New Blog Location

I've decided to start blogging at a different web address. If you subscribe to this blog via email or Google reader, be sure to subscribe to my new blog:


Are You a Leader?

I guess the answer to that question depends a lot on how you DEFINE and ENVISION leadership. For some people, leaders are only people who run huge companies or who have fancy titles. But I don't think that we should limit the title of leader to those people. We shouldn't define leadership in such a narrow way. I like how Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges define leadership in their book, Lead Like Jesus
Leadership is a process of influence. Anytime you seek to influence the thinking, behavior, or development of people in their personal or professional lives, you are taking on the role of a leader.
Actually, all of us exercise leadership in some way. It really isn't a question about IF YOU LEAD; rather it's a question about WHO YOU LEAD and HOW YOU LEAD. Since God has given you a sphere of influence--even if it is a small sphere--that makes you a leader. Seek to use your influence for the sake of Jesus and His kingdom.


End of the Semester Break

Well, my month-long hiatus from blogging is nearing it's end. I'm in my exam week at seminary. I still have a couple of papers to finish and one exam left to take. I certainly have a lot of thoughts to share--thoughts that have been gathering over this busy last month. Grace and peace.


Buy My Home

This summer our family will be moving to Newport News, VA in order to plant a new church. So, we need to sell our home. There are a number of ways that you could help us in this process:

1) Buy my home. This would be great for two reasons. We would sell our home and you would get an great home in a great neighborhood. It's a win-win situation.

2) Tell other people about our home. Maybe you know a friend, family member, or co-worker who is looking for a great house in Anderson, SC.

3) Pray for our home to sell. We are confident that the Lord will make it possible for us to move to Newport News. Ask the Lord to bring the right buyers to us.


Coming Soon

For the last week I've been in Virginia doing a number of things: visiting family, preaching, meeting with church planters, hanging out with my church planting team, meeting new people, etc. This has been such an encouraging time and I look forward to sharing more about what God's been doing.


A Proper Trust

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 27:10, ESV).

Psalm 20 is a Psalm about trust. As the King faces trouble—likely an upcoming war with another nation—the question that confronts him (and us) is, “where should I place my hope, confidence, and trust?” Of course, David recognizes that there are various options—he could place his hope in chariots and horses (i.e. his own abilities, possessions, etc.) or he could place his hope in the LORD. Of course, David’s confidence and trust is with the LORD, but this isn’t true for everyone. When faced with the choice between trusting God or trusting something else, we often turn away from God and turn to other things.

Many of the armies of the surrounding nations placed their hope of victory in the fact that they were armed and skilled in war. In Judges 4 we are told that when Sisera came against Israel he was armed with 900 chariots of iron. In 2 Kings 19, Sennacherib king of Assyria, boasted of his previous victories saying:
Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done in all the lands, devoting them to destruction….Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?
These kings placed their hope in themselves—their chariots, their victories, their abilities. Do you ever find yourself living like these kings by placing your hope and trust in yourself or in some source besides the LORD?

When it comes to your financial stability, where do you place your trust? Is your boast in the fact that you are a highly skilled worker? Is your confidence in the fact that you have a large savings account? Some trust in skills, and some in savings. When it comes to your standing before the LORD, where do you place your trust? Is your boast in the fact that you do a lot of good deeds? Is your confidence in the fact that you don’t look like “all those sinners”? Some trust in works, and some in appearances.

I’m sure that we could think of many other examples of times when we are tempted to place our trust in sources other than the LORD. Yet, as David reminds us, a proper trust in found only in the LORD:
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
There are a few things that we should notice about this verse. First, to trust in the name of the LORD our God means that we must not place confidence in any other source. There is no neutrality here. Either we will be fully devoted to trusting God or we will be devoted to placing our confidence elsewhere. Second, notice that this trust is founded on a relationship. David says that “we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” In reality, without a relationship with God, we will continue to trust in chariots and horses. But if we know God—His character, His words, His deeds—then we will desire to trust Him.

Let’s return back to two stories that we reference earlier in order to see some examples of those who placed their trust in the LORD. In Judges 4, although Sisera had placed his trust in his 900 chariots of iron, Deborah and Barak’s confidence was in the LORD:
Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the LORD go out before you?
Likewise, 2 Kings 19, although Sennacharib’s trust was in his past victories, Hezekiah demonstrated that his trust was in the LORD:
Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O LORD our God, please save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone.
Like others who have walked in faith and trust, God desires for you and I to wholeheartedly trust in Him. But, what does it look like when we place our hope in the LORD? How should this play out in our daily lives? Let’s return to the examples we mentioned earlier.

When it comes to financial stability, some trust in skills, and others in savings but we should trust in the God who promises to provide. Consider Philippians 4:19:
My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
When it comes to our standing before God, some trust in works, and some in appearances, but we should trust in the God who accomplished our salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Consider Ephesians 2:4-5:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.
The issue of who we will trust is a question that you and I will face on a regular basis. Sometimes this question will arise in the midst of huge events/crisis, but it will also be present during the mundane moments of life. And when we are faced with the choice of trusting in God or something else, let us chose to place our trust in the name of the LORD our God.


The Hard Work of Building Relationships

Being around parents and their young children is an interesting thing--especially when a child is first learning to talk. To the outside observer, the child's talk is utter nonsense; yet, somehow the parent seems to understand. The child says, "Baa la mi" (or some other combination of grunts, beeps, or clicks) and the parent gives the child a cup of milk. Amy and I have experienced this with all of our children. We have listened and observed our children for long enough to be able to understand what they are seeking to communicate, even when others have no idea what they said. The ability to understand our children did not happen overnight. It takes time and effort. Other relationships are not much different. If we are really going to get to know others, then it is going to take time and effort. Deep relationships don't happen overnight. They are cultivated over time. Relationships are hard work, but they are well worth the effort. The importance of relationships really comes into focus when we consider what the Bible has to say about relating to one another:

Love one another – Romans 12:10

Honor one another – Romans 12:10

Live in harmony with one another – Romans 12:16; 15:5

Instruct one another – Romans 15:14

Care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25

Comfort one another – 2 Corinthians 13:11

Serve one another – Galatians 5:13

Be kind to one another – Ephesians 4:32

Forgive one another – Ephesians 4:32

Address one another with psalms, hymns, spiritual songs – Ephesians 5:19

Submit to one another – Ephesians 5:21

Be truthful to one another – Colossians 3:9

Teach and Admonish one another – Colossians 3:16

Encourage one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18

Build up one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Do good to one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Exhort one another – Hebrews 3:13

Consider how to stir up one another – Hebrews 10:24

Confess sins to one another – James 5:16

Pray for one another – James 5:16

Show hospitality to one another – 1 Peter 4:9

Be humble toward one another – 1 Peter 5:5

So, commit yourself to doing the hard work of building relationships. In case you're wondering where to start, I'll leave you with three thoughts.

First, remember that the most important relationship is a relationship with Jesus. Without a proper relationship with Him, all of your other relationships will never be right.

Second, build relationships in the context of the local church.

Third, meet and build relationships with those who have yet to have faith in Jesus. The Lord can use you to help them find the relationship that they need most desperately.


Attractional Church vs. Missional Church

Watch this video and then think through the following questions:

What are the benefits and drawbacks of the "attractional" approach?

What are the benefits and drawbacks of the "missional" church?

Can these approaches be integrated or are they totally opposed to one another? Why?

The comment section is waiting for you...

Informed Quoters or Informed Readers?

In his article, "The Problem of Evangelical Biblical Illiteracy" David R. Nienhuis expresses his concern regarding Biblical illiteracy among those who claim to hold the Bible in high regard. In his opinion, knowing a few isolated Bible verses or being able to answer trivia questions should not be the goal of Christian education. He writes:
Knowing that Jesus was born in Bethlehem will not in and of itself empower them to speak the language of faith. Satan's use of Scripture in tempting Jesus is clear indication that a merely cognitive level of biblical literacy does not automatically result in the formation of a Christian character. To make a real difference in people's lives, biblical literacy programs will have to do more than simply encourage believers to memorize a select set of Bible verses. They will have to teach people to speak the language of faith...Biblical literacy programs need to do more than produce informed quoters. They need to produce transformed readers.
I believe that Nienhuis is correct. While I believe that Bible memorization is a good part of educating believers, it does not exhaust the task. Here are a couple of suggestions for helping people become transformed readers of Scripture.
  • Teach the Bible as a Story - From beginning to end, the Bible tells one grand story. The plot-line of the Bible moves from Creation to Fall to Redemption to Consummation. We must relate the many stories found within Scripture to the one, unified Story. In other words, we must not treat the Bible as a collection of unrelated stories; every story is part of the drama of redemption. (Recommended Resource: The Jesus Storybook Bible)
  • Ask the "So What?" Question - The goal of reading Scripture is not simply to make us more informed or knowledgeable. Facts are good, but they are not enough--even the demons believe certain facts about God (James 2:19). The things that we learn in the Bible regarding God, ourselves, and the world should lead us to action. For example, the proper response of the one who learns of his or her sinful condition and of Jesus' death and resurrection, is faith and repentance. Every time we read Scripture we should ask the "So what?" question -- "So, what should my response be to what God has revealed to me in His Word?"


Ordinary Events, Extraordinary Opportunity

Has it ever crossed your mind that God may be working through the ordinary events of your life in order to give you the extraordinary opportunity to tell others about Jesus? In other words, keep your eyes and ears open as you interact with people on a daily basis. Your seemingly common conversations with a waitress, a friend, a family member, a co-worker, or a cashier may be a prime opportunity to sharing the good news of Jesus.


Worship Services for Pets? Really?

The final project for my Church Planting and Renewal class involved doing research for a church plant proposal. My proposal focused on Newport News, VA. As part of the project, we had to learn about churches that were already present in our target area. While looking on one church website I came across something quite surprising (and sad). Under their "worship services" section of their website, I found a "Blessing of the Animals" service. This is how the website described the service:
More than 70 dogs and cats attended the service (also one turtle and one bird), accompanied by their human families. Held outside, the animals gathered together, surprisingly well-behaved, to hear guitar music in their honor, and a message by our pastors. Bill and Eleanor then blessed each animal individually.
Wow. I love animals--I have one cat and two dogs. But I do not think that this type of "worship" service has any place within a Christian ministry setting. What has happened to true, biblical, gospel-centered worship? Do animals really need to have music and messages in their honor? I think not. Let me know what you think.


Drinking from a Fire Hose, Week 2

Well, it's time for my second week-long seminary course. Last week I took Church Planting and Renewal (which was great). This week I'll be in Systematic Theology III. These classes require pre-class readings and papers, as well as post-class readings and projects. Modular classes are like drinking from fire hose - lots of information in a short time. Hopefully I'll be able to share some insights that I've taken from these class in the coming weeks.


Earthquake in Haiti

As most of you have heard by now, Haiti was hit by a massive 7.0 earthquake yesterday. In the Lord's providence, a mission team from Erskine college and seminary is in Haiti at this time. We have not heard from them yet. Please pray for them. While it is certainly good for us to pray for their safety during this time, we must not stop there. The Lord has strategically placed them in a time and place where they can be ministers of light and hope. My wife spent some time in Haiti when she was in high school, and she can testify to the spiritual darkness that fills that place (voodoo, witch doctors, etc.). Pray for the salvation of many. Our prayers go out to the people of Haiti.


We both saw it for the first time.

I remember the first time that I saw it. I was spending the night at a friend's house. His parents were asleep, and we were up late watching satellite tv--the old, huge satellite system that took up a substantial portion of your yard. With the old satellites you had to wait for them to search out new channels. My friend and I were hoping to find some cartoons, but we got more than we were hoping for. When the satellite finally found some new stations, we both saw it for the first time: porn. At the time we didn't know what to call it. I remember feeling confused and disturbed. We immediately changed the channel and pretended that we didn't see anything. But that image stuck with me.

I'm sure that many people can relate to this story. Maybe you came upon it accidentally as I did. Or maybe an older brother or friend showed it to you. Or maybe you searched it out. Maybe it disgusted you too. Yet, somewhere along the way, maybe confusion turned to curiosity. Maybe disgust turned to delight. Maybe that first view led you into a web of lust. You certainly would not the first person this happened to.

Sadly, so many men and women (both Christian and non-Christian) battle with addictions to pornography. The sin of lust has consummed so many. It can quickly become your god, your idol. This is exactly what our enemy, Satan, would want. He seeks to take what is good--the God-given gift of sex between husband and wife--and distort and twist it. He wants men and women to worship the gift instead of the Giver. But Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).

Below, I've placed some links to a few free online resources (E-Books) that you can download and read. These two resources--one for single guys and one for married guys--are excellent. They are written by Tim Challies (www.challies.com). The table of contents contains these chapters:

Pornifying the Marriage Bed
Breaking Free
A Theology of Sex
Self-Centered Sex
Recommended Resources

In addition, these guides included some very helpful discussion/study questions at the end of each section

Sexual Detox - A Guide for the Single Guy

Sexual Detox - A Guide for the Married Guy


From Pastor to Creative Communal Coordinator

Being called a "pastor" is so 2009. Goodbye "Senior Pastor" and hello "Creative Communal Coordinator." It's 2010 people, so get in the game! Thankfully, if you are not artsy or cool enough to think of a hipper title on your own, Mark Driscoll has compiled a helpful chart. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3. Make the change today! (I'm having way too much fun with this.) Here are a few of my combos:
  • Heartfelt Soul Conductor
  • Master Motivational Manager
  • Imaginative Happiness Honcho
Well, now it's your turn. Place a few of your favorite combos in the comment section.