When Jesus called Simon to be His disciple, Jesus gave him a new name: Peter. In the garden of Gethsemane just before he was betrayed by Judas, however, Jesus called Peter by his former name once again. I never noticed this before, and our pastor (Matt Jones) pointed it out today in his sermon. In Mark 14:37 we read:
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. â€œSimon,â€ he said to Peter, â€œare you asleep? Couldnâ€™t you keep watch for one hour?
Jesus calls us all to remain awake and not sleep as we face times of trial together.
This weekend I’m attending the Men’s Council planning retreat for the May 2015 Men’s Conference at Mo Ranch, which is a Presbyterian retreat center near Hunt, Texas. Amidst the busyness of our fall schedules, this is an awesome opportunity to briefly visit the beautiful hill country of Texas with my wife and have some fellowship and planning time with other Christian men.
I’ve been coming to Mo Ranch (@PresbyMoRanch) for the men’s conference for aboutÂ seven years, and it’s become a VERY important part of my life. My dad has been coming down with me for the last 3 or 4 years, and it’s a non-football weekend for us to fellowship together that’s become an awesome tradition.
This morning at our Men’s Council planning meeting, our Men’s Council President Michael Brundeen shared a little about our 2015 conference keynote speaker and worship leader.Â Donovan Drake, pastor ofÂ Westminster Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. His description of Donovan’s sermons that he’s heard in the past was incredible! Michael heard him preach on the story of Noah’s Ark, when he extended the metaphor to “who are you bringing on your ark?” The focus was on thinking about the legacy you build and shape today which will have LOTS of impact down the road. I’m not only energized to hear Donovan at Mo Ranch next year, but also subscribe to his sermon series which is available as a podcast both on iTunes and via an RSS feed. (I use the latter with the Pocket Casts smartphone app.) I’m not doing justice toÂ Michael’s description of Donovan’s sermon messages here… but suffice it to say I’m SUPER energized to hear him.Â Jesse Truvillion has been our Bible studyÂ leader at Mo Ranch for many years. It will be exciting to hear fromÂ Donovan DrakeÂ and have him bring fresh messages to our attendees.
Michael also told us aboutÂ Rev. Dr. David G. McKechnie, who will be our 2015 Men’s Conference keynote speaker. David has a very interesting background, prior to attending seminary and becoming a pastor, as a television news anchor. Michael said David is a FANTASTIC storyteller, and has compelling ability to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with his stories. I can’t find a podcast RSS feed or videos on YouTube for any messages by David, so if you have or find one please share it as a comment to this post. I’m VERY enthused to hear his keynote message for us at our 2015 conference.
Wherever you are in your faith journey, if you are a man I encourage you join us Friday, May 2 through Sunday, May 4, 2015 at Mo Ranch for the Men’s Conference. It will be a renewing and refreshing experience of fellowship and growing in faith following God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
This is one of the scripture passages we are considering this morning in church:
Then Jesus told them, â€œYou are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.â€ When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them. (John 12:35-36 NIV)
Wherever we are, we are called to share the light and love of Christ. We pray for the inner life to control the outer life. (To walk the talk.)
These are my tweets from a sermon and afternoon presentation by Nabeel Qureshi at First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, Oklahoma, on February 9, 2014. My Christian Twitter channel is @eyesrightblog – my professional channel is @wfryer. Nabeel’s web bio is:
Dr. Nabeel Qureshi is a former devout Muslim who was convinced of the truth of the Gospel through historical reasoning and a spiritual search for God. Since his conversion, he has dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel through teaching, preaching, writing, and debating.
Nabeel has given lectures at universities and seminaries throughout North America, including New York University, Rutgers, the University of North Carolina, the University of Ottawa, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Biola University. He has participated in 17 moderated, public debates around North America, Europe, and Asia. His focus is on the foundations of the Christian faith and the early history and teachings of Islam.
Nabeel is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He holds an MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, an MA in Christian apologetics from Biola University, and an MA from Duke University in Religion.
This is our memory verse in our new Sunday school rotation:
After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. (Luke 2:46 NIV)
We don’t have many stories in the Bible about Jesus as a child, but we do have this story. I love how it reveals Jesus, even at a young age, as a question asker! He was also a good listener. These are both behaviors we should copy as followers of Christ!
These are some if my favorite verses in the Bible. The metaphor of letting the light of Christ shine through our lives for others to see resonates deeply with me.
â€œYou are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)
On February 9, 2014, Dr Nabeel Qureshi will present at our church in Edmond, Oklahoma, on his book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity.”
This is a 1.5 hour video recording of a past presentation by Dr. Qureshi.
I’ve started a new year-long Bible reading plan in the free YouVersion Bible app. It’s called “For The Love of God” and has a short commentary which accompanies each day’s readings from both the New and Old Testament.
This verse stood out to me today:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhereâ€”in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.â€ (Acts 1:8 NLT)
In these last words of Jesus, before he ascended into heaven, he reminds us that we are all called to be witnesses. But we are called to be witnesses when we are filled by the Holy Spirit, and his power comes upon us.
Dear God, I pray you would fill me this day and this year with your Holy Spirit. Make me attentive to your words and your will. Mold me into a good listener, who is not afraid to share my witness of your power and your love. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.
A reading today from the Gospel of Luke:
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lordâ€™s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. â€œDonâ€™t be afraid!â€ he said. â€œI bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviorâ€”yes, the Messiah, the Lordâ€”has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.â€ (Luke 2:9-12 NLT)
Reading these verses this morning, I am reminded of how the shepherds were struck with fear when they first heard the Angel of The Lord speak. The first words of the Angel were to not be afraid, however. Many people today deny or fail to understand the reality of angels, and the reality of God speaking directly to his people throughout history and continuing to speak today through his Holy Spirit.
I’m also reminded of how God chose to speak to the shepherds, who were among the lowliest of people living and working at that time in the Holy Land. God did not come in a vision to the king, and he did not come to the newsagency of the day and ask for an all points bulletin. I think God came to the shepherds to help us understand that his son, Jesus, comes for all of us, no matter what our station or situation in life may be.
God, I pray you would reveal yourself to us this day, and help us to understand in our hearts the joyful gift you gave us through your son, Jesus. Through the commercials and the gifts and the food and the distractions of this season, help us to clearly see and embrace the gift of Jesus in our hearts. In the holy and powerful name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
Today for the first time in as long as I can remember, our family stayed home on Sunday morning and didn’t go to church. There was a lot of ice on our cars, and although the roads were clear it seemed right to stay home. We had a wonderful morning together and decided later we’d have a family church service together. We have shared short family devotionals together previously, especially before Christmas during the Advent season, but it is not (unfortunately) something we have done often. Tonight’s family church service, then, was particularly meaningful and special. I’d hoped it would be a time when everyone could participate: sharing, singing, praying, and reading from God’s Word. It was.
We used our AppleTV to project the lyrics to “The First Noel,” which we opened with, and these words from the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midianâ€™s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warriorâ€™s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on Davidâ€™s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:2-7 NIV)
We used this description of the four candles of advent (though it differs slightly from our church tradition) and read a meditation from “God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.