Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Pleasure and Purpose of Trials

There is a disturbing tendency in American Christianity to downplay and even discredit the necessity of difficulty in the Christian life. Popular, yet heretical prosperity preachers want you to believe that God wants only ease and riches for your life. The New Testament teaches something very different. In James chapter one we find two truths that should be foundational to our approach to trials as believers. First, trials are purposeful. Verse 3 – “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience . . .”
God is at work in the difficulties of life. He is developing us, shaping up, and sanctifying us. This is why the apostle Paul was able to remain faithful in the midst of incredible hardship. He had the right perspective about trials. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 He writes, “Therefore we do not lose heart . . . For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Few of us would consider the persecution, beatings, perils, weariness and sufferings that Paul faced to be light. But he was able to because he saw trials from the perspective of eternity. He knew that God was being glorified through his sufferings, and he knew that he was being changed and transformed more and more into the image of Christ through these sufferings
“For we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

Which brings us to the next truth – trials are not only purposeful, they should also be a pleasure. That’s right, we can and should find joy in our trials. James 1:2 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Paul is not advocating some kind of masochistic or escapist existence, but an understanding of life that centers around the soveriegnty of God. He wants us to remember that our Father has not forsaken us. He has not forgotten us. He is forming and fashioning us for His greater glory. James closes his chapter on trials by stating that “every good and perfect gift is from above.” Vs. 17 Heartache, suffering, and even sickness can be grace gifts that work great glory into our lives. . Finding pleasure in trials is the true test of Christian maturity. These are deep waters. God grant us the grace to say with David, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cool Memories

Pastoring FBC Swartz for almost 7 years has left us with a wealth of good memories. Here are a couple of my favorites, caught on camera.

Singing with DALLAS HOLM! How cool is that! Gary Griffith and I got to sing along with one of the greatest Christian artists ever - on one of my favorite songs of his - Bloodline!

Whoopin up on my music minister and buddy Gary Griffith. Honestly, most pastors and staff would probably get along better if they just spent a little time in the ring!

Playing a little ball - I may not be what I once was, but I still ain't as bad as some of you!

That's probably more than enough for most of you. But really, Swartz was great. I don't deserve that God should have called me to pastor such a tremendous group of people. And I don't deserve that He should send me to another great church like Parkview. Here's to more years as good as the past 7!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Baton Rouge or Bust!

I know there are probably other bloggers who are more delinquent than I am when it comes to posting, but they are few and far between. However, I can now tell you why I have just been too busy and preoccupied to blog for the last couple of months. As of July 1st I will become the new Senior pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La.

My family and I are excited about the possibilities and challenges that lay ahead of us. Pray for us that we can find a home large enough for us, and still in our price range! God is faithful and sovereign and He will provide both for the sell of my current home and the purchase of our future home.

Once again I am struck by the awesome responsibility that God has given pastors to preach the Word. My success at Parkview will not ultimately be measured by buildings, budgets, baptisms or even problem solving skills; but by how faithful I will be to preach God centered, expositional messages.

Pray for us - the future looks bright ahead!