Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I've moved...

I've moved my blog to WordPress. After a few years on Blogger, about which I've had no complaints, it was the very cool iPhone app that encouraged my move to WP. You can check out my new blog here

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A New Step..

I realize it's been over a year since I've posted here. For that, I apologize. Expect more in the coming days and weeks.

Let me give you a brief summary of the past 13 months. One of my last posts was about my mission campaign to Bangkok, Thailand. While in Thailand, I felt a distinct call from the Lord to complete my ministry as a pastor in Kemp. After spending a solid month in prayer specifically about this, I tendered my resignation effective January 31, 2010. I did not sense the Lord calling me to another church so I finished in Kemp and began working at a large security company in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

In the late Spring, a former colleague approached me about coming on staff with a non-profit missions organization called NEXT Worldwide ( NEXT develops church planting campaigns all over the world. They develop a long-term relationship with an existing church and help them to plant new congregations. You can find out more about NEXT at their website. As well, I will be posting a letter that more specifically outlines their work.

I went to Costa Rica with NEXT in mid-July. I was able to experience firsthand how the organization works. It was a great experience! Initially, I fell in love with what NEXT does but did not see myself engaging a staff position with them. After the Costa Rica campaign, I sensed the Lord asking me to pursue this opportunity further. A few weeks ago, I completed the interview process with NEXT and was offered a staff position there. I accepted and will begin the process of transition onto their staff.

I will be posting more in the next few days about NEXT and my role there. Also, I will be posting how you can become a part of our Ministry Partnership Team. This will be an opportunity for you to support the mission of NEXT. I covet your prayers as we begin this process. It is so exciting and frightening at the same time. God is faithful and I'm excited to see what's in store!

grace and peace,

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thailand Mission Trip

I will be leaving November 4th for a 10-day Mission Trip in Bangkok, Thailand. Below is a message I sent to my support team. If you are interested in joining my support team, go here
update #2
We are about 25 days from leaving for Thailand! I am so excited about the trip! Here are a few things you can be praying for:

Team -
1.) We've been asked to coordinate a Rally for youth and students. Please pray that the details for this rally will come together. This Rally can be a great boost to the already established ministry in Thailand.

2.) Our team will be presenting the gospel message in Thai prisons. Pray that God will begin TODAY to soften the hearts of those who will hear.

3.) Pray for our team. Pray that God will unite our hearts to His plan for this trip. We can plan and coordinate all these details and still miss what God wants to accomplish. Pray for unity, clarity and for our hearts to be fixed on God's plan for this trip, not ours.

Personal -
1.) I am traveling a lot over the next 30 days. Please pray for me and my family to cherish the "home time." As of this past Wednesday, I will spend 22 out of 40 days away from home. Pray for protection both physically and spiritually as I'm away from home.

2.) God is working on deep things in my heart. I am processing a lot of spiritual information. Please pray that God will grant clarity and discernment as to His plans and will in these days.

3.) Pray for finances. I have raised about $1050 of the $1600 needed for the trip. Pray that God will provide the funds to get me over this last hurdle. He is faithful and I know He'll provide!

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, donations, and support as we get ready to leave for Thailand!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our Study on Eternal Security

Here is a recent study we did on Eternal Security or the idea of "once saved, always saved."

Eternal Security
“Once saved, always saved” or Eternal Security is the belief that once a person experiences true conversion, he or she cannot lose their salvation.

This assumes 3 facts:
1.) The person must experience a true conversion from unbelief to belief in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior;
2.) The existence of false converts is prevalent and true;
3.) God’s promise of salvation is powerful and able to keep true believers throughout eternity.

Fact #1 – The person must experience a true conversion

Elements of a True Conversion

1.) Drawn by God – A true conversion is not a response to man’s request (i.e. praying a prayer, walking an aisle, etc) but a response to God’s conviction laid upon your heart by the active work of the Holy Spirit in your life.
• Jeremiah 31:10-14
• Hosea 2:14-20
• John 6:44-59
• Acts 2:37
• Romans 8:28-30
• Ephesians 2:8-9

2.) True Belief in Christ – a belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world and the object of our faith and affection
• Isaiah 9:2-7
• Micah 5:2-5
• John 1:11-12
• John 3:16-18
• 1 John 5:10-15

3.) Repentance – a continued response of hatred toward the flesh and of love toward God; A daily dying to self and living for Christ. Hebrew word “teshuvah” – “to turn”. Greek word “metanoia” – “to change the mind.”
• 2 Chronicles 7:11-22
• Deuteronomy 30:1-10
• Luke 3:7-14
• Acts 2:38-39
• 2 Corinthians 7:10

Fact #2 – The evidence of false conversion is prevalent and true. A person can experience the fellowship of the church, teaching of the world and understand spiritual things yet not experience true conversion.
The evidence of bearing spiritual fruit consistently, hatred toward things of the flesh (especially in one’s own life) and a desire to rid life of anything that hinders worship of God are exhibitions of a true convert.
• Isaiah 29:13-16
• Matthew 7:21-23
• Mark 4:5-6; 16-17
• John 15:1-17
• Romans 8:9-17
• Galatians 5:1; 16-26
• Hebrews 6:4-8

Fact #3 – God’s promise of salvation is powerful and able to secure believers unto eternity.
• Isaiah 44:6-8
• Jeremiah 4:1-2
• Jeremiah 31:31-34
• Micah 7:18-20
• Zephaniah 3:14-20
• Zechariah 9:14-17
• John 10:7-18
• John 15:4

3 Questions about your salvation –

1.) Do I have a present trust in Christ for salvation?
• Is your faith in Christ active today, not relying on good deeds or past deeds?
• Colossians 1:23
• Hebrews 3:14; 6:12

2.) Is there evidence of a regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in my heart?
• Romans 8:15-16
• 1 John 4:13
• The Holy Spirit bears witness in your heart that you are a child of God and you are led to obedience of God.
• Galatians 5:19-24 – Test your life against the deeds of the flesh or the deeds of the Spirit. Which ones are more prevalent? That should give evidence of your faith and salvation.

3.) Do I see a long-term pattern of growth in my Christian life?
• 1 Peter 1:13-23
• 2 Peter 1:3-11 – particularly focus on verses 5-9
• As your faith grows, you become more secure in what you believe on the basis of Biblical proof, not judgmental bias.
• Christian growth is growth in fruit of the Spirit, those fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

From Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, page 806:

“But here we see why the phrase “eternal security” can be quite misleading. In some evangelical churches, instead of teaching the full and blanced presentation of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints (eternal security), pastors have sometimes taught a watered-down version, which in effect tells people that all who have once made a profession of faith and been baptized are “eternally secure.” The result is that some people who are not genuinely converted at all may “come forward” at the end of an evangelistic sermon to profess faith in Christ, and may be baptized shortly after that, but then they leave the fellowship of the church and live a life no different from the one they lived before they gained this “eternal security.” In this way people are given false assurance and are being cruelly deceived into thinking they are going to heaven when in fact they are not. Of course, not all who use the phrase “eternal security” make mistakes of this sort, but the phrase is certainly open to such misunderstanding.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

As Good as Dead...

I preached this past Sunday from Mark 11. Jesus, on his way back to Jerusalem, sees a fig tree off in the distance in full bloom. Being hungry, he walks toward the tree in the hopes of finding figs to eat. When he comes to the tree, he finds only leaves and no fruit and curses the tree. This simple passage contains a very sobering truth.

Everyone and everything is created for a purpose. For the fig tree, its purpose is not just to appear beautiful. It is to bear figs. The Scriptures say the tree had no fruit, "...for it was not the season for figs." The idea is that the fruit was not quite ready to be harvested, or the fruit had already been harvested and there remained no more viable fruit (in violation of Hebrew law: to leave some of the crop/fruit for the sojourner or alien). Nevertheless, the purpose of the fig tree is to bear fruit. When Jesus sees no fruit, he curses the tree and, in a subsequent passage, we know the tree withered to the roots.

When we don't serve our purpose, we are as good as dead. That is, we are ineffective and inefficient. You remember the old adage, "Dead men tell no tales." In the same way, "Dead trees bear no fruit." Here are some points to ponder about serving your purpose and bearing fruit in life -

1.) God created you and gave you a specific purpose in this life. Your purpose is to know God through a relationship with Christ. Your responsibility is discover how to use your time, talents and abilities to glorify Him.

2.) When you discover how to use your time, talents and abilities in bringing glory to God, you are getting past appearances (the fig tree - only leaves) and bearing fruit. These fruit will come as a result of your relationship to God through Christ. Without Christ and His Lordship over your life, all your works will only contribute to appearances, not real fruit.

3.) The "fruit" of your life can be summed up like this - When you use your time, talents and abilities, are you pointing people toward Christ or bringing attention to yourself? Does God get the glory for the spiritual "fruit" or are you bringing glory to yourself and your service?

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but He made me fast. When I run, I feel His pleasure."
-Eric Liddell "Chariots of Fire"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dear God, I'm Sorry...

This morning's prayer time was one of those that began, "Dear God, I'm sorry..." I continually wrestle with my pride. God continually reminds me to be humble and I resist until He breaks through. Usually some profound thought or idea comes into my head and I realize that God is trying to get my attention. This morning the idea was what is going on at our church. God has called us to be a marker for the Gospel in our community. The more I think about leading a dynamic, growing family of faith, I tend to think that it has something to do with me. Then, I realize that without the Lord's leadership and direction, we'll perish (read Exodus 33:15). My desire is that we will not attempt anything without the Lord's approval and guidance. If we go anywhere or do anything, it has to be at His command.

So, my prayer this morning was, "Dear God, I'm sorry for getting ahead of you. I'm sorry for thinking that I have any kind of ingenuity that demands your attention. My life is yours. Our church is yours." My mind goes back to words like Isaiah 55:6-9 - "Seek the Lord because He is worthy. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are higher than our ways. (my paraphrase)."

Even though I begin prayer that way sometime, I realize even more that God is faithful and gracious. He hears my penitent prayers and yet is patient with me, knowing that my battle is not finished. I will continually battle pride. However, I find comfort in the Scriptures.

"If you live by the flesh, you will die but if, by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live." - Romans 8:13

What deeds are you putting to death in your life? When was the last time your prayer started, "Dear God, I'm sorry..."?

Friday, July 10, 2009

My email to our SBC Executive Committee

Last week, I emailed our Executive Committee and asked a few questions about Morris Chapman's "Presidential Report" at the Annual Convention. Below is my email and the response from the Office of Convention Relations.

"Dear Sirs -
In regard to Morris Chapman's "President's Report" for the Annual Meeting. After hearing about the Great Commission Resurgence and its call for accountability to the Scriptures, the Great Commission and the best use of SBC CP funds, I am appalled at Chapman's lack of support of this initiative. There is nothing subversive about Johnny Hunt's movement as President of the SBC and yet Chapman's "report" essentially called Hunt's initiative nothing short of heretical. What is his fear of the GCR? Could it be that Chapman is afraid that the GCR will call into question his leadership of the Executive Committee and in turn, the SBC as a whole? Could it be that Chapman is avoiding accountability because he knows that more CP dollars are being spent on the Executive Committee and their funding than on the IMB and sending missionaries around the world. I am 28 years old and a pastor of an SBC church in Texas. As a member of the SBC and a supporter of the GCR, I want Chapman to issue his thoughts forwardly, not veiled behind theological jargon and rhetoric. If he doesn't like the GCR, just say so. Don't attempt to be a hero for a lack of accountability. The bureaucracy is big enough and it's time to trim the fat. If Chapman is leading effectively, he has nothing to worry about. An animosity toward accountability just proves that he is not effectively utilizing my church's CP contributions. Morris Chapman needs accountability just like the rest of us. Johnny Hunt is asking for a reckoning all across our denomination, starting at the top. No one is beyond accounting for their work. Please explain the lunacy behind refusing to report the work of Southern Baptists over the past year in favor of a slam on a proposed move in the SBC (which is exactly what Chapman did in his so-called "Presidential Report)?"

Dear Stan:

We have received your email and have conveyed its sentiments to Dr. Chapman.

While we are glad to respond to this question, our primary mission is to tell the "Good News" about Jesus. Scripture teaches that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day. It is our hope and prayer that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul said it this way, "For by grace you are saved through faith." If you have already received Jesus Christ as your Lord, we rejoice with you. If, however, you do not know Jesus, we invite you to turn from your sinful past and turn to God through faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord. When we are saved from the penalty of our sins, we experience His cleansing from sin and His transforming power in our lives. A hymn writer has said it well, "Only Jesus can satisfy your soul." How true!

Office of Convention Relations
Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention
901 Commerce Street
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 244-2355