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Integrity in the Face of Temptation

I heard a great message today by Dr. Bill Henard, president of the Kentucky Baptist convention, about Integrity. He looked at Joseph's reaction to temptation in Potiphar's house in Genesis 39:1-9.
I love the description of Joseph's reactions to temptation..."but he refused," "day after day," "did not listen," "he left," & "he fled."
Dr.Henard's three applicational points were:
1)Know when to say no
2)Don't compromise with temptation
3)God rewards the faithfulness of His people
A definition of integrity? "Choosing to do what is right in the eyes of God even when no one is looking"
Another example of a Biblical response to temptation...look to Christ's example in Matthew 4:1-11 when He is tempted by the Devil. That passage convicts me of my need to have Scripture always ready as a defense and a weapon against Satan!
Artwork attached is:

The Christian & War

I heard a great message yesterday from the current Chief of Chaplains of the US Army, MG Douglas Carver.

The message reminded me of how many people struggle to reconcile the issue of Christians serving in the military. Officers' Christian Fellowship has lots of great resources on this subject...

May a Christian Serve in the Military?
Can a Christian Serve in Combat?
A Christian's Perspective on Killing (you may recognize the author of this one...)

2 Great Reading Lists

Here are two great reading lists compiled by Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist and 9Marks Ministries. 9Marks' purpose is to "to help local churches re-establish their biblical bearings and re-think their ministry methods." Layman's Reading List Pastor's Reading List

Sin - Part 2

Psalm 51:5 "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me."

Some very interesting articles, Blogs, and surveys have come out in recent weeks on the issue of sin. Here is a short summary/reaction by Dr. Mohler with some very good points!

First, we do not find out what acts are sinful by asking our neighbors. Christians believe that God alone has the right to determine sin, and that the ultimate authority for determining sin is the Bible -- not a poll.

Second, these data seem to indicate that Americans think of sin only in terms of what we do, not in terms of who we are. The Bible reveals sin to be what we are as fallen humanity, not merely the acts we commit or fail to commit.

Third, Christians understand that sin is, most importantly, an act of rebellion and disobedience against God himself. Surveys like this point to the fact that most Americans think of sin as acts against other humans or acts against the self (as in gluttony). When sin is seen only in this perspective, all that remains is a negotiable social etiquette.

Fourth, this report reminds us of the evangelistic challenge we now face. The loss of a deeper sense of sin means that many (if not most) Americans see themselves in no need of salvation. As a previous generation of Christians knew so well, we have to communicate the "sin word" Before we can explain the "grace word" in evangelism.

Has the Notion of Sin Disappeared?
Sin by Survey? Americans Say What they Think
"What is the definition of sin?"
"How can I know if something is a sin?"

Romans 8:5-10 "5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness."

What's On Your Bookshelf?

It has been said you can tell alot about someone by what they read. I love reading, and especially enjoyed reading for fun when I was younger. My reading time is now consumed with books from Seminary, but I enjoy them all (well, most of them...). Anyhow, I just figured out a cool feature of Facebook where I can share books I have read, am reading, or want to read. Maybe it will be helpful to someone who wants to dig in a little deeper to a certain issue or concern from a Biblical standpoint...
If you do not have Facebook, you might want to give it a try. It is not perfect (advertisements), but it is unique in its ability to connect you to people you haven't talked to in years...
Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."
Proverbs 4:5-7 "Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. 6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding."

Family O' Snowmen

Easter is now a time when we are often able to get together with many of our families. Although I do not get to see my side of the family this Easter (I will see my -ILs, in-laws), I got to hang out with them a few weeks ago and make memories through construction of a snow-man family. My snowman is the one with the crazy goatee and hair. We team-built the HUGE one (have you seen a bigger snowman?!?). I hope and pray that everyone has a blessed Easter with their families!

Galations 6:10 "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

Easter has some great questions and answers about Easter this week...check it out here!

Some of my favorites are:

"3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,"

My Bride

I love Brittney. We have only been married for coming up on four years, but she has been such a blessing in my life. My love grows deeper for her every day. We laugh together, cry together, hang out together, disagree with each other, correct each other, and share our lives with each other. Her daily encouragement and love is so reflective of Christ. Neither she, nor I, nor our marriage will ever be perfect and sometimes that makes marriage tough. Although her observations about my many short comings and mess ups may often be painful, they are also usually needed and correct! The Lord uses her as a big reflective mirror to show me where I need to be more "transformed" into His likeness. I am so thankful that the Lord has blessed me so abundantly through Brittney and it is my prayer that all may have such God-centered love in their own marriages :)
Here are some of my more favorite marriage verses...guys, our standard is high...don't know about you, but this convicts me!
Proverbs 5:18 "May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth."
Colossians 3:19 "Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. "
Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her"

Depressed? Try Psalm 77

Psalm 77 offers a great solution for the Christian who may be going through hard times or depression. In it you see the Psalmist have a self-focused and depressed perspective in the first nine verses. Then you see in v.10-15 an intentional refocusing of their thoughts from their own situation to God. The Psalm continues and finishes (v.16-20) with the remembrance and praise of God's providence and blessings of the past. Is is not amazing how the altering of our perspective from self-focus to God-focus can carry us from depression into praise! Psalm 96:1-4 "Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods."

Wailing Wall

I always wanted to see the Wailing/Western wall when I got to Jerusalem, so when I arrived in Israel this past New Year's Eve it was our first destination! It is a small section, 200ft. wide by 100ft. tall, but you can see, even late at night, orthodox Jewish men praying on the left and the women on the right behind the covered area. Later in the trip I was able to climb in tunnels underneath the wall. The wall itself is part of a 2000+ year old support structure for the temple mount...more pictures and videos in the future! Want more info? Click here...

The Wailing Wall (along with many other spots in Israel) was also a ready reminder of the fact that the worship of our God is not constrained to "holy spots" or temples, but that as Christians our body is "a temple of the Holy Spirit." What a blessing it is to be able to have His Spirit within us!

TV -'The Tempter in the Bedroom'

Good blog today by Dr. Al Mohler on a NYT report on the health effects of TVs in bedrooms...
I especially like the quotes from Cornelius Plantiga's sermon. It makes me rethink my own TV viewing habits!

Favorite Bibles!

How awesome is it that we have so many Bibles as options today!

Lifeway stores are having a great sale this next week or so if you are looking for a Bible, so I thought I might share my top 3 recommendations!

The MacArthur Study Bible is my favorite! It has an awesome commentary on every page that gives applicable historical, cultural, linguistic, theological, and contextual helps you to understand the Bible in a much richer and in-depth way!

The Archaelogical Study Bible is awesome! I just used it on a three-week trip to Israel and its photos and descriptions of Biblical sites in accurate, concise and useful. It was a resource I used to prepare myself the night before visiting every site I went to. I highly recommend it if you want to see pictures and descriptions of the Biblical sites as you read the text.

The Apologetics Study Bible is one of the latest out. I have it, but unfortunately have not used it a lot yet. It has a TON of great articles and comments that enable the reader to better defend and understand their beliefs.

As for translations, I can explain more in a future blog, but I really trust and would recommend the ESV, NASB, HCSB, and NIV translations. There are many other great translations out there, these are simply the four I feel comfortable going to.

WORD OF CAUTION: I would not recommend the NRSV, TNIV, NLT, NCV, GNB, and CEV for reasons of gender-neutral translation controversy (this link has good info on the differences in translations as well). I would never, ever recommend the New World Translation that has been put forth by Jehovah's Witnesses in support of their maligned theology.

BOTTOM LINE: Find a trustworthy Bible that you enjoy and will inspire your daily reading of God's Word!

Modest is Hottest: Keep on Keeping It On!

I am excited! Brittney and I are getting to help lead our youth in a True Love Waits focus over the month of March and April at our church. It is wonderful to see how clear God's plan and love for us is in desiring us to glorify Him in all aspects of our life.
Anyhow, I saw a great message the other day by Ed Young on Sexual Purity. Here are links (on pics) to two of his sermon series. I was impressed in his relevance while not straying from a Biblical foundation. Although I haven't seen them all, the messages sound right on...
The picture here is of my future sister-in-law with a cool shirt! Modesty is a big area we men need women's help in! I like the motto..."Modest is Hottest: Keep On Keepin' It On!"
I know my wife's own modesty (in dress and behavior) when I first met her (and still today) was and is a big plus in my book :) We look forward to talking about modesty as part of the "Issues for Girls" in our upcoming TLW study.
Random trivia: Ed's dad...Dr. Ed Young, Sr. was my pastor growing up...big church in of his other sons (Cliff) plays in Caedmon's Call and I grew up hearing them play at our church quite often

1 Timothy 2:9-10 "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

Parent Resources

When you hear the term catechism, what do you think of? My mind immediately thinks of a Catholic structured and disciplined approach to instructing children & youth. It is sometimes described as "a summary of principles, often in question-and-answer format." The term ironically seems to have arisen out of the reformation with Martin Luther in 1529.
Anyway, today I heard of a Baptist version both in text and audio. Although most parents might not attempt this approach to structured teaching of the Bible and God's truths to their children it is encouraging to think of the level of investment that can occur in laying a foundation of spiritual beliefs.
Although I have no children of my own, I hope to one day...two encouraging books I have on my shelves (I have yet to finish, but these are highly recommended by many!) are:
Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis (check out the connection to Men's Fraternity)
Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp (also nationally known, good articles and other books on website)
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
Proverbs 13:24 "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. "
Ephesians 6:4 "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
p.s. a proverb is not a promise/guarantee, but a general truth/observance about life...especially relevant when looking at Pro 22:6

O For a Thousand Tongues

I arrived in chapel today and was somewhat disappointed to find that there would be no sermon, just singing. I am no musician. I cannot carry a tune. I cannot read music. I enjoy worship, but at the same time hesitated at the thought of an hour of straight singing...old hymns at that.

My initial dismay was overcome by the reminder of the riches of the songs of Charles Wesley. I was especially moved at the depths of 'O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing' and surprised that it has 18 verses (no, we did not sing them all). The lyrics and sincerity of thought, praise, and desire to share Christ were awesome to remember.
These songs brought back memories of my college days. Despite my relative disinterest and inability to sing or play music, I sang in a chapel choir and played large bells (Quasimodo-style) for all four years. Those memories and amazing times of worshiping and praising Christ both corporately and individually are something I will never forget. Today was a reminder of the need and privilege to worship Jesus in song and music!
The photos attached are of me and my Quasimodo bells during my college days...our chapel is in the center...beautiful, huh?

Easter calendar - why so early?

Copied from an email I received....

Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox , which is March 20.

This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used Easter moves around on our Roman calendar. Based on the above, Easter can actually be one day earlier (March 22) but that is very rare.Only the most elderly of our population (95 years old and above) have ever seen Easter this early before. The last time it was this early was 1913.

For the most of us this year will be the earliest that we will ever see Easter, and none of us will ever see Easter a day earlier!The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (that's 220 years from now). The next time Easter will be a day earlier March 22, will be in the year 2285 (that's 277 years from now). The last time Easter was on March 22 was 1818. So no one alive today has seen or will ever see Easter any earlier than this year! I would say that makes this Easter special (as it always is)!

He is Risen!!
John 20:1-9

To the right...a picture of me in front of the "garden tomb"...more info on this and pictures as we approach Easter!

Road to Emmaus

It is now covered by a water pipeline and electrical lines. Beneath the weeds and fill-gravel you can find sections of 10-20 large squared off stones in a perfectly straight line. These stones are a curbline and all that remains of the 7 mile stretch of Roman road between Jerusalem and the town of Emmaus. Here is a picture of that stretch, some of those stones, and myself in Israel this past January. It was on this road that Jesus appeared to two of His followers after His resurrection. Luke 24:13-35

This past weekend I went on a different type of "walk to Emmaus". It was an awesome reminder of the power of God's Spirit and His work in believer's lives through the power of Christ on the Cross. It was encouraging to see how Christ's body is represented here on earth and demonstrated in the love of His followers through the church. (although I think the site is temporarily down)

Thank you to all who prayed for, supported, and wrote letters to me.

Let's not forget of our own daily need to draw close to Christ in our own personal walk with Him! We must also remain disciplined in our sharing of His message with others!


Yesterday I was blessed to hear a message by Dr. Millard Erickson on the interaction between theology and history. He is well known for his book titled "Christian Theology" which is all about systematic theology.

What is systematic theology? I never knew until is basically what does the WHOLE Bible say about a certain subject. As I prepare for a 2 week study on Sin and its practical emergence in sexual areas and addictions, I am reminded of the need for a systematic understanding of sin.
I like how the Baptist Faith & Message sums it up:
"In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. "

A shorter definition of sin?
Anything that gets between me and a right relationship with God.
In all things we must ask ourselves... is pride or self-worship at the heart of my actions & thoughts...or am I focused on glorifying and worshipping God?

Romans 1:25
"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. "

Barbershop Blessings

I had the blessing to meet a wonderful Christian barber today. His encouragement was a great reminder that the Lord desires to use us wherever He places us...whether it is behind a pulpit, in the mission field, as a student, as a businessman, as a stay-at-home mom, or wherever we work. It reminded me of a clever response I recently read about (can't remember where though and not an exact quote...Jonathan-paraphrased!).... Someone was asked, "What do you do for a living?" Their response? "I am a servant of God, sharing His love and truth while cleverly disguised as a grocery store bagger." What are you cleverly disguised as? Are you on mission for God no matter where you are? 1 Corinthians 9:16-23 16Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it. 19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Death & the Brevity of Life

At my grandfather's funeral this weekend I was reminded of the brevity of life and some applicable verses.

James 4:13-15
13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

Job 14:1-5
1 "Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. 2 He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure. 3 Do you fix your eye on such a one? Will you bring him before you for judgment? 4 Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one! 5 Man's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.

Psalm 144:4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.

We must make the most of each day and live it for God's glory! Here is a great quote I particularly enjoy:
"Only one life, 'twil soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last."

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