Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Faithful Followers find Hope in a Faithful God

On Sunday I preached a sermon on Psalm 17 entitled "Faithful Followers find Hope in a Faithful God" as part of our series through the first book in the Psalms called "The Spiritual Life." If you would like to listen to the sermon, click here.

By God's Grace, Jeff

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A "Likely" Good Read

I was excited to get my hands on the book "An Unlikely Disciple." It's a memoir about one non-Christian's experiences during a semester at Christian college Liberty University. A nominal Quaker journalism student from Brown University decided instead of spending a semester abroad that he'd spend a semester immersing himself in Evangelical Christian culture. As an evangelical Christian and pastor I thoroughly enjoyed his reflections on campus life, church services and Christian college students. The one aspect that I didn't like was that the author had to assume a fake persona in order to truly get an insider's perspective (i.e. he told everyone he was an evangelical Christian and acted like one while there). Nonetheless I highly recommend this book for your reading pleasure and spiritual stimulation. I won't give the end away but he certainly walked away from his semester at Liberty with a new understanding.

So with only one season left to watch (unless more come out on DVD), I'm leading my wife 2-1 on predicting winners of "The Amazing Race." We've watched three seasons (1, 7 and 13) and we've just started season 14. I was holding a commanding 2-0 lead until her team pulled out an unexpected victory over my number one team (Rob & Amber from Survivor) in season 7. The way this works is that after viewing the short bio of each team at the beginning of episode one, we each pick three teams that we think have the best chance of winning that season's race. I feel like my wife has the best team in season 14 (she picked first), while two of my three teams are strong competitors. We'll see if she can even the series or if I'm able to stretch my lead.

This past Wednesday a few of us from the church met to walk around our community while lifting up families, businesses and churches in prayer. We had great weather and it was fun to get out and spend some time walking through Underwood, pausing each block to pray for spiritual revival and the needs of our neighbors. I had hoped that the turnout would have been better and so this week I've invited people who don't think they can walk that much to drive around parts of the community and pray. So please pray that more people join us this week and that we're able to blanket our entire town with prayer.

By God's Grace, Jeff

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Acceptance by a Holy God Requires Holiness

On Sunday I preached on Psalm 15 as part of our series through the first book in the Psalms entitled "The Spiritual Life." In Psalm 15 the main point as it applies to us today is "Acceptance by a holy God requires holiness." If you would like to listen to the sermon click here.

By God's Grace, Jeff

Bully Sticks Rock

So I think I mentioned last week that from about 7-9pm each night our cute, cuddly puppy Lewis transforms into "Lewis-a-fur," a wound up, jumping and biting terror. The only remedy that we have discovered to calm him down is the "bully stick." Bully sticks are a hard, smelly, "Slim Jim" looking treat that (as I understand) are made from bull's testicles. And dogs go crazy for them. In addition we've started taking him for walks around the neighborhood that seem to help as well. If anyone has additional advice about how to deal with a rambunctious pooch let me know.

On Saturday my wife and I drove over to Turtle Lake (15 miles east) for their annual "Turtle Days" celebration that includes turtle races. For a town of only around 400 residents I think they had about 250 turtles registered to race. They "ran" them in heats of about 8 from a round starting gate that was raised and the first two turtles that cross a chalk drawn white circle about 15' from the start advanced to the next round. There were large turtle and small ones, fast turtles and ones that decided to remain in their shells long after the starting gate had been raised. We only stayed for a half dozen heats or so but it was fun to enjoy another aspect of small town life.

Sunday night we had a deacon and elder meeting and spent a good deal of time talking about our church's financial situation. Please pray for wisdom for myself, the elders and deacons as we seek to addresses some issues regarding our expenses and income. Also, please pray specifically for me to grow in my leadership of this congregation. After the meeting I felt like there were numerous things that I should have done and said differently. Pray that I would truly entrust God with both the church's and our family's finances. I struggle with thinking I can control these myself instead of giving them wholly over to God's sovereign, loving care.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) our congregation will be participating in the first of two "Prayer Walks." We'll be dividing up into groups and walking around Underwood, stopping at each block to pray for the community, businesses and revival. Please pray for good weather, good turnout and that God would hear our prayers and answer them according to His perfect will.

By God's Grace, Jeff

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fools Hope in Themselves; the Wise Hope in God

In our current sermon series "The Spiritual Life," through the first book in Psalms, this past Sunday I preached Psalm 14 and the main point as I saw it applying to us today is "Fools hope in themselves; the wise hope in God." If you would like to listen to it, click here.

By God's Grace, Jeff

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How Far is the East from the West?

Jesus can you show me just how the far the east is from the west
'Cause I can't bear to see the man I've been rising up in me again
In the arms of your mercy I find rest
'Cause you know just how far the east is from the west
One scarred hand to the other

- Casting Crowns "East to West"

Of Boxes and Ice-Cubes

So I don't know why we bought toys for our goldendoodle puppy when his favorites seem to be towels, cardboard boxes and ice-cubes. He's gone through at least two "Amazon.com" boxes already and is currently working on two more (one upstairs and one downstairs). Fortunately being a pastor and bibliophile we have plenty of boxes to keep him occupied for awhile. And he enjoys knocking an ice-cube across our linoleum floors until it melts enough to eat.

The sleep situation has been trying but last night he slept through the night, so let's hope this is a trend. For a couple hours each day he also turns into "Lewis-a-fer" and is wound-up and out-of-control. Hopefully this is just a puppy thing and he'll grow out of it.

Having a puppy in our home for just over a week now has already greatly change our daily routine. Instead of being able to enjoy time together whenever we want, we're at the mercy of the dog's schedule. I went ahead and reduced our monthly Netflix from 3 at a time to 2 because we've realized that it's now taking us twice as long to make it through a movie. Ah the joys of owning a dog!

I wish I had more to blog about but Lewis is pretty much taking up most of our time.

By God's Grace, Jeff

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Confessing Sin & God's Presence

...why is it so much eaiser to confess sins to God than to your pastor? Why is there more shame when another sinful human being observes my weakness than when I pronounce them before an all-holy God? Could it be because God's presence is so weak in our lives? If we truly understood and cherished the beauty and holiness of God, we would shake a little bit more when approaching him." (From "Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Get "Crazy Love" FREE

Recently I have been reading the book "Crazy Love" by southern California pastor Francis Chan and it has really challenged my life and faith. Then this morning I found out Christianaudio.com is offering the audio recording of this book for FREE this month. If you're interested (and I highly recommend it!) click here for the details. For more on this book check out the clip below.

By God's Grace, Jeff