Sunday, December 05, 2010

Hymns for Sunday - Let Us Love and Sing And Wonder

Not having grown up in the church I was familiar with just a few hymns. When the Lord saved me I took on a new appreciation for hymns, the old, theologically rich hymns from the 1800's and before (yes I realize there are great hymns written in the last century and I'm not saying I'm not a fan). One hymn originally written by the great hymn writer John Newton, brought back into Christian mainstream popularity by Jars of Clay, has definitely become one of my favorite hymns.

"Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder" is a call to worship, to respond to what God has revealed about Himself, His Word, and His Works. Newton shares in this hymn great truths about what the Lord attributes and what He has done.

Let us love and sing and wonder,
Let us praise the Savior’s Name!
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder,
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame.
He has washed us with His blood,
He has brought us nigh to God.

Let us love the Lord Who bought us,
Pitied us when enemies,
Called us by His grace, and taught us,
Gave us ears and gave us eyes:
He has washed us with His blood,
He presents our souls to God.

Let us sing, though fierce temptation
Threaten hard to bear us down!
For the Lord, our strong Salvation,
Holds in view the conqueror’s crown:
He Who washed us with His blood
Soon will bring us home to God.

Let us wonder; grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store;
When through grace in Christ our trust is,
Justice smiles and asks no more:
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God.

Let us praise, and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high;
Here they trusted Him before us,
Now their praises fill the sky:
“Thou hast washed us with Your blood;
Thou art worthy, Lamb of God!”

Hark! the Name of Jesus, sounded
Loud, from golden harps above!
Lord, we blush, and are confounded,
Faint our praises, cold our love!
Wash our souls and songs with blood,
For by Thee we come to God.

Below is a video put together with the Jars of Clay version of "Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder" as the background music.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Understanding depression - A few resources

It is technically called depression, but it can’t be captured by a word. You feel numb, yet your head hurts; empty, yet inside there are screams; fatigue, yet fears abound. Things that were once pleasures now barely hold your attention. Your brain feels like it is in a fog. You feel weighted down.

Do you remember when you had goals? Things that you looked forward to? They could have been as small as going to a movie on Friday night or a job you wanted
to accomplish. Now you have very few goals. Making it through the day seems like

Do you notice what life feels like without goals? Every day is the same. There is no rhythm of rising anticipation, satisfaction, then rest. Each day brings a dreadful monotony, and you fear that tomorrow will be the same as today. The flatness of life feels like it is killing you.

Sleep? It’s a mess. You can’t get enough. You don’t even remember what it feels like
to wake up refreshed.

Have you ever seen Pablo Picasso’s paintings from his blue period? If you find a book on Picasso you might want to take a look. The pictures are not encouraging but
you would, at least, find that you are not alone. Triggered by a difficult relationship,
he did a series of paintings where people looked lifeless and everything was in shades
of blue and gray. Was he putting his feelings into his art, or was he faithfully presenting the world as he actually saw it? Either way, there are no sun splashed days with depression, just dreary overcast skies and a dull colorless world.

Picasso wasn’t the only one who struggled with what has come to be known as
depression. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, the great English preacher
Charles Spurgeon, missionary David Brainard, and Bible translator J. B. Phillips were
some of the more well-known and accomplished people who talked and wrote about
their struggles. So although you may feel alone, many have walked the path before,
and many are walking it now.

Except from Words of Hope For Those Who Struggle with Depression

There is a lot of stuff out there on depression and even a little from a Christian perspective. But the folks at Counseling Solutions have posted a few great free resources written on understanding depression and how to a counsel a depressed person. I've read through a couple of them and skimmed another and found them quite helpful. Links to those documents are below

Words of Hope Those Who Struggle With Depression
The River of Life Flows Through the Slough of Despond
Counseling Those Who are Depressed

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hymns for Sunday - Reformed Praise is a website I enjoy and is a great collection of theologically rich songs centered on the gospel of grace. The contributors to this site have updated some hymns, written new tunes to hymns, and written new songs to promote singing old and new hymns in corporate worship and provide hymns that are theologically rich and centered around the gospel.

I have a few favorite songs from the site, click the name of the song to go to the lyrics and listen to them.

The Fury of the Wind
The Lord Is King
Merciful to Me

Friday, November 26, 2010

Recognizing your idols

On Wednesday night I heard a sermon by Pastor Mark Driscoll that really struck me, like hit me between the eyes and gave me a swift kick in the butt. He was preaching on idolatry and religion. He has a lot of great things to say by he gave a list of questions to ask yourself to see what some of your idols might be. It hurt and made me physically sick to go back and answer those questions. When I took a serious look at myself I realized the dreadful sin that I was committing against a Holy God, replacing the one, true, eternal God with temporary, futile idols.

Here's that list of questions that the Holy Spirit has used to prod me to more passionately pursue the true God and not the fleeting idols.

What am I most afraid of?
What do you long for most passionately?
Where do you run for comfort?
What do you complain about most?
What makes you happiest?
How do you explain yourself to others?
What has caused you to be angry at God?
What do you brag about?
What do you want more than anything?
What do you sacrifice most for?
If you could change one thing, what would it be?
Whose approval are you seeking?
What do you want to control or master?
What comfort do you treasure most?

Here's the link again to Mars Hill Church Seattle to find the sermon

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hymns on Sunday - Rock of Ages

Over the years the hymn Rock of Ages has become one of my favorite hymns. Honestly, I never knew much about Augustus Toplady, the author of the hymn. I definitely had no idea he and John Wesley spatted back and forth like they did. Well spat may be an understatement...
Toplady decided that Wesley and his preachers were the greatest danger to the church of Jesus Christ since, well, Satan.
I came across a great blog post from The Scriptorium highlighting the Wesley and Toplady relationship and the story behind the hymn Rock of Ages.

“Rock of Ages” is a great hymn, one of the best.

Here is the bad news: It was written out of spite, by a bitter and narrow-minded young man who couldn’t keep his personal hatred from over-flowing into his prayers and songs.

Here is the good news: God rescued the hymn from the defects of its author and his worst intentions, and Rock of Ages is every bit as good as you think it is. If you skip the rest of this blog post, remember that

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dog Eared Pages - multiple thoughts

October was a good month for reading. Instead of highlighting each book in its own post I'll mention a few briefly. Let me start by saying I recommend each of these books, but I'll begin with the one that was my favorite of the three.

Today's Gospel: authentic or synthetic? by Walter Chantry really focuses on a problem in much preaching and evangelism today. That being many messages are man centered and not gospel centered. Mr Chantry explains in greater detail some of the essential elements in evangelism, which include:
1. Preaching the Character of God
2. Preaching the Law of God
3. Preaching Repentance Toward God
4. Preaching Faith Toward God's Son
5. Preaching Assurance of Acceptance with God
6. Preaching with Dependence upon God

God's High Calling for Women by John MacArthur is a basic outline of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 and the role of women in the church. I know that in our liberal feminist society today this is a bit of a touchy subject, but not one that can be ignored.

Found: God's Will by John MacArthur is a short booklet. I'd be my guess that most believers want to know God's will for their life. This booklet is not exhaustive, but affirms God has revealed His will in the scriptures. In a nut shell, MacArthur says that your desires are inline with the will of God if you make sure you are saved, saturated in the scriptures, living a holy life, submitted to authority, and prepared to suffer for doing right.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Why doesn't church feel like a family?

I found this excerpt from a sermon quite practical

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Hymns on Sunday - How Sweet the Sound

Another album available for free download on is a series of hymns, How Sweet the Sound, put together by Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD. The church did this project a couple years ago not just for listening but for memorizing these ten hymns. This is their explanation of the project:

In 2008 and 2009, our church family spent 10 months devoted to learning great hymns of the faith. Memorizing hymns is one of the ways we can obey Scripture’s command to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” Colossians 3:16.

We did this project because we want to benefit not only from the songs written in our lifetime, but also from hymns that have served the people of God for generations and will endure long after we’re gone. They are time-tested and true. They speak to every circumstance of life and point us to the wisdom, love and power of our gracious God and Savior.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Don't Waste Your Life Audiobook

Each month offers a free downloadable audiobook. This month they have made available Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. I read this book a few years ago and it changed my way of thinking about who I was living this life for and what I was created for. I recommend checking this book out.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hymns on Sunday - Red Mountain Church and Indelible Grace

This week I want to make you aware, if you are not already, of This is a website that is any artist can put up and freely distribute their music online. has a variety of music genres including Christian music and hymns. To get the music you must provide a little info (email address and zip code) - your download link/code will be emailed to you, but that's it. Oh an it provides a way to share what you are downloading on facebook and twitter to share with your friends.

Anyway, now that I have plugged noisetrade, I want to commend to you a couple of albums available. The first is a group from Red Mountain Church in Birmingham, AL. I became familiar with them a few years ago and totally got into the music they were putting out. I bought this album a while back but now it is available in it's entirety

It is "Help my Unbelief" by Red Mountain Church

Another album that I'd like to commend to you is Arise my Soul by Indelible Grace. What is offered on noisetrade is just a sampler, but it has several great songs that I hope wet your appetite for other Indelible Grace albums. Indelible Grace have put out several cds over the last few years that take many old hymns and put them to a new tune or bring a not so familiar hymn back into light.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why I appreciate my pastor and his wife

Before I was a Christian I thought being a pastor would be a cush job...Sit around, go visit people, preach a few minutes on Sunday morning, do funerals and weddings. I know much better now that that is not the case, at least for my pastors. I realize that the work/service they do is much more than that. I know that I do not know all they deal with, the joys and the struggles. But I do know that it's not just a job that you check in at 8 and out at 5 and don't really have to think about when you go home.

There are a lot of things I could say about my pastor, but these are a few specifics reasons I appreciate him and thank God for placing him in Lakeshore and giving him a heart to proclaim the gospel and reach the community.
  • He is dedicated to glorifying and exalting Christ.
  • He decided to stay at Lakeshore Baptist Church when there was nothing here but the Lord, His Word, and the members of Lakeshore Baptist Church
  • He sincerely loves the local body of believers and the gulf coast community.
  • He loves the Word of God, committed to the doctrines of grace, preaches the Word expositionally, and proclaims the gospel in every sermon.
  • He loves his wife and his children,
  • He's a great leader and takes seriously the shepherding of the flock and caring for our souls.
  • He's led this small congregation to have a heart for mercy ministry married with the gospel.
  • He's not only pastor, but also contractor, architect, counselor, friend, father, husband, mentor...the list could go on.
  • He stands firm to the Truth in the hard times and doesn't break to meet the complaints just to make people happy, but he listens to the concerns and questions of the congergation and addresses what does arise.
  • He has a heart to see all in Hancock County come to Christ.
I could not go without mentioning Courtney, Pastor Don's wife. I've learn a pastors wife's 'job' is not always easy. She see her husband and her pastor in his highest and lowest moments. I could go on an on about Courtney as well, so this is no where near an exhaustive list but a few reasons I appreciate her.
  • She's taught me a lot in many areas of life
  • She's a great wife and mother.
  • She's loves God's word.
  • She stands firm in truth and doesn't beat around the bush to make sure truth is known.
  • She's been there for me in tough times.
Thank you both, Don and Courtney for your service to God and Lakeshore Baptist Church. Love you guys.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why should you appreciate your pastor?

I ran across the blog Created to Give God the Glory earlier this month when I remembered October was Pastor Appreciation Month. I wish I did not need a month to help me to remember to appreciate my pastor, but I feel we and especially me, all too often forget to express my appreciation to him and to the Lord for him.

I thought this blog did a great job of explaining why we ought to appreciate our Pastor's. Here's a bit of what this blogger had to say.
Pastoring a local church is the hardest job in the world...Why?
1. The pastor carries the burdens of the people and is responsible for their souls before the Lord.
2. He does his best to help these people. Most of the time they completely ignore everything he tells them to do.
3. Church members tell the pastor how the church ought to be run. They have taken the point of view: "I have been in church, therefore, I know how to run the church."
4. Members take the church's highest peaks and try to say that was the standard
5. There are some members who always hide in the shadows. They will be quiet until they see something go wrong.
6. Pastors are not psychic.
7. Pastors cannot be at two places at one time.
8. People are sometimes incredibly unreasonable and the pastor has to let it roll off his back.
9. The pastor is expected to present a dynamic sermon each week.
10. Your pastor does all of this for the Lord. I promise you; he doesn't do it for the money!
I think these reasons and his examples are reminders for us to appreciate and encourage our pastors more frequently. Before the month is out, Lord willing tomorrow, I want to share publicly the reasons I appreciate my pastor, Don, and his wife Courtney.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why Memorize Scripture?

I spent a lot of time in my first few years as a Christian memorizing scripture. I'm not claiming to be any sort of super Christian. All I knew right off was Christians need to memorize scriptures for many different reasons. The one reason I quoted most often from ps 119 - I've hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

I've gone through periods of time in the past couple years that I have been on the ball, memorizing scripture, hiding those words in my heart. Unfortunately there has been a lot of time I've neglected memorization. I saw this sermon clip today and was convicted about my lack of time and effort put into memorizing the most important thing I possess. Be encouraged by the words spoken by Pastor John Piper and may it prod you to memorize the words given us by our Holy God.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hymns on Sunday - Page CXVI Hymns I & II

There are so many great hymns and I am thinking about beginning a new idea for blog posts on Sundays that will highlight hymns, share the stories behind the hymns, or put resources in your hands to hear, learn, and enjoy hymns of old and the not so old. We'll see if I stick with it, but I have some ideas to get me started.

So to kick off this blog idea I want to share with you hymns from Page CXVI. I've enjoyed listening to Page CXVI hymns put to and they have just made them available for streaming on blogs and I would like to share them to you.

From Page CXVI Hymns I

Chord charts for Hymns I can be found on the Page CXVI blog

From Page CXVI Hymns II

Chord Charts for Hymns II can also be found on the Page CXVI blog

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bringing Christ to those who have never heard pt 2

I wrote just the other day about the Wild's ministry to a people group across the world who previously have never heard the gospel message, seen the scriptures in their language, and were as sinners bound for hell.

In an update from the Wilds they write that after years of preparation and 3 months of daily teaching on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday this week the gospel was presented for the first time to the people group. They added, "We did not use any gimmicks, flashy technology or big props - only the written Word of God spoken in the power of the Holy Spirit."

God was gracious and merciful opening blind eyes and darkened hearts of all types of people, young, old, murders, the polygamous, loners, warriors, and widows to respond in faith and repentance to the glorious gospel message of Christ's completed work on the cross.

The missionaries have spent the last few days talking to individuals and groups, some of whom are still confused and unsure. But we rejoice with the Wild's and others who are confident that we now have about 30 new brothers and sisters in Christ!!!

Here are a few testimonies from the new believers:

I - "Today I have heard the great thing that Jesus did by dying and shedding his blood. I am an evil man, but Jesus, in his death, has paid for my whole sin debt. when Yahweh ripped the temple curtain from the top down to the bottom, he showed me that I now have a way to join back with Yahweh and it is through the work that Jesus did to pay my full sin debt. i am now a child of Yahweh and that is all I have to say"

T - "Back before you guys came here we were always being told that having two wives, or having killed someone, smoking and chewing betelnut that we were Satan's children but the religious people who didn't do these were God's children. We were in complete darkness by you guys came and brough the light. You guys told us God's true talk and we now understand that there is no way for us to join up with God because we are all sinners. Only God can save us and Jesus paid the punishment for our sins with his blood when he died on the cross"

N - "I believe this talk, I understand it now. As you have been teaching, I have been confused about how I could be born again and joined with Yahweh. I know I have done many bad thing. But now I am understanding this talk. Jesus, has paid my sin debt in full. He has paid for my sin debt fully, and now because I believe on what Jesus did, and because I am leaning on him I am a child of Yahweh. I am very happy. Not just a little happy, but very happy. That is what is on my heart, and that is all I have to say.

L - clearly understood and gave a crystal clear testimony of Christ's blodd making the complete payment for his sin debt. He did have one question though, and that was that they have been told many times that people who have killed other people can never join up with God. He said that a long time ago he and three guys killed one guy and later, he was involved in killing three ladies thinking they were witches. He said that they whole time he has been listening to the teaching his heart has felt like crying because he didn't think he could ever join up with God. However, he now realizes that Jesus paid his complete sin debt, even that of killing other people. he said that Jesus blood made the way for us to join up with God and that he believes the talk.

The Wilds know this is just a beginning as they take on the task of discipling the new believers, who are already asking if there is more to Yahweh's talk and when they are going to hear it. It's an amazing work the Lord is doing in the hearts of his children and in the tribe. I praise God for saving these brothers and sisters, praying they would be encouraged, grow in relationship with Christ, and peresevere.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dog Eared Pages - Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God

In the book Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God author J.I. Packer dives into the discussion of the apparent antinomy between the Christian's evangelistic task, man's responsibility, and the sovereignty of God in salvation.

In other words, Packer states, that we Christians have a responsibility to share the gospel with the world, those who hear the gospel have a responsibility to respond to the gospel in faith and repentance, and know that God is in control of all things including saving men (He has elected those who are going to believe).

I highly recommend this book if you've struggled with the question 'If God elects people why do we have to share the gospel' or any similar question. Packer explains how God's sovereignty prevents evangelism from being pointless, because it creates the possibility and certainty that evangelism will be fruitful.

I could say much about this small but powerful book, but reading the book would be much more beneficial to you than just reading some quick review. The book is short and and easy read, but packed with truth. I recommend it for all.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bringing Christ to those who have never heard

In 2003 I have the great privilege to meet the Wild Family. At that time they were training with a missions organization preparing to be sent to a hard place.

Since then the Wilds along with the another family have moved across the world where they minister to a remote people group who have yet to hear the gospel. This unreached people group are a group that had been overlooked by the government and church groups. They did not have a written language, therefore no Bible in their language.

The missionaries have been working on becoming fluent in the language, transcribing the alphabet and words, and translating the scriptures. Last November they began the first literacy classes to teach the locals how to read and write their own language. Now they have literacy classes being taught by local men.

In addition to the Literacy classes, the missionaries began teaching chronologically through the Bible to the local men and women.

They write - The locals are sitting on the edge of their leaves each day waiting to hear how they can truly be made right with Yahweh!

"I was in Satan's hands, but because you have come, I am hearing God's true talk." -W

"What can I really say? Since the time I was born, I have been in Satan's hand, and I am his child. Is there any way that I can join with Yahweh? I am scared." - I

"We know we must believe on the Coming Redeemer, but what must we believe about him? Our insides are eating us!" -L

I just couldn't help but share of some of the great news being reported by fellow believers serving in from here what is a distant land. I give thanks to God for the safety of the missionaries, for the ability to learn the local language and begin translating the scriptures, and for the work that the Lord is already doing in the lives of the people as they go through the scriptures leading up to the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

I received an update email telling of their experience and the Lord's working as they recently shared the gospel with the local people. It's very exciting and I hope to share more soon.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Things I Wont Be

Over the years I have been encouraged by articles found on the Boundless website. For those who are unfamiliar Boundless is a Webzine that has many articles on being a Christian young adult, singleness, going into marriage, and deals with many hard issues that are very real in lives of believers.

One recent article, "Things I Wont Be", really caught my attention:

"During my twenties and early thirties I was hit with the many things I wouldn't be: married at 22 like my mom, the first of my siblings to wed, a young mother, a youthful grandmother, a couple married for 70 years. Life just wasn't going to work out the way I had anticipated.

And I had a choice. Choice No. 1: I could dwell on the deep sense of loss I felt at the death of those dreams, question God's goodness and become bitter. Choice No. 2: I could grieve the things I would not be and ask my loving Father to show me new dreams — the things “No eye has seen” (1 Cor. 2:9)."

I can't tell you how many times thoughts likes these have crossed my mind. Especially, for whatever reason lately, the part about being a couple married for 70 years. But I as I continued on through the story of Ruth and the remainder of the article, I was encouraged and challenge (once again).
"At some point in my single years, I decided it was futile, and even sinful, to cling to the things I would not be. I could only seek to know better the things I would be: a loving daughter, a loyal friend, an encouraging sister, a devoted follower of Jesus."

Marriage is a great thing and something that can be desired, but coveting marriage like coveting anything else is sin. Instead of focusing on the things I wont be, I need to be focus now on being faithful, making the most of the opportunities that I am given, being a better friend/sister/daughter, and diligently following Christ.

Who knows, what the Lord has in store. His plans may include marriage, they might not. They might mean years and years with a spouse or just hours hours. They may include kids, they might not. Whatever the Lord has planned is perfect and I need not covet the life that I don't have. I will try to embrace everything that He's given me and pursue godliness. And I will pray letting the Lord know the desires of my heart which include marriage and children, but also praying that the Lord would lead me from the temptation to covet the things I am and have not.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dog Eared Pages - Rising From Katrina

Rising From Katrina - How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered by Kathleen Koch was a tough read. It wasn't the reading level, nor the way it was written. The book flowed very easily and chronologically it told of the days leading up to the storm and the days, weeks, and months that followed. It wasn't just some story book, it was the real stories of real people on the coast, some of whom I've met, some are public figures you hear about on a daily basis, and others, who like thousands on the coast, have a story of survival and loss.

I've seen picture book after picture book of what remained in Bay St. Louis, Waveland, Lakeshore and the gulf coast. All which contain pictures that each speak a thousand words and are awe striking and heart aching. But this book wasn't just pictures of seemingly nameless and unrecognizable properties. It shared the lives and stories of those who stayed and rode out the storm, those who left and returned to find everything in disarray - It shared those stories of those properties that used to be just another picture in another book and the lives that once dwelled in those homes.

I began reading this book just a couple days after the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I can tell you in the four years I have been on the coast after the storm I've heard heart wrenching stories, things I thought I couldn't forget. But as time went on stories began to slip my mind. This book brought back a lot of the things I was told in my first year I was in Lakeshore. Things that reminded me and showed me how far things have come, how lives have changed, and the resolve of the people on the coast who pulled up their boot straps hours after the storm passed to help their neighbors, help themselves, and not wait or expect others to come in and pick up the pieces despite the lack the basics of food, water, and shelter. As well as stories of the believers I know who clung to the only solid thing there was, Christ and His Word.

I can say without a doubt, of the books about Hurricane Katrina I have read, this is one of the best and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dog Eared Pages - Book Recommendations to Come

I told myself at the beginning of September that I wanted to set a goal for me to read through 4 books in the course of the month, in addition to my daily time in the Word. Well, I fell short by one and a half books. I will just have to set it up next month.

I set this goal for myself because it hit me a few weeks back while I was talking with a couple of women that I need to make the most of the time that I am given now. If I do marry one day and have children I will probably not have the time like I do now as a single that I can just sit down in the evening and read.

As I read I hope to be able to post a few book recommendations, as well as an occasional sermon recommendation as I seek to grow in knowledge and fill some of my spare time with good things and not just mindless tv shows (which trust me I have my favorites).

Lord willing I will post my first book recommendation tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Comfort in affliction

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Storm, O Blessed Hurricane

I have been reading a lot lately, the majority of it has not been on suffering and theology, though it probably seems like I have because the last two posts mention quotes related to suffering. Truth is I came across this quote as I was reading through the blogs I frequent and it was too good to pass up.

“On My arm, they shall trust.” Isaiah 51:5

In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone. When his vessel is quickly sinking, and no human deliverance can avail—he must simply and entirely trust himself to the providence and care of God.

Happy storm—that wrecks a man on such a rock as this!

O blessed hurricane—that drives the soul to God and God alone!

When a man is so burdened with troubles, so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nowhere else to turn—he flies into his Father’s arms, and is blessedly clasped therein! Oh, tempest-tossed believer—it is a happy trouble which drives you to your Father! –Charles Spurgeon

(HT: Erik Raymond)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Where is God amid so much suffering?

"So where is God amid so much suffering? Hanging on the cross, bearing in his own body the curse of his own law, drinking the cup of wrath and the venom of our sin and death. Even though we cannot see God's sovereignty and goodness reconciled in holocausts, tsunamis, hurricanes, and fires, here the harmony is empirically verifiable! God is neither aloof to our suffering nor powerless to intervene.

No one has ever suffered more unjustly at our hands than this sinless God-Man, and yet he was 'delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God' (Acts 2:23). We can be assured that in the crises we face, large and small, God works all things together for good (see Romans 8:28) because God's strength has once and for all been made perfect in weakness. The unity of God's sovereignty and goodness that will be fully disclosed on that last day has already dawned decisively in the work of Christ. God has triumphed over the serpent, sin, death, evil, and tragedy. 'It is finished!' Jesus cried. Our victory is assured, thought we walk through the valley of death's shadow (Psalm 23:4). In fact, in this famous psalm of comfort in distress, we can say 'i will fear no evil, for you are with me your rod and your staff, they comfort me.'"

-A quote from A Place for Weakness by Michael Horton

Monday, September 20, 2010

Building Homes and the Gospel Proclamation

I'm currently sitting at my desk catching up on weekend emails, the sounds of weed eaters buzzing outside the window, and sitting here amazed that over 5 years after the storm the Lord is still sending people to the gulf coast and specifically Lakeshore Baptist Church.

It sometimes just hits me that what the Lord is doing here is bigger than I could have ever imagined being possible by a church of around 30 members. Thousands upon thousands of volunteers have filtered through, 38 homes from the ground up have been built, over 100 homes rehabbed, hundreds of sheds built in the early days after the storm, countless cans of food and articles of clothing have been given out in the distribution center, and tons and tons of storm debris gutted from homes and pulled from yards. This is all amazing and we can't help but point to God and give Him the glory.

Yet, while that is all great, we do not want to pull away from the gospel itself. If we just build someone a home and neglect the gospel we just give them a comfortable place to go to hell from. I can say without hesitation that Lakeshore Baptist Church, while we desire to physically help people, sees the immense need for the gospel in our community and our hearts are burdened to see that the gospel message goes out.

I am blessed to be apart of this church, where you can count on hearing the gospel proclaimed from the pulpit and from behind a shovel or while hanging a piece of sheetrock, or while framing a home. The gospel can be heard while sitting in the distribution center and people talk and encourage one another or while a couple of men sit on the tailgate of a pick up truck. The Lord has used His children at LBC and volunteers who have partnered with us to spread that good news and the He has used that to draw people to himself. I rejoice at the lives that have turned to Christ and repented of their sin as the Lord has worked in their hearts. I look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store as believers committed to sharing the gospel are faithful to do so.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Singleness a blessing or a curse?

Singleness for some it's the plague others it's the best thing to ever to have happened to them. In all honestly many days I don't struggle with being single, knowing singleness is a gift. But there are days sometimes weeks the loneliness, the rejection, the shame, the lack of physical intimacy are all too real and it hurts.

It is rare, I think and at least in my personal experience, for singles to think of their singleness as a blessing. But just yesterday I stumbled across a blog, thoughts from Fabs, looking at the struggles or blessings of singleness. Fabs makes a great case that loneliness, freedom, control, pain of rejection, lack of physical intimacy, and shame are blessings. Fabs points to the cross and the grace of God, not dwelling on the hurt or wallowing in the self-pity, jealousy, or bitterness.

Below I've linked to each individual post in Fab's series on the blessings of singleness, I hope you find these as helpful as they were to me.

Some Talks on Singleness
Blessings of Singleness #1: Loneliness
Blessings of Singleness #2: The Pain of Freedom
Blessings of Singleness #3: Losing Control
Blessings of Singleness #4: The Pain of Rejection
Blessings of Singleness #5: Lack of Physical Intimacy
Blessings of Singleness #6: The Pain of Misplaced Shame

Friday, August 27, 2010

By This We Know Love

Summer has come and gone since the last blog post and I'm not really feeling too bad about that. It was a great and busy summer in Lakeshore and we are looking forward to the fall. My support I have been trying to raise for my time in Lakeshore has gone pretty well so far. Lord willing I will be updating everyone on that soon.

For the time being I want to share with you one of my new favorite songs. It's not really new, but new to me. This video is from the 2009 NEXT conference

By This We Know Love
Judah Groveman

God of all Creation, Lord of heaven's light
Descended into evil's darkest night
Infinitely Holy, Your perfections know no end
Selflessly You died my rightful death

By this we know love that He laid down His life
God's very own Son, came from Heaven to die
Suspended He hung, as he shed His own blood
What grace in His pardon, by this We know love

Forsaken man of sorrows, hated by all men
You willingly surrendered for my sin
Scornfully derided, yet in silence stumbling on
Bearing wrath for all that I've done wrong.

By this we know love that He laid down His life
God's very own Son, came from Heaven to die
Suspended He hung, as he shed His own blood
What grace in His pardon, by this We know love

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Priorities, knees, and raising support

Besides the random blog post it's obviously been awhile since I put any thought into blogging. There are multiple reasons, but primarily it hasn't been a high priority for me. The last few months have been a bit of a ride for me, but God has been faithful and gracious in my hurt, happiness, confusion, delight, and even my sin. Lord willing and if I am able to keep my priorities straight I will be blogging more frequently again.

Though I will be trying to blog more frequently, over then next few months I will be going through some changes, so we'll see how the blogging goes. But as for me....

I'm not sure yet when it will be, but my fourth knee surgery will be sometime in the next couple weeks. My doctor will go in, take a look around and be prepared to fix anything that is needing fixing. My recovery time will depend on what needs to be fixed. I am hoping it is not my acl that needs replacing, which I have had replaced twice before. Though it is my fear that it is the acl.

The biggest change for me will come this May when I wrap my 2 years as a US/C2 missionary with the North American Mission Board. With that I will lose the stipend NAMB and the Mississippi Baptist Convention have so graciously blessed me with as well as the medical insurance offered through NAMB as a US/C2. I am unable to serve another appointment as a US/C2, the only other option I've been given with NAMB is as a self-supported missionary.

I've prayerfully considered my options as it is my desire to stay in Lakeshore, serving the Lord and the Lakeshore community. I've decided to stay in Lakeshore and try to raise the support apart from NAMB to stay. I am looking at needing to raise about $800 a month to take care of my expenses. I've begun sending out support letters, praying the Lord would see fit to provide for my needs to stay in Lakeshore. It is my goal by July to have at least 70% of the funds raised or pledged. Below is a copy of my newsletter and support form:

Support Letter

Support Form

If I have not sent you a letter and you feel led to support me through prayer or financially and receive emailed updates and newsletters please fill out one of the support forms and mail it to:
Lakeshore Baptist Church
PO Box 293
Lakeshore, MS 39558

Thursday, March 25, 2010

God is God and God is good

"This I do know; If God chooses to heal me then God is God and God is good. If God chooses not to heal me and allows me to die; God is still God and God is still good. To God be the glory." Zac Smith

Hear him tell his testimony:

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

To God be the glory!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So Why do You Smile? Where is Your Joy?

I think Haiti and the earthquake that crushed businesses, cars, homes, and lives and has claimed over 150,000 lives in the capital city alone thus far. Images and stories stream from the the news nightly, but none doing justice to the reality of life now in Haiti. I cannot fathom what the scene is like, what people are going through.

People have traveled from Canada, Israel, Iceland, Germany, France, the US, China, Colombia, as well as many other countries to Haiti in recent weeks as reporters, doctors, rescue workers, nurses all doing what they can to meet the physical needs of the Haitian people.

Not only are people hurting physically and emotionally, I'm sure people are struggling spiritually trying to grapple everything that has just happened. I have not personally heard of many pastors or missionaries that have been able to travel there in recent days. Two pastors that have been able to go, Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hills Church in Seattle and James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Church in Chicago, are now heading up Churches helping Churches - A ministry "created to address the immediate and long-term needs of churches when disaster befalls a country, region, city, or people in the spirit of Galatians 6:10- 'Let us do good to everyone, and especially those who are in the household of faith'"

On their trip to Haiti they met a pastor with a big smile and spoke with him on camera. (you can view the video below)
Pastor Mark says "You love Jesus, you teach the Bible, you marry a woman, you have four children, you're serving the Lord in ministry. And now your wife is gone, your church is gone, your home is gone, your Bible college is gone.....So why do you smile? Where is your Joy?"

The man replied "It's from the Lord."
Praise God for sustaining this man! I pray that believers in Haiti would be strengthened, that they would know, despite watching the world around them crumble, that God has not crumbled, He's not left them, He is sovereign and in control over all things - including the events and devastation that surround them. To Gob be the glory.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010