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2014 SBC Annual Meeting Convention Sermon [Summary]


Today, I had the amazing privilege to preach the Convention Message of the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore, Maryland. Upon being invited nearly a year ago to preach this message, God began to speak to me in prayer. “You won’t preach an ordinary message. You’ll preach what you live.”   And what a year it’s been.

Message Title: “The Impossible Quest”
Message Text: 1 Chronicles 11:3, 9, 10-14.



5 Things Leaders Can’t Make a Difference Without

Things NEED change. In the kingdom. In the churches.
Otherwise, we keep getting what we’ve BEEN getting.
But the kingdom won’t change until churches do. And churches won’t change until leaders do.  That’s why God is in the business of changing, challenging, growing, squeezing, breaking and re-making leaders. Every great move of God is preceded by a leader’s personal transformation.


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Healing and the Sovereignty of God


Resting Under His Sovereignty

Sickness happens. We’re sure of that.

The question is, “At whose hand does it happen?” Is sickness merely part of the human condition in which all of us are potential victims? Is my sickness from sin, present or past, and a consequence for what I’ve done or failed to do? Is it Satan whose diabolic cursing bring us into physical ruin and weakness? Or is sickness from God, in whose Sovereign purpose and plan it is brought for my good and His glory? …more

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Exposed On the Front Lines


“Until you know that life is war, you cannot know what prayer is for. Prayer is for the accomplishment of a wartime mission.”
John Piper

Life is war.  Have you discovered this yet? If not, you’re in a losing battle already.  Like the German citizens who ignored the horrors of Nazi Germany, who chose to look the other way when all the signs of atrocity that accompanied the Holocaust were evident – we are in danger of missing the huge kingdom conflict all around us, living outside of reality. …more

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Do Dogs Go to Heaven?


“Will there be dogs in heaven?”

Set the scene in your mind. I was studying about the new heaven and new earth and as I shared this during a lunch meeting, I was met with the question above. Now, I’m on the spot. Maybe 60 or so eyes looking my way.

Respected scholars are split on the subject. Some say, “no.” Dogs don’t have souls.
Some say, “yes.” There were animals in Eden – and the tree in Eden will resurface in heaven. They have a point.

But my answer THAT moment: “Well, if there are dogs in heaven, I know one that won’t be there – MINE.”

But in seriousness, I was reminded that even though my dog is rebellious, selfish, dirty, a moocher, and even far worse than those descriptors on her most disobedient day, she still is no more disqualified for heaven than I am. In fact, upon further reflection, I realized my own stubbornness and rebellion, selfishness, etc., are uglier than than the dogs. I have a head start on being intelligent, reasonable and capable of knowing better than to offend my Maker and Master. And yet, I am still disobedient. Not as bad as I once was, but still…

I don’t know if dogs are in heaven, but because we are all in the same boat, I am ever thankful for the ocean of grace.

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Perspective Check: Fixing Your Focus on Heaven


Few of us really know what we’re looking forward to. God has something very, very special planned! Revelation 21 and 22 are amazing in the details of heaven. I’ll summarize the first five verses of Revelation 21, but you really have to read it.

God tells us what we will EXPERIENCE – and specifically we’ll watch the old earth and heaven pass away with fire and noise and every other awesome sensory comprehension and then we’ll watch as God creates a brand new earth and heaven – far more glorious than the first. Imagine the most beautiful place on earth. Now magnify the beauty by a million times. Add to that the fact that it will never spoil. That’s a start.

God tells us what we will EXPLORE. Verse 2 speaks of the New Jerusalem – the place where our mansion is being built – yep, individual mansions for the redeemed. I estimate (and others, as well) that your mansion will be huge. The holy city, after all, is 1500 miles wide, deep and tall. It can house 20 billion people and give them enough space to have 75 acres each – in all directions! Out of 100 billion estimated population of earth in the past, present and future, if we guess that 20% come to know Christ (yes, that is optimistic) these are the numbers. What’s more, as John explored, you will also explore the BRILLIANCE, the BIGNESS, the BEAUTY and the BLESSING of heaven. Get ready.

But the best part of heaven in the ability to ENJOY His Presence. I can’t wait to see Jesus. This is really what heaven is all about and He will be AMONG us (three times this is mentioned in one verse). Every pain, heartbreak and disappointment will be reversed by the healing balm of Jesus’ presence.

This is so good for our perspective. My understanding of heaven is flavoring how I feel about earth. I’m not clinging quite so tightly. I’m not expecting quite so much. The greatest things are ahead of us.

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“You meant… but God meant”


Joseph has one of the greatest lines in the Bible, “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Gen. 50:20)

I’ve remembered it as life hits me like a bus – or quoted it when someone else felt thrown under the same bus.

It means that evil doesn’t triumph, even though it sometimes looks that way.
It means that the worst motives on earth don’t rule, God the Ruler with the best motives does.
It means that all the wickedness, scheming and hatred has restraint, for it cannot thwart God’s purpose.


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Living with a Limp


Jacob wrestled with God.

That is not an easy subject to get your arms around, but the Bible actually forms that exact word picture, “…for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” He endured 20-some years of struggle over 4 chapters. Not only did Jacob have an exhausting physical push-and-shove with the angel, he had a whole family thing he struggled that unfolds, particularly with his father-in-law, Laban.


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Text a Prayer


When I was skiing years ago, I’d decided to jump off an incline and go airborne. What I didn’t know, however, was that the slope I was about to land on was closed off by a large rope that stretched across the place where I was supposed to land. 5′ high and 50′ across, this rope became my destiny. I went into the air, saw the rope, tried to clear it, failed and went into an unexpected downfall. It was as the rope became entangled within my feet and skis and I was pulled back to earth. In that moment, I prayed an instantaneous SOS prayer.

As I remember it went something like, “Oh, Lor…” SPLAT.
He answered me, but not in an audible voice. It was kind of like, “Don’t you ever do that again.”

Sometimes prayer is a kneel-on-the-floor and spend time with God kind of thing. Sometimes it’s a briefer – and very, very desperate.

Nehemiah prayed this kind of prayer in Nehemiah 2:4. It was short, and his boss, the king asking him a question and him needing to know the answer. Some people have called this “arrow” prayer, as in shooting off an arrow toward God that says, “Help!” Some have called it “faxing” a prayer – and now, “texting” a prayer to God.

Whatever you call it, it is the same principle. When we think things are going well, God is there. But when the chips are down and we’re out of our minds with desperation and fear, He’s still there. Call on Him.

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What You Need to Know If God Asks For the Impossible


Abram (later renamed Abraham) was a man God decided to use to lay down the foundation of how man and God would walk together. He’s actually called by many, “The Father of Faith.” Among the words that come out of the story, some are “faith” and “covenant,” or promise.

God entered into a covenant relationship with Abraham and his family for all generations to come. But before that promise was made, God spoke to him. God is a God who speaks. He gives us His spoken word, and He also now gives us His written word.
Listen to God’s first words to Him. Can you imagine God speaking to you and saying, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen. 12:1)

It’s pretty clear to me that when God speaks, He wants us to believe and then go for it. It’s not easy – after all God often seems to speak about things that we might not even conceive as possible.

  • “I’m going to make a great nation out of you – even though you don’t have any children at all and you’re over 90 years old.”
  • “I’m going to bless all the nations of the world through you.”
  •  Or, “Your descendants will number more than the stars in the heavens.”

That was Abraham’s story. Sometimes, Abraham seemed to believe God easily; sometimes he laughed. But always …God’s word came to pass.

What is God saying to you? And how are you taking it?

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