“him who looks after me”

Genesis 16:13 “So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

This morning while reading through Genesis I was blessed by these words spoken by Hagar. Hagar is the Egyptian servant to Sarai, Abram’s wife. After Abram and Sarai’s plan to have a child went wrong, pregnant Hagar ran away into the wilderness. It was there that God “found” her, spoke with her, listened to her affliction and blessed her.

Hagar found great strength and comfort in the bright truth that God sees and cares for his people. When we are full of doubt, worry, insecurity, stress, confusion, may we be strengthened by what we know about who God is. He sees and cares for his people.

He is a God to his people. He is a Father to his children. He is a Shepherd to his sheep. He is a teacher to his students. He is a guide to his followers.

May you feel the joy and strength that comes from knowing God sees you and looks after you! Here are some more thoughts on this idea.

The ancients used to express it this way = “God is all eye.”

“In Scripture, when God sees he cares.” –Gordon Wenham

Psalm 139:1 “O LORD, you have searched me and known me”

Psalm 44:21 “For he knows the secrets of the heart.”

Psalm 33:13 “The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man”

Hebrews 4:13 “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Charles Spurgeon– “It is one of our choicest privileges to be always under our Father’s eye, to be never out of sight of our best friend.”

Matthew Henry– “This thought should always restrain us from sin and excite us to duty: Thou God seest me.

the reading plan I’m doing in 2012

Earlier I posted about the various Bible Reading Plans that there are out there.

Many of you have expressed interest in doing this along with me. I am excited to be beginning it. Well I have chosen one that I really like and will be doing this year. I began on January 1, and I am already really liking it. It allows for 6 readings a week, which means every week you have a free day to catch up if you are behind.

It is called the Read the Bible for Life Chronological Plan.

You can see a 2-page plan of it here. Or you can see a nice detailed booklet plan of it here.

E-mail me at jgreene@fbcfairdale.org if you will be doing this Reading Plan too.



blessed by a teenage bike rider

Drew Dillman is a Senior at PRP High School. He is a very focused and gifted bike rider.

He is also a member of our church, First Baptist Fairdale.

Over the last few years, Drew has grown a lot in his relationship with Jesus Christ. He has become very involved in the life of our church. He and our Youth Pastor, Nate Martin, have become great friends. Drew was a Youth Summer Intern this past summer. It is a pure joy to see Drew growing into a godly man.

That is why this article is so cool. Drew is a big time cyclist. He rides various types of bikes, but his favorite is Cyclocross. He recently returned from another trip to Europe to compete in some worldwide competitions. While there Drew was asked to write a journal entry about his life, cycling, and the trip. You can click the link above to read Drew’s perspective on his life with Christ in cycling.

You can also click this link about Drew on the EuroCross website.

Drew is a fine young man. God is working in his life, and I am thrilled and humbled to be his pastor. You can pray for Drew as he is praying about what college to attend in the fall.


Lets read the Bible in 2012 (reading plans)

Each year we talk about a New Year resolution to read the Bible more, better, and consistently.


This year, I would like for some folks to join me in choosing a Reading Plan and then sticking with it throughout the year. I am going to make a list or group of folks who are all doing this with me. I will keep you encouraged and updated in the process.

Justin Taylor (his blog post on the The Gospel Coalition) has done us all a favor and compiled many of them together making it much easier for people to choose. You can click here to check it out.

I plan to choose a plan that will take me through the entire Bible in one year.

If you would like to join with me in this goal and be held accountable to sticking with this, then e-mail me at jgreene@fbcfairdale.org

I am eager to see who wants to join me in this. May 2012 be the year that you and I grow in God’s Word more than any other year before!


our family advent nightly devotionals

This year our family advent season devotional time has more fullness to it. JJ is almost four years old and Eli is two and a half. So now we have two little men who are listening attentively and taking in this great story. Noah just turned one, and so he is often already in bed by the time we do the Advent.

This is a picture of  our Advent Calendar that we use every night. Our boys get so excited and focused when we pull the Advent Calendar out.

There are basically four elements to what we do in our advent devotional time: Bible-story-telling; Prayer; Singing; and Surprise treat.

  • Bible-story-telling. During this time, we point out which day we are on and how close we are getting to Christmas. I then tell about 5-7 minutes worth of the Christmas story using one of their Children’s Bibles. Each night we will emphasize one main point that we are expecting them to remember. (Last night was Immanuel which means “God with us.”) Also during this time, I will ask questions to make sure they are remembering what we have taught from night to night. It is incredible how engaged they can be on the details of the Christmas story. They love the little things like baby Jesus was in a manger with cows and sheep instead of in a house with a bed.
  • Prayer. After the Bible, we all pray. During this time, we ask JJ and Eli each to pray. They can pray whatever they feel like praying. But during this time, we do instruct them on how to pray about the things we have just learned. It is overwhelming to hear a 2 or 3 year old pray on his own and thank God for sending Jesus to be with us. I pray last so they can see how I pray.
  • Singing. During this time, we sing the same two songs every night. (We do this so they can learn the songs and the words. We also do the same songs throughout the year whatever the theme is.) The boys love this. They both sing so loudly and proudly. This Christmas season we are singing “O Come Let Us Adore Him” and “Away in a Manger.”
  • Surprise Treat. The last thing we do is give the boys a surprise. They are then allowed to get up and look behind the number corresponding to the day’s date. Valeria has a wrapped treat there each night (usually some M&Ms or Skittles). This is really exciting to our boys.  And then we are finished until the next night.

It is such a small simple thing to do this Advent Devotional each night. I built the Wooden Calendar House thing for very minimal cost. But yet our boys enjoy it so much. They are happy and that makes us happy. Not to mention, that they are really learning a lot about the Christmas story.

I also want to point out that during the Christmas season there are many nights when we have guests over at the boys bed-time. We do not let that stop us from doing it. We welcome others to join in. The boys get such a thrill to do the Advent Devotional including all the singing and praying while many of their “friends” observe and participate.

Valeria and I feel so undeserving to have the opportunity to raise the boys to know Jesus.

Christmas is special- even more special for believers!

I recently wrote a little article for our church newsletter. I wanted to draw out the truth that while Christmas is a very special holiday for most people, it should be even more special for those who are believers in Jesus Christ.

“Jesus Christ the Lord is the Savior! That truth being understood, trusted in, depended on, and treasured by faith is what takes this Christmas holiday to the next level and makes it so special.”

“While parties and presents and food and family are a very rich blessing, they are small and insignificant in comparison to the gift and joy that forgiveness, love and new life bring from God.”

You can read the entire short little article here.


Operation Christmas Child – Success!

This past Sunday evening our church had a special prayer service as we brought our Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.

What OCC is is a way to get Christmas presents to kids in third world countries. People here stuff a shoebox with toys and gifts and then pray for the child who will receive it. Each box given must include $7 to pay for the shipping and handling.

This year was the second year (since I have been here, 2003) that our church has participated in the OCC shoebox collection. Last year we gave a total of 28 shoeboxes.

So when it came time to start preparing for this year’s OCC shoebox collection, I got a little zealous and set us the high goal of 100 shoeboxes. That is nearly 4 times as many as we gave last year.

Well for about the past month we have talked it up, shown videos, passed out boxes and pamphlets and literature about the awesome opportunity to participate in “giving this Christmas away.” I have told our church countless times what Jesus says “It is more blessed to give than it is to receive.” And even as our church is embracing giving more and more, we still heard people saying that there is no way we will reach our goal of 100 shoeboxes.

Well finally Sunday night, November 20th came, and it was time for folks to bring their shoeboxes. In the middle of our regular Sunday evening service, we had a time for people to come forward with their box as an offering and pray silently for the child who will receive it. It was really nice just to watch this happen. At the end of that time, I came forward and prayed for all of it. There was  big pile of shoeboxes at the altar of our church. Then we continued on with our service: singing, praying, and hearing God’s Word preached.

Then the end came, I stepped up and counted the box… 91 OCC shoeboxes! 91!

I was shocked! I was so happy that our people had given 91 christmas presents away. I was thrilled to think of 91 children getting a gift. I was proud to think that we gave away $637 of our own money.

But I was also bummed that we didn’ t reach our goal. We were 9 boxes short. When I told our people, they were all shocked too. Possessing a puzzled simultaneous joy and discouragement look.

Then all of a sudden a lady walked in the back door carrying 1 box. So I said, “Wait, there’s one. That makes 92.” Then another lady raised her hand and said “I got five right here, I wasnt able to bring them forward yet.” That made 97! Then another guy raised his hand and said “I got 2 more right here.” Then another young girl had 2 more. Then another couple had 2 more.

It was amazing! Without any hesitation, the whole church celebrated with clapping and cheering. Praise God!

All in all we had given 104 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. I was so happy. I was so proud to be the pastor of these people. And I was so proud and humbled to be a child of God.

Now, I realize 100 is not all that many. And I realize there are many, many kids who still will not get a Christmas present this year. And I realize that it wasn’t 300, or 500, or 1,000 shoeboxes.

But it was 104. And it was 4 times as many as the year before. And it was our church reaching a big goal! And it was Christ’s church becoming more and more like him in the fact that we were blessed by giving!

May God get the glory for His work in us! Who knows what our goal may be next year!

the meaning of marriage

I recently began reading Tim Keller’s new book, The Meaning of Marriage.

In the Introduction, Keller writes “the primary goal (of the book) is to give both married and unmarried people a vision for what marriage is according to the Bible.”

He also concludes the Introduction with:

“Unless you’re able to look at marriage through the lens of Scripture instead of through your own fears or romanticism, through your particular experience, or through your culture’s narrow perspectives, you won’t be able to to make intelligent decisions about your own marital future.”


I am really enjoying the book so far. If you are married, or one day hope to be, and you would like to understand marriage even better and be better at loving your spouse, then I would love for you to get a copy and read it along with me. I am just getting started. E-mail me if you are reading it too.

sickened by it

Over the past few months, the book of Daniel has captivated me. Themes like the faithfulness of Daniel, the worldliness of kings and kingdoms, the severity of punishments, the sovereignty of God, the power of God, etc have been challenging me and growing me in my understanding.

Well at the end of chapter 8 of Daniel after Daniel has just seen a vision about the future suffering and evil that would come upon his people, Daniel makes this statement: “And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days.” (8:27)

And this lead me to thinking about the expressions “I was sickened by it” or “that makes me sick to my stomach.” And I am sure that most everyone is familiar with expressions like those, with what they mean and when and why they are said.

Daniel and his people were Jews. They were God’s people. And they were in exile and had been taken captive by the Babylonians and Medes and Persians. Things were bad already for Daniel and his people. But for the first 8 chapters of Daniel, Daniel and his peers have demonstrated an incredible steadfastness and faithfulness to God in the face of the trials. So Daniels vision only adds to the difficulty. Things are going to get worse. The thought of more trials, more evil, more deaths, more truth being thrown to the ground (8:12) sounds awful to Daniel. That is because those things are awful. And when you are able to see clearly, able to see by faith, then bad things wrong things stand out and … look bad. Well, that is what happens to Daniel. And what he sees overwhelms him. In the last verse of the passage, Daniel says he is “overcome and lay sick for some days.” What he saw sickened him! What he saw made him sick to his stomach!

Does that ever happen to you?

Wednesday night as I watched ESPN footage of Penn State’s students reacting with violence and rioting, I felt like Daniel. I, Josh, was overcome and lay sick.

Now, I do not know near enough of the details concerning who did what in that stuff. But I do know that when many young boys are being sexually abused it makes me sick. And when I hear about it, there are a few different ways to react. None of them are to get in the streets and riot. None of them are talking about football.

The very thought of it is sickening. The reactions were sickening. I was sickened by it.

May we be more like Daniel… when we see and/or hear of evil and sin, we are sickened by it.

God give us sharp sensitivity to the Spirit’s conviction!