Archive for January, 2010

Catching Up

The blog has been silent for a couple of weeks. If you followed what was happening in the first two weeks of the new year, you can probably figure out why that is so. The first half of the month was a roller coaster, but God graciously worked and demonstrated again and again why He is so worthy of praise.

On the 18th of this month, my wife and I left for a week away in order to celebrate our 25th anniversary which is coming up in February. Given family and ministry responsibilities around the actual date, we opted for taking off a month ahead of time. As it turns out, it really was the perfect time for us to get away. We enjoyed a quiet week down in Mexico with lots of sun, exercise, food, and time together. This was the first vacation that we had taken together alone that had no connection to anything ministerial since our honeymoon 25 years ago. Please don’t read that statement as anything anti-vacation—we’ve had the best vacations that anybody could desire over those 25 years, but they’ve always been with family. We’ve been able to go, owing to the generosity of my parents, to incredible places along with my extended family (parents, sisters, brothers-in-laws, and a pack of great nephews and nieces). We have a blast together. Claudia and I (and our sons) would not trade it away at all. So this was very different and very, very nice.

I love Michigan, even in the winter, but I also love to slip away to the sun periodically. I love the ministry, but it is also nice to unplug for a little bit and recharge. I love having the whole clan with us on vacation, but it was great to spend a week alone with the best wife a man could ever have. After putting up with me for 25 years, I am not sure if making her spend a week alone with me is fair, but we had a great time. Leaving 80 degree weather to come back to freezing stuff wasn’t great, but at least my sons hadn’t burned the house down while we were gone.

I’ve been trying to catch up on things this week while getting ready for Northland’s Heart Conference next week, so posting has been low on the priority list. I hope that will change soon, but figured I’d at least let you know that the blog has not gone extinct.

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Standing on God’s Sovereign Purposes

Here are good words that encourage confidence in our sovereign God.

“We know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“All the afflictions, and all the temptations, and all the oppressions, and all the oppositions, and all the persecutions which befall a godly man, shall work for his good. Every cross, and every loss, and every disease which befall the holy man, shall work for his good. Every device, every snare, every deceit, every stratagem, and every enterprise of Satan against the holy man, shall work for his good. Every prosperity and every adversity; every storm and every calm; every bitter and every sweet; every cross and every comfort—shall work for the holy man’s good.

When God gives a mercy—that shall work for his good. When God takes away a mercy—that shall work for his good.

O Christian! What though friends and relations frown upon you, what though enemies are plotting and conspiring against you, what though needs, like armed men, are breaking in upon you, what though men rage, and devils roar against you, what though sickness is devastating your family, what though death stands every day at your elbow—yet there is no reason for you to fear nor faint, because all these things shall work for your good!”

—Thomas Brooks, “The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, Holiness, the Only Way to Happiness

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My Jesus Fair

One of the highlights of the recent SGI conference was the worship. We approached it very simply—congregational singing, Scripture reading, and prayer led by men who had been at several of the conferences through the years. As I noted in an earlier post, listening to several hundred believers lift their voices together to declare glorious truths about God and the gospel is powerful. If anybody ever doubted God’s wisdom found in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, listening to the congregational singing at SGI would disabuse them of their foolishness!

I don’t think there was a session in which the congregation assembled did not teach and admonish me through song, but on Wednesday morning we sang “My Jesus Fair” and it is hard to describe the force with which the truth pressed home on my soul. Our congregation here loves to sing this wonderful hymn, and I love to find myself standing at the front of them as they lift their voices to declare these words:

My Jesus, strong, shall come to reign,
To reign in majesty.
The Lamb arose, and death is slain.
Lord, come in victory!

If you have not sung it as congregational hymn, please do so soon. And I am glad to see that it has been published as an octavo as well. You can find information about that here and purchase it here. While you’re there, take a look at the other songs too. I commend the site and the music to you wholeheartedly. In fact, I said so more fully here.


(Just so nobody thinks I am gaining from these endorsements, let me be clear that the only thing Chris gives me is grief about the Michigan Wolverines and the Detroit Lions. I guess in Cleveland there really isn’t much more entertaining to do.)

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Praying with and for God’s People

It’s been a whirlwind start to the new year and I apologize for the limited blogging activity. As I’ve already noted on the blog, last Monday-Wednesday was the Student Global Impact National Conference. God graciously blessed the conference and we, as a church, are so thankful that He has opened up this door of ministry. As you think of it and are burdened to do so, please pray that lasting fruit will grow for God’s glory among the nations.

About 45 minutes after I finished preaching the last session, my second son, Daniel, and I hopped in the car to make the drive to Northland International University. He is on the basketball team and had missed two days of practice in order to be at the conference, so we were aiming to get him to NIU for a 9 a.m. practice on Thursday. The roads were clear and the weather very good, so we arrived on campus about 3:30 CST, hit the sack for five hours, got up and he headed off to practice and I headed back home. Wish I could say the roads were clear and the weather good on the way home, but the last third of the trip was pretty messy. Lots of spin outs and even one car upside down near Bridgeport, but I arrived home safely in order to fall asleep during the second half of the national championship football game.

With an ordination council on Friday and a wedding on Saturday, I headed into Sunday, quite honestly, a little worn. That was disappointing in that Sunday marked the start of our annual Prayer Week emphasis. This is the 14th year that we’ve set aside eight days at the beginning of the year to give special attention to congregational prayer. Although I started the morning a little slow, God graciously worked among us during the morning service, lifting my heart and, I believe working through His word to strengthen our commitment to worship. The staples of Prayer Week at our church are early morning prayer meetings for the men and ladies, noon prayer times, a Concert of Prayer on Wednesday evening, and closing the week on the second Sunday with a combined adult class, morning worship, dinner together, and an afternoon praise service. Each year brings blessings. I commend the practice to you.

Monday morning began with an excellent prayer meeting at 6:30 a.m. with a good sized group of men from the congregation (the ladies met separately). We spent 40 minutes in prayer together as a full group, then 5-10 minutes praying with one or two other men before leaving to tackle the day’s business. It was a solid prayer meeting that enjoyed a wonderful mixture of praise and petition.

Later Monday morning the day, and week, took a turn that none of us would have anticipated. Glenn Hawley, a humble, godly man who served Christ by using his gifts to keep things running properly around our facilities was fatally injured from a fall while working on some lights in the building. Here’s the announcement that I made to our church family:

I have some sad news to report. This morning, while working here at the church, Glenn Hawley was involved in a very bad fall that caused life-ending injuries. Emergency rescue and hospital workers labored diligently to revive him, but they were not able to do so. This all came as an incredible shock to us, but not to the Lord. Glenn was a blessing to our church because of his clear commitment to Jesus Christ and faithful service to the Lord here. Servants like Glenn are a gift of God’s grace, so we are thankful that the Lord saved him, brought him and his family to Inter-City, and led Glenn to serve on staff here. We are very saddened by his sudden death, but thankful for the promise of the gospel and for Glenn’s trust in Jesus Christ. Please pray for Kathy, their daughters, and their families.

I am so thankful for the good news of God’s saving grace through what Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary. If it were not for what Jesus Christ did, I would have no idea what to say in situations like this. Empty platitudes don’t cut it. Real hope is what is really needed, and that kind of hope is found only in Christ. So, we pray, we share what God’s Word says, and we trust the Spirit to give peace that will guard hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. And we praise God for believers whose faith stands firm and who rest in God’s promises.

This morning I gathered for prayer with a sober group of men. Again we mingled praise and petition, expressing confidence in God’s purposes and finding comfort in the gospel. Hearing the prayers of my brothers was a means of God’s grace to my heart, and I am confident that they were retrieving God’s grace from before His throne on behalf of hurting family and friends. A praying congregation is a great gift from God.

It’s been an unexpected and uneven ride through the first 12 days of 2010. I am so thankful for a Rock on which to stand. I am so thankful for a Father who hears when we call. I am so thankful for a Redeemer who has conquered death!

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SGINC Update

It’s the last day of the SGI National Conference and God has given us a wonderful time together in His Word and prayer. The conference would be a blessing to me if only to hear 400 students lifting their voices in praise to God (not to mention when a few hundred from our congregation join in during the evening sessions). At the end of last night’s session we sang “Complete in Thee” and the words of that last verse filled my soul with joy:

Dear Savior, when before Thy bar,

All tribes and tongues assembled are,

Among Thy chosen I shall be,

At Thy right hand, complete in Thee.

What amazing grace that spreads to all the nations! Three more plenary sessions remain (Mark Minnick, J. D. Crowley, and me), so please pray for God’s gracious work through the Word by His Spirit.

If you’d like a fuller report of the conference, please check in on the blogging being done by Joe Tyrpak at the Missions Mandate blog.

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Great New Year’s Advice for Tiger

Brit Hume offers some good advice to Tiger Woods. I wish it were more specific and I wish I knew more of what Brit Hume believes, but as a general statement, it’s amazingly bold (especially in that context).

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