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My Cents Are Spent. Almost.

Well, this is it. I’m “breaking the bank” at MyTwoCents. I started this blog over 7 years ago at the urging of my friend, Greg Linscott. (Thanks for the push, Greg. Sincerely.) It’s been fun, and occasionally, profitable. Sure, I’ve said some stupid things here. (If you’re wondering, blogging gives a Pulpit Committee plenty to consider during the vetting process.) But I’ve also grown as a writer and as a Christian. And along the way, I’ve made many friends here. Thanks for reading and interacting!

I’m turning my online attention to ChurchWorksMedia.com, the ministry resource site that actually grew out of MTC a few years ago. We’re re-launching the site soon. (I’ll announce the re-launch with a final post here.) The new site has a lot going on, including a just-finished CD, a not-quite-finished Gospel Meditations installment, and all the hymns and books from the current site. I’m also excited to announce that it will also include a blog, where I’ll team with several likeminded friends to discuss Christian living and ministry from a doxological, gospel-centered perspective. So I’m not retiring from blogging—just moving, and getting some help.

The blog team at the new CWM site will include the following: pastors Joe Tyrpak, Matt Hoskinson, and Danny Brooks; educators Jim Newcomer, Sam Horn, and Paul Williams; and music ministers Greg Habegger and Marc Rattray. A few others (including friends involved in missions and ladies’ ministries) are still praying about participating. It’s a tremendous group, and I’m honored to work with them.

I can’t wait. See you there, Lord willing. Grace!

Deadline for Christmas Orders

ChurchWorksMedia.com’s Gospel Meditations books are ideal for Christmas and the New Year. Many individuals and churches have used the books (MenWomenMissionsCombo) as affordable, faith-building gifts. Be sure to take advantage of quantity discounts, and avoid the rush by ordering soon.

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Important: Orders not received by Saturday, December 15th will not be shipped until early 2013. 

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Many thanks to Pastor Rob Campbell for this kind endorsement:

As a pastor I am so grateful for a series like Gospel Meditations that lifts our eyes to see Christ! On different special occasions at church we have given out the men’s, women’s, and missions devotionals as gifts to every family. Gospel Meditations have helped us as a church to gradually grow Gospel thinking into our daily lives. Bethel is growing in grace and God has used Gospel Meditations in our journey.”

(Rob Campbell is the Pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Sellersville, PA)

New Palm Sunday Hymn, with a Majestic MP3

I’m glad to introduce another new hymn from ChurchWorksMedia.comHosanna to the King is a collaboration with my friend Rick Nichols. It’s a Palm Sunday hymn, but one which we hope will be useful to the church throughout the year. Rick approached me with his regal arrangement of Alexander Reinagle’s tune and asked if I could come up with a suitable text for it, preferably for Palm Sunday or Easter. Once I heard it, the text practically wrote itself. Lord willing, each line will point you to an aspect of the Triumphal Entry and the glories of Christ, the promised King and Deliverer. (You can read about the meaning of each line here.) On a side note, the location that most moved me doing my visit to The Holy Land in 2010 was The Mount of Olives. It’s not a beautiful place. But what an important place—home to the Triumphal Entry, to the Olivet Discourse, to Gethsemane, to the Ascension, and in the future, to the Second Coming. I’m so glad to have been able to write of that sacred place in this hymn.

You can download the files for the hymn below, and you can order Rick’s majestic arrangement here. The octavo is being published this fall by Fred Bock Music and was recently honored by JW Pepper as an “Editor’s Choice.” You’ll understand why when you hear it. Turn up your speakers a bit and rejoice in the majesty of our Savior. Grace!

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LINKS FOR HOSANNA TO THE KING

Choral Demo (published by Fred Bock Music)

Single PDF / Double PDF / Text / Notes / MP3 / Octavo MP3

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New CWM Hymn by Faye Lopez

Secured by Sovereign Love is Faye Lopez‘s lovely new adaptation of a classic Isaac Watts text on Psalm 139.  Watts reminds us of God’s omnipresence and omniscience. To hide from Him is impossible. Yet, the God who is all-seeing and all-knowing is also all-loving. The believer in Christ is secure in God’s sovereign, unbreakable love.

Thank you, Faye! I’ve admired your work in the past, and it’s a privilege to work with you at ChurchWorksMedia! I trust that this new piece will be an encouragement to many. Grace.

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LINKS FOR SECURED BY SOVEREIGN LOVE

Single PDF / Text / MP3

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Gospel Meditations for Voters

I wrote the following article for TCBC’s bulletins this Sunday. I thought it might be helpful for other churches, as well. It’s written with the feel of the Gospel Meditations books (which you can obtain here). Feel free to download and duplicate the PDF, but please don’t alter it in any way. Grace!

Gospel Meditations for Voters PDF

(If you find the article helpful, please share a link via Twitter, Facebook, or your blog. Thank you!)

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Election day is upon us. I hope you will vote. (I already did, taking my wife on a coffee-and-ballots date last week.) It’s proper for Christian citizens to exercise the rights of citizenship (as Paul in did in Acts 16:37-39; 21:39; 22:25-29; and 25:10-11). So vote! And vote in a Christian manner. What should you be thinking when you pull the curtain on your booth?

1. Christians should vote with thanksgiving.

Think of how few people throughout human history have had the right to influence their government with their vote. We’re not under the boot of a dictator. We’re not inheriting a king who has inherited his throne. We’re not in the middle of civil war. We’re voting. What a great blessing God has given us to live in such a country at such a time! As you vote, offer a prayer of thanksgiving to the Giver of this gift (James 1:17).

2. Christians should vote for righteousness.

Scripture doesn’t contain the names of candidates or parties. But it does tell us what our leaders are supposed to do:

  • Protect the innocent and punish the guilty (1 Peter 2:14; Romans 13:3-4)
  • Lead in a way that shows the fear of God, guards the peace of citizens, and allows the advance of the gospel (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
  • Pursue righteousness, not wickedness (Proverbs 14:34)

Christians should pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1) and submit to our leaders (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). In America, we should also help choose our leaders. As we do, we should prioritize issues on which the Bible speaks with clarity (such as the sanctity of life and marriage).

3. Christians should vote in faith.

Tensions are high. People will stay up late to see which states go “blue” or “red” and who gets 270 electoral votes. As Christians, we must watch in faith, without anxiety, knowing that whoever rules in Washington, there is a Greater who rules in heaven. The future of our country will be affected by this election, but not the future of the church or of God’s Kingdom. In the words of one of my favorite hymns, “There is a Higher Throne.” So vote. Then rest in the sovereignty and goodness of the only perfect Ruler. He ordains our leaders (Romans 13:1). He controls our leaders (Proverbs 21:1). And He will one day replace our leaders (Revelation 11:15). Hallelujah! “Come, Lord Jesus.”

© Copyright 2012 churchworksmedia.com. All rights reserved.

Rejoice with TCBC and Joe Tyrpak

Joe Tyrpak was selected to be the new Senior Pastor of Tri-County Bible Church yesterday afternoon with an overwhelming vote of 98%. I rejoice for him and for the church. I thank God for allowing this transition to be so smooth, demonstrating the Spirit-produced unity described in Ephesians 4:3. I’m certain that the Lord will continue to use Joe and TCBC to bring great glory to Himself. Joe has been an ideal co-laborer, functioning humbly and effectively as an Assistant Pastor. It’s been my great privilege to work alongside him and to be sharpened by him. As I’ve said many times, I’ve had a great pastor for the last 7 years!

Thank you for your prayers for us. Please continue them, and rejoice with us. Grace!

(Related: If you’ve not yet listened to Joe’s message from Joshua 1 on leadership transitions, I commend it to you.)

A New Chapter of Ministry Begins

Yesterday, after almost a year of praying and agonizing about what the Lord would have me do, I accepted the call to be the Senior Pastor of Killian Hill Baptist Church in Lilburn, Georgia, a community on the north side of Atlanta. It was a bittersweet day—bitter as I prepare to say goodbye to Tri-County Bible Church after 15 years together and sweet as I prepare to lead a body of believers in one of the world’s great cities. Please pray for me and my family, for TCBC, and for KHBC.

This wasn’t a decision I made lightly. I’ve shed many, many tears as I’ve contemplated the move. If you’ve not gone through a similar decision, you have no idea how excruciating it is. I anticipated spending my entire ministry at TCBC, and I was glad to do so. There is no problem to escape. On the contrary, things are going great. We have solid leaders in place. People are continuing to come to Christ and grow in Christlikeness. Our philosophy of ministry is sound. Our relationships are strong. We’re enjoying a new building after 12 years in a high school. Finances are fine. It’s a healthy, vibrant church, by God’s grace (Psalm 115:1). So why leave? Well, for a number of reasons (listed in no particular order):

  • First, I’ve been unsettled over the last year, wondering if the Lord had another task for me to perform. I waited it out, lest it was a temporary thing—a midlife crisis, or a letdown after the building project, or a funk, or burnout, or whatever. But the sense that it might be time to do something else lingered, even as I delighted in what God was teaching me and doing at TCBC.
  • Second, I objectively looked at my strengths and weaknesses, and where they could be maximized and minimized most effectively. I wanted to be a steward of my opportunities, responsibilities, and gifts.
  • Third, I prayed. And prayed. And prayed. I’ve never prayed so much about a matter in my life. It was my first and last waking thought: “Lord, want do you want me to do?”
  • Fourth, I considered the Scriptures. I rested in the call of God for pastors in Acts 20:28. The Holy Ghost makes our pastoral assignments—which is great to know. He’s more interested in this than I am. And He’s sovereign. I asked God to exercise veto power as described in Proverbs 16:9. I considered texts which focus ministry on urban and multi-ethnic areas in both Testaments (from my preaching on Jonah, to my writing on missions, to my reading of Acts and the epistles). I considered with great delight the multi-ethnic throng in Revelation 5:9-10, and I desired to be part of gathering such a diverse people.
  • Fifth, I sought counsel—from long-time friends, from ministry partners, from co-laborers at TCBC, from missionaries, from family members, and especially from my wife.
  • Sixth, I read. John Cionca’s book on pastoral transitions, Before You Move, was very helpful. Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something was liberating. A number of books about missions and risk-taking were troubling, albeit in a good way. Some Christian biographies talked about transitions that the Lord used for His glory. It seemed from what I read that there was a divine conspiracy to get me ready to go.
  • Seventh, I looked at the stability of TCBC, and specifically at the giftedness of Joe Tyrpak, our Assistant Pastor. For years I’ve labored to make the body sustainable should I die, or move, or (God forbid) fall. We’ve preached every-member ministry. We’ve decentralized leadership. We’ve taught that no one is essential to the local church but Christ. And all the while, Joe has grown as a preacher and pastor (as evidenced in this bold message on transitions in leadership, preached 3 weeks ago). He’s shepherded TCBC—including me—capably. He is as gifted and faithful a shepherd as I’ve ever known. I began to believe that although we work exceedingly well together (in fact, he’s among my best friends), our gifting and burdens are a bit redundant. It’s great working together, but there are so many needs and opportunities elsewhere. I believe he is more than ready to lead TCBC and that we should expand our influence. (By God’s grace, the transition is going well. We’ve worked on it for months, and Joe has been recommended as the next Senior Pastor of TCBC by a unanimous vote of our leaders. We vote on that change as an assembly next week, when I’ll begin serving as his Assistant Pastor through the end of 2012, Lord willing.)
  • Ultimately, having considered objective and subjective factors, having gone through a thorough vetting process, and having prayed relentlessly, I determined that the Lord was opening a door for a new phase of ministry. And so I moved forward. Yesterday, by God’s good leading and grace, the decision was made final, both by a strong vote at KHBC and by my acceptance of the call.

I’m excited about the work God has ahead for my family as we join the team at KHBC. I’m excited about their involvement in missions. I’m excited about their excellent Christian School, particularly their open enrollment policy that allows them to minister to a staggering breadth of families from every corner of the globe. I’m excited about their faithful, complementary leadership. I’m excited about their committed, sacrificial members. I’m excited about their stability (the last time they had a pastoral transition I was 8 years old!) and commitment to the Scriptures. And I’m excited to see the Lord transplant a bit of TCBC’s heart for evangelism and discipleship into a sister ministry. I’m confident that the result of the move will be a net gain as the Lord works in both churches for His greater glory.

I’m also excited about TCBC’s future. I love this body of believers, and in a sense, Madison will always be home. As I preached yesterday, I find great hope in Philippians 1:6. Though it has individual implications (and that’s how we generally use it), it was written to a local church and its leaders (1:1). Paul, the church planter rejoiced in what God had done “from the first day” (1:5), was continuing to do “until now” (1:5), and would continue to do “until the day of Jesus Christ” (1:6). In reality, Christ started the church in Philippi (as recorded in Acts 16) and wouldn’t stop His work until it was finished.

The church is Christ’s. He owns it. He builds it. He rules it. And He expands it. I’m eager to see that happen, both in Ohio and Georgia, and around the world. Pray for us. Grace!