Nov 30, 2008

A Father's Gift to His Son

I've always wanted one of these to keep some of my reference books open that I often use. It's a Jefferson's Revolving Bookstand, invented and used by Thomas Jefferson.  I noticed that they sold reproductions online, but I knew they would be too expensive ($618) to purchase.

I sent an email of the picture to my dad, who buys and sells antiques, to see if he ever came across any.  Several months later, after forgetting our conversation, my father hands me my Christmas present...a Jefferson's Revolving Bookstand.

Now, the most amazing thing is that my father handmade this version (different from the original).  Thomas Jefferson never patented it, so he made some adjustments (which I think are more suited to my needs).  It's solid oak, and is pretty close to what the original is.  

Knowing that my father made this makes it even better.  It means everything to me to know how much thought, travel, research, and detail he put into this.  I'm blown away!

NOTE: If any of you pastors, professors, or students are interested in purchasing one for your office, feel free to contact me.  My father will be building more of these and will be selling them at a much cheaper price than the one originally stated.

New Sermon Series starting 2009

Beginning the first Sunday in 2009, I will be preaching through a year-long series called "Saints and Scoundrels: 50 People You Should Know."  Starting with the book of Genesis, we'll learn from the lives of the major characters found in the Bible.  

I've chosen to do this for a few reasons...

1. Each week will be fresh and new since each person's life story is different.

2. I want our church people to be immersed in the Scriptures.

3. It's important to see ourselves in each person's shoes.

4. We can learn from their mistakes and be challenged by their example.

5. We can learn to share our own story about what God has done.

Here's a list of who we'll be studying throughout 2009:

Jan 4 - Adam/Eve
Jan 11 - Cain/Abel
Jan 18 - Enoch
Jan 25 - Noah
Feb 1 - Abraham
Feb 8 - Isaac
Feb 15 - Jacob
Feb 22 - Joseph
Mar 1 - Moses
Mar 8 - Aaron
Mar 15 - Caleb
Mar 22 - Joshua
Mar 29 - Rahab
Apr 5 - PALM SUNDAY: Jesus
Apr 12 - EASTER SUNDAY: Jesus
Apr 19 - Hannah
Apr 26 - Samuel
May 3 - Saul
May 10 - David
May 17 - Solomon
May 24 - Samson
May 31 - Gideon
June 7 - Ezra
June 14 - Nehemiah
June 21 - Esther
June 28 - Job
July 5 - Isaiah
July 12 - Elijah
July 19 - Elisha
July 26 - Jeremiah
Aug 2 - Ezekiel
Aug 9 - Daniel
Aug 16 - Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego
Aug 23 - Uzziah
Aug 30 - Jonah
Sep 6 - Hosea
Sep 13 - Habakkuk
Sep 20 - Haggai
Sep 27 - John the Baptist
Oct 4 - Matthew
Oct 11 - John
Oct 18 - Peter
Oct 25 - Martha
Nov 1 - Paul
Nov 8 - Barnabas
Nov 15 - Timothy
Nov 22 - Philemon
Nov 29 - Mary
Dec 6 - Joseph
Dec 13 - Zechariah
Dec 20 - CHRISTMAS: Jesus
Dec 27 - Aquila/Priscilla

Please pray for me as this will very challenging, as some of these people cover numerous books of the Bible at a time.  

Advent Motifs

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, a time of year when Christians prepare for the birth of Christ. While thinking about what to preach on, a few motifs come to mind.

Motif #1: Political
First we begin in 1 Samuel 8:4-7, where the Israelites rejected God as their king.  They wanted to be like "all the other nations" who had earthly kings, and even though God was protecting and providing for them, they wanted worldly status.

From there, it all went wrong, until God promised through the prophet Isaiah (9:2-7) that a child would be born who would be established as king and whose government and peaceful reign would have no end.    

Finally, in the book of Matthew, we repeatedly find that this child is not only the king promised from Isaiah, but God in human flesh, who has come to save his people from their sins and to establish his reign over all the earth.

The question then becomes, do we still allow God to be king over our lives, or do we exchange him for other rulers and authorities to reign over us?  Christ was born to be the supreme authority in our lives.

Motif #2: Warfare
Soon after the Fall in Genesis 3, God promised that the serpent would be crushed by the seed of the woman.  This is known as the first gospel by many theologians, because it speaks of Christ crushing the head of Satan the serpent.
This is one of the reasons Christ came into the world, to disarm the rulers and authorities of their crush Satan, sin, and death.

Motif #3: Relational
The obvious benefit of Christ's birth is that we are brought back into relationship with God.  1 Timothy 2:5 makes this clear, "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus..."  Without the incarnation, there is no cross and there is noredemption.  Without the incarnation, we remain as God's enemies, but with it, we become His friends...His children!

Nov 20, 2008

New Friends

Meeting new friends is weird.  There's always this awkward getting-to-know-you stage that's hard for me.  I mean, it wouldn't seem that way on the outside, but internally it's strange.  There comes a point in the conversation where both parties seem to be asking, "is this the last time I'll talk to this person" or "does it even matter what is said" or "will this conversation go to a deeper, personal level" or "is this just chit-chat?"  

Recently, my wife and I met some new friends (providentially, I believe) that we're getting to know.  Today I was introduced to their circle of friends (at least those nearby).  And all of a sudden, this selfishness came over me.  While I was talking with these guys, I kept worrying and thinking to myself, "I wonder if I'm making any sense?  I wonder if I sound like an idiot?  I wonder if they think I'm funny?"

Those thoughts were really strange for me, because I have lots of friends and I'm thankful for who God has brought into my life - even these new friends.  So why should I care what I sound like, or how I'm sitting, or how I'm responding, or how smart I come across, or what I'm doing with my hands?"  I was afraid of not being cool enough, loved, and accepted.  It was nothing they did to cause this, it was all within my flesh, wanting to feed my selfishness.

Driving home after that meeting, I prayed asking God to forgive me of the idols I had set up in my heart - worry, acceptance, applause, recognition - these were the idols I was caught up in during that conversation with my new friends.  

The truth is, my identity isn't found in what others say or think of me.  I'm already loved by Christ, and what He says and thinks counts the most.  God's view of who I am in Christ should be enough for me, but "the desires of my flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against my keep me from doing what I want to do" (Galatians 5:17).  

I thank God for his love and mercy, for I deserve His wrath.  Because of Christ, God now views me with pleasure instead of distaste, even in spite of how I sit, how I respond, or how smart (or dumb) I am.  God loves me because He loves His Son.   I must cling to the cross and be thankful for His grace, just as I am thankful for these new friends He's put in my path.  It is for my joy and His glory.

I have a feeling these guys will be used in greater ways in my life in the months ahead - ways that the Spirit will use to cut away in me whatever is not of Him.

Missional Perspective

With all the talk about being missional these days, what exactly is a missionary?  Oswald Chambers gives us a good perspective...
"Personal attachment to the Lord Jesus and His point of view is the one thing that must not be overlooked.  In missionary enterprise the great danger is that God's call is effaced by the needs of the people until human sympathy absolutely overwhelms the meaning of being sent by Jesus.  The needs are so enormous, the conditions so perplexing, that every power of mind falters and fails.  We forget that the one great reason underneath all missionary enterprise is not first the elevation of the people, nor the education of the people, nor their needs; but first and foremost the command of Jesus Christ - 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.'"
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Online Bookstore

Feel free to gander around my new Amazon store.  Any items you purchase will help build my personal library.

Nov 19, 2008

To My Fellow Ministers

"Believe it, brethren, God never saved any man for being a preacher, nor because he was an able preacher; but because he was justified, sanctified man, and consequently faithful in his Master's work.  Take heed, therefore, to yourselves first, that you be that which you persuade others to be."

- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students