December 22, 2015

24 free ebooks from Faith Life / Logos!

Faith Life online Study Bible (part of Logos Software) is giving away 24 free ebooks for the advent season!

CLICK HERE to go to the page... As of this morning it was still letting me get any of the books for free.

November 24, 2015

J. I. Packer: An Evangelical Life by Leland Ryken - Book Review

I freely admit that I don't normally have the endurance for listening to audio books that take more than 5 or 6 hours to listen to.  It isn't that I don't like to listen, but my audio book listening times are usually limited to my commute to and from work. Listening to a lengthy audio book in 15 minute segments tends to feel wearisome, but I found with J. I. Packer: An Evangelical Life by Leland Ryken that I was creating times to continue listening. About 1/3 of the way through the book, I found that I didn't want it to stop. I genuinely felt like I was getting to know J. I. Packer, so I wanted to know more of his story.

I wouldn't relate listening to this book like watching a movie. The first part of the book did tell his story, but it wasn't action-packed suspense. What kept me going was the character of this man. In many ways I began to relate to his decisions and understand why he might be doing what he was doing.

I especially appreciated Leland Ryken's approach to breaking up the biography the way he did. As I mentioned, he started by giving an overview of his life, but then he went the extra mile to attempt to reveal more of Packer's character by examining several areas of his life. There were portions that explored Packer as a Preacher and Packer as an author. There was also the examination of the many controversial topics that were an ongoing part of Packer's life as a public figure. Before I listened to this book, I didn't realize that Packer was an Anglican, but by the time I was done I found myself appreciating his ongoing efforts to bring doctrinal reformation to the church. He described himself as a crusader, and I can see and appreciate that fact.

This book was read by David Cochran Heath, who always does an outstanding job. If you are interested in learning more about J. I. Packer, then I would highly recommend this book.

This book will also be important to me because this is the book I was listening to as I decided that I wanted to be a full-time Pastor. (I have been a part-time Pastor and a part-time Teacher for the last 6 years.)

November 17, 2015

Shuffle Growth is the Plague of Danville Churches

Despite the fall in overall church attendance, only one in six regular churchgoers thinks the church he or she attends is declining in numbers. Two-fifths think their church is growing. Perhaps some people are in denial about falling church numbers. But it may also be that many churches are growing but mainly through transfer growth. A declining number of Christians are consolidating into growing churches. It is still possible to grow a church by offering a better church experience than other churches. Whatever the merit of this, it is vital for us to realize that this is not evangelistic growth. It is possible to plant a church and see it grow without doing mission. "People can be attracted to a church by what it offers," says Jim Peterson, "but ... increase of this sort isn't church growth at all. It's just a reshuffling of the same fifty two cards."
~Everyday Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

November 14, 2015

Zentangle Class at Georgetown

I am part of an after school program called Project Success. I participate on Tuesday and Thursday each week at the school where I teach. One of the activities that I am introducing to the kids in the program is called Zentangle.

I discovered Zentangle about a year ago, and have grown to love it. I guess you could call it a hobby, but it is more of an outlet. I am not into the whole "zen" thing, but I do find this art form to be very relaxing.

One of the Project Success leaders has seen some of my Tangles, and decided to get some Zentangle supplies for the program. I was really pumped about the prospect, but sort of worried at the same time. Teens in after school programs aren't always the most calm and relaxing group to be around. And when you want to share something that, by nature, is calm and relaxing with a group of people that are the opposite of calm and relaxing, there is a certain level of anxiety that begins to arise.

Well, two days ago I had my first Zentangle class. I can't emphasize enough how pleasantly surprised I was. I started out time by saying that Zentangle was something that I loved, and I was asking them to show some respect for that fact. Then, after briefly discussing the "zen" aspect of the art, I said, "You know. I like to joke around and be sarcastic as much as the next guy, but do you ever just get tired of it? It wears me out. Every comment has to be a comeback. Everything you hear, might have a different meaning. If you open up too much, somebody is going to give you a hard time, and try to make it OK by saying they were just joking. Well... sometimes I just want to have a normal conversation with somebody.... So, lets try this: When you come to my room for Zentangle, let's leave the sarcasm at the door."

One of the kids immediately said, "Don't even bring it down the hall."

I couldn't believe how well they all responded to this. The rest of the time we were in there, they were all positive and encouraging to each other. As I instructed them on some basic designs and on the process, there was a genuinely calm and peaceful feel to the room. Even the most sarcastic of the kids was polite and... well... real. It was great. I think that for the time we were in there, they felt safe.

two of my tangles that resulted from our time in the class

I am not a true Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT), but I do enjoy the art. I know that those kids are looking forward to the next session. When I start getting some samples of their tangles, I will start posting them here.

I don't think that I have ever done this before, but if you wanted to help support these kids, we need some artist tiles, some more Zentangle pens, and I would love to be able to get each one of them their own Zentangle Kit.

There is a basic kit that would work great for these guys. It is the Sakura 50010 9-Piece Zentangle Clamshell Pencil Set .

Here is a link to some for about Studio Series Artist's Tiles: White (75 pack) $5.

If I have any rich friends out there... you could consider sponsoring me to become a Certified Zentangle Instructor... but that is crazy expensive!

November 13, 2015

Horton and The Who

One of my students kept asking me to draw them a picture of Horton. I have put her off for almost a year... oops... but last week was her birthday, so I finally complied and sketched her a picture of Horton and The Who...

November 3, 2015

The Wonder Working God by Jared Wilson -- Book Review

Thanks to Christian Audio's Reviewers Program, I was able to just finish listening to The Wonder-Working God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Miracles by Jared Wilson. This book was also read by the author, which I always prefer.

In The Wonder Working God, Jared Wilson has gathered together descriptions and expositions of the miracles of Jesus. At first, I believed that the miracles were grouped according to their similarity of the miraculous occurrence. But just now, as I am typing this review, I have realized that the grouping goal was according to how the miracle revealed the Miraculous Jesus. Obviously there are similarities to the types of miracles that are grouped together in the chapters, but the author has done an amazing job at pulling back the details of the miracle and the comments and conversations around the miracle to show that each of these miracles was not simply about showing that Jesus could do stuff, but showing how Jesus is truly glorious in every way.

Even though the Wonder Working God is not simply a commentary on the miracles of Jesus, it could still be a wonderful tool to use in a study of these miracles. And as I listened to the book, I started to realize that each chapter reads more like an excellently crafted sermon than an exegetical commentary. As you read/listen, the gospel message is clearly there, but not in a forced way... in an expository way...  The way a good preacher will pull back the words of Scripture to reveal Jesus. Jared Wilson has definitely done an amazing job of Preaching Christ.

I highly recommend this book.

October 27, 2015

Christians Get Depressed Too (Book Review)

I just finished listening to the audiobook version of Christians Get Depressed Too by David Murray.

I was originally hesitant to read (and/or listen) to this book. When the Christian Audio Reviewers program brought this up as a possibility, I almost just skipped it. The title of the book, with the emoticon on the cover, left me thinking this book would lean toward the shallow end of books in the Christian Counseling arena. I guess that I should never judge a book by its cover... literally. I was pleasantly surprised by this book.

Even though this was a fairly short book, as it was meant to be, it delved into all of the major concerns when dealing with the topic of depression. It obviously didn't cover any of these topics to a great depth, but each topic received an appropriate amount of attention.

David Murray did a great job of explaining some of the balance that is required in understanding depression. One of the issues he was addressing in this book is the tendency of Christians to lean one way or another when considering the causes of depression and the care given to those suffering with depression. In different parts of the book he would address the side that leans too much toward physical and mental causes and care, while ignoring the spiritual. Then he would make sure that the side that would lean all toward spiritual causes when ignoring the physical and mental issues was appropriately addressed.

One of my favorite parts of this book pertained to the audio version. The book was read by the author, who has a wonderful Scottish Accent. As soon as I started listening, his voice grabbed my attention. I always prefer when a book is read by the author, but this was exceptionally enjoyable.

If you have questions on depression, and you are looking for a book to help you navigate your counsel and care for another or for yourself, this book will be quite helpful. I found great balance in this book. David Murray also included several references to other books that can be helpful, and he gave appropriate warnings about books that might lean too heavily in one direction. I was surprised by how much love and level-headedness he used when addressing all of these issues. It became abundantly obvious that he is (or was) a Pastor, and has walked through some deep waters with others.

October 25, 2015

The Immanuel Mantra

Near the end of the sermon today, I made a reference to The Immanuel Mantra. This mantra is explained in a short video by Ray Ortlund from the Immanuel Church in Nashville. The video didn't play all the way through today, so I thought I would go ahead and post it.

 
Immanuel Mantra from Immanuel Nashville on Vimeo.

October 18, 2015

Proclaim the Excellencies

You will never be able to proclaim the excellencies of Jesus while living in disobedience to Jesus.

October 17, 2015

The Freelance Christian?

The freelance Christian, who follows Jesus but is too good, too busy, or too self-sufficient for the church, is a walking contradiction. In the old covenant, God set his people apart from the nations. In the new covenant, he sets us apart as we live among the nations. But all of Scripture testifies that believers cannot be godly or fruitful without joining God's family and realizing some form of separation from the world. 
~Daniel M. Doriani, I Peter Reformed Expository Commentary

September 28, 2015

the truth

Since the church is full of sinners, it is also full of deceivers, hypocrites, and slanderers. People say one thing, then the opposite, and act baffled if someone points this out. For some people, words are tools they deploy to fulfill their goals or desires. For them, the truth is any statement that gets them what they want, and a lie is any statement that keeps them from getting what they want.
Daniel M. Doriani; Reformed Espository Commentary on I Peter

September 21, 2015

New Tangles

My neighbor is an artist. A couple of days ago I saw some of her doodles, and it inspired me to try out a few new patterns.




September 12, 2015

some new artwork

Here are some of my more recent doodles. They are mostly in the form of blank cards and postcards. If you are interested in purchasing a card, or have a card that you would like me to make, just let me know. 


Thanks (blank inside)

Thanks (blank inside)

(blank inside)
(blank inside)

Fire Flowers (blank inside)

Daisies in a Basket (blank inside)

I Love You (blank inside)

You Are My Love (blank inside)

Bubbles (blank inside)

postcard

postcard

postcard

postcard

postcard











July 8, 2015

Judge Not the Lord by Feeble Sense

God Moves in a Mysterious Way
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm. 
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will. 
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head. 
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face. 
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r. 
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
William Cowper, 1774

"Why have I found favor in your sight?"

We are studying Ruth in our adult Sunday School Class at Church. I am using A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper as a guide. As he writes about Ruth 2:10-13, he says the following (which is worth sharing and pondering):
[Ruth] is different from most people today. We have a sense of entitlement. We expect kindness and are astonished and resentful if we don't get our "rights." But Ruth expresses her sense of unworthiness by falling on her face and bowing to the ground. Proud people don't feel amazed at being treated well. They don't feel deep gratefulness. But humble people do. In fact, they are made even more humble by being treated graciously. They are so amazed that grace came to them in their unworthiness that they feel even more lowly. But they receive the gift. Joy increases, not self-importance. Grace is not intended to replace lowliness with pride. It's intended to replace sorrow with joy.
John Piper, A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God

June 17, 2015

Bless Your Heart

Bless Your Heart (framed artwork):


Church Rummage Sale

Edgewood's Church Rummage Sale is coming up this Saturday!


It will be June 20th from 8am to 1pm. All of the proceeds to this rummage sale is going to go to help cover the costs of bringing The Gray Havens to our Church for a Concert this fall!


June 15, 2015

Thanks Obamacare!

I am having to do something that I have never had to do before... I am having to shop for health insurance. Since I have been an adult... and worked actual jobs... I have not had to do any shopping for health insurance.

But now, and I am convinced that it has to do with Obamacare, my insurance rates are skyrocketing and my employer is dropping coverage for family health coverage.

Now I am forced to consider HealthCare.Gov for my insurance needs. I am grateful for the option, but I am annoyed that I am now forced to need it.

June 8, 2015

we were together Greeting Card



Front: "We were together, I forget the rest." Walt Whitman

(I believe that this is actually an abbreviated quote from Walt Whitman.)


Dark Roads Greeting Card



Front: "Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens." J.R.R. Tolkien

Inside: "I'm here for you."

Shadows of Christ Greeting Card



Front: "All Heroes are shadows of Christ." ~John Piper

Inside: "Keep at it."

June 3, 2015

you must have a doctrine

In his epistle to the Romans, Paul mentions predestination in close proximity to God's foreknowledge: "Whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29) Christians who seek to be biblical in their thinking must have a doctrine of election and of predestination. These concepts were not invented by Augustine in his debate with Pelagius, or by Luther in his debate with Erasmus, or by Calvin in his debate with Pigius, or by Edwards in his debate with Chubb. These concepts of election and predestination are found in the text of Scripture. If you really want to be biblical as a Christian, it is incumbent upon you to hold to the biblical doctrine of predestination and of election and not some other construction. 
R. C. Sproul, St. Andrews Expositional Commentary on 1 - 2 Peter

June 2, 2015

Give me an "H"

Give me an "H"!


I was needing an "H" for a picture on the wall. My wife asked me to draw an "H" on a star, but I couldn't decide which one to do. So, here is a compilation of several different "H's" for her to choose from. The one I picked wasn't exactly like any of these... but was close to the one in the top right hand corner.

May 23, 2015

You are Serving the Lord Christ.

Tomorrow I am preaching the final message in a series that dealt with the points of our (Edgewood Baptist Church's) statement of faith. When I began this series, I thought that I would be able to wrap it up in a few weeks. I was planning on combining several of the points from the statement into single messages. I actually thought it might be a tad bit boring if I wasn't careful... and I really just wanted to use these points as a sort of filler until I started to exposit through the next book of the Bible. ... boy was I off ...

With each point of our statement, our confession of faith, I have found it to be a struggle to condense that point to just one week. It has been exciting. It has been enlightening. There are several things that I have learned, that I genuinely didn't know or didn't believe before I began this study. Well, tomorrow is not different.

We will be dealing with the final point, which is the reality of the return of Christ Jesus to this world. It is dealing with end times... last things. Over the past week, as I have studied this point, examining the relevant passages of scripture, I am genuinely being motivated to continue in the work of the ministry. As I have looked at how Jesus (and the Apostles) talk about the End, when we will see Him, it has been an encouragement to keep at it, because quite frankly... He is going to reward us.

Consider John Frame's words:

May 21, 2015

proportionally rewarded

The glory of the saints above will be in some proportion to their eminency in holiness and good works here.
~Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards Volume 2 pg902

April 29, 2015

Everyone's a Theologian by R.C. Sproul - Book Review

I just finished listening to Christian Audio's version of Everyone's a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology by R.C. Sproul that was read by Grover Gardner... Here is my review of this book.

According to the cover of Everyone's a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology by R.C. Sproul, this book is meant to be an introduction to Systematic Theology. As I was listening to it, I was starting to feel like it wasn't quite an introduction, but a full-fledged book on Theology. It wasn't as concise as I was expecting, and it seemed like some of the topics would have been a bit too challenging for the new Christian.

If I put that aside, it was actually a very good introduction to theology. Each chapter only lasts 5 to 15 minutes, so it makes for an easy listen. I listen while I commute to and from work, so a book like this is perfect for those times where I listen just a little bit at a time. Each section gave the basics of those theological topics in such a way that you could walk away with a solid foundation of thought without being overwhelmed... but like I said, if you are brand new to Christianity, then this book might be a bit much.


April 21, 2015

Charles Spurgeon: Preaching Through Adversity by John Piper - Book Review

I really enjoyed reading Piper's book, Charles Spurgeon: Preaching through Adversity . I found this book at just the right time. I am nowhere near facing the adversity that Charles Spurgeon faced (as I found out in this book), but I definitely found that the perspectives on how to preach through adversity were extremely helpful.... and now, here is my review of this book:


Charles Spurgeon: Preaching through Adversity was a fairly short book. I was able to read this book in just a few sittings. It was really well written, and as it is with most of John Piper's books, the shortness of the book didn't equate to a lack of any kind.

I was initially intrigued by this book because of the title. I hadn't realized that Charles Spurgeon faced such adversity. It probably shouldn't have surprised me. I have always admired the sermons of Spurgeon's, that I have had the opportunity to read, but I really didn't know much about his personal life. This book really filled in the realities of his hardships.

Piper does a wonderful job of using relevant quotes and other examples to pull together the reality of Spurgeon's trials, but more importantly, to answer the question, "How did he continue to preach through this adversity?" As I read through this book I felt that I was really entering into Spurgeon's life.

As a Pastor myself, I found great comfort in this book. It kept pointing me back to great realities and infinite truths that, when believed, bring great comfort and encouragement. Most specifically the truths of God's Sovereignty and the doctrines of God's Great Unmerited Grace!

As the book drew to a close, I found myself... not simply admiring Charles Spurgeon... but glorying in my real hero: Jesus. This is precisely what John Piper desires to accomplish, and I can't help but think that Spurgeon would be pleased with this book as well, because the hero of Charles H. Spurgeon's story isn't Charles H. Spurgeon but Christ.

April 16, 2015

Striking a Deep, Resonating Chord

I just started reading Charles Spurgeon: Preaching through Adversity by John Piper. I am going to share on this blog a portion of the introduction to this book because it struck such a deep, resonating chord with me.

If you know me in real life, you know that I have been really showing the wear and tear of trying to be a full-time pastor, a full-time teacher, a husband, a father... and everything else... a home-owner, a mechanic, a handy-man, after-school program, etc. etc. etc. I have been busy before, but I have never felt quite like I currently do.

So, when I read this introduction, I felt like I was taking a peek into my own soul. Therefore, I share this introduction to give you a peek...