Monday, December 31, 2007
This picture helps explain the title of my blog, which is a commentary on my life. Many different factors went into each of the rivers, which come from different parts of the continent to form one river. In turn, many people took differing paths which produced who I am today. One of my family lines were persecuted because of their faith about 500 years ago in Switzerland and eventually moved to the Pennsylvania colony. Another family had 4 generations as ministers of the Gospel. Another family group were gentleman farmers in Indiana. Several families produced veterans of every war that America has been involved with. This is the heritage I inherited. I had no say in the matter. It all converged upon me, my brother and my immediate cousins. There are errors to learn from and faith to hold on to. But it does not stop with me, but I must continue to do what God has called me to do. The same God that urged my fore-fathers to stand up to heresies of the reformation; the same God that calledSamuel, John, Everet and Russell Wooten to be ministers of the Gospel; the same God that gave many men (and a few women) the courage to fight and defend their country. I am to pass along the efforts and faith of the past to my kids and grandkids so that they will be children of God and honorable people.
Yeah, it would make a good sermon point. I will probably use it some time in the future. Since Rolland had the closest (and only) guess, he wins the door prize. The Ginzu knives will be in the mail.
Friday, December 21, 2007
With this post, I wanted to thank some people who have supported me and challenged me throughout this past year.
- My wife, Lona, has to be at this position. Who else in this world would put up with me other than her? She is a great source of support and I love her dearly.
- My two kids, Madeleine and Ian. Madeleine is growing into quite the beautiful young lady and singer (no help from me...its all mom's doing). Ian is the smartest little guy I know. You can literally spend hours talking about Thomas the Tank Engine with him. I try to mess up the names of the obscure engines and he corrects me every time.
- Pastor Bobby Holt is the shepherd of Vista Grande Baptist Church (VGBC) and is one of the finest expository preachers in America. He is always asking me about seminary classes and gives me a chance to preach every once in awhile.
- Pastor Greg Teel is the Children's Ministries pastor at VGBC. We carpool to seminary and have some great discussions on theology, the church, preaching, missions and M*A*S*H.
- Pastor Jay Hill is the worship leader at VGBC and we spend a lot of time together preparing music for the church services. God has truly gifted this man in how to prepare for worship.
- Rev. Chuck Conner is the executive director of Christian Missions Unlimited (CMU). He has been like an uncle to me over the last 20 years. He has been a great source of inspiration and encouragement in my life. I hope I can go to Brazil with him for another 15 years.
- Rev. Rolland Kenneson is the best preacher I know that doesn't have a church. If your church needs a great missions-minded, expository preaching pastor, then this man is for you! He has also been my closest friend since I moved to Colorado 13+ years ago.
- Randy McRoberts is my second cousin-in-law or something like that. We stay connected, primarily through our blogs. I am always amazed by his wealth of theological knowledge and admire his English (or should I say Scottish) dry humor and sarcasm.
- Colin Adams writes a blog for preachers in Scotland. We have never met, but I love reading his blog every day and listening to the occasional sermon. Keep blogging, Colin! One day I hope to attend one of the pastor's conferences.
- Natalie Rose (Carter) York is my cousin and she passed away in June from a brief bout with intestinal cancer. I never knew she blogged. I had lost touch with her over the last few years. I deeply regret that. She was a stay at home mom in a difficult marriage with two rambunctious kids, but she dearly loved her Lord and Saviour and had an amazing network of friends in the blogging world. You will know that you are truly loved when a dozen people you never met show up to your funeral and talk about the impact you made on their lives. Wow!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Things handsome to have, as they ought to be had.
They both do provide, against Christmas do come,
To welcome their neighbors, good cheer to have some.
Good bread and good drink, a good fire in the hall,
Brawn, pudding, and souse, and good mustard withal.
Beef, mutton, and pork, and good pies of the best,
Pig, veal, goose, and capon, and turkey well drest,
Cheese, apples and nuts, and good carols to hear,
As then in the country is counted good cheer.
What cost to good husband, is any of this?
Good household provision only it is:
Of other the like, I do leave out a many,
That costeth the husband never a penny.
- Thomas Tusser
- March - Spending a week with my family and my dad in Utah during spring break. We were one of only 5 families staying at a summer resort. It was sort of like a ghost town. We spent a lot of time playing games and watching DVDs. It was too cold to go out and play in the snow! We spent a lot of quality time together.
- April - my youngest cousin emailed me and wanted some advice and someone to talk to. He had a horrible dad and is dealing with a lot of issues. I was surprised by his email, but thankful that I could help.
- January/February - I was able to coach my daughter's 6th grade basketball team. It was a great time to spend with my daughter.
- May - A pastor friend of mine resigned from his ministry position. A sobering experience to go through. I had to do a lot of soul searching and prayer.
- June - Spent a week doing music for Vacation Bible School with nearly 400 kids! Aye-yi-yi!
- July - Spent 10 days in Brazil building a church and preaching for the first time. A truly awesome experience.
- July - Got to preach the evening service at my home church.
- August - Spent 2 weeks in Croatia with my lovely wife teaching ESL and was asked to preach twice. It was this mission trip which cemented in my mind that God has called us to missions and to preach. I still can't rightly express the emotions of that trip. I am still processing how God moved.
- September - Started seminary and tackled Intro to Greek as my first class. It was a love/hate relationship but I am looking forward to the next class.
- September through December - Praying for a local ministry opportunity of which I hope to have an interview in January.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel,
"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so’
- Thomas Hardy
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Family Truth. Preparing for a time of worship while on vacation, God’s truth about family became structured. The truth about family must begin with The Forever Family. This uncreated family is comprised of the eternal Father (1 John 1:2), the eternal Son (1 John 5:11), and the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14, KJV). The Forever Family is mystery that we faithfully accept through our spiritual latitudes but cannot fully analyze because of our physical limitations. On His created earth, the uncreated God created what we may call The Foundational Family (Gen. 2:18-24). Here God undoubtedly laid for all time the principle for the basic composition of earthly marriage and family—the God-officiating uniting of a male and a female (cf. Matt. 19:3-6). All other supposedly marital combinations are total untruth—even from the practical standpoint of posterity. There is The Fallen Family—fallen because Adam brought sin into the world (Rom.5:12a). Study Genesis 3 and it becomes obvious that sin is basically self-deity in place of the Sovereign Deity. First by the rudimentary redemption of sacrifice and covering in Genesis 3:20-21; then by royal redemption God made possible The Faith Family (Eph. 5:22-6:4). The faith family is indeed The Father’s Family; for when Jesus was told that his mother and brothers sought Him, His response was “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Mark 3:34b-35). In fact, not only do the claims of earthly family cease in eternity, but the condition itself of earthly family changes (Luke 20:27-36). Indeed the Father’s Family is to be The Final Family (Eph. 3:14-15).
Family Thoughts. When I was growing up, one of the pungent appeals of evangelists and pastors was whether or not a given family would be unbroken around the throne of God. It produced powerful aspiration. There is no question, as Ephesians 5 and 6 reveal, that God desires Christian and responsible parents, and Christian and responsive children. These family thoughts are separate and apart. Here, the truth is that whatever decisions, for or against Christ, parents or children may make, there will be no broken families in heaven. In heaven, the Father’s Family will be the Final, the only Family. More than being remarkably structured, God’s truth about family is unmistakably sobering; and this I shared with my children and grandchildren. I share it now again with them; with my wider family; and with my wonderful friends. With conscientious devotion let us all be doers of God’s will in the deeds that He wants us to do; but first and foremost, with complete dedication let us be doers of God’s will in the beings that He wants us to be.
Let us resolve to fully celebrate Christmas as families by each member being a part of the Father’s Family!
Rachel Anne Webb
Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;
Three Wise Men out of the East were they,
And they travelled by night and they slept by day,
For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.
The star was so beautiful, large and clear,
That all the other stars of the sky
Became a white mist in the atmosphere,
And by this they knew that the coming was near
Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.
Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows,
Three caskets of gold with golden keys;
Their robes were of crimson silk with rows
Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,
Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.
And so the Three Kings rode into the West,
Through the dusk of the night, over hill and dell,
And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast,
And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest,
With the people they met at some wayside well.
"Of the child that is born," said Baltasar,
"Good people, I pray you, tell us the news;
For we in the East have seen his star,
And have ridden fast, and have ridden far,
To find and worship the King of the Jews."
And the people answered, "You ask in vain;
We know of no King but Herod the Great!"
They thought the Wise Men were men insane,
As they spurred their horses across the plain,
Like riders in haste, who cannot wait.
And when they came to Jerusalem,
Herod the Great, who had heard this thing,
Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them;
And said, "Go down unto Bethlehem,
And bring me tidings of this new king."
So they rode away; and the star stood still,
The only one in the grey of morn;
Yes, it stopped --it stood still of its own free will,
Right over Bethlehem on the hill,
The city of David, where Christ was born.
And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard,
Through the silent street, till their horses turned
And neighed as they entered the great inn-yard;
But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred,
And only a light in the stable burned.
And cradled there in the scented hay,
In the air made sweet by the breath of kine,
The little child in the manger lay,
The child, that would be king one day
Of a kingdom not human, but divine.
His mother Mary of Nazareth
Sat watching beside his place of rest,
Watching the even flow of his breath,
For the joy of life and the terror of death
Were mingled together in her breast.
They laid their offerings at his feet:
The gold was their tribute to a King,
The frankincense, with its odor sweet,
Was for the Priest, the Paraclete,
The myrrh for the body's burying.
And the mother wondered and bowed her head,
And sat as still as a statue of stone,
Her heart was troubled yet comforted,
Remembering what the Angel had said
Of an endless reign and of David's throne.
Then the Kings rode out of the city gate,
With a clatter of hoofs in proud array;
But they went not back to Herod the Great,
For they knew his malice and feared his hate,
And returned to their homes by another way.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- God has called us be ready- Verses 1-2, the Holy Spirit puts a cowering Ezekiel up on his feet and demands attention so that God can speak to him. When I am preparing for a sermon or speaking to a group of men, I need to be in prayer and in the word, waiting for the Lord to speak to and through me. God doesn't want me to be timid, but to boldly proclaim what He wants said. To do that, I must be mentally, spiritually and physically ready to preach.
- God has called us to obedience - In verses 3-5a, God has called Ezekiel to preach to a rebellious people. He has called Ezekiel to preach to a group of people that will not listen. He has placed him in a difficult situation. The same goes for us. We may be placed in a church that has difficult people or politics. We may be preaching to empty pews or cold people in the pews. We may be dealing with very difficult political climates. We may be preaching to very rich and powerful people who think they don't need God. But preach we must!
- God has called us to be bold - In verses 5b-7, God reminds Ezekiel that whether they react to his preaching, he will be heard. They will know that a prophet is among them. He will be singled out because of his preaching. But God tells him to not fear them or their words because God will be his strength. Without God, Ezekiel would have given up, ran away or been killed. Only God could provide the courage and strength to persevere in the harsh climate. Only God can give us the strength to preach the Truth in a world where there is no truth. Only God can give us courage to preach Peace and Hope when the world does not provide peace and Hope. Only God can give us the fortitude to preach Righteousness in a world that does not know the meaning of the word.
I will stop there because verses 8-10 go with chapter 3. I hope to comment on that and the rest of chapter 3 tomorrow.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Now leaves His well-belov'd imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod's jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Tetelestai is the Perfect, Active, Indicative, third person, singular form from the Greek stem Telew, which means I complete, I finish, I pay, I carry out. The stem means that some activity that was started has been completed. It is interesting that Jesus uses the Perfect form of the word. In Perfect tense an activity that was started has come to an end, but with results that continue on. The fact that Jesus used the third person, to me, shows that He continued to give glory and credit to the Father. "He has finished the work, He has paid the debt for all through Me, so that others may live." Christ's life on earth, His work in human form, was finished at that point, but His blood, shed on the cross as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb, became our salvation.
This was the ultimate gift that keeps on giving.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I will comment on this at length at a later date, but God definitely gives His of Israel to Ezekiel. He was preparing Ezekiel for the reception he will receive, which was a cool one at best.
30 Years ago today the entire basketball team, coaching staff and support staff of the Evansville University Purple Aces died in a tragic plane crash soon after the plane took off from the Evansville Regional Airport. This really struck home because I was a 13 year old kid who loved basketball and was a big fan of one of the players. Mike Joyner was a star player for Terre Haute South High School and a close friend of my Uncle David. David, dad and I would go to different schools and playgrounds to play basketball every Sunday afternoon and Mike was always there. I was normally the youngest but they always let me play. Mike was always nice to me. He liked to play opposite of Uncle David instead of on the same team because they would "dog" each other the whole time. It was more fun for them to defend each other.
There is a remembrance convocation at the college today.
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deem’d the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer:
Even, heathen yet, the savage Dane
At Iol more deep the mead did drain;
High on the beach his galleys drew,
And feasted all his pirate crew;
Then in his low and pine-built hall
Where shields and axes deck’d the wall
They gorged upon the half-dress’d steer;
Caroused in seas of sable beer;
While round, in brutal jest, were thrown
The half-gnaw’d rib, and marrow-bone:
Or listen’d all, in grim delight,
While Scalds yell’d out the joys of fight.
Then forth, in frenzy, would they hie,
While wildly loose their red locks fly,
And dancing round the blazing pile,
They make such barbarous mirth the while,
As best might to the mind recall
The boisterous joys of Odin’s hall.
And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had roll’d,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all his hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night;
On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve the mass was sung:
That only night in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donn’d her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dress’d with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then open’d wide the Baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside
And Ceremony doff’d his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose;
The Lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of ‘post and pair’.
All hail’d, with uncontroll’d delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.
The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table’s oaken face,
Scrubb’d till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar’s head frown’d on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garb’d ranger tell,
How, when, and where, the monster fell;
What dogs before his death to tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassel round, in good brown bowls,
Garnish’d with ribbons, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reek'd; hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
Nor fail’d old Scotland to produce,
At such high tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry makers in,
And carols roar’d with blithesome din;
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made;
But, O! what maskers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.
- Sir Walter Scott
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I have been asked if I sit down and read these sermons as I would a book. Every once in awhile I will, but normally, as I prepare a sermon, I do 4 things:
- I pray and meditate over the text. This may be a few days, a few weeks or a couple of months. Since I don't preach regularly, I have this luxury. I will be preaching twice in January, so there are two texts that I have read and reread and prayed about. What does the text say? Why does God want me to use these texts? What is the true meaning of these texts in context to the culture and scripture? How this be applied today?
- I exegete the passage to see what it really says in the original language. If it is a N.T. text, then I look at the verbals to see what is happening. Why is Jesus or Paul using the language he is using in that particular letter or situation? What is the background? Why is the letter being written or what is happening in the narrative? Are there any cultural idioms to be aware of?
- I look at other commentaries to see what conservative theologians have to say about the text.
- Lastly, I read sermons from preachers that I respect which include the men named earlier in this post. It doesn't hurt to read how God spoke through other men during different times.
Wow! I didn't realize how far off track I got. I start by telling you about my shipment of sermons by Joseph Parker and end up explaining my sermon preparation. I am excited about the shipment arriving and for the chance to preach a couple of times.
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
You may not believe this but Indiana University can boast of having three football players players that were picked by SI.COM as All-Americans. Austin Starr was selected to the first team as the kicker, Greg Middleton was selected to the second team and James Hardy received an honorable mention. For programs like USC, Texas, Ohio State or Florida, three selections would be a slap in the face, but for a program like IU, this is major news. Great job, guys! Go beat Oklahoma State on Dec 31.
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)
The Christ-child stood on Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down
- G. K. Chesterton
Monday, December 10, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
With heart and soul and voice!
Give ye heed to what we say:
"Jesus Christ is born today."
Man and beast before Him bow
And He is in the manger now;
Christ is born today, Christ is born today!
Good Christian men , rejoice
With heart and soul and voice!
Now ye hear of endless bliss;
Jesus Christ was born for this.
He has opened heavens door,
And man is blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this, Christ was born for this!
Good Christian men , rejoice
With heart and soul and voice!
Now ye need not fear the grave;
Jesus Christ was born to save.
Calls you one and calls you all,
To gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save, Christ was born to save!
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
"Do not pray for easy lives, but pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, but pray for power equal to your tasks. Then the accomplishing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself and the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God."
In chapter one, verses 4-28, Ezekiel describes a vision shown to him by God. The first part of the vision describes four beings which are most likely some sort of angelic being. Each one had four faces and four wings. If you were looking directly at the being, the face of a man was in front, the face of a lion was on the right, the face of a bull on the left and the face of an eagle in back. I won't continue to describe the creatures or their movement because that is plainly described in the text.
What fascinates me is what one set of wings is doing. One is covering their bodies, but the other set is holding up an expanse. This is an interesting word that is only found in Genesis 1:6-8 where its function is to separate the waters above from the waters below. Why would this word be used? I believe that can be answered by what is resting atop the expanse. On the expanse was a throne and sitting upon the throne was a figure with the appearance of man. This was God and His appearance was like glowing metal (a Hebrew word that some translate as bronze but it is an unknown metal). There was a radiance about Him. Ezekiel, through the brightness could see a form, but nothing else. I believe that this separation is there to show Ezekiel that there is a separation between God and man. Israel had continued to shows their disobedience time and time again. God is preparing to give Ezekiel his life's work and the grounds for that work is that Israel was separated from God and had no communion with God. God wants a relationship with His people. He wants Ezekiel to understand the great gap between man and God so that he can be more effective in his ministry to the people of Israel.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Don’t pray prayers that are too small. Pray that you and we will be swept up by the Spirit in a great new work in our day that has the supremacy of God in all things at the center of it.