Friday, December 10, 2010

Multiplication through Subtraction (Part 1)

My time is short, but I wanted to post a few thoughts. In just a few weeks, CrossPoint Baptist Church will enter a new chapter in its lengthy 14 year history. We will send one of our full-time pastoral staff members and 60 of our folks to re-plant Grace Baptist Church in mid-city Baton Rouge. Roughly 20% of our folks will be serving in this new ministry venture. There are lots of ways to look at what we are doing, but I tend to see it as multiplication through subtraction. Yes, we will miss some of our key servants. Yes, we will have "less" folks here. Yes, some of the things we have done very well over the past few years may not be done as easily. But also "yes" a neighborhood that is in desperate need of the Gospel will have new vitality added to it. But also "yes" there will be people who come to Christ who we have not even met yet. But also "yes" now instead of one church getting larger, we will have two congregations working to advance the Gospel in partnership. But also "yes" God will provide for both groups and will build His church. If we were territorial we would never do this. I loathe territorial pastors (and there are plenty of them). I'm weary of meetings among pastors who say let's work together, then get in the car and adopt the every-man-for-himself mentality. I'm praying God will use what we believe He has led us to do, to model what it means to look at Baton Rouge through the lens of the Kingdom and not just territory. All of the territory is God's! So while some may think we are crazy. We think we are obedient. While some may have their doubts. We have full confidence in the Lord. Multiplication through subtraction!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What If?

I was recently with Dr. David Crosby, Pastor of FBC New Orleans, at a state meeting in Alexandria. Dr. Crosby expressed his concern for his city and in particular his hope that the North American Mission Board would honor its commitment to have 6 missionaries in New Orleans. At the time of our meeting, there were only 4 NAMB missionaries working in New Orleans. New Orleans would have all 6 missionaries, but one retired and the other resigned with neither being replaced. Having lived in New Orleans for five years, I certainly understand Dr. Crosby's plea for help. Later, a thought occurred to me: there are over 1,600 churches in the Louisiana Baptist Convention. If each one of those congregations sent one disciple to New Orleans to live and make other disciples, how different could New Orleans potentially be? Imagine with me . . . 1,600 additional missionaries living and sharing the Gospel of Christ alongside the current brothers and sisters who live in New Orleans. It was then that a second question occurred to me. How many of these 1,600 congregations have actually discipled and deployed members for the sake of the Gospel? As scary as it may be to learn how few are sending folks out for the sake of Christ, it might be even scarier to see how many are actually making disciples? That's for another post, however. Sticking to the topic at hand, I am praying that CrossPoint becomes a major disciple-making factory, where we see folks come to Christ, grow in Christ, and then go for Christ. What if CrossPoint never has 1,000 members at one time, but what if we plant 1,000 churches in our city, in other cities, and in other countries? What if we constantly discipled and deployed?

A final thought: If New Orleans needs 2 additional missionaries, then I believe the best place to start looking is in our 1,600 congregations. If we cannot find 2 that are both equipped and willing to move for the Gospel, then we might want to reevaluate exactly what we are doing from week to week.

A final, final thought: You might say and ask, "This is great, but where is the funding going to come from?" When Christ begins to reign over our family and church budgets, I do not believe funding will be an issue.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


In our service on Sunday, I read Matthew 9:35-38 during one of our corporate times of prayer. Every time I read verse 36 and see these words: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" I am instantly convicted because of my lack of compassion at times. If we were all honest, we would say that there are certain times and certain people with whom displaying compassion is difficult. When people are mean to us (like the kid who kicked my shin in kindergarten - but I'm not bitter!) compassion typically is not our first response. In other times, we may see a situation but not be moved with compassion to act. Here's the great news of the Gospel, it's not up to you to conjure up compassion from within. The good news of the Gospel is that as we are united with Christ, it is His compassion that flows through us. As our lives are focused on him and yielded to Him, His fruit will be produced in us. For instance, the next time you find a lack of compassion in your heart for a person who has treated you awful, then meditate on the cross. As you meditate on the cross, listen very intently as the crowd cries "Crucify." Listen to the crowd as their screams escalate "His blood be on us and on our children." Listen as their voices prevail with the cry "Release to us Barabbas." Then listen most to what Jesus says, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do." As we meditate on the cross constantly we will love others rightly. Then as His compassion is produced in you and through you, He also is the One who receives the glory! Your compassion = your glory and it being more about you than the other person. Christ's compassion = the gospel life produced from the inside out with Christ's glory above all. Father, please produce your compassion in us, especially for those we are least inclined to love.

A church by definition is . . .

Through the years, we've been asked to fill out church statement paperwork on candidates for the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (of which I am an alum - 3 times over). Something that has always intrigued me is the definition given for a Southern Baptist church on the form. The form contains these words: "A church is Southern Baptist by definition of (sic) it participates with the Southern Baptist Convention in at least one of the following ways: (1) gives to the Cooperative Program, (2) gives to the Lottie Moon Offering, IMB directly; (3) gives to the Annie Armstrong Offering, NAMB directly; (4) is dually aligned with the SBC; (5) is a member of a local SBC Association; or (6) gives to the SBC Executive Board directly."

None of this is meant as a slam on my fair alma mater (since the definition could be borrowed by NOBTS from another source), but as I noted there are some intriguing aspects in this definition. The first aspect that is intriguing to me is that the word "gives" appears 4 times while the word "believes" appears zero times. Of course some might say belief is covered in option #5 above, but it's a bit disturbing that what "defines" a SBC church could be where our money goes rather than what our heart believes. The second aspect that intrigues me with this definition is that if only 1 of the ways of participation is sufficient to be called a Southern Baptist Congregation, could a mormon ward qualify to be Southern Baptist then if they give money to NAMB or IMB? While I doubt the Latter Day Saints would give to the IMB (since many of their dollars are going to make "I am a Mormon" commercials), I do know of at least one non-denominational church that wanted to send money to the IMB. By the definition provided then, should that non-denominational church really be considered a Southern Baptist church?

I know some of you might say something about the Baptist Faith & Message. Good point, except you will note its absence in the above definition with the possible exception of it being implied in option #5. I, however, am not interested in silence or implied thoughts. If "believe" is more important than "give" perhaps that should be reflected in our definitions. Of course, with autonomy, friends, you are free to "believe" whatever you like about "giving." I, however, hope there is more to being a Southern Baptist church than what is listed above.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Will We Display the Gospel When We Disagree?

This may come as a shock to some, but on rare occasions Baptists disagree with one another. Actually, I know that news will not shock any of you, because Baptists might be equally known for our disagreements as we are our agreements. What I wonder is will we display the Gospel even when we argue? Will our love for one another be evident in our rhetoric and actions so that even in times of discord others might still see that we are disciples of Christ? Of course, a more fundamental question is "Do we love one another?"

The reason I'm writing this is because there is disagreement in our ranks. It seems state conventions feel our national entities are taking adversarial positions against their work and vice versa. There are those who are excited about the election of the new NAMB president and others that are bewildered. There are those that are rallying support for the Cooperative Program like never before yet find themselves uncertain if the SBC is actually going to Cooperate with one another. As a young (is 33 still young?) Southern Baptist, I find myself today uncertain about a few things, but certain of much more.

With regard to uncertainty, I am not sure what's going to happen with our convention. Currently I'm not even certain what's going to happen with our association. I'm also uncertain if the "fighting" in the SBC is going to shift (as one of my good friends believes) from conservative vs. liberal to cooperative program vs. great commission giving. I pray not. I believe both-and is the better answer than either-or with regard to giving. I agree with our state director, David Hankins, in that the largest problem is not the LBC or the SBC, but the hearts of our people and churches. If we truly treasured Christ our priorities would be radically (to borrow a word from another friend) different and giving would not be an issue on any level. I pray that I might set an example for our people.

Now to what I am certain of: 1). We are not to be anxious about anything. I feel across the board there is much anxiety and worry. Jesus reminds me that I can't add a single hour to my life, so I should trust Him in all things. 2). God will build His Church. No matter what happens with BAGBR, LBC, and SBC, God's Church will continue to increase and spread. So certain is Jesus of the Church's advancement that He tells us that the even the gates of hell will not prevail against His Bride. 3). The Kingdom of God will not be shaken. It's funny how many personal kingdoms can be set up all with the notion of building the Lord's Kingdom. I'm not pointing any fingers here except to the one Kingdom that will remain. The Lord's. His Kingdom is not one degree closer to being shaken and will never be for all eternity. What a mighty Savior! 4). The Gospel of Christ is the only hope for this world. There is no other means of reconciliation between God and man because there has been no other means of substitutionary atonement. Christ is the hope for the world. The more we meditate on the cross the more we will love God passionately and others rightly, which gets me to my final certainty . . .

5). Even in our disagreements we are to display Christ. In Gal. 6:10, Paul reminds us: "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." As Baptists there will always be something for us to disagree about, but in our disagreement let us strive to do good to everyone. We are to especially to do good to our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are family. Remember?

In the end, all the resolutions (and blog posts) in the world will not change the hearts of men. Only God changes hearts. So I pray that we will be a denomination that is devoted to prayer (Col. 4:2) and does so without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). I will be praying Gal. 6:10 for all of our interactions. May we be a Gospel witness even in our disagreement.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Giving Thanks Always and for Everything

As I went to bed last night, I read Ephesians 5. I was thinking and praying through what I would share with the Fellas @ 5 this morning and what I will share at LSU's BCM this coming Thursday night. One verse that grabbed my attention was 5:20 where Paul wrote "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." What a challenge! Be thankful for everything? Thankful for traffic this morning as I took Arabella to school? Thankful for morning breath? Thankful for cancer? Surely, this is a hermeneutical mishap and the translator's have made a grievous error in interpreting what should have been "giving thanks most of the time" or "giving thanks some of the time and especially for the good stuff." Unfortunately, my convictions about the Bible being without error prevent me from wandering too far down this path. Nope, God meant what He said through Paul: Give thanks always and for everything to Me.

How can we give thanks always and for everything to God? There are two keys in the text of Eph. 5. The first key is in the rest of the verse: in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can give thanks to the Father through Jesus because "all the promises of God find their Yes in him" (2 Cor. 1:20). What does this mean? It means that in Christ God will keep His promise to us that "all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." This does not mean that all things that happen to us are good, but that God promises that even the worst of things He will work for our good in Christ (ask Joseph - Gen. 50:20). So I can give thanks for a spouse leaving me? Yes. So I can give thanks for lightning striking my house? Yes. So I can give thanks for someone lying about me on facebook? Yes. In Christ, God works all things to our good, so we can thank Him always and for everything. Another reason we can be thankful at all times is because in Christ Jesus, God has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). So no matter the circumstance, in Christ we are never alone. He is with us. We may not see Him, hear Him, or even "feel" Him, but He has promised to be with us and so He is. In our darkest moments, give thanks that we are not alone. Oh how much darker they would be without Christ!

A second means of giving thanks always and for everything is found earlier in Eph. 5. Paul wrote, "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:17-18). The second means of giving thanks to God at all times is being filled with the Spirit. As a matter of fact, the only way we can give thanks always is if we are filled with the Spirit. God does not expect us to be grateful all the time in our own power. All God expects from us He provides for us. Gratitude (for everything) is one of the evidences of being filled with the Spirit. If we are not walking with and being led by the Spirit we will not be thankful for everything. We will have minds set on the flesh and we will focus on what is seen rather than what is not seen. As we are filled by the Spirit, He will produce gratitude to the Father in us through Jesus no matter the circumstance. Perhaps we are not very "thankful" today because we are not "keeping in step with the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25).

So what about us today? Are we thankful for everything we are experiencing currently? Do we thank God always and for everything? Do we understand that in Christ, God is working all things for our good? Do we understand He owes us no explanations? Do we understand that in actuality we deserve no good from Him at all?

No matter what is going on, if you are in Christ Jesus, He has already experienced the worst thing that could happen to you. In going to the cross, Jesus took our place in experiencing the wrath of God for our sin and dying the death we deserved because of our rebellion. Make no mistake, the most awful thing that could happen to any of us would be to experience God's wrath poured out on sin for all eternity. Christ experienced this curse for us. Christ was forsaken on our behalf. So no matter how difficult life is (and it is gut-wrenching at times) the worst thing that could happen to us has happened to Christ on our behalf. In His strength, we can endure everything else.

Will we live Eph. 5:20? Are we? We have all that we need in Christ and His Spirit.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Three Minutes and 49 seconds

If you have three minutes and 49 seconds then it's worth watching this:

5 Points of Gratitude in Conversion

For those of us who are in Christ, we owe our salvation completely to Him. Here are five points of gratitude:
1. When someone shared the Gospel with us, God gave us ears to hear it.
2. When we heard the Gospel, God empowered our response.
3. The reason someone shared the Gospel with us is because God prompted them to give a Gospel witness.
4. As someone shared the Gospel with us, God empowered their proclamation.
5. The reason there is a Gospel is because God gave His Son to provide a substitutionary atonement for our sin.

We have much to be thankful to God for in our conversion.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Penetrating Baton Rouge with the Gospel

One burden that I have for CrossPoint this fall is for the Lord to use us to penetrate Baton Rouge with the Gospel. Obviously, this should be happening everyday as we are Christ's ambassadors (2 Cor. 5), but I'm not certain its happening. I'm also not certain that we are going out of our way for the sake of the Gospel to the "difficult" areas of Baton Rouge. I pray our usefulness for the Gospel is not accidental but intentional. I've been challenged personally by Paul's directive to Timothy to "preach the Word" but also to "do the work of an evangelist." I'm praying for God to use Tara and I in the lives of our neighbors, in the lives of the parents who attend our daughters' school, and in the lives of those that the Lord gives us daily divine appointments. It's possible for a pastor to spend all of his time with the sheep. It's also possible to have more sheep than one pastor can effectively shepherd. Praise the Lord for elders at CrossPoint and the shared responsibility of oversight. As these brothers aid in "caring for the flock," I'm praying God gives me more opportunities this fall in places where Jesus is not yet named in Baton Rouge. I also continue to pray that our greatest fear as a congregation will not be death or disease, but disobedience to Christ. I hope that you will join me in asking the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers in Baton Rouge.

One other note, this morning I read in a sub-headline that at least 701 people had been killed in recent floods that have swept parts of China. I found it interesting that it was a sub-headline and not even a headline on this particular news outlet. I wondered how many of us would read this caption and not be gripped at all. Not gripped by the reality that 701 souls have entered into eternity. Not gripped by the reality that some of those souls have perished forever. Not gripped that if those that are around us do not repent then they will perish too (Luke 13:1-5). I was moved to pray for God to use the floods in accordance with His global plans for His name and renown. I prayed for the workers. I prayed for the families left behind. I prayed also that I would not become so "used to stories such as these" from the 24 hour news networks that I became numb to my responsibility to intercede on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ and those who are yet to know Him. May we not waste today. May the Gospel advance in us and through us.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lottie and CP

Here is a copy of a letter I am sending to our people this morning.

Dear CP,

How are the sheep today? I pray you are well and as always that the Gospel is advancing in you and through you. Remember, you are our evangelism strategy for Baton Rouge. Christ in you is the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). May Christ be evident in all of us today.

I'm writing you in July and want to challenge you to begin to think about Christmas. Some of you think about it already, but specifically I want to challenge you to think about the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. Usually, this offering is collected in December, but if you are like us (2 birthdays and Christmas in December), then there is not a lot of money left over. Paul gave some wisdom to the church at Corinth that I want to pass along to you:

1 Cor. 16:1-2 "Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come."

Paul's wisdom to the churches he ministered to was this: "Look I will be coming to collect an offering for our brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, so be intentional to participate weekly in storing up for this offering. I don't want to arrive and start the process. You guys start the process and as you prosper over the next period of time set aside gifts for this offering."

December will come quickly. If we are not intentional in our planning then we may not be able to give as much as we would desire. Let me encourage you in a few ways. First, give yourselves to the Lord (2 Cor. 8:5). Hold nothing back. It's not about giving your money it's about giving your life. Second, earnestly pursue satisfaction in God (Ps. 63). When He is your joy then all other treasures can be released. Third, as you prosper set some aside (1 Cor. 16:2). Some of you will have some financial blessings this fall. As the Lord prospers you, set some aside for the purpose of global disciple-making. Fourth, do not be anxious about what you will eat or wear (Matthew 6:19-34). Your Father knows what you need before you ask. Trust Him to provide for you even as you provide for others.

Giving to Lottie Moon is one of my favorite offerings. 100% of the funds goes directly to the mission field. My prayer is that as we are satisfied in God, that we might sacrifice for Him like never before. In light of putting this opportunity on your radar, you may not want to wait until December, but you may want to give along the way. We will be happy to collect Lottie Moon offerings throughout the fall. There is no wrong time to give so that God's name may be proclaimed in the nations.

Just sharing with you what's on my heart this morning. Love you much.

Contending for Christ,
Pastor Landon

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fuge at Ridgecrest

Just a quick update. I'm currently at Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina preaching for Centrifuge/X-Fuge. Tonight is the last night of worship and the theme I've been asked to speak on is sacrifice. I will be preaching from 2 Cor. 8-9. I will also be emphasizing that our sacrifice for God is proportional to our satisfaction in God. It's been a good week. God has used His Word and Spirit to bring life to new brothers and sisters in Christ. He has also used His Word in many other ways. I'm thankful for the Gospel. I'm thankful that all God expects from us He provides for us in Christ. I'm praying that God will anoint the preaching of His Word tonight. Please join me in that prayer.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dub and Grace Efurd

I never had the opportunity to meet Dub Efurd, but I have seen the fruit of his ministry. Last Wednesday night, I had the privilege to sit around a table at Bellows Air Base on Oahu and listen to three couples testify to the impact both Dub and Grace Efurd had on their lives. One of those couples was my father and mother in-law. As a young military couple stationed in Hawaii, their first encounter with Dub was when he knocked on their door. My in-laws had been members of Waikiki Baptist Church, but when they decided to move closer to Schofield Barracks they were informed of a mission just starting in Mililani. Dub was the pastor of that mission and when a member of Waikiki contacted him and informed him of my in-laws move - he showed up at their door. Another couple sitting around the table last Wednesday night shared how Dub knocked on their door as well. All 3 couples shared of the ministry that Dub and Grace extended to them, especially of having them into their home and providing food and fellowship. One of my favorite stories was of a soldier who came to Christ while at Mililani and is now a pastor leading others to Christ. That mission church eventually became its own congregation and was formally constituted 35 years ago. Under Dub's leadership it grew to be one of the largest Baptist churches in Hawaii. But numbers was not what dominated the conversation last Wednesday night, the impact of man who lived Christ was the main topic. Story after story and testimony after testimony to God's grace working in and through a ministry couple. What's even more amazing is that due to their commitment to the military, the three couples I was with were only around Dub and Grace for at most 3 years. The amount of impact in such a short time was challenging to me. The fruit of Dub's and Grace's ministry continues to multiply and will eventually be revealed in Heaven. Interesting, that in one of the world's most beautiful places it was not the scenery that refreshed me most, but the beauty of Christ being displayed in a fellow pastor and the harvest of righteousness the Lord has produced. I pray that I might be such a pastor and follower of Christ.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Student Life

Just a quick note to say that the family and I are at Student Life this week at Shocco Springs. It's been an adventure already, but it's great having them here. I'm thankful Student Life and its leaders are such great hosts to let my family accompany me. Nothing better then being entrusted to preach the word and then to be able to connect with your family, campers, and fellow ministers. Student Life's themes this year are: Respond, Repent, Relate, and Remain. Today's focus is "relate." My emphasis will be: our sacrifice for others is proportional to our satisfaction in God. The more joy we have in the Lord the more generosity will flow from us. Some highlights of having the family here this week have been: running from a swarm of yellow jackets outside our door, Tara getting locked out of our room and having to go to the front desk in her PJ's, all 5 of us riding in a golf cart together with Adoniram saying "choo choo," taking two paddle boats out on the lake, and getting donuts from OMG Donuts in Talladega. It's also been fun to share meals on campus with the student life campers/adults and hear about their lives! Well, it's time to study. The two babies are taking a nap and I need to prepare for tonight. Join me in praying for God to move through His Word and for eyes to be opened about our responsibilities of seeking joy in the Lord and sacrificing for one another.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spiritual Gatorade

For a while now, Gatorade has been running a commercial pushing their "pre," "during," and "after" products for athletic events. If the commercials are true then these drinks give you the "boost" you need at whichever phase of the activity you are in. Selfishly, I wish there was a "boost" that would help me be able to dunk a basketball or at least elevate my bowling game from 140 to 160 (Wii bowling excluded). What about spiritually? Is there a "boost" for our daily battle with sin? Is there a boost for loving God with all of our heart and our neighbors as ourselves? Yes, there is. As always with God, all that He expects from us He also supplies to us.

If we are to love God passionately and our neighbors rightly then we must meditate on the cross constantly. C. J. Mahaney has written much on the cross-centered life, so I will not try to exhaust the topic in this blog, but I do want to encourage you today to meditate on Christ and the cross. As you do: meditate on Christ's sufferings, meditate on His silence, meditate on His sovereignty, meditate on His substitution, meditate on His sufficiency, and meditate on His sacrifice. At the cross, our selfishness and our agendas get crushed, but for our good and God's glory. At the cross statements like "I don't feel like it" or "I don't want to" get blown out of the water. At the cross, the questions "Is it safe?" and "Is it comfortable?" no longer dominate our thoughts. Yes God expects us to love Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbor as ourself. As a matter of fact, Jesus said these were the two most important things in life. But what we sometimes forget is that for those that are in Christ, God has poured His love into our hearts through His Spirit (Rom. 5:5). So the very love that God requires of us He has already provided.

So where are you in these things? Have your affections for the Lord grown cold? Is sin reigning in your life? Would selfishness characterize more of your life than sacrifice? Find in Christ, His Spirit, and daily meditation on the cross, fuel for gospel centered obedience. Obedience that flows from a renewed heart that says "I want to" rather than "I'm supposed to." As Stott says, "The cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough for its sparks to fall on us." How close are you today friend?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Do We Have the Same Burden as Paul?

Gal. 4:19 "My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!" Granted, the middle part of this verse is one of the most unique pictures Paul could use to describe his "labor" on behalf of the Galatians. Moving past the metaphor to the motivation, I wonder if we have the same intensity, the same burden, the same desire to see Christ formed in those that are around us? Do we long to see our neighbors and co-workers and even fellow church members transformed by Christ from the inside out? Does this burden move us to intercession and travailing with the Lord asking Him to open hearts for the Gospel and to crush all reliance upon self of those who have been redeemed? Calvin once said: If ministers wish to do any good, let them labor to form Christ, not to form themselves, in their hearers. Tonight I find myself longing for Christ to be increasingly formed in myself, my family, and the people of CrossPoint. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My Dad and the Celtics

Watching a little bit of Game 1 of the NBA Finals has caused me to think of my Dad tonight. When I was growing up we used to always watch the Celtics. I saw countless of the classic Bird and Johnson battles. Also the Bird and Laimbeer sagas. I watched Bird's famous steal of the in-bound pass live. Basically, I wanted to be Larry Bird (minus the daisy dukes and the goldilocks). I liked Robert Parish because he was from Louisiana. Of course there was DJ, McHale, and Ainge too.

Eleven years after my dad's death I find I still have moments where I miss him much. Tonight is one of those. I think about him every time I watch the Yankees play. I think about him now watching the Lakers and the Celtics. I wish he were here to watch the games with me and especially to watch them with my children. I know, however, that all that he is experiencing with Christ is far better than whatever happens in a basketball game. I also find once again how thankful I am for Christ's substitutionary atonement and His conquering of the grave. My dad is not here, but he is alive never to taste death again.

Though tonight I have the Celtics and not my Dad, One Day I will have my Dad and all the regenerate Celtics!!! What a great day that will be. And the best part is that day will never end.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Helpful Resources

When thinking through making disciples, obviously the most sufficient resource is God's Word. Scripture, through the Spirit's illumination, (1) is able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, (2) is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, and (3) is used make us competent and equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
From start to finish, if all a person has is God's Spirit and God's Word then these are sufficient. A disciple will have all they need. As a pastor and disciple maker, I long for the flock I shepherd to desire God's Word. I know, however, that God alone creates this hunger in us, so I've learned a lot about pastoral prayer. Oh to see biblically saturated dads, moms, college students, and teens. To see a congregation where the Word of Christ dwells richly, where the Word really is a lamp and light, and to see lives that are truly guarded according to the Word. Currently, I am preaching through Galatians in our worship services and our people are studying 1, 2, and 3 John in our Bible study times. Nothing is better for God's people than God's Word.

Having now shared my earnest convictions in the sufficiency of Scripture and its uniqueness in literature, I realize that in making disciples there are other texts that can be helpful as well. Though the Spirit has made no commitment to bless these works in the same way He blesses His Word, the list below can be helpful in assisting a recent convert form a solid foundation as a disciple. I pass them along to you now:

Books I would read with someone I was mentoring (in addition to the Bible):
a. Lord Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 days – Kay Arthur
b. According to Plan – Graeme Goldsworthy
c. Christian Beliefs or Systematic Theology – Wayne Grudem
d. The Story of Christianity – Justo Gonzalez
e. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church or What is a Healthy Church – Mark Dever
f. Desiring God – John Piper
g. Knowing God – J. I. Packer
h. The Pursuit of Holiness - Jerry Bridges
i. Let the Nations Be Glad – John Piper

Obviously there are other books that could be added, but this is a good starting point. The texts above cover bible study skills, a big picture of the Bible, theology, church history, ecclesiology, sanctification, and missions.

I pray you are making disciples today, even if and especially if its a 6, 2, and 1 year old in your home!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Just a quick note to share how good it was to spend time with my family today. I take Mondays off because they are far enough away from the next Sunday that I can focus on just my family. Today I got ample time to play with Adalaide and Adoniram (Arabella had Kindergarten!) Tonight we had a family dinner at one of our favorite places (Jazz Daddy's) with our new family member and neighbor, Aunty Michelle! Today was also a good day in reading the Word (soaking in Galatians), thinking and praying about CrossPoint, and reading my friend David Platt's book, Radical. Well that last part was not that enjoyable - unless you like getting your teeth kicked in by conviction! I'm thankful for the laughs today, the ice cream faces, the incredible sunset, the time just to be around the house, and a beautiful wife! All of these gifts are from God and I'm thankful for His blessings.

Friday, May 7, 2010

How to Kill Sin Today

I realize this is my third post of the day! But there are things that keep coming to me that I believe can be useful for you. May the Lord use this list for your sanctification. How to kill sin today:

1. Make no provision for the flesh (Rom. 13:14). If you struggle with junk food, then don't buy it and put it in your pantry rather leave it at the store. You will be less likely to drive and get it! Whatever area you struggle with in temptation, see if there is any way that you are increasing opportunities for the flesh rather than decreasing them.

2. Memorize Scripture so you don't sin against God (Ps. 119:11; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). True story - yesterday I was tempted in a strong way and immediately the Spirit brought Matthew 16:24 to mind "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." The Lord used the Word to help me deny the temptations of the flesh (self) and moved me to obedience. I cannot emphasize enough how important Scripture memory is for your sanctification.

3. Remind yourself and others daily of sin's deceitfulness (Heb. 3:13). I take this verse very literally. I believe we as the Church should remind each other daily that choosing sin today will yield the same devastating results it yielded yesterday. We should be those who daily say to one another, "Remember - Choose Christ today and not sin. Sin is a liar! Only Christ delivers the peace He promises." Is there someone you could remind of this truth even now?

4. Be trained by God's grace (Titus 2:11-14). The Gospel is not just for the day you were regenerated. The Gospel is for every day of your sanctification as well. God's grace has appeared not only for our salvation but to train us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. God's grace empowers us to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. Friend, we need the Gospel today!

5. Submit ourselves to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). When you are tempted is the first person you run to God or you? We must train ourselves that when temptation occurs that we immediately run to God for refuge. We submit ourself to God first THEN resist the devil. Of course, our best course of action is to submit ourselves to God throughout the day for His glory, our good, and the good of others.

6. Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). Christ does not bring us to conversion and then expect us to pursue sanctification on our own! Paul tells the church at Galatia that the key to not giving in to the flesh is by walking by the Spirit. I try throughout the day to admit my dependence upon the Lord and seek His constant empowering. I pray you will also.

7. Kill sin by means of the Spirit (Rom. 8:13). As John Owen said, "Kill sin or it will be killing you." Sanctification is not just defensive but offensive as well. We too often cultivate sin rather than kill it. The Spirit will use His Sword to crush the roots of sin that remain with us. Pray for God to make you feel the same thing He feels for sin: hatred! Sin left alone does not dissipate but escalates.

8. Earnestly seek satisfaction in God (Ps. 63). I BELIEVE THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT WEAPON FOR FIGHTING SIN! In preparing for our day, the most important time should be in seeking satisfaction in God. More than brushing our teeth, more than deodorant, even more than eating physical breakfast - is having our souls filled by delighting in God. If we have tasted steak my friends then we will not be tempted to eat Pop-Tarts. Sin is never as alluring when viewed through the pure and satisfying light of Christ. David said he EARNESTLY sought the Lord. I fear earnestly does not describe our pursuit of God often enough which explains why we choose sin too often. May we earnestly seek satisfaction in God from early in the morning until late at night.

9. Increasing in our love for God (Ps. 97:10). Oh you who love the Lord, hate evil! The most important command we have received is to love the Lord with ALL of our heart, ALL of our soul, and ALL of our mind. One of the strongest marks of sanctification is increasing in our love for God. Is your love increasing friend? Do you honestly love God more today than you did this time last year? The more we love God and ask Him to unite our heart to His then the more we will love what He loves.

May God use this list (which is from His own Word) to further conform all of us to the image of His Son, Jesus (which is His glorious eternal plan - Rom. 8:29). Praise God that He has chosen to receive glory by extending mercy to wretched sinners!

Our Goal at Dinner Each Night

Not that all of you will be interested, but I wanted to share with you what Tara and I strive to do each night at dinner. Although, if you talk to her this week she will tell you it's what she's tried to do, since I have been away much of the week! I am extremely grateful for a helpmate who is equipped to lead our children in Christ in my absence. For the two of you still reading, here is what we are trying to do:

1. We use the book "Window on the World" by Spraggett and Johnstone to pray through a different people group each night. We want our children growing up with an awareness that God's plan is beyond just our little kitchen table. We also pray that the Lord will develop in them His heart for the nations.

2. We try to memorize at least one verse of Scripture. We use the Fighter Verses Pre-K/K kit from Bethlehem Baptist Church. Arabella has been able to retain the verses we have learned so far and Daddy has even been known to make up a song or two to help with the memorization. Shocker!!

3. We pray for a different family in our church. Using our church picture directory (sorry if you are not in it!!!), we pray through one family each night.

Now let me be completely honest and say we are not batting 1.000 on this! This is the goal that we are working toward. I'm sharing it with you not in any form to boast or say look what we are doing, but in hopes of serving you and giving you some ideas for your home (even if it's just you!) Discipleship does not occur on accident. Our time to make disciples is fleeting, especially in our homes in which children develop and deploy so quickly. I pray you will soberly consider the responsibility you have to make disciples of those the Lord has entrusted to your care. I pray you also find in Christ a sufficient equipper for the task He is calling us to.

My Letter to our Graduates

Dear Graduates,

Congratulations! Be it 8th grade, 12th grade, college, seminary, or ballroom dancing lessons, congratulations to you and your family! I pray you will soak in all the festivities and the special moments that will happen only once. I hope that you will take lots of pictures and share lots of laughs. No more homework (at least for one night)!!!!
It seems like just yesterday I was a junior in high school waiting to get my senior ring. It felt like the day would never arrive when we would finally receive our bling! The wait for graduation seemed even longer! Yet somehow since that point, it feels like life has been going faster than the Millennium Falcon in hyperdrive. Though life may have seemed agonizingly slow up to this point for you (believe me I know – I spent two years in kindergarten), there will never be a slower point in your journey.
I’m also keenly aware that you will be receiving tons of wisdom, advice, and unsolicited opinions over the next few weeks. Whether it’s the 3 “How to Discern God’s Will” books you will receive, or the 6 “How not to have to move back home” books, or 1 from your parents called “Graduation is spelled ‘J-O-B,’” I realize you will not be lacking in guidance. But . . . since I am your shepherd and care much for you, I’d like to offer 3 brief thoughts:

1. There’s only one life and it will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last (1 Cor. 3:13-15). As you try to discern what you should do next, always remember life is a vapor, a mist, a shadow and its brief journey will soon run its course. When all is said in done, all that will remain and all that will have mattered is what you have done with, through, and for Christ.

2. Be a lifelong student of the Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17). If you want to be wise, study the Word. If you want to be competent and equipped for every good work, study the Word. If you want to know what matters most in life, study the Word. If you want to please Christ, study the Word – hide the Word in your heart – and live the Word. You may be graduating, but make a commitment to be a lifelong student of the most important Word on the planet.

3. Resolve to boast only in Christ and His cross (Gal. 6:14). Some of you will graduate with honors – congratulations. Some of you will be very successful in your career – congratulations. Some of you will accomplish incredible things – congratulations. None of the aforementioned items, however, will declare you righteous before God. Many of them will even cause you to doubt your need for God because they are fertile soil for the seed of pride to flourish. Please, please, please – hear the Word of the Lord – on this day and every future day the Lord gives you – let your boast be in Christ alone. This is all my righteousness, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Congratulations again graduates (and families)! May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the next chapter be a sweet part in your journey with Christ. If I can serve you in any way, then please do not hesitate to ask. And by the way . . . I can indeed tell you God’s will for your life . . . Matt. 22:37-39 . . . Matt. 28:18-20 . . . 1 Thess. 4:3 . . . Rom. 8:29 (Don’t be lazy! Look them up and let the summer reading begin!)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Lord does not let the Righteous go Hungry

Prov. 10:3 says "The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry." I wonder if we believe this? My suspicion is that we risk little for the sake of the Kingdom because we live as if our survival depends mainly on us. After telling a crowd to store treasures in Heaven rather than on earth, Jesus immediately told the same crowd not to worry about their necessities. He knew their tendencies and He knows our. They (and we) would be more worried about survival than obedience. Of course Jesus informs them that all of their worrying will not add a single hour to their life. I have no doubts about the future. The One who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow is the same One who holds the future securely in His control. He is also the One who has made promises to provide food, clothing, and everything else we need (including Resurrected bodies). We just need to seek Him above seeking survival. I'm not saying that we should never "save" or "store for the winter," but my guess is that we do more "storing" than "trusting." Scripture informs us: "The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry." So do you really believe Him or not? Our lives will demonstrate the level of our trust.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Galatians and the Gospel

The content of the Gospel matters. Paul said that it's so important that anyone who tries to change it should be accursed (Gal. 1:8). In case you miss it - He's saying this person should be "cut off," "forsaken," or "damned." In case they missed it - He repeated it (1:9). And in case you are totally unaware, people have tried to change it for over 2,000 years. Some attempt to alter the Gospel blatantly and others subtly. Some outside the Church, but many inside the church. Some on TV and some in your Sunday School class. Paul's strong warnings should sober us to the gravity of the content of the Gospel. It should also lead us to ask two questions: "What Gospel have I believed in?" and "What Gospel am I sharing?" Paul gives a great picture in 1:3-5 "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father." Do you see it? Jesus freely gave Himself (despite those who think the cross was cosmic child abuse). Jesus willingly was our substitute. He gave Himself for our sins. In many pagan religions, you must do something to appease "the god" and "earn his favor." How stunning is it that the One True God had all of our dirty, rebellious acts placed upon Him and He bore the punishment (the wrath of God)? Which today - if you are struggling with guilt from some act of disobedience to God - might I remind us all that each of our sins were nailed to the cross. He loved you in your most heinous state. He still loves you today. Christ also delivers us from this present evil age. The Gospel is our only hope for both justification and sanctification. Christ does not set us free and then say "Now the rest is up to you." We would be hopeless in the fight against sin, the world, and the devil. Christ is your hope on the day of your conversion, but He remains your only hope every day that follows. And do you see who planned all of this? God the Father. Is it any wonder why Paul Goes on to say that He gets the glory forever and ever? He is the One who has done the saving. He is the One worthy of the glory. This is the Gospel. Salvation is not found in Jesus plus something else. Salvation is found in Christ alone. So make sure even in your sanctification you are not trying to earn salvation. Place your trust in Christ alone and not a single "good work" that you do (or all of them collectively). The world is desperate to hear the true Gospel. Are they hearing it from you? Can they see its effect in you? Let anyone who preaches anything else be accursed. May we contend for Christ and His life-giving Gospel.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Who Will Bring the Gospel to Pakistan?

Last week I read in the news about two suicide bombers in Pakistan. It was as if the Lord gripped my heart and brought into crystal clarity that the only hope for Pakistan is the Gospel. The country is 98% muslim. It does not have a great affinity for Americans or Christians much less Christian Americans. Yet - if the hearts of suicide bombers are going to be changed it will come through the Gospel and not the UN. The question then arises - who will go? May the Lord raise up a generation that fears disobedience to God more than they fear death.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Drinking the Cup of Wrath

This morning with our Fellas @ 5 group, I focused our attention on Matthew 26. In this text, we see Jesus in Gethsemane and we read His request, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." The question I asked the Fellas was "what cup?" What's Jesus talking about. Shouldn't He say, "Let this cross pass from me?" Or maybe "Let this scourging pass from me." Jesus' request shows us exactly what was on His mind - exactly what His concern was - and it was not a whip or nails. His concern was the wrath of God. The "cup of God's wrath" contains "fire and sulfur and a scorching wind" (Ps. 11:6). The "cup of His wrath" is also called the "cup of staggering" (Is. 51:17). Again, nails, mocking, and the cross are not His greatest concern - experiencing the full brunt of Divine Judgment, the full force of wrath, the searing silence of abandonment and alienation, and the utter devastation of forsakenness are clearly on His mind. Yet why would a sinless Son in whom the Father is well pleased ever experience "damnation" from the Father? My sin. Jesus did not experience the "cup of wrath" because of His sin but because of mine. And as unfathomable as it is, God the Father punishes God the Son because of my disobedience (2 Cor. 5:21). As Isaiah says, the cup will be drunk "to the dregs," which means the reason Christ declares "it is finished" is because He had drunk the full contents of the cup of wrath. And because Christ drank the cup of wrath - I get to drink from another cup - the cup of salvation. As David says "you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." Christ drank the cup I should have tasted yet because of His sacrifice and substitutionary atonement I get to drink from a cup I never deserved to even see. Friends, no matter what today holds, Christ has already experienced the worst thing possible. You've never had a day like Christ had on "Good Friday" and thanks to His righteousness you will not have an eternity of wrath. Flee to Christ friends. Take shelter in Him. There is no other name given unto men for salvation. Whatever obedience you are called to today, the One who has been most obedient lives in you. Yes Paul, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Thank you Father for not letting the cup pass from Jesus for I would have no other hope in the world for reconciliation with you. Thank you for your silence in the Garden. I will never fully know how much my salvation cost you and the Son.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Last week, Tara's grandfather passed away. It's still a shock. For the nine years I have known Tara, Papa has been the only grandfather I have ever had. He was described by others as "the best of men" and a "prince of a man." I have never met a more faithful husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. The words "sacrificial," "servant," and "selfless" were embodied by him. He worked to help African-Americans get into Wood Jr. College, get jobs as operators with Bell South, and get into the Rotary club. His efforts with Habitat for Humanity have helped thousands have a place to live. And in all of his service his family was never slighted. You have never met a more faithful family man, who chose to chase his granddaughter rather than chase dollars. They were both the richer for it. And so am I. Because we know Papa knew Jesus intimately, we are not those who grieve without hope - for we know we will see him again. But we do grieve because he was such a treasure. May the Lord empower me to be as selfless and sacrificial for others and may He empower me to love my wife and children as Luther Millsaps did his. May I one day be an 83 year old gentleman who still kisses Tara on the cheek and opens doors for her and steadies her through all that life brings. Thank you Papa for not wasting your life. May you enjoy all of the rich treasures you have stored in Heaven - most importantly - may you enjoy Christ Jesus - the One who gives you life even now! With His strength, I will take care of all your girls and little buddy boy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

We Make it Our Aim to Please Him

In 2 Cor. 5:9, Paul says, "So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him." Did you see what Paul just said? Wherever we are (in context: Heaven or earth), we have ONE aim: Pleasing Christ. Is this your aim in life? Is this the aim of the church you attend? Oh, by His mercies that are new every day, may we make it our aim to please Jesus. May we not just live to please ourselves or to please the world or to even just please well-meaning friends. May our aim instead be from the early hours of the morning to the late moments in the evening: one aim - pleasing Christ. Whether we are in a room full of people or in a quiet solitary place may we have one aim: pleasing Christ. May we by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the flesh and may we be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so we can know and do what God wants. What is that? Pleasing Christ. Now having shared all of this, I wonder if you would do something that I will do for you? Would you pray that I would live this? Would you pray that this would be evident in my life and the cry of my heart? Would you pray that as I preach tonight and tomorrow morning in Atlanta that my one aim would be to please Christ? Would you pray that as I interact with youth ministers or as I sit quietly in a hotel room that I will have one aim: pleasing Christ? So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jesus Will Sustain You to the End . . . Guiltless

This morning I started reading 1 Corinthians. On Sunday morning, a friend sent me a text at 6AM that contained 1 Cor. 2:9 and that he was praying for me. How grateful I am for six o'clock prayers! As I was reading 1 Corinthians, I was struck by several of Paul's introductory phrases. First, he describes the church as those "sanctified in Christ Jesus" and "called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Our only hope for sanctification is in Christ and we were never called to be saints individually but "together!" This is part of my burden for why church membership matters. We need each other and it's God's Will that we rely on one another (Rom. 12:3-8).
Reading further, I was encouraged as Paul told the Corinthians that while they were waiting on Christ to return they could rest assured He "will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." What great hope for us today! What great fuel for worship! Paul has not one shred of doubt that Jesus will fail in seeing the Corinthian believers persevere. No matter what we are going through now or what the future holds, our confidence is not that we are strong enough (because we are not!) Our confidence is that Christ is strong enough - HE WILL SUSTAIN YOU. For how long? TO THE END! And on top of that hear the glorious word that drips with God's grace - GUILTLESS. If there was anything the Corinthian church was on their own it was not guiltless. They were even doing stuff that the pagans didn't do (1 Cor. 5:1). Yet over these wretched sinners a greater word is spoken - Guiltless. Is there any doubt that our friends, family, co-workers, and strangers we meet today need to hear this Gospel word?
One final word: Do you know how we can be certain of what Paul is saying? The answer is in 1:9 - God is faithful! Here's the grounding of our confidence. God is faithful. And He is the One "by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." We were called "by" Him. The One who called is the Faithful One. The One who called is the Sovereign One. The One Who called is both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26).
SUSTAINED and GUILTLESS - meditate much on these two Truths today dear friends and see if our hearts are drawn more in love with the One who Sustains and had our Guilt placed on Him.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dirt and Rotted Wood

I'm getting ready to head to Leesville tonight and speak for Leesville High School's Principal's Banquet. Yes, I know it's the night before our Disciple Now here. Yes, I know I still need more preparation. Yes, I know it will take time to travel there and back. But yes, I also know that a stewardship has been entrusted to me by God. But yes, I also know that there are people who will be there tonight who are still enslaved to sin. But yes, I know that my desire is the same as Paul's: "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me" (Col. 1:28-29). May we order our lives for the sake of the Gospel.
Now - about dirt and rotted wood. As I was preparing to leave this morning, I noticed how filthy my truck was. I decided to give it a quick wash. While trying to clean all the grime off the wheels, I realized if I had done this at least once in the past year, then the job would not be as difficult. Instead, I let month after month of road refuse cake on the wheels so that the chrome shine was nowhere to be seen. The exercise caused me to think of the sin that we often live with and less often deal with. The longer we let sin be a part of our lives, the more difficult and painful it is to get rid of it. 1 Thess. 4 reminds us that God's will for our life is our sanctification. God help us to kill sin and not just cultivate it. May your glory shine through us and not be blocked by the sin in us.
Now about the wood . . . as I was cleaning the tires I noticed that a triangular piece of wood had fallen off the eaves of our house. When I picked it up it was rotted. I was immediately reminded of the fleeting nature of material things and all the effort it takes to maintain them. May we not waste our lives solely on acquiring and maintaining things that are rotting. May we set our hearts and minds on things above.

Monday, March 1, 2010

What Our Children Will Say

As some of you know, I meet with 8-10 guys on Tuesday mornings at 5AM. I call it Fellas @ 5. I had a burden to see a group of men in our congregation catch a vision for Biblical manhood . . . I've never, however, had a burden for 5AM! This semester we are focusing on Proverbs and what I am calling "Father Knows Best." Should the Lord give us tomorrow morning I am going to ask the men the following questions based on Proverbs 3:

1. Will our children say that we modeled for them how to write God's Word on their hearts?
2. Will our children say that we modeled for them how to trust in the Lord with all their heart?
3. Will our children say that we modeled for them how to turn from evil in the fear of the Lord?
4. Will our children say that we modeled for them how to honor the Lord with their wealth?
5. Will our children say that we modeled for them how to embrace and love the Lord's discipline?

May Arabella, Adalaide, and Adoniram say this and more. If they do say these things, it will only be because the Lord's mercies are new for me every day. May we not squander the opportunity to parent for the good of our children and the glory of God.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

May We Risk Much for the Gospel

At our men's retreat this weekend, a question arose about whether or not we should pull over and help everyone we see stopped on the side of the road. What triggered this conversation was that one of our men intentionally drives in the right lane so that he can stop and help others in need. I was deeply encouraged by his intentional plan to be on mission as he leaves his house. This is a far cry from many of us who just think about how quickly we can get to where we are going. May we all order our lives to be this intentional for the sake of the Gospel.
In response to whether or not we should pull over every time we see someone stopped on the side of the road, I say: Let us risk much for the Gospel. Here are my two reasons: 1). If death is gain for those in Christ, then I am not afraid of losing my life (in fact I've already lost it!) 2.) If God is our greatest treasure, then I am not afraid of losing anything else (including all material possessions and even our families). So if we are not afraid of death or of losing our cars, then we are free to risk much for the sake of the Gospel. Oh, that I might live this way and pastor a church that does so as well. Only by Your mercies that are new each day dear Father will we be able to do this. Thanks for satisfying us with your steadfast love and for giving us your inexpressible and glorious joy.