Showing posts from April, 2015

Six Months In

This week we reach the six month mark of being in San Diego county and at Grace Church. If we had a conversation a year ago, I could not have dreamt of it and every now and again I pinch myself to be sure. Moving a thousand miles and away from friends (and family) is never easy. But when you arrive to a welcome like we did, and awaken each day realizing you are doing exactly what you are supposed to, it is easier. As I reflect on the first months of being a pastor at Grace Church, here is what I am learning. People are Amazing The people of Grace Church are simply amazing. It has been a hard year for the church and there are still folks that have wounds from leadership resignations and the unknown. Friends they worshiped with for years were gone in a flash and many times they wondered if the church should close its doors. Through it all, those that remain have been faithful and seem fully invested in Grace. While they could be skeptical with a new pastor, they have been welcoming and w

Missed Opportunity

"Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" Romans 2:4 Sometimes life is going so well that I don't feel much like I need saving. I mean come on, I have marketable skills, people like me, and I can conquer just about anything I set my mind to. And the sun shines on me often! Could I be missing something? Probably. After all, when I realize that the standard of judgment before the Creator of the universe is perfection, I start to feel for the need of a savior, someone who can be perfect on my behalf. But why are things going so well? Why doesn't God send a bolt of lightning to my feet and demand I believe in Jesus? Because he is kind. And patient. These two things are meant to bring me to him, to turn to the solution, this savior Jesus. The fact that things are going well are evidence of his invitation to repent. Over and over, to actually live a life of repentance and

A Prayer for Gospel Ministry

One year ago this weekend I graduated from Western Seminary. It was the culmination of a great on-campus experience and later learning to balance ministry, family and school. I am so thankful to the people that poured into my life as peers and professors and my life will forever be shaped by their influence. During the ceremony, Dr. Tom Miles prayed for the graduates. Today he shared the whole prayer on the Transformed blog . Below is an excerpt. "Our sovereign Lord and Father, we bow before you now as our great God and king. To you alone belong honor and power and glory, for you alone are God. You alone are creator, you alone are savior. And to you alone belong the keys of judgment, and in you is life... "Father, we have conferred degrees, but it is my prayer for them that these would not be emblems of their own intellect, of their own ability to make their way, but that Father, these would be emblems and reminders of your faithfulness. You were the One who persevered, you w

Scripture without prejudice

"Is it not a terrible danger that some of us, sometimes, tend to read the Scriptures, not so much to be enlightened and to be taught, as to confirm our own theories, our own ideas, and our own prejudices? Now, I want to make that a universal statement. We are all guilty of it. For instance, It is the danger of the Calvinist, who looks for one thing only an ignores difficulties. It is equally the danger of the Arminian, who looks only for what he wants, and does not notice the other stresses and emphases. Each one sees only the part he wants to see, and ignores the rest. We are all guilty. - 'What is your view of prophecy? What is your view of sanctification? What is your view on all these doctrines?' - In the name of God, I say, let us be careful that we do not got to the Scripture with such a prejudice that we pick out only what agrees with our theory and ignore and forget the rest! Let us come to it with an open mind and an open heart and learn of it, whatever it may hav

For The Church

A new online resource For The Church has launched today. Put together by a team at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the site offers gospel-centered resources for church leaders and Christians looking to be reminded of the glory of Christ. I am honored to be a regular contributor to the site and hope to bring something of worth to the conversation. You can read my first post, Pastor in Person, here .

We don't set it all aside enough

It is a quiet morning. For Southern California it is quite cool and overcast. But if you stop and listen you can hear birds chirping and cooing and the things of life carrying on. Not hurried, not anxious or distracted (unless a dog is chasing a lizard) just living. We rarely experience this in our day. We know that stats, nobody takes the vacation time they earn, calendars are always full and we add thing after distracting thing to our lives to over flowing. And not the good kind of overflow! Add to this the accessibility of technology and our busyness only increases. We rather not take time off or visit with that real live person, because after all we need to check in on twitter. Here is to taking a break every now and again. Increasing margin so you can handle important things... like stopping in the middle of writing this to talk to a good friend that stopped by the office. You know you want to. So go ahead, set it all aside for a few minutes and listen to life. To the birds, the r

Calibrated on the Gospel

This week I had the privilege of waiting for a copier technician to visit our church and fix our broken down machine. The copier is in need of much pricier long-term repairs, but the tech was able to recalibrate the machine to get it working in the near term. In life and ministry I think we are much the same; we need calibration. We might get it in a change of perspective, a long conversation, by taking a different route home from work, or startling news. It is that realignment in life that gets us back to what is important. And as Christians, the main instrument of calibration for us must be the Word of God and his gospel. Today, it is the words of Paul to Timothy that are serving up some recalibration for me. "I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace

For the Church Coming April 22

I am excited to be a contributor to this new project from the fine folks a Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary . Launches this month! [embed][/embed]

Pastoral Prayer

Of all that a pastor is called to do, prayer is probably the most important. Proclamation of the gospel is a must, discipling members of the congregation a have-to, participating in elder and other meetings to be expected; but none of it happens well without prayer. Prayer for self, prayer for the people, prayer for gospel-infection in the community and prayer for Christ to be glorified. I am learning this afresh and looking to Paul as an example. In Ephesians 3 Paul unveils the mystery of the gospel, that it is for all and not a restricted ethnic group. And while he has all created things available, God uses the church to declare his wisdom and glory to the world. Because of this, Paul wants the church to be encouraged rather than lose heart over his suffering as a beloved pastor. Then he prays and in doing so we have a great model of praying for the church. "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according t

Good News Refreshes

Have you ever felt the relief of good news from a far country? Maybe news that the flight landed and everyone is safe. Or that your loved one is finally coming home. It is refreshing to hear of good news from far off, and the proverbial wisdom of Solomon tells us it is as refreshing as a cold drink of water to a thirsty soul. "Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Proverbs 25:25. This nugget is mixed in with what seems to be shot after shot of random wisdom... like notes taken during a lecture where you got the main points but not the connecting points. It is the glory of kings to seek after God. Words matter so watch what and how you say things. Don't encroach on your neighbor too much or he will hate you. Give your hungry enemy food and water. It is better to live on your roof than with a contentious wife. Don't eat too many sweets. And in the middle of all of that... good news is like cold water to a thirsty soul. Has your soul eve