Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Brazil 2009

Mauricio has good balance!

Church members having a meal together

Dogs in the flooded area

I will be leaving for Manaus, Brasil on Saturday. The team is 10 people and we will build a church, do kid's ministry and preach. We will ferry across the river to the town of Araca. The church site is about 40 from there. This year has been the worst flooding of the Amazon River in recorded history. Here are a couple of pictures of the area we will be working. Please pray for the team as we travel and minister to the church. We return on the 15th. Please pray for the Dedication Service next Thursday, Aug 13.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Gospel Advanced Through Suffering

I had the privilege of preaching last Sunday night and spoke on Philippians 1:12-18. I plan on preaching through Philippians, but since I don't have a regular rotation, this could be a long process. I will get to preach a couple of times in Brasil next month so I may do the next section. Anyways, the message is on the church website. The link has been added to the title, so you can go there to download and listen.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ezekiel 6 - God Cleans House

Have you ever been someplace or seen something that looked and smelled so bad you wanted to throw up? I grew up in Indiana and worked on farms when I was a kid. I had to help someone clean a chicken coop. Now, I had mucked stalls and dealt with pigs, but I had never shoveled chicken droppings before. It is the most disgusting smell I have ever known! I had to wear a mask so that I would not breathe in any particles (disgusting thought!). It was horrible!

In Ezekiel 6, the words that God gave Ezekiel concerning the idols that Israel were worshiping to were very graphic words that translators soften for readers. The term for idols is translated literally as sheep s**t. God wanted Israel to realize that anything they worship other than Yahweh was sheep dung. They might as well have a pile of sheep manure and bow down to that! God, in no way, was going to allow this to happen and told them He was going to level and obliterate every idol, alter and pole that they put up to worship. And he was going to wipe out most of them.

You should read chapter 6, then look at what Daniel Block has to say about this chapter. Here are 5 good ideas that Block has that applies to the modern church:
  1. This oracle shows the impassioned side of God's character. He is heartbroken of the infidelity of His people and His fury and anger arises due to their covenantal treachery. He will not idly stand by and watch His people follow other gods.
  2. It is possible to be sincere in one's religious commitment, but to be sincerely in error. Israel invested a lot of time and resources to their cultic practices and locations. This is where the references to sheep poo come in to play.
  3. The Lord is faithful to His covenant. He had already warned them of what would happen and He will not betray His character. He is Yahweh; he has spoken; he acts accordingly.
  4. The Lord's wrath is never so hot that it cancels out his grace. He swept the mountain tops and the valleys with his sword, but he promised he would leave a remnant.
  5. We are reminded to look at ourselves as God sees us. There is nothing about us that warrants God's love. We are created in His image, but everything about us smells of sheep droppings. It is only through the blood of Christ that a pile of manure can have a sweet aroma to God.
Any thoughts?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Making Disciples

This is an excerpt of a letter from the CrossWorld president, Dale Losch, to the CrossWorld family. I have had a desire for discipleship and disciple-making to be stronger in the short-term trips I have been involved with over the last 2-3 years. When Dale was sharing this with us at the Candidate Orientation, I was ready to jump for joy myself!

This past week at our candidate orientation I again had the urge to leap for joy, although I contained myself. But my heart was bursting nonetheless. I had the opportunity this year for the first time to do the teaching on CrossWorld's third value - "We Go". In keeping with my growing conviction that we must recover the primacy of disciple-making at all levels of CrossWorld, I decided to focus the three hours of teaching on this one theme. Leading up to the day, I was really sweating it because I had just not had adequate time to prepare, and I am not the kind to fly by the seat of my pants. But that morning as the teaching time began I felt such a joy and freedom and sense of God's pleasure that it is difficult to describe. Perhaps you remember the scene from Chariots of Fire where Eric Liddell says to his sister "When I run I feel God's pleasure". It was kind of like that. To proclaim God's truth and see it strike a chord in the hearts of the listeners as it did that day with our appointees was a marvelous experience. Please pray that God would help me and all of us in CrossWorld to make disciple-making a powerful reality that is truly at the core of everything we do.

This should be a priority of all our churches and mission agencies. Please join us in this prayer of making disciples.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Our family survived the 2 weeks of training with CrossWorld. The first week was the more nerve-wracking of the two. We endured a 90 minute assessment time with a Christian counselor and 2 one-on-one interviews. We ate, sat, ate, sat, ate, sat every day for 10 days. It was a beautiful conference center in the farmland of Pennsylvania. There was a remarkable chef who helped all of us gain about 10 pounds each.

What I got out of the experience is that CrossWorld is a very caring missions agency. They want their missionaries to succeed and CrossWorld offers a lot of support. We had extensive training on personal fund raising taught by the president of the mission. Everyone, president included, raises their own support.

And, by the way, we were appointed as missionaries to work with the CrossWorld team in southern Ireland. Pray for us as we start this journey to share the light of Jesus.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Francis M. DuBose, Urban Missions Leader, Dies

I published a couple of weeks ago concerning the missions award I received from the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. DuBose recently passed away. I am honored to be one of the recipients of the award named for his efforts in missions.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Two-Week Interview

Tomorrow morning my family leaves for the Traber Conference Center near Spring City, PA. We will be attending a Candidate Orientation (CO) with CrossWorld, a missions agency with missionaries serving in over 30 countries around the world. At the end of the 2 weeks, we will know if CrossWorld wants to appoint us as missionaries and if we want to continue a relationship with them. Please pray for us as we travel, go through several days of interviews and training. I will be out of the loop, technology-wise, for the next 2 weeks. I will post the outcome upon our return.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Honored and Humbled

Yes, that is me listed as receiving the missions award from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in my previous post. GGBTS is a wonderful seminary with a great president in Dr. Jeff Iorg and great faculty and staff. I am honored and humbled to be given this award. All the glory goes to God and I will keep plugging along, doing what He wants me to do. I am truly blessed through my association with GGBTS. Dr. Steve Veteto and Dr. Earl Waggoner have been wonderful academic mentors and professors and I look forward to more classes with them.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Golden Gate Seminary Awards

Awards Conferred at Honors Chapel

Graduates from all five campuses are recognized

Eighteen students from Golden Gate Seminary were recognized at Honors Chapel at the Northern California Campus of Golden Gate Seminary on May 14, 2009.

“Today we recognize those students who are making the most of what God has given them,” said President Jeff Iorg as he addressed the students, relatives, friends and seminary staff who gathered to acknowledge those receiving awards. “These students are celebrating the talents that God has given them, and are using them not for themselves, but for the glory of the Master.”

Baker Bookhouse Award (Theology) Victor Chayasirisobhon (SCC)
Borchert Prize in NT (NCC only) Katie Coddaire-Philpot
Broadman & Homan Seminarian Award Paul Gerritson (RMC)
Buren Higdon Christian Leadership Award Timothy Roe (NCC)
Lee Hall (RMC)
Craig Skinner Award in Biblical Preaching Rondall Leggett (NCC)
Educational Leadership Service in
Ministry Award
Annie Li (NCC)
Educational Leadership Pursuit of
Excellence Award
Rebecca Unrau (SCC)
Francis M. DuBose Award for Excellence
in Kingdom Missions
Mark Webb (RMC)
GGBTS Church Planting Award Travis Nichols (NCC)
Jack O'Neal Multi-Ethnic Award Jonathan Hoyt (AZC)
Lifeway Pastoral Leadership Award Victor Chayasirisobhon (SCC)
Zondervan Award in Biblical Greek Paul Gerrison (RMC)
Zondervan Award in Biblical Hebrew Amber Ayers (NCC)
James and Marjorie Swope Award Drew Cunningham (NCC)
Orin Suffern Award for Excellence in
Worship Arts
David Busch (NCC)
The Ronald Hornecker Award - DMIN Gary Dodrill, Morgan Kerr
Will Edd & LIla Fae Langford Award - DMIN Stewart Moody

“The Bible tells us that elders who rule well are worthy of ‘double honor’,” said Dr. Michael Martin, Academic Dean. “The spirit of this teaching reminds us to celebrate the achievements of exceptional brothers and sisters in tangible ways.” One way Golden Gate Seminary does so is through a special chapel devoted to honoring special people. “We give thanks to God that he has called such hard-working and talented workers into His service,” Dr. Martin continued, “and we look forward to seeing the great things the Father will do through them in the years to come.”

©2009 Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Ezekiel 4: A Very Weird Passage

This chapter is arguably the strangest in the whole Bible. This is even stranger than the vision from chapter 1-2. After Zeke's vision and call to ministry, what does God have him do first? He has him bound up and laying on his left side for 390 days, then on his right for 40 days. He can only eat a poor excuse for bread and 3/4 of a quart of water per day. God wanted him to cook the bread using his own dung, but after Zeke cried foul, God let him use cow dung. (my question is who brought him the dung?)

How does this apply today? Interestingly enough, the total days (430) represents the years of Egyptian captivity and will represent the years of Babylonian exile. Iain Duguid points out some interesting ideas in his NIV Commentary. The idea is that of a "sign-act" that was used on occasion in the Bible. A modern day version is a visual aid, but it is much more than a video, drama or flannel graph depiction of a Bible story. Ezekiel actually lived the visual aid. He was the visual aid. The sign act was delivered with divine authority and functioned as the divine word made visible and sure. As Duguid stated, the message took over the messenger (Ezekiel) in a life-dominating way.

What was the ultimate prophetic sign-act? The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. No drama or flannel graph but He lived in our midst for 33 years, preaching and teaching. The culmination of Jesus' ministry was the profound sing act of the cross, where God's wrath and mercy met.

We need to remember that the cross is an "in your face" message of God's love and wrath, justice and grace. We play too much to the "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." There needs to be a balance. There is consequence for choosing NOT to follow the cross. The cross is the quintessential "fork in the road." A decision needs to be made. And, as in Ezekiel's case, God's plan was for him to suffer as an example to Israel of what will happen to them. God's plan for our life may be to suffer for Him to the point of martyrdom. As Paul said, "I count it all joy!" "To live is Christ and to die is gain."

Duguid ended this section with: "Like Jesus and Ezekiel, we are called to lives of identified purity, living in the world but not of it, loving every one of our neighbors even while living radically different lives from them."

Monday, June 01, 2009

Ministry Update

It has been awhile since I have posted an update to our ministry opportunity. We will be attending the Candidate Orientation (CO) hosted by CrossWorld. CrossWorld is a missions agency with missionaries all over the world. CrossWorld has been in existence since 1931. At the end of the 2 week training, we hope to be appointed as missionaries with CrossWorld. The training is June 13-27 in Philadelphia. CrossWorld will move its HQ to Kansas City, MO by the fall of 2010. I will post the outcome of the CO. Please pray that God's will be done and we accept whatever comes.

More thoughts, Part 2, Ezekiel 3:16-21

This post won't be very long. Daniel Block has written an excellent 2-volume commentary on Ezekiel due to his wonderful grasp of the original language. Much of his writing deals with the language aspect, but he always includes a "Theological Implications" section, which is really an application section. While he has a lot of good things to say, it is not new to what I have already posted from Iain Duguid's NIV Commentary. Yet, Block states a couple of things that are insightful:

1 - The responsibility of the called. It is ultimately God's evaluation of their (the wicked mentioned within the text) situation that the doomed need to hear, not the myopic opinions and panaceas of fellow human travelers. Sin and wickedness require a radical prescription: repentance and casting oneself totally on the mercy of God. That God speaks on this situation is itself an act of grace.

2 - The messenger of God is called to faithfulness, not success. Faithfulness in service is measured not by effectiveness but by fidelity to the divine charge.

That last phrase has really stuck with me " fidelity to the the divine charge." How many have strayed from the original call? Unless God tells you to do something else, you are still held by the parameters of the original call.

Any thoughts?

Friday, May 29, 2009

More thoughts on Ezekiel 3:16-27

2 Corinthians 5:20 says "we are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us." As God used Ezekiel to make His appeal (and warnings) to Israel, Christians are God's ambassadors to the world. As preachers of the Gospel, we are God's ambassadors to our congregations. Duguid has a few good quotes concerning this. "Though we may be creative in the way we communicate the message, we are NOT free to be creative in the content of the message that we are to deliver." We can be as charming, witty and smooth as any polished speaker, but if God's word is compromised, twisted or diluted, then we are just a motivational speaker that make people feel good.

The Good and the Bad - God's message to the world contains good and bad news, yet we must preach both. We must present a balanced picture of God. The bad news is God's judgment on those who do not change after hearing God's Word. People need to understand the eternal consequences. Yet, the good news of the Gospel is better than the average person believes! Duguid stated that God loved the world so much that He stepped into the midst of our rebellion to bring about reconciliation. Can we ever fathom that idea! The Gospel is both good news and bad news news for the world and we are called to proclaim both clearly.

We are also called to bring the news to everyone without distinction. There are "likely prospects" and "hard cases" that we place people in and we lean towards the easy ones. Let's face it. Lost is lost. Whether they are pretty or plain, rich or poor, pleasant or mean, they are lost. Duguid said, "Our calling as watchmen is not to engage in endless soil analysis so that we can deliver the gospel with pinpoint accuracy to those who we think are ready to receive it. Rather, we are to be faithful shouters of the Word, proclaiming the good news and bad news faithfully into the lives of all those around us."

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Preach My Word...Or Else

Paul told Timothy to "Preach the Word" (2 Tim 4:2). The world does not need to hear our thoughts but God's message of love and redemption and the result of sin. Similarly, and more drastically, God told Ezekiel to preach His words only when He gave him the words. In Ezekiel 3:16-27, God puts Ezekiel in the position as the watchman over Israel. Duguid likens the watchman to the Air Raid Warden in WWII when his responsibility was to sound the siren when bombers were approaching. Ezekiel was to warn Israel of God's vengeance for their sin if they did not turn back.

It is interesting that God names the wicked and the righteous as the 2 groups Ezekiel was to preach to, yet they have the same fate regardless of their status. If they repent, they live. If they don't, they die. but the greater responsibility was on Ezekiel. He was required to speak the Word of the Lord when it was given to him. If he did not and people died in their sin, he was accountable. Not to their sin, but accountable to NOT speaking when commanded. Ezekiel could not save them, could not make a decision for them, but only laid out the way for them to repent of their sins and turn to God.

As preachers of the Word, do we take this serious enough? I, admittedly, have not preached a lot. About 20 times, yet I am still humbled by this. When I do preach, am I taking this serious enough? I believe in a time of invitation and decision-making at the end of the service. If the whole service, music and prayer included, does not make people think about their life, then have I failed?

Any thoughts?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ezekiel 3:4-11 A Commissioning

I had started a study on Ezekiel in January, but due to seminary studies, I had to delay until the semester was over. I picked up where I left off and that is with Ezekiel 3:4-11. This is the second commissioning speech of God to Ezekiel and is very powerful to everyone that is called by God to vocational ministry and even aspects can be applied to all Christians. I use 2 commentaries when studying Ezekiel (not an easy read or easily understood). One is a 2-volume work by Daniel Block and the other is the NIV Application commentary by Iain Drugoid. In today's reading, I read through Block's commentary and he lists 6 lessons that come from the relationship between God and those He calls into service.

1 - Whoever serves as a messenger of God must recognize that the calling comes from God. No ministry need, no examples of Gifts, no other voices can authorize this calling, but God alone.

2 - God's messenger must have a clear vision of the one who sends him. God prepared Ezekiel for the audience he was to speak to. Unless the servant of God enters divine service with a sense of awe at the privilege of representing the King of kings and that God is sovereign over all things, the ministry will become a burden.

3 - God's messenger must be empowered by the Spirit of God. Ezekiel was referred to as "the prophet of the Spirit."

4 - The messenger of God must be inspired by the message of God. Merely hearing the message of God is not enough. It must be digested, internalized, incorporated, embodied and lived. "Live you faith; share your life." (from Brother Maynard) If we are not inspired by the Word of God, what will inspire us? If we are not moved with compassion because of Christ's compassion in Matthew 9, what will move us?

5 - Whoever serves as a messenger of God will be divinely equipped. The modern saying has been, "God equips the called, not call the equipped." God's call to service is not made on the basis of gifts; gifts are given on the basis of the assignment. What may seem an obvious fit in man's eyes is not so in God's. We see the gifts of the outward man. God knows the heart of man.

6 - The messenger of God must recognize that the calling is not to success but to faithfulness. Too many in ministry look at numbers. Are we involved in a ministry because we want success, big numbers? We are involved in ministry because God has called us to be in this or that particular ministry. God wants obedience and that comes from us being faithful to Him. As Block said, the privilege of being a messenger of the divine King should provide sufficient motivation for unconditional service.

Any thoughts? This was very eye-opening to me this morning and I will be chewing on this all day. I have been called to be a messenger of God. How does all this relate to me and how do I view these things?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A New Direction in Blogging (Or Not)

As you have noticed, I have done little blogging these last few months. I have come to the opinion that it is not what I want to do at the moment. I will post ministry updates on this site, but for now, I will not make a regular appearance in blogging. Maybe, in the near future, I will return to keep everyone posted on our ministry opportunities, but for now, it will be sporadic at best.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Gomer Pyle, the Dancer!

Who needs Michael Jackson or Britney Spears when you can have Gomer!

Next Step...

We have been officially invited to the Career Orientation for CrossWorld! This is the next step of our missionary journey. We will be going to Philadelphia for two weeks in June. At the end, or soon after, of the training weeks we will know if we are appointed as missionaries. WooHoo!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Interesting Week

This has been an interesting week. A few lows, a couple of highs and a lot of same-oh, same-oh. Because of a misunderstanding at work, I had to pay a big hospital bill with monies set aside for seminary. That meant I had to drop a class (preaching). I will only take 1 seminary class this semester (New Testament II). We need to be debt clear by the end of the year, not counting the house mortgage, so that we are ready to go to the mission field whenever God allows.

The highs centered around our application process with CrossWorld. We had to list several references and each one was emailed or mailed a reference form this week to fill out. The process is going and we are excited. The week started with a high when I got to preach Sunday night. Not sure if that was a high for anyone else, but I enjoyed it! The week has ended with a high since I get a 3 day weekend!

I am ready for next week and to start my next, and possibly last, seminary class Monday afternoon. I say last because, if we are accepted by the missions agency after the summer training, then we do not want to do anything that will cost more money. I will endeavor to continue my studies overseas or online.

I also get to deal with a cavity on Tuesday to keep me humble. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Misquoted Proverb

The sermon is now online. Once you are at the sermons page, click on "additional sermons" and then look for the title. My name is not there yet, but should be added soon. The sermon is there, but my name is not listed with it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Last Night's Sermon

I thought last night went well. There are always things I wish I had said or could have stated better, but regardless of my mistakes God's word was heard and a lot of people said it was a good message. The next time I preach is March 22 and, since I will be taking a preaching class at seminary, I will use a sermon for both purposes.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Preaching from Ezekiel

I get to preach this Sunday night. I have been intrigued with the book of Ezekiel for some time and have bought 2 more commentaries recently. I got volume 1 of Daniel Block's commentary and the NIV commentary by Iain M. Duguid. I started studying Ezekiel about a year ago, but didn't get far. My plan is to do a better job this time around. I have read alot of the background material, but am focusing on chapter 18 at the moment, then next week I will go back to the beginning.

I will attempt to add my own commentary on this blog, but please forgive me if I fail to be consistant. As far as chapter 18 goes, I will briefly give you my outline.

  1. Israel's Complaint - The chapter starts with a proverb that had been quoted by the people for a long time. It is not a Biblical proverb. It says "The old men eat sour grapes and sets their children's teeth on edge." The meaning is that one generation sins and their children are judged based on those sins.
  2. God's Correction - God says Israel cannot use that excuse anymore. Each man's soul is God's and God will judge each man according to his own sin or his own righteousness. Ezekiel lays this out in 3 case studies, with variations.
  3. God's Remedy - Repent and turn away from your sins. Man can do this by reading and following God's laws, living a life of integrity and righteousness (echoes of Psalm 15, don't ya think?).
  4. God's Compassion - God does not want any soul to die. He takes ownership of ALL souls and finds no pleasure in any death of a soul. Repent and live!

I am nervous about this sermon. I haven't preached too often, so that is part of it, but also tackling Ezekiel, even though this is an easier section of Ezekiel. Any prayers would be appreciated!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Looking Ahead to Ministry

2008 ended with a new direction for my family and 2009 started with a commitment to that direction. We sent in the applications on Friday, January 2, to CrossWorld to start the process of being missionaries with this organization. Our hope is that we will be in Ireland. The "when" is up to God. If our applications are accepted, we will go to their Candidate Orientation (CO) for 2 weeks in June in Philly. If we are accepted after that two weeks, then God's timing kicks in. It actually is engaged now, but we know nothing happens between now and the end of June. Please pray for us as this is a huge step for our whole family.


My friend, Rolland, has been appointed as the pastor of a church in Wiggins, CO. Yeah!! While I will hate to see him go, he has been waiting for this opportunity for several years.