Monday, August 25, 2008

Moving Day

So it is 9 PM, and my house is empty. All my "stuff" is in the Penske truck outside waiting to be driven a thousand miles to a new "stuff" keeping place. My real treasures left this morning before we threw a loading party (think positive, think positive) and are getting ready to leave from St. Joe in the morning.

We are looking forward to the future. God is going to do great things in Denton. As we serve Jesus together, as we touch our community with His love, and as we grasp His vision for His church, we are going to see things happen we may have never seen before. So, hang on Denton, big things are coming. Just let me unload my stuff first.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

God's Power

I have been studying from Acts 2 lately, and preached there this morning. One of the things I talked about was how the church was born with power.

Why don't we see the power of God anymore? This question has eaten at my soul for almost four years! I still remember when one of my professors asked us that in class. I have read through the book of Acts and have seen that people were attracted to the church because the church was full of boldness and power. Why don't we see it anymore?

This is the best answer I can come up with: Perhaps it is because we don't need God's power! Everything we try to do, every program we run, every idea we develop, WE can do in our own strength and wisdom and power! We don't need God's power to accomplish the things we are trying to do. We are strong enough on our own!

We need to dream bigger! We need to set goals higher! We need to set out to do things that can only happen if God's power is flowing through it!

Denton, hold on to your seats! We are not only going to to Dare to Dream big, we are going to dream HUGE! And we are going to try and do things that will most certainly fall on their face if God is not a part of it! But we know that we serve a God with whom "all things are possible" and who can "do more than we can even ask or imagine!" So, get ready for an adventure of faith, as we seek God's power and prescence to accomplish God's mission in our community!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Priests 3

So my last question about priests is, "Who are the main benefactors of their service?" If you check out most churches today, most of the "service" and "ministry" is for the benefit of the people in the church. The ones who already have access to God! WAKE UP CALL!!!!! Priests serve as bridge builders between God and those who don't Him! Those outside the church! And if we are going to be true to our calling and our mission, we must be sure that we are looking beyond our four walls. (BTW- I loved hearing about the cheapest yard sale in town all my Denton crew was doing! SWEET!) We must be seeking, taking and investing in opportunities to serve our community with the intention of introducing them to the God we love and serve! May it be said of us, "The church has left the building!"

Let's get out there and be priests!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Priests Part 2

What does a priest do? He/she serves men as a bridge-builder, gap-filler. Priests have access to God, and others don't, so priests stand in the gap, and provide a bridge to God. The priests of the old days were the ones who would take a family's sacrifices, and would present them in their stead. He provided a way to approach God. Priest of this day do much the same thing. Christ-followers are responsible for building the bridge between God and men, and showing those who don't have access to God, how to know Him. Being a priest has nothing to do with self, and everything to do with God and others.

Check out some of the sacrifices that priests of the new order offer. They don't offer bodies of bulls and goats anymore, but their own bodies. (Romans 12:1) They also offer the sacrifice of praise. (Hebrews 13:15- here's a kick me in the face question: is my praise a sacrifice, or do I just offer it in comfortable situations?) Christ-following priests offer up good deeds and sharing with others (biblical, not kindergarten, sharing) as sacrifices. (Hebrews 13:16) Paul, an old priest of the new order, said that the Gentiles he was converting to Christ were sacrifices offered to God. (Romans 15:16) Did you notice that all the sacrifices have got nothing to do with me, and everything to do with God and others!

My motto for the day: "It's not about me! It's not about me! It's not about me!"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Priests Part 1

Okay, time to talk about priests. We need to answer three questions about priests. The first is, "What makes a person a priest?" The second is, "What does a priest do?" We will deal with the third one later.

What makes a person a priest? Being a priest means we have access to God. In other words, we are allowed to approach Him and know Him. Remember that in the old days, only priests could enter the tabernacle. And only the high priest could enter into the most holy place where God Himself dwelt at the ark of the covenant. A priest is one who has access to God.

Now this is wicked cool- all Christ-followers have access to God! Paul (or whoever wrote it) tells us in Hebrews that we can "approach [God's] throne of grace with confidence." If you need a visual aid for this spiritual reality, imagine approaching the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant and God's shekinah glory filling the room, and speaking "face to face" with Him as Moses did. God has given us this access to Himself, to His grace, to His power!

This COULD lead to a little arrogance. "Humph! I have access to God, I am better than others!" But our attitude should be that of humility and thanksgiving. After all, it was only by the undeserved and unearned grace of the High Priest, Jesus, that we became priests and were given this privilege. And, to top it all off, being a priest is all about serving anyway. But we will deal with that tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Billy's Thoughts 8-19-08

[So, after I met some of the people in my new church, I began to send out emails to let them get to know me and my family better! I am going to post a few of them!]

Let me share with you the Big Four. These are the big four questions of vision and mission that we MUST answer and live out in order to be effective in our community. As I come to Denton, know that I will be asking these questions over and over and over again. You will get tired of hearing, but hopefully we will all get to a place where we know and are sold out to the answers. Here they are:

1. Who are we as a church? (Identity)
2. Why are we here? (Mission)
3. Where are we going? (Vision)
4. How are we going to get there? (Boundaries)

We are going to take a lot of time answering these questions. Chew on them for a while. Post 'em above your computer. Tape them to your dashboard. Write them in lipstick on your bathroom mirror. (Ok, maybe not!) Gotta run. Blessings!

(disclaimer: I think I read about these questions in "Church Planting From the Ground Up")

Billy's Thoughts 8-14-08

[So, after I met some of the people in my new church, I began to send out emails to let them get to know me and my family better! I am going to post a few of them!]

It was a beautiful afternoon, and I was inside. Why? I was at the nursing home. Two aged saints, husband and wife, were there, and I had the privilege of sharing the Lord's Supper with them that afternoon. As we visited that afternoon, the wife shared with me something I will never forget. She said, "We are proud that all of our children and grandchildren are Christians and they live like it."(They have 4 children, 8 or 10 grandchildren, and 5 or 6 great grands.) As I left, I shed a few tears, as I again realized that that should be more important to me than anything. For my children to know the Lord. Multi-generational faithfulness is a common goal among Christ-followers, but is not often accomplished. Some of that has to be attributed to our children making their own choices. They are blessed and cursed with free will. Some of it is us not being able to see the long term, realizing that many who step away may not have completely fallen away. This e-mail is not meant to criticize or belittle any parents who have struggled with this very issue. This email is to share with you something that I hope we can figure out together and accomplish together, for my children and yours.

SCRIPTURE- Check out the first few verses of Deuteronomy 6 for some thoughts on this.

Billy's Thoughts 7-30-08

[So, after I met some of the people in my new church, I began to send out emails to let them get to know me and my family better! I am going to post a few of them!]

So, I have my mind on camp. I share the responsibility of deaning a 'herd' of 5th and 6th graders with a friend. We are in camp next week, and are making all the final plans. I believe there are 51 students signed up, which is a little smaller group than normal. But we are excited! We are going to be challenging them to ask the question, "Who's Your Idol?" It is kind of a spin off of the American Idol theme. We know for sure that only 19 of them have been baptized into Christ. Though we don't push 10 and 11 year olds too much, it is our prayer that if any of them are ready to make a decision to put Christ as number one in their life, that they would! Pray for that with me.
So what is your best camp experience? Here's mine: It was at family camp at Delmarva, almost 10 years ago. My family couldn't make it, but I was there. Sorry, but my most memorable moment was not one of the sermons or teaching sessions, but was a private conversation I had with a fella named Phil. Phil asked me what I was going to do when I grew up. (being 14, I figured I was grown up. ha!) I gave him the answer I gave to all the 'church people' I knew. I told him I might be a youth minster. I didn't really believe that, but it kinda made me look spiritual, and that was the look I was going for at the moment. Phil looked at me and said something I will never forget. "Billy, you might do that for a while, but you are going to be a preacher, because we need guys like you to be preachers!" In that moment something changed, and I was a preacher. I have never looked back. Moral of the story: Take opportunities to encourage young people to pursue God and ministry. You never know who it is going to effect.

Billy's Thoughts 7-24-08

[So, after I met some of the people in my new church, I began to send out emails to let them get to know me and my family better! I am going to post a few of them!]

Roseann and I met in some odd circumstances. I was a brand new freshman at college, and she was a first year senior. (She went five years because she got a double major! BRAINIAC!?!?!) The first weekend there, the school (Central Christian College of the Bible, CCCB) sponsored a student retreat for all us students. As chance may have it(I prefer to say "As God directed it") we rode on the same van to the student retreat. Here's the thing though: Roseann was not feeling well (actually she was sicker than a dog!!) and was just plain miserable. She doesn't even remember meeting me. Needless to say, there were no "sparks" or "love at first sight" between us. But really, love isnt about sight anyway. Today I still kid her about that trip. But it illustrates the point that love is more than some random emotional reaction (?caused by cupid's arrow?) that you have no control over. Love is a dedicated commitment to do what is best for someone else. Jesus showed ultimate love when He went to the cross on our behalf, but I bet He didn't have warm fuzzies or butterflies in His stomach. Love is all about doing what is best for someone else, and has nothing to do with emotion. (YIKES! I am about to start preaching, and this was just supposed to be a story.) How ya loving today?

Billy's Thoughts 7-22-08

[So, after I met some of the people in my new church, I began to send out emails to let them get to know me and my family better! I am going to post a few of them!]

Morning, Friends!
I thought I might start send you emails often to keep you updated on what we are up to, and to start lettting you get to know us a little more. Let me give you a few background details on our family. My first wife (and only wife) Roseann and I got married May 29, 2004 in St. Joseph, IL! It was great until I smashed the cake in my wife's face, and my new mother-in-law had a heart attack and fainted. (A little exaggeration there.) That means we have been married for 50 months, and Roseann has been pregnant for over half of them. One thing you will soon learn about us is that we love children! (I like to tell people that we take that whole "Be fruitful and multiply" thing seriously!) We have three beautiful children: Victoria (April 18, 2005), Will (August 30, 2006) and Elizabeth (June 24, 2008). Psalm 127 tells us that children are a reward from the Lord, and I tell you, I dont deserve it, but God has been abundantly rewarding us. Okay, that is probably enough info for today!

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