Category Archives: Christianity

To My Magnolia Creek Baptist Church Family

The past five years as part of your fellowship have been a blessing to me, Kacy, and our girls. We will miss you, and we pray that God blesses you greatly as you reach up in worship and prayer, reach in in fellowship, and reach out to impact your community.

It’s been a joy to serve with Brett Dutton, my friend, brother, and pastor. I’ve had a blast leading worship alongside Karen Flachman, Dianne Cook, Mike Daniher, Reid McLelland, Will Shivers, Trice Ham, Steve Shivers, and Thomas Circenis, as well as others who’ve served in the worship ministry like Christian Capdeville and Taylor Lonsford. God has built a great worship ministry at Magnolia Creek due in large part to your service and sacrifice.

We have made so many good friends that I don’t want to try to name them all because I will mess it up. Please know that we love you, and we will miss you. MCBC has been our church home and will continue to be part of us. Think of this: the DNA of Magnolia Creek Baptist Church will help shape the future of Allen Memorial Baptist Church in Salisbury, Maryland. How cool is that?!

God bless you, my church.
Jud

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Waiting Vs. Wasting

A great blog on waiting – something I know a little about – from my good friend Darren Sutton. It was a good word for me, and I think it will be for you, too.

Everyone's Called to Youth Ministry

Waiting-Room-Braille-Engraved-Sign-SE-2730“Sometimes waiting turns to wasting.”

And with those words, Jesus rocked my world through Katie’s wisdom once again!

Our family has been in a holding pattern for a LOT longer than we ever anticipated when this journey was thrust upon us by God.  And it was very evident early on that it would be a significant wait…much like that time you went to the doctor’s office and got there on time for your early-morning appointment and still missed an entire day of work.

You remember the appointment, right?  A minor annoyance at first, you watched the clock and wondered exactly how long you’d be there.  As you settled in to an uncomfortable seat and hoped you wouldn’t catch what anyone else had, you began to plan out your adjusted calendar for the day.  As you realized even the most well-adjusted calendar wouldn’t be happening THAT day, you sent a few…

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Redeemer

As I read Leviticus 25 this morning, I was reminded that God did not become Redeemer when Jesus died on the cross.  Here we see the redemption of land, slaves, and the poor.  We are reminded of the kinsman redeemer.

We see that, even in the beginnings of His relationship with the newly freed nation of Israel, as He formed a covenant with them at Sinai, God was Redeemer.  He was concerned with the redemption of those who could not redeem themselves, with the freedom of those who were powerless to free themselves.  God had freed His people from Egypt, and it was His intention to keep them free.

It was their own refusal to abide by the covenant that kept the Israelites from being free as God desired.

As followers of Christ – the Church – we are that nation’s successors, in that we are God’s people.  Like Israel, we sometimes stubbornly refuse to obey.  But God’s intention in the death and resurrection of His Son is that we would be free.

He didn’t simply make rules allowing for our physical redemption as He did in Leviticus.  He gave Himself that we would be redeemed effective, spiritually, eternally.  Jesus was and is the ultimate kinsman redeemer, who gave His life that we might be free from sin, free to live lives that glorify Him.

Not only did He give us the opportunity, but He empowers us to be free.  The very Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is in us (Romans 8:11), giving us what we need to live as the people of God.

We are redeemed!

Review | “Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry…They Just Don’t Know It Yet” by Darren Sutton

Everyone's Called to Youth Ministry...They Just Don't Know It Yet

Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry… They Just Don’t Know It Yet is a short book, but don’t let that fool you.  It’s packed with information on recruiting, caring for, putting to work, and retaining adult volunteers in your student ministry.  (Full disclosure: the author, Darren Sutton, is a friend of mine.)

The book is not a literary masterpiece, but it doesn’t need to be.  In fact, it shouldn’t be.  Darren writes with a conversational tone and sense of humor that are endearing (if a little corny) and draw the reader in quickly.  It’s full of great information but is in no way dense.  It’s a fast and easy read.

Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry… They Just Don’t Know It Yet, pretty much contains Darren’s entire philosophy on youth ministry volunteers.  It’s the wisdom (he’d probably laugh at the use of this word!) of a man with more than 20 years in youth ministry, a man who loves students and loves the adults who love students.  He also knows that the “lone ranger” mentality of so many in ministry – especially, it seems, youth pastors – may work in the short run, but over the longer term it wears the youth pastor down and creates a ministry with a single point of failure.

The book begins by showing you how to find volunteers in your church, and you may find them to be the most unexpected people.  There are great tips for understanding who your volunteers are (their personalities and spiritual gifting) and how they can best function in your ministry.  It provides information on training volunteers, and the final chapter is on releasing the volunteers in whom you’ve invested to lead, equipping them rather than just delegating.

Having seen Darren’s philosophy at work, I can tell you that what you’ll find in this book is a model that works.  The book provides practical steps for implementing without trying to squeeze the reader’s ministry into Darren’s mold.

But be forewarned.  This isn’t a step-by-step guide to overnight success.  It takes time and investment on the part of the youth pastor, but it’s an investment in the Kingdom – in both students and adults – that will bring lasting returns.

You can purchase Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry… They Just Don’t Know It Yet here.

I received this book for free from LeaderTreks for the purpose of this review.

We’re Hated, but Are We Highly Regarded?

All the argument lately over issues of same-sex vs. traditional marriage, including the uproar over Chick-fil-A, led me to blog a couple of days ago, but it also got me thinking about this one I posted quite a while back. Are we – the church – living as we ought? The world sure seems to hate us, but are they hating us for the right reasons?

Worship = Life

Nestled in amidst the passion, boldness, love, persecution – the absolute beauty – of the early Church, we find in Acts 5:13 the words, “they were highly regarded by the people.” It’s true that Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26) So, what’s the catch?

This passage in Acts is interesting because we see a dichotomy – not in the behavior of the Church, but in outsiders’ perceptions of it. A verse earlier, we read that the people saw miracles performed by the apostles. We also see the early Christ followers gathering in Solomon’s Colonnade – that’s part of the temple, the seat of Jewish worship. The Jews – all the people – saw them together in fellowship and worship in this very public place.

We can probably infer as well that the…

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Fighting the Wrong War?

In case you missed it, we Christians are involved in the Culture Wars.  If you haven’t yet, you’ll probably get your draft notice soon.  You’re not allowed to remain neutral.

So what the heck are these Culture Wars?

The enemy is anyone who stands against biblical values.  The heated battle of the moment – thanks in part to the “news” of Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s views on the subject – is the issue of same-sex marriage.   The weapons of our warfare are outraged words, political wrangling, boycotts, legislative maneuvering.  What’s at stake – as the name suggests – is American culture.

In this war over the culture, biblical values appear to be steadily losing ground.  Is it because we’re not wielding our weapons well?  Is our strategy at fault?  As I mulled this over, at first I thought that perhaps we’re using the wrong weapons.  That’s part of it, but the full truth is much worse.

We are using the wrong weapons against the wrong enemy in the wrong war. The right weapon is the Gospel.  The real enemy is Satan.  We fight for the souls of men and women who are oppressed.

The Wrong War

Why shouldn’t we fight for the culture?  Well, what is culture?  One definition on Merriam-Webster.com is “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.”  The culture is not some concrete object or place that we can fight over.  It is a set of ideas and values that finds its origin in the people.  In order for the culture to change, the people must change.

That’s how we got here, remember?  Americans used to hold different values.  Now they hold these values.  Therefore, the culture is what it is.

And the people.  All of us – every man, woman, and child on Earth – are oppressed, enslaved by sin.  (Romans 6:20)

Let’s fight the right war – to free the slaves from sin.

The Wrong Weapons

Our only hope of salvation is the Risen Savior who died to free us from the very thing that enslaves us. (John 14:6)  Therefore, our words hold no sway over the souls of men and women.  Only the Gospel does.  In fact, our words just get in the way. (1 Corinthians 1:17)  We cannot change the values of the people by fighting over them, shouting, making laws, or buying a chicken sandwich.

The Wrong Enemy

Imagine the United States Army during World War II.  The soldiers enter France to liberate the land.  They begin gunning down terrified men, women, and children in the streets.  Meanwhile, Hitler’s forces march ever forward, conquering all the peoples of Europe.  In every moment of the Culture Wars this is what we do.

We are using the wrong weapons to fight against people who are oppressed, and it is their oppression that that has led the culture to dismiss biblical values.  Our true enemy is their oppressor – Satan.  (1 Peter 5:8)

The people are so deceived by his lies that they believe God’s hatred of sin to be bigotry.  They are intolerant of the truth, but it’s because they are enslaved.  We can’t expect them to know and love the ways of God until their chains are broken and He remakes them into His likeness.

Let’s stop all the shouting and political maneuvering.  Instead, let’s pick up the Gospel and fight Satan for all we’re worth to free these slaves.