the window when our mutual enemies have engaged us in battle.

Reggie Kidd writes:

There are times that call for a sense of measure and proportion — times when you need not to be doing a smack down on each other. Fifth century B.C. Greece it figured out. Will we?

On one front, we face militant Islamists who have declared a reverse Crusade on us, demanding we either grovel before a disincarnate cosmic monad, or die.
On another, Mormons, arguably the fastest growing religion on the planet, knock on our doors with their terminal niceness (with, as Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven chillingly recounts, notable exceptions) and their uber-Disney promise that not only can you wish upon a star but you can get your own star where you’ll be a god or goddess.

Then there are the angry atheists who grouch about the immorality and intellectual suicide of faith. And just wait until this Christmas season’s (how deliciously ironic) release of the movie based on Philip Pullman’s vision of anti-Narnia: The Golden Compass.

Meanwhile, mainline Western churches languor under the sway of pre-pagan eros and post-Christian heterodoxy, embodying in a way that couldn’t be more precise Jude’s prescient warning about “ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).
Meanwhile evangelicals headbutt each other … and do everything we can to our nearest neighbors to let them know we’re more against them than against what should be our common enemies.

Read Reggie's entire post here.


Taking Spicy To Church

After I woke Alora from her nap today, she noticed that I had a small icon of a dog on my shirt (the Aeropostale symbol). Then, the following conversation took place:

Alora: I don't like that dog.

Me: Why not?

Alora: Because it's small. I like Spicy cause she's big, and I want her to go to church with me.

Me: Yeah, your dog Spicy is big, but why do you want her to go to church?

Alora: So that she can play with me and read the Bible.

Me: Wow. Is there anything else you want her to do with you at church?

Alora: Eat baby goldfish.

Youth Blog

I recently started a blog for our youth ministry at Redeemer, so check it out from time to time in order to keep up with our current happenings: www.RedeemerYouth.wordpress.com



I just came across a really cool website, pandora.com, that lets you make custom radio stations based on a particular band or song that you like. For instance, I typed in Sufjan Stevens, and they played "We Won't Need Legs to Stand." Then, they followed it with a band I've never heard of called Iron and Wine. I really enjoyed the song so I clicked the "I like it button" so that they will play more songs like it. Anyway, go and have fun listening to some of your favorites or finding a few new favorites.


Back From Enjoying Sand and Sea

Our family had a fun and relaxing time at Myrtle Beach this past week. The weather was beautiful, and the water was refreshing. I did get stung by a jellyfish but that didn't really damper our vacation. I enjoyed being away from cell phone calls, the internet, and the other daily tasks that normally occupy my time. Now that I'm back I guess it's time for me to get back to my "normal" life. Lots of exciting things are coming up during the next week: seminary beings on Tuesday and the church launches on Sunday.