The 2 Timothy 2:2 Objective

Passing the torch to the next generation of believers.

Helps for Preaching God's Word

Check out our page of sermon preparation resources. Search the blog for sermon helps, too.

Teaching in Other Countries

Training pastors and church leaders around the world through missions.

Men's Retreats

Equipping men to be Christ-followers

Study Helps

Look through our links to help you dig deeper into God's Word.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

If YOU Build, Will They Come?

In my search for a pastorate, I received numerous questionnaires about my personality and my doctrinal stand. There is one that stands out to me because of the first question on this questionnaire. The first question this church wanted to know about was not "What is your belief in Jesus?" or "What do you hold to concerning the Scriptures" or "What do you believe about salvation?" The first question was not even, "Please give us your testimony." The first question on this pastoral questionnaire was "How would you grow the church?"

My answer was essentially, "I will not grow the church. If the church grows that is God's business. I will teach, disciple and exhort the body to penetrate the world with the gospel. I will provide an example of evangelism. But God will be the one to make the church grow if that is what He desires (1 Cor. 3:7)." While I put it more gracious terms than this, it nevertheless captures what my answer was. They did not call me as their pastor.

In this vein, here is an interesting article which that church may want to read. It is entitled Ten Ways to Grow a Church Without God. Others may have the muscles to this kind of job in their own strength. I sure don't.

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 9.30.07

If you first do not succeed, hide the evidence.

Mickey, a lady at church during our discipleship class

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 9.29.07

Don't drop that on my head...I'm serious!

Jessica, my daughter

Friday, September 28, 2007

Loving the Small Things

I was given some encouragement the other day regarding Pikes Peak Bible Institute from an unlikely source. I was actually on a phone interview for a ministry position to which I had applied. I wanted to accurately reflect the status of PPBI and let the interviewers know that PPBI was still small as we struggled to make it a more stable ministry. One of the interviewers quoted Zechariah:
For who has despised the day of small things? Zech. 4:10b

In this passage, the Jewish people have returned to Jerusalem are rebuilding the temple. Their enemies had already taunted them for rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem (Neh. 4:2-4). Then, their enemies took action to stop the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 4). The enemies were successful for a time (Ezra 4:24) but then Haggai and Zechariah lit a fire under the nation's collective hind end and they finished the reconstruction (Ezra 5:1-2, Haggai, Zechariah).

The point is, this verse in Zechariah 4 shows that in the inception of any work, it is small. And people should not "despise" that smallness. In fact, even though this new temple was nothing compared to the previous temple (Ezra 3:12, Hag. 2:3), it is in this temple the Lord promised to show a great glory (Hag. 2:9). In fact, it is in this temple where God-in-the-flesh walked in the person of Jesus Christ. Thus, it is this lowly, small, plain temple where the most majestic display of God's love and glory would be put on display. Therefore, the prophet Zechariah concludes, one should not despise the day of small things.

This thought gave me encouragement. Yes, PPBI is small when looking at it from the human point of view. It is the beginning of a ministry. However, I truly believe that God has great things in store for this ministry. I can only see the beginning and like the people who saw the previous temple and were a bit discouraged, I look at other ministries and think, "Shouldn't PPBI look like that?" However, also like the people who did not realize that something better than they could ever conceive was coming, I must remember that I am at the beginning and God is already at the end.

Today if you are discouraged because you are at the beginning of the Lord's work for you, remember Zechariah 4:10. Do not despise the day of small things. Learn to love the small things. God knows end from the beginning and has great things planned for you and your ministry. Be encouraged that you are able to participate in the building of the small thing that God will use to build His Kingdom for His glory.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Now...Which Way Was I Going?

Rhonda and I were in Portland, Oregon, this last weekend and week "beginning" for a job interview out there (I am not sure how that went and will post on it one way or the other soon). It was somewhat interesting that driving around in Portland felt like much of what is going on in my life right now. I knew I was in Portland but the streets were unfamiliar and their traffic flow was erratic. The street layouts seem to make no sense to me and if I missed a turn, it was not an easy task to get back where I started.

On Sunday morning, we went to a little Baptist church and had a nice worship experience with them. I think the message addressed this issue in life. The church was Mill Park Baptist Church, led by Pastor Gary Lay. Pastor's sermon was thought provoking and well presented. I would like to give you his thoughts from the day.

The message was based in Isaiah 30:19-26 and was about turning your life around.

First, Isaiah indicates that to change the direction of your life, there must be repentance (vs. 19). That is, Isaiah indicates that when the people of God cry out to God in repentance, He will hear them and be gracious to them.

Second, there must also be acceptance, that is, accepting the consequences of past ungodly actions. Even though, Isaiah says, that the people of God had been given the "bread of privation and water of oppression," even though they are bearing the consequences of their actions, God will show Himself to them as their Teacher. Getting your life back on track takes an acknowledgement of the consequences of getting off track.

Third, with repentance and acceptance come guidance. The people of God, when they accept responsibility for their actions and turn from them, will hear a voice guiding them onto the path their Father wants them travel.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, there must be change. The people of God must cast away their false idols, those gods who compete for the hearts of God's people, those impure things that so easily capture the hearts of those who want to follow the One True God. There must be a "Spring cleaning," so to speak, in the heart of the follower.

Finally, in this passage Isaiah declares the results of these actions, which is healing. Verse 23-26a speak of some physical things that will help the Jewish people physically. But these are all representative of what God has really done, found in the last half of verse 26:
On the day the LORD binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted.

This is an obvious reference to spiritual healing. He will restore the relationship between Himself and His people.

I found Pastor Gary's message very thought provoking and challenging. Not only was I glad to be in a church where the pastor preached an expository sermon, but also one whom God used to speak to me when and how I needed.

I think this passage is worth thinking about. With repentance and acceptance of the consequences, God will give guidance to the believer. However, most important in this process is the believer's willingness to change. He must get rid of the idols that trip him up. With this change, comes a healing to the relationship.

Thank you, Pastor Gary, for your willingness to be used by God. I pray that God will continue to use you in powerful ways there in Portland.

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 9.26.07


Jo Lupo, played by actress Erica Cerra, on SciFi's Eureka

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 9.25.07 looks like you have a bit of...looks like ash on your camera.

Mike Rowe, host of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's Like Cheese, Only Different

Part 2 of Christian Maturity. For part 1 click here.

I love cheese. To make cheese takes time. It has to mature. Below is a time lapsed video in which you can watch cheese mature.

If you would like to watch cheese mature in real time click here.

To get a good cheese one must be patient and realize the final product is worth the wait. Additionally, there are periodic tests to see if the cheese is "done" and ready to consume.

This is similar to the Christian life. It takes time to mature and, while one will never be "done" maturing on earth, there are earmarks of maturity. Paul says it this way:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitter and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Eph. 4:11-16

This passage shows Paul's desire to see the church mature more than anything else. First he says that God gave the church leaders for the purpose of equipping believers. This is the issue of maturity. The words used throughout this passage are pregnant with this meaning: "building up," "mature man," "measure of the stature," grow up," "growth." Paul's concern is about mature.

But what does maturity look like. Gary Bredfeldt, in his book Great Leader Great Teacher: Recovering the Biblical Vision for Leadership, uses this verse to summarize maturity:
Maturity is marked by increased unity, knowledge, and Christlikeness, as well as a lessening vulnerability to the deceptions of false teachers. pg. 18

What a great summary of this passage in Ephesians! Paul says that if believers are maturing there will be unity. This is not unity at any cost. A quick glance through Galatians and one will recognize that Paul would reject unity with those preaching a false gospel and a false Christ (Gal. 1:8-10, 5:10-12, etc.). However, for those who hold to the truth, there should be increasing unity.

There should also be a growing knowledge of Christ. In today's terms, this is considered theology. What one believes about God, about Christ, about salvation, or any other aspect of the Christian life is truly their theology. I hear so many people say, "I do not want to hear all that theology. I just want to hear about Jesus." I realize this is an attempt to sound very spiritual, but it shows how little one truly understands the implications of their beliefs. What Jesus do they want to hear about? Do they want to hear about the Mormon Jesus who is Satan's brother and was conceived by the literal sex act between God and Mary? Or do they want to hear the Oneness-Pentacostal Jesus who is God, but not God at the same time the Father and Spirit is God? Or do they want to hear about the Jesus the Scripture reveals? What they "hear" about Jesus is real theology and this must be ever increasing if one wants to mature.

In addition to unity and knowledge, Christlikeness is a mark of Christian maturity. Paul summarizes this concept in Philippians 2:1-11. It could be summarized as humility or selflessness. It could also be summarized by holiness (1 Pet. 1:14-15). Maturity meand becoming more and more like Christ.

Finally, maturity also means recognizing false teachers and falst teachings when one hears it. This is perhaps the most insidious problem in the church today. Today, many are swayed by every novel and shiny fad that is packaged as the Christian faith. In reality, most of these are teachers are simply preying on the immaturity of the average believer. Recognizing false teaching is an essential element of Christian maturity.

None of these aspects are instaneous but there should always be movement closer and closer to the goal of maturity. Cheese will come to a place in the maturation process where it is ready to go on the market to be consumed. The believer, however, is never "done." The Christian is always maturing, always growing, and forever becoming like the One he loves.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 9.19.07

Leaving...on a jetplane...don't know when I'll be back...

My pastor, Ron, in our nominating committee meeting

Leaving the Diapers Behind...So To Speak

Babies are pretty cute little critters. The are not hard to read. If they are happy, you can easily tell from the smiles and the giggling. When they are not happy, they make sure everyone knows this. These immature humans have an innocence that is refreshing to experience and watching them mature is one of the joys of life.

This is same for the church. As the lost come to know Christ, there is a great joy watching them mature. However, for many believers, they never leave the "diaper" stage of Christian life. Last night, I was reading Great Leader Great Teacher: Recovering the Biblical Vision for Leadership by Gary Bredfeldt (I will post on this book later - long story short, it is a worthwhile read so far) and came some thought provoking concepts on Christian maturity.

In some previous posts (here and here) I have mentioned that the church uses a variety of ways to measure success in the church, all of which seem to be influenced by the secular world around us. However, it seems like the main, if not only, way Scripture measures success is the maturity of believers.

Bredfeldt shared a several verses on this topic. Two verses from the prison epistles really captivated my thinking (I will make this a two or three part post as I have been informed some of my posts are a bit long). The first verse is from Colossians:
And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Col. 1-28-29

The first thing of note in these verses is that Paul's main ministry was teaching Christ. He proclaimed Christ and only Christ (1 Cor. 1:23, 9:16; Phi. 1:18) and this is what made Paul a great leader. In fact, it is this concept which Bredfeldt's book encapsulates:
The most powerful means of leading the people of God is by teaching them the Word of God. pg. 18

Paul is first and foremost about teaching believers the one true Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth.

The second thing of note in the Colossians passage is that Paul's goal was not a radical new vision for the body of Christ, nor was his goal to be more relevant to the culture around him. His goal was the maturity of the believers he was teaching. His goal was to present them "complete" or mature in Christ.

The third thing of note in this passage is Paul gave everything he had toward this goal. Paul strenuously worked, not in his own strength, but with all the strength God gave him, to bring people to maturity. Everything Paul endured (2 Cor. 11:22-33) was to bring those he ministered to into maturity for the glory of God.

As one examines Paul's life, it is all about maturity of believers. It is immature faith of the Galatians which causes them to desire to drift back to Judaism and which spurs Paul to write that scathing epistles. The church in Thessalonica' immaturity allowed them to be continually swayed in their understand of eschatology which prompted Paul to write two letters to correct them. In fact, you can see this element in each of Paul's epistles to some extent. He believed that the key to the Christian life was nothing other than maturity.

One has to wonder why many in the church do not use maturity as the measure of their effectiveness in ministry. Is it because maturity is hard to measure? Is it because maturity takes a long time and in this instant-access society we cannot wait for such things? Is it because we do not want to mature and thus we must find other things to justify what we do? This I do not know, but it is something on which every leader should dwell.

But what does biblical maturity look like? How do we recognize it when we see it? I will address this in my next post.

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 9.18.07

You're just seeing things.

Rhonda at 5:30 AM, when I asked her "What was that?" referring to the noise that woke me up.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What The Students Are Saying

In a previous post, I mentioned the annual report for Pikes Peak Bible Institute. I included the following student testimonials in the report. This is what they say about PPBI.

By taking the courses that have been offered through PPBI, I am able to achieve the goal of having a BA degree… The thought of me progressing in the ministry was a near impossibility with my current career and family responsibilities. However, the study time and sacrifices that need to be made for me to go to PPBI are now done without relocating my family to another state. Bill M.

As an ordained minister in our denomination, I am thankful for PPBI for providing much needed education and training. As a father and husband, I appreciate the low cost of such quality education. Juan R.

The courses I have taken at PPBI have equipped me to better teach Sunday School at my church. They have also opened my eyes to the reality that every Christian needs to be adequately prepared to present a well-reasoned and articulated message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to our unbelieving society. Kevin G.

PPBI has been such a blessing! Being able to go to school here in Colorado Springs and study the Bible is great. This school has brought a better understanding of the Bible, Christian faith, and the Baptist denomination. For a person who wants to learn more about God, PPBI is a true blessing. God has used PPBI to reveal more about himself to me, and nothing can compare to a deeper relationship with our Lord. Kevin R.

I have been able to work on my degree wile keeping a full time job, raising two teens, and serving as an elder and leader at my church. I could not have been able to work towards my degree if it were not for PPBI and their convenient classes. The classes have helped me better prepare for the ministry. They have been very useful in the service of my church. Lonnie H.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hey...That's How You Do That!

Have you ever been reading someone's blog and see that they had entered a copyright symbol or had the correct accent marks on a word such as Attaché or used a ¼ or even utilized a • to set off a list? Did you ever wonder "How in the world do they do that?"

Well, this is how. Below is a list of characters which can be inserted in just about any text when using a PC (if you are one of those are just too cool to not have a PC and must prove to the world how individualistic you are that you must use only a Mac, you can click here to get this list for a Mac. I cannot find any place that you can click to get a life.)

Those of you who blog regularly (Kim and Mark), now you can insert these cool symbols which will show everyone that we all spend probably way too much time on our blogs.

Here is the list (please note that I found this on the web and it is not my creation). To use these, hold down your Alt button and keep it held down while you enter the number. First, I found that you have to use the numbers on your number pad. The numbers at the top of your keyboard will not work. Second, you will not see anything while you are typing, but when you enter the number and then release the Alt button, the symbol will show up.

Á (A-acute) -- alt-0193
À (A-grave) -- alt-0192
 (A-circumflex) -- alt-0194
Ä (A-dieresis) -- alt-0196 or alt-0142
à (A-tilde) -- alt-0195
Å (A-ring) -- alt-0197 or alt-0143
á (a-acute) -- alt-0225
à (a-grave) -- alt-0224
â (a-circumflex) -- alt-0226
ä (a-dieresis) -- alt-0228 -- or -- alt-0132
ã (a-tilde) -- alt-0227
å (a-ring) -- alt-0229 -- or -- alt-0134
É (E-acute)-- alt-0201
È (E-grave) -- alt-0200
Ê (E-circumflex) -- alt-0202
Ë (E-dieresis) -- alt-0203
é (e-acute) -- alt-0233
è (e-grave) -- alt-0232
ê (e-circumflex) -- alt-0234
ë (e-dieresis) -- alt-0235
Í (I-acute) -- alt-0205
Ì (I-grave) -- alt-0204
Î (I-circumflex) -- alt-0206
Ï (I-dieresis) -- alt-0207
í (i-acute) -- alt-0237
ì (i-grave) -- alt-0236
î (i-circumflex) -- alt-0238
ï (i-dieresis)-- alt-0239
Ó (O-acute) -- alt-0211
Ò (O-grave) -- alt-0210
Ô (O-circumflex) -- alt-0212
Ö (O-dieresis) -- alt-0214 -- or -- alt-0153
Õ (O-tilde) -- alt-0213
Ø (O-slash) -- -- alt-0216
ó (o-acute)-- alt-0243
ò (o-grave) -- alt-0242
ô (o-circumflex) -- alt-0244 (PC)
ö (o-dieresis) -- alt-0246 -- or -- alt-0148
õ (o-tilde) -- alt-0245
ø (o-slash) -- alt-0248
Ú (U-acute) -- alt-0218
Ù (U-grave) -- alt-0217
Û (U-circumflex) -- alt-0219
Ü (U-dieresis) -- alt-0220
ú (u-acute) -- alt-0250
ù (u-grave) -- alt-0249
û (u-circumflex)-- alt-0251
ü (u-dieresis) -- alt-0252
Ÿ (Ydieresis)-- alt-0159 (PC)
ÿ (ydieresis) -- alt-0255 (PC)
Ç (C-cedilla)-- alt-0199
ç (c-cedilla) -- alt-0231
®¢ (Eth) -- alt-0208 (PC)
©£ (eth) -- alt-0240 (PC)
Ñ (N-tilde) -- alt-0209
ñ (n-tilde) -- alt-0241
Š(Scaron) -- alt-0138
š(scaron) -- alt-0154
Ý(Yacute) -- alt-0221
ý(yacute) -- alt-0253
®≠ (Thorn) -- alt-0222
©≠ (thorn) -- alt-0254
®≠ (fi) -- alt-0222
Æ (AE) -- alt-0198
æ (ae) -- alt-0230
Π(OE) -- alt-0140
œ (oe) -- alt-0156
§ (section) -- alt-0167
• (bullet) -- alt-0149
¶ (paragraph) -- alt-0182
¿ (questiondown) -- alt-0191
¡ (exclamdown) -- alt-0161
« (guillemetleft) -- alt-0171
» (guillemetright) -- alt-0187
… (ellipsis) -- alt-0133
– (endash) -- alt-0150
— (emdash) -- alt-0151
“ (doublequote left) -- alt-0147
” (doublequote right) -- alt-0148
‘ (singlequote left) -- alt-0145
’ (singlequote right) -- alt-0146
‹ (guilsingleleft) -- alt-0139
› (guilsingleright) -- alt-0155
· (period centered) -- alt-0183
‚ (quote single base) -- alt-0130
„ (quote double base) -- alt-0132
° (degree) -- alt-0176
± (plusminus) -- alt-0177
÷ (divide) -- alt-0247
‰ (per thousand) -- alt-0137
ú (minus) -- alt-0173
Å~ (multiply) -- alt-0215
½ (one half) -- alt-0189
¼ (one quarter) -- alt-0188
¾(three quarters) -- alt-0190
¹(one superior) -- alt-0185
²(two superior) -- alt-0178
³(three superior) -- alt-0179
µ (mu) -- alt-0181
¬ (logicalnot) -- alt-0172
ƒ (florin) -- alt-0131 (PC)
ß (germandbls) -- alt-0223
¢ (cent) -- alt-0162
£ (sterling) -- alt-0163
¥ (yen) -- alt-0165
°Ë (euro) -- alt-0164
® (registered) -- alt-0174
© (copyright) -- alt-0169
? (trademark) -- alt-0153
´ (acute) -- alt-0180
¨ (dieresis) -- alt-0168
– (circumflex) -- alt-0136
˜ (tilde) -- alt-0152
¯ (macron) -- alt-0175
¸ (cedilla) -- alt-0184
ª (ordfeminine) -- alt-0170
º (ordmasculine) -- alt-0186
¯ (dagger) -- alt-0134
˘ (double dagger) -- alt-0135
Here is an abbreviated version of a list like this (click here).

Hope this helps you. Let me know if does.

PPBI - Year in Review

I was asked to today for the yearly report for Pikes Peak Bible Institute, the educational ministry I lead for the Pikes Peak Baptist Association. The association's yearly meeting is on October 1 and I need to let PPBA know how things went.

This is always a good exercise to engage in for any ministry: to take stock in the middle of the year and make any adjustments to end the year where you need to be. Here are some highlights of the 2007 year for PPBI.

§ Spring 2007

• We offered two in-seat classes for the Spring 2007 semester
» "The Life of Christ" - a survey of the Gospel's
» "Biblical Hermeneutics" - How to understand and apply the Bible

• We offered one online class for the Spring 2007 semester
» "Teaching and Learning in the Church" - just what it sounds like

• We were able to attend an education fair at Schriever Air Force Base. This is a big deal as we were the only bible college which attended this ed fair located on a military base.

§ Fall 2007

• We offered two in-seat classes for the Fall 2007 semester
» "Old Testament History and Literature" - a survey of the Old Testament
» "Introducing Christian Doctrines" - a systematic theology class

• We offered four online classes for the Fall 2007 semester (but only one had students)
» "Biblical Ethics" - just what it sounds like
» The other three classes were New Testament Survey, Old Testament Survey and Teaching and Learning in Churches. These online classes are actually offered by Oklahoma Baptist University but PPBI's students can take any of them they desire.

• We will be able to attend another educational fair at Schriever AFB in a couple of weeks (Sept. 17).

§ 2007 Over All

• Continued discussion with a project I am not sure I am able to share publicly.
• Continued work on purpose, mission and vision statement. PPBI's purpose statement says "Pikes Peak Bible Institute exists to equip Christ-followers spiritually and intellectually to serve God in their local church and communities throughout their entire lives." This is based in Ephesians 4:12-13.
• Developed some new advertising products.
• Continued work on a student handbook.

While we did more than this, this is some of the highlights of the year. This helps me formulate some of what I will put in the annual report.

I will post some students comments tomorrow so that you can hear what is going on in the student's lives as a result of their work at PPBI.

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 9.10.07

Oh, look...I found it.

My daugher, Jessica, after her mother showed her the location of the item for wich Jessica was looking.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 9.9.07

Larry: "Hallelujah, my brother"
Sheriff Carter: "Sh'up Larry"
From the preview of next week's Eureka.

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 9.8.07

Loco por Jesus

Title of a Spanish version of D. C. Talks "Jesus Freaks" at my local Mardel's store.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me...and Larry

Today was my birthday. I share my birthday with my father-in-law. We were 101 years old today (Him 63 and me 38). We had a good day. I enjoy sharing my birthday with my father-in-law.

I am not sure if I have any thought provoking insights from today except that I am at my middle age if I live to 76 years old. I could not find what the average age of men are when they die but I am guessing it is mid-70’s. Anyway, I have probably lived half my life (obviously this is only if the Lord does not have anything different planned).

I guess I am just thinking about the whole of my life and that I desperately want to hear Jesus tell me “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I pray that my life so far has had more positive than negative when it comes to things eternal. I pray that I have encouraged more than I have discouraged when it comes to relationships. I pray that I am becoming more and more like the One who formed me while still in my mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:4).

Here is some lists of things that happened…
This day in history

The Year I was born

The day I was born

Instead of gifts, feel free to send cold hard cash OR gift certificates to any good theological books store. Just kidding...just send the cash.