Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Writing Out Testimony

My mom asked me to write out my testimony -- how I came to the Lord and my spiritual journey -- for Christmas.

It has been enjoyable to think about the spiritual influences in my life. God has been so gracious. Here is the first draft of this testimony.

My Testimony, Part 1

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Christian Christmas by Kevin Bauder

Want to know a secret? Something really personal? The kind of thing that could actually end up in a tabloid?

Well, here it is.

I love Christmas.

No, really. I love Christmas.

I love seeing trees and buildings aglow with colored lights. I love the smell of fresh-baked gingerbread. I love the red of bows and berries against the deep green of pine and holly. I love the jingling of sleigh bells and the soft sound of carols wafting in the streets.

When I was a kid in Michigan, we began to celebrate Christmas right after Thanksgiving. We would always drive into Midland to see the lights. Midland was the location of Dow Chemical, and in those days the city had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the world. They spent a good bit of that wealth putting out one of the best Christmas displays around. To a child’s eyes, it was dazzling.

We always had a real Christmas tree. The night that we decorated the tree was always an event. Each child participated, including the variety of foster children who lived in our home through the years. Dad and Mom would wind the lights around the tree, but each child would hang decorations. When every bough was festooned with a paper chain or a bulb or a string of beads, we would layer everything with cascades of tinsel foil.

As Christmas drew near, brightly wrapped packages would appear under the tree. On Christmas Eve, we would be permitted to unwrap just one present that had our name on it. The effect was to heighten the anticipation for Christmas morning, for we knew that overnight the number of gifts around the tree would multiply mysteriously. We also hung stockings on Christmas Eve—not our own, but Dad’s big hunting socks. Since we children were always up earlier than our parents, ransacking the stockings was the first thing to happen on Christmas morning. Invariably my father’s footwear yielded a trove of candy, fruit, and small gifts.

Over time, a host of other Christmas experiences were added to these family traditions. While I haven’t done some of these things for years, I still have pleasant memories of going caroling and drinking hot chocolate, of pasting together wreaths of construction paper, of watching Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life (not to mention Natalie Wood in Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street), and of participating in public-school Christmas programs. And the very words “Christmas dinner” can bring tears of joy to my eyes.

I love Christmas. I love it all, just as I did when I was a little child. Every Christmas arrives as a fresh gift, newly wrapped in the memories of every preceding Christmas. It is my favorite time of year.

In fact, there is only one problem with Christmas as I have just described it. That kind of Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a purely cultural festival that can be celebrated by completely secular people. It is as innocuous as it is fun, but there is nothing particularly Christian about it.

Of course, Christians also celebrate Christmas, but the Christmas that they observe has an entirely different meaning. For Christians, Christmas brings into focus an event that they ponder throughout the year. That event is the incarnation of the Second Person of the Godhead. For Christians, Christmas is precisely the adoration of that person.

In many Christian traditions, Christmas is preceded by Advent. The difference is this: Advent is the season for remembering why Christ had to come into the world. It is a time when Christians recall the sinfulness and hopelessness of lost humanity. It is a sober time of reflection and self-denial. The sensibility of Advent is admirably captured in such lyrics as “In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan; Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone,” and “O come, O come, Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear.” Advent recalls the despair in which we would be trapped without the Savior.

Into the grim reminiscences of Advent, Christmas bursts like an explosion of joy. Christmas is the announcement of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. It is the declaration that a Savior has appeared. It is a proclamation of a King born in a manger, of the Mighty God humbling Himself to be made in the likeness of men.

For Christians, Christmas is filled with both joy and mystery. The One who was born is the Son of David, but He is also the Son of the Highest. He is the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Father of Eternity, and the Prince of Peace. He who is of one substance with the Father, He who was begotten but not made, has added to His eternal deity a complete human nature. The Creator has entered His creation and become one with it, not only in substance, but also in suffering. The Omnipotent One took upon Himself the weakness of a little baby in order that He might learn obedience and demonstrate piety.

These are great and mighty wonders. So imponderable are they that we will never truly fathom them—not even in eternity. We struggle to find words to express these truths, and we are constantly aware of the inadequacies of our understanding. For Christians, Christmas is a season to be reminded of these mysteries, to grope toward some greater degree of comprehension, and, above all, to bend our knees and lift our voices in praise to Jesus our Savior, who is Immanuel, God with us.

As we marvel at the beauty and wonder of the Son of God, the lights and tinsel of the cultural Christmas become alien intrusions. This is not to say that they are bad in themselves or that we should not enjoy them as we experience the world at large. When we gather as Christians, however, our purpose in Christmas is to ponder and celebrate the incarnation of our Lord. At such moments, if we must think of a tree, let it be the one that was lifted up on Calvary. If we must ponder a wreath, let it be the one whose thorns pierced our Savior’s brow. If we must consider a gift, let it be the unspeakable gift of God’s own Son, deity robed in flesh, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, who for us men for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

I still love Christmas. I still love the red and the green, the holly and the ivy, the bows and the bells. But I leave them outside the temple, for they are but profane things, and there is a Christmas that I love even more. Within the holy temple, assembled with the New Humanity as the One Body, I wish to know nothing save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

God rest ye merry.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Reentery Post

I have been away from blog posting for quite some time. Sorry for the long pause.

My plan is to get going again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ten Things to Keep in Mind After the Election - Doug Wilson

By Doug Wilson. :

I write at the very beginning of election day, not knowing the outcome. These are things that we should remember regardless, and they will be applicable regardless.

1. God is still Father, Christ is still at His right hand, and the Holy Spirit is still abroad in the world, recreating that world according to the image of Christ. When the nations conspire against Him, He laughs at them.

2. The most important thing we can do for our nation, and for the world around us, is to gather for worship every Lord's Day. The privilege of voting in presidential elections comes to us every four years, while we are graced with the opportunity to take the Lord's Supper week to week. Right worship reforms the Church, and is therefore God's central instrument for remaking the world. For this reason, we must insist on worship that is in accordance with Scripture. Judgment begins with the household of God. Our generation is fatherless. In the power of the Spirit, in the name of the Son, we must therefore worship the Father.

3. The first and greatest command is to love God, and the second is to love our neighbor. When the question arises, as it will, as to who is our neighbor, a good policy is to always begin with the smallest, the least, the most defenseless. Never apologize for a crawl-over-broken-glass pro-life stance. Live in such a life-affirming way as to expect apologies from those who would redefine the lives of others (always the lives of others, isn't it?) into expendible insignificance.

4. Honor women. Honor your mother, your wife, and your daughters. We live in a culture that despises women, and which has engineered a vast machinery of propaganda designed to get them to surrender to it. If you don't know how to honor, on a day-to-day basis, the women in your life, then learn. Make it a priority.

5. Don't doubt in the dark what you knew in the light. The late Francis Schaeffer taught evangelical Christians to think like Christians as they engaged with unbelief in the public square. But a goodly number of his proteges, disciples, and name-appropriators have begun to "engage with the culture" in a way that looks more like going native than it looks like missionary work. Melancthons fall apart more rapidly than they used to. Get used to it, but don't you do it.

6. While pro-life work is at the very center of all mercy ministry, it should not be allowed to distract from the broader kind of mercy ministry that offers gospel help to those who have contributed to their own misery -- addicts, convicts, the uneducated and the unemployable. Such mercy ministry must be consistently tenderhearted and hardheaded. Sentimentalists are never able to give themselves away in the ongoing way that bleeding (but thinking) Christians must.

7. Learn something about economics. Please.

8. Cultivate a godly sense of proportion. My family, living in the UK, are encountering evangelical Christians who think that "lack of socialized medicine" is just as bad as abortion-on-demand, because in both cases people are dying. This is as wrong-headed as it is possible to get, even for evangelicals, and on two counts. In the first place, deliberate murder cannot be compared to well-intentioned negligence or incomptence. In the second place, to the extent that we do attack death-dealing incompetence -- as we must -- we must begin by attacking the species of incompetence that lets people die after many months on waiting lists because some people don't like accurate pricing mechanisms. Water won't run uphill just because you can arrange for three bishops to say "Trinitarian" or "incarnational" over it.

9. Count the cost. Freedom of expression is part of our Christian heritage, and one of the things we are fighting for is the right to that expression. We cannot lose the tree and keep the fruit of it. When the laws come, as they will, prohibiting (for example) condemnation of homosexual behavior, then count the cost. And the very next Sunday, start your sermon series on the sins of sodomy. The first message should provide the introduction, and allow the congregation to count the cost as well. They might want a heads up -- some of them might think it prudent to head over to a more docile church, one with a kennel-fed pastor. Whenever the state yanks on his lead, he always heels, and then waits expectantly for his treat. A much more sensitive and sensible ministry, don't you think?

10. Fight in the culture wars as those who gladly serve the triune God of heaven. We are not dogs fighting over a piece of meat, and we must never allow the surly or shrill attitudes of the self-righteous to creep into anything we do. We must be puritan cavaliers, and merry warriors. Fight like a regenerate D'Artagnan, and not like a thug with a Bible he stole from the motel, or a like prim and censorious Miss Grundy, she of the pursed lips. We are Christians, not wowswers.

President Obama

From Justin Taylor:

With Ohio being called for Senator Obama, it appears that he will be our next President.

It's very easy to forget--especially for those of us who are on the younger side--that it was only a little over 40 years ago that there were Jim Crow laws in the US. Just a generation ago, many African Americans were segregated from whites in public schools, transportation, restrooms, and restaurants.

Tonight, the United States has elected a biracial man to serve as its leader.

It would be an understatement to call this a watershed cultural moment in our country's history.

No matter who you voted for--or whether you voted at all--it's important to remember that, as President, Barack Obama will have God-given authority to govern us, and that we should view him as a servant of God (Rom. 13:1, 4) to whom we should be subject (Rom. 13:1, 5; 1 Pet. 2:13-14).
There are many qualifications to add to these exhortations--for example, see this excellent post by John Piper--but it's still important to remember that these are requirements for all Bible-believing Christians.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Exhortation on the Eve of the Elections

This is by Douglas Wilson from Sunday:

In the colonial era, ministers used to preach what were called artillery sermons--messages leading up to elections in order to teach and inform the saints on their duties in the civil realm. The message today is an artillery sermon to prepare you for the election, and for what comes after, regardless of what that is.

But this exhortation is a bit more focused on the process of voting itself. First, all that we do is to be offered to God at the fundamental. Ask God to count your vote, and it does not matter who else does. Give what you do to Jesus, and let Him do with it what He wills. You should be like the small boy who surrendered his fish and bread for Jesus to multiply, and not like someone who tried to feed the multitude himself by giving everyone a crumb.

Secondly, confirm it in your heart and soul that the day after the election, God is still on His throne, and Jesus is still at His right hand. Certain things are not on the ballot, as the sovereignty of God is not. When Christians react to elections with despair and panic, they are demonstrated that their faith is in the wrong place. If the election goes badly, do not soak your hair with lighter fluid, set it off, and then run in tight, little circles. Be a Christian. If the election goes well, do not act you have just been saved. Salvation is not something that Caesar holds in his hand, whether to give or withhold.

Third, vote with a clear mind and clean heart, doing so confidently and with boldness. Stand up for the unborn. Strike at every idol. Love God, and hate sin. Stand against every throne built on a foundation of lawlessness. And return here next Lord's Day for the real work of Reformation.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Free John MacAurthur

From Justin Taylor:

There's some great news coming from Grace to You, the ministry ministry of John MacArthur.

I'm told that starting next Wednesday, November 5 (the day after the election), Grace to You will announce a new policy, effective immediately, that all of their mp3 downloads of John MacArthur's sermons will be completely free.

That's 3500 sermons for free--with no strings (like required registration) attached.

Hats off to Grace to You for this generous move!

Make sure to visit the site next Wednesday.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Peacemaker Home School Forum

MACHE (Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators) is hosting an event tonight at Grace Church Roseville on Peacemaking Solutions -- Biblical Answers Offered for Solving Differences at Home, School, Church and Work.

Check out this event and the information at

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Heading To Wisconsin - Asking for Prayer

I would like to ask you to pray for Molly and me (as well as Grace, Paul, Elijah and Barnabas) as we take a short vacation this Thursday-Monday to my parent’s house in Northeastern Wisconsin. We will be celebrating my grandmother’s 80th birthday as well as taking a few days to rest and spend time together as a family.

Life has been quite stressful these days, yet the Lord has been so gracious and so have so many of you. I am thankful to be your pastor at Grace Church and hope to be here for a long time. At the risk of sounding self-serving (although I think it is Church-Serving) I would like to share with you these words from a great book on pastoral ministry by R. Kent Hughes called Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. This is a book I read in college. Please keep the VanAckers and Patzs in mind as you read this:

Every pastor knows that the strength of the ministry rests on prayer, and that it is those faithful souls who pray regularly for him and the church who bring God's special blessing upon the ministry. This fact invites a marvelous "what if" scenario. What if not just a few but the entire leadership and congregation prayed in detail every day for the pastor and their church? What would happen to his heart, to his preaching, to worship, to evangelism, to missions? Can there be any doubt that the minister and his people would know greater enablement than ever before in their lives?

Prayer is where the congregation must begin in this whole matter of encouragement. Will you make a personal commitment to encourage your pastor by daily prayer for him and his work? If so, we leave you with this suggestive outline, from which you can draw your own prayer list.

Pray that he will be a true success: that he will be faithful, true to God's Word and hardworking; that he will be a servant, following the example of our foot-washing Lord; that he will love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength; that he will truly believe what he believes about Christ; that he will lead a holy life, and not succumb to the sensuality of our culture; that he will lead a life of deep prayer, following Jesus' example; that he will have a positive attitude free from jealousy.

Pray for his ministry--for his preaching, for time to prepare, for understanding the Word, for application, for the power of the Holy Spirit in delivery, for Sunday's services, for his leadership, for immediate problems he is facing.

Pray for his marriage--for time for each other, for communication, for a deepening love, for fidelity.

Pray for his children by name. Perhaps you might ask the pastor or his wife how they would like you to pray for their children.

As a reminder – Please join many from the church on Friday evening at the Holm home in Linwood for prayer. You are invited to eat together starting at 6:30. Prayer will begin at 7 PM. (contact Tony Cooper for more info at )

Thank you,

Pastor Daniel Patz

Saturday, October 11, 2008

God Energizes Preaching!

I don't know if you have heard or heard of James McDonald (of Harvest Bible Chapel) but he is a powerful preacher of the Word of God.

I urge you to download this sermon by McDonald called "God Energizes Preaching."

Download it, please and listen.

In this sermon, McDonald does a masterful job of defining and discussing the importance of preaching and the fact that God has ordained it to be practiced by His church and that He works mightily through preaching.

In this sermon he addresses the preacher and the preached. The whole sermon is worth its weight in gold.

God Energizes Preaching
James MacDonald: God Energizes Preaching I download I

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thinking Like Christians in this Financial Crisis

Did you see the numbers on the DOW JONES lately? I did--even though I really don't know what they mean other than high is good and low is bad. This morning the stock market slide even further after a week of consistent descent -- from what I hear it recovered a bit since this morning.

How should a Christian think about this "Financial Crisis"? Is it just greed? Is capitalism a system of corruption that needs to go?

I suggest you read the follow two articles by Charles Colson and Albert Mohler.

"God Is in Control of the Financial Crisis" by Charles Colson

"A Christian View of the Economic Crisis" by Albert Mohler

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Are You a One-Issue Voter?

It puzzles me that many so-called Bible-believing Christians make pro-life issues in an election a marginal factor. They may disagree with the pro-abortion position but tolerate it by insisting that we should not be "single-issue" voters. I encourage you to read what John Piper says in this article on abortion and being a single-issue voter: (The entire article is here)

No endorsement of any single issue qualifies a person to hold public office. Being pro-life does not make a person a good governor, mayor, or president. But there are numerous single issues that disqualify a person from public office. For example, any candidate who endorsed bribery as a form of government efficiency would be disqualified, no matter what his party or platform was. Or a person who endorsed corporate fraud (say under $50 million) would be disqualified no matter what else he endorsed....

It's the same with marriage. No one quality makes a good wife or husband, but some qualities would make a person unacceptable. For example, back when I was thinking about getting married, not liking cats would not have disqualified a woman as my wife, but not liking people would. Drinking coffee would not, but drinking whiskey would. Kissing dogs wouldn't, but kissing the mailman would. And so on. Being a single-issue fiancé does not mean that only one issue matters. It means that some issues may matter enough to break off the relationship.

So it is with politics. You have to decide what those issues are for you. What do you think disqualifies a person from holding public office? I believe that the endorsement of the right to kill unborn children disqualifies a person from any position of public office. It's simply the same as saying that the endorsement of racism, fraud, or bribery would disqualify him—except that child-killing is more serious than those...

When we bought our dog at the Humane Society, I picked up a brochure on the laws of Minnesota concerning animals. Statute 343.2, subdivision 1 says, "No person shall . . . unjustifiably injure, maim, mutilate or kill any animal." Subdivision 7 says, "No person shall willfully instigate or in any way further any act of cruelty to any animal." The penalty: "A person who fails to comply with any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor."

Now this set me to pondering the rights of the unborn. An eight-week-old human fetus has a beating heart, an EKG, brain waves, thumb-sucking, pain sensitivity, finger-grasping, and genetic humanity, but under our present laws is not a human person with rights under the 14th Amendment, which says that "no state shall deprive any person of life . . . without due process of law." Well, I wondered, if the unborn do not qualify as persons, it seems that they could at least qualify as animals, say a dog, or at least a cat. Could we not at least charge abortion clinics with cruelty to animals under Statute 343.2, subdivision 7? Why is it legal to "maim, mutilate and kill" a pain-sensitive unborn human being but not an animal?

These reflections have confirmed my conviction never to vote for a person who endorses such an evil—even if he could balance the budget tomorrow and end all taxation.

Here is a helpful link to voter guides that relate to moral issues.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Me and My Bible"

For my first "two blog day" I'd like to draw your attention to another couple of thoughts that I got from Justin Taylor who got them from Michael Horton and Larry Woiwode. Both quotes are very wise in my estimation.

Michael Horton: "The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider 'communion of saints' down through the age."

Larry Woiwode: "There is rugged terrain ahead for those who are constitutionally incapable of referring to the paths marked out by wise and spirit-filled cartographers over the centuries."

Pastor Dave

Praying for Your Pastors

At the risk of sounding self-serving I'd like to draw your attention to an article that I read this morning by Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile.

"Hey, have you prayed for or encouraged your pastor today? At the risk of sounding self-serving, could I suggest that every Christian church member consider one of their main ministries the ministry of encouragement for their pastors and elders. I received an email from one brother stating that he knew of over 20 pastors leaving the pastorate in one region of the U.S. I've had opportunity to interact with at least three pastors experiencing deep struggle. That doesn't include the normal battles for encouragement, joy, and perseverance that are just normal to pastoral ministry. So, have you prayed for your pastor(s) today?"

Please realize that we need it!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Poll Questions on Political Issues

What are the most important "issues" for you in the 2008 Presidential Election?

Check out the poll on the right column of this blog and give one or more answers.


Is it Biblical to have a Woman VP?

It's an understatement to say that Sarah Palin has excited the conservative evangelical base in America. This same base has a large group within it that hold feminism as a heresy and who believe that the Bible teaches that women are restricted from a certain type of leadership in the home and in the church (I am one of them). Is there a contradiction here? Are we seeing a great hypocritcal and pragmatic response by conservative evangelicals? I don't necessarily think so. I found Kevin Bauder's article, "A Women's Place," very helpful as I think on this subject.  Here is the the beginning of the article:

The nomination of Sarah Palin as the Republican candidate for the vice presidency has placed some conservatives in a double-bind. On the one hand, they have been disappointed with the less-than-thorough conservatism of John McCain, so the more “Reaganesque” position of Governor Palin comes as a welcome balance. On the other hand, their understanding of the biblical role of women leaves scant opportunity for a female to occupy the second-highest (and, potentially, the highest) office in the land.

Read the entire article here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Power of Words - DG Conference

Last Friday and Saturday I had the privilege of going to the Desiring God Conference in Minneapolis and the theme was -- "The Power of Words." I did not get to hear Dan Taylor on Saturday afternoon or Piper on Sunday morning but the four I heard were great.

This was the order in which they impacted me -- my rankings (top 3).

1. Paul David Tripp - War of Words - Getting to the heart for God's sake
2. Mark Driscoll -- How Sharp the Edge? Christ, Controversy and Cutting Words
3. Bob Kauflin -- Words of Wonder - What Happens when we Sing?

Here is the media links for video and audio of the talks:

The Tongue, the Bridle, and the Blessing: An Exposition of James 3:1-12
Desiring God 2008 National Conference
James 3:1-12
September 26, 2008
Sinclair Ferguson
Read | Listen | Watch |

Panel Discussion - Piper, Driscoll, and Ferguson
Desiring God 2008 National Conference
September 26, 2008
Read | Listen | Watch |

Words of Wonder: What Happens When We Sing?
Desiring God 2008 National Conference
September 27, 2008
Bob Kauflin
Read | Listen | Watch |

How Sharp the Edge? Christ, Controversy, and Cutting Words
Desiring God 2008 National Conference
September 27, 2008
Mark Driscoll
Read | Listen | Watch |

The Life-Shaping Power of Story: God’s and Ours
Desiring God 2008 National Conference
September 27, 2008
Dan Taylor
Read | Listen | Watch |

Panel Discussion - Piper, Tripp, Kauflin, and Taylor
Desiring God 2008 National Conference
September 27, 2008
Read | Listen | Watch |

War of Words: Getting to the Heart for God's Sake
Desiring God 2008 National Conference
September 27, 2008
Paul Tripp
Read | Listen | Watch |

Is There Christian Eloquence? Clear Words and the Wonder of the Cross
Desiring God 2008 National Conference
September 28, 2008
John Piper
Read | Listen | Watch |

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Raise Up Holy Hands - 1

I had a conversation with my brother, Matthew, who is currently in college (NBBC) which has led me to think and hopefully write on the topic of corporate worship and "raising hands." Here is the first installment:

I grew up in a devout Christian tradition that did not regularly practice the raising of hands in corporate worship. Other physical forms were expressed in corporate worship such as: bowing the head, closing the eyes (mainly in prayer), saying “Amen” (and other phrases of affirmation), occasionally (but with restraint) clapping hands, standing, sitting and kneeling.

It was not until seminary that I was exposed to a church tradition where people (including the pastor) raised their hand or hands during the songs and prayer of a corporate worship service. At first this was very strange to me and I felt it was excessively “showy” and unnecessarily distracting. Although the change has been slow and progressive I have now come to not only think differently about “hand raising” worshipers, I have become one myself. As a pastor of a church, I regularly worship with hands outstretched based on a strong conviction of its appropriateness and helpfulness as well as a careful acknowledgment (I pray) of the importance of a sincere heart and the dangerous temptation of spiritual showmanship.

How should we think about the physical expression of raising hands in corporate (or private worship)? To answer this question, I would like to first ask three foundational questions that help us answer the question of “hand-raising”.

  1. What is the essence of worship? Before we can ask if hand-raising is legitimate we need to know what worship really is.
  2. What physical expressions of worship do we see in the Bible? What examples of worship do we see practiced in the Old and New Testament that should give us an idea of acceptable physical forms of expression in worship?
  3. What does the Bible command and prohibit in regards to worship? What does the Bible explicitly say about what we must do in worship and what we must not do in worship?

More to come...

Back to Blogging

It has been a long time since I have added to this blog. Life has been very busy (and continues to be) but I am hopefully back to daily blogs.

Lord willing...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ephesians Cloud

Here is a word cloud for Paul's letter to the Ephesians.  Word clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text (Ephesians). The more that word appears in the letter the bigger it is. see 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Marie Lawrence's Mission Trip Testimony

I was personally encouraged by hearing from Marie this past Sunday (9.14.08) regarding God's work on and since her mission trip. You can listen to Marie's testimony by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ESV Study Bible - Intro on Ephesians through Chapter 1

The ESV Study Bible is coming out in October. I look forward to getting this helpful resource. Here is a pdf of the introduction-chapter 1 notes on the letter to the Ephesians.

Introducing Ephesians - Sermon

On Sunday (September 7) I began a new sermon series on Ephesians.

Here is the manuscript for my sermon.
Here is the audio for the sermon (right click to download).

I liked what David Powlison has to say about the letter of Paul to the Ephesians:
You will not go wrong if you plunge into Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Master it. Be mastered by it. Work Ephesians into your thinking, your living, your prayers, and your conversation. The Bible is vast and deep, and human life is diverse and perplexing. But in a pinch you could do all counseling from Ephesians. It’s all there: the pig picture that organizes a myriad of details. And Ephesians is not only “counsel,” but also “counseling.” It talks and walks method as well as content. Paul himself is a changed man. He lives out and teaches wise pastoral strategy. Ephesians aims to teach you how to live. That is a synonym for counseling biblically, for doing face-to-face ministry. (See With New Eyes)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Some Good Reading on Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin continues to dominate the presidential campaign. Here is some good reading from evangelicals on subjects including motherhood, abortion and womenhood.
  • Douglas Wilson continues his discussion in a blog entry called "John Has Slain His Thousands" in which he discusses several questions about McCain, the future of the Republican party, the reversal of Roe, Palin's serious challenge to feminism, etc. This was probably my favorite.
  • Here is a good one by Tim Challies of the Discerning Reader called "Good Saint Sarah." In spite being a Canadian citizen he felt the urge to weigh in.
  • Here is another article by Charles Colson called "Clashing Worldviews."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wilson on Sarah Palin and Pro-life

Sarah Palin is creating quite a buzz and it is very fun to watch. Douglas Wilson, a presbyterian pastor and writer had some interesting things to say about the issue of pro-life and the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP.
That said, my touchstone issue on whether or not this reversal is likely or possible has always been the abortion issue. That is the issue that we have to begin with, and it is therefore a non-negotiable. If we repent there, we can get to other issues as they arise. If we don't repent there (with repentance measured by nothing less than overthrowing Roe), then it doesn't really matter what we do elsewhere because it will be nothing but God's judgment, whatever it is.

Now I have known that if the Dalai Bama is elected, we will have absolutely no chance of getting pro-life judges on the Supreme Court. And if the Republicans have the White House, we might or might not get pro-life judges. But wait . . . there's more. McCain's persona of deliberately irritating conservatives with that maverick schtick of his has been such that it convinced me that there was no way that he was going to be the one to topple Roe -- right up to the recent reports that were circulating that he was actually considering Lieberman for his VP pick. But the bottom line has always been that if I knew that McCain was going to appoint pro-life judges to the Court, I would be more than happy to vote for him. But I -- like many other conservatives -- believed his various erratic and eccentric signals. "Don't ever trust me on this one" was his message, and "okay" was my response. This choice of Palin appears to a clear signal in the right direction, a signal that goes well beyond a pie crust promise --easily made, easily broken. So, is this VP choice making me rethink this election? Yes, it is. I haven't reached any settled conclusions yet, but I am willing to consider it. I'll keep you posted, if you don't mind me thinking out loud.

It is important to note that this is not about an "on paper" pro-life record. McCain really does have that. But if he had chosen another candidate that was ostensibly pro-life in the same kind of way that he is (e.g. Romney), I would have rethought nothing. But Palin is real-time, real-life pro-life. If this is the signal that McCain is making (for pragmatic political reasons, sure) that he is willing to bind himself to a pro-life course of action prior to the election, then it does alter the landscape...

Memorizing Ephesians

Lord willing, this Sunday I will begin a sermon series on Paul's letter to the Ephesians. 

I am not yet sure how long the series is going to take but I plan to memorize this great letters as I go and I want to invite you to join me.  

Here is a good article about memorizing extended passages of Scriptures - how to and why? 

The first few sermons I will start with fewer verses but it will pick up as we go--that is my guess. 

My verse week is on Ephesians 1:1-2
Week 2 - Ephesians 1:3-4
Week 3 - Ephesians 1:5-6
Week 4 - Ephesians 1:7-10

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why God Doesn't Always Heal?

Here is a good article by Sam Storms entitled -- "Why God Doesn't Always Heal?"

In the article Storms gives seven reasons:
In the final analysis, virtually everything about healing remains a mystery. I don't mind saying that I'm weary of those who claim to reduce healing to a formula or a manageable cause and effect phenomenon in which we can know with certainty why some are healed and why others are not. I've labored in this meditation to avoid falling into that trap. That said, I would like to suggest that the reason why many are not healed may possibly be answered in any one of seven ways.

1. A lack of faith. (see the article for his explanations)
2. The presence of sin.
3. Some don't want to be healed.
4. They don't ask.
5. Demonic oppression has not been dealt with.
6. The mystery of God's providence.

7. Often times there are dimensions of spiritual growth and moral development and increase in the knowledge of God in us that he desires MORE than our physical health, experiences that in his wisdom God has determined can only be attained by means or in the midst of or in response to less than perfect physical health. In other words, healing the sick is a good thing (and we should never cease to pray for it), but often there is a better thing that can only be attained by means of physical weakness. More important to God than our physical health is our spiritual holiness.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

EPHESIANS: New Sermon Series After Labor Day

Lord willing I will begin a new sermon series on September 7th at Grace Church during the morning corporate worship service on Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Over the next several months we will slowly work through this glorious and inspired letter by the apostle Paul.

Please pray for me as I prepare the series and preach the series this Fall and Winter. Please pray for yourselves that you would listen with attentive ears--not primarily to my words but to the inspired words of God.

In order to get the most out of the series, I suggest that you make a pattern of regular reading of the short letter to the Ephesians. Read one chapter a day (there are six chapters) and the entire letter on Sundays. Read the book prayerfully and expectantly. Ask God to help you better understand and know Him, His will, His character and His plan for you and the church. Ask God to help you know and do! We are to be hearers of the Word and doers. Ask God to lead you to a joyful obedience to the truth for the glory of Jesus!

Sermon - Worshipping with the Lord's Supper

Here is the manuscript for the sermon I preached last Sunday on Corporate Worship and the Lord's Supper.

The audio is not up yet but will be posted at

I asked four questions regarding the Lord's Supper:

  1. What is the Lord's Supper?
  2. Why was the Lord's Supper given to the church?
  3. Who ought to participate in the Lord's Supper?
  4. What should participates expect to receive from the Lord's Supper?

New Grace Church Website

Check out the new church website. We will work hard at keeping it up to date with headlines, church news, coming events, etc.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tacky Church Billboards

OK, if you know me you know I love the Green Bay Packers. But I like to think that the zeal is under control and in the right perspective and order in life. However, Packer fans have a way of making their team their religion.

I think church boards that give tacky messages are exactly that -- very tacky. But this is going overboard. I thought you would enjoy a laugh--or cry...

(for those who don't know - the legendary Packer QB - Brett Favre - left the Packers and joined the Jets to the dismay of millions of cheeseheads)