Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Results

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth...Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases." Psalm 115:1,3

Paula and I prayed and gave thanks this morning, not because we got the kind of election outcome we hoped for, but because God is worthy of our praise all the time.

Rather than writing at length my reaction to the election outcome, I would encourage you to read America Has Chosen a President

Dr. Mohler provides some great insights into this historic election and how we can pray for our elected leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

This Sunday I will be preaching through Acts 1:4-5, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is an important doctrine for us to understand, but one of the most controversial. Some of the confusion lies in a failure to understand the uniqueness of Pentecost.

We could easily spend weeks studying what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit. Is He a force or a Person? Is He God or a creation of God? What is the difference between baptism, indwelling, filling, sealing, and gifts of the Holy Spirit?

I am going to attempt to answer these questions (and others) in one sermon on Sunday. So please pray for me. Thanks!

4 Reasons Why the Book of Acts is So Important

One can hardly overstate the importance of the Book of Acts or its contribution to the canon of Scripture. Let me mention just a few of the reasons why Acts - and thus our study of this book -is so important.

First, Acts (combined with the Gospel of Luke) makes up over one-fourth of the entire New Testament. Luke/Acts is really one work in two volumes (remember that only so much could be put on one scroll, just as only so much can be recorded on a cassette). If this one work makes up over one-fourth of the content of the New Testament, the principle of proportion alone tells us that it must be very important material.

Second, the Book of Acts provides us with a vivid account of the radical change which took place in the attitudes and actions of the disciples, who were passive and almost invisible after our Lord’s death, as described in the Gospels. The Peter who would deny his Lord in the courtyard of the high priest, who would hide behind locked doors after Jesus’ death, and who would “go fishing” after His resurrection, is a very different man in Acts 2, where he boldly proclaims Jesus to be the Christ and announces to his audience that they were guilty of His death and were facing divine judgment. The transformation of the Lord’s disciples is evident in the Book of Acts.

Third, Acts is a crucial book because it is the only book in the New Testament which fills in the gap between the Gospels and the Epistles. The Gospels end in Jerusalem with no church, a few Jewish believers in Jesus, and a group of disciples who are still living, as it were, in the past. The Epistles, on the other hand, depict a growing number of churches made up of mainly Gentile believers and a group of disciples who are boldly proclaiming Christ as Israel’s Messiah, and as the Savior of the Gentiles as well. Only Acts fills in the gaps, to explain how these changes took place. We would not understand the Epistles apart from the Book of Acts.

Fourth, Acts provides us with an inspired account of the transition of the gospel from a largely Jewish context to a gospel which is universal, not only embracing the Gentiles but becoming, for a season, a largely Gentile phenomenon. We begin in Jerusalem with a handful of Jewish followers of Jesus. The Book of Acts ends in Rome, with a number of Gentile churches having been founded, and a predominantly Gentile Christian community. The Book of Acts describes this transition: geographically, from Jerusalem to Rome; theologically, from Israel to the church; and racially, from Jews to Gentiles.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Christian Perspective on Political Involvement

After concluding a sermon series on evangelism and a series on finances I was asked by a friend, "Where do we see in the Bible examples of people who were bold in sharing the gospel and good stewards of the money and possessions God entrusted to them?" The answer is clear: The book of Acts.
I was planning on starting a new sermon series on the book of Acts this Sunday. However, after talking with the elders and the men at our leadership study this morning it became clear that a sermon on the issues that we face in this election is much needed. Specifically I hope to help people discover and/or affirm what the Bible says about marriage and the life of the unborn child.
I have listed books (on the lower right of this page) that I believe will help us discern our responsibility as Christians in the political world. Of course, I hope my sermon this Sunday is also helpful! Please pray for me. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Why Sermon Based Community Groups?

A number of years ago Harvard University conducted a study for the military that uncovered three ways to maximize the benefit of any training experience. The first was maintaining a high sense of expectation. The study showed that if people went into a training experience with high expectations, they generally learned and retained a lot more.

But here's the second ingredient. The Harvard researchers also discovered that if people took good notes during the training experience, the educational impact and the life-change upon returning home would accelerate measurably.

The third key had to do with discussing the material with others. If they got together and discussed the notes—and the broader training experience as a whole—their education impact and subsequent life-change was significantly increased. .

Those last two things (taking sermon notes and getting together and discussing the impact of the Bible text) are exactly why we are having sermon-based community groups - to change lives for God's glory and our good.

Five New Community Groups

There are five Cornerstone community groups now meeting: Paso Robles, Templeton, East Atascadero, West Atascadero, and South Atascadero. Great discussion, fellowship, and prayer taking place each week! I am excited about the potential for the "one anothers" of the New Testament (there are 30 "one anothers" in the NT!) to be practiced in these groups.

Recommended Books

I am still relatively new to the blogosphere and just added a new "widget" from shelfari. You can see books that I have read recently and recommend for reading. I have started with the books that have been helpful in my current sermon series on finances. Let me know if you find it helpful and if you have any other "widget" recommendations!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hall of Fame Speech

One of my good friends, George Davis, visited with our family last night. George is a fellow Naval Academy grad, Navy pilot, brother in Christ, and most importantly ... a Washington Redskin fan!

He showed me this video of Art Monk's speech Hall of Fame induction speech - full of grace and truth. If you love Jesus, family, and football, you will enjoy this clip - click here

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We're Back!

Thanks for your patience, as I have not added to this blog since our trip to Israel. It is great to be back at Cornerstone with our church family and friends.
God is so good, we had a great sabbatical! Our family enjoyed all the time together, and I feel spiritually and physically refreshed.
We put 5,000 miles on the car in the last month as we visited friends in Washington and Montana, and then drove to Mexico for a missions trip. Check out this video of the kids getting launched (at the end of the video).
Yes, I was at the helm of the ski boat (but you will hear the voice of a friend encouraging me to drive like I did. I won't mention any names but his initials are M.M.). Everybody managed to survive with no injuries ... they just asked that I not "skipper" the boat anymore!

video

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Four Reasons to Visit Israel

View from on top of Mount Arbel overlooking the Sea of Galilee.

1. The Bible comes more alive as you are able to see the places mentioned in Scripture. This morning in my daily Bible reading I read in Song of Solomon of Mount Carmel and Mount Hermon and was able to vividly picture each place. When we arrived at the Sea of Galilee the wind had picked up and created waves, but the next day the water was calm. It gave us a clear picture of what the disciples faced in Mark 4:35-40 before Jesus calmed the storm.
2. To see firsthand archaeological findings that validate the truth and dating of God's Word.
3. To gain a greater appreciation of God's plan for Israel.
4. You do marvel that God chose to accomplish monumental events in such a geographical small area. Israel is about the size of New Jersey.

Four Favorite Sayings in Israel


While touring in a group, you pick up some sayings that stick. Our four favorites (not Corny free):


1. "Shabbat Shalom" "Shabbat" is the Hebrew word for "sabbath." "Shalom" is a greeting that works as both "hello" and "goodbye", similar to the Hawaiian "aloha." Hence, "Shabbat shalom" is a greeting for the sabbath. Israelis colloquially use it on Thursdays and Fridays as a rough equivalent to the American "have a good weekend."

2. "Oh, that is totally Herodian!" A term that some college students came up with after visiting too many archeological sites that were attributed to Herod the Great. We would just glance at a wall and say "Yep, totally Herodian."

3. "Time for a Magnum." No, not the gun. But every afternoon our bus load of people would want to know when and where we could get an ice cream. Magnum was the best brand, best price was 9 shekels.

4. "I am sorry but the pool is closed." Our tour guide would usually end our day by saying, "This hotel has a pool for you to enjoy." But but by the time we were dropped off at the hotel, checked-in, suited up and walking to the pool, a worker would say "I am sorry but the pool is closed." For some reason the pools in Israel closed at 5 p.m.

Four Best Swimming Spots


After touring each day we checked into our hotel at about 5 p.m. and would hear "I'm sorry the pool just closed." Fortunately we were close enough to take a dip into the sea. Our four favorite swimming sites:

1. Mediterranean Sea at Ashkelon

2. Red Sea at Eilat

3. Dead Sea (we floated) at En Gedi

4. Sea of Galilee

Sunset over the Sea of Galilee. Mt Arbel in the middle.

Four Favorite Foods in Israel

1. Pita bread and hummus. It was available everywhere and we never got tired of it.
2. Stuffed yellow and red bell peppers. Cooked in olive oil, they were full of flavor.
3. Falafel sandwich.
4. Fresh ice cream. If we couldn't get hand scooped then a Magnum bar would still satisfy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Almost 1,000 Miles in Israel

This man on one of the streets in Jerusalem thought he was King David. I caught a photo of him playing his lyre, but when I came back a few minutes later he was smoking a cigarette.
Marie trying to decide which necklace to buy. She had saved for this special purchase and finding the exact item the Arab salesman started at a price of 50 shekels. But by the time Marie was done negotiating with him, she got it for 25.

Our family at Caesarea, a city founded by Herod the Great in 22 BC and the seat of Roman government for over 500 years. Pontius Pilate made his home here. The apostle Paul spent two years in prison at Caesarea and made his defense before Felix, Festus, and King Agrippa II (Acts 23-27).

Well, I am at the airport waiting to board our flight back home. It is a non-stop 15 hour flight - sleep, read, movie, .... stretch, sleep, read, movie, stretch....

We covered almost a 1,000 miles in Israel - most of those miles were riding in a bus, but we did our share of walking!

We did not go to Bethlehem and Jericho as they are mostly Arab and not very welcoming to non-Arabs. Last time our guide went into Bethlehem the bus was bombarded with rocks.

Our guide was helpful and we felt completely safe the entire time over here. We made some good friends and many memories. The best part was to share this experience with Paula and the children.

Several singles, young couples, and older people commented on how our family ministered to them. Praise the Lord.

The trip was full of ancient and modern history and we can now match names and places in the Bible. We have a lot to review when we get home and hundreds of photos to look at.

Thank you for your prayers. God did above and beyond what we could expect or imagine!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gergesa, Korazin, Capernaum, and Tiberias

We stopped by the road in Gergesa. This uninhabited location on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee is the site where Jesus healed the demoniac man by casting out the demons into a heard of pigs. The swine ran down the hill into the water (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26).

Of course there were no mines back then or this could have been called pork chop hill.

The mines have remained in place since Syria retreated from this area in the Six Day War.




An arch in the city of Korazin.


The Hebrew word for "cornerstone" is rosh pina and means capstone in an arch. We tend to think of the cornerstone in the foundation of a building, but the rosh pina is the stone in the center top of the arch that is the most critical to the support the weight of the arch and all the building above it. Jesus is the Cornerstone of our faith. He holds all things together and is essential for us to enter into a relationship with God.

In the synagogue of Capernaum. Rejected at Nazareth, Jesus moved to Capernaum and made it the center of His ministry for 18 to 20 months. Many sick people were brought to Jesus and healed in Capernaum. In fact, more of Christ's recorded miracles were performed in Capernaum than in any other city. It was also here that Jesus restored Peter to ministry (John 21).

Crossing the Sea of Galilee, from Ein Gev to Tiberias, in a fishermen's boat.

A market in the city of Acco, on the Mediterranean Sea.
This may be my last post from Israel as our travels are coming to an end. We have enjoyed every minute of touring this wonderful land of Bible history. What a blessing!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dead Sea to Northern Israel

Reading the newspaper while floating in the Dead Sea.

Our family at Masada (President Bush had just visited this site a few hours before us). The name Masada means "fortress" and is about 2 1/2 miles from the western shore of the Dead Sea and 15 miles north of Sodom in the wilderness of Judah. The mountain is 1,432 feet above the shore of the Dead Sea. It could possibly be identified with "the stronghold" of David (1 Samuel 22-24). Herod the Great used it as one of his favorite fortifications. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, 960 people took their own lives at Masada, choosing death over slavery to Rome.


En Gedi where David hid in a cave from Saul (1 Samuel 23-24). David may have composed Psalms 57 and 142 here.



The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in Qumran in 1947. Fragments of every Old Testament book, except the book of Esther, were found. In this cave the entire book of Isaiah was found. The manuscripts date back to 125 BC and some fragments even earlier.


The Spring of Harod where God gave Gideon the criteria to choose 300 men for battle (not sure we qualified!). The spring flows from the base of Mount Gilboa into the Jezreel Valley.
The Valley of Jezreel, as viewed from Megiddo, where the battle of Armageddon will take place (Revelation 16).
Marie with a village girl and her baby goat in Nazareth.

Jennifer looking out on the Sea of Galilee at sunset.

JP and Austin enjoying some humor at Tel Dan. We have traveled from the southern most tip of Israel to the northern most point. Today at the Golan Heights we could see Lebanon and Syria.
Tomorrow we travel to the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Tiberias, and take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Beersheba

The well at Beersheba. The meaning of Beersheba is "well of oath" (Genesis 21:31). It marked the southern border of Judah, and therefore, of Israel ("from Dan to Beersheba" - Judges 20; 1 Sam. 3:20; 2 Sam 3:10; etc.). Today it is the capital of the Negev.
Inside the city gates of Beersheba. Here the elders would sit and give counsel.

Paula hard at work exploring the basement of Beersheba.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Western Wall and Temple Mount

The Western Wall. Women had to stay to on this side of the fence. Many stood on chairs to watch their husbands and sons pray or celebrate their son's BarMitzvah.

At the Israel Museum we saw this model of the Temple Mount and the City of Jerusalem as it appeared in 67 AD.


One of the many BarMitzvahs we saw taking place at the wall.

Me praying at the Western Wall. Notice all the prayers written on paper stuck into the wall.

In the courtyard where Jesus drove out the money changers and animals.

On the temple mount tracing where the second temple would have been and where the third temple will be in the future!

Shephelah Foothills

Standing at Beit Shemesh where the story of Samson largely takes place in this vicinity (Judges 13-16). That is a real donkey jaw bone in Randy's hand, similar to one Samson used against the Philistines.
Inside an amphitheater where the Roman gladiators would compete. The lions would be released from the underground cages (metal grates) on the left of the photo.
At the Valley of Elah we read and acted out the David and Goliath. JP was selected to be David and here he has already smote the giant with the rock from his sling and is about to cut his head off. Finishing the job!


Inside caves of Beit Guvrin. This area fell to Sennacherib during his campaign through the Shephelah in 701 B.C. (Micah 1:15).


An underground olive press. Discovered in an archaelogical dig. Dated to about 300 BC.

The day ends with a big game of speed scrabble!
The hotels and food have been great. The weather has been warming each day. Today it was sunny and about 80 degrees. Tomorrow will be warmer as we head to the Negev Desert and the Red Sea. We will visit Beersheba, Nahal Zin, and Makhtesh Roman then spend the night in Eliat.
If I even tried to write all that I am learning each day, there is just no way I could fit it all here. I have taken hundreds of photos and have been reviewing them each night to remember all that I saw and learned. I look forward to sharing more with you when we return. Shalom.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Day 2 in Jerusalem

Thanks for posts - nice to hear that folks back home are reading our updates. Please pass the word.



Today we started our tour by wallking through the Jaffa Gate of the wall around Jerusalem. We covered a lot of history today and were privileged to see some of the recent archaelogical disoveries.



It is truly amazing that we have been walking on about 5,000 years of history.




There are churches everywhere commemorating different Bible events or people. Above is the top of Dormition Abbey where supposedly Mary's body is buried.













When you have a righteous thirst, satisfy it with Maccabee
beer!





If you look closely see just how small the mustard see really is. Jesus said, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you." Matthew 17:20


Descending Warren's Shaft toward Hezekiah's Tunnel. We waded through water for about 1750 feet in Hezekiah's Tunnel. We ended up at the pool of Siloam.



The pool is still being excavated. Tomorrow is Day 3 in Jerusalem. Shalom ...y'all!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

New Testament Jerusalem

Today we started our tour of Israel at the Mount of Olives. That is where the family photo was taken, with Jerusalem in the background. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record that the ascenscion of Christ took place on the Mount of Olives. And we are looking forward to His return here!





The second photo is at the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed the night before His crucifixion.



We walked the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Suffering) and the estimated places of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.
Randy Cook, our guide, is an excellent source of both biblical history and history of the modern state of Israel. Too much information to share here. Our group is about to meet to debrief all that we saw and discussed today, so I better finish this.


Tomorrow we are going to visit Old Testament sites of Jerusalem. Begining in the Kidron Valley and ending with a walk through Hezekiah's tunnel. The last photo is a special plaque I had made for John Foldberg. Those at Cornerstone will appreciate the wording!



Friday, May 9, 2008

Our First Meal in Israel



The hotel has a buffet dinner and breakfast. For dinner we had hummus, flat bread, stuffed peppers, salad, fish, cucumber salad, and cooked vegetables. All the hot entres were cooked with plenty of olive oil. Delicious!

Our First Day In Israel


We arrived safely in Israel after a 14 hour non-stop flight from Los Angeles. The service on the plane was excellent and the people at Tel Aviv airport equally as nice.


Randy, our guide from IBEX, warmly welcomed us and on the bus ride to Jerusalem he explained the biblical history of the different valleys that we traveled through.


The first photo was taken from just outside our hotel at Ramat Rachel. Yesterday Israel celebrated its 60th anniversary and there are flags flying everywhere - even up on top of this monument!


We have a great view of Bethlehem from the balcony of our room! Today we will spending the day in Jerusalem.


Please pray that we adjust to the time zone difference ( we are 10 hours ahead of CA time). We are excited and grateful to be here!