The Great Enemy Of Spiritual Health

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Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” (Dallas Willard)

I have yet to meet a Christian that does not have a desire to grow spiritually. In fact, I have experienced the exact opposite…they want to grow and they want to know God’s Word more deeply. They desire an authentic and vibrant relationship with the Lord. They want to see it change their lives.

Yet, it seems like such a struggle…

I think the above quote by Dallas Willard is the key to understanding the struggle. It may seem too simplistic but it is reality. The frenetic pace of our lives coupled with a desire for instant gratification hinders spiritual growth and health.

Let me explain:

(1) The frenetic pace of our lives. For whatever reason we have adopted the mentality that we must be doing something every second of every day. We wake up and turn on the news or pull-up our Facebook app. We get in the car to head to work or school and immediately turn on the radio. We have practices to get our kids to and workouts that need to get done. Dinner has to be cooked or picked up. Homework…TV shows…work email…and the list goes on and on. We have all but eliminated any opportunity to spend time in the Word or in prayer. The time is there but we have so scheduled every second of every day with things (some are very good things) that we have no time for the most important thing…cultivating a relationship with our Savior. Hurry is killing us spiritually!

(2) The desire for instant gratification. Growing spiritually takes time. There is no quick fix for spiritual growth in the same way there is no quick fix for weightloss. If you want to lose weight you must burn more calories than you take in over an extended amount of time. The same holds true if we want to grow spiritually…it takes extended time in God’s Word over a number of years. And here is the secret no one may tell you…you never arrive! The Christian life is a journey. It is a race…a race that ends when we meet our Savior face to face (and ultimately, physical death is really just the beginning!). We are not running a 50 yard dash. We are running a marathon and marathons take time to complete. They also take determination…a willingness to put one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles. Our only hope to grow spiritually is to daily put one foot in front of the other with the Spirit’s help. You can’t hurry this process.

 

Monday Musings (5-23-16)

Coffee cup on Black– Yesterday was a great day at North River Church and also a tough one because of the sermon text.

– We covered 1 Peter 4:12-19 in a message entitled “Suffering As A Christian.”

– We often don’t talk much about suffering but we all experience suffering as believers.

– The issue is not if we will experience suffering but how we will respond when we do experience suffering.

– I’m thankful for a church that is hungry for God’s Word and willing to receive it even when it may be difficult.

– Speaking of our church…the local paper ran an article about North River this past Saturday. Exciting days are ahead!

– I came across this quote in Soul Keeping by John Ortberg…In this book he quotes Dallas Willard who said: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

– That is so convicting!

– The enemy of true communion with God is hurry. It is why God tells us to “be still” and know he is God (Psalm 46:10).

– One of the neat things I have gotten into recently is writing with a fountain pen (I know a throwback to the early/mid 1900’s).

– To my knowledge I have never used a fountain pen but Janie gave me one for Christmas this past year.

– I have started using it and I’m hooked. It is such a fun experience!

– I’m writing this Monday Musings with a silver Pilot Metropolitan. This is a great entry level pen and I promise you will be bit by the fountain pen bug if you use one.

– Little did I know, there are a number of forums on the world wide web for fountain pen enthusiasts. Chief among them www.fountainpennetwork.com. What a neat site!

– I confess I may have spent a few hours reading through some of these forums and I may have spent a few hours Saturday scanning thrift and antique shops looking for some antique fountain pens.

– I did score a vintage Sheaffer fountain pen (late 1950’s – early 1960’s) that needs a bit of work. I think this will be a fun hobby.

– If you happen to have some fountain pens around be sure to ink them up to use or pass them along to me! By the way if you have a Mont Blanc (the holy grail of fountain pens) that is sitting in the drawer you should be ashamed!:)

Monday Musings (5-16-16)

Coffee cup on Black

– We had another great service yesterday at North River Church. God continues to move!

– I started working through the book of Romans this morning in my personal time with the Lord.

– Paul’s passion for the gospel is so convicting and so encouraging.

– Yesterday, Our small group talked about why we struggle to share the gospel with others and how we should weave the gospel into our normal everyday conversations.

– Paul did this. It did not matter where he was (prison, temple, shipwrecked, snake bitten, etc.). He constantly shared the gospel.

– What is even more encouraging…people came to faith in Christ constantly!

– Paul wrote in Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

– The power is not in our persuasiveness. It is in the gospel. We just simply need to share it! God will do the rest.

– I finished reading a novel last week (David Baldacci’s The Camel Club). It was good.

– I’m also working through The Pastor as Scholar & The Scholar as Pastor (John Piper & D.A. Carson). It is a neat autobiographical sketch by both Piper and Carson.

– Up next on the reading list is John Ortberg’s Soul Keeping and Kevin Leman’s Be The Dad She Needs You To Be.

– I have always heard that leaders are readers. I want to keep growing as a leader so that means I must keep reading!

Monday Musings (5-9-16)

Coffee cup on Black – I’m continually blown away by what God is doing at North River Church!

– We are seeing new people every week.

– We baptized 24 last Sunday.

– We have had new families join and more who have indicated they want to join.

– We have paid down the land note by over $100,000 so far this year and I’m convinced it will be paid in full by December (only $63,000 to go). All the while, overall giving continues to increase.

– I can’t wait to see what God is going to do moving forward!

– We had the joy of taking our girls to the beach last Friday. They had a blast and it was good to enjoy this Florida sunshine.

– Speaking of our girls, we had the joy of celebrating their mom and my wife yesterday. Janie is my hero and a terrific mom. It’s a joy to do life with her.

– I also have a great mom so it was fun wishing her a Happy Mother’s Day too.

– I finished The Camel Club by David Baldacci yesterday afternoon. It was great and reading fiction does my heart good!

– I’m also reading Monday’s With My Old Pastor by Jose Luis Navajo. It has been good for my soul.

– We only have 3 more sermons in our 1 Peter series and I’m looking ahead at what we will work through in the summer. I’m thinking about a series through the life of Joseph (A Cup of Joe).

– We usually work through books of the Bible but right now I have a couple of more topical preaching series racing through my mind…Rooted (A series on the foundations of what we believe as Christians) and Battle Ready (A series on spiritual warfare and the armor of God – Ephesians 6:10-20).

– This afternoon will be spent planning the preaching calendar and gathering the necessary resources to move forward in preparing to preach. I love planning!

– I received an email from Energion Publications yesterday detailing how many Parent-Driven Discipleship books have been sold through the 1st quarter of 2016.

– The total is 82 (3 of which were Kindle versions). I hope the book has been helpful and if you have not yet picked up your copy you can do so here.

– I’m sure I have another book in me but I haven’t taken much time to work on it lately.

Monday Musings (3-21-16)

Coffee cup on Black– We had a great day at North River Church yesterday for Palm Sunday. The worship was sweet.

– Loved finishing up our sermon series “What If…” yesterday. I have been challenged greatly and I think it has been good for our church. What if we prayed, loved, and gave? I fully believe God wants to do more in and through us for his glory.

– If you missed this series you can listen here.

– One of our church members gave me a UGA Bulldogs tervis yesterday. It has been fun getting picked on for being a DAWG fan here in Gator country.

– Speaking of the Dawgs…is it fall yet? I’m ready for college football to return!!

– Our girls are out this week for Spring Break and my wife has planned some fun outings. I plan to join them for several of these. There is no greater joy than getting to spend time with them!

– This coming Sunday is Easter and it is usually a big day for most churches. Many people who do not normally attend will be at churches this week. It is important to think through different aspects of the service in light of this reality.

– I will be starting a new series this week through 1 Peter. The first 12 verses of 1 Peter are some of the richest verses when you consider what they say about Jesus’ resurrection. Everything hinges on the resurrection.

There Will Be No Savior In Washington

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I know that title may cause you to scratch your head but it is true. There will be no Savior in Washington regardless of what the political candidates promise.

They do not have all the answers. In fact, they don’t even have all the questions. It is really quite an interesting predicament.The nature of politics is tricky. The name of the game is to over-promise and under-deliver. Truthfully, it doesn’t really matter if they deliver at all. They are salespeople. Every candidate is attempting to sell the American public on a particular vision for the future.

One side is selling a robust economy and strong national defense. The other is selling free college tuition and accessible health care. Neither is telling the truth. Remember, the name of the game is to make promises…not keep them.

I enjoy politics. I will vote in this presidential election and on election night I will be watching the election results with great anticipation. But, my faith does not rest in any particular candidate.

You see, I know that none of these candidates will be America’s Savior. I’m not at all saying that the election does not matter. It does matter and you should vote.

But, I am encouraging you not to get so wrapped up in this election season and lose sight of reality. There is only one Savior. He promised and he delivered on his promises. His name is Jesus.

 

A Time Of Transition…

This past Sunday I announced to our Crosspoint Community Church family that we would be leaving for me to take over as Lead Pastor at North River Church in Parrish, Florida. Here is the letter I read to our church family on Sunday:

Church Family,

It is with mixed emotions that I stand before you this morning. In June of 2012, I began serving as your pastor. The 3.5 years since have only served to confirm that God was in our coming here. You have been a loving, supportive, and gracious congregation. It has been a great joy for our family to live life together with you, to worship with you, and to serve alongside you these past years.

But now the time has come for us to say goodbye.

Last Sunday morning, I preached at, was voted on by, and was offered the position of lead pastor at North River Church in Parrish, Florida. We have been talking with this church for several months, and it became clear, as we continued in the process with them, that this was where God was leading us.

As I result, this morning I offer my resignation as the pastor here at Crosspoint Community Church. Our last Sunday here will be December 27th and we will transition that next week.

Even though we struggle with strong feelings of grief over having to say goodbye, we are excited about what God wants to do both here and in Parrish in the years ahead. As we have experienced God’s hand at work in our leaving, we can also trust that he will provide the right man to come and faithfully serve here for the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We love you. And if you will allow it, we will leave Crosspoint Community Church feeling as if we have a forever-family in Dublin, Georgia. Thank you for loving Janie, Anna, Leah, and myself. We feel blessed to have been a part of this church family. Thank you for taking a chance on me, knowing that I had never been a senior pastor, and allowing me to serve you over the past 3.5 years. God has done incredible things…to Him be the glory!

I want close with the words of the Apostle Paul, in Philippians 1:27-28, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.”

Thank you.

Thanks for your prayers as we make this transition!

A Heart That Serves (Reading Notes)

“Some time ago I had dinner with a man who was a deacon in his church. With great energy he told me about how he loved to serve the people at his church. He was so enthusiastic that he gestured a lot as he spoke, and I became a little embarrassed because we were in a packed restaurant. Yet nothing could keep this man’s excitement down as he continued to tell me of his passion for serving God. He constantly looked for opportunities throughout the week to serve the needs of fellow church members, and on Sunday he couldn’t  wait to get to church so he could continue his ministry of service. This man’s zeal for service may seem excessive at first glance, but in actuality, he was exhibiting yet another mark of a man after God’s heart – a heart that yearns to serve.

As fleshly humans, our natural (and selfish) tendency is to take care of our own needs first. We like to make sure there is plenty of time for the things we want to do. Then if we have any time or energy left over, we might be willing to use it to serve someone else. But as men after God’s own heart, you and I need to resist these selfish tendencies and strive instead to see ourselves as servants.” (Jim George in A Man After God’s Own Heart)

Casual Christians (Reading Notes)

“We have too many casual Christians who dabble in everything but are not committed to anything. They have a nodding acquaintance with a score of subjects but are sold on nothing. ‘Of course I’m interested in church – but with my club and my lodge and my golf and my bride and my stamp collecting and my ceramics and my African violets, I just can’t get too excited about religion.’ Our Lord had no place in His program for casual disciples. It was all or nothing.” (Vance Havner in Pepper’N Salt)