Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our Family, 2012

We hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas. We also hope that you will have a happy New Year. Every year at this time, we love getting updated pictures of our friends and family. But we have not usually done any. This year, we decided to put together this videogram of the events of our family from 2012. We hope you enjoy it. May Jesus Christ be praised!


2012 Bergmeier Family from Thad Bergmeier on Vimeo.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Shame Interrupted by Edward T. Welch

The pain of worthlessness and rejection is real and powerful. But the gospel is stronger and more powerful. That's the premise of Edward T. Welch's new book, Shame Interrupted. Several months ago, a couple pastors I get together with recommended that we all read it together. And I am glad that they did. It was no accident that after reading how shame is so prevalent in the lives of people, I began to see it in the faces of the people I minister to each week. Shame is real. The pain of rejection is real. People struggle with this feeling of worthlessness that so pervades their hearts. It makes them go into hiding and they struggle finding their identity in anything other than the fact they feel unacceptable. That really is how Welch defines shame:
"Shame is the deep sense that you are unacceptable because of something you did, something done to you, or something associated with you. You feel exposed and humiliated" (2).
The book reads like a counseling session. In a masterful way, I felt counseled by Welch as I contemplated the shame that lies inside of me. The thoughts of "Your not good enough." The feelings of "You will never be accepted." The attitudes that kept telling me to keep hiding. I resonated with much of what he said in this book.

As I just inferred, one of the first attitudes of shame is that it likes to hide. And the way to begin the healing process is to expose it. It loves to hide in the dark, but it must be brought into the light. This is not easy. But we were not originally created for shame. It was only after the fall of man into sin that shame began to exist. In fact, we are told in Genesis 2 that Adam and Eve were walking around naked and were not ashamed. Welch explains:
"In the beginning, there was absolutely no shame, with people walking around in the nude literally and figuratively. They had no concerns about their bodies, which were flawless, and no concerns about what they had done because they hadn't done anything wrong. They feared no one's critical judgments because no one was critical or condescending. Nakedness without shame. To be known without feeling exposed. To live without any need for self protection" (42).
I have a friend at my church that talks about what it means to be perfectly known and still perfectly loved. My guess is that there is a fear deep down inside all of us that if someone were to know us perfectly, they would not love us perfectly. After all, who wants to expose all their deep, dark secrets. We hide them because we have bought into the lie that exposing them will affect the way that people relate to us. We believe that lie because we have felt it. We have felt the rejection. We have felt the stares. We have experienced how people relate differently towards us when we are exposed. So, it is easier for us to keep it in the dark. That's shame.

This is where we desperately need the gospel to take root into our life. We are worried that to be perfectly known will affect the way someone perfectly loves us. But isn't that what God demonstrates in his love when while we were still enemies with him, he sent his son to die for us (Rom. 5:8)? Didn't he send his son even though he perfectly knew us? And even though he knew all our junk, he perfectly extended and moved toward us.

There were many aspects of the book that would seem helpful to point out, but would make it a very significantly long blog post. His chapter on "Clean and Unclean, Holy and Common" was brilliant. Very insightful. His thoughts on "When God Touches the Untouchables" really made me stop and think. Very drawing. And his chapter on "The Cross" was humbling.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with shame issues in their life. Let Welch be your counselor as he leads you through the implications of the gospel upon your sense of worthlessness. Let me end with one quote that I think will help explain the premise of this book really well.
"Most people who know shame are horribly uncomfortable with the idea of receiving honor. It is hard to be honored when you don't feel very honorable. When you work hard and do well, no one minds a little recognition. But screw up and receive praise? That can be hard to take.  
Yet this is the way of God's kingdom. It's called grace. Leave your discomfort at the door and get used to it. Be amazed. Just say, 'Thank you.' This is the only door; there is no back alley through which you can enter. There is no gate that says, 'Second class, enter here.' If you want Jesus, you must be willing to accept the honor that goes with the relationship. Your royal status--ascribed to you, not achieved--has been unveiled. 
So why is that entrance so difficult? What causes us to be uncomfortable with, or even resistant to, this grace and honor? No one resists a fat lottery check or a free item at the market. Get a freebie and it makes our day. Maybe that's because there is no apparent sacrifice or love behind it. But in this case, when we look the Gift-giver in the eye, know the extravagance of the gift, and notice we have nothing to offer in return, we can feel a bit sheepish. Yet we can't enter the kingdom with embarrassment that lasts more than ten seconds. Any more time than that and we will turn away from the Gift-giver, and that just can't be. 
For me the problem, again, is my residual pride. I can feel like scum and still resist grace. That's an odd combination, but we are odd people. Part of me would actually prefer a reprimand, a scowl, or at least an opportunity to slip in without anyone noticing. I would fell then that I had somehow paid for my failures. Who wants to feel like they are in someone's debt? But the old upside-down way of thinking is being righted. 
In the kingdom of God, our eyes are turned away from ourselves and onto the glory of the King. In this simple redirection we have the pleasure of thinking less often about ourselves. If Jesus is highly honored because he gives us such a great gift, then bring it on! I'll gladly accept it" (223-224).

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Cross and Christian Ministry by D. A. Carson

Over the next several days, I wanted to share some books that I have read the past several months, but have failed to review here on the blog. Let me start with The Cross and Christian Ministry by D. A. Carson, which if you are in pastoral ministry, is a must read! Way before it was cool to be "gospel-centered" Carson was instructing people on how ministry should be centered on the cross of Jesus Christ. But it is not just a book limited to pastors. Any church leaders should pick up this book and read it. Laymen who want to get into leadership will gain from the insights by Carson.

I picked up this book after I heard C. J. Mahaney say that it was one of a handful of books that he makes every young pastor he trains read. If that was the case, then it must have been important. And it is. This book is the result of an original series of lectures that Carson gave at the International Council of Accrediting Agencies, which is an affiliate of the World Evangelical Fellowship. These lectures were revised and given again at another conference and then eventually revised once more for this book. These were messages taken from select portions of the book of 1 Corinthians, which finds its highlight in Paul's resolve to "know nothing . . . except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). Each chapter highlights a portion of the book.

  • The Cross and Preaching (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5)
  • The Cross and the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:6-16)
  • The Cross and Factionalism (1 Corinthians 3)
  • The Cross and Christian Leadership (1 Corinthians 4)
  • The Cross and the World Christian (1 Corinthians 9:19-27)

If you have never read anything by D. A Carson, let me tell you what to expect. You can expect a heavy dose of Scripture being interpreted at a depth that you very infrequently hear or read. You will be exposed to insightful illustrations that bring the text of Scripture alive. You will be forced to reckon with your own heart as he very candidly brings the text to bear upon your heart in application. And along the way, you will probably learn a few new words that you have never heard before. But you will be the better for learning them. He is without a doubt, one of the most gifted Bible scholars of our day. Let me just share one example of his insight in the writing of The Cross and Christian Ministry.

In the chapter that deals with the Cross and the Holy Spirit, Carson is showing how the Spirit of God is contrasted with the spirit of the world. He gets to the end of his section and says, 
"Above all, then, Paul focuses on the message of the cross. The spirit of the world cannot make sense of it; the Spirit of God enables those who have this Spirit to understand it. That same Spirit prompts the spiritually-minded, like Paul, to preach it and teach it in appropriate ways. They will strenuously avoid all ostentatious display; they will abandon all cheap manipulation; they will be happy to embrace the scandal of the cross, for the cross is what has redeemed them. They will be wary of 'gospel' preaching that talks much about God meeting our needs and enabling us to feel fulfilled, if it is not squarely anchored in the message of the cross. They will want to use plain, clear, forceful, truthful, frank, compassionate, compelling, cross-centered speech--'spiritual' language that is appropriate to the spiritual message they are bearing. For they recognize that the Spirit of God who has opened their eyes to embrace the cross has also taught them to proclaim 'Christ crucified' in a way that conforms with the humbling immensity of the message" (56).
Amen! I will never forget being in seminary sitting in a Pauline Epistles class with Dr. Carson. I could have sat in there for hours, gaining the insights that he gave from the depth of the well from which he had drunk. It is probably the only class in seminary that I did not look forward to the end of class. This book is not much different. You will not be sorry for reading this book. In fact, there are very few books that when you get to the end, you realize you didn't waste your time. This is one of those books. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A 2012 Christmas Roundup

I hope you really enjoyed your Christmas yesterday, whether it was with family or friends. I hope you had a good opportunity to spend some time reflecting on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who makes salvation possible. As usual, there was much information written about Christmas. Here are a few of my favorite blogs or news feeds that I read the past couple of days.
  • A Christmas Story by Kevin DeYoung. If you want a good summary of beginning to end of the Christmas story, read this post.
  • He Came...You're Free by Tullian Tchividjian. I really appreciated his statement, "Christmas is God's answer to the slavery of self-salvation." Amen!
  • Is Santa Clause Real? I posted this last Christmas and still get a good laugh out of it when I read it. You will as well.

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Favorite Christmas Song This Year

I have been listening to "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" by Casting Crowns over and over the past several days. At the heart of this song is that peace on earth is found only that God is not dead and He is not asleep. He is in complete control of everything, even tragedies that we might experience. Listen to it and be blessed.

The Paradox of Christmas


At our Christmas Eve service tonight, we will sing the song, Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus. I love this song. It was penned by Charles Wesley and displays the heart of someone who longs to be united with Jesus. It expresses the idea that while we know Jesus is with us every day, we long for the day when we are with Him in His fullness and glory. Among the many aspects of this song that I appreciate is the paradox that is expressed in the second verse: 

Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King.
Born to reign in us forever,
Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Jesus was born as a child, yet He was a King. Just think about that. The eternal God was born into human flesh. And shepherds and wise men came to bow at the feet of a baby. They were moved to worship an infant. Why? Because it had been revealed to them that this young child was the King of all Kings. But actually, the paradox of this baby born to deliver people from sins goes much deeper than even this song says.

The paradox of Christmas is that the eternal second member of the Trinity would humble Himself to become one of creation. The paradox is that the One who created the trees would one day come to die on one of them. That the One who holds the power of the universe in His hands would willingly put Himself into subjection to the Roman soldiers at the hands of the Jewish people to pay for their sins. The paradox of Christmas is that the story isn't about a little baby. It's about a baby that would grow into a toddler who would become a boy who then would grow up to be a man who would go to a cross to pay for sins, even though He never sinned.

It's mind-boggling to think that the only person who ever lived who did not sin is the One who had to die for sins. But maybe that's the point of the story of Christmas. That grace came to life. That mercy became visible. That today we can celebrate the salvation of our souls. As the song says, now His eternal spirit can rule our hearts and we can be raised up by His sufficient merit. It is because of this that we gather to praise the baby that was born.

At church yesterday morning, I showed this video. Igniter Media does a fabulous job of displaying in a video format the paradox of Christmas. Enjoy and I hope you each have a wonderful Christmas Eve celebrating with your family and friends.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Video Sunday: I Exalt Thee by Jesus Culture

I became enraptured by this song last night as I was studying for my sermon today. I am preaching this morning on the Preeminence, Humiliation, and Exaltation of Jesus Christ from Philippians 2:5-11. That passage ends with every person eventually bowing the knee and confessing with the tongue that Jesus is Lord. It all ends with the exaltation of Jesus. This song very adequately states that thought.

I would highly encourage you to take ten minutes, get alone, and spend some time falling on your face in worship, expressing the greatness of Jesus. Exalt Him today!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

This Week in the Blogosphere (December 22, 2012)

Each week, there are hundreds upon thousands of blog posts written by people all over the world. I find myself each week reading several of them. I have taken the time to link to some of my favorite blog posts or news stories from around the blogosphere from the previous week. I hope maybe one or two of these will be an encouragement to you.
  • The 12 Best-Selling MacArthur Works by Jesse Johnson. If you have ever wondered which books have been the best selling books from the pen of Dr. John MacArthur, here is the list.
I know I didn't write or say much about the events that took place in Newtown, Connecticut last week. There are so many people more gifted to respond during this such tragedy that I wanted to sit back and read. I wanted to listen instead of responding. This is a list of the best articles from that tragedy.
  • A Christmas Prayer by Max Lucado. I genuinely did appreciate this prayer offered during this event.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Reality of Christmas

The movies make it look so perfect. But it's not always a wonderful life. More often than not, there will be no miracle on 34th Street. And sometimes you will shoot your eye out.

Christmas. We want it to be perfect. But it is often filled with family strain. It can magnify the hopelessness that comes with the loss of loved ones. And it is a time that many feel the pain of broken dreams. That might seem gloomy, but most people recognize it as reality. After all, it is the way the story started.

Recently, I was studying the lives of Mary and Joseph. You have probably heard of them. They were engaged to be married when God stepped in and changed their plans forever. Mary ends up pregnant. Joseph thinks she cheated on him. But the truth is that while she is still a virgin, she is now carrying the Son of God in her womb.

We know as we read the story (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38) that sometimes things do not work out the way we think or plan. I can imagine that Mary could not wait for her perfect wedding day. I would assume that Joseph had plans that did not include raising a son that was not his own. Neither of them would have desired the shame and humiliation that would have come with Mary's pregnancy before their wedding day. And for sure, Mary would not have imagined giving birth to her firstborn son in a strange city. But God had a much larger plan.

Maybe we need the black days in our life in order to appreciate the white Christmas. While God had changed their plans, it was for their good. In their disappointment comes the birth of the Savior. Jesus enters humanity through less than perfect circumstances in order to give hope to the hopeless. He comes to restore the broken. In His birth, we see a glimpse of salvation.

He came to redeem sinners, even Joseph and Mary. Think of that. Their plans were radically changed and the result? Their salvation. It is the same salvation that is offered to you today through the birth of that same child.

Whatever circumstances you find yourself in this Christmas, I pray for perspective. I pray that you would get a glimpse of the baby Jesus who grew up to be a perfect Savior. It is only in Him that the imperfect becomes perfect. Only through the cross will you find the miracle that really matters. And He alone will give sight to the blind. I pray you would trust Him today.

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I frequently get asked to write for a local newspaper called the Middlefield Post. This is a recent article that I wrote for them, which can be found on page 11 HERE.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges

When Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges was published in 2007, I think most of our church (Grace Bible Church) at the time went through the book in one capacity or another. But for some reason, I never read it. I bought it. I looked through it. But I never took the time to consider what he had to say about those sins that we tend to tolerate in our life. Looking back, I hope that subtly in my heart I was not trying to avoid it. I think it is for whatever reason, I just never got around to it.

That changed a couple of months ago when I decided to lead a Sunday school class as a book club through Respectable Sins. We finished this book last Sunday, and I must say, I do regret taking this long before reading it. In this book, after several chapters setting the stage, Bridges identifies a long list of sins that have become too respectable in our culture today. This is not a book about killing someone. It is a book on dealing with impatience. Both sins. Both needing the death and resurrection of Jesus in order for us to overcome. But one seems to be thought of as not that big of a deal. That's his target audience. In fact, after those introductory chapters on the gravity of sin and the need for the gospel, Bridges tackles respectable sins, such as:
Ungodliness, Anxiety, Frustration, Discontentment, Unthankfulness, Pride, Selfishness, Lack of Self-Control, Impatience, Irritability, Anger, Resentment, Bitterness, Grudges, Judgmentalism, Critical Spirit, Envy, Jealousy, Competitiveness, Sins of the Tongue, and Worldliness.
Many of those sins listed were subpoints of the main thought of a particular chapter. But some of them are expanded with clarity and directness. I will not pretend that many things he had to say in this book didn't hurt. But it was a good hurt. For instance, I needed to hear again that my love for my particular sports team might just be an idol in my life. And that idol was why Jesus had to come and die. I need to realize that it separated me from God and I need the gospel in my life to fight against that sin.

Bridges does a masterful job of not only pointing out the sin, but of helping us see the glory of the gospel. The gospel fails to mean much to me when I fail to realize how great of a sinner I am. And that happens when we tend to downplay sin in our life. It was a much needed book then and still is today. I would highly recommend that you read it and work with others in your life to fight against it. My prayer after reading the book is that I would continue now to be more sensitive to all my sin in my life, not just the "big" ones. He ends the book with these wise words.
"We need to be honest and humble enough to admit our subtle sins in order to experience the love that comes through the forgiveness of those sins. But we must also face them in order to deal with them. The worst sin of all, in practical terms, is the denial of the subtle sins in our lives. We cannot deal with them until we admit their presence. The first step in dealing with any sin is to acknowledge it and repent in one's attitude toward it" (178-179).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Defining Treasures

I am most of the way through reading Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp. It is proving to be, quite possibly, the most important book I have read in years. I will write more about the book in days to come, but for now, I wanted to share one longer quote about Treasures that Tripp gives in the middle of the book.

He is specifically talking about how pastoral ministry is won or lost in the war zone of our heart. Pastors have heart problems just like anyone else has heart problems. And ultimately, that heart problem exists because we too easily assign worth to things that are unworthy. Yet his description of treasures is not limited to pastors. It is symptomatic of all people. His insight was like a dagger to my heart. Maybe you will feel the same way.
"Let's begin by unpacking the concept of treasure that Christ uses. Treasure is a provocative word. Imagine I am holding a twenty-dollar bill in front of you. Why is it worth twenty dollars? It's not because it is made from twenty dollars' worth of paper. That would entail a stack of paper. It's not because it is made up of twenty dollars' worth of ink. That would entail a pail of ink. You see, the value of the twenty-dollar bill isn't intrinsic value but assigned value. Our government has assigned to that bill the value of two thousand pennies. Thus it is with most of the things that we treasure. Few of them have intrinsic value. No, most of them have assigned value. What doe that mean? It means they have value because we have named them as valuable. 
This is something you do all the time. You are constantly value-rating the things in your life. That's why the old proverb says, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure.' You are constantly naming things as important and other things as not so important. You are always attaching your inner hope and contentment to something, and when you do, those things take on life-shaping value. 
Let's return to our twenty-dollar bill and see how it will shape our lives once that value has been assigned to it. Once my bill has the value of twenty dollars, the number of those you offer me will determine whether I will take that job or not. The number of those I have will determine the size of my house, the neighborhood I live in, the kind of car I drive, the quality of clothes I wear, the cuisine I eat, the level of health care I have, the vacations I take, and my hopes for retirement, and it may sadly even determine the kind of people I want to hang out with. Once something is our treasure, it will command our desires and shape our behavior." (102-103)
What are the things that we are assigning value to that makes us want to treasure them all too much? There certainly is intrinsic value in family or relationships, but could we be assigning more value to it than is there? I doubt there is really too much intrinsic value in video games or the latest technological gadget. But we act as if there is. What about our pets? And you can see, the list can keep going. 

I would challenge you this Christmas season to think through the treasures that you gather and keep. And to remember, there is only one treasure that ultimately has the most intrinsic value. His name is Jesus (Matthew 6:19-24).

Friday, December 14, 2012

Why We Open Our Home

The Bible is very clear that the elder is to open his home. In his instructions to elders, Paul tells both Timothy and Titus that the elder is to be hospitable, which means a lover of strangers (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8). This is to be a distinguishing mark of the leader of God's people. They are to be welcoming of those they do not know. They are to show that their things are not their things. They are to use the gifts that God has given them as a tool for ministry. (By the way, this is not a calling just for elders, but God actually calls all Christians to have this similar attitude. Read Romans 12:13.) 

But God's command of me as an elder is not necessarily the reason why this weekend we will have over a hundred people to our home. Now, don't get me wrong. We want to follow the Scriptures. We want to be faithful to what God has called us to do. But when we open our home to others, it is hardly ever with an attitude of begrudging duty. I hardly ever sense in us a "we have to do this" attitude. Opening our home usually flows from a heart of joyful desire. This is not because we are super spiritual people. I think we do it because over the years, we have come to realize how meaningful it can be in ministry to have people into our home. But why is it so special? 

First, We Become Real People
This might sound strange, but sometimes people look at the pastor as if they are on some spiritual pedestal. That is the last place I want to be. I want people to know that I am in the spiritual fight just like they are. I want them to know that I need Jesus as much as I tell them they need Him. And when they come to our home, they realize that we are real people. We are as messy as they are. They realize that we like sports like them. They realize that we don't think TV is from Satan. We no longer are viewed as the pastor and his family. We are now people that they think they can actually spend time with.

Second, People Let Their Guard Down
Because they realize we are real people, they let their guard down. As we show them our real self, they show us their real self. And this is where the best ministry happens.

Third, We Become A Community Of Friends
Relationships can never be manufactured. I will never be able to successfully hold someone accountable. They will only be accountable to the degree that they want it. As I pursue them for friendship, they pursue me for spiritual help. And in so doing, we help each other follow Christ. That is the importance of a spiritual community.

And so this weekend, we will hold our second annual Open House for those at Cornerstone Bible Church. Tonight and tomorrow, we will have many people in the home. And my prayer is that it leads us to live life with each other.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur

I love biographical sketches. I love reading and studying about how God uses different people in the work for the Kingdom. In that vein, John MacArthur's Twelve Unlikely Heroes does not disappoint. It is the third book in a series of biographical sketches by MacArthur (the first two being Twelve Ordinary Men and Twelve Extraordinary Women). The purpose of this book is to show how God uses people that you might not expect. He says,
"Our study of the heroes of the faith has shown us that the Lord does not limit His kingdom work to one kind of person. In fact, no two are the same, demonstrating that God uses almost endless combinations of personality, cultural background, experience, and station in society to accomplish His will. He is not limited by age (Enoch lived for 365 years; John the Baptist for about 30); status (Jonathan was a prince; Onesimus was a slave); human strength (Gideon was a weak coward; Samson was supernaturally strong); or even past sins (Paul persecuted the church; John Mark was a deserter; and Jonah rebelled against God's command)" (pg. 213).
And for that I am thankful. Besides those mentioned above, MacArthur writes about the lives of Joseph, Miriam, James, and Esther. In each of their life stories, we can see the grace of God and the hand of God at work.

What is there to take from books like this? The main thing is we should realize that if God can and does use them, He can and will use us for His glory. Let us find ourself in their stories. Maybe our family members have done horrible things to us, can we see how Joseph responded and follow His example? Maybe we have found ourselves running from God, then how does the story of God's grace to Jonah speak to us? And the list can keep going. 

Ultimately though, these individuals are only there to point us to a greater person. Jesus Christ. As MacArthur says,
"As those who compromise the great cloud of witnesses, the human heroes of Scripture point us to Someone beyond themselves. He is the One to whom they continually looked in faith, and on whom they constantly depended. Their legacy of faithfulness ultimately directs our attention heavenward, to the Source of their wisdom and strength--namely, the Lord Himself" (xiii).
The only thing I did not appreciate about this book was that in some of the biographical stories, the main characters felt like supporting characters. For instance, when he writes about Mariam, there was more information about Moses than his sister. I understand that we only fully can grasp her as we see how she relates to her brother. But I felt as if I was reading an sketch on Moses, not Miriam. There were several in the book in which I felt that way.

But either way, the content was biblically solid. It was creatively insightful. And it was pointedly inspiring. I would recommend it to anyone. Looking for a good Christmas present for someone? Look no further.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Where Were You . . .

Today is a very special day. It is a once in a lifetime day. It is the twelfth day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year of this century. We will never again experience a day like this. A special day like this only happens once a year for twelve years every century. And we were fortunate to be part of it. Never again will this happen in our lifetime.

As I thought about this, I began to wonder where I have been on each of these special days over the past twelve years. This is what I can remember.

01.01.01 -- I was celebrating Karsten's first birthday. Yes, my oldest son was born on the first day of the new millennium. It couldn't have gotten off to a better start in my mind. We were living in South Elgin, IL where I was a youth pastor at The Village Church of Bartlett. It was not long after he was born that I started telling my son that his birthday was so special because he would be able to sit and watch football all day every year. He has yet to fully buy into that argument.

02.02.02 -- I was still working as a youth pastor, but I was beginning to sense that God was calling me onto other things. I loved to preach and the majority of the fruit that I saw in my ministry was with those older students. It wouldn't be long until God would move us onto a college ministry. This is one of the days that I cannot pin down what I was doing. It was probably a snowy Saturday in the chicagoland area. I was probably working on the little duplex that we owned. Monique was about six months pregnant as we looked forward to our second little boy.

03.03.03 -- I was now a college pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Green, Ohio  (soon to become Harvest Bible Church, and now is Parkside Church, Green Campus). I was just returning from the Shepherds Conference, a time where I would spend hearing God's Word preached. And a time when I would spend catching up with lots of ministry friends. It was about this time that many things would begin to unravel at the church. Many people were leaving the church, even though our college ministry was really growing at this time. It would become a very difficult time in our life, but one that I would not change for anything.

04.04.04 -- It was during this time of my life that I was working with Verizon selling Yellow Pages. It was hard core outdoor sales, walking into businesses trying to set appointments to sell them on the benefits of yellow page advertisements. I was working this job because I was trying to help a church transition through some very difficult situations. And since they could no longer afford to financially support our family, I had to get a job. This day was a Sunday. I do not remember exactly what I was doing, but I do remember that while it was one of the toughest times of my life, it was a time when I grew significantly in my trust and faith in Christ. Adversity does that for us, it stretches us.

05.05.05 -- I was now working at Grace Bible Church in Hutchinson, Kansas. I never thought I would ever live in Kansas, but it truly proved to be some of the most important and formidable years of my life. One of the first things that we did was to start a Thursday night young adults Bible study. Maybe it was this night that Randy and Dana met sitting on the blue couch. Maybe it was one of the first nights that Kirsten (soon to be Olander) came asking all of her great questions. All I know is that we loved that group. And the small group that followed that group that also met on Thursday nights. Oh, did I fail to mention that Monique was seven months pregnant with little Anni at this point. 

06.06.06 -- It was VBS week at our church, which means that life was hectic on this day. It was the first year that my wife was directing the VBS at Grace Bible Church. It was in these early days that I saw her flourish in this sort of role. I remember being so proud that she would take on a such a big role and make it happen. We also had a church t-ball team that both Karsten and JT played on that evening. I remember those early years of baseball being so much fun. Partly because we were teaching the kids how to play the game, but mostly because we did it with our church family. It was so much fun sitting under that hot Kansas summer sun watching our kids play t-ball together. I miss those days.

07.07.07 -- On this Saturday morning, Karsten had a coach-pitch baseball game. I think this might have been the game that Chad Gilbert, my friend, while pitching to our own players, decided to hit a few kids to get them on base. Maybe not. That evening, we had a special ABF "Night on the Town." We dropped the kids off at the church for a few hours of free babysitting and then went out to dinner with other couples. I distinctly remember sitting at Lone Star Steakhouse with several couples without our children. Good memories.

08.08.08 -- Monique and I had just returned from a few days by ourselves in downtown Chicago, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. We had taken the train from Indiana over to Chicago, and on this Friday had returned to spend a few days with my parents. That was one of the greatest trips of our life. 

09.09.09 -- I am sure on this day, Danette Hukills, one of our admins at Grace Bible Church was wishing everyone a happy special day. She loved these sort of days. The big thing going on this day was a special evangelism training night for the Kansas State Fair. We often told people that they would share Christ more in a four-hour shift at the fair than they would the rest of the year. The fair would be starting in just two days and I am sure I was nervous about what I was going to say as I was asked to do the opening prayer at the opening ceremonies of the Kansas State Fair.

10.10.10 -- On this Sunday morning, I taught the Foundations ABF from one of my favorite Bible passages, Colossians 1:28-29. I was in the middle of a series I called "It's All About Jesus" from the book of Colossians. This passage summarizes a biblical philosophy of ministry. Take some time and read this text today! And Foundations ABF, we sure do miss you all . . .

11.11.11 -- I spent the evening with my son at a youth conference. It was on the way home from that youth conference that Karsten and I were able to have some very honest conversations about the gospel and implications upon his life. I was humbled to listen to him pray, begging God to do a work in his life.

12.12.12 -- I have taken my time trying to remember where I have been the last twelve years. But in all seriousness, my day will be spent studying the Bible, meeting with people, lunch with the senior group from our church, and then cleaning the house in preparation for having lots of people over the next several days. 

What's the point? Thinking through this has made me realize what God has done in my life in the past twelve years. It began with a baby boy while I was a youth pastor living in Illinois. I have lived in three other locations since then. The boy is about to become a teenager. I have two other wonderful children. And through it all, God continues to be God. Stable. Unchanging. Unwavering. The same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And my faith continues to be shaped by Him.

And now it's your turn. Why don't you just pick one of those days. Where were you? What was God doing in your life?

Trading My Life for God's Glory

I have often struggled with the lure of wanting the successful ministry. I can, of course, make it seem all so spiritual by saying the right things. "I just want all the glory to go to God. I want to see people be saved for the magnification of Christ's name. It's not about me, its about Him." But if I were to be honest, there is a bit of me that would desire some of that glory. The glory of the successful ministry. The lure of being known as a man who pastors the large church in town. And who wouldn't want to be asked to speak at conferences?

My guess is that I am not alone in this struggle. This seems to be one of the idols of our age, at least for pastors and preachers. Last week, I was reminded again of the foolishness of this thinking when I asked myself this question: "Would I trade my life for this glory?" What I meant by that was not my glory, but God's glory. Would I be willing to trade my physical life if it meant that God would gain more glory? I was struck with the reality that often, our greatest impact upon the kingdom of God does not come until we are dead. 

Or let me pose this thought another way. Which of these would you choose if you were faced with this option: (1) You could be lost in obscurity while on this earth, but your untimely death would bring about the salvation of thousands upon thousands of people. (2) You could have a large successful ministry now and then enter glory without fanfare. Which would you choose?

On Sunday, I preached on the life of Stephen. He was the first Christian martyr. He was a godly man who emerged upon the stage in the early church for only a moment. Through boldness, he spoke the truth of God to the religious leaders of the day and preached Jesus to them. As far as we are told, he saw no converts through his preaching ministry. But in the end, those he preached to killed him for his faith. Many people might look at this as a tragedy. Some might have seen this as a missed opportunity for God. Men with the courage and conviction of Stephen do not roll around all that often. It was a shame that he died so early in the history of the early church. 

Or was it? His death led to an all out onslaught of persecution upon the church.
"And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria." (Acts 8:1)
Some of those that scattered settled in a town called Antioch, preaching the gospel and planting a church.
"Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord." (Acts 11:19-21)
It will be from this little church, just a few years later, that Barnabas and Saul (the same man that approved of the execution of Stephen) will be sent from in order to evangelize the known world. It will be from the result of the death of Stephen that thousands upon thousands of people will be saved. What a plan of God. I can well imagine Stephen standing with Jesus as He is told of all the events that would take place because of his courage and conviction. And at that moment, there is no way he would ever have thought of trading it all so that he could have had a little glory.

Trading my life for God's glory? It shouldn't even be a question we have to consider.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Do You Want For Your Children

Just a few days ago, Adam Griffin posted an article on the Village Church blog on what it means to raise kids the world will hate. That's an interesting thought. Raising kids the world will hate. I know the temptation (and desire) for most parents, including myself, is to raise my children to be loved. I want to raise them to be safe. I want to raise them to have lots of friends. But to raise them with a view towards being hated by the world? That's a new one. That's a tough one. But I think it is a necessary one. Griffin says, 
"If you're like me and hope for your kids to be fully devoted followers of Christ, then we need to be raising up a generation who is ready to be distinctly different from their peers. In a lot of ways, that's the opposite of my natural inclination in how to raise my son. Raising kids who are ready to be hated means raising kids who unashamedly love God even in the face of loathing and alienation. Regardless if the insults of the world are naive or legitimate, I pray our children will be ready to stand firm in the midst of a world that hates them."
I would recommend that you read the entire article (HERE). And as you do, think about your goals for your children.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Innkeeper by John Piper

This is a very powerful reading of a poem by John Piper. You will certainly want to watch it. And pass this around as its meaning during this Christmas season is very important.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Confessions of a Complainer

Every now and then I realize something very troubling about my life. It is something that I often overlook, partly because it is generally accepted in our culture. It is something that I have always somewhat known, yet tried to deny. I have come to realize that I have a problem complaining.

It is amazing how God can use my children to point this out in my life. The other night at dinner, I sat down with the family and was complaining. It was small things, but still my son picked up on it. After a few minutes, one of my children says, "Dad, all you have done tonight is complain." My response was, "What do you mean?" He says, "The food is too hot, the bread is too cold, and we don't have anything to drink." Guilty. He nailed me. 

Think about it. Thanksgiving was just a few weeks ago. Christmas is right around the corner. As a Christian, we certainly should never need a holiday season in order to offer praise and thanks. But if we were honest with ourselves, not even a season stops us from complaining. Our Thanksgivings can be filled with complaints. Christmas can often become unmet expectations, which results in complaints.

Complaining can subtly creep into every area of our life. Just look at how we respond to the weather. It is too rainy. It is too hot. Then it is too cold and we have too much snow. It is too humid. Often, it is too windy. And it goes on and on. At least in my heart. I don't know about yours.

The Apostle Paul makes an incredible statement about complaining in the book of Philippians. He says to "do all things without grumbling" (2:14). When Paul says grumbling, he is talking about the heart attitude of complaining. It is not being thankful for what is going on around you in life.

Whenever I read that, I think, "Really? All things?" Yes. Paul does not offer any exception clause. He didn't say that it would be good for us to do most things without grumbling. He doesn't say, "Do all things without grumbling unless the furnace in your home breaks." He doesn't say, "Do all things without grumbling unless the referee clearly misses the call for your basketball team." He doesn't even say, "Do all things without grumbling unless your spouse is selfish and unkind." No, God is calling me (and you) to do all things without complaining.

Why? Why would this be God's standards? Could it be that it is because we live in a world of grumblers. Our culture if filled with complaining people. And if we have come to know Jesus Christ and have been saved, we prove ourselves to be different from those of the world. We will prove ourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we appear as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15). Think about it. What does it say when we go to the office and everyone is complaining about the boss and we refuse to join in? It says that there is something different in our life. That's partly the point.

And so, I resolve to not complain. I know that I am going to fail and I will have to confess that before my Lord. But I plan on attacking my heart of complaining each day, each hour, each minute as they come. Will you?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Touch of Jesus

Yesterday, I was reading Ed Welch's book, Shame Interrupted, when he said something that was really insightful. While I read a lot of books, it is very infrequently that I have to stop and really think through something like I did with this statement. He was talking about the interactions of Jesus with the people he healed. Take for instance the woman who had a bleeding problem for 12 years. In her cleanings, there was a touch interaction with Jesus (in her case, she touched Him). In their culture of cleanness and uncleanness, there was something really wrong with this. In the touching of someone that was unclean, the uncleanness transferred to you. Now you became unclean. 

But that is the hope when it comes to Jesus. The hope is that he would come and take our uncleanness from us. Not just heal us, but remove the uncleanness about us. At this point, Welch opens up these stories to show a window into the gospel message. He says,
"With every intentional touch there was a transaction being made. 'Power' goes out from Jesus to the person who was touched. Splice together various Scriptures and you will see that power is a loaded term that includes
    • holiness conferred (consecration)
    • forgiveness of sins
    • cleansing and purification
    • healing
    • identification with Jesus' status.
Meanwhile, the unclean person gave something to Jesus, the scapegoat. He or she gave
    • sins
    • shameful acts
    • victimization and its contamination
    • disease
This is the gospel: God touches us. All the talk about cleanness and uncleanness points to this divine touch. This is what the universe was waiting for. It is an unbalanced transaction that displaces our shame and replaces it with holiness. The apostle Paul put it this way: 'For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, sot hat in him we might become the righteousness of God' (2 Corinthians 5:21). With our touch, Jesus becomes our scapegoat. In his touch, Jesus takes our sin and absorbs our shame (Psalm 69:9; Romans 15:3), and we receive his righteousness. If you prefer symmetry in your relationships, in which you give a gift of similar value to the one you receive, you have not yet touched Jesus." (135-136).
There is no doubt that many people would long to touch Jesus today. But you can. That's the glorious nature of the gospel. He can still take your shame and uncleanness. He can and will give holiness and cleansing and healing. Through faith and repentance of sin, the unclean person can experience the touch of Jesus.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Video Sunday: Tragedy & Stupid Preachers by Mark Driscoll

I really like this video by Pastor Mark Driscoll as he takes on Karma preachers as they deal with tragedy's that take place around them. It's a good word. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. I really appreciated when he said, "Sometimes God doesn't give us all the answers to all of our questions, He gives us Jesus."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What I'm Reading...From the Back Cover (Nov '12)

I am always reading a book or two (or three, etc...). I like to share from time to time, the books that I am making my way through. Here are the books that are currently on my "to read" list for the next several weeks.

I am reading this book with a few pastor friends. I have been humbled to think about my own shame issues and how the gospel brings healing to me and others I minister to with this issue.
"Shame controls far too many of us. Worthless, inferior, rejected, weak, humiliated, failure...it all adds up to wishing we could get away from others and hide. We know what shame feels like. The way out is harder to find. Time doesn't help, neither does confession, because shame is just as often from what others do to you as it is from what you have done. But the Bible is about shame from start to finish, and, if we are willing, God's beautiful words break through. Look at Jesus through the lens of shame and see how the marginalized and worthless are his favorites and become his people. God cares for the shamed. Through Jesus you are covered, adopted, cleansed, and healed."
A couple months ago, I started reading a pdf copy of this book and was so humbled that I knew I needed to read a hard copy of it. I will probably be a book I come back to often.
"After traveling the globe and speaking to thousands of churches worldwide, Paul David Tripp has discovered a serious problem within pastoral culture. He is not only concerned about the spiritual life of the pastor, but also with the very community of people that trains him, calls him, relates to him, and restores him if necessary. Dangerous Calling reveals the truth that the culture surrounding our pastors is spiritually unhealthy--an environment that actively undermines the well-being and efficacy of our church leaders and thus the entire church body. Here is a book that both diagnoses and offers cures for issues that impact every member and church leader, and gives solid strategies for fighting the all-important war that rages in our churches today."
On the surface, this appears to be a "Peak Inside the Village Church" sort of book. Since I have been so impacted through the ministry of Matt Chandler, I wanted to read this book.
"The Reformers viewed the gospel as not one thing among many in the life of a church but rather the means by which the Church exists. When the gospel is rightly declared and applied to God's people, the Church becomes 'a Creature of the Word.' She understands, embraces, and lives out the reality of Christ's birth, life, death, and resurrection in more than her doctrinal statement. Creature of the Word lays out this concept--examining the rich, Scripture-based beauty of a Jesus-centered church, then providing practical steps toward forming a Jesus-centered church."
I was sent this book by the publisher to review and since I really appreciate the ministry of John MacArthur, I am eager to read his take on these unlikely heroes.
"Far from the children's tales depicted in picture books and nursery rhymes, the men and women highlighted in the Bible were unnervingly real. They faltered. They struggled. And at times, they fell short. Yet God worked through them in surprising and incredible ways to accomplish His purposes. Scripture does not hide their weaknesses, caricature their strengths, or spin their stories as a display of human nobility. Instead, it describes these heroes of the faith with unflinching honesty and delivers an unexpected ending: 'God is not ashamed to be called their God' (Hebrews 11:16).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Radical Christian Sacrifice by John Piper

Please listen to the very end of this short sermon excerpt by John Piper. His description of Jesus is why I am thankful today!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

This Week in the Blogosphere (Nov 24, 2012)

Each week, there are hundreds upon thousands of blog posts written by people all over the world. I find myself each week reading several of them. I have taken the time to link to some of my favorite blog posts from around the blogosphere from the previous week. I hope maybe one or two of these will be an encouragement to you.

  • Hobby Lobby and Religious Liberty Under ObamaCare by Ben Domenech. I would guess that most people reading my blog will agree with the direction of Hobby Lobby. I hope you will pray for their future decisions. But as you can see from this article, the ones that lose will ultimately be the workers.
  • A Father's Fright of Twilight by Mark Driscoll. Some people have told me that some of this information about Twilight is inaccurate. I don't know because I have not seen any of the movies. But what I will say is that I never want to see them or to let my children see them. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Igniter Media is one organization that I look to for some good Christian videos. They have a few videos that have to do with Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy them, but I hope you do not live them. You will see what I mean by that as you watch the videos.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Is Jesus More Than A Savior?

This word by Francis Chan is something we really need to give some consideration to as we think of gathering with our families in the next couple of day. It is a word that is needed as we seek to purchase things that we might not need. It is something we should take to heart as we claim to be Christian and live in a world that is so anti-Christian. What makes the difference?
"Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." (1 John 2:6)
 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Priority of Preaching by Christopher Ash

I was first introduced to Christopher Ash when someone had told me that he has written a short booklet on how to listen to preaching (Listen Up!). It was originally printed in the UK, just a few months before my book (Helping Johnny Listen) on listening to preaching was published. I was eager to read his take on how to listen to preaching (which by the way, if you are looking for a very short thought on that subject, his resource is very helpful).

It was a few months later that I was at a pastor's conference when Alistair Begg quoted Christopher Ash as an expert in preaching. It was at that time that I picked up The Priority of Preaching as I was looking for a good resource on the art of preaching. This very short book that deals with the importance of preaching is one of the best resources I have ever read on the topic. I could not recommend it enough!

His take is that the sermons that are preached every week in churches, small and large alike, are much more powerful and needed than any large conference sermon that is preached. He says, 
"This little book is written for ordinary ministers who preach regularly to ordinary people in ordinary places, who may dream of being world-renowned but are going to be spared that fate . . . the sermons you and I preach week by week in ordinary local churches are more significant than most conference addresses even if they were to be recorded and played back all over the world" (12-13).
That is a very humbling and powerful thought. But is it true? Throughout the book, he focuses on the book of Deuteronomy, as the people of Israel are receiving a message from God. One of the most interesting parts of the book is when he articulates that preaching is trans-cultural. Every culture there has ever been has seen someone stand in front of others and speak. On the other hand, small Bible study groups are a modern day phenomenon. The small groups is culturally narrow as opposed to preaching.

His insights are inspiring. But they are humbling. He holds nothing back as he seeks to inform the preacher that he has a high calling to preach with a borrowed authority. But with that authority comes great responsibility. He says that the preacher needs to stay engaged with the people so that he can know how to articulate and answer their objections as he preaches.

He rightly believes that the calling of preaching is what God is going to use to change the church and the world. In order for that to happen, preaching needs to take a central place in the life of the church. He says, 
"A church can very easily become any of these things--superficial, empty, even hostile to God. So how is the world to be reassembled? Not by technology. Not by force. Not by natural human affection. Not by religion. But only by grace. Only the preached word of Christ, the word of grace preached again and again and again, pressed home with passion and engagement, only that word will create God's assembly to rebuild a broken world" (96). 
One of the highlights of the book is that it is very practical. This book is like a short seminary class on preaching. Take it. Read it. Study it. And live it.

He really believes in expository preaching. Or maybe I should call it preaching through books of the Bible. In the appendix, he gives several reasons why he believes that this type of preaching is the most effective. On pages 111-121, he argues that Consecutive Expository Preaching . . .
  1. Safeguards God's agenda against being hijacked by ours.
  2. Makes it harder for us to abuse the Bible by reading it out of context.
  3. Dilutes the selectivity of the preacher.
  4. Keeps the content of the sermon fresh and surprising.
  5. Makes for variety in the style of the sermon.
  6. Models good nourishing Bible reading for the ordinary Christian.
  7. Helps us preach the whole Christ from the whole of Scripture
If you are a preacher, you should read this book. If you are not a preacher, this book will help you understand your preacher better and make you a better listener. Pick it up today.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Morning After: The King's Temptations (Matthew 4:1-11)

The concept of temptations is not as simple as you might think. One the one hand, we are tempted to think that if something is not attractive to you, it will not be a temptation. For instance, I do not like potatoes at all, therefore, I am never tempted to eat them. But on the other hand, spiritually speaking, we know that we often can relate to the Apostle Paul who said that we find ourselves doing what we do not want to do and not doing what we want to do (Rom. 7:15). While we do not want to gossip, we find ourselves talking out of turn way too often. 

Temptations are a complicated matter. Maybe that is why when I come to Matthew 4, I have always been intrigued by the temptations of Jesus Christ. Maybe in understanding how He overcame temptation, I can find a sense of clarity in a world in which temptations just do not make sense to me. We are tempted as He was because we are told that He was tempted as we are (Heb. 4:15). Yesterday, I investigated the temptations of Jesus to see what we might deal with in our life.

Much of my thinking on this topic has come as a result of reading Russell Moore's book, Tempted and Tried. If you have never read this book, I would highly recommend that you read it. His knowledge and giftedness in writing has helped me understand this issue much more clearly.

#1: A Temptation of Consumption
When Satan tempts Jesus to turn the rocks into bread, it was more than just a temptation of simple meal preparation. Jesus had been with the Father, praying in the desert for 40 days without food. He was hungry. And Satan is trying to get Him to question the fatherhood of God in His life. Will He trust the Father to provide for Him or will He go out and seek provisions Himself?

On the other side of this temptation, Jesus is going to say that we should not worry about our life, what we will eat or drink or clothes we will wear (Matt. 6:25). He says that we should just trust God to take care of us. Jesus can say this because He lived it. 

I spent some time in my sermon talking about the different areas of consumption that we might struggle with. For some it is food; others it is sex. For some it is addictions like smoking or drinking; and others it is toys and possessions. The issue is whether or not we think we are going to find our hope and satisfaction in the consummation of things instead of trusting the Father to provide what we really need in life.

#2: A Temptation of Security
After Jesus quotes Scripture to say no to not trusting the Father, Satan changes tactics. He quotes Scripture himself and tells Jesus that if He were to jump from the top of the temple, the Father would have no option but to save Him miraculously. The heart of this temptation is found in Satan wanting Jesus to question whether the Father would protect Him. Satan wanted Jesus to demand of the Father the miraculous to prove His care. This would be the equivalent of treating the Father like a divine bell-hop.

For many of us, our security comes in the form of money or relationships. We think God doesn't care for us because He has not given us a good job or close friends. And we stare into the heavens and tell Him that if He would do these things for us, we would follow Him. We want the security of Him proving to us that He cares for us through tangible things in this life.

Does the Father care? Of course. That's why the cross is so important. Jesus denies His own self-protection because He was looking for the protection of His people. And because of that, our security in Christ is rock-solid secure.

#3: A Temptation of Status
Satan goes for the jugular in the last one. He takes Jesus to a high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world. And then Satan promises to give them all to Jesus if He would just bow down and worship Satan. The interesting part of this temptation is that Satan is promising to give to Jesus what Jesus knows He will one day own. The Kingdom. But Satan is willing to give it to Him now. Why? Because Satan wants Him to have it without going through the agony of the cross.

Satan doesn't mind if we live Christianly with our neighbors as long as we do not preach the cross. He loves the morality of Christianity without the cross. The glory without the cross is an empty gospel! Satan knows that. But so did Jesus. He says no and it provides for us the foundation on which we can resist these temptations as well. I just pray that I do . . . and that you do.

Throughout the sermon, I tried to show how we face these temptations everyday. If you want to listen to the message, you can find it HERE (usually after Tuesday). Or you can read my notes HERE.