And we think we are busy!

Written By: John - Nov• 20•14

Do you ever think you are just too busy to do what God has called you to do?  Yesterday I clicked on Don Whitney’s blog and found this incredible reminder.  To be honest it was like an ax cutting away all of my sorry excuses and I hope it does the same to you.  We often think we are too busy to take part in the family devotions, or for that matter any devotions, but consider the life of Spurgeon,

(1) pastored the largest evangelical church in the world at that time (with more than six thousand active members),

(2) preached almost every day,

(3) edited his sermons for weekly publications, and thereby

(4) produced (in the sixty-four volume Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit) the largest collection of works by any single author in English,

(5) wrote an additional one hundred and twenty books (one every four months throughout his entire adult life),

(6) presided over sixty-six different ministries (such as the pastor’s college he founded),

(7) edited a monthly magazine (“The Sword and the Trowel”),

(8) typically read five books each week, many of which he reviewed for his magazine, and

(9) wrote with a dip pen five hundred letters per week.

And I think I’m busy! Five hundred hand-written letters? I couldn’t write five hundred tweets per week! Even if I were just copying verses from the Bible!

God gave Spurgeon an extraordinary capacity for work and productivity. And yet, despite the ceaseless, crushing demands on his schedule, at 6:00 each evening, setting aside a to-do list that few could match today, he gathered his wife, twin boys, and all others present in his home at the time for family worship.

Beatitudes Turned Wrong Side Out

Written By: John - Nov• 18•14

I was reading a chapter in Tozer’s, The Pursuit of God, and he commented on the Beatitudes and said, “A fairly accurate description of the human race might be furnished, one unacquainted with it, by taking the Beatitudes, turning them wrong side up and saying, ‘Here is your human race.’”
He went on to talk about the third beatitude, but let’s take the beatitudes and see what he is talking about…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness ‘sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (ESV)

Now consider the opposite view,

Instead of ‘poor in spirit,’ the world foams at the mouth with pride;
Instead of ‘those who mourn,’ the world seeks pleasure at any cost;
Instead of ‘the meek,’ the world is arrogant;
Instead of ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness,’ the world thinks it is self-sufficient;
Instead of ‘mercy,’ the world is cruel;
Instead of ‘pure in heart,’ the world lusts in sensuality;
Instead of ‘peacemakers,’ the world is quarrelsome and resentful;
Instead of rejoicing in persecution, the world fights back.

There is the world in opposition to what Jesus describes as qualities of Kingdom Citizens, but what scares me most of all is the similiarites of the world and the Church. Is the Church really closer to Jesus’ description or to the opposite? What about us? Meditate on that today and do what is necessary to be like Christ.

“Woe, Woe Is Me”

Written By: John - Nov• 17•14

I saw this prayer on Tim Challies’ blog and it spoke to me. Many of you may already follow him, but I wanted to make sure you had a chance to read it and then pray it!

“My God, I feel it is heaven to please Thee, and to be what Thou wouldst have me be. O that I were holy as Thou art holy, pure as Christ is pure, perfect as Thy Spirit is perfect! These, I feel, are the best commands in Thy Book, and shall I break them? Must I break them? Am I under such a necessity as long as I live here?

Woe, woe is me that I am a sinner, that I grieve this blessed God, who is infinite in goodness and grace! O if He would punish me for my sins, it would not [wound] my heart so deep to offend Him; But though I sin continually, He continually repeats His kindness to me.

At times I feel I could bear any suffering, but how can I dishonour this glorious God? What shall I do to glorify and worship this best of beings? O that I could consecrate my soul and body to His service, without restraint, for ever! O that I could give myself up to Him, so as never more to attempt to be my own! Or have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to His will and His love! But, alas, I cannot live and not sin.

O may angels glorify Him incessantly, and, if possible, prostrate themselves lower before the blessed King of heaven! I long to bear a part with them in ceaseless praise; but when I have done all I can to eternity I shall not be able to offer more than a small fraction of the homage that the glorious God deserves. Give me a heart full of divine, heavenly love.”

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

Written By: John - Nov• 10•14

$85, 000!  That is FBC’s Lottie Moon goal, but I am praying we will give over $100,000.  Here is why.

Lottie Moon

21 Years and I am Blessed!

Written By: John - Nov• 06•14

20121105120008_00121 years ago this lovely lady walked down the aisle and married me. I can say that second only to my salvation, Kim has been the greatest gift God has ever given me.

We met off and on over a couple of years, but when God finally had us in the right place at the right time we both knew with a few weeks that we were meant for one another. The writer of Proverbs said, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised…” Can I take a few moments to praise the woman God gave to me as a friend, a partner, a lover, a wife, and the mother of my children?

I can say this will full assurance…I have never met a person who loves Jesus like Kim Thweatt. The summer we worked at Lake Forest Ranch was an amazing summer. Of course I noticed her physical beauty, but the glory of God radiated from her and still does. I’ve had people question me…Can she really be that happy? Can she really be that in love with Jesus? Can she really be in private what she is in public? The answer is a resounding YES! I’ve lived with her for 21 years and I’ve watched the joy of the Lord grow day by day. She has had her moments—can you think of anyone married to me who wouldn’t have her moments?!—but I can tell you she is everything in private that she is in public.

How can I describe my bride? I think I’ll borrow from the Apostle Paul and describe her with these words:

Love. Never have a met someone who loves life like Kim. Never have I seen someone who loves her children like Kim. Never have I experienced pure love like I experience with Kim. Above all else—she loves Jesus like no one I have ever met. I do not know a more loving person than Kim.

Joy. I’ll never forget the moment she gave birth to Hannah, our first daughter. It had been a long and hard labor…I thought I’d test that joy for a moment by asking her, “Are you ready for another one?” Her eyes lit up, her smile grew, and she said, “Yes!” I’ve watched Kim take joy in the little things, the big things, and everything in between. She is the only person I know who has been stopped in the Publix parking lot, by a total stranger, and asked, “What makes you so happy?” I’m not sure he was ready for the answer, but I can tell you it is all Jesus. I do not know a more joyful person than Kim.

Peace. We’ve lived a blessed life, but it has come with its own share of trials—the surgeries for our daughters and income issues that come with ministry, but Kim has demonstrated the peace of God in more ways than I can explain. There is just a clear understanding in her heart—God is in control and He will take care of us.

Patience. How can I better demonstrate her patience than to say she has put up with me for 21 years! Kim has a unique ability to wait for God’s timing. She is the least materialistic person I know. She will wait for furniture and clothes because she wants to take care of her family. One years I bought her a dozen pairs of shoes for her birthday because I was tired of seeing the same pair day after day. Kim displays more patience than anyone I know.

Kindness. Wow. Can you name a kinder person than my wife? I’m not blessed with great amounts of mercy, but she is kind with the kindness of Jesus. I do not know a kinder person than Kim.

Goodness. Kim came to know Jesus at an early age and fell in love with Him and never grew out of that! She didn’t sow her wild oats because she loved Jesus. Why doe we see the goodness in her life? She is full of Jesus and it shows. She is good in what she watches, in what she listens to, and in how she treats others. I do not know a good-er (J) person than Kim!

Faithfulness. If you have a friend in Kim you have a friend for life. She is faithful to her God, to her husband, to her children, and to everyone around her. I have never worried about where Kim is or what Kim is doing—she is faithful. I do not know a more faithful person than Kim.

Gentleness. If you’ve been around Kim and I you know I am the darkness—she is the light and I am the cold—she is the warm when it comes to gentleness. Great example—a couple of weeks ago I was chasing KJ through the house, trying to get her in bed—she stubbed her toe on the kitchen door-frame and was crying. I said, “KJ, you stubbed your toe—get to bed.” Kim, tenderly got her to bed, put ice on it, and loved her to sleep. You can guess how I felt when I found out she broke her toe! Thanks God for the gentleness of Kim in the Thweatt household! She is the most gentle person I know.

Self-Control. Once again, let me picture her self-control like this—she has been married to me for 21 years and I’m not dead! Seriously, she is diligent and determined and strong and in control through the Spirit’s power.

Proverbs 31 talks about a woman like Kim and says, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” I do not have the time or space to do diligence in praising my wife, but this will have to do. I’ve not mentioned her hospitality, her beautiful voice, her ability to lead worship, and her ability to teach, but I will say I am indeed most blessed among men because God allowed me to marry Kim Thweatt. Happy 21st Anniversary Kim Thweatt!

O Great Redeemer

Written By: John - Nov• 05•14

I heard this song a while back and I hope it moves you like it moved me!

Scripture Memorization: It is Worth every Ounce of Effort!

Written By: John - Nov• 04•14

I was in the middle of a conversation yesterday about Scripture Memory and why it is important. One of the things that jump out at me about Scripture memorization is simple—it is hard work. Unless you have a photographic memory…Scripture memory is hard work, but it is work that is worth every ounce of effort.

This weekend I read An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture by Andrew Davis. It was helpful and you can get it on Kindle for .99.  (You can find it here)  Davis said, “When Judgment Day comes, we will regret the waste of a single moment not used for the glory of Christ. We will, however, not regret one moment we spent diligently studying God’s Word and hiding it in our heart. We will only wish we’d spent more time doing this.” The question is why…why is Scripture memory so important?

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” (Psalm 119:9)

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

“…but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)

The memorization of Scripture will help you combat sin, it will help you allow the Word to dwell in you richly, and it will help you delight in God. It will also help you mediate upon the Word and it will help you as you share the Gospel.

I’ve struggled with memorization all of my life—it isn’t that I haven’t memorized passages…it is just that I didn’t work to keep it. Years ago I memorized the first three chapters of Philippians and was working on the fourth, but things happened and I let the work go and simply lost it. The same could be said for countless passages…it is just hard work that must be done day after day, but the work is worth every ounce of effort!

Let me borrow from Andrew Davis’ book and suggest that you set out to memorize chapters of the Bible. Davis suggests that it is best to memorize whole books and I would agree, but if that seems to daunting please consider a chapter at a time. Currently, I am working on Romans 8 so let me make a few suggestions based on that chapter.

First, I’ve found that it is best to use index cards. I write one verse on each card and work on that card every day. Writing it out just adds to the ability to retain the words in my mind. Davis suggest you start with verse one and read each new verse ten times out loud. So on day one you read, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” ten times. Then recite it from memory ten times. As you go throughout the day bring it back up and meditate on it. I’ve found that if I am doing this as I should—I will go to sleep thinking about it and wake up thinking about it.

Tomorrow you will start by reciting yesterday’s verse ten times and then repeating the first day’s assignment with verse 2. After you finish repeat verse one and two together and repeat day after day until you have the chapter memorized.

You’ll find that the majority of your time will be going over verses you’ve already memorized. I find the best time for this is when I’m driving. On the way to work every morning I go over my scripture memory and before I go into the office I listen to the passage being read to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes. If you have a long commute you can redeem your time by memorizing the Word of God. My drive is only nine miles, but I have plenty of time to go over the verses.

When I’m memorizing Scripture I find my thought life improves, I find my prayer life improves, and I find my mind thinking and meditating more and more. It isn’t easy, but it is worth every ounce of effort and, as with most things, the more you do it the easier it will become.

“No Time to Think of Safety”

Written By: John - Nov• 03•14

Yesterday I opened my sermon on Acts 14 with the following quote from Martin Luther.

In Dec. 1520, Luther was asked whether he would be willing to appear before Emperor Charles to be tried for heresy.  Many who had gone before the Emperor had been burned at the stake even though they had been given assurance of a safe passage.  Luther had not even been given such assurance.  Here is how he answered:

“You ask me what I shall do if I am called by the emperor.  I will go even if I am too sick to stand on my feet.  If Caesar calls me, God calls me.  If violence is used, as it may well be, I commend my cause to God.  He lives and reigns who saved the three youths from the fiery furnace of the king of Babylon, and if He will not save me, my head is worth nothing compared with Christ.  This is no time to think of safety.  I must take care that the gospel is not brought into contempt by our fear to confess and seal our teaching with our blood.”

I marvel at the courage of Paul and Barnabas that is displayed in Acts 14. Paul is stoned, dragged out of the city, and left for dead, but when he gets up he goes right back into the city.  I pray for that kind of tenacity in my own life and your life.  As we go about today let’s remember what Luther said, “This is not time to think of safety.”  Let’s not show contempt for the Gospel by being afraid to confess it publicly  or should the need present itself to prove our belief of it with our own blood.

Written By: John - Oct• 29•14

Every morning I try to read five Psalms to prepare my mind to pray and to prepare for the day. Today I was scheduled to read Psalm 29, 59, 89, 119, and 149 and as I turned to Psalm 119 I was once again refreshed by the writers commitment to the Word of God. Over and over again he refers to the Word, but this morning verse 131 jumped off the page at me,

“I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments.”

What a beautiful thought…we have seen that before, “As the deer pants for flowing streams so pants my soul for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1) Why would we pant? Why should we long? Psalm 119 gives you 176 verses and each verse is full of reason after reason to pant for God and to long for His Word.

The other day, I picked up John Blanchard’s, How to Enjoy your Bible,  and he listed nine pictures the Bible uses to describe itself. I offer these word pictures to you as reason to pant for God and to long for His Word.

  1. The Word is a Treasure, “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold…” (Psalm 19:10)
  2. The Word is book of Wisdom, “Through your precepts I get understanding…” (Psalm 119:104)
  3. The Word is a Searchlight, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” (Psalm 119:105)
  4. The Word is a Guidebook, “All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and testimonies.” (Psalm 25:10)
  5. The Word is a Mirror, “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:25)
  6. The Word is a Stabilizer, “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” (Psalm 119:165)
  7. The Word is a Purifier, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” (Psalm 119:9)
  8. The Word is a Fixed Point of Reference, “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89)
  9. The Word is a Powerful Weapon, “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  (Blanchard, pages 18-19, I changed the verse on number 7, he used Ephesians 5:26.)

Let me urge you to mediate on the truth in this list and to learn to pant for God and for His Word!

Do we weep for the lost?

Written By: John - Oct• 27•14

Please take five minutes and watch this video!