Ten Reasons this was a good weekend

1.  The Men’s Fellowship Breakfast was a great success!  About 30 guys came to a 7:00 a.m. Saturday meeting.
2.  My daughter Abbey sang at the Merrol Hyde Talent Show.  She was incredible!  Quite a talent at age 10!
3.  My mother-in-law Peggy visited from eastern Kentucky.  Unlike cultural stereo-types, I love spending time with my mother-in-law.
4.  Sandeep, a friend of mine who converted from Hinduism to Christianity, was baptized Sunday morning.
5.  Six people were baptized on Sunday
6.  The energy in our services were high.  Lots of new faces and lots of enthusiasm.
7. Being at my 242 Group was like hanging out with a bunch of close friends.  So fun!  So inspiring.
8. The “Italian” theme for food at 242 was delicious.  In two weeks we will have Irish food to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day.  Suggestions for Irish food?
9. Both Vanderbilt and Kentucky got wins on Saturday.
10.  The temperature hit 70 degrees.

Pastor’s Roundtable a Success

It was a rich couple of days of teaching with Pastor John McKinzie.

Wednesday night, John taught on the “Cycle of a American Church-Goer.”   In this teaching, he identified a negative cycle that Christian get into when we keep changing church for arbitrary reasons.

Today, John taught pastors around the area for the Pastor’s Roundtable.   It was so good to see my fellow pastors gather to network and learn.  There are some great pastors in our area, and I was inspired and honored to be with them.


I was so proud of the volunteers from CIL who served the refreshments and lunch to the pastors who attended the Pastor’s Roundtable .   It was great to see the “servant’s heart” in the volunteer from CIL.

We will do another Pastor’s Roundtable on Thursday, March 24 featuring Kent Henry from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.   We’re encouraging pastors to bring their worship leaders with them for this gathering.

Kent will also be minstering at CIL for our regularly scheduled Wednesday night service (March 24th) and a specially called worship night on Thursday (March 24th).

John McKinzie at CIL Tonight

My long-time mentor and best friend John McKinzie is in town, and he’ll be speaking at tonight’s service at CIL.  John and I have been great friends for 24 years, and he currently serves as an Overseer for CIL.   If you don’t usually attend Wednesday night service, make a special effort to attend tonight.

On Thursday, we have pastors from around the area coming to CIL for a Pastor’s Roundtable.   John McKinzie will be sharing and we will have plenty of time for Q&A and discussion.  The purpose of this gathering is to let pastors network and encourage one another.   I know a lot of ministers look forward to attending this, so I am really happy are church is providing this ministry.

I was very proud of our Compassion Ministries for their work with the homeless last night.  We support monthly The Bridge Ministry, which is lead by Kent and Candy Christmas.  I have preached several times for this ministry.   I am so glad that our Compassion Team was able to put some volunteer hours behind this great ministry.  Thank you Pastor Kim Driver for your leadership on this!


Don’t Delay Being Baptized in Water

This picture is when I baptized Lincoln, my 7 year old son last year.

One of the most powerful statements about water baptism, is when Jesus had his water baptism, and He revealed to John that water baptism was necessary to “fulfill all righteousness (Mt. 3:15).”  This doesn’t mean water baptism saves us, but if we refuse to be baptized in water their is something incomplete in our walk with Christ.

Water baptism is an act that God requires of every believer.   You never read of an un-baptized Christian anywhere in the Bible. In fact, baptism immediately followed a person’s salvation. They didn’t see it as something to be delayed or put off.

A wedding ring is an outward sign that a person is married.

A military uniform is an outward sign that a person is involved in that particular branch of service.

Similarly, water baptism is a symbol designed by God to identify a person as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, it all goes back to Jesus’ statement in John 14:15. “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

If you want to be baptized this Sunday at CIL click here.


United: Water Baptism Defined

The Greek word for baptize is “baptizo” – which “means “to cause something to be dipped.”   This is one of the reasons we immerse, or “dunk”, when we baptize.  Also, this is the clear Biblical pattern for water baptism.

Baptism in itself has no saving power. There is no magic in the water that we use. It is the same kind of water that we drink and the same kind that we bathe in. The purpose of water baptism is that it identifies us openly and publicly with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord (Romans 6:1-5).   Our story ends, and the story of Jesus within us begins.

So, baptism is an outward expression of what God has already done on the inside.

Weekend Review at CIL

What great services we had on Sunday!  I thank God for our incredible worship team.  Jonathan Lee did an amazing  job leading worship, and Beth Allison picked the perfect song at the end of the sermon as usual.   Penny Cowart Simms was supposed to have a rare Sunday off, but she was leading worship for our 4.6 Experience (4th – 6th Grade).   I so appreciate Penny’s passion for our pre-teens to grow in worship.

I enjoyed teaching on Water Baptism in a message called United, as it is important we don’t let this value drift.  Water Baptism is so important to God!

As good as the two services were, the greatness of a church is in what happens outside the service.  As usual we had some significant activities this weekend.  They include:

4.6 Activity (Progressive Dinner): We continue to target this group of kids, as they are at a great age for faith development and relational bonding.  This group of pre-teens will develop an incredible youth group over the next seven years.

Lifetime (Age 50+) Valentines Dinner: This important “affinity group” comprises of some of the greatest people I know.  Thank you Harold and Phyllis for your leadership!

Men’s Weekly Bible Study, Sunday at 8:00 a.m.:  I am so impressed with this small group of men who meet early to go deeper spiritually.

The Vows of Marriage

On Wednesday we continued our message Marathon Marriage with a teaching by me,  concluded with many couples renewing their vows.

The vows we make are actually what marries us.   It’s not the government.  It’s not sex.  It’s not a ring.  It’s not the pronouncement by the preacher.  These aspects are very crucial parts of a marriage, but the vows before God, family and friends are what unite a man and woman in marriage.

The problem is, most people don’t even remember the vows they made at their wedding.   The wedding is an unique experience.  The bride and groom are dressed in unusual clothes, and most people have never been the center of attention before a group of people.  Therefore, many people I have married comment later something like this: “I was so nervous, I don’t even remember the ceremony.”   As a result of this common experience, most people don’t even know the words of  the most defining statement of their life.

That’s why I propose that renewing our vows shouldn’t be something so unique and different that we relegate it to rare occasions.   In fact, at one time I prayed through my vows as part of my prayer list.

Here are the vows that we used on Wednesday:

Exchange of Vows

I, ____________ take you ________________
to be my wedded wife (husband),
and I do promise and covenant
before God and these witnesses
to be your loving and faithful husband
in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow,
in sickness and in health,
as long as we both shall live.

MissionShift – Part 3

This is my last installment of my review of the book MissionShift: Global Mission Issues in the Third Millennium.   The third “main essay” was written by the late Ralph Winter.   Winter made two important distinctions of Evangelicals:

First-Inheritance Evangelicalism (FIE)

The FIE was concerned with both eternal status and earthly development of society.  The FIE sprung out of the Evangelical Awakening of England, that lead to the American “Great Awakening” and “Second Great Awakening.”  This period was roughly from 1700-1875.

Second-Inheritance Evangelicalism (SIE)

The SIE focused on the eternal status of the individual, with a reduced emphasis on social development of culture.  This period of focus on individual conversions was ushered in by evangelist like D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday and others from roughly 1875 to last years of the 20th century.  Ralph Winter predicts that in the 21st Century, Evangelicals will re-discover their roots in First-Inheritance Evangelicalism, with a great emphasis of both conversion and social development.  I agree with Winters.

In my extended family, conversation about church life is a common theme.   For years, my seventy-two year old uncle has been saying, “The church is no longer relevant because it doesn’t operate institutions like hospitals, cemeteries, schools and social agencies.”  This statement is coming from a man who remembers the 1950’s well, when the United States was still enjoying the residuals of the FIE era..   Though I only can observe the legacies of the FIE social involvement, I can agree that the US church has largely abandoned a focus for societal change.

Here are some common attitudes that most likely sprung from SIE:

–  “this world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through (p. 167)”

–   “some glad morning, when this life is over, I’ll fly away.”

–  “each one, reach one”

Themes such as these reinforce the attitude that world is “bad”, so we shouldn’t waste our time on societal change.  Instead, SIE is only about personal conversions with little regard for social change.

It appears that in this essay Winter reacted to the diminished results to expectations of the A.D. 2000 campaign.   His reaction that is revealed in this essay proposes a more holistic approach to missions.   However, this reaction is just a microcosm of the church-wide reaction to the ambition of 20th century missions.  In the 1990’s I was part of the Assemblies of God, which has an aggressive set of goals called “The Decade of Harvest.”   Though the motives and goals of this initiative were pure, the results did not meet the expectations.

There is no doubt good came from initiatives like A.D. 2000 and The Decade of Harvest, as the lofty goals motivated more activity.  Still, with no urgency of a countdown to a new millennium, there is emerging a more thoughtful and strategic approach to missions.   There’s less panic, and more long-term strategy.  Winter’s essay is a good example of how thought is evolving and changing with time.

Scott Moreau’s response is a bit of a reality check.  He takes the argument out of the realm of theory, and points out that the individuals that I pastor and lead typically can’t grasp wide-scale reform that Winter proposes, but responds better to small-scale changes (p. 196-197).  I also think Moreau’s brief acknowledgement of nuclear disarmament is an overlooked future issues that could fall under the category of missions (p. 199).  In the 21st century, the church will have to respond to the nuclear age.

Christopher Little also gives a sober reminder when he wrote, “the belief that the eradication of disease through the scientific method will lead to wide-spread conversions to Christ amounts to a denial of history – it hasn’t happened in the past, so one wonders why it would happen today (p. 214).”  This was an important quote for me to read so I wouldn’t get caught up in youthful idealism, but I still would like to see  my generation engage in disease eradication and other felt needs of humanity.

One aspect of Winter’s essay that did bother me a bit was his strong emphasis on education as the dividing line for Christians.  I don’t think it’s that simple, and many people in my congregation would find that evaluation offensive.  Mike Barnett spoke against this theory when he wrote, “Such a simple characterization of the two branches of Evangelicals is over a period of decades is unproven at best and misleading at worst . . . Were we truly held culturally captive by a few secular, elite, highly educated, liberal activist for the past 130 years (p. 224)?”   While Barnett’s comments are an important counter-response, I still think Winter’s division contains validity.

David Hasselgrave’s “second thoughts” essay uses Paul in his reaction was as a great framework to challenge Winter’s conclusions.   Yet, I think Hasselgrave overlooked an important point about Paul.   Paul is a 1st Century model of a First-Inheritance Evangelical (FIE) that Winter espouses.   Paul was well educated, and his prestigious Roman citizenship gave him access to influential leaders, such as King Agrippa.    Paul is actually an example of a FIE Christian, not proof that the FIE model is flawed.

I want to be part of a church that rediscovers our First-Inheritance Evangelicalism.

Should we personally witness?  YES!

Should our theology and morals remain conservative?  YES!

Should we engage our culture in social change?  YES!

It’s not an either / or – it’s both!  Let’s invite individuals to Christ, and engage in social change.   It’s time to shift!

Weekend Review

I was really touched by our Marriage Panel during the “Marathon Marriage” service.  At my 242 Group, we spent time debriefing over what we learned from this panel with well over 200 years of marriage experience!  I was impressed with the honesty and transparency of this panel.  It took a lot of courage for these participants to honestly share their stories, but we all are wiser from learning from them.

I participated in the 20th Anniversary service for Maury and Gail Davis at Cornerstone Church.   I worked at Cornerstone Church for seven years over a ten year period.  I learned so much professionally from Pastor Davis, and have life long friends among the staff and congregation members.   One of the highlights of the weekend was hearing Beth showcase her incredible voice through a song she used to sing in the late Nineties.   It was a fun weekend, but it was really tough to miss the 10:45 service at CIL.   I felt really misplaced during that hour.


Valentine’s Message for Singles (Re-Post)

If you’re single, don’t feel like you are missing out on Valentines.  God has a plan for your life, and it very well could include a future marriage.  However, your life is great with or without a mate.  God has a plan for you as an individual, and today is the day to embrace that.

So many people who have married simply to have a spouse, and have not waited for a good mate, have regretted their short-sited decision.   It’s much worse to be in a bad marriage then it is to have temporary times of loneliness as a single.  If you do marry someday, you will look back on all the wasted energy you spent fretting over your singleness with regret.  In fact, there may be some days you will actually miss the solitude and simplicity of being single.  Singleness is a gift, not a disease.

So whether your single or married, let’s make this Valentines about God.   As we realize that He is the fulfillment of our deepest desires, then our current or future romantic love will mean more!