Saturday, December 31, 2011

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, & a New Baby

It's become our holiday tradition to have a baby in December. Last evening our newest Hutcheson came into the world! God has blessed our family with a healthy baby boy. I'm thankful for God's grace to my wife and all of my children.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Can I get a beat, Yo?

Merry Christmas! We celebrate the birth of our Lord not simply as a never ending baby shower but because of what the angel announced to Joseph, “and you shall call Him Jesus for He will save His people from their sins,” Matt. 1:25. Praise God for His acts to rescue us. There’s little question from the entire world that there is something wrong with the world. Jesus entrance into the world is a cosmic event that after His death and resurrection ushers in a new era. Things are broken, and no matter what we try through education, behavior modification, or spiritual enlightenment outside of Christ, we’re still left with a broken world. God has come to bring His Kingdom to us. It’s clear Christ’s Kingdom hasn’t fully come, but right now the offer to enter His Kingdom goes out to all people, everywhere. The blessing we receive through Christ is forgiveness, HIS righteousness, and adoption into God’s family. When God looks at the person who has faith in Jesus Christ, He sees the righteousness of His son; God sees His sons and daughters through Christ! Through faith alone in Christ alone we are united to Christ. GOD LOVES YOU! You aren’t a good Christian or a bad Christian because there’s no such thing. You are a child of God. This blessing is written throughout the New Testament for our encouragement and praise to God. Listen to Curtis Allen, The Voice, and Tom Schreiner, professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, discuss the great blessing of union with Christ. If you don’t care for rap music begin listening at the 3:18 mark. May you be encouraged with the truth of Scripture and praise our God for His great salvation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Darkest Day

Tragedies happen all the time. It's common to hear the most horrific or heart wrenching stories on the news or an email. Those stories bring sorrow to the door, but it's abstract and ephemeral. While second hand stories dent our reality with a sense of heartache, it doesn't impact our lives with the consequences that tragedy brings.

When tragedy hits, it changes your life. As a pastor, I've dealt with the problem of suffering theologically, philosophically, and personally. No one can escape the problem of evil in the world, and everyone has to figure out an answer whether you believe in Jesus Christ or not. It's not a question I take lightly nor does it have a simple answer. However, I thought I was prepared to handle horrible news that impacted my life: terminal illness, car wrecks, physical pain, and even death. But I was wrong.

Two years ago, I received a call after 11 am that a close friend of mine killed himself, violently.

I could tell you a thousand memories of Mark Reckman, but I need him to tell the thousand that I can’t remember. That scar never leaves. I miss him; I miss my friend.

There’s no easy answer to suffering, and grieving Reckman’s death continues for me and so many other people that loved him. Even in the midst of sadness and grief, I know God wasn’t absent on December 19, 2009. That doesn’t mean I didn’t question God; not that I questioned His existence. Rather, why did this happen? Where was God? Anyone who says you’re not supposed to question God hasn’t read the Bible. People questioned God through their darkest days and worst moments. Even when people lacked faith and irreverently questioned God, God was gracious in His listening and His answer.

O LORD, God of my salvation;
I cry out day and night before you.
Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!
But I, O LORD, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness.
(Psalm 88:13-18)

This psalm ends with little hope because Scripture shows us not only God’s truth but the experiences of the soul. This guy from Psalm 88 is hurting and questions where God is, His grace, and His intervention. At the end, there’s no answer. This Psalm shows us that people throughout history have experienced great pain and loss. In those dark times, God wants us to know that He is with us and hasn’t left us. The greatest hope that we have doesn’t come from a direct answer now, but from the answer that’s already come.

Jesus is our answer for God’s love. Through His life, death, and resurrection I have hope for a new day where God rights every wrong that ever happened. That’s redemption! Jesus experienced pain and suffering. When He was on the cross, Jesus felt abandoned, and He was abandoned. That’s not the end of the story. Through His pain and suffering, Jesus offers new life through the forgiveness of sins. Jesus brings hope to a hopeless situation. There may be many times that we don’t experience answers to our questions and cry through the night. God hasn’t left us without hope. This truth doesn’t remove my sadness for Mark, but I trust in the “Lord, the God of my salvation.” One day Jesus will remove the sadness from my life and heal the scar on my heart.

In May 2009, I visited Mark in Cincinnati. Mark thought it was a great opportunity to have a party, and he did not disappoint. When most everyone had gone home and a few people were left, the Phish song Prince Caspian came on. We always enjoyed a little karaoke, (not that people listening enjoyed it) and we let it out.

I love that memory, and I love my friend.

Oh to be Prince Caspian afloat upon the waves.

Oh to be Prince Caspian afloat upon the waves.

Oh to be Prince Caspian

so far away.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oooh, Nice Bag!

NPR reported last week on China’s infamous reputation for producing knockoff fashion items. This time though the knockoffs aren’t designer clothes or accessories but shopping bags, not purses, shopping bags. Status is wrapped up in the outside of the package and not just what’s inside the package. Some people want to give the impression that they have the wealth and status to shop at expensive stores even if there’s only a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk in the bag. If I were given a present wrapped in a famous designer bag, most likely, I wouldn’t notice its significance. Regardless if fashion isn’t one of your preferences, we have certain styles or characteristics that are important for us to maintain in front of others whether it’s organization, looks, knowledge, wealth, or something else. After reading this story, you may want to find one of these cheap luxury shopping bags for yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself. However, we can get caught up seeking the approval of others or a false sense of identity for ourselves through a pursuit of stuff.
When we look to Scripture, we find that our identity through salvation is rooted in Christ. A few days from now we’re celebrating the time that God came into the world to redeem us from finding our identity in anything else besides Him. Take joy in the truth that God loved us so much He gave us His Son that whosever will may have eternal life. You can’t find that in shopping bag.

Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm Just so Busy

My family and I went to Barnes & Noble on Sunday night. For the record, I love going to bookstores and looking at all of the books waiting to pour out their words. When I leave bookstores, I don’t want more books to read, but more time to read books. Regardless of what you’re doing right now, I’m sure you feel busy. It’s easy to find ourselves wishing to be in another place or doing something other than where we are in our lives with our work, where we live, or even in some relationships.
In Scripture we’re given encouragement to be content where God has placed us. When the Jews world was turned upside down and the unthinkable happened – Jerusalem was taken over and the temple was destroyed, Jeremiah, the prophet instructs the wandering people to work, have families, invest in the city where they are (Jer. 29:1-9). Our devotion to the Lord is not singled out to something we do on Sundays during one hour. All of our work, recreation, and family life is part of being a disciple.
Paul’s life was spent making disciples and planting churches. While that’s not the life that God has called anyone at GracePointe to (yet), Paul’s words to the Philippian church are very important to us no matter what vocation or season of life: I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Phil 4:12-13).
You don’t have to be involved in sports to be impacted by Paul’s words. God’s hand is powerful enough to make me hit a homerun or run a four minute mile, but God’s desire isn’t that I’m a super athlete or even coordinated. God’s call in my life is to be satisfied in Him and in Him alone. The natural human tendency is to want what we don’t have or imagine that our lives would be better if we had someone else’s life. Scripture presents us with the divine reality that God places us in situations that aren’t how we would plan our lives or use our time. God directs our lives so that we experience contentment in Christ regardless of our situation.
I don’t have time that I would to dedicate to reading, but my prayer is that I depend on Christ during every minute of time I have.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Eat Your Vegetables

On Tuesday NPR reported about the new budget bill before Congress. In the bill Congress labels pizza as a vegetable. The argument is based on tomato paste. Originally in order for pizza to be considered a vegetable it had to be served with a half a cup of tomato paste. However, schools would have to serve pizza in a bowl since the pizza would be swimming in tomato paste. At this point, two tablespoons on pizza maybe considered a vegetable in schools. Margo Wootan arguing speaking for the Center for Science in the Public Interest said pizza should be served with a vegetable not counted as one.
Outside the political world this seems ridiculous. From a common sense perspective, no one would ever consider pizza as a vegetable. Even John Daily picked up on this newsbit commenting, "So the one thing that you've all (Congress) been able to sit down and agree upon is that pizza is a vegetable.''
Most people see this as a ridiculous idea. However, not everyone is in agreement. Some people want to label pizza as a vegetable. Just like in everyday life, individuals have their own understanding about how to live. Without an authority outside of ourselves to determine what is good or what is right, all of morality is left to individual preferences and cultural practices. Thanks to God, we not only have an authority outside of ourselves, but that God's rule is perfect. We don't have to worry about God's rule. God's rule is perfectly good and just in every way. Thus, when we trust His authority we are looking outside of our own hearts and mind to direct us to the perfect truth.
How are you trusting God's rule in your life? As you walk on the path of discipleship are you responding to God's call to change from what seems right in your own mind?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Give it up

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
(Mark 10:17-22 ESV)

When we read this passage, it's easy to think this text doesn't apply to us since we're not rich. In reality we are rich. According to the Global Rich List if you make $20,000 a year you're in the top 12 percent of the richest people in the world. (Check out to find out your exact position.) The point of Jesus words to the rich man had to do with the man's heart. The man sounds like someone we would point to as a good person. He's kept all of the commandments since he was a young boy. However, there was one area of his life that he didn't trust God. Everything he owned dominated the passion of his heart. He recognized Jesus as God and wanted to follow Him. However, rather than giving up his belongings and follow Jesus, he wanted the security of his money. When we read about this story, it's a no-brainer. Of course, you sell all that you have and follow Jesus. The point of this interaction isn't for everyone at GracePointe to sell everything and move to Uganda. The point is for you to examine your heart. What is Jesus telling you to give up? What is holding you back from enjoying the comfort and security of the Lord of the Universe?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Obey & WHAT?

Over the past few weeks we've been looking at Baptist distinctives. We've looked at the role of biblical authority, the importance of believer's baptism, and our cooperation with other Southern Baptist Churches for the purpose of missions. We are Southern Baptist because we participate with other churches financially to send missionaries around the world to share the name of Jesus with those who have never heard it. This Sunday we looked at our church polity. We are Southern Baptist, but there is no authoritarian Southern Baptist hierarchy that tells GracePointe what to do. We have a plurality of pastors (elders) that lead the church in sharing Jesus and building up believers to maturity in Christ.

If our church is going to function like a healthy church should, we have to heed the call of Hebrews 13:17, Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17 ESV

The church is here to make disciples. Jesus reassured us that He has authority over all things in heaven and on earth. Through His command and encouragement to us, we get to tell others what they were created to be - disciples of Jesus. However, when we hear obey and submit to our leaders, for most of us, caution flags spring up. Remember the entire point the church exists – to do what Jesus has set us here to do. In our church culture it’s easy to become distracted into thinking the church is here to meet your needs, sing the songs you like, or listen to a soothing word from the preacher. You are here to share the Gospel and meet others needs. It’s not about you being served it’s about you serving. It's easy to miss our purpose and assume the church is designed to meet our needs. If you believe in Jesus, you are called to serve others and meet their needs. Be a servant rather than one demanding to have your needs met. When we hear the Gospel, we hear the call to serve with our brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


It’s no question what GracePointe Church is. We’re Baptist. No one walks into our building wondering if we’re Presbyterian, Catholic, or Unitarian. Our name clearly states what we are. The reason we’re Baptist is because we follow to the best of our ability what Scripture lays out for us to do and practice. In our worship services the past few weeks, I’ve preached from Scripture certain distinctives that make up our Baptist identity: Scripture as our authority, sharing the Gospel individually and cooperating with other like minded churches financially to send missionaries, and baptism. There has been much disagreement over the past 1800 years what baptism does, how it’s done, and what it means. Many people have a hard time giving a clear biblical definition of baptism, but through the Scriptures we can understand the right teaching and practice of baptism.

Baptism is more than getting wet. Although that is important. Baptism is more than a ritual that we invite all our family members and friends to watch us go under the water. Although showing our baptism to the church is important. It’s more than an experience that gives us meaning. Although that is important. Baptism follows belief in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. It’s not an addition or requirement to salvation but a picture of the new reality of union with Christ our Savior. Baptism shows your death with Jesus and your new life in Him. Baptism is a one time event that represents our entire Christian life. Everyday we die to sin and believe the Gospel because we know and experience the grace of God in our lives. We’re forgiven! We have mercy! We are saved from the judgment of God’s wrath because of Jesus death and resurrection. Take some today to meditate on the mercies of God in your life.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Let's Go!

Lottie Moon was a missionary to the Chinese people for over forty years. This woman was one of the pioneer missionaries for Southern Baptists. Through her efforts of reaching the lost Miss Moon spurred Southern Baptists onto making missions a continual priority for the cooperation of churches. However, during her lifetime she was grieved with the lack of missionaries. She knows the great calling of God to His church and wrote to encourage Baptists to fulfill this calling:

I have seen the husbandman go forth in the autumn to plow the fields; later, I have seen him scatter the seed broadcast; anon, the tiny green shoots came up scarcely visible at first; then the snows of winter fell concealing them for weeks; spring brought its fructifying rains, its genial sunshine, & lo! in June the golden harvest. WE are now, a very, very few feeble workers, scattering the grain broadcast according as time & strength permit. God will give the harvest; doubt it not. But the laborers are so few. Where we have four, we should have not less than one hundred. Are these wild words? They would not seem so were the church of God awake to her high privileges & her weighty responsibilities.

Despite the lack of workers in the field, she worshiped God for His faithfulness:

In no country have I seen Christian women of sweeter or lovelier spirit, nowhere have I seen men more heartily consecrated to God's service. Their one chief, absorbing thought seems to be the glory of God, and the salvation of souls.

May we be motivated for by God's glory to see people led out of darkness into light. There are people around us and around the world that need a Savior. May God use GracePointe Baptist Church to shine His light for the lost to see.

(quotes from The Baptists, Vol. Two, Tom Nettles, 2005)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Baptist for Missions not for Religion

Due to God's grace and millions of humble men and women over the past 167 years, God has used the Southern Baptist denomination to propel the Gospel into places where Jesus has never been mentioned. Through the work of missionaries who are sent through the International Mission Board with Southern Baptist gifts, churches are planted and leaders are trained to continue to share the Gospel in unreached areas.

GracePointe Baptist Church is a member of the Southern Baptist denomination for the sake of missions, not for the sake of religion. We are called by God to share the Gospel in our community, in our community, and around the world. I pray that we will be a church on the go taking the Gospel with us to our neighbors and to those across the ocean. This morning take some time to meditate on Matt. 28:18-20. Ask yourself how you are fulfilling the Jesus commission to you. Pray that GracePointe Baptist Church will be filled with people consumed with a desire to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Baptist History

Adoniram & Ann Judson set off for India shortly after their wedding day. What a honeymoon! Once they arrived in India they were going to meet missionaries already working there, specifically William Carey. They knew he was a baptist missionary and expected to be challenged on their baptism views. Both Adoniram & Ann were Congregationalists and did not practice believer's baptism. Those in the baptist church believed baptism was an act only for people who had repented from sin and trusted Jesus for salvation. Only then was a person baptized (immersed) in water.
On their long sea voyage, Adoniram first began to investigate Scripture to determine the appropriate practice and meaning of baptism. Although Ann tried to dissuade him from this investigation, she soon looked to Scripture herself. Before they reached India they had been convinced from their own studies of the biblical practice of believer's baptism. When they were settled in India, they shared their new found conviction with their new friends and fellow missionaries. However, the Judson's also wrote home to their Congregationalists supporters who returned a disheartening letter to inform them they could not in good conscious continue supporting them. Despite the unsettling news, God provided support through new relations found in the Gospel through new Baptist missionary groups formed in the United States.
I pray that GracePointe Baptist Church will be a people who search God's Word and apply it to their lives despite the implications it may have for our social or financial standing. May God be glorified through our lives.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Keep on . . .

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

There's nothing like making it to the weekend after a long, hard week. When the alarm goes off in the morning earlier than you'd like to hear it, you automatically look forward to days just ahead of you where no alarms are needed.
We remind ourselves constantly of what we have to look forward to. Paul emphasizes his teaching in Galatians 6:6-10 to walk by the Spirit. Most of us don't come from farming backgrounds. Here in this section Paul uses a farming metaphor to further draw out his instructions for us to live by the Spirit (5:16, 18, & 25). Here is our encouragement for the difficult seasons of our lives, keep going; don't give up. No matter how we're treated or what we're going through, Paul instructs us to continue doing good to others. In due season we will receive our reward; we will receive our prize. Our King is coming back. We need to remind our selves that we have something greater than a weekend awaiting us. Our King is coming for us! Church, be encouraged and continue serving!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

On the Path

Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.
Proverbs 4:26-27

My parents came to celebrate my birthday when I lived in Cincinnati. They asked me how I wanted to celebrate. At that point in my early twenties there was no question how to celebrate my birthday - King's Island. My parents lovingly took me to King's Island for a day filled with ups, downs, and loopty-loops. Thankfully I brought plenty of aspirin for our day. Each ride was build with its own maze of twisting, turning lines to herd swarms of people to the final destination. After a few rides into the day, my parents looked at me and told me to look around at everyone in line. They wanted me to notice that they were without question the oldest ones in line. There wasn't any question about it, there weren't any parents fifty year old parents in line with their twenty-one year old sons.
Each ride brought it's own thrill and joy to my heart, but Mom and Dad had a different experience all together. We were in line for the same ride, but looking at the pictures from our day, you can see we're having two totally different experiences. As soon as each ride catapulted us to maximum speed, Mom screamed bloody murder. Despite my enjoyment of Mom's fear, my dad's agony got so fierce I thought he needed medical attention.
The line at each ride wound around and around taking us to our final destination. We knew where we were going, but it led each of us to a different destination. I enjoyed the end of my path, while Mom and Dad came to their end with dread and terror. The book of Proverbs presents us with the idea that we are all on a path. Many spiritual, philosophical, and religious ideas utilize this metaphor. The book of Proverbs, and the Bible overall, gives us a clear picture how to follow the right path and end in the right place. One is either on the path to wisdom or the path to foolishness. The worst scenario we could find ourselves in is to walk the course of our lives thinking we're headed for one destination and at the end of our path find we're in for something far and far worse than we expected. The difference between other religious or philosophical ideas is that wisdom is not abstract. Rather, wisdom is a person. If you want to find wisdom, then pursue Jesus Christ.
Take a moment to read Proverbs 2:1-20 to consider how you are pursuing Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 02, 2011


And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
Mark 3:5

Is it possible to be angry and not sin? We are all too familiar with anger. We get angry throughout the day in different degrees from slight agitation to heated fury. Anger does have it's place in our lives. After all Paul says, "be angry and do not sin".

One of the most fascinating places of Scripture for me is Mark 3:5. Reading through the Gospels we are confronted over and over with Jesus' love for people. Despite his compassion for those in need there are still those who are skeptical of him and who hate him. Even when people question him over and over again, he doesn't throw in the towel. His compassion only grows with a loving resolve. Mark records that Jesus was angry with those that stood around him with an accusing eye rather than a believing heart. His anger wasn't seething from a disgust for them. His anger was balanced by their lack of unbelief. Jesus was saddened for them.

Anger is going to flare up in our lives. The litmus test for us is to determine if we're angry because we've been offended or because we're acting out of compassion for others. I encourage you to meditate on Mark 3:1-6 today. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus wasn't deterred whatsoever in loving others in the face of conflict.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Watch Out!

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 11:2

One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
Proverbs 29:23

It's tough to consider humility in our culture. Whether it's restaurant choices, self-help books, 500 channels on satellite, or lawyers ready to fight against our injustice, we are surrounded by influences that tell us we are the center of the universe. When we turn to Scripture we're faced with another perspective on life: we're not the center of the universe. Even more specifically, we put others before us. Naturally we put our selves first. We desire to preserve our own interests and our safety. However, we don't live in a closed box. Our Lord has always been lovingly guiding us to the overflowing joy in Him rather than our shortsighted ability to look out for our own interests. Pride creeps in to our lives and relationships to prevent our satisfaction in Christ and peace with others.

Pride argues for self-justification.
Arguments inflame our emotions and drive us away from healthy relationships toward bitterness. You know you don't have a reconciled relationship when you still argue to yourself that you didn't do anything wrong. Statements that rally around your cause like, "It's not my fault." Pride is concerned about maintaining your sense of justice rather than seeking peace with others.

Pride apologizes with excuses.
Even in apologies, it's easy to offer an excuse to make the apology a little easier to say. It seems like we're working for reconciliation when in reality we're telling the other person why it's their fault. A prideful heart doesn't care for true reconciliation only a sense of blame.
A humble heart works for peace even at the expense of taking the blame. Jesus took the blame for us with no offer of self-justification or excuses. Meditate on the humble heart of our Lord and Savior this morning to focus your heart towards humility.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Freedom to Serve

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Galatians 5:13-15

Paul tells us our purpose is freedom. God has set us free to serve one another instead of trying to fill the emptiness of our selfish pursuits. Let that truth sink in for a moment - God has set us free by filling our desires with Him so that we freely serve others out of the overflow of joy in our lives. Our culture indoctrinates our thinking with an unbiblical principle of entitlement. The evidence is all over the interstate on billboards advertising lawyers who will fight for your rights. One lawyer's slogan is pictured beside him rolling up his suit sleeve saying, "You hurt, we fight!"

God hasn't called us to a life of entitlement. He's called us to freedom to serve others. Paul's letter to the Galatians has been filled with the content of the Gospel. Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins, gives you His righteousness, and saves you into His family? Now Paul carries out our beliefs into action. Your response to conflict gives you a great indicator how your faith works in action. Let's be a church that response with grace and acts in service toward others. Consider your heart's attitude toward others in the church, those that have left the church, and others in your life. Are you willing to serve them? I'm praying for you, Gracepointe Church that God makes you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power (2 Thess. 1:11)

Friday, August 12, 2011


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Galatians 5:22

The natural human response to kindness is an attempt to provide some sort of payment. When a person truly acts out of kindness he isn't acting for repayment. Yesterday Phil and Major Markham spent an hour repairing my dryer. We won't get into the details of why the dryer needed repairing. Nonetheless they labored in the stagnant heat of my garage to get our household up and running again. Once they were finished, everything inside of me wanted to give them something as thanks for their hard work, but they didn't work to be paid. They worked out of kindness for my family and me. I'm blessed beyond measure to have such kind brothers to help me. I praise God for them and everyone at Gracepointe. May God continue to be glorified as our church family shows kindness to one another and our community.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Let's Pray

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. Colossians 1:9-10a

I don't have the same apprehension I once did when I traveled. When I try to remember how I obtained travel information of how to get from point A to point B, it's like I jump back in time when people navigated by the stars. Instead of feeling uneasy trying to drive at the same time while looking for strange landmarks to guide me to my destination, I can comfortably rely on my printed directions from Google. Printing directions may seem antiquated to those of you that have iPhones or Garmins to escort you on your way. The point is that for me to know where I'm going and how to get there I have to have the correct knowledge. Directions provide just what I need. I simply type in where I begin and where I want to go. Voila! I have my directions. The only thing holding me back is my inability to follow.

Looking through Paul's letters, he begins most of his letters to churches by telling them what his prayers are for them. One of the common themes in Paul's prayer is being filled with knowledge. It is important to know the content of the Gospel, the glory of God's grace, what God has accomplished, His faithfulness to the covenant. This list goes on and on which further points to the necessity of dwelling on whom God is and what He has done. Without meditation on Scripture, it's like driving to a new city without a clue how to get there. We don't have a close relationship with God without knowing how He has acted and how He will continue to bring about His redemption plan.

I am prayer for you Gracepointe Baptist Church specifically to be filled with the knowledge of God so you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. You are on my mind continually before the Lord. We aren't called to win the world or even St. Augustine for Jesus, but we called to be faithful and walk worthy of our Lord. Spend some time meditation on this prayer from Colossians today and focus on your walk with the Lord.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Waiting in Hope

". . . so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 1:7-8

The summer is nearly over. All of those vacations and weekend getaways that you were looking forward to have come and gone (or presently enjoying your vacation!) . Whether it's a vacation or something smaller, we get excited about upcoming events. I'm excited to use my birthday present from my sister soon - a gift certificate for Outback! Our anticipation for our desires to be realized help us trudge through the daily grind. We think to ourselves, "I know this is hard, but I've only got a few more days until . . . "

In Scripture we are comforted over and over with promises from God while we wait our King's return. Paul begins his letter to the Corinthians with a prayer of thanksgiving for them acknowledging that they don't lack any gift while they wait for Jesus. This promise is true for believers today. During our anticipation for our King's return, we don't lack any spiritual gift. Yes, life is hard, but during while we wait God has provided for us. Waiting is difficult for us, from the time we were little and thought Christmas Day would never get here. During this time we wait for Jesus, we have been given gifts to open and use for God's glory.

God does give us what we need to sustain us until Jesus' return. It's no secret that waiting is hard, but it's important to focus on our anticipation of our Lord's return. Paul calls our attention to wait for our hope realized:

". . . as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. . . But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:23c, 25

"For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness." Galatians 5:5

"and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come." 1 Thessalonians 1:10

The greatest expectation that we as believers have is not our dream vacation or ideal all-you-can-eat restaurant. It's the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Reflect on our hope in the Lord today. Turn to the Scriptures listed about and read the surrounding verses.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

He Never Said a Mumblin' Word

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Proverbs 10:19

I love listening to sports talk radio show hosts like Colin Cowherd, Mike Greenberg, Mike Golic, & Scott Van Pelt. We live in a 24 hour news cycle that analyzes every detail possible. I'm amazed at these sports commentators and even political commentators at their ability to talk every day for one to three hours about their respective field. I remember sitting in church as a child wondering how the preacher always had so much to say every time we met for worship.

Even if we're not in a specific venue for people to listen to our words, each of us has opinions and ideas that we want to share with others. Our words and ideas are important to us and we naturally think that our words are worth others consideration. What we find in Scripture especially in Proverbs is to use our words cautiously. In a digital age that we can share what we're doing every second of the day, we need to pause and consider our words before we broadcast them to the world around us. Jesus said it's not what goes into a person that defiles a person. Rather, what comes out of a person's mouth proceeds from the heart (Matt 15:17-20). Today when you talking with friends, family, co-workers or commenting on Facebook, reflect on your words. Are they filled with grace and kindness or are they filled with gossip, slander, and lies?

Let's look to Jesus for our example on restraining our lips. Listen to the song below.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Waiting in Hope

For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness, Gal. 5:5.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we put our faith in Him for the forgiveness of our sins. Rather than seeing ourselves as inherently good or able to measure up to God's perfect righteous standard, we trust in Jesus for His righteousness. Right now we are waiting to be declared righteous before God, our Father, and before all of our brothers and sisters. We see in Galatians continually that we don't rely on our ability or merits to stand before God. It's only by hearing with faith through the Spirit that brings righteousness. It's true that right now we are united with Christ and God credits us as righteous. However, those outside of Christ do not see us as perfectly righteous. Although we maybe viewed as good, decent people who try to live right. This view is vastly different from the perfect righteousness that God gives us.

In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund is a despicable brother. He lies to his brother and sisters throughout the beginning of the story. His lies cause great problems and heartache for his family and for the entire country of Narnia. His lies lead to what seems to be the greatest catastrophe Narnia has ever known. Aslan, the King is killed by the White Witch who has held Narnia under her power for ages previously. Now that she killed Aslan, she will never be stopped. But death could not hold Aslan because of his great sacrifice of love. Edmund doesn't stay the loathsome character we first knew either. He repents and fights for his king, Aslan. At the end of the story the Pevensie family is crowned kings and queens of Narnia. When Aslan comes to Edmund, he crowns him king and declares him, not Edmund the Liar, but Edmund the Just. No matter how the world views you as that nasty liar you once were. You Father views you has righteous, and in the assembly of all you will be declared righteous. One day each of us will see our hope fulfilled.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Praying & Going

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

During our prayer meeting last night we made it a priority to pray for our friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers who don't follow Jesus. We have the opportunity to pray for people in our lives to see God give them salvation. Let's be a church that prays for God to do extraordinary things in peoples lives. As we pray for those in our lives let's look for opportunities to share the Gospel with them and share God's love with them. We do care about their eternal destiny, but we also care about their needs now. Be attentive for things that you can do to show God's love to others. Pray for opportunities today to share the Gospel today.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where does this race end?

In our Christian lives we often feel greatly motivated after a worship service. We loved the songs and sung out loud despite being off pitch. The sermon was convicting and moved you to new decisions for Lord. However, just a few hours after worship, the fresh conviction wanes and no longer has an impact on our thought process, planning, and desire for the Lord.
Listen to the author of Hebrews:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God, Heb. 12:1-2.

How can we keep the Gospel at the forefront of our lives in order to continue with the endurance we need? We have to keep Jesus at the front of our lives. Concentrate on the Gospel today in order to continue with endurance with joy.

I made it home yesterday after a rough four miles. It was storming and the temperature felt drastically hotter. I knew I wanted to make it home. I kept it in view knowing the air conditioner and cold water that awaited me. Reflect on the joy that Jesus Christ has for us to persevere through the difficult times that you experience.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Orphan Care

Last night we continued our mini-series on Orphan Care. Orphan care isn't only for couples who adopt, nor is it only for a fringe section of well meaning Christians. It's for all those who live a life of faith in Christ. Our life is characterized by a desire for God's glory over our desire for comfort and conformity. Following Christ means we live advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through evangelism and caring for the needy. Following Christ means caring for the orphan because we were once spiritual orphans ourselves. In Genesis God promised Abraham that He would give Abraham a son, make his family into a nation as numerous as the stars in the sky, and bless all the nations through him. This promise could not come to fruition by Abraham's own power. He and his wife were nearly 100 years old and Sarah was barren. God provided a miracle in Sarah's dead womb, and they had a son, Isaac. God's promise still had to continue through Abraham's son, Isaac, but Isaac and his wife were faced with the same reality of infertility as Abraham and Sarah. They could not make the promise happen through their own power either. God miraculously intervened in their marriage as well. Their son Jacob was the testimony that God was delivering His promise to Abraham, but Jacob and his wife Rachel struggled with infertility like his father and grandfather. God continued to show His faithfulness to His promise and provided a miracle son in a barren womb. None of these men could make the promise happen on their own. God set His love on Israel and made this nation His son. At the end Genesis and beginning of Exodus, this nation is in captivity in Egypt. God redeems His son out of slavery to freedom in their own land that He provides for them.

In Galatians 3-4, Paul interprets these events in light of our adoption, our salvation. God redeemed us as sinners from the "elementary principles of this world" to heirs of the covenant. We are now sons! Our faith in Jesus Christ brings us out of sin's captivity and into the family of God. The good news of the Gospel isn't simply the forgiveness of sins, it's that we are saved from our sin, given righteousness, and made a son of God! For the women wondering if Scripture includes them, you can rest assured in the promises of God that you too receive the same inheritance as a first born son (Gal. 3:28). Our Father is a loving God that gives over and abundantly to ALL of His children.

Since we understand our salvation through adoption, the church does care for orphans. Read through Gal. 3:23-4:7 today and consider how loving our Father's is to us, His children. Please pray for opportunities for Gracepointe to become involved in orphan care in St. Augustine and around the world.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No Condemnation

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death, Rom. 8:1-2

Our salvation removes any condemnation for us and brings us into freedom in Christ Jesus. Everyday we need to recall this part of the Gospel. God has brought us into His family by giving us a new heart. There isn't anyone or anything to bring an accusation against us. We are forgiven and free! Praise the Lord for His grace to us. All of us who understand our salvation realize the gravity of our sin before the Lord. Since we realize how disgusting our sin is before a holy God, we celebrate how amazing and awesome His rich mercy and grace is toward us. Obedience to the Father isn't a difficult task that we feel forced or joyless to follow because we are liberated out of our crushing guilt and shame. God has called us to freedom in Christ, in the family of God. If you are in Christ, reflect today on the verses listed above on the mercy and grace that God has lavished over you in Christ. Write them down or commit them to memory. Diligently focus on these verses today.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Building Together

Get a glimpse of the work going on when Nehemiah leads people to rebuild Jerusalem:
Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Gate of Yeshanah. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. [7] And next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, the seat of the governor of the province Beyond the River. [8] Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. [9] Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired. [10] Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph repaired opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah repaired. [11] Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. [12] Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters. Nehemiah 3:6-13

Nehemiah heard the report from those remaining in Judah that everyone who survived the exile was in great trouble and shame. The wall was broken down and the gates were destroyed by fire. His heart sank with this news. Nehemiah was driven to prayer and fasting for the sake the Lord’s covenant with His people. God provided Nehemiah the opportunity to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall and the gates.
It wasn’t an easy task. All over the city charred remains lay on the ground and the rubble was everywhere. It took a great effort by everyone there to continue the grueling work of picking up stone after stone to clean up and rebuild.
Through God’s provision and Nehemiah’s leadership the people accomplished a monumental achievement. Despite the circumstances, the hostility from outsiders, the inward conflict, the wall and city gates were rebuilt! It required everyone to work together and continue to work through the opposition.
Today God has not called us to build a wall, and He’s not called us to build His church either. However, God does use us in His church. We share the Gospel, serve those inside and outside the church, and encourage each other. Consider your role in the church. How is your faith evident in your relationships with others at Gracepointe? How are you fulfilling the work that God has called you to?

Monday, July 18, 2011

God Saves the Orphan

We began a new series last night from Galatians - God Saves the Orphans - Looking at Orphan Care. True, we are a small church, and there are more than 147 million orphans worldwide. The amazing thing about being God's church is that He calls us to extraordinary tasks that result in His glory! What God has called us to as His people IS NOT something that we relegate to one hour on Sunday or the week we’re scheduled to go on a short term mission trip. God has saved us out of our sin and into His glorious grace. Our whole lives must be about God’s glory!

Salvation is more than the forgiveness of sins. It’s more than redemption. It’s more than not going to hell. It’s more than receiving eternal life. Gospel presentations can be distorted to lead people to believe eternal life is based on ONE PRAYER. Let me read to you what Scripture does not say:

If anyone wants to follow me, let him pray a one time prayer asking for forgiveness sins.

The rich young ruler asked Jesus what good thing must he do to obtain eternal life. After the rich man responded to Jesus that he had kept ALL the commandments, he wondered what he was still lacking. Jesus told him that if he wanted to be complete simply repeat after him a prayer.

Obviously that’s not what Scripture says. Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take us his cross and follow me," Matt. 16.24. He told the rich man to sell everything he had and give it to the poor. Then come and follow Him, Matt. 19:16-21. Salvation isn’t a one time event that secures your destiny regardless of your affections or pursuits after you repeat a prayer.

Many of you are following Jesus because you understand that faith in Christ makes a lifelong disciple. Our church is a church that will follow Jesus’ call to make other disciples and be involved in orphan care. I understand the Great Commission, but where does the Bible say that the church is mandated to care for orphans? It’s all over Scripture. Take time today to read through Scripture: Deut. 10:18-19, 24:17-19, 27:19a, Ex. 22:21-22, Ps. 10:17-18, Ps. 113:5-7, Ps. 146:9, Hos. 14:3, James 1:27

We want to be a church that lives out our salvation and cares for those in need. Let's begin to consider how our church can be involved in orphan care.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Praying as a First Priority

. . . If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land" 2 Chron. 7:14

On Wednesday nights we meet for prayer. Lloyd leads us in prayer for our missionaries and various prayer requests we have within the church. Over the past few weeks I have been teaching through Paul's prayers. However, the most recent two prayer meetings have involved more collective praying. Last night we looked at the Lord's appearance to Solomon after the dedication of the temple found in 2 Chronicles 7:11-22. Prayer is often said as a last resource or the only option available since there's nothing we can do on our own to work out the problem. Prayer meeting is downplayed to one of those church activities that we really don't have to attend. After all, it's only a prayer meeting. This attitude is one of a pagan idol worshiper instead of a child of God.

Praying together joins us in a spiritual bond that unites us in our pursuit of seeking the Lord's will. We want to see God glorified by saving people, changing lives, and intervening in supernatural ways. If we truly want to be a church that makes a difference in people's lives, we have to pray for the lost, pray for specific ways we can serve the community, pray for God to use us, as well as pray for God to help us with our needs. There is much more prayer who loves people as opposed to a church who wants to see growth. The first step for Gracepointe Baptist Church is to pray together for those whom we will reach with the Gospel. Take some time today to pray for your lost friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors to want Jesus. Pray for the unity of our church body. Pray that God will be praised for the work that He's doing in us.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:16

The Good News of Jesus Christ stands or falls on the teaching of justification by faith. Indeed Martin Luther called it "the most important doctrine of Christianity. If there is such a great weight on justification by faith, it's important for us to know and dwell on this wonderful truth.

We are judged righteous because Jesus Christ took our sin and God's wrath on Himself when He died on the cross as our substitute. Not only did Jesus remove our sin, we receive His righteousness. WE HAVE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST! Due to the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, we are not condemned as rebels, as sinners, as God's enemies. There is no more guilt. There is no more shame. Jesus died for our sins and gives us right standing before God (righteousness). We win because Jesus has won for us. There is no problem or sin that you can't overcome because you have been justified by our Lord and Savior.

Our justification is by faith in what Christ has done rather than in our good works. The Good News of Jesus Christ is your reason to worship. God has done all the work on our behalf. Celebrate His goodness and love for you because He accomplished your salvation, a work that you or I could never do.


Father, thank you for your goodness and love to me. I praise you because you have saved me from my sin through your Son, Jesus. Remind me of your great love for me. Help me to know that I don't have to earn your love or earn right standing before you. I know you have given me grace and salvation that I did not deserve or earn. May I treat others with grace and love them like you have loved me. Thank you for your wonderful salvation. Through you I pray Jesus, amen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Follow flirt to its natural conclusion

I'm not a mom trying to teach my children about modesty and sexually. I'm a father trying to shepherd both my daughter and my son how to live for the glory of God all the way down to fashion. Some might argue that I'm not really capable of teaching such a subject and for the sake of argument I'll concede the point, but it all matters. Read this WSJ article for an interesting secular take on raising daughters in a sex driven culture.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

There's no hero packing a concealed weapon

Read this article. People carrying sidearms don't save lives. The reality is more people die when there is more potential to kill.