5 Reasons the flu made me thankful

I have been sitting in the same bed for basically the last 26 hours and will likely be staying in it another 36 hours because I have the flu.  God has been very gracious to me in that my symptoms have not been nearly as severe as they could have been.  But even more than that He has graciously reminded me of a few things that I can be thankful for.

  1. I am thankful to have friends that let me stay at their house so that my family doesn’t get further contaminated by me. – Not only did they offer their home, they have been wonderful hosts.  Provided me dinner, bottles of water, and snacks as well.
  2. I am thankful to have a job that I am disappointed to miss a day in the office.  – You see I really do love my job and who I work with so it is a bummer when I can’t be there.
  3. I am thankful to have a family that I miss when I am not with them.  – Gloria and the kids bring great delight to my day every single day.  Being away from them is always difficult.
  4. I am thankful to have medicine that helps relieve pain, reduce symptoms, and minimize discomfort. – God uniquely gave men and women knowledge and abilities to create medicine, doctors to know how to determine you are sick, and pharmacists to get you the right amount.
  5. I am thankful to have a God (the only one) who is faithful to remind me of all that He has provided me to be thankful for!

Two (or three) moms to thank

As I sit here in a hospital room looking at my precious 7-year-old daughter I am incredibly thankful for both her birth mother and her mommy.

You see, if her birth mother had not chosen to give birth, to complete the pregnancy, and had not chosen to seek out a way to provide her with a life for the future, I would not be sitting here today.  Some days I wish I could look her in the eyes and say thank you.

Thank you for giving me one of the greatest joys of my life.  Thank you for allowing me the honor of being called Daddy by this tiny treasure. Thank you for choosing life when you didn’t have to.  My heart is broken by what I read in the news today and how this a choice at all.  My heart is broken that it is not only allowed, but celebrated as a victory by so many today.  But I am choosing to say thank you to Lottie’s birth mother – thank you for choosing the difficult path.

But, I also say thank you to her mommy.  My wife, who has been gifted in too many ways to count, is Lottie’s mommy.  Gloria, from the get go, has been a force to be reckoned with.  She fought with passion, pursuing Lottie before we even knew her face.  She fought even harder once we had her in sight.  And She fights still as she manages and provides unbelievable care for youngest of three (at least for now).  So, on this day, as you have cared for Lottie uniquely in this hospital room I want to say thank you yet again.

Thank you for treasuring life enough to bring two children into this world.  Thank you for loving them with a motherly love that can only be given through the grace of God.  Thank you for pursuing Lottie and passionately advocating for her best care.  Thank you for being the nurturing, grace-filled, mercy-giving, mommy that you are.  Lottie is healthier because you are her mommy.

And…Thank you Gloria for pursuing another child yet again.  I am already thankful to another mother somewhere in India who has chosen to not abort, but instead has chosen life for the boy that will be our son.

Observing the gospel through Adoption

This morning I had the unique gift of watching a family be legally united.  One man became a father, and one woman became a mother, to a son and daughter. With the signature of a judge and with a room full of witnesses these two children joined this family.  There were joyful tears of celebration and cheers of delight from everyone.

You see, this couple, now parents, went to great lengths to demonstrate their love for these children. They have been caring for them and providing for them and will now raise them as their own.  These children will be given a new name and will forever be a part of this family.

What a priceless example of the gospel.  In the same way our Heavenly Father demonstrated His vast love for His children. He went to great lengths for us. He provides for us and cares for us and makes us His own.  And when we acknowledge Him as Lord we become a part of His forever family.

And yes, there will are tears of celebration and cheers of delight when a sinner repents and joins the family of God!

Billy Graham Quotes

“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion—it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”

“There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess men.”

“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spine of others are often stiffened.”

“Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys.”

“Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.”

“Churchgoers are like coals in a fire. When they cling together, they keep the flame aglow; when they separate, they die out.”

“Don’t ever hesitate to take to [God] whatever is on your heart. He already knows it anyway, but He doesn’t want you to bear its pain or celebrate its joy alone.”

“Many people are willing to have Jesus as part of their lives—as long as it doesn’t cost them anything. They may even profess faith in Jesus and join a church. But Jesus to them is almost like an insurance policy—something they obtain and then forget about until they die. What keeps you from being His disciple?”

“The very practice of reading [the Bible] will have a purifying effect upon your mind and heart. Let nothing take the place of this daily exercise.”

“The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.”

“Salvation is an act of God. It is initiated by God, wrought by God, and sustained by God.”

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”

Billy Graham’s legacy

Even though I never met Billy Graham personally, I was privileged to attend one of his crusades in the early 90’s at the Georgia Dome. As with many of you, I have been profoundly impacted by his ministry and his leadership.  While his passing was certainly sad for us here on earth it was not so for him.  Here is what he had to say about his own death years ago, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

Billy Graham provided a great legacy for ministry and leadership.  Here are 5 characteristics that he had that are a consistent challenge to me.

  1. He was a committed husband. – Billy and Ruth were married for over 60 years and stayed faithful to one another.  Even nearing the end of his ministry he purposely slowed his work so that he could be of greater support to her.
  2. He was a loving father. – I once heard Anne Graham Lotz respond to a question about how often her father was gone.  She stated that while he traveled quite often, whenever he was home they had his full attention.  That attention provided great comfort for them as children to know they were important to him.
  3. He was a man of integrity. – Graham was known for his strong stance against ever having accusations made against him in regards to women.  This is why he was never alone with a woman that wasn’t his wife.  That rule even applied to elevator rides.
  4. He was preacher with passion. – If you watch his sermons, from any era, you will find one who senses and displays a significant urgency  in his call to response.  I am thankful for this example that he set.
  5. He was a believer with conviction. – Graham once made this statement, “My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ.” That belief is what drove him to preach to over 215 million people in 185 countries over 60 years.

The Gospel and Singleness

Here are few thoughts on being single.

  • Singleness is good. (1 Corinthians 7:8)
    • It demonstrates self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:9)
    • It displays dependence on Christ.
  • Singleness is a gift. (1 Corinthians 7:7)
    • It provides opportunity for intense focus.                            (1 Corinthians 7:35)
    • It offers less stress. (1 Corinthians 7:32-34)
      • Fewer family responsibilities – (1 Corinthians 7:29b)
      • Fewer emotional connections – (1 Corinthians 7:30)
      • Fewer earthly possessions – (1 Corinthians 7:30b)
      • Fewer worldly attachments (1 Corinthians 7:31)
    • Singleness is a portrait of the gospel.
      • It shows the Christian’s ultimate identity in Christ.
      • It shows the Christian’s eternal identification with the Church.

“In the past, singleness was avoided by most.  In the present, singleness is advantageous for many.  In the future, singleness will be applied to all.  (Matthew 22:30 – For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.)” – David Platt

  • If you are single…
    • Don’t…waste your singleness.
    • Do…find contentment in the sovereignty of God.
    • Do… find joy in the grace of God.
    • If you are married…
      • Don’t…demean singleness as anything less than a gift from God.
      • Don’t…diminish the challenges of singleness.
      • Do…embrace your single brothers and sisters into your household.

What to think about mass shootings?

In the wake of yet another tragedy my heart breaks to think of the pain and suffering that so many are experiencing right now.  There is unequivocal pain in the loss of an innocent child to a violent act of hostile brutality.  With this sort of pain it is multiplied, not only because of the amount of fatalities, but also because of the spiraling effect on those left behind.  For the families related, the students, faculty, and the community at large there is a new state of fear, a new type of worry, and a new level of doubt.

As believers, what are we to think? What are we to do?  What should we NOT do?

  1. We trust in God (Psalm 20:7).  God is worthy of our trust despite the weakness of our flesh.  This is not the time (nor is there ever) to stop believing that God is in control.  We believe that even through persecution, tribulations, and trials that God is worthy to be trusted (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
  2. We grieve for others (Matthew 5:4). God comforts us when we mourn.  We can be and should be saddened by acts of evil.  These vicious acts are not just problematic; they are sin and as such are evil in the sight of God.  We should grieve for those who lost loved ones and we should grieve that there is sin like this at all.
  3. We pray with others (James 5:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Ephesians 6:18).  During these types of tragedies, and so many more, we are to lay down all of our cares and concerns before the Lord because He cares for us and is concerned for us (1 Peter 5:7).
  4. We should not fear (Joshua 1:9). Fear is not from the Lord.  Remember, we trust Him for His perfect plan, so let us live out that trust without fear.

May we as believers remember that despite acts of extreme evil, God is still on the throne.  Despite man taking the life of others, we can have eternal life with the Father.  Despite sin causing such violence, Christ offers redemption through His blood on the cross.

Flip and Francois

A few months ago I spent several days in Uganda working with a wonderful ministry there called Four Corners (www.fourcorners.org).  Myself and two other men from Park Place went to train Pastors and church leaders in discipleship.

While we were there there was a Father/Daughter team waiting to serve alongside us.  We did not know them before we got there but we quickly found a common bond in our love for the Lord and for the nations.

Shane (the Dad) shared a story with us the very first night that we all found quite interesting.  He and his daughter (Hannah) had to travel a different route to get to Uganda than originally planned and were even delayed a day because of it.  They shared that they left one African country on an airplane and met a young man on the plane that they interacted with briefly.  Uniquely, they had the same connecting flight with him from the second country to Uganda.  This was very unusual but they smiled and laughed about this unique situation.

They left the airport that next day and drove 8 hours north to the town we would all be serving in.  To their surprise, this same young man was in that same rural town at the restaurant that Shane and Hannah went to eat lunch.

(I don’t know if you are picking up on this but this is now the 3rd country and 4th city that these two parties have “coincidentally” run into each other.)

While at lunch Shane found out that this young man’s name was Flip and he was from South Africa visiting his friend Francois.  The two young men were polite and certainly thought it was interesting to see these two in so many different places.  Only a few minutes after Flip and Francois left the restaurant, Shane and Hannah were disappointed in themselves for not taking the time to share the gospel with them.  So, Shane asked God to put them in their path one more time.

That is exactly what God did.  20 minutes later, at a small grocery store the two parties met again.  This time, Shane was not letting the opportunity pass him by.  Shane shared the gospel with these two young men.  They were both very kind but neither chose to follow Jesus at that time.

Fast forward a week later and our team was supposed to travel 2 hours in a different direction to go on a safari.  We had actually tried to cancel the safari but were unable to for unique reasons so we decided to move ahead with the plan.  You guessed it, as we arrived at the Safari entrance the only other car in line was the car of Flip and Francois.  We thanked God for such an unbelievable opportunity and hoped to see them at the hotel.  God providentially brought that about once again.

As we sat down at the hotel table, Flip and Francois laughingly greeted us and commented about how crazy this was to have met them again.  A few minutes later Flip approached our table.  He asked Shane if he could meet to talk with him about some things.  Shane agreed and ended up skipping the Safari trip and seeing all the wonderful animals to stay back and visit with Flip.

Flip had just a few questions about discipleship and following Christ, in which it was made clear that Flip was already a believer.  However, Francois was an entirely different story.  He had never made that decision to follow Christ.  He simply couldn’t ignore it anymore.  Shane was able to point Francois to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and by the powerful Word of Christ.

Moments later Shane and Francois were in the baptismal waters of the hotel pool.  Praise the Lord for his grace.  Praise the Lord that He pursues us in every country and every setting.  Praise the Lord for the faithfulness of one man to see the salvation of a soul to be more important the sight of an animal.

9 Glory of God Alone Quotes

“The end of all the why questions is God and His glory.” – Kevin DeYoung

“The end for which God created the World.” – Jonathan Edwards

“What you think about God is the most important thing about you.” – A.W. Tozer

“Simply put, the fact that salvation is by faith alone, grace alone, and Christ alone, without any meritorious contribution on our part, ensures that all glory is God’s and not our own.  Likewise, the fact that Scripture alone is our final authority…protects the glory of God against every human conceit.” – David VanDrunen

“It is not sufficient for anyone, and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross.” – Martin Luther

The chief good of man is nothing else but union with God.” – John Calvin

“We never truly glory in him until we have utterly discarded our own glory…The elect are justified by the Lord, in order that they may glory in him, and in none else.” – John Calvin

“It is the necessary consequence of his delighting in the glory of his nature that He delights in the emanation and effulgence of it.” – Jonathan Edwards

“The glory of the Lord is the splendor and brilliance that is inseparably associated with all of God’s attributes and his self-revelation in nature and grace, the glorious form in which he everywhere appears to his creatures.” – Herman Bavinck

11 Christ Alone Quotes

“If you want to make atonement to [God] apart from Christ the mediator, making your works…the mediation between Him and yourself, you will inevitably fall as Lucifer did…and in horrible despair lose God and everything.” – Martin Luther

“In Christ alone means all of Christ – everything taught about Christ in the entire Scriptures – and it means Christ and no one else.” – Albert Mohler

“It is to Christ alone that I must be faithful.  I must be exclusively devoted to Jesus Christ above all else.” – Trevin Wax

“Faith is no faith without an object.” – Martin Luther

“The summary of the gospel is that our Lord Christ, true Son of God, has made known to us the will of his Heavenly Father and has redeemed us from death and reconciled us with God by his guiltiness.  Therefore, Christ is the only way to salvation of all who were, are now, or shall be.” – Huldrych Zwingli

“We are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who alone is the mediator to reconcile the Father.” – Philip Melanchthon

“For Calvin, the Christian life is a daily feeding upon these riches.  We never move on from the gospel, but grow more deeply into its nourishing soil, thereby bearing the fruit of love and good works.  The supreme gift in this union is Christ himself, but he brings his gifts with him.” – Michael Horton

“Christ if full of grace, life, and salvation.  The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation.  Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ’s, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul’s; for if Christ is a bridegroom, he must take it upon himself the things which are his bride’s and bestow upon her the things that are his…Who then can fully appreciate what this royal marriage means?  Who can understand the riches of the glory of this grace?  Here this rich and a divine bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all his goodness.  Her sins cannot not destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by him.  And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast as of her own and which she can confidently display alongside her sins in the face of death and hell and say, ‘if I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all his is mine and all mine is his.” – Martin Luther

“Faith must be taught correctly, namely, that by it you are so cemented to Christ that He and you are as one person, which cannot be separated but remains attached to Him forever.” – Martin Luther

“The reason we are able to forget our union with Christ is that we have yet to experience the full glory of what it will mean.  For now, we are members of Christ’s body, but we still wander, our bodies still ache, and we shall still die.” – Reeves and Chester

“The first thing I ask is that people should not make use of my name, and should not call themselves Lutherans but Christians.  What is Luther?  The teaching is not mine.  Nor was I crucified for anyone…How did I, poor stinking bag of maggots that I am, come to the point where people call the children of Christ by my evil name?” – Martin Luther