Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Celebrating 10 years of a Wonderful Marriage to Becki Tyler

"A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD." -Proverbs 18:22

It has been 10 years since we were married under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. I truly believe that I have found favor with the Lord! In the 10 years we have been married we have lived in three states, served four local churches, and had three children. There has been a lot of smiles and a lot of miles! I must say that I love my wife and being married more than I ever dreamed. To celebrate ten wonderful years of being married to Becki Tyler. I would like to give a list of 10 things I absolutely love about my wife. This list goes back all the way to the beginning and spans the past decade. So here goes:

1. I love the way my wife loves the Lord!

Many women are beautiful and have caught my attention in the past, but none have captured my heart like you Becki. Your love for the Lord shines on your face daily.

2. I love the way my wife is called to the ministry!

We both made our commitment to the Lord and left our homes to pursue our call to ministry at Southern Seminary where we met at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville.

3. I love the way my wife loves and care for our children, my wife is a great mother!

I know that my wife works very hard for our family from the time the first little feet hit the floor in the morning until you are exhausted at night. You keep our home going in a 1,000s of ways I will never even know! Thank you!

4. I love that my wife stand beside me in the happiest of days!

I think back over days like when you said “yes, I’ll be your wife,” the birth of our children, the call to four different churches, the fun vacations we had to California and Biltmore, etc….

5. I love that my wife always stand beside me in the darkest of days!

I think of the unexpected phone calls we have received of loved ones and friends who have gone on to be with the Lord. I think of the difficult ministry experiences we have faced together as we watched those we poured our lives into turn their backs on us.

6. I love that we still laugh together!

We can still laugh at ourselves, I pray we never lose this. May we never become bitter and anger as we walk through his life together, but may our home continue to be filled with joy.

7. I love that we cry together!

The ministry has brought us may of our greatest and darkest days at the same time. Thank God you were there for me.

8. I love that my wife works so hard to support our family every day at home!

Your job comes without pay, vacation, and/or personal without days off it seems, but you do it with grace and style.

9. I love the way that my wife is content even though I can't give you the many things I wish I could!

I wish I could give you a palace in the mountains with all the luxuries this life can afford. But you don’t complain and you don’t gripe. Even when we have very little your heart is always joyful!

10. I love that I can trust you always!

What else can be said, you make me feel secure and loved!

A prayer for Becki, my precious wife:

Dear Heavenly Father,

An excellent wife who can find?  O, but I have found one- or more truly, You have given one to me.  She is far more precious than jewels.  My heart trusts her, and I will have no lack of gain.  She does me good, and not harm.  Thank You that she works with willing hands.  Thank You that she rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household.  Only by Your grace does she dress herself with strength and make her arms strong.  I praise You that she opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teachings of kindness is on her tongue; for this gratitude is due Your name.   Thank You that she looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  May my children rise up and call her blessed.

O Beloved, many women have done excellently, but by grace you surpass them all!  You fear the LORD, therefore I will praise Him for you!  Praise the LORD all the earth!   Sing the glory of His Name; give to Him glorious praise!  Let everything that has breath praise the LORD, for He commanded, and my wife- my greatest and most beautiful earthly good- was created!


Happy 10 Year Anniversary; May the Lord Grant Us Many More Becki Tyler!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Do I Preach The Gospel to Myself?

Jesus calls us to believe the gospel. One way we do this is to preach the gospel continually, not only to others, but especially to ourselves. The result will be that you will see yourself as a much worse sinner than you thought, but you will also then see Jesus as a much greater Savior than you ever imagined.

How do I preach the gospel to myself?

  • See and own your sin.
Examine yourself in the mirror of God’s Word. Pray that God would bring to light your negative emotions and attitudes as well as blatant rebellion against God’s holiness. As you do this, guard yourself against sin’s deceitfulness. You will likely feel the tendency to water down God’s standard, compare yourself to others, shift blame, or commit to trying harder. The list just named are reflections of man-centered moralism.
  • See the sin beneath the sin.
Push the “Why?” question until you find what ever you are looking to, other than Jesus, for meaning and value in life- your “functional messiah.”  Ask yourself this question to see your sin clearly, "I will sin if I get                 , and if I don't get                 I will sin?"  Once you answer this question, you will have a clear view of your idol.
  • Expose the idols of your heart.
Idols always disappoint. They are weak. They can’t deliver when you fall short; they can only raise the bar. They can’t forgive you when you fail; they can only lower the boom. They are harmful. They hurt you spiritually, emotionally, and physically. When we worship idols, we are saying to God, "Jesus is not enough. I also need … in order to be happy."  As you expose the idols, confess, “I am a much bigger sinner then I thought. I am a worthy recipient of God’s judgment. Trying harder won’t cut it. I am helpless and hopeless in myself. But there is One who can deliver and rescue, so I flee to Him and Him alone!”
  • View repentance as a gift. 
 Pray for the gift of repentance. Do not try to stop sinning: ask God to change your heart. You may change for a season by your own willpower, but eventually you will become resentful or fall back into worshipping your idols, false saviors that distract you from the true Messiah.
  • See Jesus as the only true Savior. 
Jesus lived for you; think about and give thanks for specific ways He has lived obediently where you have failed. Jesus also died for you; think about Jesus’ death on the cross for your specific sins and idolatry. Thank God that your sin has been punished once and for all. God sees you in Jesus; think about how God sees you clothed with Jesus’ perfect righteousness. Thank Him specifically for how He provides for you in Christ in ways your idols promised but could never deliver. Jesus lives in you; thank God that He does not leave you to live the Christian life on your own, since the Spirit of Christ now dwells in you. Ask Him to live His righteous life though you, specifically in the areas where you have repented and confessed sin.

Embrace the gospel as your motivation for living. Embrace it and know that the gospel changes you, the gospel empowers you to serve, and through the gospel you meet God!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Four Lies I Believed About Ministry Exposed!

The Word of God declares Satan is the Father of lies (John 8:44), but as Christians, pastors, and leaders in a local church do we ever spend enough time thinking about the lies that Satan whispers in our ears? Satan doesn’t come to us and say, “OK I’m going to deceive you now, here is the lie!” I think some lies we cling to and desperately hope that they are not true. The Word of God says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

1. Any Church has the potential to have explosive growth.

As a pastor I hate to admit it, but most small churches do not have the same potential to be a mega church or even a medium size church. Churches have a growth ceiling that is based on several factors including but not limited to surrounding demographics, the congregations willingness to following leadership, confusion on what healthy church growth, and good solid biblical leadership.

2. God is not in the business of closing churches down.

A bit of clarification is needed here, not all “churches” who claim to be churches are alive and belong to Jesus. Revelation 2:5 speaks of the “removal of the lampstand.” Also in Revelation 3:1, reference is made to the church at Sardis the Lord says, “you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead.” Just because a group of people waves a banner in front of their building that says “church” doesn’t make them a church or God’s people. They must be a gospel-centered, kingdom-driven people of the Word of God.

3. I must be sweeter than Jesus to be a good Christian, especially a good pastor.

I give credit to my friend Dr. Nunes for helping me see this one. It is a worldly concept that Christians and especially pastors must be nicer than anyone including Jesus. The Bible reminds us that passion and even anger is not inappropriate for Christians (Ephesians 4:6). While it is inappropriate for us to get angry in the flesh, the things that anger God should anger His people. What if I told you I knew of a faithful pastor who in the middle of a church gathering flipped over the Lord’s table out of anger and began whipping those in the crowd, many “long standing” members of the church! (Mark 11:15–19, 11:27–33, Matthew 21:12–17, 21:23–27 and Luke 19:45–48, 20:1–8) Would we say that he had lost his mind or was disqualified from ministry? Is this not the reaction Jesus has to people who treat the church as any other social gathering, institution, or club? Jesus said hard things and did hard things; we must be like Him in His ways.

4. All fights will be fair in the church.

I once heard someone say that Baptists were just like cats, we just fight and multiply. While we are not as good at multiplication as we use to be, we still like a fight. Just stop and think about this for a second the Bible warns us about the following people being in the church double-minded men (James 1:8), warped men (Titus 3:1), false prophets (Matthew 24:23-27), false brothers (Galatians 2:4), and wolves (Ephesians 4:14). Do you think any of these groups fight fair? No they will seek defection and division through gossip, slander, and creating fear. All of these tactics are warned against in the Word. Keep praying for the Lord’s protection, the enemy has many tactics, but the Lord is greater!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Why Was Jesus Baptized?

10 As soon as He came up out of the water, He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending to Him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven:

You are My beloved Son;

I take delight in You!

-Mark 1:9-11

As a young believer, I was always confused about why Jesus was baptized. He never sinned and this was a sinner’s baptism. So why? The answer is not simply one thing. Like so many events and teaching in Jesus’ ministry it is “multi-faceted” (Ephesians 3:10-12) meaning many reasons are be accomplished in one event. Here are some of those reasons:

1. Jesus’ baptism inaugurated His Public Ministry.

He came for a small town in the middle of nowhere. Jesus was a nobody from a nowhere town. This event is for the Servant King to ascent to the public stage!

2. Jesus’ baptism identified Him with sinful humanity.

Jesus neither repents of sin nor confesses His sin because he has no sin (see 2 Cor. 5:21; Hebrews 4:15). Jesus aligns Himself with those HE came to save!

3. Jesus’ baptism associated Him with John’s Ministry.

There is no hesitation for Jesus to show affirmation and alignment to John the Baptist in regard to the fulfillment of prophecy and his message of repentance. No one had higher praise for John than Jesus.

4. Jesus’ baptism demonstrated His approval by His Father.

Immediate and important work in Mark’s gospel is often times translated “as soon as”. The Holy Spirit descends on Jesus though an opening in the sky. Jesus sees the heaven being “Torn open.” This is the same word that is used to describe the temple curtain being torn from curtain in two from top to bottom! Isaiah 64:1 predicted this event.

5. Jesus’ baptism revealed the triune God.

We see all three persons of the Godhead at Jesus’ baptism. The Son is baptized, the Father speaks, and the Spirit descends into Jesus “like a dove.”

6. Jesus’ baptism showed His total dependence on the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah 42:1 and Isaiah 11:2. Like a dove (it was not literally a dove), in gentleness and purity, the Spirit came into Jesus, and He was equipped for His ministry. Even though the Spirit came into Jesus, this is not “adoptionistic” Christology. He did not become the Son of God at the moment of His baptism. NO, He was declared to be empowered as the Son of God for the Suffering Servant ministry.

7. Jesus baptism declared the type of Messiah he would be.

Mark 1:11 is surely one of the most important verses in the Bible! It is echoed again at the transfiguration in Mark 9:7, along with the admonition for the disciples to “listen to Him.” It is a combination of three massively significant Old Testament texts. The phrase, “You are My Son” comes from Psalm 2:7, and in quoting this Davidic psalm, the Father announces, “Your are the Messiah King, the grater Son of David who will rule the nations.” In calling Christ “beloved,” we are reminded of the way Abraham saw Isaac, the son who was called to sacrifice in Genesis 22:2. IT BEARS THE WEIGHT OF CHRIST BEING THE “ONE And ONLY” Son of God. The third phrase, “I take delight in You,’ comes from Isaiah 42:1 , which is the first of Isaiah’s Sufferings Servant songs. These passages climax in the great Isaiah 53 text where God crushes the Servant as He bears the sins of the world!