Friday, February 29, 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Greek Struggles

I am really struggling with my Greek classes, particularly trying to diagram. I can parse like nobodies business and I can see the translation (in most cases), but trying to diagram Greek grammar is driving me batty! Any suggestions?

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Outlaw

My favorite song.

Larry Norman - He Was Ready

Larry Norman past away yesterday morning. Besides Keith Green, Larry had the greatest impact on my life in introducing a style of music other than hymns. Larry had many challenges in his life, but he is at peace and with Jesus this day.

Here is an excerpt from a letter he wrote Saturday night:

Goodbye, farewell, we’ll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye

Thanks to Monday Morning Insight for posting this.

I hope you enjoy this classic clip of Larry in concert.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sermon Preparation

My buddy, Rolland, has been posting a series on how he prepares for a sermon. We all need pointers and hints and someone else may use a different method that piques our interest. Good job, Rolland!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Be Thou My Vision

This is one of my favorite hymns, plus it is Irish! I will be playing an arrangement (by Joseph Martin) of this hymn in a couple of weeks as an offertory.

At­trib­ut­ed to Dal­lan For­gaill, 8th Cen­tu­ry (Rob tu mo bhoile, a Com­di cri­de); trans­lat­ed from an­cient Ir­ish to Eng­lish by Ma­ry E. Byrne, in “Eriú,” Jour­nal of the School of Ir­ish Learn­ing, 1905, and versed by El­ea­nor H. Hull, 1912, alt.

Music: Slane, of Ir­ish folk or­i­gin. Slane Hill is about ten miles from Ta­ra in Coun­ty Meath. It was on Slane Hill around 433 AD that St. Pat­rick de­fied a roy­al edict by light­ing can­dles on East­er Eve. High King Lo­gaire of Ta­ra had de­creed that no one could light a fire be­fore Lo­gaire be­gan the pa­gan spring fes­ti­val by light­ing a fire on Ta­ra Hill. Lo­gaire was so im­pressed by Pat­rick’s de­vo­tion that, de­spite his de­fi­ance (or per­haps be­cause of it­), he let him con­tin­ue his mis­sion­ary work.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


To follow Christ is an invitation to come and die. - Bonnhoeffer

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. -Jim Elliott

"God loved a lost world and gave His only Son to be a missionary. I love a lost world and I am a missionary, heart and soul. In this service I hope to live and in it I wish to die." - Dr. David Livingstone

emoi gar to znv Xristos kai to apothaveiv kerdos - Paul

This idea has been on my mind constantly for many days now. Add to the mix that I have been reading Thomas a' Kempis' The Imitation of Christ and have written a paper on the book makes me wonder what God is trying to tell me. I just started reading in Matthew at chapter 10 and I get to verses 24-39 and I have to pause and ask God what is it He is bringing to my attention.

Obviously, I can do better as a disciple. I think I am prepared to die. I am not afraid to share the Gospel and am ready to do so.

"He who has found his life will lose it and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."

Father, show me Your will. Share with me Your truth. Whisper in My ear what I am to shout from the rooftops. Tell me in darkness what I am to proclaim in the light.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Valentines

To Live is Christ

The next section of Philippians is 1:21-26:

To live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Jesus Christ through my coming to you again.

Paul was struggling with the idea of dying and being with Jesus immediately and wanting to stay and help the church in Philippi become stronger in their faith. Apparently Paul realized this was a selfish motive and he would stay to do the work Christ would have him do, yet "To live is Christ and to die is gain." He had the best of both worlds: To live for Christ is a life that is blessed and produces fruit for the kingdom; to die is immediate joy to be in the presence of God.

I have heard too many older Christians say that they have paid their dues and are now cruising through the latter stages of life. I don't see that concept in the Bible. I want to live every day for Christ as if it is my last. If I don't wake up next to my beautiful wife, then I will wake up face to face with my beautiful Savior.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yes, and I Will Rejoice

I have been translating and diagramming the book of Philippians in my Intermediate Greek class at seminary. Last week, I worked on 1:15-20, which is a difficult concept to come to grips with. The difficulty is that there are preachers out there proclaiming the Gospel with wrong motives in their hearts or their hearts are not right with God. Paul says that some are preaching out of love and others out of selfish ambition, yet regardless of the situation, Paul is rejoicing that the Gospel is being preached.

I have heard pastors back in the day that wished they were anywhere else other than the pulpit, yet they preached the Gospel. There was no fire or determination in their delivery, yet they proclaimed the Good News. I have heard some pastors that fumbled through their message, not being very good orators, yet they preached the Word.

If Paul can rejoice that the Word is being preached, and again, he said rejoice, then what do I do with this text? Do I lay aside my cynicism about certain preachers? Do I rejoice when someone is apparently preaching heresy or at best, no Gospel at all? I am really struggling with this passage. (That is normally a good thing. I want to study the scriptures so I can understand God's Word better)

I am interested to here what some of you guys think (Peter, Colin, John, Rolland, Paul, Randy) and of course anyone can chime in.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Reds Head to Florida

I am switching gears from spiritual things to religious things and one of the religions in America is baseball. My pastor friends in the UK probably have a favorite football (soccer for us Yanks) team, so they will understand. In fact, if Colin or Adrian read this, I am a Pompey fan and am excited about the FA Cup game against Preston this week...but I digress.

The Reds start spring training this Saturday and here is a look at how the starters and 25 man roster might look on opening day in 6 weeks. There are 27 men listed, so that means a couple of guys will start in Triple A. It also means if Lofton is signed, Keppinger, Freel or Hopper will probably go elsewhere. Volquez or Valenzuela may start out in Louisville as well.

SS - Alex Gonzalez
3B - Edwin Encarnacion
RF - Ken Griffey Jr
2B - Brandon Philips
LF - Adam Dunn
1B - Joey Votto
CF - Jay Bruce
C - David Ross/Javier Valentin

Starting Pitchers:
Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Matt Belisle
Homer Bailey
Jeremy Affeldt

SS - Juan Castro
1B - Scott Hatteberg
IF - Jeff Keppinger
OF/IF - Ryan Freel
OF - Norris Hopper
OF - Kenny Lofton (Not signed yet, but a big rumor)

Relief Pitchers:
David Weathers
Francisco Cordero
Edinson Volquez
Bill Bray
Jared Burton
Sergio Valenzuela
Todd Coffey

Friday, February 08, 2008

Lord, what is man that You are mindful of him?

But You, Lord, are always the same. You remain forever, always good, just, and holy; doing all things rightly, justly, and holily, disposing them wisely. I, however, who am more ready to go backward than forward, do not remain always in one state, for I change with the seasons. Yet my condition quickly improves when it pleases You and when You reach forth Your helping hand. For You alone, without human aid, can help me and strengthen me so greatly that my heart shall no more change but be converted and rest solely in You. Hence, if I knew well how to cast aside all earthly consolation, either to attain devotion or because of the necessity which, in the absence of human solace, compels me to seek You alone, then I could deservedly hope for Your grace and rejoice in the gift of new consolation.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Follow and Suffer

Dietrich Boenhoffer probably got his idea from a' Kempis. Boenhoffer said that to follow Christ, the true cost of discipleship, was an invitation to die. Here is what a' Kempis said:

If you will set yourself to what you should do, follow Christ in suffering and death, it will soon be better for you and you will find peace. Even if you should be carried up to the third heaven like Paul, you will not be kept from suffering tribulations. Jesus said about Paul, "I will show him many things he must suffer for My name's sake."

If it is your desire, therefore, to love Jesus and serve Him forever, you are bound to suffer.

Kempis and the Cross of Christ

Thomas a' Kempis has many things to say about following Christ. I will post a couple of these today. This particular quote is the first of 15 in his section titled "The Kings Highway of the Holy Cross."

To many this seems a hard saying, "Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus." But it will be much harder to hear that last word, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

But those who now willingly hear and follow the word of the cross will not in the day of judgment fear the sentence of everlasting damnation. The sign of the cross will be in heaven when the Lord comes to judge. Then all those who in their lifetime conformed themselves to Christ crucified and were servants of the cross will draw near to Christ the judge with great confidence.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Summer Missions Preparations

I am preparing to lead two teams to different parts of the world for various mission projects. In June, we will be sending 11 people to Karlovac, Croatia to teach ESL at the local Baptist church and to do what we call "friendship evangelism" in the local cafes. Cafes are a staple in Croatia and everyone is going to them to get coffee and talk. There will also be several chances to preach, which I am looking forward to do.

In July we will be sending 21 people to Teresina, Brazil to build a church. We will also, in two separate locations, lead Vacation Bible School and have a 9 session training program for pastors and church workers. We are very excited about these extensions to our normal church building activities. Of course, there will also be several preaching opportunities to prepare for.

Please keep these ministry opportunities in prayer and I will comment on them later in the year.

The Imitation of Christ

In my Classics of Christian Devotions class, I will be preparing a paper and report on Thomas a' Kempis and his The Imitation of Christ. I had read parts of it a long time ago. We got to choose from a long list of writers, theologians and mystics and I wanted to reintroduce myself to Kempis' writings.

I have read many of the books on that list and the main problem I have with some of them is the lack of scripture that is used or mentioned. Brother Lawrence, for example, does not even allude to scripture in Practice in the Presence of God. I have a problem with that. If someone is wanting to have such a close relationship with God, then God's word would be a big part of that spiritual journey.

That is why I like Kempis. He uses scripture in every section and acknowledges the need to study scripture. Here are some of his quotes concerning scripture:

Truth, not eloquence, is to be sought for in reading the holy scriptures.
Each word of the Scriptures must be read with the same spirit in which it was written.
We should search the Scriptures for those things that will give us spiritual benefits rather that superior speech.
If you desire to benefit from the Scriptures, read with humility, simplicity and faithfulness - never with a desire to become known as a Bible scholar.

In each case, he will quote or paraphrase a part of scripture then give a comment on that passage. I wonder how he would have been as a preacher. I guess each section of his books may be considered a sermon since each section is thematic.

Anyways, I am enjoying this reading and will be writing the paper next week and putting the presentation together (i.e. powerpoint, music, drama, whatever I decide to do). I am toying with the idea of presenting in the first person, acting out Thomas a' Kempis giving a presentation of his life and work to a modern audience.

Monday, February 04, 2008