I wish everyone knew this verse

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

It seems today that “drama” and “issues” are so common.

We live in a day where many people have problems with one another. I often recall Gandhi’s quote “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Reading or hearing that quote hurts. It should not be the case.

This Bible verse above written by the apostle Paul to the believers that make up the church in Ephesus is so clear how we are to be. We are a forgiven people and therefore we should be a forgiving people. As my mentor has said many times, “people of grace should be gracious people.”

I wish that more people, indeed everyone, knew this verse and wanted to live that way!


two become one flesh

One of my favorite things about studying the Bible is when one piece of Scripture is quoted in another place in the Bible. This means that one Biblical author knows, believes, interprets, and applies one Bible passage to another part of life. And therefore, we have one “idea” in God’s Word being used in multiple places. This is very cool! Cool from 2 angles. One because it is written by different men in different time periods. Two because God inspired it all and is therefore the author behind all of it. And I use the word cool because the Christian reader is so blessed and encouraged by it. The unity of truth is impactful!

I plan to use a few blog posts here in a row showing you what I am talking about.

Here is an example.  Early in God’s Word in Genesis 2:24 God says (Moses writes):

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

There is a lot to be said about this verse. That will be saved for another time. The point I want to make is this= That awesome statement that has been shaping Biblical view of marriage for thousands of years is quoted 4 times in the New Testament by three different authors.

1. Matthew 19:5 “and (Jesus) said “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”

2. Mark 10:7-8 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

3. 1 Corinthians 6:16 “For as it is written, the two will become one flesh.”

4. Ephesians 5:31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Studying the Bible is great. Being able to recognize and pick-up on themes like this one is so encouraging and enlightening.

The Bible has authority. You really begin to see this authority when one verse from Genesis 2 is remembered and then used again by Matthew, Mark and Paul in the New Testament.

Which of God’s truths show up in your life over and over again? Which are shaping you like they shaped Matthew, Mark and Paul?

Start reading the Bible and taking notice of what ideas repeat themselves!

the reality of hell

The past two Sunday mornings I have preached on “The Reality of Hell.”

You can listen to part one here and you can listen to part two here.

The passage for both sermons is Luke 16:19-31. It is Jesus’s story on the rich man and Lazarus.

Here are a few highlights:

  • The Great Desire of the people who are in Hell is that they do NOT want anyone else to be there.
  • The rich, comfortable man on earth ends up begging in hell while the beggar outside his house ends up comforted in heaven.
  • “A lack of signs is not why people reject Jesus. Rather, people willfully reject him. The heart cannot see what it is not looking for.” -Bock

so thats what dads are supposed to do

Being the father of three little boys brings much responsibility.

Now that my wife is expecting our 4th child (this one’s a girl!), I have been thinking more and more about what I really should be doing. As a dad, there are so many doubts, desires, wants and worries for your children.

On  a daily basis, I work hard on making sure they “mind their manners” around the dinner table; practice throwing and catching a ball; and learn how to serve their siblings. In my other thoughts, I wonder whether they are learning to read well; playing outside enough; and becoming a North Carolina fan more than a Kentucky or Louisville fan.

And while all of those desires are good and appropriate, I continue to find myself analyzing my “parental wishes” with which ones are expendable. If my kids don’t like to read, will I still be proud if they are very well-mannered? If they don’t like the outdoors, but they love serving the church, would I be ok with that?

When all is said and done, what is it that I must be most focused on and committed to in being a dad?

Recently these passages have begun to answer my heart’s burning question:

He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
(Psalm 78:5-7 ESV)

One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
(Psalm 145:4-7 ESV)

And now, O sons, listen to me,
and be attentive to the words of my mouth.
(Proverbs 7:24 ESV)

God’s Word has addressed my heart’s desire and has answered my question. My most frequent prayer and biggest hope for my children is that they would learn from me what God is like and what God has done. That they would know Him and understand Him (Jer. 9:24).

While I will continue to enjoy all the thrills of being a dad like camping and ball and reading and wrestling, I will also be diligent to make sure they are learning about what God has done.

In my ten years of young ministry experience, I have had countless encounters with older active church-goers who say “It’s not my fault, I took them to church.” This comment and reaction comes when they are speaking about why their children do not honor God with their lives these days.

Oh may God grant you and I the humble knowledge to understand that that was never the goal. It may be one of the means, but it is certainly not the end. The end goal is to teach them what God has done. Any dad serious about raising his kids to know God cannot be content with that excuse. Instead, may we spend our lives telling them what God has done and is doing.


a few reflections on our church men’s retreat

This past weekend our church had a Men’s Retreat.  The church website post is here with a few pictures.

There were 22 different men who went on this overnight camping trip out on a 163-acre farm at Green River. The youngest guy who went was 14 years old and the oldest was 83 years old. And everyone one else was somewhere scattered in the middle of those two ages. This made for a great time. The church is made up of men from all ages, and the Bible teaches for older men to influence the younger men. Overnight camping trips is such a great way to deepen those relationships.

From what I am hearing since then and what I heard yesterday at church, all the men who went had an awesome time. Lives were impacted; relationships were strengthened; Biblical understanding of manhood & responsibility were heightened; and fun and happiness were increasing.

Here are a few of my reflections now that I look back over the retreat:

  1. Men love to still act like boys. We absolutely enjoyed skipping rocks, looking at stars, sitting by the fire, playing with the fire, etc.
  2. Men having good, strong, healthy relationships is so beneficial.
  3. Men like to be challenged when they don’t first feel they are being criticized.
  4. Younger men look up to older men. Younger men desire to be like older men in many ways even though many times they do not say it.
  5. Most men recognize the large amount of responsibility that they have in their lives.
  6. You get a group of men to sit around a camp fire and you can talk to them about the Bible for hours.
  7. Getting away from your stressful lives for even just 24 hours can prove to be so refreshing.
  8. Encouraging unbelievers to be apart of your trip can prove to be so helpful in deepening relationships in order that the Gospel may be further communicated.

We are already excited about the next Men’s retreat!


Senior Retreat Video

A few weeks ago I had the great opportunity to be the guest preacher at the Whitefield Academy (High School) Senior Retreat. The Retreat was for three days and was held at the Country Lake Christian Retreat Center in Indiana. I could not have been more impressed and encouraged by the caliber of students that were on this trip. They were a joy to be around for three days.

The theme of the retreat was: Following Christ is hard but it is absolutely worth it!

Here is the re-cap video from the retreat which a student put together. (Notice me on the left doing the zip line backwards and upside-down at the 3:53 mark) I am so humbled and thankful that my church allowed me to go be involved with an event like this one.

“Don’t be a Fool!”

Notice some of these great verses in God’s Word about the “fool:” Oh, that we would desire to walk in the wisdom of God!

“the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.” –Proverbs 10:14

“whoever utters slander is a fool.” -Proverbs 10:18

“the way of a fool is right in his own eyes.” -Proverbs 12:15

“a fool flaunts his folly.” -Proverbs 13:16

“A fool despises his father’s instruction.” -Proverbs 15:5

“Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly.” -Proverbs 17:12

“the father of a fool has no joy.” -Proverbs 17:21

“A fool’s lips walk into a fight.” -Proverbs 18:6

“whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool.” -Proverbs 28:26

“The fool says in his heart ‘there is no God.'” -Psalm 14:1 & 53:1

“10 who changed the world”

I recently finished reading Daniel Akin’s new book 10 Who Changed the World.

This book is one of the better books that I have read in a while. It stirred my heart to love and live for our Great God & Savior Jesus Christ with more zeal.

Akin’s book is made up of 10 short chapters, each of which is a brief biography of 10 different Missionary-Christians whose lives made a lasting impact upon the world.

Many Christians have spoken of the great influence that Christian biographies have had on their lives. This mighty book does that 10-fold. Dr. Akin has taken 10 different biographies and squeezed them into one small easy-to-read book that is certain to impact all who read it.

I will write one of my favorite quotes from each chapter of the book.

  • William Carey = “On his deathbed, Carey breathed to the Scottish missionary Alexander Duff, “when I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey. Speak about Dr. Carey’s Savior.” Jesus is the Savior so worship Him.”
  • Adoniram Judson = “Born in 1788 in Massachusetts, he died in 1850 and was buried at sea. No earthly grave marks his departure from this world into the world of his King Jesus. Fred Barlow said it well when he wrote, “By whatever measurement you measure the man Judson — the measurement always is the same — he was a mighty man!””
  • Bill Wallace = “I don’t want to offend you, Miss Wright, but we Chinese are not used to seeing Americans or Europeans do things like this. We know the missionaries love us, but there was always a difference. They lived their way and we lived ours, but Dr. Wallace didn’t know about the difference. He was one of us. He accepted our portion — all of it.”
  • Lottie Moon = “It was never said that she was beautiful, but this little lady had a certain attractiveness about her and a powerful personality that would be essential in her service on the mission field” and She said “We must go out and live among them, manifesting the gentle, loving spirit of our Lord. We need to make friends before we can hope to make converts.” And also “Twenty years following her death, Chinese women in remote villages would ask, “When will the Heavenly Book visitor come again?” Their testimony about her was, “How she loved us.””
  •  Jim Elliott = “He was a fine athlete who saw sports as a helpful way of preparing his body for the rigors of the mission field. He enrolled at Wheaton College in 1948, joined the wrestling team, began speaking to youth groups, started journaling in his junior year, and met Betty.” And Also my favorite quote by Elliott “I have found that the most extravagant dreams of boyhood have not surpassed the great experience of being in the will of God.”
  •  George Leile = “Unless the pastor functions as a pastor/theologian and missionary/evangelist, the church is left with no leader or example at the top of what it means to live the cross-centered life.”
  • David Brainerd = “Oh how precious is time! And how guilty it makes me feel when I think I have trifled away and misapproved it, or neglected to fill up each part of it with duty to the utmost of my ability and capacity.”
  • Eric Liddell = “My greatest joy is just to do what pleases Him.” And also an unknown prostitute from Tientsin who told how Eric put up a shelf for her: “He was the first man to do something for me without asking for a favor in return.”
  • John and Betty Stam = “It is as clear as daylight to me that the only worth-while life is one of unconditional surrender to God’s will, and of living in His way, trusting His love and guidance.”
  • James Fraser = “For years his godly mother prayed that at least one of her children would become a missionary. God heard and answered that prayer! In fact, his mother wrote, “I could not pour out the ointment on [Jesus] blessed feet as Mary did, but I gave Him my boy.” James would gladly say his missionary call was the result of his mother’s prayers. God hears the prayers of godly mothers and fathers for their children.”

These are just some of the many, many underlined and highlighted quotes in my copy of this good book. If I could recommend you to read any book next, please read this one. It is only 178 pages total. It will surely move and stir your heart toward God.

its expensive

J.C. Ryle on the cost of following Christ:

“It costs something to be a true Christian. Let that never be forgotten. To be a mere nominal Christian, and go to church, is cheap and easy work. But to hear Christ’s voice, and follow Christ, and believe in Christ, and confess Christ, requires much self-denial. It will cost us our sins, and our self-righteousness, and our ease, and our worldliness. All–all must be given up. We must fight an enemy who comes against us with twenty thousand followers. We must build a tower in troublous times. Our Lord Jesus Christ would have us thoroughly understand this. He bids us “count the cost.””

“Our Lord spoke as He did to prevent men following Him lightly and inconsiderately, from mere animal feeling or temporary excitement, who in time of temptation would fall away. He knew that nothing does so much harm to the cause of true religion as backsliding, and that nothing causes so much backsliding as enlisting disciples without letting them know what they take in hand.”

7 ways to bring your pastor joy and not groaning

Last night at our church we had an ordination service for Peter Witkowski. It was such a blessing in so many ways.

The service was full of singing and prayer and also 2 short sermons.

I preached the charge to the candidate for ministry (Peter). I preached on being “upright” from Titus 1:8, the qualification for a minister.

Jason Fowler preached the other sermon- the charge to the church. He did an outstanding job! It challenged me to be a better pastor to our people. And it is something I wish every Church person everywhere could hear.

His sermon was 7 Ways to Bring Your Pastor Joy and Not Groaning from Hebrews 13:17.

Here were his 7 points:

  1. Obey & Submit to your pastor (Hebrews 13:17)
  2. Remember your leaders & imitate them (Hebrews 13:7)
  3. Give them honor (1 Timothy 5:17)
  4. Pray for them & let them know it (Hebrews 13:18)
  5. Be there! Let your pastor see you regularly. (Hebrews 10:25)
  6. Be unified. Kill drama & division. (Philippians 2:2)
  7. Walk in the truth (3 John 3-4)