A Couple Prayer Requests From Challies.com

These are from challies.com:

Rick Phillips at the Reformation 21 blog asks for prayer for Dr. D. James Kennedy.

Please pray for Dr. D. James Kennedy, his wife and daughter, and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Dr. Kennedy is in grave condition following a heart attack last evening.
Jim’s health has deteriorated markedly in the last several months, and he has manfully continued his ministry to the best of his ability. During all my interactions with him even during this trying time, he has exhibited his characteristic good cheer, charm, and force of mind. Along with being a man with great vision for the kingdom of Christ, Jim Kennedy is a true Christian gentleman. Please pray for God to restore him to full health and give him grace as his situation should require.

And from Albert Mohler’s blog comes another request:

Dr. Albert Mohler is recovering at Louisville’s Baptist East hospital following abdominal surgery. Dr. Mohler was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday after experiencing abdominal pain. During a three-hour procedure, surgeons removed scar tissue from a 1980s operation. Dr. Mohler is expected to be released from the hospital next week and will continue his recovery at home. Dr. Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology and Senior VP for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will host The Albert Mohler radio program until he is able to return to the air. Dr. Mohler’s blog and commentary posts will resume as soon as he is able. Please join the Southern Seminary community in praying for Dr. Mohler’s quick and total recovery.

Babymoon in Boston: Part Deux

Faneuil Hall

Later that evening we walked to Faneuil Hall. We stayed at the Hilton right in the financial district, so we were in walking distance of quite a bit. So we headed out to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, which was also the site of our first date. We relived the evening, visiting the same shops and walking the same streets, remembering the awkward conversation and reflecting on how just two years later we’re there married with the first baby on the way.

Here’s a picture of someone that I will miss that died this past year. My mother put together a list and failed to mention probably the most significant one: Red Auerbach. I was raised a Celtics fan, watching them play regularly with my mother. I had the posters and t-shirts and hats. I bled Celtic Green. And Red Auerbach WAS the Celtics. A couple of summers ago I read the book “Let Me Tell You a Story” that he did with John Feinstein and it was such a pleasure to read.

Red was a different breed. Everything he did he did with fire and intensity, but knew what he was doing every step of the way. He brought the Celtics to where they were the most dominant team in NBA history, winning 9 titles as coach. But even after he stepped down, he was still pulling the strings, directing a team that won 11 titles in 13 years, the definition of a dynasty. When he stepped down, he had himself replaced with Bill Russel, the first African America coach in the NBA, and Russle played center while coaching the team to more titles. How he managed to draft Russle is an amazing story. He had the second pick of the draft and knew that the guy in front of him wanted to draft Russle. So Red convinced the owner not to pick Russle in exchange for Red getting the Ice Capades to go to his arena.

Red was a competitor to his core. He would do anything he could to gain an edge over his competition, even turning off the hot water to the visitor’s locker room. He would heckle refs who he thought were calling a bad game, and talk trash through the media before anyone knew how to. Even when they lost to the Lakers, he always managed to find a way to make a bigger story and win back the attention.

He was a master engineer of basketball talent. He found Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn, John Havlicek, Ed Macauley, Sam Jones, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and of course drafting Larry Bird a year earlier than anyone thought to. He knew where to find people and how to get them onto his team. He didn’t just look for talent, but built teams on team basketball, defense, and rebounding. That’s why during their dominant run, no member of the team ranked in the top ten in scoring. They won as a team, with Red at the helm.

But as time went by, Red got older and was not able to be as involved. Then the worst thing happened: Rick Pitino. When he came on, he demanded the role of president, which was Red’s title. In order to appease him, Red gave it up, but you can bet he carried a grudge to the grave. Pitino then swiftly ran the team into the ground, giving up on draft picks after a quarter of a season. (one guy became the point guard on a two-time NBA champion and the other is a top 20 player in the NBA).

In a way, I’m glad that he’s not here to live through more misery. I was thinking the other day that I’m glad the Red Sox are doing well, but there is an empty spot without the Celtics competing. It pained Red to watch the Celtics wallow in the bottom half of the league. And thank goodness he’s not here to see those stupid cheerleaders. The Celtics aren’t the same team they were when Red was in charge, but hopefully they will find someone like him to lead them back to the top, to win one more for Red.

day two of Babymoon in Boston coming soon…

Babymooning in Boston

Almost everyone that we have talked to has said that before the baby comes, we should take a babymoon. We normally just look back at them and laugh because we can’t afford such a trip or find the time. But before we came home we decided to make reservations for an evening in Boston, figuring that was the closest thing we could get. So the past two days we have been in Boston, touring Fenway Park, walking around Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, and exploring the city by foot. Fortunately for all of you, I took my camera with me and snapped away. Here’s our trip!

Fenway Park

Is there any other place that we could have started? The Red Sox brought us together (in the sovereignty of God of course), or at least gave me an excuse to talk to her and get to know her. So the first thing we did was go walk around Fenway, eat lunch at the Cask ‘n Flagon, perused the souvenir shops, and took a tour of Fenway. It had been about six years since I’ve been inside, since that’s how long I’ve been in California.

We ate at the Cask ‘n Flagon, which is one of the best places to watch a game nationally. The restaurant is right behind the Green Monster (locals read Montstah) on Lansdown St. If you ever watch a game, just look to the left of the coke bottles and above the Bud Light billboard for a sign for the place. It’d be nice to go down and watch a game there, because it’s a great atmosphere and you always get a better view of what is going on by watching the TV. That is, if I can’t get a ticket in.

Then there is a big billboard about some Asian guy that the team apparently signed. They like him so much that they put up a billboard of the guy. I wonder why I haven’t heard anything about this guy? They have talked about him on the radio or at least on a red sox website or something.

Touring Fenway
After lunch we toured Fenway. The guy took us up on the roof in right field where the new seats are and to the new Budweiser Pavilion seats. The tour guide was great about telling the history of the park and its metamorphasis over the years. he told great stories of how things came to be as they are and little things that you normally wouldn’t hear.

Not a lovely day for a picture, but it’ll do.

If you look to the seats behind center field, you’ll notice that there are none. That is because they took them out to install a rain shield. If not this winter, then next winter they will be putting in a new bar or restaraunt underneath them.

That has been one big improvement in the park since I was there last. The new ownership has done a great job of improving on what is already there. The place is a lot more presentable and they are going to continue to do so. This winter they are adding more luxury boxes that will go for around $250,000 a year if I remember correctly. that should help pay for that Matsuzaka guy.

Another cool thing was that he talked a lot about the Yawkey’s role in the life of the Red Sox and the stadium. Here’s one tid bit: If you look closely at the white verticle lines on the scoreboard, you’ll notice that the one under the “American League” and the one to the left of that are not solid lines. This is because the Yawkeys wanted to take a subtle way to keep themselves a part of the stadium. If you can look closely, you’ll notice that they are Morse Code. The one of the left is Mr Yawkey’s initials in Morse Code and the one to the right is Mrs. Yawkey’s initials. And if you notice that the top of Mrs Yawkey’s initials read RIP across. A cool little tid bit for ya.

Well, that’s our Fenway Tour. I’ll write later about Faneuil Hall, and the rest of the wanderings through America’s favorite old city: Beantown.

John Owen: An Attainable Hero

Have you ever read a biography and been so humbled and challenged that you feel that you could never be like that person? I’ve read quite a few biographies and it seems that the amazing men and women that dot the history of Christianity lived such amazing lives that there is nearly no chance you could imitate them. It always seems like they are learning Greek, Latin, and Hebrew by the age of 8, and enrolling in Ivy League schools by 12. Maybe their ability to preach to the hearts of men is so renowned that thousands flock to pack out the building they preach in. People are just enraptured with their powerful voice and their smooth delivery. They have mastered the English language like you cannot. Maybe its a person who made such a gigantic leap of faith and ended up founding a major missions agency. They brilliantly were able to cross cultures and organize the founding of great organizations.

I love these biographies, but they always leave me with a sense of, “There is no way I could do that.” Maybe I’m not the great preacher, the brilliant student, or the gifted administrator. There is always a feeling like they were such great individuals, that they are so unattainable by people today.

As many of you know, my wife and I are expecting our first child, and I have decided to give a tribute to someone who has meant a lot to me in my walk with God. Micah’s middle name will be ‘Owen’ after John Owen. It was Owen’s books that opened me up to older literature and writings. I always thought that I could never understand them or that they may bore me. But it was reading his works “On Temptation” and “On the Mortification of Sin in Believers” that opened me up to the riches of those who have gone before us.

Recently I have begun reading “John Owen: The Man and His Theology” and I have been struck with the sense that I could really imitate him. Here are a few details that have lead me to this conclusion. First, it wasn’t until he was 26 that he came to salvation in Christ. It was oddly similar to Charles Spurgeon’s own conversion. He just heard the text being read and surrendered his life. Knowing that he wasn’t a child prodigy, but really a late bloomer in Christ communicated a lot to me. I know that he had already gone through quite a bit of training prior to this, but it is still comforting to know that he didn’t already have all of his theology in line by the time his voice changed.

He basically had two things that absolutely pervaded his theology. The first was a magnificent theology of Christ. The last book he wrote was the “Glory of Christ”. He was actually visited by the publisher on his death bed and had this to say: “The long wished-for day is come at last, in which I shall see the glory in another manner than I have ever done, or was capable of doing in this world.” Later that day, he passed away.

He was also a great defender of Trinitarian theology. He thought that all external acts of God involve all three persons of the Godhead, battling Modalism. His thought preserves the consubstantiality of the persons while explaining their economic differences and, in the case of the Son, his functional subordination to the Father.

I’m looking forward to not only finishing this book, but also being able to read “The Glory of Christ” and “The Holy Spirit”. First I plan on re-reading “The Mortification of Sin in Believers” in preparation for our high school winter camp. And if I have time, “On Temptation”. Did you know that “The Mortification of Sin in Believers” was written as a message for students? Sinclair Ferguson says, “These were, essentially, addresses to teenagers! He did not view the materials as the strong meat for well-tried Christians we see it as. Rather it was basic milk, foundational priciples for every Christian believer. It is a sign of the times that we find “The Mortification of Sin” nourishment for serious spiritual athletes!”

John Piper gives the challenge to each believer, and especially those in ministry, to adopt one older writer who has already passed into glory. Obviously Piper’s is Jonathan Edwards. Awhile ago I chose John Owen as mine. It is hard to believe that as of the 1960’s, hardly anyone would have heard of John Owen, and now he is considered the greatest theologian in English history. So if you do not have someone that you have adopted, I challenge you to adopt Mr. John Owen.

Blood Diamond

This past Friday evening the wife and I found ourselves with a free evening and a movie gift certificate to boot! So we made our way to our local Cineplex and checked out what we wanted to see. The wifey was interested in seeing ‘Blood Diamond’. I was somewhat hesitant because I’m a normal man who doesn’t really like Leonardo DiCaprio. But I saw it was about Africa and it appeared to have a good cast, including Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly. For those who don’t know what the story is about, here’s a summary:

“Set against the backdrop of the chaos and civil war that enveloped 1990s Sierra Leone, Blood Diamond is the story of Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), an ex-mercenary from Zimbabwe, and Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a Mende fisherman. Both men are African, but their histories and their circumstances are as different as any can be until their fates become joined in a common quest to recover a rare pink diamond, the kind of stone that can transform a life…or end it.”

While it was definitely not the most comfortable movie to see, it was very powerful and is good to be made aware of the social disasters that are occuring in countries that don’t threaten the U.S. or have oil. Anyone that knows me, knows that Uganda has a special place in my heart, as do the Invisible Children that are suffering. This movie shows the same thing that is going on in Northern Uganda, where children are getting kidnapped to build and arm the rebellion army. They are brain washed and made into child killers.

The movie is very bloody, but it never glorified the violence. They didn’t have anything in the movie that you thought was unnecessary, and I think they presented the illegal diamond trade in a very realistic sense. they show you the innocent people it affects and the process people will go through to justify their involvement. It was just a powerful movie that makes you think about what is going on in Africa where the governments aren’t powerful or honest enough to stop the tragedies. DiCaprio plays a brilliant role, showing that he has indeed become one of the finest actors around. He pulls of ‘Africans’ and a great accent throughout that doesn’t make you cringe like most actors who attempt accents.

The Glorious Appearance of Our Savior… Who Cares?

Sometimes there are moments in ministry when it feels like a big light goes off. It usually happens in preparation to teach God’s Word, and sometimes it even happens in the process of teaching. This past month I had one of these moments while I was teaching about the return of Christ to our High Schoolers. The funny thing is I wasn’t even supposed to be teaching, but I got a call that morning that the teacher wasn’t going to be able to make it due to sickness. So I didn’t have the time to really internalize what I was teaching until I was going through it again with the youth.

As I was going through the section on Christ’s return it dawned on me that we don’t anticipate Christ’s return like we are supposed to. We have surrounded ourselves with so many comforts that distract us and steal our yearning to see Christ at His return. Paul gives us a great challenge in his letter to Titus:

Titus 2:11-14- “For the grace of God has appeared… training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

We should plead and yearn for the day where we can meet the Savior of our souls and kiss the pierced feet of the One who bled for us!

And it isn’t just about desiring to be in Heaven, but anticipating the appearance of Christ. Paul said in II Timothy 4:8, “There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

When I was talking about the return of Christ it was like I had just said what I was going to be having for lunch. There was no reaction, and it scared me. And I realized that it isn’t just the high schoolers that were somewhat bored with the topic. It was me, too. I suddenly realized that I have let myself get too disctracted with the present. Do we truly anticipate Christ’s return like we should? Does my heart leap at thought of seeing my Savior face to face?

What would happen if the apostles had the same perspective that we do? What if Paul decided to settle down and start a tent making business and just assumed that someone else would do the work? What would the church have looked like if Paul lived for the day and lived like tomorrow was a guarantee? Imagine how different our lives would look like if we anticipated the return of Christ like the apostles did! So take a moment to ask yourself, do you really anticipate Christ’s return?

One Semester Left!

This week I finished my second to last semester of seminary. This semester was a great one, and even though it presented its share of problems, it was still a great semester of learning. Probably the biggest thing was my increasing love for preaching. I figured it out, and I would be averaging 8 sermons, sometimes 9 a week. I would have 4-5 in my preaching lab, two chapels, Sunday Morning and Sunday School, Wednesday night, and Jr High chapel on Fridays. And one would think that I would have ‘sermon overload’, but it actually heightened my excitement to hear good preaching. A side effect of that is a distaste for poor preaching. I get frustrated when i see people waste opportunities in the pulpit and even more frustrated when I see people settle for that.

I’m not going to mention names, but recently I heard a sermon that wasted an amazing opportunity to minister the Word of God to a body of believers in flux. Instead, they got a half hour of personal stories and observations. Illustrations drove the message, and brought up questionable applications.

The reaction to such preaching could be devisive, but I choose to focus on making my preaching better. My greatest goal has become to be a preacher who preaches Christ crucified in a Biblical and clear manner. I have become more aware of the preparation process, the presentation, and application of God’s Word and love every opportunity I get to exercise it. I just ask that you expect the same from your pastor. Don’t accept pep talks and cute stories in place of the clear, expositional presentation of God’s Word.

Get "Pilgrim’s Progress" Audio For Free

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