Monday, August 26, 2013

My pickup basketball days are (mostly) in the rear-view mirror, but this brought back some memories.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Coldwater Men's Camp

The Coldwater Men's Camp begins tonight. This campmeeting 
was started last year by men from Cedar Creek desiring to carry on the tradition of  The Northmen. It kicks off tonight with one of my favorite preachers, George Faull. I have the privilege of preaching on Wednesday morning. If you live in the area, come check it out!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Congratulations Luke!

My son Luke graduated from High School this past weekend. I'm very proud of him!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thanks Solomon Foundation

Recently, Tracy and I had had the privilege of traveling to San Diego, courtesy of The Solomon Foundation. We attended a conference with about 50 other ministers and their wives. We were all from similar sized churches. We spent 3 days learning, fellowshipping, and networking. We are grateful for the generosity of the Solomon Foundation. I was impressed with its vision and the work being accomplished for the Kingdom.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Frank Viola's New Book

Frank Viola -- no, not the guy who pitched for the Mets, the other Frank Viola, has just released his new book God's Favorite Place on Earth If you get the book between May 1st to May 7th, you will also receive 25 FREE books from over 15 different authors.

Click to ordering information and easy instructions on how to get your 25 free books.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Identity Launch

Yesterday was a great day at Cedar Creek. We celebrated our Identity Launch, revealing our new logo, tagline, and website. Check it out here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thoughts About Boston

My heart ached when I heard the news and saw the reports from the Boston Marathon yesterday. Evil does exist in the world.  The events in Boston really struck a nerve. I can’t imagine the terror and confusion in the moment and the grief in the aftermath (I’m especially feeling for the runner whose son was killed and wife and daughter injured).  I have participated in a number of big races through the years, especially Richmond, so I could imagine being near that finish line. The atmosphere is always upbeat, positive, and celebratory. And to be shattered in an instant by a senseless act. I don’t get it. I agree with what Bob Russell tweeted yesterday: “The evil one seeks to kill, steal & destroy. Don't cower in fear. Let’s run to the only safe haven - the will of God. He will overcome!”

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Reflecting on The Gospel Coalition

This past week, my son and I had the privilege of attending The Gospel Coalition national conference. We heard some tremendous preaching and experienced wonderful worship. And the time spent together as father & son was precious. I have been attending TGC and a similar event (Together for the Gospel) for a number of years now. I always feel blessed and renewed, but here’s the thing – I’m not from the Reformed tradition, which is the target audience of these events. I like to joke that I’m the token Arminian present (although, with 7000+ attendees, I’m sure I’m not the only one). Contrary to what one might think, the Calvinism is very much understated at TGC (with the exception of the titles available in the bookstore).  This year the messages were straightforward expository sermons from the Gospel of Luke.

I guess what’s bothering me a bit is that I have to go outside my tribe (Restoration Movement – Independent Christian Church and Churches of Christ) to find events and hear preaching like this. We do have some wonderful events/conventions, but frankly, they are not at the same level. I was taught in college that we were the “people of the book.” I am not convinced that we have a monopoly on that. In fact, I think we’re getting out butts kicked in that area by some other groups.

The TGC and T4G crowd have been called, “Young, Restless, and Reformed”.  Dissatisfied with the status quo that they have experienced in their congregations, they are starting to read, study, and promote some of the core doctrines that launched the Protestant Reformation.  I’m wondering whether the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ can demonstrate a similar rebirth. Does our movement have significant numbers of people who can be identified as, “Young, Restless, and Restorationist”?  Surely there are people in their 20’s and 30’s who have grown weary of the “same old church thing” and would be eager to embrace a return to the church as depicted on the pages of the New Testament. Our Calvinist friends have demonstrated that young people are not averse to things of a spiritual/biblical nature. May the Lord raise up leaders in our movement who are able to capture the imaginations of our young and bright believers.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Redefining Marriage

I had no idea that so many of my Facebook friends were staunch proponents/opponents of gay marriage. I had a thought, and I don't think I've seen anywhere (which means that I'm probably off base). I think it's misguided to quote Scripture, etc. to those who are not in covenant with the Lord and don't respect the authority of the Bible. But it seems to me that we are giving a completely different definition to marriage. That NCAA tourney going on right now -- the game is called basketball. There are specific rules, equipment, allotted time, etc. that make basketball what it is. If we could get enough Americans and the SCOTUS to vote to call it football (and football is something entirely different in itself), would it really be football? Or is it still basketball, but we are now calling it football, even though it really isn't?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Say what?

I realize that I, like everyone else, tend to view the Bible through my own theological lens. Like Alexander Campbell, I have a simple answer to religious division – agree that I’m right, and then we will have unity in the church. Yes, that’s tongue-in-cheek (mostly). But still, I’m perplexed by the crowd that says baptism is “necessary, but not essential.” Recently I was at an event where the leader was promoting an upcoming baptism service (note: it was not a church affiliated with the Restoration Movement). He said, “Not that baptism has anything to do with one’s salvation, but we do it because Jesus commanded it.” It wasn't the first part of the sentence that threw me (I’m accustomed to that), but the second part doesn't make sense to me. Jesus commanded baptism three times in the gospels (John 3, Mark 16, Matthew 28) – and each time he gives the reason or purpose for that which is commanded (baptism). He tells Nicodemus that one cannot see the kingdom of God without it (John 3:5). He directly connects it to salvation (Mark 16:16) and becoming a disciple (Matt. 28:19). I just don’t see how you can separate the command from the purpose.  I’m reminded of something my friend John Mitchell is fond of saying, “It takes professional help to misunderstand these verses.”

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Justification & Sanctification

I was doing some thinking today about why folks in my “tribe” (Independent Christian churches) don’t seem to be as serious about studying the Bible and growing in their faith. I asked a friend, “Why does the average member come to church on Sunday?” He gave many answers, but did not say, “They come because they are so grateful for what God has done for them, and they want to worship with other believers and be challenged/encouraged/taught from the Word.” He didn't say anything close to that. He mentioned things like habit, pleasing one’s parents, tradition, culture, etc. Granted, it was just one man’s opinion, but could he be right?

On the other hand, believers from other stripes (specifically, the young, restless, & reformed crowd) seem to be much more serious about the things I’m not observing so much among my peeps.

Then it dawned on me – the reformed crowd isn't as concerned about justification (in their theology, that’s entirely God’s job), so they are free to focus primarily on their sanctification. Whereas the Restoration Movement types tend to emphasize “getting saved”, to the neglect of figuring out “what do I do after I’m saved?”
What do you think?

Monday, March 11, 2013

National Preaching Summit

I’m excited about attending the National Preaching Summit. Every year, hundreds of preachers gather in Indianapolis to fellowship and learn and hone their craft. It’s great to see old friends and meet new ones. This year, I’m especially looking forward to hearing one of my theological heroes, Dr. Jack Cottrell. As a rookie preacher, I took his class on the Doctrine of Grace. It had a profound impact on the trajectory of my ministry. I hope to see some of you at the Summit!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

A Good Prayer

Recently I read a prayer that resonated with me:

Give me a pure heart -- that I may see Thee.
A humble heart -- that I may hear Thee.
A heart of love --- that I may serve Thee.
A heart of faith -- that I may abide in Thee.
      Dag Hammarskjold

Monday, March 04, 2013

First Impressions of The Bible on the History Channel

The History Channel premiered The Bible last night (the first of 5 episodes). Having heard the Director, Mark Burnett, interviewed several months ago, I had been looking forward to it. Telling the story of the Scriptures in 10 hours is an impossible task – obviously there are going to be some gaps and some significant fast-forwards. Burnett told a group of ministers, “My job is to give an overview, and I hope to funnel people into your churches where you can tell them the whole story.” Obviously some folks on Twitter didn’t get that message. The very small sample (meaning, those I follow on Twitter) I read last night was divided – some loved The Bible, others found lots of inaccuracies and reasons to complain.
I was in that first group. I enjoyed it very much. The scene where Abraham was preparing to sacrifice Isaac was powerful, and it brought tears to my eyes. Moses was depicted in a way that made liberal use of artistic license, but the gist of the story was accurate. Obedience to the One True God was a dominant theme.
The thing I loved was that millions of viewers were seeing/hearing the truths of Scripture, perhaps for the very first time. I’m praying that God will use this series to draw many people to Him.

Friday, January 11, 2013

You Are Now Entering Post-Christian America

I have been following The Giglio Imbroglio. Whatever the truth is (did he withdraw or was he disinvited?), it reminded me of this quote from Carl Truman. I think he nails it:

You really do kid only yourselves if you think you can be an orthodox Christian and be at the same time cool enough and hip enough to cut it in the wider world. Frankly, in a couple of years it will not matter how much urban ink you sport, how much fair trade coffee you drink, how many craft brews you can name, how much urban gibberish you spout, how many art house movies you can find that redeemer figure in, and how much money you divert from gospel preaching to social justice: maintaining biblical sexual ethics will be the equivalent in our culture of being a white supremacist.