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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Remembering

9.11.2001 – I was running late for work that day. I said good morning to my friend Phil who was smoking outside the door and he told me “some idiot flew a plane into the World Trade Center” (American Airlines Flight 11). I thought, how could a plane get so close without some major alarms going off. I unloaded my stuff when I got to my cube and logged onto my computer to search the Internet for any news on this accident. The Internet was pretty jammed up and it took a good 10 minutes before I could load any info about the story. I had was beginning to get a very uneasy feeling knowing that the only thing that would create a long response time like that would be massive Internet traffic. By the time I got to a news source a second plane (United Airlines Flight 175) had hit the South Tower and I knew this was no accident. The office building was unusually quiet. The only sounds were an occasional hint of keyboard tapping. There was no talking for what seemed like 30 minutes. Slowly a few co-workers began milling out into the cubical isles to talk to each other. I called home to ask my bride if she was aware of what was going on. She and our children were right in the middle of their homeschooled morning. She turned on the TV an it was all over the networks. Two airliners had flown into each of the World Trade Center towers. We prayed. My bride prayed with the kids. A couple of my believing co-workers and I took the time to pray together. Someone brought a TV into the break room and we all stood in silence and watched the news footage and the stories unfold. We learned about the Pentagon (American Airlines Flight 77), and later about a plane that went down near Shanksville, PA (United Airlines Flight 93). Needless to say no one was working or being productive.

Around lunch time we all headed home to be with our families and loved ones. Robin and I prayed with the kids and then watched more news. We had some pretty serious conversations with the kids. Each one of us tried to process the days events. How could this happen? How could anyone want to kill so many? What should we do now?

All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. (Psalms 86:9)

Soli Deo Gloria

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2010 in 9.11.2001, 911, God's sovereignty

 

Sermon Builder

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Eph. 4:11-14 ESV)

Building from my last post I wanted to just bring to attention a ministry that is focused on the equipping of the saints and doing what the apostle Paul is exhorting the Ephesian church to do. Specifically in church leadership.

Shepherd’s Fellowship is a ministry of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Ca. You may have heard of this church. If not you’ve no doubt heard of their senior pastor John MacArthur. Grace Community Church (GCC) and John MacArthur have been focused on equipping the saints for over 40 years. One of the tools they have been using, to the glory of God, is Shepherd’s Fellowship. Through this ministry you also have Shepherd’s Conference which is a church leadership conference GCC hosts every spring, and Resolved Conference, a cutting edge conference for college students and career singles. I can speak from experience for the Shepherd’s Conference. I’ve been twice. A few years ago Shepherd’s Fellowship began publishing a website designed for church pastors and leaders. The website is dedicated to providing resources for those who are called to this leadership responsibility. On the website you find the ministry tag-line:

The Shepherds’ Fellowship is an association of churches rallying around the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, the importance of expository preaching, and the centrality of a biblical philosophy of ministry.

The fellowship serves as both a resource and an encouragement for pastors and Christian leaders around the globe.

Just recently I noticed on the website under “Resources” a nice tool that provides preachers and teachers a step-by-step guide for putting together expository sermons1 . The tool is called “Sermon Builder“. It walks you through the five phases of sermon development. These phases are Introduction, Preparation, Precision, Production, and Presentation. If you are new to preparing sermons or would just like some guidance in doing so you can’t go wrong here. This ministry is dedicated and focused on encouraging church leaders to be Christ-centered and gospel-centered. To be the best God-ordained preachers and teachers you were called out for. The sermon builder would be a great resource for you.

1Expository sermons are sermons that expound on the particular meaning of a text or passage of scripture.

 

The Church’s Two Gospels

Now before I get some flack from my few readers let me explain the title. The title stems from the two major points in a recent sermon from Omaha Bible Church senior pastor Patrick Abendroth. The points made should also be the two main priorities of the church. The two points are related and sequential. You cannot have the one without the two. These two gospels are found in the book of Ephesians chapters 2 and 4, and these are the texts where the sermon was anchored. Let me try to explain further.

The Gospel of Salvation

The book of Ephesians addresses two gospels. The gospel of salvation and the gospel of sanctification. The gospel of salvation most assuredly comes first so it is handled first. This is the gospel many of us know about. This gospel tells us who we are or were before a holy and righteous God. As the apostle Paul explains in his letter to the Ephesians:

Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV

Paul is addressing believers here. He is reminding them of who they once were. We were once condemned before a holy God for our rebellion towards him. Basically the walking dead. But then comes the gospel part or good news. Again, as mentioned in an earlier post, I love the “But God”.

Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV

This is the Gospel of Salvation. God did it all. Even though we were dead in our trespasses, and rebellious to God (Romans 1) He had mercy on us and raised us up through his son. God makes us alive. We are no longer the walking dead. We are walking alive in Christ. This salvation is all of God’s grace. Without it we remain the walking dead in our sins.

The Gospel of Sanctification

This gospel is also written about in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Our chapter 4. These verses encourage the believer to get out of their spiritual “pampers” and grow up. Paul encourage us to grow in Christian maturity. We are to walk in a manner worthy of our calling writes Paul:

Ephesians 4:1-16 ESV

We are urged to get out of our spiritual diapers. We used to walk being led around by our noses, following the course of the this world. Now, believers are to walk in our freedom found in Christ. Part of growing up is using humility, gentleness, and patience toward one another. Paul is teaching us how to walk and behave as one body in Christ. We are held together into one body with Christ as the head. We were all given gifts in order to build up the body of Christ. We are to be equipped, get along, get out of our spiritual diapers,  for when each part of the body is working properly it makes the whole body grow. Church growth means maturity, not numbers.

Lest we forget the primary focus of the church. We as believers are members of this church. We should never forget the condition we were in prior to God’s grace and merciful intervention. We should be striving daily to grow as into mature believers. These passages in Ephesians 2 and 4 emphasize this quite well.

What’s the Point Anyway?

 

Casting your lots

While scanning some of my daily news sources I came across a headline that caught my eye and proceeded to read the article. The article began by talking about the new comedy film titled “Lottery Ticket” featuring the rapper known as Bow Wow. I have seen the trailer for this movie and it does  look pretty cute and entertaining. I can tell by the trailer the movie pokes fun at the silly and ridiculous scenarios folks who win millions in the lottery get themselves into. But when those same scenarios occur in real life it is quite sad. I’m sure we’ve all read some stories about folks who win millions and five years later have to file for bankruptcy or worse end up homeless or dead. The age old wisdom says that what is in the heart remains in the heart. Money does not change it. The same article points to this heart flaw by reporting some statistics of past lottery winners. These winners / losers have the same heart flaw as the sinful servant in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), only worse because they tend to lose it all. There is a difference though. The talents in the parable were given to the servants by their Lord to invest. The lottery winners are given the money based on the purchase of a ticket with the same numbers as the lot that is cast or the modern-day randomly selected batch of numbers. I liked how the author of the article concludes the article with a quote from an economics professor that reads:

If you’re one of those people who fantasizes that winning the lottery will fix your financial woes, it’s time to stop dreaming and get a real handle on your money.

This quote got me to thinking again about financial stewardship and what the scriptures have to say about lotteries and gambling. Now the bible does not explicitly say “Do not gamble”, and I’m sure some folks will question this by referring to the disciples casting lots to choose the replacement of Judas. God spoke to the apostles through that method to determine His will in the matter. The only means of financial gain the bible encourages is through hard work, inheritance, or by wise investment. Grace To You resources presents five reasons gambling is wrong.

  1. Because it denies the reality of God’s sovereignty (by affirming the existence of luck or chance)
  2. Because it is built on irresponsible stewardship (tempting people to throw away their money)
  3. Because it erodes a biblical work ethic (by demeaning and displacing hard work as the proper means for one’s livelihood)
  4. Because it is driven by the sin of covetousness (tempting people to give in to their greed)
  5. Because it is built on the exploitation of others (often taking advantage of poor people who think they can gain instant wealth)

My bride and I have been attending a series of seminars on how to properly use our resources for financial gain. This article and the thoughts it invokes, bring the principles we’re learning, and the principles taught in scripture about stewardship to the forefront of my praying. I pray that anyone reading this post will consider that God owns it all and ask yourself, as I will, would He approve of the way your are using those resources He has entrusted you with. I am by no means a great example, but by God’s grace and wisdom I am learning. Stewardship Rawks!!

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2010 in Christianity, gambling, lottery, Prayer

 

My Review of THE CHAMPIONS 16 II SAMPLER

Originally submitted at Thompson Cigar

These premium long filler smokes have proven to be perennial fan favorites, but it would take us more than a year to clear them from inventory at normal prices…. So we’re blowing them out at a huge discount.

We are the Champions!

By Hank from Wahoo, NE on 9/2/2010
4out of 5

Pros: Great Flavor

Cons: Not as fresh as local

Best Uses: After a good day

Describe Yourself: Aspiring Aficionado

A great sampler so far. I have only puffed the Burkha Reserve Churchill Edition, and the Nub by Oliva. Those had great flavor and were all around good smokes. They have been added to my keeper list.

(legalese)

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2010 in cigars, Thompson Cigars

 

My Review of TORPEDO SELECTION 20 CIGAR SAMPLER

Originally submitted at Thompson Cigar

From the famed factory of boutique artisan Felipe Gregorio, we bring you the 20 Cigar Torpedo Collection, a selection of the finest Torpedo-shaped cigars that Felipe has to offer! You’ll get two each of 10 mild to medium-bodied brands: Vieja Hacienda, White Horse, Ferd…

Torpedos away

By Hank from Wahoo, NE on 9/2/2010
4out of 5

Pros: Well Constructed

Cons: Not as fresh as local

Best Uses: Everyday

Describe Yourself: Aspiring Aficionado

The torpedo selection sampler provides a wonderful selection of torpedo stogies. I purchased it in order to get an idea of what I might like to do a repeat purchase on.

(legalese)

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2010 in cigars, Thompson Cigars, Torpedo cigars