But God – Ephesians 2:1-10

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Discipleship begins at home

(This is a pic of me holding my daughter in the hospital)

My world was rocked in the summer of 2001.  I was headed into my senior year of high school and a lot of youth ministries from various local churches partnered together and put on a conference down at Panama City Beach, FL.  They were bringing in some killer speakers.  Hundreds of youth from our city.  Beautiful beaches.  It was just a recipe for a great experience.  Then things took a unexpected turn.  One of the speakers that was brought in was Voddie Baucham.  He was a rather large black man with a larger than life presence.  Little did I, as well as EVERYONE ELSE, know that the message Voddie was about to bring was about to significantly change the outlook of this little youth ministry beach trip.

Voddie, as he claimed during his sermon, is a youth ministry abolitionist.  That means he seeks to abolish or do away with youth ministry or atleast as we know it.  This came out pretty quickly as he began his sermon.  Haha.  You can just imagine what that scene looked like when those words dropped in a room of youth pastors, parents, volunteers, and a bunch of dumb-founded confused high schoolers who just heard that the youth pastors they so endeared should be out of the job.  What a blunder?!  I wonder who was in charge of bringing him in to speak?  There I was, a 17 year old kid who felt called into ministry and specifically youth ministry, with the wind knocked out of me.

As soon as Voddie finished his sermon, he was quickly approached about having a Q&A when the night finished up with anyone interested, which were a lot of people .  I somehow made my way into the room filled with a bunch of confused and angered youth pastors.  I remember leaving that trip thinking that Voddie was nuts.  He didn’t know what he was thinking, and at the same time thinking… “maybe he’s right?”

He preached on Deuteronomy 6:5-7You shall love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

10 years later, I couldn’t agree with Voddie more.  It’s not so much what Voddie was against as much as it was what Voddie was pleading for.  Fathers, take responsibility in discipling your children.  You should be the main discipler in your children’s life. Our kids should know what it looks like to love and pursue God by spending time with us.  He was simply saying that we’ve turned student ministries into day-care for youth. The extent of some parents’  role in their children’s faith is simply dropping their kids off and picking them up from a youth gathering or cutting a check for them to go to the church camp that they hope fixes their kids’ disruptive behavior.  Youth ministries should be supplemental to what the children are receiving at home.  What we need is an awakening amongst parents to actively be involved in the life of their children, especially when it comes to their faith.

That is the most important responsibility and honor God has given to us as parents.  May we be used by God in His saving work in the lives of our children.

The pains of awkwardness

(this is as awkward as life gets)

So there you are, walking through Target, and you see someone you know walking towards you.  Now this person isn’t someone you know well, but you definitely know them and they know you.  All of a sudden, the fears of awkwardness set in.  Do I say “hi?Will they say “hi?” What do I do?  Then before you know it, eye contact is made, and then you realize they are going through the same exact scenario you are.  As quickly as your eyes met, the connection is broken as you seek to look at anything… literally anything else… to avoid an awkward conversation with someone you just kind of know.  Maybe you fumble for your cellphone to check your email just in case there happens to be a VERY important email you might have overlooked in that very moment.  Nope.  No email.   OK, how about that voice mail that I’ve let sit unnoticed for the last 3 weeks?  Maybe now is a good time to check that?  Oh, who are we kidding?

Or how about the same scenario when you see the person coming and you really think they’re going to say “hi”, and they quickly change direction or beat you to the cell phone search.  You immediately think… “see if I make eye contact with them again!!!”

Why do we do these ridiculous things?  This stuff drives me nuts.  Why not say “hey, how’s it going?” What can that hurt?  I think it’s just being nice.  I’m going to do my best to initiate the “awkward conversation” from here on out.  Take this as your warning.  If we kind of know each other and we begin this awkward scenario all over, I’m going to do my best to go ahead and say “hi,” even if I get your name wrong.  Chances are, I probably won’t get it wrong twice.

See you around.

Attention to Detail

I always wondered why it was important to know why the framework of the tabernacle was made of acacia wood and how many cubits long each piece was.  Why was it important to know what colors of yarn were used to make Aaron’s turban.  Why was it important for us to know which direction the cherubim faced?  These are the details Moses believed were important for us to know, but why?

I’ve always wondered that as I came through the passages of these intricate details of the construction of the tabernacle, ark, lampstands, temple, etc.  You never hear anyone tell you they were memorizing Exodus 36:20-23

20 Then he made the upright frames for the tabernacle of acacia wood. 21 Ten cubits was the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each frame. 22 Each frame had two tenons for fitting together. He did this for all the frames of the tabernacle. 23 The frames for the tabernacle he made thus: twenty frames for the south side.

Why is it important for us to know this?  God inspired Moses to write these words for us.  To many… these passages are nothing but detailed historical references, but they are a part of the Holy Scriptures which means they are more than what they may appear from the surface.  These are the inspired words of God written by Moses.

As I meditated on these scriptures, asking God “Please speak to me,”  He did just that.  My mind immediately went to one of my favorite passages of Scripture, Psalm 139.

1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

God was and is intimately involved in creating His dwelling place, whether that was the Tabernacle, Temple, or us.  He cares about the details.  He cares about us.  He has made each one of us in His image, in His likeness.  We are image bearers of Christ.  We were not thrown together.  We were fearfully and wonderfully made.  God knows us inside and out.  He created us.  God made each of us with a specific purpose… ultimately to bring Him glory, and that is no small thing to overlook.

Like a Lion

I was walking my dog, Boss, last night as I finished up listening to John Piper’s first sermon back after his sabbatical (which you need to go and listen to) – it’s awesome.  Anyways, I looked on my iphone for something else to listen to as I still had a little bit longer until we arrived back at the house.  I came to a song I recently downloaded, Like a Lion by David Crowder.  I’ve always been a big Crowder fan and this song is another log on the fire.

Few songs cause me to worship God the way this one did.  Now, I worship God when I sing to Him… but hearing a song that leaves you with no choice but to worship is a completely different ball game.  Here I was… walking Boss at 10pm, headphones in, hands raised, and singing aloud.  I was left with no choice but to recognize our God for who He is.  He is a roaring lion.  He is King.  He is coming back to complete what He already finished.  Our God reigns.

This song gets me pumped!  Hope it speaks to you.

Simpler Times Again

I had lunch with an old friend of mine today.  A good friend.  He was one of about 3 guys who was very instrumental in God saving me.  Honestly, he is one of my heroes.  It’s always good when we are able to get together, although it doesn’t happen often enough.  Today we had a chance to reflect on the “good old days.”  We have had a neat journey together with God.  We were just little fire balls for God in high school.   We both lead the Christian Club at school.  We were a mess.  Lots of passion and vision…. little tact and responsibility.  Those poor kids, haha.  Thank goodness for sanctification.  My friend ran for SGA president going into his senior year and I remember him telling me,

“I don’t care if I win.  If I do, then  great.  I’ll try and do my best, but I’m going to share the gospel during my speech.”

And that’s what he did for his speech.  He stood up in front of close to 2000 peers and told them about Jesus.  Incredible.  We put on a few city wide youth rallies which were cool.  I mean, heck… we at least got some cool t-shirts out of them.  We were those little weird Christian kids at school, praying at the flag pole in the mornings, sporting christian t-shirts everyday, carrying our bible to every class with us.  We were sharing the gospel with the students at school every chance we could get during class, before and after class, outside of class… all the time.

I feel like things were simpler then.  We knew that Jesus had completely changed our life.  We knew that unless Jesus saved our friends and classmates, that they would end up in Hell.  We wanted to tell them.  It was that simple.  And that’s what we did.  Sometimes I think it’s easy to lose sight of that.  Sinners need a Savior.  God saves sinners.  It’s that simple.  Sometimes, we get too caught up with ministry and sometimes lose sight of those simple truths… believe it or not.  Sometimes we get so caught up with ministry that we forget Jesus.

I pray this year would be a simpler one.

The Final Countdown

I mean… come on.  Look at that foot.  I don’t care how much you detest feet.   Baby feet are one of the cutest things in the world.  My wife, Kristen, is 39 weeks pregnant today.  What does that really mean?  It means she’s very uncomfortable right now.  She’s having trouble sleeping.  She gets leg cramps in the middle of the night.  Her hands and feet are swollen.  It means that she is really close to giving birth to our daughter, Bailey Grace Osborne.  Now that’s pretty darn exciting!

My wife is such a trooper.  She has been a beautiful pregnant bride thus far.  I’ve enjoyed watching God grow her through the process of becoming a mother.  She really has the gift of joy.  She rarely complains unless she really needs help.  She’s definitely a “glass is half full” sort of girl.  I can’t wait to watch the interaction between the two most important girls (mom, don’t worry… you’re third) in my life in the days to come.

I’ve wanted to be a dad for years now.  I’ve always loved little babies even since I was a wee little boy.  And as God continues to grow me as His son, He grows my desire to be a father.  In recent years, I’ve really looked forward to wrapping my mind around the gospel from a different perspective.  Up to this point, I feel like I’ve only been able to comprehend one point of view of the gospel.  I understand more and more each day what it means to be loved as a son and still, I have trouble with that sometimes.   But, I’m eager to get the other side… the love of a Father for his children.  I know having children will drastically rock my world in light of the gospel.  I can’t wait.

I can’t wait to hold my daughter.  I can’t wait to watch Kristen be an incredible mom.  I can’t wait to understand God’s love for me more intimately.  My daughter will press me into Jesus even more.  Thank you, BGO.