Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Joy in Singing

1. It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
      to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2. to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
      and your faithfulness by night,
3. to the music of the lute and the harp,
      to the melody of the lyre.
4. For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
      at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
Psalm 92:1-4

    I have to confess yesterday was not the greatest of days. It was just one of those days that my attitude was not great. We are exhausted from a busy summer that is not over yet and the stress of the never ending pace of all the things that come with church planting were weighing on me. We were looking forward to an evening away at a marriage retreat in Denver but in the midst of that I had a couple of difficult phone calls and because of my fatigue and stress I was not the most pleasant. I wasn't the most pleasant on the phone and Amy gently reminded me that I was not the most pleasant in person either.

    As we had dinner and sat with other planters and began the retreat my mind and my heart were not in the right place. I was tired, stressed, frustrated and irritated. I didn't really want to be there and all I could think about were the things I had to do and dwell on the frustrations of the day. I was not focused on the retreat, enjoying the company of other planters or time with Amy. I was being selfish. I was being pitiful and I just wanted to go and get some rest. And then something happened. The worship leader for the retreat stood up and led us in singing. And this is what we sang.

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness?
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger?
The King of Glory, the King of kings!

This is AMAZING Grace, unfailing love, That You would take my place, That you would bear my cross.

   As I sang these words I realized how selfish and sinful I had been. I had allowed the enemy to take a foothold in my day and he did it through fatigue and stress. I allowed the little minor things in life to rob me of the joy of the greater things. I was robbed of the joy of being with friends and the joy of time away with Amy and I was also robbed of the joy of being known and loved by God, all because I was being selfish.

   We all get this way from time to time. We get tired and stressed and life comes at us from all different angles and the enemy comes at us hard and fast and often in ways we never see. After all he is crafty and prowls around like a roaring lion looking for weakness and pouncing on us desiring to devour us. He is a thief that comes to kill, steal and destroy and he loves to steal our joy.

   But God is good and gracious and He loves us and He has these ways of reminding us of who we are in Him because of what He has done for us. One of the most awesome ways He does this is through singing. Just as the Psalm says it is good to give thanks to The LORD and praise Him in song. There is just something about singing that has a way of opening our eyes to see and our herts to be reminded of His grace and mercy. He says it is good to sing and praise Him because it brings all other things back into perspective. It has a way of taking our focus off of our first world problems and allows us to focus on His glory and majesty and favor upon us. It is humbling and uplifting all at the same time. It is a game changer for sure. I know it was for me.

Monday, June 25, 2018

How do we Glorify God?

One of my favorite parts of the Westminster Catechism asks the question "What is the chief end of man?" It is answered with this statement. "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." I love this statement because it defines the purpose of believers and defines the reward for those who seek to live out this purpose. However, it brought to mind another question I had and was able to discuss this with some dear friends the other day. 

Here is the question; How do we, as weak, broken, fallible and imperfect people glorify an all sufficient, all knowing, perfect, all powerful, wise, awesome God? This is a difficult question to answer without the right context. We have to understand that God needs nothing from us because He is all sufficient in Himself. 

He says in Psalm 50:10-12  
10 For every beast of the forest is mine, 
 the cattle on a thousand hills. 

11 I know all the birds of the hills,  
and all that moves in the field is mine.

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,  
for the world and its fullness are mine.

He says in Isaiah 64:4 that all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. 

What these passages tell us is that God is not a being that needs anything outside Himself and that when we try and offer Him what we may perceive as something He needs, we fail miserably. We do so because we have nothing, in and of ourselves, that He would desire. All we have is our brokenness. 

If this is so then how do we go about glorifying God? I would like to offer four ways we, as broken sinners redeemed by God's grace and mercy can Glorify God. 

1. Enjoy God. What this means is we enjoy His blessings and favor. We relish in the grace and mercy He gives. We wallow in His great love for us that while we were sinners Christ died for us. Enjoy the fact that He keeps us in His embrace as well. Like a small child that rests peacefully in the arms of their father while the conflict of the world rages around them, we too are to rest in Him joyfully. God is glorified when we enjoy His creation and splendor. Enjoy God, especially in the truth of the Gospel.

2. Be generous. God is a generous God and gives us all so much and we are to be generous as well. This does not mean that we are to simply give things away blindly. We are to steward what He gives us well. We see a great example of this in Matthew 25 where a master gave three servants different portions of money or talents. He trusted them to be good stewards of those talents that belonged to the master. Two of the servants did so and and brought honor to the master and increased his household. 

Like those two servants we are to examine the gifts and blessings that God has allowed us to steward and use them to grow His kingdom. Such things are more than money. Think of how you use your resources, how you spend your time, how you use your job, your home, and even your vacation. All of those things and more God has graciously given you and glorify God by using them to grow His Kingdom. 

3. Be obedient. I love the old hymn Trust and Obey. Those words mean a lot in glorifying God. For to obey Him means that we have to trust Him. We are to trust that He is God and knows best for us. A disobedient child dishonors their parents and we do the same when we disobey God. However a child honors their parents by their obedience and as well we bring honor and glory to God when we are obedient. If we are professing believers we are to strive to follow God's Word because our obedience is a direct testimony to the genuineness of the Gospel itself. 

4. Share God. God is infinite in all that He is and there is no danger of Him running out. But often we as believers treat Him as if there is not enough to go around to others. We have no problem sharing with others about our favorite restaurant and encouraging them to pay tribute to them without fear of them running out of food. But often treat Jesus as if He is just for us but that is not what scripture tells us. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 tells us that we are to GO and share the Good News of who Jesus is. The Gospel is the greatest manifestation of God's Glory and is to be shared because it is more needed and more beneficial than the greatest of meals at the best of restaurants. God is glorified when we direct others to His infinite goodness through the Gospel. 

Glorifying God is not a burden but a blessing. God does desire that we glorify Him in all that we do but this should be a joyful endeavor. For it is just a foretaste that all believers will experience in eternity in His unhindered glory. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Light in Darkness

It is Halloween and this morning I donned a rainbow afro wig and stood at my daughter's school giving high fives to the students as they entered school, many with their costumes on. This was a bit uncomfortable for me but after a while it became fun. The students laughed at me and smiled as they entered and in a small way I was able to brighten their day as they brightened mine.

Halloween is a day that is frowned upon by many Christians. They see it as a day that celebrates darkness and in contrary to their beliefs and I would partially agree with that. I am not much of a fan of Halloween however on this day we are given an unbelievable opportunity.

This day is also a very special day for believers in Jesus. Today marks the 500th year of what many believe was the beginning of the Reformation. It was a rediscovery of the beauty and truth of the Gospel that had been hidden and abused by the Roman Catholic Church. It began by a German Monk nailing some arguments to the church door in Wittenberg Germany in order to spark discussion over the Word of God. Out of that came what we know today as the Protestant Church. The time prior to this was a very dark time in history but like Luther and many others they took advantage of an opportunity to be light in darkness. In fact one of the great Latin chants that came from the Reformation was Post Tenebras Lux, meaning After Darkness Light.

We as believers have the same opportunity as the Reformers did. Maybe not to the same scale as them but we have the same opportunity. On a day meant for darkness we have an unbelievable opening to be Light. This is the day when we do not have to go to the world but they come to our door and knock. We have a choice. We can either turn our porch light off and isolate ourselves or we can turn it on, bring out the candy, sit on our porch, meet our neighbors, engage them and build relationships, love them and in a small way show them Jesus.

I am reminded of Matthew 5:14-16 where Jesus says "You area the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do my people light a lamp and put it under a basket., but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven."

We have a choice tonight. We can turn out the porch light and essentially put the light of the Gospel that saved us under a basket or we can turn on our porch light, make some coffee and hot chocolate and greet the world with the light and love of Jesus. I encourage you oh Christian, seize this opportunity on a day meant for darkness, be Light.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Leaving Well

As most know yesterday was my last day as a Tyler Police Officer. I retired 20 years to the day I was sworn in by Chief Bob Bond. I certainly have some mixed emotions because during my career I have acquired some great relationships and had the opportunity to do some really cool stuff.  There is very little I regret about my career. It has been great to say the least. From foot chases and pursuits down railroad tracks (twice), to rolling 5 deep with the Bike Unit to get ice cream.

There have also been tough times as well that I will never forget and that have had tremendous impacts on my life. Times of dealing with the sickness and loss of our son and having my brothers in blue just show up to sit for days in a hospital waiting room and grieve, praying together as another one's wife goes into brain surgery, preaching the funeral of another ones wife who passed away and being scared to death as we wait to hear the status of one that was shot by a fleeing suspect right before our eyes. These are memories that will always be burned in my mind and heart.

Months before yesterday I began to really think about what I wanted to say to these men and women that I have gone to battle with and that I consider more than friends but a special kind of family. There was one thing I did not want to leave un said. Here is a summary of what I wanted to convey to those that hold a dear place in my heart.

To my Brother and Sisters in Blue,

I have few regrets in my 20 year career and I don't want to end with one so I want to share something with you that I feel I must say. I believe it was John Piper that said the greatest of men and all their great deeds will be all but a tiny footnote in history in all of eternity. I know and realize that my presence will soon be a faint memory as a Tyler Police Officer and I am perfectly ok with that. It is just life. However I do pray that what follows is something that will not soon be a distant memory.

Many of us began in this line of work because we see the brokenness of this world. We see injustice and we are constantly faced with the obvious depravity of mankind. We see it more than the average citizen and we cannot deny this is a fallen world. We see unspeakable things that people do to each other and is proof that this world is fallen. We also began this line of work because we believe in justice. We believe that when the laws of our great state and our nation are broken we are to strive to bring justice. It is an oath we swore to uphold and we risk our lives to seek it because it is that important.

However there is a greater law than the laws of our state and country and that is the Law of God. A law that we all have broken. God's Word is clear that we all have sinned and fall short of His glory. And if we believe in justice we have to see the truth here. If we have broken the law then justice must be pursued just like the laws of our state and country. The justice that God requirers is death, eternal death. God's Word also tells us that the wages of sin is death. We have to understand the God's justice is perfect and the breaking of His law has severe consequences that apply to us all.

However the good news is that God is not only a God of Justice but He is one of Grace as well. And His grace is manifested in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His one and only Son. Because God is a God of Justice and grace He does not simply overlook sin, He demands punishment for it but for those that repent and believe in Him that punishment is placed on Christ. God's perfect justice is satisfied in one of two ways; either by unrepentant sinners being condemned to hell for all eternity or God's justice is satisfied by Christ going to the Cross and taking God's full wrath so that those that believe in Him will never taste eternal death.

God's Word tells us also that He that knew no sin became sin so that we could be reconciled to God. What great love that God has for us that He would do such a thing for those that have willingly broken His law. The Cross of Christ is a beautiful thing and is where the perfect justice of God intersects with the perfect Grace of God. What He requires in return is belief. This is not just seeing Jesus as a savior but seeing Him as your Lord.

I pray that if you remember nothing else, you remember this and that you believe in Christ.

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness
and to walk humbly with your God?

Be Warriors, keep your eyes on the King of kings.
No regrets! Your brother,

Josh Green

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Pastoring is not easy and I have heard many times that if a man can do anything else but be a pastor he should do it, but if not do it with all he has. The Great Preacher Charles Spurgeon said "Do not enter the ministry if you can help it,. If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven and earth let him go his way; he is not the man in whom dwells the Spirit of God in its fullness, for a man so filled with God would utterly weary of any pursuit by that for which his inmost soul pants.

The struggles of pastors are often many but one that I have experienced and heard from many of my shepherding brothers lately is the struggle with our people's commitment to one another. We live in an age were little to no commitment is required of anyone. We see this in our economic structure where companies encourage non-commitment with easy purchasing options with little to no commitment. Things such as phone plans and internet service or even cable TV offer no commitment necessary to obtain what you want. What is worse is we see this bleeding over into the family and even the church. We see little to no commitment to the sanctity of marriage and what it represents. But we also see a decline in self-professing Christians to commit to the church.

Oh we commit to things. It is amazing that many families will commit to hours of baseball or soccer practice and all day Saturdays spent at the ball field or tournaments. They will commit hundreds of dollars to such things that eternally have no benefit but when it comes to the eternal things many are willing to commit even in the smallest amount.  

As I was reading today through the book of Ephesians I was reminded of this very thing. In Chapter 4 Paul urges the people of the Church at Ephesus to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which they have been called and to do this with humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with one another in love and eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He then adds that the leaders of the church are to equip the saints to do the work of ministry for the building up of the body, the church.

What Paul is getting at is that all professing church members have a responsibility to one another to be a part of the church. This means commitment. Now many justify their commitment by attendance or maybe even a little service every now and then however there is still a great lack of commitment and it is detrimental to the health and growth of the church. 

I was told by a pastor friend the other day that the average church attendance of a "regular member" is 1.3 times a month. That number is staggering and is heartbreaking to pastors. Here are a few ideas of what it means when you just don't show up. 

  • First of all it means that you are not concerned about your own spiritual growth. Like it or not the Bible is clear that we are to meet together regularly for fellowship and worship. The purpose of this is that we will be challenged and equipped to fulfill the calling that God has called us to and that is to glorify Him. When we break the habit of meeting together we quickly fall into the ways of the world and our spiritual growth slows to a crawl. 
  • Secondly is says the we don't care about the spiritual growth of others. Weather you realize it or not if you are a true believer you have a place and a duty in the church. The Bible tells that the Spirit equips us to do the work of ministry and each believer has different spiritual gifts. When we fail to participate we are quenching that Spirit that God has given us to do His work for His glory. 
  • We don't cherish the Gospel like we should. For the believer the Gospel is as relevant today as it was when God used it to save us. We need the Gospel message to be preached to us because we are easily drawn away form what has saved us. We need a constant reminder of the awesome grace God has shown us through the Gospel message. It is to be celebrated, sung about, prayed about and studied about with our fellow believers. This too is for the glory of God. 
 Commitment to the local body of believers is a command that God gives us because it is there that the Gospel is experienced and lived out and every believer has a place and a duty to take part. And the great thing is we are blessed when we do commit. We grow in our faith. We grow in our relationships and we grow the church.

So I urge you. make a commitment. Commit to show up. Commit to attend that Bible study. Commit to that women's fellowship. Commit to that time of corporate worship. Commit that time to serve missionaly. I have never heard anyone say they have served Christ and His Church too much. 

I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!"
Psalm 122:1

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Minimalist Christian?

Minimalist Christian?

There seems to be a new phenomenon where people are becoming obsessed with being a minimalist. We see this new thing of tiny homes where people see how small a space they can live in with as few amenities as possible. There are smart cars that honestly don’t look that smart. There are minimalist wallets and other things in life that many have gravitated to to be more minimalistic.

Many of these things are great and I always encourage people to be more “minimalistic’ in their lives and my wife and I have worked hard on minimizing the things that we have to maintain because it seems to simplify life. However when it comes to Christianity is there such a thing as a “Minimalist Christian”?

 I recently studied through 1 John and a few verses made me consider this. In 1 John 2:2-6 John states “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

What John is saying here is that real, authentic believers are marked by their obedience to the commands of Jesus. If God has truly saved them then their desire is to please God by being obedient to the teachings and commands of Christ. This begs the question, what are the commands of Jesus? Many consider the commands of Jesus being something along the lines of the Ten Commandments. Have no other God’s before Him, have no idols, honor the Sabbath, do not lie or steal or murder or covet or disrespect your parents and so on and I would not disagree with that but think about this. There was a time when Jesus was asked what the greatest Commandment was. His response was to love The Lord your God with all your heart and soul and your mind. He then said the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Now consider how great a command these are. Paul Washer states that at no point in any believer’s life has he ever loved God with all of his heart and soul and mind and I tend to agree with him. I would also add that it is nearly impossible to love your neighbor as yourself. However these are the commands of Jesus and He adds that all of the Law is summed up in these two commands.

In modern day Christianity it seems there is a grave misunderstanding of the commands of Jesus that is spoken of in 1 John. Many in the churched culture seem to have a minimalistic attitude when it comes to somehow qualifying as a follower of Jesus. There are many that only consider the least amount of what they can do in order to somehow qualify or justify in their hearts and minds as being a “Christian”. Maybe they have walked the isle and prayed a prayer and got dunked and have not considered their growth in their faith since. Or they claim to be a church member because they attend once in awhile yet are not connected to and serving in the community of believers in that church. Or they give just enough that they don’t feel guilty but rarely give sacrificially. Maybe they will slap a fish sticker or cross or “I worship at …” on the back of their car and somehow feel ok with rarely or never openly sharing their faith. They will post a need for prayer or complain to others about sufferings but are afraid to publicly approach the Lord in prayer even in the smallest group. They complain that they are not being fed in their church or criticize the ministry yet never volunteer to help facilitate Gospel centered change.

Honestly are these the types of commands that Jesus says are ok for followers of Jesus? It seems to me that when Jesus tells us that we are to pick up our cross and follow Him it means much more than we give it credit. John seems harsh in verse 4 when he says the one that claims to know Him but does not keep His commands is a liar but it is a harsh truth that we would do well to hear. Are we lying to ourselves when we do the minimum when Jesus actually calls us to so much more?

What I see is that Jesus tells us not to strive or be happy with the minimum bet He tells us to strive for so much more. To love God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves seems to be the impossible but that is the standard that Jesus calls us to strive for.

When we are struggling financially the minimum would be don’t go out and steal and that would be good. However if we take Jesus’ standards we ought to look around for those that are worse off and see how we can serve. If our brother asks us to go a mile with him the minimum is to go that mile without grumbling. Jesus however commands us to go further than just what was asked. When our enemy attacks us the minimum would be not to return with an attack. Jesus says that we are to turn and offer the other cheek.

I pray that we consider these words of John. I pray that we abide in Jesus and our heart’s desire is to keep His commands. There is no such thing as a “Minimalist Christian” according to scripture. May the Spirit help us to see the areas that we are minimal and strive for the maximum. If we KNOW Him we Will KEEP His commandments. Are we walking in the same way in which He walked?

Monday, July 11, 2016

We are at war!

I am a pastor. I am also a 19 year veteran police officer. The events of the past few weeks have weighed on me heavily not only as a cop but also as a pastor. I mourn the loss of my brothers in blue and I hurt for their families who will sit at a dinner table with an empty chair tonight.

Today I attended a memorial service in our city for the fallen officers from Dallas. It was very respectful and an honor however as I listened to the names being called and the prayers offered I could not help but feel uneasy. I was uneasy to the point I was uncomfortable and almost sick. I looked around at all the people and could not help but think this would be the extent of their efforts to cope and deal with the things that have transpired. I thought, is this it? 

Maybe this was compounded by the rage of social media of so many amateur experts offering their sure fire way to solve the problems that plague modern day society. As I read through many I found myself more perplexed, frustrated and heartbroken because none offered any real hope. So in my hypocrisy I took to my computer and this is the result. 

We are at war! Make no mistake about it. The events that have occurred in the past several weeks, even a few years, should be a true wakeup call that there is a horrendous war raging and we are in the middle of it. This war is not one that is cops against the black lives matter movement. This war is not one that is Democrat against Republican. It is not a war for justice in our corrupt government. It is not a war of Americans against radical Islam or ISIS. It is much bigger. This war has just manifested itself in these facets. This war has reared it’s head as racial tension, religious tension and political tension. This war is spiritual. 

My fear is that we have been oblivious to it. The enemy has done well to trick us into fighting it wrong. We take to social media and rant. We march or block roadways. We wave signs with intent to “bring awareness”, whatever that means. We have vigils or rallies or simply just sit on the porch and complain all the while our anger and frustration builds. None of this does much good if any at all. It is because we fight this war wrong. And it is because we do not understand the war we are in.

Ephesians 6:12 says “ For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” 

This war is spiritual and the enemy wants to keep us off the spiritual battlefield and distracted on the battlefield of flesh and blood where we have no hope of victory. Instead the Apostle Paul says to take up the armor of God which are elements of our spiritual defense so that we may withstand in the evil day. Our problem is we exchanged the armor of truth for lies, righteousness for pride, faith for anger, salvation for destruction, the Word of God for our own agenda and the greatest one of all the Gospel is nowhere.

It is time we pull our heads out of the sand of the physical battleground and get our hearts into the spiritual realm. We need to pray, and I don’t mean simply for protection and safety. We need to pray for boldness to confront our enemies with truth. We need to hold fast to our faith knowing that whatever comes our way we have the glory of God to look forward to. We honestly need to open our Bibles and see the God of the Bible and obey His commands and stand on His promises and not some short tweet or Facebook share and be blessed tidbit of misused scripture. 

Lastly we need to be about the Gospel. We call ourselves a “Christian” nation then we need to prove it by being about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is how we fight and win the war we are in. Share the Gospel and live the Gospel. We must stop looking to destroy those that hate us and seek to rescue them from the wrath of God with the Gospel. After all Jesus came to seek and save the lost, Jew and Gentile.

So my encouragement and challenge is to get off the couch or porch, turn off the social media, stop ranting and go to those around you and give them Jesus. Just give them the Gospel, that which the gates of hell will not overcome.