Pastor Appreciation Month (my four pastors)

I've been told that October is Pastor Appreciation Month. In light of that, I would like to share some a little about the pastors who have had major influences in my life and share my gratitude towards them. This is in no particular order.

Allen Holmes.
Since we've moved to Greensboro, Allen has taken a special interest in me. I wont go into all of the weird stuff that happened and how we began to go to his church, but I can say this. "God definitely placed us together." Allen is one of the few men in my life that has had the ability to speak unbelievable amounts of truth into me and has corrected me on many occasions. In a culture like ours where confronting people is non-existent, Allen has been huge in his ability to help God shape my life. I guess the two biggest things that he has done for me is 1. Given me a heart for the Word. 2. Helped me build a great marriage. Before moving to NC, I never valued my bible the way that we all should. Our bible is God speaking to us personally. Pertaining to my marriage, Allen has modeled for me what it looks like to both lead and serve your family. I am the leader of my home because Allen not just told me how to do it but modeled it. Allen has been a huge part of God's calling on my life to plant a church in Boston. He was the first person to tell me to move and the first pastor to confirm the call to plant. Others has confirmed a call to ministry but he was the first to confirm a call to plant. Allen has taught me the importance of expository preaching, memorizing scripture, being a father and husband, and modeled leadership that I will be able to use in my own ministry as God allows. I've played ball with this guy, cried with this guy, argued with guy, and just did life with this guy.

Allen, I have told you this before, but I will say it again. There is no way that I can ever repay you for all you have done for me. Love ya Bro

Frank Bishoff
This is unique because Frank has been both my pastor and probably my best friend for the past 3 years. Before meeting Frank, I never truly knew what it meant to have a passion for Christ. I'll never forget the first day that I met Frank, he thought I was a youth kid and tried to invite me to his youth group. (I owned my own home at this point) Frank has been there for me in some of the darkest moments in my marriage. He has been someone who I could share my doubts with, my theological questions with, and my life with. I have grown to absolutely love this guy and his family. I have seen his son grow up to be a man, his daughter grow up to be a young lady, and was there when he went through the death of his 2 day old son. He is an unbelievable model of what a man looks like when he is pursuing Jesus. In my eyes he is a modern day David; a passionate man after God's heart. Frank was the first guy to regularly entrust me with his pulpit and entrust me in preaching. He's let me speak at OFY's largest events, and allowed me to be his wing man as he built a dynamic youth ministry. He's been my pastor, accountability partner, small group leader, mentor, coach; but most importantly he has been my best friend.

Frank, I may be closer in age to your son, but your still my main man. Thanks for all you have done for me. Words will never be able to express my love for you and all that you have done for me. Anything that God will ever do through me, will always come back to what he first did in you. I'll miss you man!

Stephen Shomo
This is hard because I am a little bias. Steve, your like a dad to me; actually you are a dad to me. You were the first man to ever take me under the wing and disciple me. I was a brand new Christian when I met you and yet you loved me just as much then as you do now. You have given your daughter to me in marriage and for that I can never repay you. Your daughter has become the absolute love of my life, so.....thanks for making her. (haha) We have shared so many of life's moments together. You have been there ever time I needed you since the day we met. Your church funded my way to Africa where my life was absolutely transformed. Your family has become my family. You took those 1:00am phone called on Saturday nights when I was in college and had questions on scripture. You have always encouraged me, loved me, blessed me, corrected me, lead me, and affirmed me. You have been a father to me when at times it feels I have lost my dad. Your the greatest grandfather to my children. They absolutely light up when they see you. You have gone out of your way to help me build a great marriage; you have babysat, paid for date nights, taken the kids for long stretches, and modeled a life of humility. You will probably never know how important you have been in my life.

I hope that one day we can be in ministry together. Maybe God will work on Karen. hehe :)

Dan Byrd
I met Dan when I was in college at Applebee's. I was a server and he was reading his bible in a booth. I walked by and told him that he was reading a good book and that began a friendship that will last forever. Dan was one of the first people who believed in me. I'll never forget preaching my very first sermon in his pulpit. It was a topical message on the importance of the bible. He critiqued it afterwards and said to me, "How can you preach on the importance of the bible but never open it in your sermon." haha; Looking back, that is so funny!! Dan was the first person that Beth and I told we were pregnant with Daniel. (We weren't yet married) He was the first person I told that I thought God was calling me into ministry. I remember him almost trying to talk me out of it to see if it was real. Dan married Beth and I and gave us the sex talk even though we were sinners and didn't need it. OUCH, I may have shared to much. Dan was also the first grown man to ever ask me if I had any butt paste to let him borrow? Weird! Also, I remember he giving me a check for $500 to go on a missions trip. The check came from the church and at that time I don't think we had more than 5 people for weekly attendance.

Dan, you have been extremely valuable to me. I am where I am because you inspired me to get there. There is still much work to be done in my life, but thanks for being my pastor for all of those years in college.

Beth "Bugsy" Chewning
Although not a Pastor, this person has been by far the most influencial person in my life. She is my soul mate, my angel, my gift from Heaven. She has been my inspiration, my guide, my safety. I cannot express the love that I have for this women. She is by defination, "My Helpmate", and indeed she helps. She has kept me in line, on course, and focused on the narrow road. She is the only one who truly knows me. She is the only one who knows my Smallville dance, my bullrun into the bed, and all the other stupid and crazy things about me. She's my sinshine, my ship face, my rolly, my sunshine. Over years she has shown me grace, love, true intimacy, accountability, and passion. She is the love of my life; and I'm so glad I've found her. Beth, I know I tell you all the time, but I can never tell you enough. I love you so much. You are and will always be the greatest gift I've ever received. Thank you for you. -143-

Bible Interpreting, Presuppositions, and of coures "Homosexuality"

To get an idea of why this was written, go to
This is a response to a response.........pretty cool.

Wow Bri, that was a lot to take in from you; I enjoy printing out your e-mails and sitting down with a highlighter and studying them. If you were around me when I do this, I am sure you would get a kick out of it. Typically I begin by highlighting your main points and then move on to words that I need to research before I respond back. This one was not near as bad as your last one in which I asked the Lord to just take me home when I was done reading it. Ha-ha. He didn’t; I guess he wanted me to respond instead.

Anyway, here I go.

I want to first tell you that I do appreciate your openness to share and your ability to get me thinking. A lot of the people that I have conversations with about the topics we are discussing usually do not have much thought behind their opinions. So I appreciate your desire to study through this.

I will respond to your post by addressing the issues in this order.

The bible.
Interpreting the bible

Pertaining to the bible, we have kinda gone through this but I will touch on the different translations and interpretations. Instead of defending the translations and different interpretations I will share how I approach scripture in study. I think that by doing this you will understand my views.

Because of the 3 original languages that the bible was written it is impossible to translate its exact meaning into 1 translation. For over three hundred years the King James Version, published in 1611, was the prominent translation used in most Protestant churches. However, as the English language continued to change, it became increasingly more difficult for people to understand the Old English vernacular. Faced with the obvious need for our society to understand God’s Word, scholars sought to update the scriptures into more contemporary language.
Dr. Lewis Foster, one of those who helped translate the NIV and the NKJV says, “It is necessary to continue making new translations and revising old ones if people are to read the Word of God in their contemporary languages.” The Old Testament was authored in Hebrew and Aramaic, and the New Testament in Greek. While the original autographs no longer exist, translations are made from ancient manuscript copies, of which there are today at least 24,000, whole or in-part, with which to compare.

An English version of the Bible did not exist until a little more than 600 years ago. Before then, a version translated into Latin by Jerome in the fourth century, called the Latin Vulgate, was the most widely-used Bible translation in the middle ages. Anyway, while I still believe that the original manuscripts were the inspired words of a Holy God; that being said 4000 years will make understanding his work not as easy as picking up a translation and reading it. I am not saying that the bible is unclear; instead I am saying that it takes study to get an accurate understanding. I am sure that you can appreciate that. Its like when sometimes I read your responses, I have to go back and translate some of your words into a vocabulary that I can better understand and digest.

So, this is where all of this leaves me. When I am studying scripture I do my very best to try and understand the following things:

1. What does the text say? 2. Originally what was said compared to what I initially interpret when I read it in my translation? 3. What was the context in which this was written? 4. Who was the author, who was he writing to, when was it written, why was it written? I try to get in the authors shoes. 5. What does this mean for me? 6. How do I apply to my life what I am understanding?

As you can see, I am a little less fanatic than most would think. I really try to get to the root of the scriptures. Now, that does not mean that in my study I will never come up short of God’s original intentions and meanings. You are right in thinking that we come to text with presuppositions. My goal is to fight through those. Obviously that is a near impossibility.

In response to your claim that “Whatever factors brought you to religion (family, friends, community, etc.), were powerful enough to instill a lasting belief structure within you. Now that these beliefs are fully integrated into your thought process, the momentum generated by your reflexive brain will make it extremely difficult to step back and be truly objective.”

I try very hard to take an objective approach to my faith. But again, like in our previous conversations, it is near impossible when it is so personal. Now, if I was in your shoes, and it was all informational, being objective would be a lot easier. If you don’t remember what I mean to this you can refer back to an old blog

Pertaining to homosexuality. You made a comment that the bible doesn’t speak as clear to homosexuality as it does as say “idolatry” Good observation however, I would disagree. Idolatry is the worship (making sacrifices for, dedicating yourself to, or putting in the position of glory) of anything other than the God of the bible - Romans 11:36-12:1. So if that is the case, ultimately any type of sexual sin which is not approved in scripture is really idolatry. That goes for adultery, fornication, or homosexuality. It is all the same, none in that category are any worse than the other. That being said, I do not think that the sin is the fact that homosexuals are having sex outside of marriage. In marriage or not, the sexual relation is the sin. To take that further, Jesus said that the lust of the mind is the sin. I (remember “I’ am basing my opinion on what I view the scripture are saying) do not think that homosexual relations is what God intended. Nowhere in scripture do you find one situation where you see any type of homosexual relationship talked upon as being approved and blessed by God. You would think with all of the sex talk (and there is a ton) that if this was acceptable to God, he would make at least one comment about it. Instead you see just the opposite, you can find a number of verses that both directly and indirectly condemn homosexuality. If you would like the references, let me know.

Again, thanks for your views. I value them more than most would that stand in similar shoes as I. Keep racking your brain, but as always I would ask you to soften your heart. God is not interested in your brain; he is interested in your heart. Like I have said before, nobody comes to God through information; instead they come through a heart transformation.

Love u bro, Matt

one last blog on Homosexuality

I read the article and it was very well written and thought provoking. The thing that is hard for me to get through is some of the context in which the scripture was reviewed and also the nature of who is writing it. With that being said, it was overall a great article. Thanks for sharing it.

I think that a homosexual comes to the text with major presuppositions about what they both want to and expect to walk away with from scripture. I think that this is true for all people if we are not careful. Even Bill Clinton found a way to support receiving oral favors using scripture. (its not sex; yeah sure.)

I do agree that although homosexuality is not the major core value of scripture nor is it the bible's ultimate theme (of course) it is still a value that God takes serious. Do I think all homosexuals go to hell. NO WAY!! God's grace surpasses more than we can comprehend and only God knows the heart, and is qualified to judge it. However, it is hard for me to get past all of the scripture on Sexual Immorality (all sexual immorality, not just homosexuality) and to walk away thinking that when God see's 2 men or 2 women (who are not married) having oral sex, anal sex, hand sex, or whatever else we can dream up; that he rejoices and dances over that act like he does when a married man and women come together as 1 like it is stated in Genesis. I just cannot find that in scripture.

Add to that the harsh words from Paul in 1 Thes 4:3-8 which says It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Verse 3 is clearly stating that the way we deal with our sexuality has a direct impact on God's sanctifying work in us. It is also agreeing with what all of us would say, which is, "at times we will have to fight our own un-natural sexual urges for the cause of Christ in order to inherit all that Christ would desire for us to have." I want to make very clear that sexual urges are not all un-natural, but urges that I would say the bible considers un-holy or not honorable (sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, same sex sex, sex with animals, etc) are un-natural.
Sex is a great thing created by a great God. Actually when people tell me that they believe God isn't good, I remind them who created sex (oh yeah baby); is it even possible for the creator of sex to not be good? I don't think so.

I will end with this comment. Luke 14 says that in order to be considered a disciple of Jesus we must Love him more than anything else; including our pleasures. We must be willing to carry our cross and be willing to die. Revelations 2 say that we are to be faithful even until the point of death. These scriptures point out a very hard truth and that is, more often than not, we will be faced with making decisions that go against our feelings; our gut; our pleasure; what looks right; what feels right; etc. However, in order to be able to be called one of Jesus' true disciples, we need to die to self and live for Christ. For me that means, no sleeping around regardless of how good or bad my marriage situation, no lying no matter how much the truth hurts, no cowering under the pressures of culture because it is easier; instead, now that I am a Christ Follower with a transformed heart and a renewed mind, I need to Die to Self and live for Christ.
The call is hard and although the grace of God is a free gift, it will cost us EVERYTHING.

RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Homosexuality

I want to add a couple of things in response to the comments to this blog.

1. Jan, I am curious as to what you mean by "As I grow personally, I am less interested in the letter of the law, and more concerned with the spirit of it." Can you give me a little more insight as to what the relations is between the law and the spirit?

2. Pertaining to the murder comment. I think the point I was trying to make was missed. I was implying that whether mental challenges or genetic challenges; we never say that murder, alcoholism, hatred, etc is NOT sin; regardless of the circumstance, the act is always sin. To use your words as an example; "This is why lawyers use the Insanity Plea. This gives the defendant psychiatric treatment." That is exactly my point, there are consequences for murder regardless of a mental state, because it is SIN and wrong. So if that is true, why do we excuse homosexuality as a genetic or mental challenge and not call it what the bible calls all sexual immorality; SIN? Now let me ask this question; why do we consider murder to be wrong? Is it because we just feel it is morally wrong or because the bible says it is wrong? Personally I think both; I think that we are created in the image of God and in that image we all know that murder is wrong, however if we were to test that we would see that the bible confirms that murder is wrong. If we claim that murder is wrong, we are confiming a biblical absolute truth in which we would also have to say homosexuality is a sexual sin that is confirmed through scriptrure. This is a prime example of how we are to test our spirit according to the law. If we think our spirit tells us to commit adultry, we test that spirit with scripture to see if it is of God. We cannot always know what the spirit is saying until we test and confirm it with the law. There is always a direct connection with the law and the spirit. That is what Galations 5 and Romans 8 are about.

3. Dave, I agree with you 100%. The question is never how we are to treat a person. The bible is clear that we are to love at all times. God always loves, my fear is that the church thinks that love is never confronting or always agreeing. Lets take God for example, God has shown us his love by confronting our sin, showing us our need for a savior, and then providing Jesus as our way back to God. Lets use another practical example. Daniel, my son, hits Abby; as a loving daddy, I confront Daniel about his behavior because I love him and know that I need to teach him that hitting isn't an option b/c I dont want him growing up violent and in jail. Now I dont ever excuse the hitting because Daniel was born with a nature that will rebel against God and naturally wants to fight for his rights. My confronting Daniel is instead a great act of love.

In the case of a homosexual, we say, "Lets Love them" but forget that sometimes the greatest act of Love is confronting. Now...confronting does not mean that we argue, fight, hate, or act in anyway against the fruits of the spirit. God never did that to us, he always lovingly confronts our sin, and says, "There is a way to overcome it and be forgiven of it." Christians all over the world need to understand that what we believe is highly different than what our culture believes and not sit in the gray areas because it is more comfortable or acceptable. I truly believe (and why I am so passionate about this stuff) that this is the reason why the church has been so ineffective for so long. We all struggle with the tension of "what do we culturally accept, and what do we confront as sin b/c the bible calls it sin"

Response to a Blog on Homosexuality

I would encourage you to read a great blog by a friend of mine at below was my response.

I Love this Blog.

I agree with you that for to long Christians have absolutely distorted the Christian view on homosexuality. I am so proud that all of you (My wife included) would spend time in a gay bar. The mere fact that you were there and that they knew you were Christians is fulfilling of Matthew 5. (You are a city on a hill, a light to the world, salt of the world.) I can only imagine how God will use the seed that was planted by 4 Godly women who chose to love instead of dis-engage because of differences. Truth be told, I would have been right there with you, enjoying the night with a bunch of gay guys. That doesn't freak me out not 1 bit.

I will add some thoughts that will be controversial but that is Ok and I am willing to share my views.

As Christ followers, our call is to love our neighbor as yourself and Love God with all of our heart soul and mind. In the case of homosexuality, it is no different, we do not get a free pass to be eternally condemning, hateful, or disgusted just because someone is a homosexual. DO NOT EVER FORGET that our call is to LOVE, SERVE, and BE CHRIST to a lost and dying world. However, I do not think that we get a free pass to excuse any sexual sin when the bible speaks CLEAR on it. (Romans 1, 1 Cor 6:9, 1 Tim 1:10; there's more) Personally I have sexually sinned, and my sexual sin is gross, disgusting, and absolutely no different than anyone else's. Homosexuality, fornication, adultery, debauchery, you name it, it is all sexual sin in which we cannot pick and choose what is sin and what is not sin in the eyes of God.

I also agree that people are born homosexual but does that give us the right to act out of nature? Nowhere else do we ever make that argument. For example, genetically speaking I was born with Alcoholism in my DNA but that does not give me the right to sin and abuse alcohol (1 Cor 5:18). I know people who were born Bi-polar, that doesn't excuse them the sin of hatred, lack of self control or anxiety (according to Matthew and Philippians) If someone has mental challenges that they were born with and commits murder, we never excuse that as just something they were born with. Instead I believe that the bible teaches that these are all temptations that God has allowed and that the Holy Spirit can overcome as God breaks us and we learn to live by the spirit. Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit makes all things new, we are born again as a new creation, the old is gone the new has come. Does this mean that when someone becomes a Christian that they will no longer be tempted to sin sexually? Definitely not, we all would agree with that. However, Philippians and Galatians talk about "empowering grace" which the holy spirit gives us to overcome our temptations and we now have a greater desire to please God rather than please ourselves, and God empowers us to do that.

I guess this is why I get so afraid when I hear of Christians wanting to accept sin as if it is not. When we do this we, "In the name of Jesus" call his word un-clear or worst a lie. Psalm 19:7 says that the Law of the Lord is Perfect reviving the soul. We would all agree that our soul is revived by what is written in God's Word, and nothing else. We need to stand on the Word of God as our Rock of salvation. When we begin to question scripture, we then are forced to question our salvation. I say this because the bible is the only place where we find the story of God's redemptive plan for his people. The bible is the only place that we find Jesus being the only way to the Father. The bible is the only way that we know we are saved by faith and faith alone by the grace of our Lord Jesus. So when we begin to question scripture, we then begin to question our own salvation.

If you read this and dont know me, you may begin to form opinions. Please be careful on what opinions you form. I have not formed any against you. I am still loving and compassionate towards all people especially homosexuals. I am by no means a super conservative As a matter of fact, I am known to challenge most of the religious views and systems. As far as homosexuals are concerned, I have had many encounters with them and is part of why my opinion has been formed. Just 2 weeks ago I met a guy who was gay (Practicing; according to his own testimony he had some of the craziest most defiled stories) and the moment he asked Jesus into his heart he said his desires changed. His ultimate desire was now to please God rather than himself. He now is happily married with children.

Anyway, thought I would share. I love this blog because it is very thought provoking and more Christians need to self evaluate their hearts towards others. We need to be able to both Love and Confront. To often we find ourselves only Loving (Humanitarianism) or only Confronting (Fundamental Religion) but Jesus was one who both Loved and Confronted (Christlikeness).

Lets be like Jesus.

RANDOM: I led 2 kids to the Lord last night!

I am going to do my best to make a very long story, short.

Last night I was at our youth service called OFY (OH-FEE) for our weekly Sunday night event. Service began at 6:30 sharp and we typically have about 20 minutes of worship with someone preaching. Anyway, for some random reason I was feeling totally dis-engaged during the service. I couldn't concentrate, I was being totally critical in my heart about everything, I had a bad attitude, and finally I decided to just go outside by myself. We just got these skate ramps and I though; Why Not? RANDOM!

Now, let me clarify how random that is. 1. I SUCK on a skate board. Always have always will. 2. I never leave service, it is literally my job on Sunday nights to be in the service. 3. Why go outside and not somewhere else in a 5000sq ft building with flat screens, video games, pool tables, and food? RANDOM!

Anyway, I go outside and there are 2 kids on the skate ramps; one with a bike the other with a board. I go over to scream at them that they are supposed to be inside in the service (I should take my own advise) only to find out that they are not OFY kids. They went on to tell me that they were walking by and saw the ramps and wanted to check them out. Its about 7:30 at night on Sunday and its pitch black outside. What the H are they doing walking by? RANDOM!

We get the talking, I never told them that OFY was a church, or mention Jesus but somehow the conversation headed in a direction that I can only explain was GOD. They began telling me how they constantly get kicked out of their house, doing drugs, hanging with the wrong crowd, having sex, getting arrested, etc. I talked a little about my story, kept God out of it, and told them they needed to start hanging with a different crowd. Then I asked them if they were Christians, they both gave me an Un-convincing "YES". I asked them what that meant to them and one said that he has been to church and the other said he was in a church band. So I said, "Your a christian because u were in a band and you were in a building?" They laughed and said "No" that they probably weren't Christian.

Needless to say, about 10 minutes of them asking me questions and God's hand at work, I began to see a miracle. The started to open themselves to Christ and I wasn't doing anything to convince them of anything. One kid asked me "How do you get saved?" I told him it isn't a prayer, it isn't doing anything, but instead it is a sincere heart that acknowledges Jesus as Lord and Savior and asking him into your life. He literally, grabbed my hand stood up and said "lets do it." What the F? (Yeah I just said that b/c that is really how I felt, and I don't feel bad.) I am like so lost at this point? Is this really happening? Then the other kid stands up and says, "Yeah I need this too." HELLO, IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?
I then told them the importance of the bible and that they need to get around people who can push them in their new relationship with Christ, got their contact info and bounced. As I left, one of the kids stuck his hand out and said, "Thank you" shook my hand and said, "you have no idea how fresh I feel, I feel like a new person." (all of these verses started coming to mind: new creation, I make all things new, born again, you are mine.) I thought, this is my theology at work. That young man just experienced the same regeneration that I felt in 2000 when Ricky Grant led me to the Lord. Maybe in 8 years from now, he'll be planning on planting a church or having a conversation with some kid in a parking lot leading them to Jesus. Is this real? Phillipians 1:6 says; "being confident of this, that HE (Jesus) who BEGAN (This is the beginning for them) a Good Work (Regeneration, Born Again, forgiveness of sin) is FAITHFUL (It is God who will grow them in their faith, not anyone else) to carry it through until the day of Chirst Jesus.

Let me just say this. THAT ISH NEVER FREAKIN HAPPENS TO ME. I have lead people to Chirst through relationships, through sermons, but never in a 20 minute conversation has God used me so powerfully. It was the most beautiful experience that I have had happen in a very long time.

Never forget that God is at work. You may feel disconnected, disengaged, uninterested, whatever. It doesn't matter how you feel, God is still at work. Don't ever forget that. Don't ever forget that "OUR GOD IS MIGHTY TO SAVE"

D caught his first fish. So neat.

This weekend Beth went to D.C with 3 of her friends from college. While away, Sean (my brother-in-law) and I took the kids fishing at a local pond on Friday night. It was a great time. The excitement of the night came when Daniel caught his very first fish. It wasn't much of a seriously. The stupid fish couldn't even pull the bobber down (See pic above), instead he was caught because I thought it was time to re-bait the hook. It just so happened that there was a fish on the end of the line when I reeled it in. Anyway, when I saw that there was a fish on the end, I quickly threw the line back out and let Daniel reel it in.

Oh My God, the kid went crazy. When he got the fish all reeled in and on land, he lost his mind. I don't think I have ever seen him so excited. He started running around the lake, screaming at the top of his lungs, "I CAUGHT A FISH" it was cute and embarrassing at the same time. Everyone was looking at me like, "dude get your kid to chill out." There was no stopping him though. He was telling everyone. He had to call his momma who was in DC to tell her. Believe it or not, Daniel actually kissed the fish....on the lips. All night long he talked about this 2 inch overgrown sperm looking thing that just so happened to look like a fish on the end of his line. Honestly, the thing was pretty pathetic, I think that maybe his bait just grew a little and we thought it was a fish. But again, it wasn't about the fish to Daniel, it was the fact that he caught something.

This experience made me think a little. Does God really get this excited when one of us come to faith in him. Luke 15:10 says, "There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luke 15:7 says "there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

To God, it doesn't matter who we are, where we're from, our intelligence, strength, size, or influence; what matters is that we come to him. I wonder if God really acts as Daniel did, when one of us come to repentance and faith in him. I wonder if heaven really goes crazy like that? I can only imagine that he does. When a sinner comes to faith in Christ, his eternity is secure forever, why not throw a freakin bash?

The neatest thing about the whole situation was how clear it was to me that we are all created in the image of God. Even a little 5 year old boy portrays the creator of the universe. The excitement that Daniel had after catching a minnow, was just a reflection of his Heavenly Father's heart for us.

On Friday night I was reminded that being a fisherman is exciting, but fishing for men is where we find life.

Church Plant Info

Church Name: Netcast Church
Mission Statement:
“Whatever it takes to see people transformed by Jesus and empowered to change their world.”
Acts 29 Network candidate

Pre-Move: Build a team of at least 3 people/families that will move with us for the purpose of planting a church.
Move to Boston (North Shore): Summer 2009
6 Bi-weekly Interest Meetings: Winter 2009
3 Monthly Services: Spring 2010
Public Launch: September 2010

Facts about Greater Boston Area: Taken from Boston Area Connect website.
1. 4th most densely populated city in the country
2. Public school system is the oldest in the country
3. 22nd most populated city in country in 2007
4. 20% of Boston City population live below poverty level
5. Irish Americans are a major influence on Boston's politics and religious institutions and consequently on the rest of Massachusetts.
6. listed Boston as the #5 best city for young business professionals.
7. Colleges and Universities: Over 100 schools and 300,000 students.

Take off the mask and "Do Work"

I got a chance to preach this past weekend and it was one of that hardest messages to get across. My text came out of James 5:13-16. James is probably one of my favorite books in the bible because he is an application guy. I think that too often we portray Christianity as a Faith thing and not a works thing. James says "I'll show you my faith by what I do." I love that.

This text was so difficult because it deals with people's inner most secrets. It touches their darkest moments. Those things that you have done and will never tell anyone; the things that have been done to you that you are to ashamed to share. This text offers the way of healing from our darkest moments in life and promises a God transformation. However, it is on us to take the step. It is on us to do the hard work. God allows us to make a choice on whether or not we will be healed. Healing is not easy, usually it is the hardest thing we could ever do. Here's what the text says.

James 5:13-16
13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

James is talking about being sick. As you can see in vs 15 he is not just speaking of just physical sickness; but physical, emotional, and most importantly spiritual sickness. You can see that when he says "If he has sinned, he will be forgiven." I think it is important that we all agree that we are sick, depraved, and broken from those moments that we weren't walking w/ God or when we experienced things in our life that deep down destroyed us. But here; it is so beautiful what James says. He offers the ingredient for healing. Nowhere else in scripture is such a clear ingredient of healing offered. Then he says it....."Confess it, tell someone, expose yourself, take off the mask"

My immediate reaction is no way, I'll confess to God, but definitely not to other people. But the text does not say to confess to God. Actually to confess to God is not really confession at all because it's not like God didn't already know.

Jesus says this, "he who the Son sets free is free". Paul says this, "It is for freedom that Christ has set you free" and James says this, "if you wanna be free, tell someone."

Pretty scary stuff.

Would you be willing to do this? Would you be willing to confess the things that are holding you back, the things that consume your thoughts when you are trying to worship, the things that you know you are not free from? Maybe its pornography, molestation, rape, hatred, pride, approval, drugs; whatever it is for you, will you expose it? Will you take the mask off and live in freedom?

"Confession enables healing and healing empowers freedom."

Lets get free!