Showing posts from 2012

Stop Playing Church

Here are a few notes from my sermon this morning on the "one anothers" of Scripture:

Tullian Tchvidjian on Les Miserables

The following is a post by Tullian Tchvidjian on Les Miserables. He does a great job putting into words the themes from the movie of law & grace.

Last night we went to see Les Miserables. As has already been discussed here and written about here, the contrast between law and grace is both pronounced and profound.

For me, the most powerful scene in the movie is Inspector Javert's song right before he kills himself.

Javert embodies our natural addiction to law and our natural aversion to grace. Committed to the rigorous inflexibility of the law, Javert has been given grace time and time again from the very one he has mercilessly hunted for decades, Jean Valjean. The grace of Valjean haunts and radically disorients Javert.

Javert sings:
Who is this man? What sort of devil is he, to have me caught in a trap and choose to let me go free? It was his hour at last to put the seal on my fate, wipe out the past and wash me clean off the slate! All it would take was a flick of his knife.…

My Christmas Books

Every year, I put together a book list for Christmas.  As you know, I like books and love receiving them as presents.  Here is my list for Christmas 2012:

Gospel Powered Parenting by William Farley
Gospel Centered Family by Chester & Moll
Vertical Church by James Macdonald
Faith Conversations for Families by Jim Burns
God Loves You by David Jeremiah
Passport 2 Purity Weekend Retreat Kit by Raney
Glorius Ruin by Tchvidjian
Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
Reclaiming the Sufficiency of Scripture by Rob Rienow
Unleashed by Perry Noble
Simple Church by Thom Rainer
Greater by Steven Furtick
Creature of the Word by Chandler, Geiger, etc.
Multiply by Chan & Platt
I have a few books to finish before I start any of these, but I look forward to reading each of them.

Merry Christmas from the Martin's!

Merry Christmas from the Martin's!  Blessings for a great 2013.

Singing Around the Tree

Yesterday, Molly and her Kindergarten class sang around the Christmas tree.  It is a fun tradition the Hesston schools have.  Here are a few pictures:

Have we made Christianity too negative?

How would you answer this question?  Before you begin lecturing me about ignoring sin, let me say that I am not interested in explaining away sin, but instead wondering if we focus too much on it. I have been on a journey these last few months trying to understand why much of our belief about God or the Christian life focuses on the negative.  Is this what God's Word teaches?  I hope to be able to answer this question soon.

One book I am reading right now is called The Gospel of Yes by Mike Glenn.  As I was reading this week, several of his quotes from Chapter 2 spoke to my journey and questions I have been pondering.  Here are some of those quotes:

"One generation after another has been trapped in the habit of no."  "But the no of God is also positive. Like the banks of a river, our given limits increase our power by focusing our potential." "The Ten Commandments, those great "Thou shalt nots," are gifts of grace and mercy. God offers them to us…

Monotony in your life?

Routines and rhythms are good. We need them in our lives in many ways such as chores, exercise, schedules, holidays. But what about our spiritual lives? Should our prayers, worship, Bible reading become routine? Steven Furtick in his new book, Greater, addresses this in Chapter 3. Here are a few quotes to ponder:

"When you start mindlessly plowing, activities like Bible study and church attendance begin to fall more into the "I have to" than the "I get to" category."
"Igniting God's vision starts with becoming more acutely aware of God's presence in your life."
"Sure God is everywhere, but it's a different thing to believe that He's personally watching over the intricacies of your life."

"It shouldn't freak you out to realize that God's eyes are on you. Because He doesn't see you through eyes of disapproval or disappointment. His presence is not a sign of condemnation. It's actually a…

The Gospel of Yes

I stared a new book on Thursday called The Gospel of Yes by Mike Glen. I picked this book up at the D6 Conference this year. Glen was one of the main stage speakers and this book grabbed my attention. One of his points is that Christians often are known by what we are against rather than what we are for. This is a point that I strongly agree with. I am also interested in his focus on the Christian life in positive terms rather than negative. I look forward to reading more of his thoughts as I go through the book. Here are a few quotes from the introduction and first chapter:

"Why do Christians think God would spend time making plans for them that are guaranteed to ruin their lives?"
"Remember, God wants us to relax and be who he made us to be. He wants us to enjoy what we do."
"But serving God and others in ways you were created and gifted for brings a natural sense of joy and soul satisfaction."
"we were schooled on what we opposed."

Do you want to be greater?

On Thursday, I started reading Greater by Steven Furtick. He has written one of my favorite books on prayer called Sun Stand Still. In Greater, he challenges us to not settle for "good enough" while at the same time avoiding frustration because we cannot achieve "greatest." He looks at the life of Elisha throughout the book.

Here are some quotes from the first two chapters:

"By leaving and then sending His Spirit to dwell inside His followers--ordinary people like you and me--Jesus released a greater power for us to do extraordinary things on an extraordinary scale. The kinds of things the early church saw and did. The kind of things He still wants to do today through us."
"For most of us, the experience of our daily lives is a far cry from the greater works Jesus talked about in John 14:12."
"There's a huge gap between what God said in His Word and the results we see in our lives."
"Are you ready to open your ima…

What I Am Reading

Here are the books I am currently reading:

The Gospel of Yes by Mike Glenn
Greater by Steven Furtick
Prayer Coach by James Nicodem
The Legacy Path by Brian Haynes

Explicit Gospel

Today, I finished reading The Explicit Gospel by Chandler & Wilson. I will be recommending this book to others. It helps answer and define many questions I have been struggling with regarding our understanding of the gospel. You need to read this book! Here are some quotes from the last chapter of the book:

"Over and over again he (Paul) preaches the gospel to people who know the gospel."

"We must abandon the idea that there is condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! We must abandon the idea that our sins pile up on some scale that will earn God's punishment when tipped, as if Christ didn't take this wrath from us already on the cross. We must also abandon the idea that our good behavior somehow rubs the spiritual lamp that inclines God, like a genie, to emerge and give us the things we wish for."

"We fight sin with the weapons grace gives us: the blood of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and the promise of the new covenant. .…

Balance as a Christian?

I was having a conversation recently with someone talking about how in our beliefs, we tend to move to the extremes like a pendulum swinging.  For example, because someone was raised in a legalistic environment, then tend to go to the other extreme of "anything goes."  And vice versa. Or the King James Bible is the only Bible that is right and should be read to the extreme of reading a variety of "spiritual books" from other faiths. It seems that many times the best place to land is the middle ground rather than the extremes.  After this conversation, Pastor Brad and I were talking about this same phenomenon.  Today I was reading The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and he talks about "dangers in a Gospel on the Ground Too Long and dangers in a Gospel in the Air Too Long."  This in my opinion is similar to these other two conversations.  Here are some quotes from the chapters in Chandler's book:
"because it is dangerously easy to take one truth t…

Single Parent's Day Out

Today, Hesston MB is hosting a single parent's day out. This gives single parents an opportunity to go Christmas shopping, enjoy some time alone reading a book or sipping coffee, or get some projects done at home. I have some great workers who volunteer their time in service for this event. Thank you to Jennifer, Joanna, Travis, Jared, Sara, Mike, Nancy, Isaac & Morgan!

It is a great way to serve your community and be a blessing to single parents during the Christmas season. The picture below is the schedule that I have put together that seems to work well.

How will you seek to minister to single parents this Christmas season?

Advent Resources for Families

Are you looking for a good resource to use with your family this Advent Season? 

Here are some resources to use at home to talk about Christmas:

Adornaments by Family Life

The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel 

What God Wants for Christmas by Family Life

Book Review: Closer to the Real Christmas Story

This Saturday, December 1st, from 10 a.m.-noon, you can get this book signed by the author, Jared Burkholder, at Faith & Life Bookstore in Newton, KS. With the upcoming book signing and because Jared lives in Hesston, I wanted to give a quick review of his book prior to beginning of Advent.

Jared writes, "In particular, I pray that this book will help parents meaningfully discuss the Christmas story with their children of all ages and develop in them critical thinking skills." The first part of the book includes short chapters which tell the Christmas story in chronological order. These chapters could easily be read during a time of family devotions during the Advent season.

One of my favorite parts of the book is at the end of each chapter. Burkholder includes "a gift" such as submission, protection, family, life, praise, etc. which includes a question related to it. It is then followed with an active way to share that gift including a Scripture.

But Burkho…

Vacation in Nebraska?

Yes, I spent my vacation this week in Nebraska.  I was pleased that it was not as cold as it has been the past few years.  Why did I spend 4 days in Nebraska?  My wife is manager of Faith & Life Bookstore in Newton, KS and we did books tables in Beatrice & Henderson.  My job was to load & unload books & gifts and to be the cashier.  It was fun!

This was work for Bethany, but for me it was a great vacation in many ways.  No, I was not on the beach or someplace warm, but I was with Bethany 24 hours a day.  It was a blessing! We talked about a lot of things and just spent time together.  We enjoyed romantic meals at Runza, Applebee's, Chipotle, & Wendy's. Hey, don't judge! We experienced an interesting hotel that was struggling to reach 1 star status.  We spent evenings watching TV & laughing together. I also was able to get some reading done for MB study conference in January.

It was also a joy to see my wife in action as a manager.  She is great at w…

Steven Furtick on giving

Generous Gift!

This past week, we received a generous gift from a church family.  If you have read my blog over the last four years, you know we have been trying to sell our house in Iola.  We finally closed on October 31, 2012.  We were so excited!  However, due to the down market, we ended up having to pay to sale our house.  I know it doesn't make sense and it really confuses our kids.  But it was our reality. 

Only a handful of people knew that we had to take money to closing.  We went to the bank on the 31st and basically depleted our checking and savings accounts to close on the house.  There was just enough money to keep both accounts open.  We were thankful that we did not need to borrow money from anyone.  Then unexpectedly, we received a gift that left us speechless!

It reminded me of a verse that has been important to me over these last four years.  Ephesians 3:20-21 says,
20 Now to him who is ableto do immeasurably more than all we askor imagine, according to his powerthat is at work …

Your Idenity

If you know me, one of my favorite messages to share with people is their identity in Christ.  Too often, as believers, we have a false understanding of who we are.  I preached on this subject in April.  If interested, see notes here.  I am also excited about a new book coming out in January by Mark Driscoll on this subject.

But today for all you tech-savvy people, I want to share an app that I read each morning.  It is a great reminder each day about who you are in Christ.

It is available in Android & Apple.  Here is where you can download the app:

Apple-Go to the app store and search for Identity in Christ Daily

Book Review: Red Letter Revolution

I have been reading Red Letter Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo. In the book, they describe a group called, "Red Letter Christians" who are seeking to follow what Jesus said. The cover of the book asks the question, "What if Jesus Really Meant What He Said?" I was fascinated by the cover and was excited to read the book.

There are many great things about this book. First, I enjoyed the conversational tone between Tony and Shane in each chapter. Their dialogue and questions and answers were helpful. Second, they do a great job covering many topics that most authors would avoid such as life, environment, women, racism, sexuality, war & violence, economics, reconciliation, etc. It is broken into three parts: Red Letter Theology, Red Letter Living, & Red Letter World.

I offer a mixed review of this book. In some ways, the book was great for me as it challenged my thinking and what I believe about specific issues. On the other hand, the book…

Baptizing my daughter

Today I had the privilege of baptizing, Megan, my 9 year old daughter. She has been talking about getting baptized for months. She kept asking questions and I told her to pray about it and we would go from there. She prayed and it kept being brought up. I am proud of her listening to the Holy Spirit's prompting and for the boldness He gave her as she shared her testimony and was baptized today. Here are some pictures:

Book Review: 52 Creative Family Time Experiences

In the introduction, the author describes the book in this way:

"52 Creative Family Time Experiences is designed to set up three kinds of epic moments with your kids:

1. Informal-daily moments when you can impress faith.
2. Intentional family times-that you schedule weekly, or every other week.
3. Milestones-holidays and rites of passage when you affirm spiritual growth.

As I read through this book, I was impressed with the authors understanding of culture as well as the biblical mandate for parents to pass on faith to their kids. Many books focus on one to the detriment of the other. 52 Creative Family Time Experiences does both!

Smith has done a great job incorporating creativity & activities to help teach the Bible. He has listed 52 activities to be done as families weekly or every other week. Several great features include: ways to adapt lesson for preschoolers and teenagers, engaging questions to point to who God is rather than just information, engaging & s…

Reading at the Perk

I have missed my days reading at the Perk. Today, I am back at it and enjoying several books this morning. Several of the quotes are from 52 Creative Family Time Experiences by Timothy Smith. Check back on Friday for a review of that book. Here are a few quotes:

"Take time to talk about HIS story. God's story is epic!"

"Gen iY is more likely to respond to talking story and having a conversation than a lecture-- especially preteens and teens."

"When it comes to kid's faith, parents get what they are."

"What would happen in our families if we had peanut butter faith--tasty, nutritious, simple and sticky?"

"Emphasize the character and attributes of God more than the hero in the story."

"A government can pass good laws, but no law can change a human heart. Only God can do that."

(Quote in chapter on politics) "We are setting ourselves up for disappointment if our hope is built on anything less than Jesus.&quo…

Election Results

No matter what the election results are today, the song below has been on my heart and mind.  I hope it will be a good reminder and encouragement to you.

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him
Who brings good news, good news;
Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness:
Our God reigns, our God reigns!Refrain Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!