Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Time of Hope

Last night and today I had the opportunity to visit my parents’ church in Birmingham. Both services had me in tears at least once. As I looked out over the congregation, many of whom I’ve known since birth, I saw many who were celebrating Christmas with the groans of creation.

There were at least three widows experiencing their first Christmas without their husbands, all well over 30 years. One mother, who has meant a lot to me since I was a teenager, was celebrating Christmas while her two sons were both away for the first time in their lives. There were cancer patients, others with various illnesses, and many who were, no doubt, tangled in sin. All these pointed to the painful truth that the world is messed up. But in the midst of despair and groans, the celebration of Christmas brings hope.

While much of our language, actions, and overall culture points out the loneliness of some, financial burdens of others, and dirtiness of sin in the face of light in many, Christmas should be a time of hope. There’s really no point in overlooking the sorrow, it’s a part of the human condition. We must, however, point to the hope of Jesus.

Jesus has brought hope, but he’s still bringing more. He brought hope that first Christmas morning when God laid in that manger. He gave even more hope in his sacrifice on the cross and resurrection three days later. He’s promised to return though and finish what he started. He’s coming back as our Warrior King. He’s going to slay the Dragon. We’ll celebrate his birth, death, resurrection, but sickness, death, and sin won’t creep in. We’ll be more alive than ever before.

As Christmas comes to a close, think about these things. The world as messed up. That’s why we’re going into the ministry. The Messiah came, though, and he’s coming again. So pastor the hurting, but point them to the hope to come.


Missions – Why?

The Following is the first in a series regarding Missions. What is it? Why do we do it? Who does it involve? Hopefully this will be encouraging and helpful.

Romans 10: 13-17

“For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved”. But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.

Take that last verse and stick it in your back pocket for next time. For now lets answer the question of why we would do missions? It may seem self-explanatory, but at the simple risk of encouraging us all the more to pursue the spread of God’s gospel…here we go 🙂

I Peter tells us that it is the will of the Father that all might be saved. We know however that this is not the case for everyone. There will be those that perish without the salvation of Jesus Christ and His Righteousness. However, Paul affirms here a solid truth that as believers we must hold on to when he quotes the prophet Joel by saying that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. This is amazing!!! In this we find the will of the Father come to fruition and we rejoice at the thought that all tribes and nations and tongues will be represented one day before the throne…why? Because ANYONE who calls will be saved.

However, we also find from scripture that those without Christ are spiritually dead. A dead man cannot call out. They are ensnared and under capture of the Evil One (2 Timothy 2:26). Thus the dilemma. Our brother Paul gives the solution.

They cannot call upon him in whom they have not believed – ok…makes sense if they don’t actually believe in Christ…they won’t call upon Him to be saved

They cannot believe in Him of whom they have not heard –  This also fits. You can’t possibly believe in something you do not know about.

How are they to hear without someone preaching – Incredibly enough this fits as well. Someone (in whatever avenue of communication) has to actually inform you for you to “hear” and comprehend.

How are they to preach unless they are sent – We have to GO to people to tell them the good news

The conclusion from Paul’s walk through is simple. Those who are lost in darkness cannot call out and be saved unless we go. Unless we are sending (Whether in official capacity or earnestly encouraging one another to go to our neighbors) and going, we cannot tell anyone of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. If we do not tell them, they won’t hear. If they don’t hear, they will not believe. And if they don’t believe, they will not call. And if they don’t call they will NOT BE SAVED.

So why Missions? Because when it comes to the Lost being Found,

The Church is God’s plan for His Mission

Discussion: Small Groups

Ok, so many of us agree that believers need to be a part of a small group, but what does that mean. What would it mean to go into an existing “traditional” churches and slowly change the church culture to small groups. What do you think? I’m leaving it open for now and will come back with a post after some response with my thoughts.

Pastor Cousin

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had the opportunity to travel back “home” to Alabama and spend some time with my family. As I’ve grown older and closed in more closely on what God’s calling is on my life, I’ve found myself more attune to the needs of my family. This year, that was truer than ever.

I have no clue whether they read this or not, and since I haven’t asked for permission to share their story, I’ll be as vague as possible. While there were other things that certainly came to my attention to pray about, I’ll share one. One of my cousins and his wife are in the middle of the adoption process. Several years ago, God gave them a passion for the orphans of the world and specifically adopting from Ethiopia. While their passion is evident and they seem unwavering in their desire to follow God, not everyone is supportive of their decision.

As heartbreaking as it is to even type this, her mother and father are not supportive. Gospel believing, church going individuals who tell their children not to adopt. Blind to this picture of what God has done in their own lives. Afraid my cousins (and likely themselves) won’t love an adopted child like they’ll love a biological one. So, pastor-in-training, what do you do?

The only thing I knew to do, and the only advice I can give any of you, was to run toward the gospel and the grace of our Lord Jesus. My advice? J and A, what you’re doing is a picture of the gospel. It’s what the Lord has done in my life, in your lives, and by most indication what He has done in your mother and father’s lives. God has called you to do what he has done for you, take in an orphan, and give him an inheritance that he’s done nothing to deserve. Your actions and your words are preaching the gospel, and the Lord has called us to preach the gospel no matter the cost.

It made me rather reflective on the way home. I’m not extremely close to my family. Ok, I’m not really close at all to my family. But, the Lord has called me to minister to His people and preach the gospel to the Lost. This call is to the local church, but I really think it’s to everyone, and particularly to my family. It’s been easy to think about my future wife and kids and leading them spiritually, after all, that’s a command in Ephesians, but I think there’s a command to extend that too. Being with the family over the holidays isn’t a break from work like the plumber or lawyer gets. It’s an opportunity to share the grace of God that he has given you a special bond with.