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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Last Meeting of the Day

Wouldn't you know it, but the best was saved for last!

Thursdays are normally "one of those days."  Ultra busy, and sweeping up all the week's work, I start early with morning prayers, and then try to get everything done before coming home to the hugs and blessings of my wife and children... but today I ended up having one last meeting that I just could not deny.

We sat and had lolly-pops together, roaring competitions, and recited stories of dragons and mice and castles.  My mind wondered as I sang about old oak groves, and I couldn't resist taking a picture or two of my last two, and very much the most important, "church members" of the day.  We talked about how Jesus supplies our needs, and about friends along the trail of following the path of Christ in this crazy adventure we call pastoring; we sang another song to each other until I began to be regaled with cheers and stories... and more cheers and amazingly entertaining antics and tales from the beautiful brown pooled eyes looking back at me.

The last meeting of the day... today it was the best one.

Go figure... such are so often the blessings of the Almighty God.

In the peace of Christ,

Pastor John

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day!

The sun is out; the top is down on the Jeep; the air is that almost perfect combination of sunny but Fall-breezy.

In the words of the immortal, Mr. Rogers, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!"

How could a person do anything without acknowledging the Divine Design of creation on a day like today?!

Hoo-ah, God!

Monday, September 27, 2010

God is not Bound by our Whims...

The grace of God is not bound by my whims, but ruled and directed solely by His sovereignty.

How is it that we have all-to-easily dismissed the almighty nature of God, opting for the illusion of a weak-kneed god in daily application to such an extent that the application of eternal salvation would be beyond question.

The God who saves us is sovereign, almighty, and all-together God. Would that I might live by that understanding today!

In the peace of Christ,

Pastor John

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bad Golf... Right as Rain

Today I had the good pleasure of playing a round of golf with a group from our men's ministry.

We got up before the dawn, tee'd off at 7, and actually got in a few holes before the heat came down like a hammer and made us hunt for shade after each stroke of play.

It was one of those mornings that makes you think, "nice!" No big issues to confront or deal with... just guys playing golf and comparing the blessings of God in our lives. Nice.

Like I was discussing with the fella working in the pro-shop, doing life together as the church is more than just sitting in the pew next to each other. The pew is important... and so is the course.

Even as I write this, it strikes me that all the guys playing today also happened to be members of what we call ServantCorps (our deacon ministry). These are some of the men who bleed and sweat together to make sure the "wheels stay on the cart" so to speak in the life of our church. There's something right about that as it meets the golf course.

Maybe you'll find a lesson in there for yourself, maybe not; but today... for me... the rightness seems all-together overt and sensible.

Walking together in Christ... now that's just simply a great idea!

May the peace of Christ engulf you.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pondering Grace

Today I am pondering the grace of God.

I am stricken by just how arbitrary and subjectively applied is the hand of God. He relates at such an intimate, intricately involved level in our lives, that even from the depths of personal knowledge of our own experience, we cannot pretend to completely know and comprehend the mind of God.

Of course God lays out some beautifully formulaic response patterns for us to understand and follow as we relate to Him in our pursuit of the Almighty God. We know that if we admit Jesus as the only Son of the One True God, come to Him in confession of and repentance from sin, giving our lives to follow Jesus Christ, that He will forgive our sins and save us for all eternity. We know that as we approach Him in contrite humility that He responds with love and care. We know that as we follow His purposes, that His provisions will be granted for the accomplishing of His purposes... and that last one is the tricky one, isn't it.

Can I see tomorrow, or format the tides of waves and synapses?

Can I hold sway over rulers and movements, or order the sun and moon to cooperate or withhold light itself?

Can I truly ensure even simple probabilities into certainties?

Indeed it is only God who sees; only God who controls; only God who directs, ensures, withholds or provides.

In the end, I am left simply with faith and dependence. I am left humble upon my knees to follow and apply my all to not turn aside from that follow-ship. How gracious is God Who saves me as I fall along the path over and over again. How gentle His mantle as He stoops low to lift me from the ditches of my own creation. How patient He is to wait upon my tears, and console the mourning of my heart. How steadfast He is to give the morning of provision from the night of my own failings.

We live in a day that is not unlike those which have come before it. It is a day when we, as human beings, seek to glorify the beauty of being "human." The problem is that it is not so beautiful a condition in this fallen state in which we find ourselves. I purpose and propose that we exist to celebrate being the servants of the Almighty God, and nothing less. I purpose and propose that life is to be lived for the glory of the Unseen God, and not for the posterity of human existence. I purpose and propose that it is not about me, except that my failings have been the cause of excruciation upon the Son of God. I purpose and propose that we live to the glory of that Christ alone.

Who can know the mind of God? Surely, only God Himself... and that is where I shall go to find my next step.

For indeed, His "word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (ref)

From on my knees I cry, "Holy!" From humility I see the light of His provision. From the pathway of His purposes I see victories to His glory.

For Christ! For the Kingdom! For His Purposes!

This, my cry of freedom today and into eternity.

In the peace of Christ,

Pastor John

ref: Psalm 119:105

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

for the glory of HIS NAME

God is faithful to do that which He has ordained to be done.

With winds and storms, and building beyond their destruction, He sees the tearing down; and establishes the building up of the glory of His name.

We live, we breathe, struggle and testify

for the glory of His name.

In the peace of Christ,

Pastor John

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bless the LORD!

a psalm of David.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

The LORD performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
he made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children's children,
To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.
Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
Bless the LORD, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

This, my prayer today... and may it be so always; for great and faithful is the LORD, God of All!

In His peace,


ref: Psalm 103 (NASB)

Friday, September 17, 2010

God is Faithful

God is faithful. This I know beyond a shadow of a doubt. The everlasting God is without beginning and without end, without change, and at the same time beyond my finite realm of understanding.

God is faithful.

In the clouded view of today, life swirls and rants with varied and sundry messages, but the love and faithfulness of God are unchanged despite whatever currents assail life's ramparts.

It is not God who must change, but my faith must grow... for His faithfulness is in full effect.

Though I may not see the hand of God, I shall trust Him to be ever-present, and in full force, always God.

God is faithful.

In the peace of Christ,


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Grace of God... in Pictures

The grace of God is richer than an eternity of praise,

more perfect than a right angle,

more encompassing than infinity,

more beautiful than an oak tree in the middle of a wheat field in the fall.

The grace of God is hard to see, brutal to wait for, and unmistakable when found.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Slow Walk of Faith

This past weekend was an eventful and important couple of days in the life of our church.

I've often said that the human soul is a slow boil endeavor, and I find that premise proved out time and again as I follow along this path of ministry and pastoring onto which God has led me.

Saturday morning, Journey had its first ServantCorps work day. It might not sound like much to some, but it was only nine or so many months ago that I appointed the very first deacons this church has ever had. There were only five back then, and that included two of the elders. We stepped along the path of God's design for His church as I led us into one of those leadership endeavors that had better work (you pastors and CEO's out there know what I'm talking about). Skeptics were not hard to find, but we were following the path of Scripture, and that is a sure footed way to go.

Finally, it came time to appoint our new year of servants, and Saturday we came together in force, plus a few folks who just heard there was work to be done and showed up. My heart smiled. ServantCorps is now fourteen and functional.

Then Sunday came and it was time to see the next steps of what God has been cookin' up here in the Big Easy. First, our children's choir sang. I just sat and smiled as I watched and thought through the long journey here from a point of virtually no children's ministry, to a point of a whole group of kiddos not only coming to church, but singing and praising God with songs they've been learning in CHILDREN'S CHOIR! My heart smiled again as we enjoyed the fruit of the increase of God.

Finally, it was time to commission our Youth Ministry. TREK Student Ministries has been a long time coming to say the least. Finding the right leaders, getting families and students excited and involved, and seeing those both happen at the same time has been a "hat trick" here... and in truth, just finding God's perfect timing. But Sunday it all came together.

As I called upon the church body to find our Middle School and High School students all around the worship center, to lay hands upon their shoulders and to quietly pray for them, I began to hear the whispered prayers of of men and women all around the room. God was moving and I could hear the whispered foot-steps of His church. My heart smiled once again.

Finally, last night we met as TREK Student Ministries for the very first time. We had a great group of students, a wonderful group of leaders, and I was privileged to kick it off and then engage our very first "Parent Round Table." We sat and talked about the futures of our students, of the ministry, of our families together for the longest time, hearing the laughter and craziness of our students in the cafe/fellowship hall. By the end of the night, momentum was flowing through the building and the students were already crying out for more. I love it when God does His thing! And you guessed it, my heart smiled again.

Here's the catch... these simple movements of God took a long time to come to fruition. They took longer than I had hoped. They didn't come easy or cheap. There were times that were dark, times that were hopeful, times that were frightening... and through all of them, I had to just stand on the fact that we were going where God was leading us. Now that's easier written than done!

Here are a few things I'm learning more and more about the walk of faith as I travel its pathway:

1. The walk of faith is slow.

2. God comes through in His timing.

3. It's OK to tell Him you're horrified.


4. It's OK to follow tired and scared... believe me, although most would never admit it.

God knows His plans and works them out. I'm just here to follow Him, to lead His church, and to savor the moments that make His heart smile.

It's not easy, but I guess it's not supposed to be. This morning I'm exhausted... but then again, what are we doing if we don't "leave it all on the field," anyway!

In the end, or at least at this pit-stop in the race, it's good to see God post some big, you just can't miss 'em, "W's" on the board.

May there be many more of those... and that's just me bein' human.

In the peace of Christ,

Pastor John

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pax... Libertas... Imperium.

To live at peace; to stand upon the foundation of liberty; and to live within the standard of the Sovereign God... this is the paradigmatic struggle of our generation.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

To Live for the Smile of Another...

This morning as I read from the book of Isaiah, I wondered at our own state of service to God... have we brought Him pleasure, or been to Him a burden (Isaiah 1:14)?

So many times we lift verses such as these out of context in an attempt to relieve ourselves of the burden of sacrifice, only to realize later that both righteousness and sacrifice are called for by God. In the modern age of the "enlightened church," we often times relegate both obedience and sacrifice to a less mentally adroit age, and "free" ourselves to the satisfaction of our own devices.

There are certainly countless shortcuts devised in the pursuit of self-fulfillment, but I have found only one pathway of Life. It is slow and often arduous. It calls for my complete attention and sees my failures time and again as it beckons me onward, even from the pit of my own self-deprecating folly. It is uncompromising, but all-gracious to the penitent. It is simply as it has been and will continue despite the cries of fairness and enlightenment.

In the path which is Christ, I have found peace... and yet, peace calls me onward to a higher life. To some, the aspect of living so as to please another has become all-together vile and pedestrian; on the path which is Christ, however, I have found it to be the key to peace itself.

As I seek the pleasure of God, the smiles of my children become more anointed, like they're dripping with honey; the smiles of the eyes of my wife become more satisfying than the most self-satisfying fodder the world might have to offer; and the smiles of my God become more evident, and more fulfilling even amidst tumultuous circumstances.

I wonder today if I have pleased God with my life... if I have pleased Him with my love... if I have made the aroma of sacrifice sweet or burdensome. I pray it is the former and not the latter, and that it becomes more so as I travel on this Path. It is altogether undeniable that I have fallen short this day and can find success only in the grace covering of Jesus. Oh for the day when that covering shall produce its end result, and righteousness shall upon holiness stand fulfilled. Then shall the light of the pleasure of the Almighty be seen in its fulness; even as in Christ we know it through grace today.

Run well today.

In the Path and Peace of Christ,

Pastor John

Friday, September 3, 2010


In Providence there is peace;
In tranquility perception may be found;
In Light, Providence may be realized.

Through pain, the heart seeks God;
Through deliverance, life finds purpose;
In light of the Divine, purpose excites life.

"In the beginning was the Word,
And the Word was with God and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God."

These are the cycles of my mind this evening.

Peace of Christ to you.

Pastor John

Ref: John 1:1-2 (NASB)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Role of a Lifetime!

In a day of pursuit, ambition, and self-determinant glory-centered living, we have embraced an Almighty God, with supposedly unconditional surrender, into a life the Bible calls voluntary slavery, giving up the right of free will in the pursuit of salvation from the deserved consequences of our own sin.

And that, from a slightly differently angle, is Christianity.

Have you ever stopped to consider that our world is not that vastly different from the world in the time of Christ?

“What?!” you may think as you spew out your coffee and hope you didn’t just fry your computer.

Think about it for a moment. We live in a dominantly Hellenist (Greek) society, following a Jewish paradigm of relationship with the One True God. Oh yes, we have computers… “woo-pee!” The ancient Egyptians built the pyramids and we just scratch our heads and think, “Man, how’d they do that?!”

We communicate in the flash of electrons across a computer screen; they actually still had decent penmanship. They read books… we read books. Ok, they wore togas… but so do most folks at the common fraternity party (woops, maybe we shouldn’t talk about that one… just kidding)!

The point is this, that often times we dismiss the parts of the Bible that we don’t like under so many headings of exception like, “Well, they didn’t have corporate pressures!” or “They didn’t have to deal with school systems and modern secular humanism!” or “They just weren’t as enlightened as we are!”

These and so many other arguments of avoidance I’ve heard and tried over the years have at least one common denominator… none of them hold water.

A brother in Christ once asked me why I wouldn’t drop out of ministry for a while and get a sweet paying job in the energy industry back when we were serving in Texas. It made no sense to him that I would be educated to the level I am and only make what a pastor makes. I laughed to myself, thought “no stinkin’ doubt!” and then thanked him for the compliment but explained that my life is not a result of my choice, but of God’s calling… and that my assignment is that of a pastor.

In that moment, and even as I type it again here, it is both freeing and it kind of stings a little. My role has been set since Mrs. Smith’s fifth grade classroom, writing the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” paper, when the Holy Spirit told me to “Preach the Gospel.”

The die was cast when I was a six year old little boy on the swing set with my father, and traded my life for the salvation of Jesus Christ… seeking His forgiveness, and committing to, as my Dad put it, let Him be the boss; oddly similar to how the Apostle Paul describes himself as the bond-slave of Christ.

Even this morning, as I talked with my children, I realize that the God Who saved me has known all these things were coming and all that is to come. I know that He saw me coming knowing I would choose His grace, that He set my life in order, even working my messes to my good, so that I would be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-30), that He called me to Himself, brought me to the forgiveness of my sins, and will complete the whole process when I reach the end of this race someday.

The role of a lifetime is not my choice… it’s His.

Oh, there are roads in life that would have made it my choice, but none of those roads lead to Jesus.

In II Corinthians 4:17, Paul says, “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (ESV)

Whatever the God-given role of your lifetime might be… dive into it today!

Don’t let the modern mumbo-jumbo of pseudo enlightenment (aka self-serving prideful ego-centric exaltation) rob you of the joy of serving the God of All Creation.

Run the race. Turn not to one side or the other.

Fix your eyes on Christ and breathe the clean air of living in the purposes of God.

For me, that has made the difference between fulfillment and frustration. I hope it might for you as well as we run in the path of so many who have come before us!

May the peace of Christ engulf you as run!


"The Role of a Lifetime" was originally published at the blog-home of Penny Franklin, where she ministers to, disciples, and walks with ladies in the grace of Jesus Christ across the country.

Find Penny's blog @