My mom wrote a book!

Actually, she has now published two books. But this is my mom’s first book published in English. From the back page:

In the country of Numeria, seventeen-year-old Miryana sells herself into slavery in a desparate attempt to save her mother’s life. Soon she finds herself on a journey across the country with Mr. Bucklin, an older rich gentleman who seems to mistake her for a criminal. Not very good at taking orders, Miryana struggles to please her master and convince him that she has committed no crime. As adventures and love come her way, she eventually finds out what Mr. Bucklin has known about her all along, and the secrets begin to add up. Hesitant to share her secrets with the man she loves, Miryana tries to remain faithful to her master and to ignore the voice of her heart.

From what I know about this project, it is a great story, and I look forward to reading it when I get a copy (which hopefully is soon)! It’s out just in time for Christmas and you can get it here:

Paperback | Hardcover | Amazon

As a side note, my beautiful wife, Emmalie, illustrated the map of Numeria on the inside cover. She did a great job as well!

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Happy Birthday Dad!

He doesn’t still look like this (as this picture was taken at my parent’s wedding just over 25 years ago) but this is my dad. It’s his birthday today. I won’t tell you how old he is, you’ll have to guess or just ask him. Wish him a happy birthday, though! If you aren’t “friends” with him on facebook, I can get the message to him!

Thanks for being my dad, dad! I hope your day is blessed and enjoyable!

Worth the cost

Three minutes.

That’s approximately how long it took for God to remind me of what I really needed.

Lead 11

This past weekend I got the great opportunity to be a part of LEAD 11 up at my alma mata, East Auburn Baptist Church. This conference, put on by The Gospel Alliance NE (which you need to check out if you haven’t), has been a huge blessing for me and many of my fellow ministry leaders. Beyond that, I truly believe this year’s conference has been the best yet. My heart was ministered to in great ways by Matt Chandler, Ray Ortlund, and many others that came from around New England to preach to us the need for the gospel. I had heard many, if not all of the things spoken before, but our hearts need the gospel like our lungs need air.

The messages were all filled with the words of God and were beneficial; everything that was said in the main sessions and panel discussion were rich in theological truth and meaning for the weary pastor, and Chandler had some great times of calls to repentance that were needed. Furthermore, I learned much from the breakout session on youth ministry that I attended Friday and plan to integrate much of what I heard there.

Where I got the most

Back to the three minutes. At the beginning of the Replanting Churches Breakout session with Jared Wilson, Mark Gedicks, Matt Grise, and Barry Murray (all great men of God), Jared Wilson introduced himself. A rough paraphrase of his introduction follows (you should find the audio and listen to it when it gets put up).

Jared pastors a Church in Vermont where he moved a few years ago from a mega Church in Nashville. He had attempted a church plant out of that church and describes his Church plant as a failure: that he wasn’t made to be a Church Planter, and that his ministry there wasn’t what he thought it would be. He came to Vermont and followed the same pattern he had used in his plant, because he is (by his own admission) not innovative. So he just did the same thing, and the Spirit moved. That doesn’t mean that they have everything we would imagine the ideal churches having (incredibly active missional communities/small groups, really dynamic worship services, big flare church stuff, etc). But it does  mean that they have doubled in size since God brought him there. It does mean that they have (slowly) made some changes for God’s glory. It does mean that they are still a small New England Church made mostly of older New Englanders who love Jesus and don’t always care for change.

Sound familiar?

If I had only been there for that the conference would have been worth the money and time that I spent on it. See, I think we get this vision of fairy tale churches that exist because of the innovation and greatness of their amazing pastors. Don’t lie, you know you have thought this: “If only that pastor came here, then we’d see some change! Then people would start growing towards God. Or maybe I don’t belong here; maybe I should move to… somewhere else! Obviously that’s where God is moving!” In all reality, we’re all just normal churches living lives of worship together for the King. Yes. Strive for Gospel Renewal, but let’s make Jesus our goal, not some fantasy of what we think other Churches are.

I needed this. It was a huge blessing for Jared to be honest about that and I want nothing less than for us all to remember that the Spirit is going to move where He will; we are just called to faithfulness, he is responsible for the fruit.

How real are we?

I was cleaning out my bookmarks this afternoon and I found this article. In it, the author writes about the CCM (Contemporary Christian Movement) that has been prevalent in the Church for a few decades now. She writes about being raised as a Christian and her slow, steady conversion to secularism. Here are her thoughts on the Church now (emphasis mine)-

When I finally stopped (calling myself a Christian), it wasn’t because being a believer made me uncool or outdated or freakish. It was because being a Christian no longer meant anything. It was a label to slap on my Facebook page, next to my music preferences. The gospel became just another product someone was trying to sell me, and a paltry one at that because the church isn’t Viacom: it doesn’t have a Department of Brand Strategy and Planning. Staying relevant in late consumer capitalism requires highly sophisticated resources and the willingness to tailor your values to whatever your audience wants. In trying to compete in this market, the church has forfeited the one advantage it had in the game to attract disillusioned youth: authenticity. When it comes to intransigent values, the profit-driven world has zilch to offer. If Christian leaders weren’t so ashamed of those unvarnished values, they might have something more attractive than anything on today’s bleak moral market. In the meantime, they’ve lost one more kid to the competition.

It is incredibly worth reading the whole post. I agree with her last point, the Church needs to regain its authenticity. Many have lost sight of the Gospel being the true power of God for the salvation and discipleship of the lost. This means that we are honest with our sin and do well to glorify God in all things. When we do this, we are more able to effectively minister to those around us and save others (1 Timothy 4.16). But what about our music? Do we get rid of all our music and revert back into our corners, shying away from the world? No. Do we need to trash some of our music? YES!

This is a call to wisdom. Music is not the only area that the Church needs to improve in (in fact, it often becomes the unnecessary sticking point with Churches) but it can be a great tool. Let us ask ourselves: what honors God? Does our music actually put Jesus and His Gospel above all else? Is it clear that I am singing about God? And equally important, is my music edifying the Church that is in my context or am I attempting to save people through my singing? We are called to build one another up (and can even use songs, hymns, and spiritual songs!) so let’s do so in the love and grace of Christ.

Too much for a tweet

Sometimes, I read so many things that are worth sharing and want to put them out in bulk on facebook and twitter. However, that would not only annoy my followers, but also clutter up everyone’s news feeds. So here are today’s great reads:

If you’re going to College, here is a great post by Kevin DeYoung on College drinking. I didn’t read the article he references, but you can get the gist if you read his response. I appreciated his care in being biblical (you cannot condemn drinking from the Bible) but also wise (be careful with alcohol consumption around underage believers). If you or someone you know is going to college this fall, read this post and consider the implications of it.

I really appreciate Jared Wilson; especially when he puts out great lists for us to think and pray through. Two recent ones come to mind. First, Ten Reasons to Under Program Your Church hearkens back to a post of his from a year ago entitled The Awesomeness Driven Church. These both deal with the need of making God’s Word the main thing and not trying to over schedule and over impress everyone. Second, Seven Ways to Kill the Thanksgiving Impulse in Your Life is a great list of ways to stop being grateful. Definitely worth the read!

Did you know Josh Cousineau is planting a Church? Keep up with Redemption Hill via Josh’s Blog and twitter. Also be praying for them in this process!

That’s all! Back to studying.

Abortion is evil

Now that I have your attention, I would like to turn it to a couple stories I have read recently.

The first is of a boy named Charlie: the real “boy who lived”. Born a mere 23 weeks into his mother’s pregnancy, he was not expected to live long at all. Now, five years later, he is a boy who is full of life. Read the whole story here.

The next is more horrific than what we usually think off when we hear of abortion (if that’s even possible). Have you heard of Pregnancy Reduction? What if you actually wanted a child but ended up with twins? Well, in some places it’s possible to have your wish after all. Read about Pregnancy Reduction here.

We have heard every excuse for why abortion should be legal. From “I was raped and shouldn’t have had this baby anyway” to the more selfish “I don’t have time/money for a baby”. None have sufficed to convince me of the necessity and ethicality of abortion.

So what are some reasons you mind give instead? Church, I can think of some great reasons to stand against abortion:

  1. Everyone is made in the image of God (including that child whose face has begun to form at six weeks).
  2. Your life is not about you, it’s about the glory of God- which possibly will include children.
  3. Adoption is a beautiful picture of God’s grace. We should be active in this area.
Let’s pray that we will be bold in the face of this brutality.