Sunday, July 31, 2011

Focusing on the Great Things God Does For Us (Video)

Last week, I posted the notes to my sermon on the Great Things God Does for Us. Below, you can watch the video of that sermon.

As always, I would love to hear your comments and criticism.

In Honor of My Beautiful Wife

Today I am celebrating seven years of marriage to Tina. It was seven years ago today (July 31) that we came together as a married couple. During those seven years, a lot has happened. We moved from Sterling, VA, to Charles Town, WV. We have had three children. We own a house and a minivan. Tina has supported me through two Masters degrees and a dalliance into military service. She has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Here is a video I made for her a few years back. It definitely needs some updating, but I think you will get the sentiment.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Very Urgent Prayer Need and Call to Action

After I finish writing this, I am going to walk to my kitchen and get a glass of ice cold water, maybe even something to snack on. If I can't find anything there, I can drive to the store and buy whatever I am in the mood for.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for 12.4 million people in Africa. The Horn of Africa is experiencing a drought that is putting millions of individuals at risk. Please visit this site for more information.

Please be in prayer as to what God would have you do about this situation. Even if you don't feel led to give, pray that God would allow you to be a blessing to them somehow and in some way. I am doing something that is definitely outside of my comfort zone, which I will tell you about in the coming days. Please be in prayer about that as well.

Let's do something to help others who are less fortunate than us.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sean Singing Sunday School Songs

I will always be eternally grateful for the times that I spent in Sunday School and Junior Church growing up. I learned a great deal about the Bible, about God, and about what it is to be a man who loves his Savior. Over the years I have had the opportunity to serve in Sunday School classes as well. In high school, I worked with my friends in the Jr. Church at Capital Baptist Church. This was one of the first times I was given the opportunity to preach. In college, as part of a class assignment, I was required to work with the 4-year old Sunday School. I liked it so much, I did it for two more years after the class was over. Now, at First Baptist Inwood, my wife and I are on the rotation to work with the Jr. Chapel in the early service.

Not only have I benefited from Sunday School, my children have as well. Miss April has taught Jack all about Jesus and has instructed him in correct doctrine. Miss Rachel is helping Sean learn as well. I am also thankful for all of the other teachers, including Miss Becky, Miss Mae, Miss Connie, and (especially) Miss Anita. There are many more...more than I can list here. Just know that we are incredibly blessed by what you are doing for our boys.

Here is a video of Sean demonstrating some of what he has learned in Sunday School. I'm pretty sure he learned that last little bit from either Connie or Anita.

Oh No! Not Another Clip Show!

Welcome to the Clip Show. I do the surfing and find the links and articles that I think are interesting. Think of it as your cheat sheet to all the things that happened in the past week that you may have missed.

Let me know your favorite story from this week's Clip Show, or send me some links that you think might be a great addition. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Battle Over Music

When I was coming up, the church that I grew up in was very conservative about music. Then in high school, the music gradually changed. Our youth pastor had taught against rock music, but as we introduced him to more and more of the music that we listened to, the more the music began to change.

In college, the school that I attended was VERY opposed to any type of rock music and individuals who played or listened to Contemporary Christian Music needed to examine their hearts because it was likely that they were not saved. Especially those guys in dc Talk.

Of course, on the other side of the argument are those who look down on individuals who choose not to listen to CCM or Christian rock. It often turns into an either/or situation. No one really wins.

The sad fact is that this argument still rages today. In fact, just recently I had a potential friendship crash and burn before it even got started because of the issue of music. When it comes to the issue of music, I think it is important for us to make sure that we are following our own convictions and not attempting to force them on others. And not letting friendships be decided because of the music that a person listens to.

For a slightly satirical look at this issue, check out the video below.

Interview with Pastor Devin Ward, Part 3

Here is the third and final installment of my interview with Pastor Devin Ward of First Baptist Church Inwood. You can read the other installments here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

What is an area of pastoral ministry that you wish you had been taught when you were in school?

I felt like I wasn’t as equipped as I needed to be when it came to church
leadership. I had to learn many things in the “School of Hard Knocks.” I had
picked up a few things on my own through reading but wish I had gotten more
hands-on experience from pastors who were my instructors at the time.

How do you keep yourself fresh and informed in the ministry? Are there books, magazines, blogs that you frequent?

Thankfully, I enjoy reading and am always open to periodicals, books and the
blog writings of some. I also enjoy reading commentaries and sermons by various
preachers that have been inspirational over the years. Some of my favorite
pastors, authors have been C.H. Spurgeon (earlier years) and Adrian Rogers,
Jerry Vines and John MacArthur in later years, each of whom have been very
successful pastors and mentors to preachers. There is a host of other
contributors that I draw and have drawn from.

Do you ever worry about becoming stale in the ministry?

I have not had problems with feelings of staleness but due to the death of my daughter in a car accident, personal health problems as well as health concerns of my wife, in addition to problems affecting the church which I pastor, I have faced stress and the feeling of having “run into a wall” at times. This was not present early in ministry and I combat these times of great burden by having devotional times with my wife, which has been a huge blessing in getting through the tougher times of ministry. Thank God for godly pastor’s wives!

Describe your ordination council.

Ordained pastors from the local area where I was being ordained (several of whom were my instructors in seminary) joined with my pastor at that time as well as the pastor I had when saved and called to preach to form my ordination council. I was asked to give testimony of my salvation as well as my call to preach, was questioned at great length about doctrinal and moral issues and later recommended that the church proceed with my ordination.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone aspiring to become a pastor?

Obviously, there is much advice that could be offered but one thing we have not
mentioned in this interview is the pastor’s relationship with his family. As
precious as time will be in the ministry, a pastor must not neglect his time spent
with his wife and family. We must not put their needs behind the needs of the
church family nor should we ever be guilty of being too harsh on them because of
the expectations people have on the pastor’s family. I have found in the study of
God’s Word that harshness on the part of a husband/father is extremely harmful
in building the family God wants us to have. This is especially true when it
comes to the minister/preacher who is also a father and a husband.

This concludes my interview with Pastor Devin. I hope that you are able to sense the love that he has for the ministry from the answers that he gave to the questions. Again, post any comments or questions you may have.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

John Stott (1921-2011)

As I have been studying for my MA in Evangelism and Church Planting, I have had the opportunity to study the works of many great Christian writers and thinkers. One of those that I studied was John Stott. I am happy to say that the Lord decided to take Dr. Stott home today, at the age of 90.

While Dr. Stott had some beliefs that I do not espouse, he was the author of one of the best books I have read on preaching. If you are interested in the study of sermon preparation and homiletics, you cannot choose a better book than Between Two Worlds.

While we are sad here on earth at the loss of a great pastor and teacher, I am positive that Heaven is rejoicing at his homecoming.

You can read more about the life and ministry of Dr. John Stott at Christianity Today.

Interview with Pastor Devin Ward, Part 2

Here is the second part of the interview I did with Pastor Devin Ward of First Baptist Church Inwood.

Describe the amount of time you spend in an average week in sermon preparation.

An average week includes preparation for Wednesday lessons, Sunday School
lessons, and one or two sermons on Sunday. Depending on the amount of hospital visits, funerals, weddings, etc. which need my attention on any given week, I probably spend 25-30 hours in preparation. This would include the reading of various commentaries, etc. in connection with the passages, topics I am dealing with.

Describe the amount of time you spend in an average week in administrative responsibilities.

This may take up to as much as 10-15 hours a week and would include dealing
with all forms of correspondence, personal letters, e-mails, church newsletter
articles, and other means of communicating with church family. As pastor of the
sending church for two church planting efforts, I have found myself engaged in
correspondence with churches which have helped in the supporting of our
missionaries as well.

Describe the amount of time you spend in an average week in personal devotions and prayer.

Not nearly enough! 3-5 hours per week. Far too often, I find myself
consumed with the needs before me and cut back on time I should be spending
alone with God, without the agenda of sermon and/or lesson preparation. I am not
happy with this amount of time spent on personal devotions with God.

The third part of my interview will follow. I hope you have enjoyed learning from Pastor Devin. Please post any questions or comments you have and I will be happy to share them with him.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interview With Pastor Devin Ward, Part 1

I am very excited to share with you the interview that I conducted Pastor Devin Ward. Pastor Devin is the pastor of First Baptist Church Inwood, where I am currently serving as the pastoral intern. Pastor Devin has been a pastor for many years and has been extremely helpful to me as I pursue the ministry. He was gracious enough to share some insights into his ministry and now I am sharing them with you.

Tell me about your call to pastoral ministry.

I was saved at the age of 15 which brought about great changes in my life. I began to grow and involved myself faithfully in the work of the church where I was led to the Lord. This was very satisfying and led to greater involvement in ministry, primarily through the direction of our church’s Associate Pastor.
As I neared graduation from high school, I began to pray more and more about the direction God wanted me to go in my life. Though I did not feel worthy of being a preacher, I did begin to sense God’s call on my life. The timing was such that God helped me to see that He wanted me to pursue studies that would be beneficial to the ministry to which I believed God was calling me. I yielded my life to the ministry publicly in the summer of 1971 and soon thereafter enrolled to pursue a degree in Theology at Texas Baptist Institute and Seminary in Henderson, Texas.

What type of preparation did you have for the ministry?

Initially, I made myself available to give devotionals, preach messages (Rescue Mission, etc.), teach S.S. lessons, take part in church outreach efforts and any other thing I could do through my home church at the time. I also received some pastoral instruction (a form of mentorship) from my first pastor which I saw as invaluable at the time.

When God’s calling on my life became clearer, I began receiving Seminary training (full-time and later part time after having taken on my first pastorate, amounting to six years of studies) at Texas Baptist Institute and Seminary, Henderson, Texas. I eventually received a Bachelor’s degree in Theology, completed work for Masters but did not write thesis due to extenuating circumstances at the time.

How many pastorates have you had and how did you know when it was time to move from one pastorate to another?

I have had four pastorates, ranging from 19 months to 22+ years.
It seems to me that there were different things that caused me to be aware of the
need to change pastorates. At no time was I forced to leave any pastorate but I sensed that God was working in different stages of my life to accomplish different things. The strongest knowledge of God’s leadership in my life came with my moving to my third pastorate which was the planting of a new church in the greater metropolitan area of Houston, Texas. The most difficult move was to my present pastorate because of the love I had for the people where I planted a new church. It was so difficult to leave them but felt that they needed fresh leadership. I look back at that move now, however, and see God’s hand directing me.

Which pastoral responsibility do you enjoy the most? Why?

Preaching and the study which accompanies it. God places within men called to preach His Word a desire (passion) to proclaim the good news of Jesus in particular and the whole counsel of God, in general. Prayer and preaching of the Word are clearly to be the two most important things in the life of a God-called pastor.

There is a lot more that Pastor Devin had to share with me about his ministry. I will post more of the interview in the next series of posts.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just For Fun - The Top 10 Things People Do in an Elevator

Last week our Just For Fun list was a pictorial of the 50 most extraordinary churches from around the world. Because most of us will probably never get to visit any or all of them, I have a list that is a bit closer to home. Here is The Top 10 Things People Do in an Elevator.

I will admit that there are at least two on this list that I am quite fond of participating in. Which ones have you done recently?

Memory Verse of the Week (July 25-31, 2011) - Philippians 1:6

Our verse to memorize this week is Philippians 1:6 -

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

A great way to memorize Scripture is to get in the habit of reading/reciting the verse at least 10 times every day. When I am learning a new verse or passage, I will work through the verse as many times as I can in on sitting. Later, I will come back to it and repeat the process.

Happy studying!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Focusing on the Great Things God Does for Us

I had the opportunity to preach at First Baptist Church Inwood this evening. My message came from Psalm 126:3. From that verse, we traced out seven "great things" that God has done for us. Below is the list of great things that I shared with the congregation. I hope that you will have a deeper sense for the greatness of God after taking a look.

Psalm 126:3 - The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.

  1. God gives us life (Acts 17:25)
  2. God gives us protection (Isaiah 46:4)
  3. God gives us deliverance (Psalm 50:15)
  4. God gives us the strength and ability to serve Him (1 Peter 4:11)
  5. God gives us His Son, Jesus (Mark 10:45)
  6. God gives us salvation (Philippians 2:12-13)
  7. God gives us the ability and desire to grow spiritually (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
Please note: the verses found on this list are not original to me. I owe Dr. John Piper a debt of gratitude for putting in the work. I simply took his list and modified it a bit to fit the message. You can find his list here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Much Needed Word of Encouragement

Proverbs 25:11 (ESV) - A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

As many of you may or may not know, I have wanted to be a pastor for many years. In fact, I originally went to Pensacola Christian College as a Pastoral Ministries major, but different events led me to change my major. Anyway, off and on through the years, I have pursued my call to ministry, but usually to no avail. I did, however, begin my pursuit of the ministry again in December 2010 and have chased after it with a much greater passion this time.

I will be completely honest: it has been an exercise in frustration. I have sent out resumes and have either been turned down or have received no answer at all. Other positions have looked promising, but then have failed to pan out. It has been enough, at times, to make me question what God is doing and why we are going through this.

Then, last week, after I started writing this blog, I received the following note from a friend that I have kept up with off and on since high school:

Felt led to share something with you. I believe that at times we are like every character in the Bible, except the trinity and heavenly hosts. Sometimes we are as committed as Stephen and others as doubtful as Thomas.

David wanted to build a house for God and God told him he wanted to build him first, and we know it was Solomon that built it. You are in your David phase, and when it's time, you'll enter your Solomon phase.

Keep on keeping on and if you don't find a church, start one! I am praying for you as God builds your spiritual house to prepare you for building his church!

Thanks, Kevin. I hope others find as much encouragement in those words as I did.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sorry for the Clip Show

I want to try to have a weekly "round-up" of articles and things that I find interesting. It's called the Clip Show because it is a rehashing of things you may have already seen or read. Hopefully there will be something fun in here for you.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thor and the Foo Fighters

A couple of months back, Thor was released in movie theaters. You may still be able to find it somewhere, but summer movies have a tendency to come and go very quickly to make room for the next big blockbuster. Anyway, the story of the film Thor centered around Thor, a powerful alien being, who was banished from his home because of pride and arrogance. It was not until he came to understand that the world did not revolve around him that he was able to regain the powers that his father had given him. By that point, Thor had developed relationships with several individuals on Earth and was willing to lay down his own life in order to save theirs. I left the movie deeply moved as I pondered the implications of what was presented in the film.

At the end of the movie, a new song by the Foo Fighters, entitled Walk
was being played. It is no secret that I am a huge fan of the Foo Fighters. In fact, I have added "Attend a Foo Fighters Show" to my bucket list. The song was an incredibly appropriate addition to the film. I have included a video below that includes scenes from the movie to illustrate my point.

Enjoy the video and leave me your thoughts.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Making Time for Evangelism

For many of us, evangelism conjures up frightening images of passing out tracts at the mall or confronting strangers on the street with the horrible news that they are wicked sinners on their way to Hell. In reality, evangelism is so much more than that. Evangelism is meant to be a lifestyle that we live that actively pulls others toward a relationship with Christ.

Below is a video that, while mainly talking to pastors, discusses a number of ways that we can live a life of evangelism. It was originally posted at Desiring God.

Four Great Books on Sale for the Kindle

One of the best purchases that I have made recently is my Amazon Kindle. I take my Kindle almost everywhere that I go. I love having my own personal library in my pocket. I also love the fact that I can carry multiple copies of the Bible with me. My personal favorite is the English Standard Version.

Today, in my email, sent me notice of a big book sale they were having on Kindle books. Glancing through it, I found four titles that were very interesting to me. These titles are on sale for a greatly reduced priced, but only until July 27. The books listed below are on sale for $2.99! They regularly sell for $9.99, so this is a really good time to pick up some great books. While I have not read these books yet, I have heard great things about all of them and I am looking forward to enjoying them and sharing my thoughts with you at a later time.

WEIRD: Because Normal Isn't Working

Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus

The Christian Atheist: When You Believe in God But Live as if He Doesn't Exist

Stuff Christians Like

Please note: these books are only available at this price when you buy them for the Kindle. If you don't have a Kindle, you can purchase one here. You can also visit and find the Kindle software for your portable devices.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One of My Favorite Videos

I think everyone has a favorite video on YouTube. It's their go-to video, one they will watch over and over again. The video below is not new, but I feel the need to share it because it is an amazing piece of work. I hope and pray that you will share it with others and that someone will come to know Christ as a result. Enjoy and let me know your thoughts.

The Insider's Club

Disclaimer: You may sense a tad bit of frustration in this post. I hope that is not the case, but there are times that I feel frustrated and the topic I am discussing is one of those times.

In my search to find the right pastoral position, I have noticed two things. I do not believe that these are the norm, but these two experiences are things that I have had happen to me more than once.

First, almost every job posting that I come across is looking for an individual with a minimum of three years experience. This is understandable, but that makes it very difficult for someone who is fresh out of college or seminary to be considered for the position. If a church is looking for someone with experience, that means that the only ones who will be considered are individuals who already have pastoral positions, not those of us who are on the outside looking in.

Second, it would seem that a few pastors out there are unwilling to help others find a way "in". Again, I do not think this is the norm, but it has happened to me more times than I would like. I applied to a few positions and was turned down for an interview. After receiving the email informing me of their decision, I replied back thanking them for looking at my resume. I then asked what qualities they were looking for in a candidate, did my resume convey that I had any of those qualities, and what could I do to help make myself appear as a strong candidate. As of this morning, I have not received an answer from either pastor that I contacted. I completely understand that pastors are busy. That is the nature of the ministry that God has called them to. I just find it unfortunate that they are unable to find a few minutes to help someone as he is pursuing God's call on his life.

As I stated, there is a tad bit of frustration in this post. I am not frustrated with God and the length of time that this journey has taken (although there are times). I felt the need to share this so that in case a pastor happens to read this (fingers crossed), they will work harder to help folks like me in the future.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Memory Verse of the Week - Ephesians 6:16-18

I believe that one of the most neglected spiritual discipline is that of Scripture memory. If you think about it, those of us who grew up in church memorized a lot of Bible verses as children. We memorized verses to get candy bars in Junior Church. We memorized verses to win points at Vacation Bible School. At a summer camp that I attended, it was possible to earn points for your team by memorizing what was known as a "Sword", a group of six verses in a row. Almost every kid in my cabin would attempt to memorize Psalm 136 (look it up and you'll understand why). One time I earned a scholarship to camp for memorizing the most Bible verses one week. Awana, Word of Life, Sunday School...the list goes on of places that we memorized Scripture as children.

However, once we left middle or high school, the importance of Scripture memory is no longer stressed. Ask anyone and they will tell you they either can't memorize or don't have the time.

In response to this, I am suggesting that we work together to memorize a Bible passage per week. By spending a little bit of time each day memorizing and reviewing the passage, you will have an incredible tool at your fingertips to help you fight sin that you may be faced with (Psalm 119:11). Continue this for a year and you will have at least 52 verses or more memorized.

The verse to learn this week is Ephesians 6:16-18. I have listed the passage below as it is found in the English Standard Version (ESV).

[16] In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

[17] and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

[18] praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

(Ephesians 6:16-18 ESV)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Just for Fun - The 50 Most Extraordinary Churches

As I was looking for things to post about, I came across a link for the "50 Most Extraordinary Churches of the World." To be honest, some of there are really cool, but others are pretty ugly.

I will say, however, that #19 is probably my favorite. If I could pick a church to pastor at, it would probably be that one.

Which church do you like the best?

My Current Ministry

One of the great joys of being at First Baptist Inwood is the fact that I get to work with the college and career group. Normally, a group like this would have a unique or interesting name. Ours does not. We are simply the College and Career group. I am extremely thankful for the folks who come to class each week. We currently have between 6-7 folks, including myself and my wife.

One of the interesting parts of college ministry is the fact that our class actually increases in size during the summer. Many of our college kids attend West Virginia University or Shepherd University, so they are away during the school year and return home during the summer. As a result, we will be losing at least three of our folks in just a few weeks when the new semester starts up.

My question to you, my wonderful reader, is: What ministry are you currently involved with and what do you like about it?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sermon - Sin: Knowing Your Enemy

While this issue is hotly debated in some circles, I believe that the most important job of the pastor is to preach God's Word. I have been extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to preach at First Baptist Inwood on several occasions. Below, you will find part one of a sermon I preached on May 15, 2011. The sermon was entitled "Sin - Knowing Your Enemy". I would love to have your comments and criticism.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

I Want to be a Pastor

First Timothy 3:1 states that a person who wants to be a pastor desires a good thing. I have had the desire to be a pastor for several years, but, as of yet, it has not been in God's plan to give me the opportunity. I am continuing to pray that doors will open, but, in the meantime, I am remaining faithful and preparing for my future ministry.

I want to use this blog to chronicle my "adventures" as I pursue my calling. I am hoping to discuss the books that I am reading, current events that are important to the every day life of Christians, and even interviews with other pastors who will (hopefully) provide insight into the role of the pastor. I will also sharing other random items that strike me as interesting or entertaining.

Please pray for me as I continue to pursue my calling. Hopefully, some day in the very near future, I will no longer be a "wanna-be" pastor, but the real thing.