Thursday, May 8, 2014

Quick Update

I am presently on vacation in NC. We are here for two weeks spending much needed time with our family and friends. However, I thought I would give a quick update on my health. I was admitted to the hospital on Thursday, April 24, with diverticulitis. I spent three nights there. Unplanned. But am grateful for the care I received.

Once I was released I was on some pretty strong antibiotics that caused me to be extremely fatigued and really unable to function very well. I slept. A lot. A whole lot. I didn't feel like myself at all and felt like I was about as useless as I could possibly be. Then we left on May 1 to come to NC. I should have waited. I wasn't ready for that much driving and it took it's toil on me over the next several days as I tried to recover.

However, I can now type this out and say I feel great. Today was a great day. I was finally able to make it through the day without fading out or sleeping for 2-3 extra hours (after sleeping at least 10 hours at night). I am grateful for the antibiotics that clearly helped in that time, but I am even more grateful for the fact that I am now finished with them!

So thank you to those who prayed. I feel great. I plan to enjoy this next week of vacation before returning. I honestly am already excited about getting back to CLBC and seeing what God will do next.

In the meantime, CLBC has been blessed with great preaching from my friend, David Gold. Make sure you check out his first two sermons here (one more coming!).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Hope for CLBC

Last night, as a church, we reflected on God's faithfulness over the past 3.5 years for Cypress Lake Baptist Church. We've had some tough battles, but God has been faithful. What made it so great last night was the overwhelming unity in the desire to move forward. To change what needs to be changed in order to be a healthy church that is impacting our community for Jesus. Here are a few things I shared as I sought to push us to move forward for the sake of the gospel.
Envision men, women, and children from different backgrounds, with different colors of skin, with different preferences, with different political alignments, with different personalities, with different gifts, loving one another, caring for one another, singing with one another, praying together, learning and growing together, reaching the lost together, serving the community together, with the unity found in the Spirit, through faith in the Son, for the glory of the Father. 
Envision seeing hundreds and thousands of new believers being baptized into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 
Envision seeing many sent out to pastor churches, plant churches, reach the nations, and serve in other ways and areas for the glory of God.

This is is my hope for CLBC!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Belonging to Jesus

O Heavenly Father,
Teach me to see
   that if Christ has pacified thee and
     satisfied divine justice
 he can also deliver me from my sins;
that Christ does not desire me, now justified,
   to live in self-confidence in my own strength,
   but gives me the law of the Spirit of life
   to enable me to obey thee;
that the Spirit and his power are mine
   by resting on Christ's death;
that the Spirit of life within answers to
   the law without;
that if I sin not I should thank thee for it;
that if I sin I should be humbled daily under it;
that I should mourn for sin more than other men do,
   for when I see I shall die because of sin,
    that makes me mourn;
   when I see how sin strikes at thee,
    that makes me mourn;
   when I see that sin caused Christ's death,
    that makes me mourn;
 that sanctification is the evidence of reconciliation,
    proving that faith has truly apprehended Christ;
Thou hast taught me
   that faith is nothing else than receiving thy
     kindness;
 that it is an adherence to Christ, a resting on him,
    love clinging to him as a branch to the tree,
    to seek life and vigor from him.
I thank thee for showing me the vast difference
   between knowing things by reason,
   and knowing them by the spirit of faith.
By reason I see a thing is so;
   by faith I know it as it is.
I have seen thee by reason and have not
     been amazed,
I have seen thee as thou art in thy Son and have
    been ravished to behold thee.
I bless thee that I am thine in my Saviour,
    Jesus.

Belonging to Jesus in The Valley of Vision

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Philippians

This past Sunday I finished preaching through Philippians. What a great book! There were several times throughout that book that caused me great joy. There were also several times of great conviction. It's a great book. You should study it. If you want to hear my sermons on it they can be found here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Finding Contentment in Christ

Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching Philippians 4:10-20. We have been working through the book of Philippians, and will conclude this Sunday. Verses 10-13 caused me to do some deep reflecting. There was plenty of conviction as well! And apparently I wasn't alone as I had texts, emails, and comments from several others dealing with this. Here are the verses:
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Here is where the conviction set in. I asked myself (and our people) whether we are really content in Jesus. What if God decided to take everything away from you right now? Would you still be content? What if He decided to give you every material blessing you could possibly imagine (which for me would probably be worse)? Would you still be content? These are hard questions. Very hard. And thus you can see the reason for such great conviction. I know what I want to say to answer those questions. I would love to say I am absolutely content in Jesus and there is nothing that would change that. But I know my heart. I know myself well enough to know I find contentment in my family, home, church, etc., which are all good gifts from our great God. But I (we) must never forget that the giver of these gifts is to be praised and adored more than the gifts themselves.

Another thing in those verses that I think is important (and encouraging) is that Paul stated twice that he had learned how to be content. Though the learning is not easy, I find it encouraging to hear that the apostle Paul had to have the time and experiences to learn this contentment. It's a process. God is with those who are His. And He is continually teaching us that we can find contentment in Him. He continues to prove Himself faithful and gracious. All the time. In every circumstance.

I'm seeking to find more contentment in Christ!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

College Night Reflection

Last night was our first “College Night” at CLBC. We plan to do it again next month as well! It was good. We had no idea what to expect since we hadn’t done that before, but God was gracious to us. We had a great night of worship. We didn’t have the turnout we hoped for, but trust we had exactly what God had planned. Here are a few highlights:
  1. The music was excellent. Sam did a great job leading our music and his wife and friends certainly contributed to it. But what made the music excellent is it was Christ-centered and God-glorifying! 
  2. Our church provided. It was amazing to me that we were able to pull off a college night, with free pizza and desserts, without the church budget paying any of it! As a pastor this spoke volumes to me as our church rallied to make sure this event could happen.
  3. Our church ministered. Probably even more precious than providing was the fact that our church ministered. When we had our Edison Outreach day several showed up to hand out flyers and meet students. That blessed me! When we had our College Night several were there to worship and serve in various ways. And I know that many who could not participate in either the outreach day or college night were definitely praying for us. I am very grateful!
  4. The gospel was proclaimed. The gospel was proclaimed through the songs we sang, as well as the message I preached. In that, I rejoice!
All in all it was a good night. However, I am just as excited about what God does each Sunday when we gather. I love our faith family and look forward to every opportunity we have to worship together. To God be the glory for the great things He has done!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

College Night at CLBC!

Yesterday we had the privilege of going to Edison College to hand out flyers for our upcoming College Night at CLBC. Below is the flyer we handed out. If you are in the Fort Myers area we would love to have you with us. Though we are calling it a college night, we welcome anyone who would like to come! This coming Monday, February 17, at 7:00 PM we will begin. We plan to have a great time singing, praying, and preaching/listening to the Word. Then we will have pizza and desserts in the Fellowship Hall. Hope to see you Monday!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Leadership Labs

Yesterday I posted about 5 things happening in our church that excites me. The first one is that we have started leadership labs. I was blessed to go through Shepherd's Training at Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC a few years ago. It was a most refreshing time for me! Yet, that was a place filled with many seminary students who were looking to plant churches and pastor churches. It was not necessarily what I thought would work here at CLBC. I knew I wanted to implement something similar, but wasn't sure where to begin. And by the way, I still believe that time being mentored by Pete Schemm and being a part of that training was the best training I've had for pastoral ministry!

I first heard of the idea of "leadership labs'" from my friend, Joe Thorn. Then I saw others posting on social media about their intentional leadership training. We already had some unorganized training taking place, but I knew we needed to have something more substantial in place. God-willing, we will soon move to a plurality of elders at our church, so we need men trained and qualified to fill those and many other positions in our church. I thought I would share today what exactly we are doing for ours.


Because this is new to me as well as our church I wanted a plan in place that would be challenging, but wouldn't completely overwhelm us. I also knew that not everyone invited would be elders, so we have two tracks to go with (deacon and elder). I also stated up front that going through this year together does not mean you will necessary serve in a leadership position, nor do I have any idea if you will remain at our church! So I had our first meeting in January where I shared the purpose, requirements, and the need to commit. So here is our plan:


Monthly Meetings: We meet every month as a group (it's presently 5 of us total). During our time together we have several things that happen. First, I open with a devotion. I've chosen to work our way through First Timothy this year. Next we have a time where one of our men will give a summary of the required reading for the month (I'll post those in a moment). Following the summary we take several minutes to discuss the book (all should have read it) and try to answer any questions or thoughts that flow from our reading. Next we have a particular subject that we discuss dealing with leadership. This takes the bulk of our time together (we're usually together close to 2 hours). And finally we have some time of prayer.


One-on-One Meetings: I have also requested that outside of our monthly meetings together each person has to meet with me for one hour face to face. The purpose is for me to know how to pray for and encourage my brothers. This is actually a great benefit for me as well! The hope for each of us men is that we will become better leaders in our home, church, and world. So in this time we pray, discuss various issues, and try to encourage one another.


Position Papers: I have also required each men to present three position papers throughout the year. The reason is for them to work through some of the pressing issues of our day. This, I hope, will help us to all have a biblical approach to what the Scriptures teach on various subjects. The first one on church polity is due in March!


Preaching Practice: For those working through this who aspire to the office of overseer and whom we have watched grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, if they want to pursue eldership they will have opportunities to practice preaching. I realize not everyone will preach on a regular basis. However, we do want men able when the time and opportunities present themselves.


Required Reading: We have two tracks that we are working with. So the reading is not 100% the same. Each month one of men give a review of the reading for that month. The first 8 months are the same, and then we branch off. This list could change, but here it is:


Everyone


Brothers, we are not Professionals John Piper

Leading with Love Alexander Strauch
Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life Donald Whitney
What is the Mission of the Church? Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert
Let the Nations be Glad John Piper
Desiring God John Piper
The Conviction to Lead Albert Mohler 
The Deliberate Church Mark Dever and Paul Alexander 

Deacon Track

The New Testament Deacon Alexander Strauch

Elder Track

Biblical Eldership Alexander Strauch

Dangerous Calling Paul David Tripp
The Pastor’s Justification Jared Wilson
Preaching and Preachers D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Last thing I'll say about this, is that I am also seeking to be as gracious as possible with this. This is new. Things come up. Not all the reading always gets done. But we're working on it. And, God-willing, we will all seek to be better lovers of Jesus and leaders in our homes, church, and workplaces.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Blogging and Excitement

The point of this blog post today is two-fold. First, I am going to attempt at blogging again. It has been a while since I posted anything here, and even longer since I did with consistency. I'm not 100% sure what all I will blog about, but more than likely it will be personal things and things related to the church (the church I'm a pastor of most specifically). So, look for more posts to come!

Secondly, however, is to share a few things I'm excited about. These are referring to things that are presently happening at CLBC. Having been here for almost 3.5 years now, I can say with excitement that God is still working in and among us. Here are 5 things that have me excited:

  1. Leadership Labs - We have just started this year leadership labs. I have 4 men that I am presently working with and praying with as God teaches all of us to be better leaders in the home, church, and world.
  2. New Music Minister - In December we were blessed to have Sam Killman as our new music minister. His leading us through song has already been a great change for us!
  3. Outreach/Mission - I am seeing our church think through more ways to engage the community around us. I am also blessed to have the opportunity to go to Romania this year, and hopefully will be back in Myanmar in the not-too-distant future.
  4. College Worship Night - On February 17, at 7:00 PM, we are having our first ever college worship night here at CLBC. Actually, we would love for anyone to come, but we are focusing on reaching out to college students.
  5. Our People - I am excited that God has given us the people He has. We are truly blessed to see an excitement and joy coming from our people. It makes worshipping and shepherding so much more enjoyable!
My plan is to talk more about each of these 5 things in the upcoming posts.

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Website. New Sermon Series.

I obviously do not post on here very often these days. I keep thinking maybe I'll pick it back up. And I believe I will eventually. However, for now I'd like to point you to two new things since the last time I posted.

First, our church has a new website. Check it out!

Second, we are now working our way through Philippians on Sunday mornings. I've titled it "The Sinner's Guide to Joy." If you are interested in listening to any of the first several sermons, or keeping up as we go along, you can find those here.