Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Different Opinion

I live in New Jersey. People here tend to take environmental issues very seriously. By and large, it is a liberal state (and by and large, we are not as large as people in Pennsylvania where I used to live- but that is a different topic entirely). But not all scientists have bought into the global warming concerns that resonate with people here. For an alternative view by a geologist read this article in the Vancouver Sun: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Global%20warming%20religion%20First%20World%20urban%20elites/1835847/story.html

The geologist in this article has written multiple books to argue that the changes in the earth's climate have always occurred randomly, and have almost nothing to do with the impact of people. He suggests that we should look forward to the earth warming up a bit because historically the times when the earth is warmer have generally been very good for us.

As a Christian, I understand that the God has made us stewards of this planet. We are to care for it. But at the same time, we are supposed to recognize that the earth was made for us to enjoy- not to cause us anxiety. I'm not terribly worried about us destroying the earth, because the Bible talks about Christ one day fixing the earth from all of the bad things that have happened to it- all of which, by the way, came about as a result of sin. So I think that we should care for the planet, but there is no need to worry if someone accidentally puts their plastic water bottle in the trash instead of in the recycling bin.

A Great Example of Humility

One blog that I follow is written by Josh Harris who is a pastor in Maryland. Josh has a large following, in part because he has written some very popular books. Check out his most recent post which is titled, "Kevin DeYoung's Book on the Church is Better Than Mine"


To me, this title and the accompanying article- complete with a cartoon illustration that he drew- are a wonderful example of humility. Josh could have just used his blog to tell people about his own book (which by the way is excellent- it is titled, "Stop Dating the Church"). Instead, Josh chose to highlight the work that someone else has done. He is acknowledging the contribution of other people, rather than focusing on himself.

The greatest example of humility that we have is from Jesus. We learn from Philippians 2 that Jesus had to humble Himself just to come to earth and live among us- let alone die on a cross for our sins. As followers of Christ we imitate Him when we are humble. Let's remember to follow the example of Jesus, and Josh Harris, and put other people ahead of ourselves.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reading is Fun-damental

A few years back there was a marketing plan to encourage children to read. It was called "Reading is Fun," but also continued by saying, "Reading is Fundamental." The irony, of course, was that they had to use TV commercials to get the message out that children should be reading. I guess they figured that if they put the message in a book, no one would see it.

Reading is also fundamental in the life of a Christian. I know a man who learned to read as an adult after he trusted in Christ. It was at that point that he recognized that he needed to read so that he could listen to what God had said to him in the Bible. God has communicated to us through a book, so we ought to read it.

Don't limit your reading to just the Bible. If you can only read one book, then it should be the Bible. But we live in a time when we have more material available to us than anyone could ever possibly read in one lifetime.

Consider these pieces of advice regarding reading. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, told preachers to "either read or get out of the ministry!" Albert Mohler, a leader of the Southern Baptist denomination says, "This much is certain; we will never preach more than we know and we will never preach above our reading." And John Stott informs us that, "in all this reading, our objective is not so much the accumulation of knowledge as the stimulation to think Christianly."

So please find some time to read good books, and possibly good blogs.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

3 x 7

This morning I encouraged the people at Cottrell Corners Community Church in Old Bridge, NJ to pray for three requests each day for the next seven days.

One request should be for a physical need- whether sickness or finances or provision or job related. This request is based on the part of the Lord's prayer where we are instructed to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread."

The second request should be related to a spiritual need- perhaps for victory over a particular sin or for greater commitment or holiness in life. This request is based on Jesus telling us to pray, "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

And the third request I encouraged them to pray was for something related to the advancement of God's kingdom. This request might be for the salvation of a friend or for the ministry of a missionary or a church. This request is based on Jesus' words, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

I'm concerned that we often are unbalanced and only pray for the first type of request- our physical needs. But Jesus' example tells us that we should also pray for spiritual needs and for the advancement of God's agenda. So please remember to pray for all three categories of needs.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I was just alerted to the fact that people could not comment on this blog. I guess that is one explanation for the lack of comments- it was blocked. I just assumed that the reason no one had commented was because no one was reading. And if anyone had read, then nothing they read moved them to write anything. The problem has been fixed (I think). I welcome your comments and interaction.

Friday, July 17, 2009

New People

"Are you new?" I was asked this question when I walked into a church in Hagerstown, Maryland a while ago. What kind of question is that? Think about it. My response to that question went something like this: "I am not new. I've been on this planet for thirty-some years. But today does happen to be the first time I have visited this particualr establishment."

That was probably not the response that the greeter at that church was looking to hear from me. I have this pet-peeve about being asked if I am "new." I find that people in churches often talk about visitors or potential visitors as "new people." But I wonder how "new people" feel about being described this way. It isn't their fault that they haven't been part of an organization as long as someone else. I am concerned that this type of language tends to drive people away rather than welcome them in. So let me urge you to stop talking about anyone as being "new" unless they were just born in the past year.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Were You Asleep?

Last night I went to bed around 2:00 a.m. In the middle of the night my wife had a medical emergency, so I was up again. I basically ignored the alarm when it went off this morning. Around 8:30 I received a call from the company that services the furnace for the church property. A technician was on-site, so I went out to let him in. As soon as I arrived his first question was, "Were you asleep?"

Was I asleep? Of course I was asleep! Why does everyone always want to know if they have gotten you out of bed? Are they going to get off the phone or leave? Of course not. I think that we all feel superior to another person if we know that we were awake when they were not. We think how strange it is that someone would be in bed when we are awake. But does anyone ever think, "Wow, they sound tired, maybe they have been up late every night this week."

I'm sure this issue is especially acute for people who work the night shift. They must be considered complete slackers by people who don't know them simply because they are sleeping during the day.

So the next time you are tempted to ask someone if you woke them up, first consider why you want to know. Second, consider what you are going to do about it if you find out that you did wake them up (and remember, most people will lie to you and say that you didn't get them up since they themselves are embarrassed for having been asleep while other people are up). And third, just move on to what you were really calling to do since there is no productive reason for asking whether you woke them up.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Top 10 Reasons for Living in New Jersey

10. Driving is more interesting
9. The accents are great
8. Yankees fans
7. Health conscious
6. Racial diversity
5. Cultural diversity
4. So many people who need God living nearby
3. Great opinons and conversations
2. Lots of variety in types of food
1. Solid educational system
0. All these people, but still so much open space
-1. People love their flower beds and landscaping
-2. You don't have to pump your own gas- and it's still cheaper than everywhere else
-3. Lots more school holidays (Jewish, Protestant, national, etc.)
-4. Great American history sites
-5. Really interesting politics
-6. Early adaption to technology
-7. Produces lots of famous actors and musians
-8. No one minds if your top 10 list has too many items

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Visiting the Playground With My Children

We live in Old Bridge, NJ. Contrary to popular opinion outside of this great state, New Jersey is not the armpit of the United States. I've lived elsewhere. I've travelled. And I much prefer living in New Jersey than living anywhere else.

One of the nice things about living in our area are the playgrounds for the children. On Sunday night I took the kids to Geick Park. They had a great time running around all the equipment and sliding down the slides. And when some "young adults" (using the term adult very loosely) started climbing on the equipment, someone who knew them came over and made sure that they understood that there were children here and they would have to watch what they said.

The next night I took the kids to a different playground. I don't even know if it has a name. It was great to see people from various parts of the world walk by, and there couldn't have been more than 40 people there- black and white, Indian and Spanish (I think). We have a great mix here and people generally seem to get along. My oldest daughter ran into a friend from school who lived nearby and she got to go over to see her friend's house.

Tonight was the third night in a row that I took the kids to the playground. By the way, my five year old daughter pronounces the word "playground" with four syllables. Tonight there was a man there with two boys. He was wearing a "best dad" t-shirt. I wanted to know if he had taken his kids to playgrounds for three days in a row, but I didn't ask. Plus, he seemed a little overmatched with only two children- so I'll just consider him an ameteur.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Why Worship

I just finished reading a book about worship. I expected it to be really good because of the name- but you just can't judge a book by its cover. My biggest issue with this book was that it seemed to suggest that we worship because of what we get out of it. The book came accross as saying that the reason we should worship God is because our worship frees God up to bless us. Consider this quote from the book: "We need to begin to praise our way up, out of, and into what and where God calls us to be."

But is that really why we worship God- just to have our problems solved? I would contend that it is not! The Bible suggests that the correct reason to worship God is simply because He deserves it and is worthy of our worship. I suggest that when we approach worship selfishly, that we are not really worshiping God at all- we are worshiping ourselves. God is the greatest being in the universe. It is only right for us to praise and honor the One who made us and saved us.

Don't get me wrong. I'll freely acknowledge that we do benefit from our service to God and perhaps even our worship of God. And I have no problem with "selfish" motives to some extent. For example, decades ago C. S. Lewis pointed out that our desires for gain are not big enough. We ought to desire eternal reward, and that should motivate us to serve God and seek joy in Him. More recently, John Piper has become known for clearly demonstrating that the way that we do glorify God is by enjoying Him. Both of these well-respected saints are on to something. God does hold eternal joy and eternal reward out to us as a proper motivating factor in our service to Him. I am almost certain that neither Lewis or Piper would be comfortable, however, with the suggestion that we worship in order to manipulate God into giving us what we need. NO! We worship because God is worthy of our worship. And if we benefit in the present, then that is an extra bonus.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Link to Facebook

Cottrell Corners Community Church now has a Facebook page. Please go check it out:


And don't forget to become a fan!

You can also become my Facebook buddy (or friend as they call it):



Because People Matter

I previously wrote that I have been praying for God to send an additional 25 people to our congregation. Please don't think that I am looking for the people because we want to be a specific size or because I want to brag about how much we have grown. I want God to send us people because I know that people matter to God. That last phrase is not original to me, but it is still very true. My prayer for 25 more people is a recognition that we would like to help those people and also a recognition that as we help people, then they can help us help more people. And ultimately, God is glorified through each life that is touched. It is God's glory that we are seeking.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

25 and 25

I have been praying that God would give us 25 additional people at Cottrell Corners Community Church by the end of 2009. In addition, I've been praying that He would send an extra $25,000 to the building fund that hasn't already been given or pledged. Those people and dollars would make our new building both a greater necessity and also a greater reality.

We have not only been praying that God would send people to us. We have been mailing letters to everyone that has recently moved into our area. And we have a big sign out front. And people in the church are distributing flyers to invite more people to church. And now I am blogging and the church is networking through Facebook and our website: http://www.cottrellcorners.org/.

All of these are great displays of activity. But ultimately, our impact on the community of Old Bridge, NJ and the surrounding area is completely dependant on the grace of God. So please, invite your friends to church (and even your enemies). But also remember to pray that God would actively bless the ministry of this church.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What Have You Got to Lose?

I was at a home prayer meeting last night and one of the people there commented that she was inviting some other people from her building to our church. These people have recently moved to the area and don't yet have a church. She figured that when she invited them she could let them know that they had nothing to lose in trying out a church.

It is true that attending a church anywhere in America is a low risk proposition. You probably won't be ostracized, you certainly won't be persecuted. While the risk is low, the potential reward is great- you can find God, discover meaning for your life, learn how to have your sins forgiven, gain eternal life, and you will probably also make some great friends. It sure seems to me that when you measure the risk versus reward, attending church just makes good sense.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Where's The Church?

The first time I drove onto the property at Cottrell Corners Community Church I tried to figure out which building was the church. There are two buildings, and one is significantly larger than the other. You would think that the larger building was the church building. But it isn't. The larger building is a two family home. The smaller building is used for church gatherings. But the smaller building doesn't really look like a church. In fact, people have visited the house and not even realized that there was a church on the property. One person asked me where the church was, and they had parked their car within ten feet of the building. We are currently planning to build a new building on the property with an entry way that will be very obvious so that people know where to go for the church meetings. Once the new building is up, everyone who drives past should be able to recognize that a church meets here.

Far worse than a church building that doesn't look like a church building is a group of people that meet as a church, but don't act like it. Those situations should really make us ask, "Where is the church?" As followers of Jesus we need to be committed to the things that He says are important. But when we get distracted and don't focus on the essentials, then we should wonder what happened to the church. At Cottrell Corners Community Church we focus on three essentials- worship, discipleship, and evangelism. I believe that a committment to these three items will cause us to live in a way that more people in Old Bridge, Matawan, and the surrounding area will be able to see that we are a church.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Is there any reason to read another blog?

I refuse to promise you that this will be an amazing blog. But I will promise to tell the truth and to try to make you think. And I welcome your interaction. Here are some of the things that I'd like to talk about:

Life in Old Bridge, NJ and the surrounding area
Cottrell Corners Community Church
Raising a family
New York Yankees
New York Giants

So let's get started.