Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pray for our guest speaker

Todd Spencer is going to be preaching his first sermon at our church this coming Sunday. It's great to see God raise up godly men who love His word and can teach! Please pray that God would help him in his preparations this week.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Grace Church to you! I hope you took some time off to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas - God has come near to us because we were far away from Him! It's the foundation for our faith as Christians.

The great news is that we don't have to stop celebrating Christmas, just because the 25th has passed. Our hope in Jesus is relevant every day of every year.

So Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you enjoyed the holiday and are ready for the new year!

(If you want to see the pictures from the amazing Grace Church Christmas Feast, click here)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Caroling and Invitations!

This Saturday Grace Church is going caroling and handing out invitations to our Christmas service. If you want to come join us, meet us at Desert Harbor Elementary School at 5pm!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Busy Christmas Season

It's been a long time since there has been a post coming out of Grace Church....with the holidays in full swing, it has been on the back burner. Lots is happening in us and through us as we continue to seek God's in building His church. We continue to meet out in the Rio Vista park on Saturday mornings, giving away lemonade (now hot cocoa!) and talking to people about Jesus and the church. Keep praying for us in this! We do hope its having an impact beyond what we can see.

Please also pray that God would bring other Christians to us that share our vision for the church. We are still somewhat in a gathering phase and we could definitely use other like-minded believers who want to give their lives away for the sake of the gospel and its advancement.

Also pray for our individual relationships with unbelievers in the community. We so desperately want to be a church that doesn't stay behind the four walls of the building, but lives out the gospel in everyday life. As Christmas approaches, its a great time to engage and invite people to come to church. May the Lord grant us to bear fruit!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Woman at The Well

It's amazing to me how gently Jesus handles those who are receptive to the gospel. He's not anything like us. He's not insecure and fearful - he's perfect grace and truth. His ministry is one of love and reconciliation for those who will hear him. I taught this last Sunday on John 4 - the woman at the well. She was a scandalous, adulteress woman who had been shunned by the town for her sexual sin and shame. She makes her way out to the well in the heat of the day and finds the Savior of the world

Jesus didn't just see her as dirty, he saw her in need of cleansing. He didn't just see her as guilty, he saw her in need of an advocate. He didn't see her as trashed, but someone to be redeemed. He didn't just see her as a rebel, he saw her as a worshipper whom the Father was seeking.

I was challenged by Jesus view of this woman - do I look at people with the transforming hope of the gospel? Or with the damning stare of hell? Do I let my fears and insecurities influence my faith? Or does my faith in God shove out my fears and give me boldness to talk to those who are perishing?

The verdict is still out. The pendulum swings back and forth. I need the grace of God to convict me where I fail to see people the way Jesus sees them. I need the love of Christ to compel me into greater and greater boldness with my unbelieving friends. And I need the power of the Spirit to open their eyes - like He did the Samaritan woman - and produce the new birth inside their souls.

My prayer this week is that God will help me love others they way I've been loved by him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pastoral Implications of Regeneration

More thoughts about the new birth....

If people have been regenerated, then they have new desires for God that previously did not exist. They have new spiritual taste buds that now enjoy God. Even though sin deceives and tempts, the regenerated man has the glory of God at the center of his heart's joy.

If that's the case, then we should be able to assume some truths as we minister to believers.

1. If we preach Christ, people's hearts will be warmed. We don't need to moralize or convince by the strength of our voice. We simply need to present Christ in all His glory and splendor and beauty and sufficiency. As Christ is revealed, people's hearts will warm and the sin which so easily entangles will begin to melt away.

2. People want Christ to be preached. This is an implication of regeneration - now, its the glory of Christ that is satisfying for the thirsty soul. So we can preach and teach and counsel with confidence.

3. We can appeal to their own deepest desires in our exhortations. We don't have to convince the unconvincable - we have an audience of people who we know will respond to the preaching of Christ. So we can dip into the well their longings when bringing adjustment. This means saying something more like "You know in your heart this is the truth of God" vs. "If you can't see this is the truth of God, you must be blind."

4. We can trust the Holy Spirit to regenerate the unbeliever as we preach. If regeneration is necessary for faith, and if regeneration comes by the Spirit as the gospel is presented, then we don't need to convince the unconvincable. They are unable to be convinced apart from the Spirit. So we shouldn't modify the message of the cross; rather, we can trust that God will work in the lost to save and in the Christian to encourage/challenge.

Thank you Spirit for the work of regeneration.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Birth and Faith

First of all - sorry its been so long since my last post. That is to say, if there is anyone still out there who reads this, sorry.

Ok moving forward.

I've been thinking alot lately about the new birth in John 3 and its relationship to our faith. Jesus says to Nicodemus, in essence, your religion won't get you into the kingdom of heaven. Only the new birth will produce the kind of faith that's needed. Jesus is saying that the promise of Ezekiel 36 must take place in order to get access to God. Until then, all we do is religious works that flow from hearts that treasure our own religious works.

I think one legitimate question that is raised is 'How do I know if I've been born again?' Are we supposed to look to ourselves in evaluation, discerning whether we've been reborn? Jesus would say no. His response is to look to him and believe. Anyone who looks to the Son of Man will be saved, and that is a product of the new birth. You can tell you have saving faith not by looking inward but by looking outward and treasuring Christ from the heart. Only the regenerated heart can do that.

I read a great illustration by Clement Read Vaughan. He was inquired of by a friend who was dying and doubting his salvation. This friend asked how he could maintain his faith in the face of death and here was Vaughan's response:

"What would a traveler do if he came to a chasm over which a bridge was spanned? What does he do to breed confidence in the bridge? He looks at the bridge; he gets down and examines it. He doesn't stand at the bridge-head and turns his thoughts curiously in on his own mind to see if has enough confidence in the bridge. If his examination of the bridge gives him a certain amount of confidence, and yet he wants more, how does he make his faith grow? Why, in the same way; he still continues to examine the bridge. Now my dear old man, let your faith take care of itself for awhile, and you just think of what you are allowed to trust in. Think of the Master's power, think of his love, think how he is interested in the soul that searches for him, and will not be comforted until he finds him. Think of what he has done, his work. That blood of his is mightier than all the sins of all the sinners that ever lived. Don't you think it will master yours?.....

Now, dear old friend, may God give you grace, not to lay too much stress on your faith, but to grasp the great ground of confidence, Christ, and all his work and all his personal fitness to be a sinner's refuge. Faith is only an eye to see him. I have been praying that God would quiet your pains as you advance, and enable you to see the gladness of the gospel at every step. Goodbye. God be with you as he will. Think of the Bridge!"

I have been challenged all the more to keep my eyes on the Bridge, Jesus Christ, and to let my faith be in the certainty and sufficiency of his gospel! Turn your eyes to the Bridge!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Responding to God

We often talk about application in relation to God's Word. Like James 1:22 says, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." We are not designed to be the landfill of truth - a place where God's Word comes to sit and rot. We are recycling centers. We're meant to take in the truth of God and to have it move in us, through us, and out of us.

But is "doing" the Word always an action? Must we always connect our studies to a tangible "spiritual to-do list"? I find that when we talk about applying the Word, that's where my mind goes to first. How do I do this? What does it "look" like? It can almost feel exclusively horizontally driven.

I wonder if we'd be better served to think about "responding" to God's Word instead of "applying". Instead of trying to figure out what to do based on the passage, we let the passage speak about God and his claim on our lives.

Responding looks like conviction - a concreting of our beliefs in line with God's Word. Responding looks like a greater faith in the gospel. Responding looks like worship!

In some ways, these ought to be our regular responses to the Word. And the overflow of conviction and faith and worship will lead us to live more faithfully (or differently when necessary).

So may God help us to "apply" by rightly responding to his truth in all its various forms.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Grace Church is Planted

It's been a little bit busy around the halls of Grace Church. We've launched at the Rio Vista Recreation Center! We've got two Sundays under our belts, so we have it all figured out now.....not exactly. But God has been gracious to us and we've had a blast as we've worked, worshipped, and fellowshipped together in these early weeks.

One of the priorities of our church is community. We believe that God is best glorified in us as we live out the gospel in relationship with each other. As we've started public meetings, its been wonderful to know that our church is more than just an hour and a half, once a week. It's a way of life for the members of Grace Church. We stand together in a common faith and mission. We love to be with each other and serving alongside one another.

Please pray for our new church that God would be glorified, that we'll learn to live out the gospel we cherish, and that many will believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

True Obedience?

Dane Ortlund has a great section in his book "A New Inner Relish" on the topic of obedience. He writes:

"It is simplistic to see only two possibilities regarding faithfulness to God: disobedience and obedience. Rather, three options are before us: disobedience, authentic obedience, and inauthentic obedience. Disobedience refers, of course, to rejection of the imperatives of God. Inauthentic obedience is a bit more slippery. It is obedience driven by something other than the heartfelt love for God and His glory that characterizes authentic obedience.

Legalism, for example, sees obedience as a cause of fellowship with God rather than its result. Such 'obedience' is in fact disobedience, since God not only demands that we obey but that we do it for the right reasons (Deut. 28:47; Prov. 16:2, 1 Cor 4:5). So there is not only an external (the act of obedience) but an internal (the motivation) element of godly living.

We find ourselves, then, not with two kinds of obedience and one kind of disobedience. Rather, there are actually two brands of disobedience - one involving open defiance and one involving apparent obedience accompanied by impure motives - and only one true obedience."

How is your obedience to the Lord? Is it motivated by a heart of gratitude for what Christ has done? We must never separate the gospel's work from the call to obey or we will produce horizontal obedience that fails to bring glory to Christ. It looks like the real thing on the outside, but its an imitation of the real thing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Preaching to the Kids

At Grace Church, we are going to try a hybrid approach to our Children's Ministry. We want to teach our kids the truths of God in an age-appropriate setting, but we also want the older children to benefit from all that happens in the gathered assembly. So, we are going to teach 3 weeks in CM, 1 week off.

In preparation for that (as well as making the workload a little lighter), we have had the kids in the main meeting for the last two Sundays. It's been great having them in with us! They get to experience the sermon (I know - wow!), they get to see communion take place and participate in the offering. I'm excited to see how God uses this time in the life of our church!

I got a taste of it this morning - my daughter came into my office and asked if I wanted to review the message with her (I know, crazy. She's 7). Of course, I said YES. So we sat and talked and she told me that the point she liked the most was about God's glory. I was referencing 2 Cor 4:16 - our light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. I emphasized that because we are promised the glory of Christ forever, there is no sacrifice or initiative that is not worth making.

Taylor told me that she really loved that and that it helped her with leaving her best friend back in Gilbert. LET ME TELL YOU - that was a cool moment as a dad. To see my daughter not only learn Scripture, but to love Scripture and lean on it is an inexpressible joy.

So kids of Grace Church - I want God to instruct you as much as any adult in the church! I pray we have many great moments from the kids being in for the whole meeting.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Rio Vista - Here We Come

In just a few hours, we are going to be making our way over to the facility we've rented for our first meeting. It's hard to believe that the summer is almost over and our church plant is being placed into the soil for good. It was April of 2008 when the decision was made to start Grace Church - and in many ways, it feels like that was yesterday.

But its here. We have made it through the summer of house church and have experienced God's grace and favor on our little church. Everyone is excited to take the next step and see what God will do in us, for us, and through us.

We don't go lightly. We know there are stormy waters that lie ahead. We know that we have enemies who want to destroy the name of Christ. Please pray for us that we remain steadfast in the truth and joyful in our salvation.

Rio Vista, here we come. Official kickoff is August 30th, 4pm.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Your Best Life Now?

It's all going to end. And it wasn't supposed to be this way.

I was driving down the road a couple of days ago, doing the same routine I do everyday. I thought about how much I appreciated the benefits of life's rhythms - I don't need to start from scratch everyday to think and understand about how God wants me to live or what my days should look like. I read the Bible, I pray, work on sermons, prepare and lead meetings, counsel, spend time with friends and family, etc. Different details, same categories day in and day out. There's something comforting about knowing the course of your life, even if its not always fireworks and games.

And I began to think about how great this life on earth would be if we knew that it would last forever. There's a longing in our hearts for permanence and stability. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has put eternity into man's heart - I think this is what I experienced. I want to live forever and enjoy God forever.

So how do I reconcile this desire, which plays itself out every day in the ordinary of life, with the reality that this world is fading away and is temporary at best?

When I look at the original creation in Genesis, I find God creating His people for communion with Him and to rule over the rest of creation. Had sin not entered the world, it would have been an awesome scene. As people worked and played and rested, they would have done so in perfect communion with God. There would be no need for heaven because it WAS heaven - in the sense that heaven is the place where God is most fully present to bless. God was constantly, lovingly blessing his people as they lived "ordinary" lives.

This means that we would have indeed been living our best life now!

But sin has entered into the world through Adam and has corrupted EVERYTHING. Relationship with God was broken. Communion was lost. The earth has become cursed. Bodies have begun decaying. Death is the end result of everything apart from the vital connection and relationship to God.

And so now - apart from Christ - we live one of two ways. We either fail to recognize or accept the fallen condition of man/world and we continue to live as if it will all last forever...or we recognize the meaningless of trying to accomplish/build anything that will not last and we become fatalists.

Apart from Christ, these views are understandable. But Christ's redemption has changed everything! We look to heaven. We look to a time and place where the original creation is restored and perfected through Christ. And we let the solid promise of heaven transform the way we think and live today.

We are to live as if life will go forever because Christ has purchased for us eternal life with God. Instead of working for a shakeable kingdom made of money, possessions, power, and fame, we can build and accomplish eternal things now - investing and laboring for the kingdom of God as we store up treasures in heaven. Instead of moving toward suicidal fatalism, we can weep for the destruction of sin in this world and let it motivate us toward evangelism, forgiveness, and good works.

As long as we are alive on this earth, we must remember that sin has changed everything, but that the gospel is reversing the curse ever more as we march toward the day of glory!

Monday, July 27, 2009


We're back.

Wait a minute. I didn't tell you we were gone. Well, we left. California. Carlsbad. Sun. Beach. Fun. 75 degrees. It was fantastic.

And now - we're back.

Vacation is always a good time and many years its really hard to come back. While I wish I could bring the beach and weather with me, I really was eager to come back this year. I missed Grace Church. There are a number of people in the body who are walking through hard life situations and I was eager to get back and see them.

Being at church yesterday was such a blast! My good friend Jon Payne came up to preach and did a bang up job on Psalm 130. It really served our church and we had time of prayer and ministry afterwards. We are just one more week in our house before we move over to the Rio Vista.

Next Sunday we are having our first baptism at Grace Church! It will happen right after the meeting offsite - so lots going on as we enter into August!

More posts to come after we unpack....

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Anniversary, Wedding, and the Picture of Marriage

This has been a week of thinking on the beauties of marriage.

Yesterday, Tara and I celebrated our 9th anniversary! It's amazing to recount how much God has changed us, stretched us, and matured us since 2000. Proverbs 31:10 says, "An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels." I can HONESTLY say after nine years of marriage that I have struck gold with Tara! And if someone came and offered me a billion dollars (and all the pleasures that it would bring), but required me to leave Tara......I would laugh in their face as I graciously tried to explain how much they have undervalued her worth to me. No jewels, no money, no anything can replace her in my life.

(Incidentally, why me??? I'm blown away by the mercy and kindness of God. The course of my life would be radically different if not for Tara)

And then on Saturday, I have the privilege of officiating the first wedding in Grace Church - the marriage of Bonnie Gregory to Lance Sullivan. They have no idea what awaits them - good times or bad, for better or worse, they are covenanting to live their lives together for the glory of Christ. They will say "I love you", and over the years they will see how little they actually did in comparison to how much they WILL love each other with each passing year.

It will not be easy. It never is. Marriage is hard work. Marriage involves pain. It brings conflict. It is not rose-colored glasses, or non-stop sex, or dinners always on the table when you come home from work, or every dream being fulfilled. It is a crucible of sanctification, where two sinners learn to extend forbearance, and patience, and forgiveness, and love in spite of their spouse's weaknesses.

How is it possible to do this? Only from understanding the depths of Christ and his covenant-keeping love for His bride. He died to sanctify his bride and promises to never leave nor forsake us. As we experience His redemptive love for us, it transforms our hearts so that we love our spouse like this, too. This is how love is maintained. Oh how grateful I am that true love isn't contingent on my perfection, but on Christ's!

So, here's to you, Tara - may God continue to use our marriage for the demonstration of His glory. Here's to you, Lance and Bonnie - may God bless you with joy, love, children, faith, forgiveness, and forbearance. To Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to Him be glory!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Interview at Life Connection Church

We had a great time with the people of Life Connection church Sunday morning! They were so welcoming and friendly - its amazing to show up some place you've never visited and feel like you've been there a thousand times before. Pastor Aaron Dailey led the meeting and we had a blast talking about the gospel together. You can listen in by visiting the site below:

Two highlights: At the end of the time, we took communion together and Aaron led the church in taking up an offering for us. So unexpected! It was a great expression of their love and generosity!

Also, there was a man named Woody who prayed to receive Christ afterwards! He was 57 years old - and had been coming for 3 weeks. I heard somebody yell, "It's never too late!!"

Praise God!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The First Month is Behind Us


Our first month as a church is in the rear view mirror....God has been gracious to us! Here are some of the things we've learned:

1. God is on the move - we've had lots of opportunities to share the gospel, build relationships, and invite people to church. It seems like every other person I talk to is a conversation that can be turned for the things of the Lord.

2. The church is definitely not a building - its been fun to meet in our house over the summer. Hard on our kids, who still think of it as "home" during church, but fun nonetheless....

3. Our people work hard - really hard. They are doing such a GREAT job with setup, prayer, sound, video, Children's Ministry, communion, offering, hospitality, greeting, etc. They are amazing to watch in action - God's love being poured out through them!

4. It's really hot - REALLY HOT. The Rio Vista is right around the corner!

Keep praying for us as we continue to build as a church!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Unity in the Gospel

This morning, a group of us from Grace Church are going to downtown Phoenix and participating in the morning service of Life Connection Church, led by Aaron Dailey. Aaron and I met a few months ago at a church planters lunch and we immediately connected. We both have a passion for the centrality of the gospel in the life of the church. He's a humble man and a good brother in the Lord.

He invited me to speak with him this morning on the topics of prayer, unity in the body, church planting, and the gospel. We are going to do a "conversation" together and then spend some time in prayer with our churches.

I am grateful that there are other churches out there who love Jesus and are eager to lock arms for the sake of the gospel.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Mission

We are continuing to meet in my house on Sundays for our Summer Gatherings. It's been so refreshing to sing together, fellowship, and think about God's Word. We've been blessed to have unbelievers come to our meetings and to hear about what Jesus has done. One of the highlights for me every Sunday is watching the group sit and eat with the guests, and spend time asking them questions and getting to hear their stories. God is doing great things in our group!

I am eager to move to the Rio Vista - it will give us more room and will facilitate ministry better. But I'm grateful that we don't need a building to be a part of God's mission!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gospel Centeredness or God Centeredness?

Is there a difference?

A number of us having been talking about this as we continue to refine our mission statement for Grace Church. Are we about God? Christ? The cross? The gospel?

Of course, the answer yes to all of the above. But what kind of language should we use to describe our vision for church? The danger with God centeredness is that it possibly loses its crisp, unique focus on the person and work of Christ. The danger with gospel-centeredness is that it possibly truncates our purpose to the atoning work of Christ at the expense of relationship with God - the God that the gospel allows us to relate with.

In some ways, we need all of the above. The glory of God is most clearly seen in the Christ, who is the image of the invisible God. And the glory of Christ is most clearly seen in the gospel - 2 Corinthians 4:4. So we must be gospel-centered in our Christ-centeredness, and Christ-centered in our God-centeredness.

Working the other direction, the atoning work of Christ is the heart of the gospel. Therefore, its appropriate to speak of being "gospel-centered". But the gospel accomplishes more than justification by faith, it highlights the centrality of Christ. And Christ comes on behalf of the Father - and His work is applied by the Spirit so that we can have relationship with God. So, we love the gospel because it gives us access to God, not just pardoned sins.

So, we will continue to pray and study and ask God for wisdom in how to express this the best.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

First Sunday is behind us....

This last Sunday was our first official Sunday meeting as Grace Church!

It was a blast - many of our core team showed up at two and transformed our house into a meeting place. We got the place setup and prepared with enough time to pray and ask God to help us glorify Him. Then, we got busy - really busy! We had 51 people here, including kids. Looks like we need to buy a few more chairs!

Afterwards, people stayed for a long time eating dinner, talking, fellowshipping.....all in all, it was a great Sunday and I pray that the Lord was indeed honored.

The clock to next Sunday is already ticking now....and I can't wait!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Gospel and Suburbia

Gospel. Church Plant. Suburbia. It's not the trendy thing to do.

The trendy thing to do is to go into the downtown of the city and work among the urban poor. It's sacrificial, definitely necessary and commendable. I am grateful to God for the churches that are laboring with this mission.

But is that the mission for everyone? Is their something better about ministry to the urban community than ministry to suburbia? I believe that much work exists in the place of comfortable homes. It's because people are comfortable with their earthly lives that they don't see their overwhelming need for salvation. Their sins don't appear to have earned them wrath - it appears to have earned them a nice house, family, job, car, and weekend. When a miniature heaven is constructed on earth, its hard to see the problem.

So let's serve the inner city. Let's come alongside the poor with compassion, tangible help, and the gospel. Let's embrace the great need for mercy ministries to the homeless and downtrodden. But let's not forget and overlook the comfortable people - they need a Savior as much as anyone else (and might know it less...).

For some thought provoking posts on the gospel and surburbia, visit

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Grace Church

That's right - Grace Church has finally been born!

Today was our sendoff Sunday at Sovereign Grace Church and we are officially a church. It has been amazing to watch God take people from all different walks of life and bring us together on this mission. As we go into the summer, my prayer is that God continues to deeper our understanding of the gospel and its impact on our lives

We begin our "soft" launch next Sunday at 4pm at my house, where we will meet for the next three months prior to going to the Rio Vista Community Center. Please continue to pray for us - we are barely a couple of hours old and will need lots of help!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Building Gospel Community

We've talked a lot about building a community that treasures the gospel and lives it out corporately. I came across a great section in The Gospel Primer that says just that:

"The more I experience the gospel, the more there develops within me a yearning affection for my fellow-Christians who are also participating in the glories of the gospel. This affection for them comes loaded with confidence in their continued spiritual growth and ultimate glorification, and it becomes my pleasure to express to them this loving confidence regarding the ongoing work in their lives.

Additionally, with the gospel proving itself to be such a boon in my own life, I realize that the greatest gift I can give to my fellow-Christians is the gospel itself. Indeed, I love my fellow-Christians not simply because of the gospel, but I love them best when I am loving them with the gospel! And I do this not by merely speaking gospel words to them, but also by living before them and generously relating to them in a gospel manner. Imparting my life to them in this way, I thereby contribute to their experience of the power, the Spirit, and the full assurance of the gospel."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How To Read The Bible

Here's a follow-up post, with another fantastic section from The Gospel Coalition:

II. How should we read the Bible? (The hermeneutical issue)

1. Reading “along” the whole Bible. To read along the whole Bible is to discern the single basic plot–line of the Bible as God’s story of redemption (e.g., Luke 24:44) as well as the themes of the Bible (e.g., covenant, kingship, temple) that run through every stage of history and every part of the canon, climaxing in Jesus Christ. In this perspective, the gospel appears as creation, fall, redemption, restoration. It brings out the purpose of salvation, namely, a renewed creation. As we confess in CS–(1), [God] providentially brings about his eternal good purposes to redeem a people for himself and restore his fallen creation, to the praise of his glorious grace.

2. Reading “across” the whole Bible. To read across the whole Bible is to collect its declarations, summons, promises, and truth–claims into categories of thought (e.g., theology, Christology, eschatology) and arrive at a coherent understanding of what it teaches summarily (e.g., Luke 24:46–47). In this perspective, the gospel appears as God, sin, Christ, faith. It brings out the means of salvation, namely the substitutionary work of Christ and our responsibility to embrace it by faith. As we confess in CS–(7), Jesus Christ acted as our representative and substitute, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

3. How this reading of the Bible shapes us:

1. Many today (but not all) who major in the first of these two ways of reading the Bible—that is, reading along the whole Bible—dwell on the more corporate aspects of sin and salvation. The cross is seen mainly as an example of sacrificial service and a defeat of worldly powers rather than substitution and propitiation for our sins. Ironically, this approach can be very legalistic. Instead of calling people to individual conversion through a message of grace, people are called to join the Christian community and kingdom program of what God is doing to liberate the world. The emphasis is on Christianity as a way of life to the loss of a blood–bought status in Christ received through personal faith. In this imbalance there is little emphasis on vigorous evangelism and apologetics, on expository preaching, and on the marks and importance of conversion/the new birth.

2. On the other hand, the older evangelicalism (though not all of it) tended to read across the Bible. As a result it was more individualistic, centering almost completely on personal conversion and safe passage to heaven. Also, its preaching, though expository, was sometimes moralistic and did not emphasize how all biblical themes climax in Christ and his work. In this imbalance there is little or no emphasis on the importance of the work of justice and mercy for the poor and the oppressed, and on cultural production that glorifies God in the arts, business, etc.

3. We do not believe that in best practice these two ways of reading the Bible are at all contradictory, even though today, many pit them against each other. We believe that on the contrary the two, at their best, are integral for grasping the meaning of the biblical gospel. The gospel is the declaration that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has come to reconcile individuals by his grace and renew the whole world by and for his glory.

Amen. Amen.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Here's a great prayer from The Valley of Vision:

"When I hear of disagreeable things amongst Christians, it brings an additional weight and burden on my spirit; I come to Thee in my distress and make lamentable complaint;
Teach me how to take reproof from friends, even though I think I do not deserve them; Use them to make me tenderly afraid of sin, more jealous over myself, more concerned to keep heart and life unblameable; Cause them to help me to reflect on my want of spirituality, to abhor myself, to look at myself as unworthy, and make them beneficial to my soul....

Give me such vivacity in religion, that I may be able to take all reproofs from other men as from thy hands, and glorify thee for them, from a sense of thy beneficent love and of my need to have my pride destroyed."

That is my prayer this morning for my own heart. I want to take correction as a means of God's grace to both humble me and exalt Him.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What is the Gospel?

We talk a lot about the gospel at Grace Church. It's the cornerstone of our body; it's the epicenter of the Christian faith. Without the gospel, you don't have Christianity. You may have Christian ethics and rules, but that is not good news for sinful people who have failed to live accordingly.

So, we must make sure we understand the gospel. The Gospel Coalition puts it this way:

"We believe that the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ—God’s very wisdom. Utter folly to the world, even though it is the power of God to those who are being saved, this good news is christological, centering on the cross and resurrection: the gospel is not proclaimed if Christ is not proclaimed, and the authentic Christ has not been proclaimed if his death and resurrection are not central (the message is Christ died for our sins . . . [and] was raised"). This good news is biblical (his death and resurrection are according to the Scriptures), theological and salvific (Christ died for our sins, to reconcile us to God), historical (if the saving events did not happen, our faith is worthless, we are still in our sins, and we are to be pitied more than all others), apostolic (the message was entrusted to and transmitted by the apostles, who were witnesses of these saving events), and intensely personal (where it is received, believed, and held firmly, individual persons are saved)."

They are right on. To be even more explicit, the cross is the wisdom of God in propitiating the sins of man. Without the cross, the just and righteous wrath of God has not been appeased. It is there, on the cross, that Jesus makes atonement for our sin, bearing the full weight of the penalty we deserve. It is on the cross that God's punishment for sin is taken and done away with, so that anyone who places faith in Christ will find forgiveness for sins. Anyone who responds will be given a new heart and will be credited Christ's righteousness, leading to geniune change in the life of the believer. Ultimately, the cross promises eternal life with the true and living God - which is the great news within the good news.

May we never be a people who lose their awe for the glory and wisdom and power of the gospel.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Denver Here We Come

Tara and I are sitting in the airport, enjoying the last few minutes together before our plane takes off for Denver. I was invited to speak at the North Denver church by my friend Glynn. This is going to be a great joy for me! I'll miss Grace Church on Sunday and will be praying that the Lord meets each of you with great power as CJ preaches.

Well, off we go! Please pray for us in our travels and endeavors to bring the gospel clearly at Grace Community Church.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Yes, its moving day! The mixture of dread and excitement has descended upon our house, as we anticipate the exhaustion of moving all of our junk (again). But its for a great cause! If you're not busy, stop on by and say hi (ie give us a hand)!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

BBQ on Sunday Night!

If you are interested in meeting the people of Grace Church and hearing our story, we'd love to meet you this Sunday night at the Rio Vista Recreation Center in Peoria (Thunderbird/101). Just show up and we'll do the rest! We are meeting at Ramada 5 - right by the children's play area.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Christian Atheism

Too many moments of our days are lived as atheists.

I was driving down the freeway yesterday and began rubbing my eye (allergy season!). I lost track of my speed and after about 15 seconds, I realized that I was going too fast. I stepped on the brakes, just in time to have my friend inform me that I was tagged by photo radar for speeding. Immediately, I could feel anger rise up in my heart. "WHY?" I was mad because I didn't intend to speed - where is motive taken into account? I was mad because I didn't want to waste my money on paying for a ticket. I was mad because I did something stupid - and it confronted my very well established image of myself as an intelligent, competent, person who doesn't get tickets.

We read in the Bible that God works all things together for our good, yet we respond with anger when we don't like what's happening to us. Why? We have forgotten God's promises to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We redefine reality with an interpretation that leaves out God. We function as if God doesn't exist, or as if He's not good or sovereign or wise or loving.

It's not that we set out to do this - its a part of our indwelling sin. And our daily battle must be to remember God and to BELIEVE His truth and promises instead of our atheistic reinterpretations.

He is good. He is wise. He is loving. He is sovereign. He uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He uses evil for good. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will be with us always to the end of the age. He will give the crown of life to those who have stood the test. His grace is perfected in our weakness. He will give us eternal life with Him forever. He will resurrect our bodies on the last day. He will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

Not the least of which - speeding tickets.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Like-minded brothers in Christ

I just got back from a great lunch today. I met up with three other men who are pastoring churches that have recently been planted in the West Valley. All three of these guys love the gospel and are building churches that are built on the foundation of Christ. We were able to share our vision and heart for the city as well as encourage one another in the Lord. I hope we are able to do this again soon!

Please pray for Aaron Dailey of Life Connection Church, Brent Thomas of Church of the Cross, and Scott Gourley of The Way Fellowship Church.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My daughter's first solo

Happy Easter all! He is risen indeed!

Our daughter was asked to do a solo at church - she did great! We've been working with her on humility...especially when it comes to performing. She is quick to be critical of herself unless she is absolutely perfect. I was most proud of her for exercising humble faith to do it - knowing that it wasn't about her ultimately, but about the one who came down to earth to forgive our sins.

You can watch a clip of it at

Thursday, April 09, 2009

What an amazing conference!

I’ve been to a lot of conferences in my day – always good teaching, good times of fellowship with old friends. But this conference was different. This conference was graced with the gift of leadership, vision, clarity, correction, and encouragement as shepherds within Sovereign Grace. I am left with the unspeakable privilege to be the pastor of Grace Church. There’s no other group of men or women that I would rather give my life to teaching, counseling, and loving.

We can’t wait to be reunited with you all!

Posted via email from Chris's posterous

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Leaders Conference

Please pray as Tara and I travel to the Leaders Conference this week - this is always a refreshing and equipping time for us. Pray that God would minister to us and teach us much - and we'll be sure to bring it back home to Grace Church.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Now we're starting to roll....

....Grace Church of Peoria, Inc. came into legal existence on Friday. We got our articles of incorporation back APPROVED and I received an employer identification number. Monday, I can go down and open a business bank account, and away we go!

PLUS, Jay Cutler got traded to the Bears - I know he's a whiner, but he's GOOD. And I'll take good and whiny (Cutler) over bad and whiny (me).

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Week in Review

There's been a lot of action happening this week within Grace Church. I preached down in Tucson on Sunday and was able to share our vision for Peoria with our sister church. Sunday night was the BBQ (see post below). Good times and good memories of crowds and wind.

We had an amazing community group on Wednesday night (for those that didn't make it, we prayed for you!) God seems to have given us great favor in our relationships with each other - and He's done so very quickly.

On Thursday night, Jeff and Ruth went into the hospital for the birth of their first child Luke. On Friday morning, they were awaiting the birth of their first child. On Friday afternoon, they were awaiting the birth of their first child. On Friday night, they were awaiting the birth of their first child. And 15 minutes after I left the hospital to take the kids home, Luke was born after 8pm at Friday night!

Meanwhile, we continue to pray and consider how God wants us to run our community groups. We had a great meeting at In and Out to discuss - the place where all great conversations take place.

On Sunday morning, the Grace Church worship team led worship at Sovereign Grace. It was so much fun to give praise to God together as a group! And then Sunday night I was privileged to preach at my old church, Grace Bible. Thanks to all who came to support me! We had a delightful time together in the Word of God.

Please keep praying for the launch of our church. People need jobs and housing. Pray that God would give favor to us as we begin to meet people in Peoria and lay out for them the vision of our church. Pray that we continue to build wisely and make good decisions. Pray that we all grow in our committment to the Lord as He leads us in this adventure of church planting.

Monday, March 23, 2009

One Wild and Windy BBQ

Last night was our first gathering in Peoria as a church plant team – BBQ style. And boy was it WINDY! At one point, a gust blew a cooler off the picnic table...mind you, the cooler was full of ice!  And it seemed like everyone in Peoria had the same thought as us because the place was a zoo. It made “kid watching” that much more challenging – hats off to the moms who were on kid duty!

But still, we had a GREAT time and met a number of nice people who have heard about the church plant. It made me want to get up to Peoria all the more quickly and begin our new lives together as Grace Church.

Thanks to all of you who came out and risked the wild and windy BBQ!

Posted via email from Chris's posterous

Friday, March 20, 2009

Peoria BBQ

Sunday night marks the first BBQ up in Peoria as a prelaunch team. I know of at least 5 families that are planning on coming to learn more about our church (and have some good grub). Please pray that this time would be profitable and that we'd be able to make a connection with some of these people!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Book Recommendation: Jesus Storybook Bible

If you are like me, you are always looking for Christ centered resources to help in the area of parenting. One of the best books I've found is The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every story whispers His name, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. It's simply outstanding. It looks at the whole of Scripture as a narrative pointing to and fulfilled in Christ.

It's also extremely funny! My kids and I laugh at the very insightful ways that Lloyd-Jones depicts these stories. She has Goliath saying to Israel
"I'll rip your heads off and have them on toast!" David replies, "You're big, but God is bigger!"

Great stuff. My kids love it.

Here is an interview that was done with her if you'd like to read it:

Let's teach our kids about the amazing story of the Bible, the true hero and prince Jesus Christ!

Friday, March 06, 2009

On My Way Home

I'm sitting here in the Denver Airport on my way home from the Pastors College. What a great week! We sat under world class instruction in Dr. Kostenberger. We got a PDF version of his upcoming book, The Theology of John (which means I can copy and paste out of it!). I got to spend time with one of my close friends who is attending the PC, as well as stay with my old host family the Dustins. I even got pranked by the kids 5 times! It was a great week.

There are lots of things I am taking away from this class, but here are two:
1) I want to know the Lord. I want to learn the Bible more and more because God wants to be known and has given us his revelation in this amazing book. Dr. Kostenberger is an amazing teacher and exegete of Scripture - and though I may never be as skilled as him, it inspired me to keep pressing on in my study of His word.

2) I want to tell people about Christ. One of the main themes we studied was John's theology of mission and it is rich indeed. The whole book is waiting for his hour to come, and when it arrives we find out that his hour means his death. But his death is the culmination of the fulfillment of his mission and now we have the privilege of testifying of him.

I sat next to a man on the last leg of my flight and we started talking about religion. He was a Hindu and explained to me what he believed. He said he wasn't strict about following the religion, but he believed there was a God and that there were many ways to get to him as long as you sought to do good.

I told him my story of becoming a Christian and what it meant for Jesus to die on the cross for sinners. One thing I pointed out to him was that he can't accept Christianity as an acceptable way to God if he also accepts other ways, since Christ himself says that is impossible. We had a great talk and he gave me his number and email on the way out to keep the conversation going.

As I finish up my trip, I am keenly aware that only Jesus gives life, but he is on a mission to save the lost and I can be an instrument of grace to people around me. I'm looking forward to continue to walk on this journey of faith in Christ with the people of Grace Church!

(I'm also looking forward to getting home to see my wife and kids!)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Gospel of John

I'm travelling this week to the Pastors College in Gaithersburg, MD for a class on the gospel of John. It's being taught by Andreas Kostenberger, whom I respect very much and is a world class scholar of John's writings. Please pray for me while I'm gone and I will try to post some updates throughout the week if possible!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Gospel and Neighbors Kids

I got a chance to share the gospel with the neighborhood kids this week during our move.

I stepped out to load a few boxes into the trailer and I heard the other kids talking with my daughter about how you get to heaven. They didn’t seem to know.

I asked my daughter Taylor, “What are you guys talking about?” She brought all the kids over to me and we began to talk. I was able to tell them that there is no other way to heaven except through trusting in Jesus. He died to take the punishment that we deserve for our sins and he promise us eternal life if we believe in Him and follow Him.

I followed up by asking if they thought they were Christians. One said she thought she was (let’s pray she is!), the other didn’t know. They went back to riding bikes and I went back to loading boxes. Let’s pray for God to bring conversions to the people around us. Even 8 yr olds need to hear the gospel.

Posted via email from Chris's posterous

Friday, February 20, 2009

Moving (#1)

We are making the first of a double move this weekend....we have a renter who is moving in here by the end of the month. We are renting from our friends Jason and Tiffany month to month until we find a location up in Peoria that works for us....God has been very kind to provide this arrangement for us!

I will continue blogging after we get settled in....

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Prodigal God

Looking for a fantastic exposition of Luke 15? I knew it. I've got just the book for you - The Prodigal God by Tim Keller.

It was recommended to me by a friend a couple of weeks ago and I got my hands on it. It tells the story of the parable of the prodigal son, the one who squanders his inheritance and life and comes back home to beg for forgiveness. It tells the story of an older son who never left, never squandered his money, never dishonored his dad, but was equally guilty of wrongdoing.

Dr. Keller does a masterful job of exposing sin for what it really is - it's not just lawbreaking, but lawmaking. It's putting yourself in the place of God and demanding to be rewarded for your morality. It's an unwillingness to submit to the Lordship and authority of Christ. Both the prodigal younger son and the moral older son were guilty of sin.

Only Christ was the true elder brother - the one who was both moral and submitted. He was chaste and compassionate to sinners. He is our example and our substitute for sin, so that we can repent of selfish younger brother sins and self-righteous elder brother sins. Only then will we experience the true hope that the gospel provides for us.

Go get your copy and let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Foundation: God's Word Part II

Hebrews 4:12 says, "The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

The Bible is a living book written under the inspiration of the living God. We should expect Him to use it to sift our motives, to challenge our thinking, to inspire our love. We come to His word not reluctantly, but because we believe that it is the only source of saving truth in the world. They are truly the words of eternal life.

When we come to God’s Word, we don’t come as judges or critics. We don’t come as those evaluating God – the way we might a popular TV show. No, God’s Word evaluates us. It critiques our lives and motives. It does it thoroughly and penetratingly. And it leaves us devastated in ourselves and longing for the grace of God.

But as we peer into the Word - as worshippers gazing up at the waterfall of God - we see the torrents of his love for us in Jesus Christ. We feel the power of the mighty cross and its washing away of our sin. We taste the refreshment of forgiveness and it satisfies our souls. We bask in the promise of eternal life with the Life Giver. And we go to the Word again and again and again.

May Grace Church be a body of believers who drink deeply from the Word of Life. May it be the foundation of all that we say and do.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Foundation: God's Word

I was 19 years old when I opened up the Word of God for the first time.

It was no big deal - nothing jumped out to bite me like I might have supposed. No trumpet sounds or angels appearing in the sky. It was a rather normal experience...or so I thought. But this book was far from being the normal, tame collection of writings that I took it to be. It is the very revelation of God.

Words have always been important to God. In the beginning, he created the world through words. He spoke into nothing and creation came to be. He spoke to Adam and Eve and they came to know their creator. He spoke to Noah, and Abraham. He spoke the law to Moses so the nation of Israel would know the character and will of God. He spoke through the prophets, to warn the people of God. Over and over again, God revealed himself through words.

And then comes Jesus. John's Gospel declares Jesus to be the very Word of God - the perfect revelation of all God's perfections. He is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises; in fact, all of the Old Testament was actually about Jesus (Luke 24).

Yet Jesus lived in time and space. He was only able to directly affect a relatively small number of people during his short ministry. As he ascends to heaven, he leaves behind the truth of his gospel in the form of the written word. It is the continued revelation of God for all to know and obey.

That's what 2 Timothy 3:15 makes clear: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."

Therefore, the Bible is like no other book that has ever been written. It's God speaking to us the truth of his good news. Apart from God speaking and revealing this to us, we would never come to know salvation in Christ. His Word is truth itself and we receive "everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us." (2 Peter 1:3)

The foundation of Grace Church is the immovable, divinely inspired Word of God. It's through this infallible book that we understand the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, who suffered under the wrath of God as he hung on the cross, and who rose again in victory on the third day. May the Word of God be known, memorized, cherished and spoken as we build this new church!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Dennys, Discipleship, and Death

You never know the hurt of the people who walk right by you unless you ask. Brokenness abounds.

We were at Denny's on Saturday morning for a time of discipleship/accountability. We found our booth, started settling in, and our waitress made her way over to our table. She is noticeably the most cheerful person in the joint. She grabs our coffee and waters and comes back to take our orders - and soon the food arrives.

As she is about to leave, I tell her, "We are going to pray here in a moment - can we pray for you as well?" She seems uncomfortable, but nods her head yes and keeps smiling. I press in - "Is there anything we can pray for in particular?"

She fumbles for a moment and then says, "Yeah, I just lost my husband. You can pray for me in that." Wow. No one expected that response. I expressed my sadness for her and committed to praying for her. I told her I was a pastor at the church next door and would be willing to meet with her if she wanted to talk.

She went on about her morning. She's dealing with one of the life's greatest losses, smiling and keeping busy at Denny's. Oh how people need the comfort and love of Jesus Christ! How many smiling people do we pass by each day who are gripped with the sorrow of this temporary abode? How much good can the gospel do for this lost and dying world if we would stop and engage?

Please pray that as we go back, God would open a door unto eternal life for this woman.

UPDATE: I received an Anonymous comment that read, "How do you know she isn't a Christian? It's ridiculous that you are speculating about something so private." My practice going forward on this blog will not be to respond to anonymous comments, but here is my response:

She might be. I hope she is! I hope that she has truly been regenerated and is walking in the comfort of knowing the Lord because that is her only hope in this life and in death. It didn't seem like she was eager to engage me in the topic, but we don't know for sure.

Ridiculous to speculate? Not at all. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5), bringing the ministry of reconciliation to the world. We are to look for opportunities everywhere we go to bring the gospel of life to those who don't know Christ, which means we need to ask questions. And listen to responses. And sometimes we'll find we are talking to those who have already been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Many times we will not. But it doesn't mean we don't talk, or engage, or speculate, or ask, or pray.

Thank you anonymous for helping me to clarify this point.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Foundation: Jesus Christ

Simple church. That’s what I want. I want to lead and build and participate in a church that embraces the truth of the Bible and lives out the implications in everyday life. I think this is probably the goal for most churches and church plants.

But simple church is not easy church. It takes work to make things simple. It takes more effort to define and dismiss the unnecessary than it does to create and execute. Simple church means saying ‘no’ to good things so that the right things can be accomplished. Simple church means understanding what is important and what should define your values.

The Corinthian church was not a simple church – it was the definition of complex. It was confused on many issues, ranging from spiritual gifts to holiness to marriage to the Lord’s Supper. It needed clarity. It needed guidance. It needed repentance. Ultimately, it needed a clear understanding of the foundation of the church.

And so the apostle Paul arrives and sizes up the situation. And he speaks a word of simplicity to cast away the fog – church is about Jesus Christ. Relationships are about Jesus Christ. Life is about Jesus Christ. And so he writes in 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

At the center of the believer’s life, and the corporate identity of a church, is the God-man Jesus Christ. He is the Savior, he is the only mediator between God and man, he is the ruling Lord of the world. And he achieved this status not through force, but through humility.

“...who (Jesus), though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name that is above all names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil 2:5-11

He was crucified to defeat sin and death. He was crucified to redeem us. He was crucified so that all things would be made new under his Lordship. He was crucified so that we could be brought to God. And that’s why Paul begins by laying the foundation for the Corinthians – Jesus Christ is the center of redemptive history and is the center of every genuine believer and church. He is the foundation upon which the church will stand.

Is there more to the foundation of Grace Church than this? Sure there’s more, but there’s never less than Jesus Christ and Him crucified for us.

Posted via email from Chris's posterous

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Laying a Foundation

I remember when Tara and I bought our first house in 2000. It was a new build out in East Mesa and we watched with excitement as every little step brought it to completion. It started off as a dirt patch and it just sat. Nothing happened. We would drive out there at night and look at our little dirt patch and dream of what it would become.

When you dream about building a house, you think about paint colors, decorations, and which kid gets which room. You think about sitting out on your patio reading a book or inviting your neighbors over for a meal. You think about doing life inside this house.

Before too long, the digging began. Lots of digging. The construction of the house was finally underway! We came out there one day after church and our dirt patch was gone and in its place was a solid foundation of concrete. It undergirded everything we dreamed about, even though we would never see it again after the walls were constructed. It continued to give support to the frame long after that day.

Grace Church is in a similar spot. We have a dream ahead of us – to become a church that exalts Christ and impact the city as a community of believers. We are dreaming of the paint colors and the decorations and the back patio. It’s hard not to! But we don’t want to overlook the foundation.

Over the next few posts, we are going to walk through the foundation of our new church – the theology and values that will hold our church together and determine our boundaries. Above all, we pray that God would give us wisdom and courage to build with precious stones that will last for generations to come.

Posted via email from Chris's posterous

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Team of Rivals

Anyone out there like biographies? 

I never really got into them before the last couple of years, but now I think they are my favorite type of books. I love the insight that I glean from the way people handled their trials. Reading biographies - especially from those of earlier generations - always challenge my comfortable, convenient, modern day American way of thinking. 

I'm currently reading a book on Abraham Lincoln called 'Team of Rivals'. I know this is going to paint me as the book nerd I am, but I think about this book alot. I actually can't wait to read it each night before I go to bed. It tells the story of Lincoln's rise to political office, along with the stories of his three chief competitors. The author does a fabulous job of weaving all of their histories together. 

A number of things have stood out to me so far (I'm in Chapter Eight). First, Lincoln was a man of principle and integrity. When he made a promise, he did all in his power to fulfill. Therefore, he was slow to make promises. That should be a lesson for us all. 

Second, Lincoln was decidedly anti-slavery. Politically, he was unwilling to initially call for the abolition of slavery in the south, though he was strongly opposed to the spread of slavery throughout the union. As I read these speeches being given, trumpeting a cry of dignity and equality for the black man, I am caused to marvel at where we are as a nation. There are many policies in which I disagree with President Obama, but it is remarkable that a country so divided in this book could be so united around an African-American. We should celebrate the accomplishment - it truly is amazing. 

Thirdly, Lincoln was an excellent public speaker. He won his early followers through the choicest of words. I love the closing of his inaugural address. He promises to hold and protect all non-slave states from the spread of slavery, without communicating aggression towards those who currently held that view. His closing words were so well penned:

"I am loathe to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet again swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely as they will be, by the better angels of our nature."


Lastly, he was a shrewd politician. He was inexperienced to a degree, but what he lacked in experience he made up for with natural political acumen. Even in the first eight chapters, he navigated very delicate situations with the most unusual sense of balance and composure. And all of this before the Civil War even started. 

There are sure to be more posts from me to come on this amazing man and inspiring book. Press on, Mr. Lincoln! Press on. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

GREAT meeting tonight!

Thank you all for coming out to the meeting tonight! It was wonderful to see you all there, but more to know that your heart beats for the spread of the gospel as much as mine. I am eager to know you all better and to build our lives into yours for the glory of Christ.

Let's be committed to praying for our new church, God's wisdom, and His leading!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Interest Meeting on Sunday Night

Don't forget that we have our last Members Interest Meeting on Sunday night 6pm! You are welcome to come and hear more about what we believe God is calling us to do on this church plant. Even if you've decided to come, plan on coming as I am going to walk through the upcoming schedule for the church plant team. 

This is going to be exciting! 

Friday, January 16, 2009


I went down and signed the contract today for our opening location of Grace Church - The Rio Vista Recreation Center!

God has been abundantly kind to open this door for us. The facility is amazing - its location is central, it puts us right in the middle of the community and the staff have been great to work with. It will be a great home for us to get started in.

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

That's what I am anxious to see happen in this building, for the glory of God. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009


"....and one day, when we stand in heaven, we'll be clothed in immorality..."

Yeah, I actually said that at the Winter Retreat. Wish I had that one back.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


That's right. I'm a sellout. And never been so proud.

As you all know, I am a committed follower of the Black and Blue Chicago Bears. But on Sunday I will be donning Red and White....because I got a ticket to the Cardinals/Eagles game! Oh how the Lord of providence has shined His face down upon me! I've wanted to go to a game at the stadium - not a bad way to see your first one.

Besides, I have a moral obligation to go....its on the West Side!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Created. Destroyed. Renewed.
Perfectly created in God's image. Relationship with God destroyed through sin. Renewed through faith in Christ.
That's the big picture of the Bible.
And that was the theme of our Singles Retreat this last week in Prescott. God was gracious and kind to us! We had an amazing group of people who served and prayed and asked God to do more than we could ask or think (Eph 3:20). Our prayers were answered.
Sweet times of worship ensued. Great teaching was heard. Conviction was gained. Application arose. And at the end of it all, Christ was glorified and we were renewed. What a great time!
Thanks to all who labored for the sake of the gospel - may God use this time to bring Himself glory and praise.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A short blogging break is required... order for me to finish up preparations for the Singles Winter Retreat. There's still lots to get done! I will jump back on board next week and give an update on what God did while we were up there.

Please pray for us as we go that God's Word would resonate within the hearts of these young men and women! Thanks.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Very Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a great time last night counting down the clock and ushering in 2009! Just a few seconds after midnight, I turned to Tara and said, "We're planting a church this year!" It was thrilling and sobering to think about. Next year this time, we'll be recounting stories of God's grace in the opening months of Grace Church.

I'd ask for you to begin praying (if you haven't been). As we enter this new year and new season, let's join together to be praying for the following things:

1. A personal devotion to Jesus Christ that exceeds any you've had previously

2. A committment to know His Word and live by His Word

3. A reliance on the Holy Spirit for wisdom and witness

4. An eagerness to sacrifice your preferences so that the gospel will advance

5. A willingness to periodically fast and pray for God to do amazing things - read this great article

6. Fertile soil in the hearts of people to receive the gospel

7. Favor from God as we start to gather and meet

And even as 2009 begins, God has been showing us favor. I got an email from the Rio Vista Recreational Center stating that they are willing to let us sign a contract for Aug/Sept for the hours I requested! Praise God for this open door - we have an official place to start meeting as a church!

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