Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Last Sermon Before Sabbatical

This Sunday I will be preaching my last sermon before a three month sabbatical. I actually will be out of the pulpit for 14 weeks, since my first Sunday "back" will be in Mexico on a missions trip. I assure you that the pulpit will be in good hands.

I am thankful that many of you have said that there is spiritual profit for your soul in my preaching of God’s Word. I really marvel at that grace.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:12, "each one of you is saying, 'I am of Paul,' and 'I of Apollos' and 'I of Cephas,' and 'I of Christ.' Has Christ been divided?"

For those of you who worship at Cornerstone, please reaffirm from this text what you already know, namely, that gratitude for spiritual profit from a preacher should not produce a kind of partiality that will only listen to that preacher.

My prayer and hope is that you will show in these next three months that your allegiance is not primarily to me, but to Jesus Christ.

Paul reminds us who our leader is in Colossians 1:18: "He [Jesus] is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

To Love Like Jesus

According to current statistics, one out of every four Americans will be involved in a lawsuit of some sort during their lifetime.

For example, a Princeton University student climbed to the roof of one of the campus buildings and was electrically shocked by a piece of equipment. He sued Princeton for damages, saying that it was their fault that the equipment was not properly marked for nighttime prowlers! His rights were violated and the court sided with him.

When I go to the gym it is not uncommon for one of the TV channels to be tuned into a show built around the courtroom. People are shallow and selfish; immersed in their own gratification and infuriated if anyone or anything should get in their way.

The new golden rule is, “Look out for number one.”

What does this mean for the Christian? What does this mean for the church?

It means unbelievable opportunity. The primary distinctive of being a disciple of Jesus Christ can be revealed with unmistakable, undeniable clarity... love one another the way Jesus loved.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

A friend quoted that verse to me as he shared his gratitude for the way some of the Cornerstone women ministered to his ill wife. May we continue to increase in loving like Christ for His glory.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Having a Wartime Mentality

In the summer of 1990 I went on a routine deployment with my Navy squadron to Spain. I was 25 years old and given responsibility to lead a crew of 12 men as the Tactical Coordinator ( I am third from the right in the photo above). Our mission was to track submarines that entered and exited the Mediterranean Sea.

As a Christian, I wanted more than anything to be a witness to my fellow officers and sailors. On each flight I would brief the crew on our mission and then invite them to pray with me. I had a captive audience on the plane, but normally only one or two men would stay in the briefing area for the time of prayer. The others would go to their seats and start preparing for take-off.

Several months later Iraq invaded Kuwait and we were repositioned to participate in Desert Shield (the build-up to Desert Storm). Our crew was trained in combat maneuvers and issued gas masks. Our mission changed to reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. On our first flight I thoroughly briefed the men on the risks associated with our mission and then ... I purposely skipped the prayer and walked to my seat to strap in. At that point, one of the crewman yelled out, "Lieutenant, you forgot to pray!" I'll never forget all the men standing there waiting for me to pray.

God provided new openings to share Christ with these men. I still remember their names and wonder if they are walking with the Lord today.

But over time I have found that is easy for me to grow spiritually lazy, careless, and negligent in evangelism. Tony Varela's message on Sunday was a call to arms . After his convicting sermon, I prayed that God would renew a spiritual wartime mentality within me. I am calling God daily on my wartime walkie-talkie (prayer) and asking Him to show me who I can share the gospel with.

Last week God provided an opportunity to share the gospel with a young man and I was grateful to have with me a copy of John Piper's "For Your Joy" booklet to give him. Today we ordered a case of 300 of the "For Your Joy" booklets from Desring God and will have them available in the church foyer to anyone who would like to use them when sharing Christ with others. They should arrive sometime next week.

We are in a war time. We are in enemy territory. Let's exhort each other to be good soldiers of the cross and bring the life changing message of our victorious Savior to those who need to know Him.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Severe Mercies in Uganda

"What is the essence of the unwasted life? A life that puts the infinite value of Christ on display for the world to see. The passion of the unwasted life is to joyfully display the supreme excellence of Christ by the way we live. Life is given to us so that we can use it to make much of Christ."

Master's Seminary grad Shannon Hurley, along with his wife and children have been missionaries in Uganda since 2002. I received this update of an unwasted opportunity to live and love like Jesus:

While driving in his 4-wheel drive vehicle about an hour from home, Shannon and his fellow Ugandan passengers noticed a crowd growing on the side of the road. He quickly pulled to the side only to notice a man sitting, bleeding into the gutter.

Shannon came closer and noticed that the man’s leg was literally severed from his body with the exception of a thin piece of muscle, the rest of his leg dangling behind him. Shannon asked the police officer standing nearby what was being done for the man. The police officer had been trying to reach an ambulance for over thirty minutes, but without success. The police officer agreed to provide an escort to the hospital if Shannon would provide transportation for the patient.

Shannon and his friends picked up the weak man, while another actually carried his severed leg behind them. They loaded him into the back of their vehicle, and headed to the International Hospital while one of the Ugandans witnessed to the dying man during the commute. Shortly after arrival, the patient was given a blood transfusion and underwent surgery to complete the amputation of his thigh. Within one week, amazingly, he was strong enough to go home, but where would he go?

The patient was a “boda” driver by profession. A “boda” is the local term for a motor-bike taxi. The day that Shannon and his friends helped the man, he had been hit by a truck and drug under its wheel for several meters, severing his leg. He was left to either bleed to death in the gutter or to probably die at the overcrowded government hospital.

Without his leg, the 27-year old would be left to spend the rest of his life as a neglected invalid in his home village. So, one week after the accident, the patient (now affectionately known by our family as Charles ~ see picture below) became an extended member of the Hurley household. He began the preparation for a prosthetic leg.

Traditionally Catholic, Charles agreed to the requirement of weekly discipleship and Bible Study as a member of our home. Soon Charles was found hungrily pouring over his Luganda Bible for several hours each day. His prayer requests frequently pleaded for more understanding of the Scriptures and of salvation.

To our delight, the third evening of the January "Highly Exalted God" conference, Charles boldly stood and eloquently shared his testimony. He passionately proclaimed God’s grace in His life, how God had not only spared His life, but had saved His soul.

As a result, he desired to serve God for the remainder of his days on earth.

Please pray for Charles and for Shannon and his family as they continue their ministries of mercy in Uganda. You can visit their website at

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

John Piper

What a blessing to have John Piper come to the Central Coast. I have been blessed for years by his books and audio sermons, but there was something special and powerful about hearing him live with hundreds of other people. I was especially thankful to have my three older children listen with me on Sunday night. We are still talking about the message. I know many were impacted by Piper's passionate, articulate, and clear teaching.

If you missed the events, you can listen to the audio right here:

The Essence of the Unwasted Life

The Origin of the Unwasted Life

The Appearance of the Unwasted Life, Part 1

The Appearance of the Unwasted Life, Part 2

Other Sheep That Are Not of This Fold (Sunday Night)

How have these messages ministered to you?

We have the Don't Waste Your Life study materials. Are you interested in joining a study?

My First Blog!

Yesterday I read an article at by Abraham Piper entitled "6 Reasons Why Pastors Should Blog"

After reading it and praying, I have decided to become a "blogger." I have read blogs and comments and have benefited from both. I hope that this blog will help as we seek to live and love like Jesus, the Cornerstone of our faith.