Costa Rica Report, Part 4 (Spending Time with a Daughter)

What an amazing team we had on our Costa Rica mission trip! This was a light construction trip, helping with projects around an orphanage that is part of the Abraham Project. The group of 27 are some of the hardest working individuals I know. We did what may have been considered mundane work, but everyone always had a smile, there were no ill moods displayed, and we all realized we were playing small parts in a bigger God story.

One of my favorite parts of the week was spending it with my future daughter Mary. Mary will be officially joining our family May 27th when she marries our oldest son Jeremy. (We’ve claimed her as one of our own for many years, but I’ll feel better with a piece of paper!) Several months ago Mary brought up the fact that Grace Community Church was going to Costa Rica. She said if I would go she would go. How could I resist an offer like that?

This week, I’ve fallen more in love with our beautiful Mary. She’s kind, gentle, smart, mature, and hard-working. Mary reminds me of my wife Cheryl. She’s going to be a great wife and mother. (I’m throwing in that mother part hoping that makes it come true!)

Thank you Mary for accompanying me on this trip…and for making sure… […] Continue Reading…

Encouraged by Big Faith: Costa Rica Report, Part 3

Jesus said faith as small as a mustard seed could move mountains. I’m glad God rejoices in small amounts of faith, but what can be done through those who, like Jesus’ disciples, give up everything to follow Him?

This week, our team in Costa Rica has be encouraged…and challenged…by the faith of two of our own… Jason and Kerby Harpst. Jason and Kerby are a precious couple, very special to Cheryl and me, who left our church this past year to begin full-time mission work in Costa Rica. Both were professionals, Jason an engineer and Kerby a teacher. They had a nice home, two nice cars, great friends, a wonderful church, the greatest pastor in the world (Okay, I threw that last part in…), but they had the “perfect” lifestyle in the United States.

This week we’ve seen first hand how much they’ve given up…at least as far as the comforts of the world…. […] Continue Reading…

Costa Rica Report, Part 2

Yesterday was our first official “work day” at the Abraham Project. (Read more about this trip HERE and HERE.) Everyone has their own assignments, but mine today was helping rebuild a fence. It was a long task. I’m not accustomed to working with my hands, but this was kind of fun.

The best part was the connections I made with people in my church who worked with me. These men can sling a hammer, but they can also… […] Continue Reading…

Costa Rica Report, Part 1

This is my first trip to Costa Rica. We are here to support missionaries Jason and Kerby Haprst, who gave up careers and left our church to join the Abraham Project here in Costa Rica. I was privileged to speak today at Lighthouse Community Christian Church, where it’s Pastor Jorge Gomez first had a vision for the church and the Abraham Project. I love watching big faith and action come together and this is certainly such an example.
[…] Continue Reading…

What Style of Worship is in Heaven?

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:9-11 NIV

About 10 years ago now, my family spent a weekend visiting churches with a group of people from our home church. The church was preparing a long-range plan and one part of that report was to review the style of worship. At the time, the church had a very traditional style of worship and was asking if it should incorporate more contemporary or a blended music.

A few days after out trip, I was sitting with my youngest son having lunch. He was about 10 years old at the time, but very perceptive. Reflecting on our recent trip, he asked a good question and it was one that helped shape my thoughts at the time. He asked, “Daddy, what kind of worship will there be in Heaven? Will there be one contemporary worship service and one traditional?”

I was stunned. I had never thought about it. What style of worship does Heaven have? Will we sing praise choruses, or will we use hymnals? Will there be organ music or piano? Will there be a praise team or a choir…a band or a solo artist? And…most importantly…the bigger question…do angels sing? […] Continue Reading…

Scripture Memorization, Week 2

Last week we started memorizing Scripture together. (Read that post HERE.) It’s something we will do every week this year. A new verse will post each Saturday. Over 50 people said they were doing this based on the comments and then another 50 or so told me on Facebook, Twitter or by email. (You can still join in…whether you comment or not…but I’d love to hear that you will.) We have some people eager to learn God’s Word this year! How awesome is that?

Memorizing Scripture can be made easier than you may have thought. As I said last time, writing it down helps. Write it somewhere you will see often. One Twitter friend took my suggestion and wrote it on her mirror. Another (read his suggestion in the comments from last week), is going to make the verse the background on his phone each week. I love creative ways to do this! Please share them if you have more ideas.
Last week’s verse was:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

How did you do last week? Could you recite it if you had to?

This week our verse is: […] Continue Reading…

3 Suggestions to Make a Good Speech or Sermon Great

One secret to effective speaking is to learn what not to say…

Don’t give everything you’ve got in a message.

A standard joke is about the young preacher giving his first message. After he has studied hard and has lots of information, he can’t help but share everything he’s got. One key, however, to an effective message is when the speaker learns what to say and what not to say. The “what not to say” is perhaps the more important part. For me the best part of my sermon message preparation is after it’s written, going back and cutting parts of it to tighten up the talk.

Here are 3 suggestions to make a good talk great. […] Continue Reading…

5 Questions to Unpack a Bible Passage to Teach

Someone asked me recently how I address a Bible passage in order to teach about it. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert, but I do have a system. Of course the process begins and ends with prayer, but God has wired me to think systematically, so I need a format that works for me in writing a sermon message.

When teaching on a specific passage of Scripture, I consider five questions about the Bible text: […] Continue Reading…