what I took away from T4G

Last week was the biennial Together for the Gospel Conference.

t4g image

As a pastor attending a conference with some 7,000+ other ministry-minded people, I was very encouraged. Here are some of the gems I took away from the conference. The theme this year was “Unashamed.” The emphasis was on evangelism.



Thabiti Anyabwile

– “wrongly in our evangelism, repentance is often like a footnote to the conversation.”

-“Repentance is a fountain of joy in heaven.”

-“Repentance begins to value God properly.”

Matt Chandler

– “People love Pauline theology but not Pauline pain.”

-“Lets not get over the miracle of the new birth.”

-“Lets be bold brothers, we won’t regret it.”

Mark Dever

– “In a fallen world, some fears may come true.”

-“Our helplessness is the doorway to trust in God.”

-“Satan always presents a rival interpretation of the meaning and purpose of events in our lives.”

Kevin DeYoung

– “Jesus refers to so much Old Testament history and always assumes it is true fact. He never questions it.”

-“In Genesis 2:24, who is talking? Who said it? Who wrote it? In Matthew 19, Jesus says it is God because God is the author of the Bible.”

-“To be bold is to be clear in the face of fear.”

Ligon Duncan

– (This is one of the best sermons I have ever heard.)

-“Sin brings into you that which God did not intend when He created you.”

-“Leviticus does not tell you how to get clean. It just shows you how you are unclean.”

-“If you are going to bring people to Jesus, you need to know that Jesus knows what to do with them. He knows how to deal with their defilement.”

John MacArthur

– “Hell will be far worse for the reached people then it will ever be for the unreached.”

-“Nothing that Jesus did offended them. Everything that he said offended them.”

-“It is always the words that offend.”

John Piper

– “If God is not faithful then Romans 8 means nothing.”

– “The depths of Romans 9 are what enable the heights of Romans 8.”

– (Piper’s 2nd point of application on the word “somehow” from Romans 11:14 was incredible!)

David Platt

– “Right doctrine leads to relentless prayer.”

-“Moses is not changing God’s plan, he is fulfilling it. God in his providence has called us to pray and shape history with his unfolding plan.”

-“‘I worry that the problem is not the sexual immorality of the culture, but rather the self-sufficient culture of the church.”

-“There is something about the glory of God that once you taste it you want more.”


“…he made me a priest though…”

Trip Lee’s song “One Sixteen” on his newest album The Good Life is one of the most popular songs to come out of the Reach Records 1-1-6 camp. The song includes K.B. and Andy Mineo. Trip Lee has also written a book called The Good Life.

trip lee good life

The song has a pretty cool design to it. Each of the 3 guys rap for 16 lines. So each only needs one 16 to brag on King Jesus. But the obvious play on words is that “one sixteen” is also referring to Romans 1:16 which says “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Most everyone who has listened to the song had figured that out.

But I want to comment on one particular part in the song. In Trip Lee’s verse (at the 48 second mark in the youtube video linked above) he says this “I aint got no white collar; he made me priest though.”

I think that many young people today are not sure what Trip means in saying that. As a pastor of a Southern Baptist church, on two separate occasions I have had some college students ask me what he means. One thought Trip Lee was referring to pastors, and the other was unsure what it meant.

So, I would like to clarify what Trip Lee means in the song when he says that God made him a priest even though he does not have a white collar. (Let me be very clear- I have never spoken with Trip Lee about this, but I am fairly positive I know what he is saying. And let me also clarify that I am not implying that I know what he is saying because I am so clever, but rather because “the priesthood of the believer” is such a key piece of doctrine.)

What this means:

A priest and a pastor are not the same thing. Trip Lee is not at all a Catholic priest. And he is not, in that statement, referring to himself as a pastor.

Evangelical Christians believe in the Priesthood of the believer. Anyone who is a born-again believer in Jesus is a priest. 

Webster’s dictionary defines it this way:

“a doctrine of the Protestant Christian Church: every individual has direct access to God without ecclesiastical mediation and each individual shares the responsibility of ministering to the other members of the community of believers”

Wayne Grudem explains it  like this:

“We are also priests, because Peter calls us “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). He invites us to be built into a spiritual temple and “to be a holy priesthood” as well as “to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). The author of Hebrews also views us as priests who are able to enter into the holy of holies (Heb. 10:19,22) and able to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Heb. 13:15). He also tells us that our good works are sacrifices pleasing to God: “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Heb. 13:16). Paul also has a priestly role in mind for us when he writes, “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1).”

What Trip Lee is saying in that line is that God has saved him. He now knows God. He now has a relationship with God. He indeed does not have a white collar. But indeed is a priest. God made him a priest. God made Trip Lee, and every other follower of Jesus, a priest when He saved them and forgave them of their sins.

So, Trip Lee is not referring to a special position or title in a church somewhere. He is referring to the saving work of God.

When God calls someone to Himself, He makes them a priest.

Praise God for that!

“young man, are you happy?”

Just the other day I was standing at the gas pump in Fairdale (pictured below) filling up my car when an older gentleman caught me by surprise.

Unexpectedly, from the adjacent gas pump, he blurted out “young man, are you happy?”

Startled by his voice and volume, it took me a few seconds to process what had just happened.

20140317_113445As I thought it over, I found myself smiling as I confidently responded “Yes sir!”

He then said “Well then at least theres two of us.” And belted out a loud “Woo-hooo!” as he walked away.

And that was it. He got in his car and drove off. I finished pumping my gas, got in my car, and drove off.

As I pulled away, I thought to myself how awesome that turn of events was:

1) I am happy. And it was easy for me to answer that I am happy.

2) That man is happy. He really must be for him to have spoken to me in such a happy way.

3)Psalm 1:1-2 (HCSB) “How happy is the man … his delight is in the Lord’s instruction.”

4)That man speaking to me really made my day. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” (Prov. 25:11) And “”To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” (Prov. 15:23)

“what will happen to him?”

I recently read a powerful quote! Perhaps we need to reverse the question.

The first question that the priest …and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the Good Samaritan … reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

This quote is referring to the Parable of the Good Samaritan given by Jesus Christ in Luke 10:25-37.

In this parable, Jesus is approached by a man asking how to receive eternal life. That is a reasonable question. Jesus answers the man’s question by telling a story. And the story goes on to show how 2 “religious people” did not show mercy to a neighbor. The one who did show mercy (the good samaritan) to the needy neighbor is the model example Jesus gives of the person who is to inherit eternal life because he now loves God and his neighbor through faith in Jesus Christ.

Now getting back to this quote, what is our focus as we see needy people? What is our heart as we encounter those who are lost and struggling? Are we trying to protect and save our own lives? Or are we trying to give up and lose our own lives? (Luke 9:24)

May we be like Jesus who “demonstrates his own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners” he died for us!

So the next time you let someone walk away; or the next time you just leave some folks behind; or the next time you give up on your church family; or the next time you ignore someone in need; or the next time you see someone suffering; or the next time you just make excuses, ask yourself “What will happen to him/them?”

–This quote comes from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech he gave on April 3, 1968 called “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top.”

“Sometime in your life, hope that you might…”

I recently began reading K.P. Yohannan’s book No Longer a Slumdog. God has already used this book greatly to stir my soul. The ministry Gospel for Asia is giving the book away for free.  You can click here to get the book for free.

Chapter one of the book begins with this great quote from Daniel Berrigan:

“Sometime in your life, hope that you might see one starved man, the look on his face when the bread finally arrives. Hope that you might have baked it or bought or even kneaded it yourself. For that look on his face, for your meeting his eyes across a piece of bread, you might be willing to lose a lot, or suffer a lot, or die a little, even.”


Jesus said “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26)

Sledding in the snow

Valeria and I took our children out to play in the snow. Tom Wallace park in Jefferson Memorial Forest (The lake in the background was frozen over. We were able to walk out on it.) located right here in Fairdale is an awesome place to go sledding. As these videos show, They loved it!
family pic snow day tom wallace


Here is JJ going down the big hill. (Notice that he clips Eli at the bottom!)

Here is Eli going down the big hill. I think he went the farthest!

Here is Noah going down the big hill. (I am proud of him. He recently turned 3 years old, and he was brave to go.)

And here is JJ & Eli going together! Two brothers who are the best of friends. They started spinning toward the bottom!

We had so much fun! I also was able to take our little girl, Carolina, down with me one time. She was smiling so big!

“the parade example of this phenomenon…”

Sunday I preached our 2nd sermon in the series through Exodus. You can listen to that sermon here.

It was on the blessing of God in oppression.

Here is a fantastic quote from Douglas Stuart that I referenced in the sermon:

“In a fallen world, the blessings of God are often so in conflict with the prevailing corrupt values of this world’s culture that they function as a threat to those who are not aligned with God’s will. The parade example of this phenomenon is the rejection of Jesus. He was the purest example of good that the world has seen, and yet God could send him to earth with the certain knowledge that he would be put to death by people who thought they were doing the world a favor.”

how to approach being the new pastor at an older church

fbcf1A few months back, I was interviewed about what advice I would give to a new younger pastor who is beginning to lead at an older established church. (I enjoyed this assignment because it deals with real life.)

They specifically asked me to give 5 steps that I would take. (For the record, this situation is what I went through in becoming the Pastor at FBC Fairdale.  I have been on staff at this church since 2003, and I have been the Lead Pastor since 2009.) Here they are:

  1. See John 13:16 – Servant! I determined from day 1 to make myself approachable. I wanted everyone to know I am here for them. Literally. I am not too strict, too harsh, too cool, too poor, too godly, too wealthy, too smart, too fancy, nothing. I want all people to feel good about approaching me about anything. Whether that be to ask for a favor, or help, or money, or prayer, or to make a suggestion or complaint.  Focusing on being approachable sets the tone for good honest relationships that will last for a long time.
  2. See 2 Timothy 3:16 – God’s Word! Establish right away that the Word of God is the authority. Not the preacher. (We aren’t Catholic. Or over-religious) God speaks and we listen. Thats it. Make sure everyone knows that. If you get mad over a Biblical issue, it cannot be mad at the preacher because the Bible says it. That foundational truth will solve so many headaches. No telling how many people have been shut-up or forced to stay silent because they knew they couldn’t argue with God.
  3. See Acts 20:35 – Hard Work! I knew right away that people are impressed with work ethic. (Even the word “ethic” is a spiritual word, I bet you have never thought of that in that way before. haha.) So I am quick to take out the trash or mow the grass or dig ditches, etc. I am amazed that Paul makes this comment in this verse as his goodbye to Ephesus. So many ministers get a bad knock or reputation for being lazy, or playing golf, or not knowing how to do much else. Whether that is right or not doesnt matter. The blue collar men are drawn to hard workers. Hard work pays off. Colossians 3:23
  4. See Hebrews 13:17 – Shepherd! I determined right away that I would KNOW our people. The Spirit will not let me be fine with having sheep that I do not know on a personal level. So In my first year, I arranged to have a sit down meeting with everyone in the church. We devoted Tuesdays to this. Our church secretary would schedule me meetings with everybody in the church. One family, couple or individual at a time. We discussed salvation, church involvement, and gifts. It was awesome. You cannot disciple anyone at all, no one, if you do not know them on a personal level. Shepherd!
  5. See Luke 10:2 – Prayer! I established right away that we would pray a lot. I set a goal of 2 hours a week of church prayer time. 30 minutes sunday mornings at 9am. 30 minutes on Wednesday nights. 20 minutes on Sunday nights. And lots of other smaller pieces in other parts. We turned Wednesday night’s Bible study into a prayer focus. We cannot do this work without prayer. True religion is Spiritual. The Spirit must do it. We know that. And we don’t at all want to try and make it happen on our own. Thats worthless! So we pray.

Spending Christmas in Belgium

One of our college student’s at FBC Fairdale, Drew Dillman, is spending his Christmas in Belgium, Europe competing in Cyclocross.

Drew dillman article

He was asked by www.cyclingnews.com to write a blog post about his experience with this trip over the holidays.

Click this link to read Drew’s encouraging article.

You can also follow Drew on twitter at @DizzleDillman

Drew is from Fairdale, and he is currently a sophomore at Marian University in Indianapolis, IN.

Do not be deceived

Deception is such a scary and dangerous thing. It is possible to think you are right and be very wrong.

According to Dictionary.com, to deceive means to mislead by a false appearance or statement.

Deception is the act of deceiving. There are many ways that we can be deceived.

We deceive ourselves, and we are deceived by people.

There are 4 places in the Bible that plainly state “Do not be deceived.”

  1. 1 Corinthians 6:9 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,” 

    What is the deception mentioned in this verse? It is that one would think that ungodly, sinful people will enter the kingdom of God, or go to heaven. The obvious truth here is that they won’t. They will not. The unrighteous will not be in heaven. Do not be deceived about that. God has said it. Now before we start thinking that “the good folks” will go to heaven, let me remind you that there is none righteous. The righteousness that saves and gets people into God’s kingdom must come from somewhere else. If anyone will believe in Jesus and turn away from their sins, God will forgive them of all their wrongdoings and He will make them righteous. If you have that righteousness, Christ’s righteousness, then you will go to heaven. Do not be deceived into thinking there is another way.

  2. 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”” 

    What is the deception mentioned in this verse? It is that one would think that the resurrection of Jesus is not true, and therefore they can live however they want to. The obvious truth here is that  Jesus has been raised from the dead and the power of God is working, and therefore we should be careful how we live. And we should not want our morality to be compromised by bad company. There is such a common deception going on today that thinks morality doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter how I live or what I do. If you think that way, you are deceived. God is real. Judgment is real. How we live matters. Sin is wrong. It is against God. Jesus died for our sins. Our sins killed Jesus. When God raised Him from the dead, it was to prove that sin can be forgiven. It is the power to change lives. To live unchanged, or to live however you want, is wrong. Do not be deceived about that.

  3. Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” 

    What is the deception mentioned in this verse? It is to think that people will “get away” with all the wrong they do. It is to think that people will not be held accountable for their actions. The obvious truth here is that one gets what he deserves. He reaps what he sows. God will not be mocked. If one wants to live as if God is not real, or God is not present, or God is not able, then they are deceived. There is coming a day when God will judge the world. When He does, God will judge every single person. Each person will get what he deserves. Do not think God can be mocked. Do not be deceived about that. If anyone believes in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, they will escape the judgment (John 5:24).

  4. James 1:16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.” 

    What is the deception mentioned in this verse? It is to think that God is not good for you. It is to think that God is against you. It is to think that God is not working all things for the good of you. The obvious truth here is that every good and perfect gift is from God. It is God who has saved you. Of course, He is working favorably for you. James knows that our lives are full of trials and difficulty and struggle and discouragement. And James also knows that our tendency, or drift, is to blame God or get frustrated with God. Don’t do that. Do not be deceived into thinking that God is against you. He is not. God is absolutely for you in Christ Jesus! Do not be deceived about that. 

When the Bible says the same thing multiple times, we are to recognize the theme or emphasis. There is a real danger in each of our own hearts and minds to be deceived into thinking that we are right. Please do not be deceived in this way. Hear Proverbs 3:7 “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”