The Rolling Stone

If you have ever wondered how the stone sealing the entrance of Jesus’ tomb could be rolled away, watch this.  It will probably make more sense afterwards.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross Visual Journey

Four videos, four Scripture readings and three sermons intended to lead you to the cross of Jesus.  You are welcome to use these as you prepare for Holy Week, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

Stop ONE:  The GARDEN of GETHSEMANE

Message:  A Cursed Curse from Galatians 3:10-14. Sermon audio here.

Stop TWO:  The MOUNT of OLIVES

Message:  A Sanctified Sacrifice from Hebrews 4:14-5:10. Sermon audio here.

Stop THREE:  CAIAPHAS’ HEADQUARTERS

Message:  A Criminal’s Charge from Matthew 26:57-68. Sermon audio here.

Stop FOUR:  GOLGOTHA, the PLACE of the SKULL

A Scripture reading from Mark 15:33-39.

Bethany Beyond the Jordan


I bet you never envisioned the Jordan River to look like a KY backwoods creek.  Well here it is in living color.  Plus a reading from John 1 about a voice crying out in the wilderness.  This is wilderness my friends.

What I’ve Learned About KidMin While On the Road with LifeWay

vbs preview 3

VBS Preview Event in Ridgecrest, NC

For the last several weeks, I have been on the road with LifeWay Kids training VBS leaders from around the country and North America.  We have traveled to North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and will be in Florida this weekend.

There have been VBS leaders from every state in the union including Alaska and Hawaii and from our neighbors in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Canada.

Once everything is finished, we will have trained nearly 6000 VBS leaders who will in turn train another 70,000+ leaders who will host and lead 3 million boys, girls, teens and adults in VBS this year.  I am overwhelmed by the power of multiplication and the enormous influence VBS has on Kids Ministry around the world.

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VBS Preview Event in Nashville, TN

Over the last few weeks of ministry, I have learned several important truths about those who lead and serve in Kids Ministry around the nation.

I have learned that…

1.  THEY ARE PASSIONATE.  These servant-leaders are absolutely passionate about their own personal faith in Christ and the work assigned to them by God in serving kids and families.  They are willing to do whatever it takes to help the next generation know Jesus and grow in Him.  Their passion and vitality is infectious.

2.  THEY ARE HARDWORKING.  These leaders go the extra mile and often do it without any appreciation or recognition.  Without exception, Kids Ministry is the largest people and volunteer network in the church.  It is usually the most demanding with all sorts of different needs among different age groups.  It is usually the most under-funded, yet all the while it is the single most effective evangelistic tool the church has at its disposal.  These leaders get it done week after week, year after year and I applaud them.

3.  Lastly, THEY ARE HUNGRY FOR HELP.  When a KidMin leader attends a training session, they sit on the edge of their seats hungry for any tip, any suggestion, any instruction we can give.  They take page after page of notes.  They listen with their eyes and ears and hearts wide open.  They are starving for anything that will help them lead better.

I have taught similar sessions for pastors, ministers and deacons and I promise you the sessions are not the same.  I am not slamming pastors (goodness, I am one), but the intensity level is not nearly the same as these KidMin leaders.  Pastors tend to generally appreciate the training but all the while are checking their phones, day-dreaming, catching up on some sleep, and running back and forth to the lobby to take a call.  Not so with the KidMin leader.  This is their chance to be equipped and they are in it full on.

My heart and soul goes out to these 6000 VBS leaders.  In the months ahead, they will labor to get volunteers, make preparations, decide about budgets, argue with the church maintenance staff, stay up late, get up early, all to share the love of Christ with kids and families.  We know their labor will not be in vain.

I am simply humbled and honored to be able to meet them, encourage them, and give them a glimmer of hope because I am a VBS salvation.  It still works and will continue to work for generations to come.

VBS Preview Ridgecrest 2014

A very special thanks to @LifeWayVBS for the invitation to come and share at the 2014 VBS Institutes & Previews.  Here are few pics from Ridgecrest, NC during the sessions I led.  (Photos courtesy of Ashley Abell.)

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The Shift from Prof to Agent – How to Get a Good Reference from Me

Show me the ministry!!!!

Show me the ministry!!!!

This is my 6th year at Campbellsville Univ.  I have taught over 80 classes in my short teaching career, which includes lots of undergraduate and plenty of graduate level courses.

Many of my students have graduated or are nearing graduation and are starting to look for ministry positions and/or make a shift to more full-time ministry roles.

This puts me in a new position as their prof.  I was just their teacher, now I am their AGENT.  I am one of their references trying to help them get placed in ministry.

On the back page of their resume, my name is listed as someone a prospective church or para-church ministry can call to talk about this student.  So how do I comment on my students.  What information do I try to share with a prospective church or ministry about my students?

In other words, how do you get a good reference from me?

1.  First, your academic performance matters to me.  Academics are not the only thing that matters, but my exposure to you has primarily been academic.  So if you do poorly in my classes, I will probably give you a poor reference.  At its core, academics are more about discipline and hard work than IQ and GPA.  If you didn’t work hard in a ministry preparation class, then you probably won’t work hard in ministry.

2.  Second, your personality type matters to me.  Are you a team player?  Are you a natural leader?  Do you have charisma?  Are you introverted and extroverted?  How do you relate to other students in the School of Theology?  All ministries, no matter if in a church, on the mission field, or in a non-profit organization, are people-focused.  How you handle yourself around others and in groups is very important.

3.  Third, your outside of class activities matter to me.  Did you work camp in the summer?  Have you been involved in mission trips?  Do you regularly attend church on Sunday?  Have you been in campus ministry leadership?  Usually, I am asked first about your academic performance, but then very shortly after I am asked about your outside of class ministry activities.  You got to have both – in proper balance.  Academics first, extra-curricular second.

4.  Fourth and finally, your spiritual maturity matters to me.  I am always asked for your spiritual strengths and weaknesses.  Prospective churches and ministries want to know how God has equipped you for kingdom service and what areas are showing up as personal struggles.  Relationships?  Worry?  Anger?  We all have them, so don’t worry too much.  But keep asking the Lord to show you areas that you can grow in Him.

Spiritual maturity is found in seeking biblical wisdom, practicing spiritual disciplines, and allowing others to continually sharpen you. 

The Changing Shape of Sunday School Literature

sunday schoolAs a former Minister of Education, I knew that every quarter I had to make a purchase from LifeWay Christian Resources for our church’s Sunday School literature.

From youngest of ones through the senior adult classes (or as I liked to called it, from womb to the tomb), I had to purchase the “quarterlies” along with the various teacher’s guides.  This was a sizable part of our annual discipleship budget.  Thousands of dollars every year was spent to buy literature.

The material would arrive in a large shipment from Lebanon, TN and then I would organize all the material in the appropriate classrooms or give the quarterlies to the teachers.  This process went on like clock work year after year.

Fast forward to 2013.  In the past couple months, I’ve had several interesting discussions with key leaders in various Christian publishing companies about the future of Sunday School literature. They are telling me that the old system is simply not the case any longer.

With free curricula and teaching materials proliferating the internet and discipleship groups happening in homes, at work, at church on all days of the week including Sunday, Christian publishers are looking at a whole new way of thinking about literature.

One prominent leader said, “What happened to the music industry 10 years ago with iTunes and downloading mp3s is now happening in Christian publishing and literature.”

As a professor of Educational Ministries training 18-22 year olds in the methods and principles of classical Christian Education for youth, children, adults, small groups and other types of teaching ministries, the new world of Christian publishing is opening all kinds of avenues of ministry for them.

Such as:

  • Writing and posting your own Bible study materials on your blog or website without being accepted or sponsored by a Christian publishing house.
  • Blessing people and churches in far-reaching locations, who have access to the internet, but not the finances to purchase material.
  • Writing Bible study material for your church and then distributing it to them so the whole body can be studying the same thing at the same time.
  • Customizing the teaching ministry of your church with your people in mind, not buying materials that are made for the masses.

Last conclusion.  Outside of leading people to Jesus, worshipping the Lord in Spirit and truth, and teaching and preaching the Word, there are no ministry strategies that will remain in place forever.  Methods constantly change.  Paradigms of doing things always change.  People, culture, churches are always changing.  Even the Christian publishing world is changing.

I believe that is a good thing.

What I Would Lose If I Went Back into FT Pastoral Ministry

Pulpit view

What would happen if I went back?

I get asked all the time if I am planning to go back into full-time pastoral ministry?  The question usually comes from a well-meaning church member at a church I am interiming at.  The question is harmless and is meant to be a genuine interest in my calling and God’s will for life, but it always causes me to think.

What if I left Christian higher education and went back into full-time pastoral ministry?  What would I lose?  What would I give up?  What would I exchange to be back in a FT pastoral staff position?

So far I have come up with 5 pretty good reasons why I believe God has put right where He wants me to be.

1.  Access to numerous unbelievers.  In my general education classes and walking all around campus are young men and women from all over the world and around our country who do not know the love of God in Christ Jesus.  They have come to our Christian college for all sorts of reasons and at some point are expecting us to tell them what makes us different than other schools they considered.  They are EXPECTING us to share the Good News of Jesus with them.  Did you read that right?  They are expecting us to share the Gospel with them.  What an opportunity?  What a mission we have before us?

2.  Opportunity to teach about Jesus in an academic classroom.  Students, some who believe and some who do not, take my class called Christ and Culture as part of their general education requirements.  Get this – they have to study the Bible in order to get an A.  They have to be able to explain the Good News of Jesus in order to pass one of the tests.  That is unheard of.  While they don’t have to become Christians to pass the course, they are exposed to the truths of the Gospel by an unashamed born-again Christian who believes the Bible is true and wants to help them with their questions about faith.  This is amazing and definitely not like pastoral ministry.

3.  Invitation to walk alongside younger believers in a critical times in their lives.  Consider the number of youth group Christians who drop out of church during the college years.  My job encourages me to come alongside these struggling believers and lift them up in their journey with Jesus.  I get to ask them “how are things going between you and God?” and actually listen to their stories.  This is such a critical moment in their lives and I believe it is so helpful to have professors and campus staff who care enough to ask.  This happens every single day.

4.  Freedom to serve alongside various churches, pastors, ministries, and even denominations for future generations.  Because of my role at CU, I have freedom to help numerous churches and pastoral leaders.  Unlike pastoral ministry, I am not confined to one single congregation as their pastor and therefore am more fluid and flexible to help whoever needs help.

For example, because of my work at CU and connections to fellow CU alums, God opened the door for me to work alongside LifeWay’s CentriKid camps and VBS for the past couple years.  These ministries alone will reach 27,000 and 4 million kids and adults each year respectively.  My part is little and somewhat insignificant.  But being a small part in these huge ministries makes an enormous kingdom impact.  Last year at CentriKid, nearly 1000 children come to faith in Christ.  VBS is estimated to have seen 80,000+ children, teens, and adults make professions of faith last year.  Again, my part is small in comparison to others, but I am humbled to even be on these teams in a small capacity.

5.  Lastly, I have a chance to give back to a place that radically shaped me.  Campbellsville Univ. is not only my employer, it is also my alma mater.  I love this place!  Words will never express what God did in my life during my 4 years here.  Now I am sure there are many fine Christian institutions and universities.  I am sure God is working mightily on all sorts of campuses – state, private, Christian and otherwise.

But I get the chance to give back to the place that shaped me personally.  Not the institution, but the people who served within the institution.  They took time to invest in my life, my ministry, my personal development as a man and my academic abilities as a student. I am indebted to this place and love getting the chance to replicate my experience in the lives of others.

For those reason and probably a hundred others, it is easy to answer those who ask if I would ever consider going back into full-time pastoral ministry, “No. I don’t think so. God has got me right where He wants me.”

Fall 2013 Ministry Preview

fall leavesThe fall school year has officially started.  My classes are packed.  I am really excited about this semester and how God is going to work in and through my students.

Along with school, the Lord has been so faithful and kind to opened several opportunities to encourage folks here in KY and around the nation.

Here is a snapshot of the fall ministry plans.

  • Through September – Preaching each Sunday morning at the Hodgenville Christian Church.  Helping out my new friend and pastor Bro. Carlton Puryear as he takes a few weeks off.
  • Sunday, Sept 15 – Leading “The Calling of Every Christian Parent” workshop at Ormsby Heights Baptist Church in Louisville.  Joining my long-time friends Pastor Steve and Michelle McKelvey, who serve on the staff there.
  • Sunday, Sept 22-25 – Preaching the fall revival for Stanford Baptist Church.  I will be joined by some great worship leader friends: Caleb Phelps, Kristina Critcher, CU Sound, and my old friend from Lancaster BC, the one and only Nehemiah Wilkinson.
  • Oct. 8-9 – Jennifer and I will be leading 3 breakout sessions for the LifeWay Christian Resources Kids Ministry Conference in Nashville, TN.  We will be teaching: 1) Teaching Children Contemplatively, 2) The Full Spectrum of Family Ministry Models, and 3) Memory Makers.  This will be our first time to lead together as a couple.
  • Oct. 13, 20 and Nov. 3, 10, 17 – Preaching Sunday mornings at Hurstbourne Baptist Church in Louisville, KY.
  • Oct. 27 – Preaching for Campbellsville University Day at Lancaster Baptist Church in Garrard Co.  I can’t wait to visit my dear friends at LBC.  I have missed them greatly over the past year.

And I am getting ready for another huge January, February and March, 2014.

In January and February, I will be joining the LifeWay VBSi Team again at Ridgecrest, Nashville, Fort Worth, and Kissimmee, FL as we train over 6000 VBS leaders from across North America.  I will be preaching during the main worship service and leading a breakout session.

And then in March, I get the great privilege of traveling back to Israel and Jordan for the second time in 5 years as part of the Campbellsville Univ. School of Theology Holy Land Tour.  This time I will be joined by my dad and brother in Christ, Danny Garrison, along with many CU faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends.  Space is available, if you are interested in joining us.

I would really covet your prayers for me, Jennifer, the boys, and these opportunities to preach and teach about our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Choosing a College Church Revamped

Several years ago I wrote a piece on finding a college church which I reposted last year around this time.  Year after year it is one of the most read posts on the blog.

DeCourseyWEB

My Druien Hall Office – 2nd & 3rd window from the right.

As a new academic year comes into focus, I am compelled to reach out again in trying to help incoming freshman, transfer and upper-class students skillfully connect with local body of believers.

It is so easy to buy into the consumer culture mentality in trying to find a church with everything you want, resulting in shopping around for months and months and usually ending in failure.  But that is what most believing students do.

So this year I want to flip the switch and instead of telling you what to do, I am going to try and advise what not to do when choosing a college church.

Four words of warning.

1.  Don’t believe everything you hear.  Churches have reputations just like people and most of it is blatant rumor, false information, and competitive gossip.  Please don’t believe everything everyone is saying about a particular church.  You must visit and find out for your self.

2.  Don’t think one church will have everything you want.  There is simply no such place.  No single church can meet all of your preferences, wants, desires, and accommodations.  Therefore you must determine what are your top tier issues.  You have to arrange what matters most to you and your growth in Christ, such as worship style, preaching content, biblical faithfulness, friendliness to guests, college ministry options, ways to serve in the community or if they are globally-minded.  Determine your top one or two issues and look for those alone.

How do you find those things out?  Read the bulletin, website, and newsletter word for word.  You can get a quick sense of the church values by what is printed.  If you get a chance to shake the pastor’s hand, ask him one question: “What does this church value the most?”  That will give you your answer.  If they can’t answer that question, move on.

3.  Don’t be persuaded to go where everyone goes.  Mob decision-making is never the best.  There might be a church off the beaten path that really needs some fresh college students to take them to the next level.  They might be so blessed with you coming that you change their future direction and ministry.

Sometimes when the crowd all goes to the same place, you get lost.  Peel off.  Take a risk.  Sacrifice a few preferences to make a bigger impact for the kingdom.  Be a blessing, not a consumer.

4.  Lastly, don’t drag this thing out.  Visit once or twice, consider your top tier issues, pray for God’s guidance, and choose.  If you move on, move on quickly.  If you stay, get plugged in quickly.  The longer you drag out the search, the less likely you are to ever land anywhere.

I hope this is a help to you this semester.  If you are a college student who has found a local body to invest in, I am very proud of you.  Why not pass this post around to some of friends still on the hunt.  It could be a real blessing to them and their search process.

Life of Christ Q and A

I am really excited about a new project I am working on called CU 100 Chapel Online.  Basically at Campbellsville Univ. we needed a method to help our fully online students with chapel.  All of our undergraduate students are required to get 48 chapel credits during their 4 years with us.  But as our fully online undergraduate programs have grow, we recognized this group was missing this very important part of their Christian college experience.

So a group of us were tasked with figuring out a possible solution for them.  We are building a website that will have multiple functions, including video of all our on-campus chapel services, plus virtual Bible studies, video curriculum, and a prayer room.

One of the parts I am most excited about is the Life of Christ Q and A section.  I will be creating and posting 20 small (3-4 minute) videos of me teaching through the person and work of Jesus.  Here is the listing of videos.

1.  The Preexisting Christ – In him and through him all things were made.
2.  God the Son – Three in one.
3.  Messiah Foretold – Over 200 Old Testament prophecies pointed to him alone.
4.  Born of a Virgin – Born of woman, but not of man.
5.  Lineage of David – A king whose kingdom shall never end.
6.  A Man from Nazareth – A carpenter living in a small, out of the way town.
7.  Introduced by John – Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
8.  Tempted in the Wilderness – Tempted by Satan himself, yet was without sin.
9.  Preacher & Teacher with Authority – He speaks as one with authority, not like the teachers and scribes of the Law.
10. Miracle Worker – Power over creation.
11. Forgiver of Sins – Power over sin and evil.
12. Disciples Maker – From now on, you will be fishers of men.
13. Cross Bearer I – Why a cross?
14. Cross Bearer II – Why in Jerusalem?
15. Cross Bearer III – Why a criminal’s death?
16. The Suffering Servant – He was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our sins; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him.
17. The Atonement for Sin – The veil is lifted; the scape goat has been killed.
18. The Resurrected One – He is not here, He is alive just as he said he would be.
19. Commissioner of Disciples – The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.
20. Promise Keeper – We shall see him face to face.

If you think there is something I should exchange or reconsider, I would love to hear from you.  Imagine the audience as a person with little or no information about Jesus, hearing for the first time who Jesus was and what he came to accomplish.  We want to be thorough, but clear and concise.

I would love any feedback if you have a suggestion.  Once the videos are completed, I will post the links for anyone to watch on this site as well as the CU 100 Chapel Online.

One Picture Tells My CentriKid ’13 Story

centrikid 2013

This one picture perfectly describes my CentriKid 2013 experience.  After working on the sermon content, training the camp pastors, and serving as camp pastor myself for 3 camp cycles, this one picture is what it is all about.  Thank you Hannah Golden for sharing it with me.

This group of kids were outstanding.  After worship one evening, they came up as every one else was leaving to ask me a few questions about God, His existence, how God relates to us here on earth, and how Jesus and God are one in the same, yet unique. It started with one question, which led to another and another.  After about 40 questions and an hour of discussion, they were still coming up with more and more questions.  You know how kids are.  Once they get started, they keeping going.

It was one of the richest theological discussions I’ve had in years.  These kids were asking deep, I mean, deep questions about how the narrative of Scripture relates to what they’ve learned about evolution and natural science.  Their questions were smart, articulate, and hard.

To be truthful, they were asking questions I don’t even get asked in my college level Intro to Christianity class.  They were curious and inquisitive and I loved every minute of it.

Teaching kids theology is a passion of mine.  If you can explain hard concepts to kids, you can explain them to anyone.  And these kids were eating it up.  Well, maybe all of them except the kid in the yellow shirt.  He was obviously checking something else out.  Fun.

Thank you LifeWay CentriKid camps and specifically CK2 for letting me serve alongside of you.

Decision Making and the SBC Related School

Denominationally affiliated colleges and universities are slightly different than secular, state-owned colleges and universities when it comes to the distribution of campus power and the process of decision making.

The following graphics are from my Ed.D. dissertation entitled Models of Academic Governance in Southern Baptist Related Colleges and Universities (2009) which shows in rank order who holds the most and least power within SBC-related versus secular, state-owned institutions.

For SBC-related schools…

power holders

For state-owned institutions…

power 2

Three key observations:

1.  SBC-related schools have denominational leaders, which are obviously not present in secular, state-owned institutions.  Denominational leaders are in the middle of the pack in institutional power and decision making.

2.  Legislators and federal/state governments are at the bottom of SBC-related schools, but are obviously much more involved in the secular, state-owned institutions.  This makes perfect since state funding and accountability are directly routed to state-owned universities.

3.  The president and trustees/governors/regents are always at the top in both categories.  The non-administrative faculty are in the middle for both categories.

Conclusions:

The conclusion of my dissertation is that with a slight exception here and there, SBC-related colleges and universities follow very similar decision making paths as secular, state-owned institutions.  There is not much deviation between the two rank orders.   I contend that this makes perfect, tangible sense because of regional accreditation issues, federal regulations for all degree conferring institutions, and the need to be competitive in the higher education market, which is full of all sorts of players – public, private, for-profit, non-profit, online, international.

However, I do believe and can confirm from personal experience, that SBC-related institutions are unique in wanting to balance the influence and partnership with denominational leaders.  The connection between churches and SBC-related schools is a needed relationship.

As there is diversity within SBC churches and their individual relationships with the state and national denomination groups with some closer, some further away, so goes the SBC-related college and university, some closer, some further away.  The reason for the variance is the same as with the churches – leadership, history, future vision, priorities, and frankly investment dollars.

May 2012 to May 2013 : A Ministry Look-Back

mayEvery May, at the beginning of my summer break, I try to stop and look back over the past year and reflect on the opportunities the Lord has opened for me to do what I love and was called to do.  This particular 12 months has been a little bit of everything.  Ministry opportunities have flowed from all sides.

From…

  • Traveling to Greece, Turkey, and Switzerland with the Apostles & Epistles Tour.  You can’t beat teaching Revelation 1 on the Island of Patmos overlooking John’s cave.  Indescribable.
  • Finishing one interim pastorate at Lancaster Bapt Church and beginning and finishing another at Living Grace Church.
  • Training young pastors for LifeWay’s CentriKid Camps and then being a camp pastor myself for a couple weeks.
  • Preaching in various pulpits around KY like Corinth BC in London, Immanuel, Pioneer, Hopewell and Bruner’s Chapel BC all in Harrodsburg, Simpsonville BC, and First Bapt Clarksville, TN.
  • Leading training workshops for Eubank BC, Beechland BC, Pioneer BC and First Bapt Clarksville.
  • Teaching breakout sessions at ministry conferences – the CU Transformational Church Summit, the KBC Seminary for a Day, and CU Louisville’s Contagious Churches & Leaders.
  • Serving alongside the tireless LifeWay VBSi & Preview Team as a speaker & breakout session leader in 4 cities: Ridgecrest, NC, Fort Worth, TX, Nashville, TN, and Kissimmee, FL.  This opportunity has been one I will never forget.
  • Great times of sharing with my students outside of class like doing the DNow Team training, teaching alongside Jennifer for BCM about relationships, pre-marriage counseling in our home with Chris Price and Anna Step, witnessing Jacob Howard, one of my guys, ordained to the Gospel ministry, and taking a group of 13 to LifeWay’s headquarters in Nashville for CU Day at LifeWay.
  • All the while completing two amazing semesters with my students in class after class.  Year 5 was my best in class teaching year so far.

It is simply amazing for me to see what God has done in my life, if I would make myself available to Him and His purposes.  As I reflect back, I am overwhelmed by God’s grace and kindness toward me and my family.  This is way more than I could have ever imagined back in 1996 when I surrendered to the call of ministry.  God has taken my 3 loaves and 2 fish and multiplied them time and time again.

Where will God lead from May 2013 to May 2014…who knows?  But wherever He leads, I will follow.

My Experience as a Campbellsvillian

Teaching in Druien Hall.

Rampant news has been swirling – some true, some false – about my alma mater and employer Campbellsville University with specific attention directed toward my area the CU School of Theology.

I have not had any desire to pour more fuel on this raging fire and have actually encouraged my students to stay out of the fray, however, I have been encouraged to speak about my experience at CU as a student back in the 90′s in the School of Theology.

I offer three truths about my alma mater and school.

1.  As a student, this place changed my life forever by exposing me to Christ, to his calling for my life, to the truthfulness of Scripture, to the ministry of serving others as unto the Lord, to the task of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth, and to the role of loving people who are from every Christian tradition.  As I had the opportunity to serve Christ in closed countries, in major urban centers, and down dirt paths, I learned that you shouldn’t get too bothered about who is a Methodist and who is a Baptist.  You are just happy to serve alongside people who, like you, love Jesus and want to tell others about Him.

2.  As a student, I was trained by great men and women of God who loved Jesus, His Word, the Gospel and the mission of the church.  Faithful men like Dr. Ted Taylor who has served 40+ years in local church ministry and Dr. John Hurtgen whose passion for the New Testament and Christian fellowship are as evident today as they were back then.  Also outstanding Christian women and scholars like Dr. Paula Qualls who loved the Old Testament more than anyone I’ve ever met and showed me how to love it as well.

3.  As a student, I formed lifelong friendships with many brothers and sisters in Christ who are now serving around the world as missionaries and in our nation as pastors and ministers.  These friendships continue to model one of the School of Theology core values: partners in enduring fellowship.

Lastly, I want all to know that I came to faith in Jesus through the ministry of a KBC church in Lewisport, KY.  I was baptized, discipled and called to ministry in a KBC church.  I have served on two KBC church staffs.  I have been an interim pastor for three KBC churches.  I have four CP-supported theological degrees – one from CU, two from SWBTS and one from SBTS.  I am a Southern Baptist and KY Baptist through and through.

I believe the Bible is true.  I believe the Gospel is the only means of salvation.  I believe that my role as a man, husband, father, pastor, and professor is to offer and explain this glorious Gospel to every person I meet.   These biblical convictions have never been questioned or prevented while attending, or now while teaching, at CU.  They have only been encouraged and enhanced.  I have a platform that most pastors never have.  I get to teach unbelieving young men and women the Gospel in class every day and they have to come and listen.  This is a wonderful mission.

I am proud to be a small part of the CU story.  I love my alma mater and employer.

Jesus and the Cross Verse 3

Part 3 of 6 Jesus and the Cross Holy Week Reflections

John 1:14  And the Word [God the Son] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

God had dealt with the sin of humankind time and time again throughout the Old Testament.  Making animal coverings for Adam and Eve in the garden.  Cleansing and remaking the world with Noah’s flood.  God gave the 10 commandments and the 613 laws to Moses to govern the people and when the people broke the laws (as God knew they would), He provided an annual Day of Atonement, or day of forgiveness, to cleanse their hearts.

But these dealings with sin were all shadows, or mere pictures, of the ultimate means by which sin would have to be dealt with.

God the Father choose to deal with sin personally.  He did so by sending God the Son to dwell among men in human form.  In sending His only Son Jesus, we not only witness God in the flesh, but we also see in him in his fullest glory.  Jesus said, “If you have known me, you have known my Father also.” (John 14:7)

Jesus was sent to deal with sin. The price to be paid for sin, however, would be costly.  But that is for verse 4.

Jesus and the Cross Verse 2

Part 2 of 6 Jesus and the Cross Holy Week Reflections

Romans 3:10-12 As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

In a world where we constantly prop each other up with our words and admiration, making mini-celebrities out of everyone. In a day and age when we constantly quote mantas from self-esteem gurus and self-help books relying on our own self-sufficiency and pride to make us feel better about our choices. It is quite counter-cultural to think that each and every human being on the face of the earth is a desperate, wicked, corrupt sinner.

I don’t have to call you a sinner for it to be true. But you can call me one any time you like, because I know it is true. It is what the Bible says I am; it is what I know I am. There is none righteous, no, not one.

We often say, “nobody’s perfect” to dismiss our sinful nature and feel better about our shortcomings. But perfection is the standard of Heaven. Remember God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. There can’t be any darkness in His Heaven.

In order for heaven to be reached, sin must be dealt with by a righteous, holy, just God. And sin will be dealt with, just not by you or me.

Jesus and the Cross Verse 1

Part 1 of 6 Jesus and the Cross Holy Week Reflections

1 John 1:5  This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

God is not like us. We are nothing like Him. He is altogether, entirely different from anything we see, know or experience. While we are made in His image, we only vaguely reflect the attributes of God such as love and forgiveness.

God is holy. God is completely just and fair. God is righteous being completely without sin or fault. God is infinite having no beginning or ending. God is creator and sustainer of all things. God is all glorious, all good, all perfect, there is no darkness in Him at all.

The complete story of the Cross and Resurrection begins with God creating the world, including us, for perfect fellowship with him, but that changed because of sin.

What Will You Be Wearing This Easter? 2.0

Back in 2011 I wrote this post about fashion on Easter Sunday.  This year I will be wearing my SHOW HOPE t-shirt on Resurrection Sunday in support of orphan around the world as part of the “Forget the Frock” movement.  Not that I would be wearing a frock, but supporting orphans by wearing a t-shirt sounds likes a good thing to me.

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Lilac Easter Dress

The clothing people wear to church, especially on Resurrection Sunday, says something about what they believe about church and the worship of the Risen Lord. Dressing up for church (or wearing your Sunday Best) is done to show respect, honor and reverence to God. Most folks who wear a creme-colored suit or a lilac dress and sweater set believe their clothing helps them focus on God who is holy, almighty, divine, and awesome. They want their exterior appearance to match their interior gratitude.

Jesus Sandals

There are others who differ in their views on clothing at church. People in the more casual church community ask the question, “What did Jesus wear to church?” Their answer: “He wore the clothes he had been wearing all week. Jesus didn’t have church clothes because there was no church.” Therefore sandals, shorts, street clothes and shoes are reasonable and appropriate. They hold firmly to the “come-just-as-you-are” mentality. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in. If you want to dress up, okay. If you want to dress down, that is okay as well. They believe their exterior appearance has no relevance on their interior affection for Christ.

But even for the casual-lovin’ church member put away the Jesus sandals and Hawaiian shirts on Resurrection Sunday. They are exchanged for something more fitting for the solemn occasion of the Holy Week and the joyful celebration on Resurrection Sunday.

So here’s my question: What will you be wearing Resurrection Sunday? Jesus Sandals or Sunday Best?

Spring Tour of KBC Churches

rural-church-on-cape-breton-islandFor the past few weeks (and the next few months ahead), I’ve been on a little tour of KY Baptist churches teaching and preaching on youth and children’s ministries and VBS.

A couple Sunday’s ago I had the great honor of being at Hopewell Baptist Church in Harrodsburg with pastor Doug Wesley, a CU alum and now a CU dad, talking about raising up the next generation for Christ.  They had kids running everywhere.  God is working to help them reach children and families in their rural community.

Then onto Eubank Baptist Church in Pulaski Co this past Saturday to spend the morning with pastor Shelby Reynolds, youth pastor James Griffith (CU alum), family pastor Jeremy Johnson and a great group of parents discussing how to disciple our children in Christ.  We had parents from EBC, Beacon Hill BC and Polly Ann BC join us.  Great time together.

Looking ahead a few weeks to April, I get the privilege to spend an evening with the fine people of Hillcrest Baptist Church in downtown Lexington with pastor Tony Hancock and his sweet wife Mrs. Rhonda, the children’s director, sharing about VBS and helping them train their leaders for the upcoming summer.

Then back to Mercer Co. and to Bruner’s Chapel Baptist Church for their spring revival April 21-24.  I will be joined by my dear brothers and fellow CU alums Brandon Carrier, Jason Dunbar, Tim Hervey and Zach Rice of Sola Grace leading the revival.

Finally at the end of April, my wife Jennifer and I doing a family conference for Beechland Baptist Church in Louisville for youth pastor Corey Young, one of my former CU students.  Corey and his wife Jessica are approaching their first year at Beechland and are doing a tremendous job with the students and families.

With all this, I have to mention Seminary for a Day April 13 at Greenwood Baptist Church hosted by the KY Baptist Convention and Campbellsville Univ.  I will be leading a morning session on preaching, which I am really excited about.  It is always a pleasure to be with bi-vocational and part-time pastors encouraging them in their service to the body of Christ.

Ministry opportunity abounds.  God is gracious and kind.

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