Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sermon Update...

My sermon from this Sunday on Ephesians 3:1-13 is up on the HCBC website. It was my first time to preach at NW (a little intimidating), but God was gracious to answer prayers to give me calm nerves and a clear mind. The HCBC sermon website has audio (the MP3 link) and video (the windows media player button). Any feedback you have would be helpful as I continue to try and improve as an effective communicator of the Word. Blessings...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Book Review: Albert Einstein

One of my favorite categories of books to read is biography. I got a little over my head on this Einstein biography (coming in at 751 pages), but the experience took me back through my engineering days at Baylor. Many of the physical ideas you study in engineering includes mathematical & physical constants names after famous people (Planck, Heisenberg, Bohr, etc.). I enjoyed reading Einstein's biography for two reasons: one, it put a life on all these names that I have known since high school physics (since they were contemporaries of Einstein), and two, Einstein lived through a remarkable time of development in understanding nature while at the same time seeing how the depravity of humanity was capable of so much death and destruction (he lived through both world wars). His life reminds me of the lives of so many famous men who had remarkable professional careers and terrible personal lives. Einstein was freakishly smart & wrote most of his groundbreaking papers while he was working at a patent office (after being rejected for positions at universities). Those same universities were begging Einstein to come on faculty after he published his major works on the photoelectric effect (where he redefined the nature of light) and special relativity. In the midst of all this professional accomplishment, Einstein had one daughter before he was married & convinced his soon-to-be-wife to give his daughter up for adoption (he ended up never even meeting this child). Later in life, he divorced his first wife (with whom he had two sons by this point) and married his cousin. Even with his new wife, however, he did not remain faithful, and used his fame to date all kinds of women while he was married to his cousin. What a mess. Some of the most fascinating aspects of the book revolve around Einstein's developing view of his Jewish identity & his view of God. He was never able to believe in the personal God of the Judeo-Christian faiths who is involved in history, but he did understand that God had structured the universe according to natural laws. His was more of a deistic understanding of the blind watchmaker who got everything going in the beginning & let us discover his work. This conviction is what made Einstein reject much of quantum mechanics in his effort to develop a unified field theory (which he never accomplished) and make his famous quote that "God does not role dice with the universe." All in all, brilliant physicist, terrible husband and father, wrapped in a technical biography that will not interest those without a technical background.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Crazy week...

...assuming ministry responsibilities at new church.
...adding ministry responsibilities at current church.
...working on multiple sermons at once.
...trying to keep my wife up-beat in the last 6 weeks of third pregnancy.
...building new relationships with people all over the place.
...attempting to stay balanced physically, spiritually, emotionally.
...making progress on getting in our first home by end of the year.
...spending lots of time reading, thinking, writing.
...praying regularly for God's wisdom and power.
...hanging with my boys as much as I can.
...watching West Wing on DVD.
...loving life.
...going to sleep now. ;)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day Sermon

You can download my Father's Day Sermon on HCBC PF's website HERE or from iTunes from HCBC Plugerville's feed.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Let's Go Mavs...

After a great start out of the gate, my team is looking like they are out of steam. They better bring it on strong in game 5 or this series could get out of their reach. I have hope though - they persevered against much better teams already than Miami - the Spurs & the Suns. I've got tickets to see the local triple-A baseball team play tomorrow night with my dad (for Father's Day), but we will be catching the end of the Mavs game after the Express game. As a lifelong Mavs fan who has never seen the Mavs do anything in the NBA Finals, I'm cheering hard this year! Let's Go Mavs! And with the Rangers playing half-way decent this season, '06 may be a great year for our Dallas-area teams - if Owens doesn't implode the Cowboys.

Geared up...

It's been a busy week with lots of ministry coming on strong. I'm getting prepared for three weeks in a row of preaching, and my mind is full of lots of good information. I spent a day speaking at First Houston's youth camp this week (talking about the wrath of God - which was really challenging for me to work on last week). In summary, I've been spending a lot of time these last two weeks working on sermons that are ahead. And what I have found is that as I prepare early, the messages begin to really work on my soul in different ways. Like all preachers, I've prepared sermons the day before many times, but this summer has given me a chance to finish sermons a week in advance. And what I find is that the core of the message really has time to incubate in my mind and my heart. All that to say - I'm really geared up and excited about what God is teaching me. I hope that as I continue in pastoral ministry & plant our church that I stay disciplined about working ahead on my sermons.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Book Review: 7 Principles of an Evangelistic Life

Doug Cecil has done a tremendous service to the body of Christ in his newest book on evangelism. I have been through so many evangelistic training sessions over the years, its not even funny. In fact, not only have I been through them, I probably have taught them at some point. In all the focus on evangelism methods, it is easy to forget the basics. Cecil helps us not to forget the basics. His book is not so much about using a certain method of evangelism as it is asking the question what kind of life do I need to live to become an evangelistic person. This transition from focusing on what I do to who I am is tremendously helpful and one that is not taught enough in evangelistic ministries. His principles include things like making Jesus primary in your life, passionately pursuing lost people where they are, recognizing that evangelism is more spiritual than methodological, etc. His work is a must read for every Christian who wants to be used by God to expand the family of believers. If we believe our mission as Christians is to make disciples, then Cecil has done us a great favor in clarifying definitions to show us what biblical evangelism is & how it fits into the disciple-making process. I have summarized Cecil's book in about a three page outline, so if anyone wants to get a copy of my outline, let me know & I'll email it to you. But the outline is not sufficient for getting the full effect of the book, because Cecil has great stories, illustrations, and graphics all throughout the book that help make its meaning clear. Highly recommended!

Busy Weekend...

What fun it is to see your former students move forward in maturity in their relationship with Christ and their responsibility in the church...I had the opportunity to perform Luke & Kristen's wedding this weekend, and it was a true blessing to see how awesome God's plan is for marriage lived out through this couple. Since I have talked to so many teenagers over the years who have not followed God's will in the area of sexual purity and where reaping the whirlwind, it is so awesome to participate in a wedding where two young people have obeyed God and are reaping the blessing. It seems like God actually knows what He is talking about when He says that His best for us includes keeping sex inside the bounds of marriage. With a culture that can't seem to understand why anyone would wait for marriage or stay faithful in marriage, I am thankful that this young couple had enough faith to say that they believed God's way was best - and they were right. They are enjoying this week the fruit of their obedience - wonderful intimacy in the marriage bed. My sincere congrats to Luke & Kristen...

Also, we started our time of ministry and involvement at HCBC Pflugerville yesterday. It is hard on the family to make another transition relationally, but I am thankful that I have a wife and kids who love people and are excited about meeting more great friends. The people at PF are incredibly warm & interested in our lives. I thank God for what He has done through the ministry of HCBC Pflugerville, and we are incredibly excited about planting a church in North Round Rock. We have already met many people who have shared an interest in going with us to NRR and that has been an incredible encouragement to me. God is so faithful.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Book Review: To Own A Dragon

I really enjoy reading Donald Miller, if for no other reason, because he is one of the few readers that makes me laugh out loud. I finished up his new book, To Own A Dragon, this morning at Starbucks, and found myself several times having to apologize to my fellow coffee drinkers for my outbursts. Of course, this is not the only reason that Miller is great. He is authentic and transparent in his writing, allowing us to struggle with him as he wrestles with his relationships with people and his relationship with God. I did not grow up without a Father, and so I did not necessarily connect with some of his book, but it was enlightening to me in multiple ways. First, I have a real passion for men - to see them excel in their walk with Christ and to see them love their wives and love their kids. Second, I am preaching on Father's Day in two weeks, and it was a good reminder to me that not everyone had the same experience I did growing up. And third, I believe that fathers have a profound impact on the way their kids see God. Miller helped me hone my thoughts in all three areas. I would highly recommend his work to men who have been through his experience, but I would also encourage it as an important read for dads. We cannot be reminded enough of the significant role we play in our homes. Great book...

Monday, June 05, 2006

It's Official

We had a great time last night at Hill Country Bible Church Pflugerville as the elders announced to the leadership of the church that they had voted to approve me as the planter/pastor of Hill Country Bible Church North Round Rock. We can't express how excited we are to now have a location. The church planting process will now shift into high gear as we look forward to launching our church in August 2007. HCBC PF is also starting a church in Hutto (in April 2007) with one of their current staff members, Bo Thompson. We are excited to see how God uses both of our plants to reach people with the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ. I greatly appreciate your prayers as we ask God to send us the right team members to get this plant off the ground. I can't wait to see the lives that are impacted because HCBC is willing to sacrifice in order to plant new churches throughout the Greater Austin area.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Holly Lake Ranch...

Well, I've been out of commission on the blog this last week because we have been on family vacation! We spent a great week out in East Texas in a little condo by the lake. We had lots of fun with the boys, swimming, fishing, playing mini-golf, going for walks, grilling hamburgers on the porch, and watching lots of movies. It was a great time for us; Barie and I have come to realize that with two kids our vacations have changed dramatically from a time for the two of us to get away to read & relax & play to a time of hanging with the kids and playing with them. No complaints - only different! We did get one night out by ourselves, however, and we went to see X-Men - rock on! My mom & grandmothers were available to watch the boys, so we went out to the big town of Longview! It was really a great time to see my grandmothers - it has been a while since the boys were able to spend much time with them.

So, now that we are home from our week at the lake, we are ready to take a week to recover from our week of vacation! In all seriousness, though, I have realized again how blessed I am to have the most awesome family in the world! And the fastest growing! We are expecting baby #3 in only 10 weeks! Pray for my wife to make it all the way...