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Friday, July 28, 2006

Thabiti On Living Evangelistically

Thabiti Anyabwile, former pastor/elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and incoming pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman, wrote a great article entitled, "Things I've Learned At Capitol Hill Baptist Church - #7 Live Evangelistically."

One encouraging quote:
"I want the gospel central to every message I preach, central to the decisions the church makes corporately, and central to the habits of life the members live individually. I want the gospel, the God of the gospel, to take priority in every area of life."
And he offers some examples of things he's seen "encouraged and done" at CHBC:
* Intentionally frequenting the same stores (cleaners, restaurants, etc.) with the aim of building relationships and familiarity with store personnel, and hopefully having gospel conversations.
* Using vacations for short-term mission trips.
* Volunteering in community-based organizations to influence for the gospel.
* Hosting home discussions regarding religion and philosophy. A group of young men in the church have faithfully done this with a number of muslim friends and neighbors.
* A couple of brothers have conducted at the local Starbucks periodic apologetic and evangelistic talks aimed at non-Christians.
* A staple: inviting neighbors over for dinner or for holiday parties and talking with them about Christ.
* Hosting Bible studies in the work place.
* Praying together in the Sunday evening services and at meetings set aside specifically to plot and pray for evangelistic opportunities.
* Joining neighborhood clubs (garden clubs, cycling clubs, etc.) to build relationships and further gospel opportunities.
* Inviting friends to church and special lectures sponsored by the church called Henry Forums where the gospel was sure to be center stage.
This is something I've been thinking on quite a bit lately. How do my wife and I design our lives to be so centered on the Gospel that God defines everything we do, down to the smallest details? How can He build that kind of mindset into our marriage and family? Thabiti also tells a great story about meeting a muslim in the hospital. You can also check out his other wonderful posts on life at CHBC.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Monday Catch-Up

This weekend was a blast. Friday night we hung out with the Sylvies, Saturday we went to a great wedding (see vows below) and then an Olympic-level baseball game, and Sunday we worshipped with our church and relaxed together at home.

Some links:
Quiet-Time Guilt - a freeing, grace-filled, God-sent article that explains how the legalism of quiet-times has hurt the body of Christ and how the Bible helps us to see things rightly. Several of you have been helped by this, so I plan to post a summary of it soon. (HT again: Tim Challies)

USA Baseball - the official site of USA baseball. Go check them out if they are in your town.

Free online books -'s book site. Look for John Angell James and other Puritans (see below).

Tailenders - what we are watching on PBS tomorrow night. A documentary about Christian missionaries using primitive technology to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to unreached, untouched, untranslated people groups.

These are some of the wonderful vows used at our friends' wedding Saturday, taken from Puritan John Angell James:
1. Will you use watchfulness and care to each others' spiritual and eternal welfare?
2. Will you pray for each other and with each other?
3. Will you gently and affectionately bring to bear each others sins and defects?
4. Will you strive to stimulate the other unto spiritual ends by being a holy example?
5. Will you warn in temptation, comfort in dejection, and in every way assist one another in your pilgrimmage to your true home?
6. Will you converse often together on the themes of redemption by Christ, and eternal salvation?
7. Will you study each others' dispositions, weaknesses, troubles, decays in piety, that you may apply suitable remedies?
8. Will you exhort one another lest you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin?
9. Will you encourage one another to make communion with God your greatest priority?
10. Will you love Christ and labor together to make Him known?
11. Will you mutually share your thoughts, perplexities, joys, fears, and sorrows?
12. Will you lay down your lives that the other may hear the words from our Lord, "Well done good and faithful servant"?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Our Next-Door Neighbors

In Acts 17:26f, Paul says, "And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us."

In His good wisdom, God has placed a wonderful family next-door to us, a family from San Salvador. God Himself determines the boundaries of nations and the houses of families, and we are thankful to Him for the Fuentes family. We had the amazing opportunity of having them over for dinner on Friday night, followed closely by their kind hospitality to us on Sunday afternoon.

In many ways, these dinners were surreal. First, my wife and I do not speak much Spanish, and they do not speak much more English; yet the conversations went smoothly. God was surely at work even in our very communication. Second, I have long prayed for God to put an international family near us - a family for us to love and care for and minister to, a family for us to share our life with. And as we ate dinner both nights, I realized that God has answered my small prayer. At once I felt tiny and abundantly blessed in Christ.

Then the other night, uninvited and unannounced, their son Andy shows up at our door carrying a plate of hot taquitos and another of Spanish coleslaw. Amazing! B came into the bedroom and exclaimed, "The Fuentes family brought us more food! They must think we don't eat!" We were overjoyed at God's lavish grace upon us in the form of physical food. He certainly cares for us as His children. I went next-door to thank their father, and he gave us more tacos!

What a picture of cheerful giving, what a friendly and hospitable family they are. We thought that we would be the ones doing the giving, but we thank You, Lord Jesus, for encouraging us and humbling us by the Fuentes family. They are a gift from You.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hebrews 13 - Two Times in One Day

Hebrews 13:1-3 reads, "Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body."

Amazingly, God fulfilled these commands in me on Monday - it was a glorious day. First, I got to meet with one of my friends, "Jay," down at the county jail. Jay is awaiting trial for murder, yet God miraculously converted him a year and a half ago. He and I always have fun and deep conversations between thick plexiglass whenever I go visit him. Sometimes, the Lord brings Hebrews 13:3 to mind when I leave the jail, and I am thankful that God continues to help me remember my brother in prison.

Later that night, I met a new friend, "Nate." Nate is a homeless Vietnam veteran, and last night he needed a soda from the store. I was happy to help him. When Nate felt guilty for asking, I encouraged him that we are all beggars before God. We talked for several minutes as we walked back toward my house, and he was moved to tears and asked for help. His confession of need before God and man truly moved my heart. We had a long talk, about everything from God's evident favor to the local rescue mission, and he came back later that night and slept on our porch. Several times he either asked me if I was an angel or joked that he was. Hebrews 13 reminded us both that God commands us to show hospitality to strangers, and we were both happy to be a part of God's gracious plan.

Now I am not saying that you or I have to be any sort of special person to follow Jesus in these ways. According to the Bible, this kind of faith is the gift of God. So from God to all who believe, this way of faith is the way of happiness. Even when it's hard and doesn't make sense, the way of Jesus is always the best. In other words, the Bible tells us that taking up our crosses and following Jesus is the best thing that we can do with our lives. Even when it means going to jail and befriending strangers and receiving ridicule, staying with Jesus is always the only thing that matters. "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it," (Mark 8:35).

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday Helps

How I Want Our Children To Face Our Deaths
(encouraging, Biblical testimonies from young girls faced with their father's cancer)

New, Encouraging Voice of the Martyrs Book, (buy it here)
The Story of Iranian Christians

RC Sproul on the Poor in the Bible
recent message in Ligonier's series on money and stewardship

Upcoming John Owen book
on sin and temptation

Free Online John Owen Works

where to find the old stuff free

A Smorgasboard of Solid Sermons from Ligon Duncan's Church
Many Bible books and more available from FPC-Jackson

I can't believe John Blau beat me to this . . . Anyone who knows me should be amazed that I just now found this link, but God did use it to remind me how much I love Johnny Blau. And how I want to open up a Bojangle's franchise overseas . . .

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Two Great Writers

In Ephesians 3:4, Paul says "by reading this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ." So if we are going to, by God's grace, undertake to explain the mysteries of Christ, we ought to be clear enough to be understood and vivid enough to open the mind and heart.

Justin Taylor's blog has some writing notes from J.I. Packer and C.S. Lewis. Here's my summary of both:

1. Don't write until you have something to say (Packer). This makes perfect sense. Don't blabber. Make a point.

2. Be direct and clear for your ideal audience (both). Write toward your specific reader. Don't waste words or sentences. Don't use big words when short ones will do. Make your meaning clear. Use the short, crisp word or phrase over the elongated one. Don't confuse the reader but enlighten him.

3. Use shade, color, and light (both). There are places for long sentences and short ones. Try alternating them and mixing them up. Use analogies, metaphors, and descriptive words. Impart color and light with your language. Use both sides of the brain and keep the reader awake. Make him feel what you want him to feel instead of simply telling him.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Grace Can Save Your Life . . .

"If it is by works, then it is no longer by grace," says Paul in Romans 11, yet I for one don't spend enough time thinking about God's grace over against my own works.

Check this out. May it help you meditate on Biblical grace and be freed from legalism.

(Hat Tip: Tim Challies)

Mute Math

Luke 4:16-21 says that God sent Jesus and anointed Him with His Spirit to, "proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

I stumbled across Mute Math yesterdayand listened to their single, "Chaos." Check out these lines:
I know you stay true when my world is false
And everything around is breaking down to chaos
I always see you when my sight is lost
And everything around is breaking down to chaos
This reminds me a lot of Luke 4 and many other Bible passages. "You stay true when my world is false" is almost straight out of Scripture (see Proverbs, Isaiah 40:7-8, and Romans 3).

And there's more good stuff: one song talks about the dangers of careless words ("Stare at the Sun"), while another speaks of the "beautiful surrender" of knowing the Lord ("Control"). Great band.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Weekend Wrapup

Just wanted to let ya'll know that we did basically four things this weekend:

1. Went with three other couples to see "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" and, boy, would you have to pay us to see that one again. Yes, the reviews are true - it is too long, not interesting enough, and not a good sequel. Skip it and save your cash, seriously. We did have fun with Dave and Monica afterward, though, so all was not lost.

2. Went "garage-saling" the next morning and picked up some sweet deals.

3. Met up with Adam and Stephanie for a night full of Moe's quasi-Mexican food and Frankie's Fun Park. A plug for Frankie's here - it's a little expensive, but we had a blast. Still a good date, even at $6 a head per game. Plus, the Treece family whooped up on 18 holes of putt-putt, winning by five strokes.

4. Lil B got sick. She is still not well, and we will probably go to the doctor tomorrow. God is completely sovereign, so slease pray for her.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Jesus Sustains Hearts

John 14:1
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Life in NC

A good buddy of mine just asked me how life was back in NC. So, Stephen, this is for you:

Summer in NC
a poem

Summer in Caroliney, there's always a way
to get drenched and sweaty most any old day
or maybe just chill on a porch at night
and slap at 'skeeters bite after bite.

Often we take short walks to the store
and buy food so we can give even more.
Talking to homeless folks never gets old,
even it's late and you don't feel so bold.

So yes the rain, it comes and flows,
and when it stops, it breeds mosquitos.
But it keeps things so quiet at work,
finishing is done with a happy smirk!

(and yeah, there's other stuff,
like being late waking up,
eating good food and loving our church,
family and friends coming often for meals,
burning the rubber right off the wheels,
family devotions and reading at night,
movies and laughter and some late nights,
but to add those would take more time,
and besides, they don't rhyme.)

So Stephen, it must seem weird far across the sea,
and I'm sure you miss church, Supe, and the B's
but keep pressing on, our good Lord to know,
His saving grace He promised ever to show,
and no matter where in the world you may be,
in spirit you'll always be with us in NC.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Glorious Day

Yesterday was glorious. Thank God for the gift of Himself through the blood of Jesus' cross, for my beautiful and ever-fun wife, for our house He makes feel like a home, for our church family, and for a day off to enjoy Him and her and them.

Monday, July 03, 2006


I don't know anything about these guys, except that they rock. Still, I spend a lot of my time at work listening to Inkwell while punching the numbers.

If You're a God-Enthralled History Nerd . . .

This looks like a cool conference.

Our First Non-Honeymoon Solo Trip

Of course, of course, the honeymoon was first. But this weekend was fun, too. We got to ride around southeastern NC together for 6+ hours! God was good to us to give us quieter time together and with Him.

It was fun seeing Mom and Craig, Charlotte and Winston, and Bob and Melissa. We were all privileged to go see the "tall ships" extravaganza in Beaufort, NC. All those festivities made Bob and me want to climb the crow's nest and become sailors. Arrrrrrggggghhhh!!!!

The next day, we got to fight the great white waves of God's Atlantic Ocean. There was much pushing, falling, eating it, jumping waves, and riding them in. Lil' B also tried her hand at wave-jumping, but mostly got drenched. A www.

God was again good to us. We had sweet family time, play time, and most importantly, Jesus time. Praise Him for much-needed breaks!