Wednesday, July 3, 2013

One Year Ago Today...

One year ago today, several of my children and I headed out the front door on our way to our neighbors swimming pool for an early morning swimming lesson. Far from my mind was any notion that this day would be marked by a “life changing event,” as the doctor would later announce to my wife. About a half hour later or so, I began noticing the less than stellar diving skills of one of my boys. I thought that a good example would be all that was needed to improve his skill so, I told him to stand back and watch how daddy could dive into the pool with graceful form.

As I launched into the air, I kicked my feet up high, held them together and pierced the water like an Olympic diver. Suddenly, I felt the tremendous force of the bottom of the pool resisting my head as my head struck the bottom of the pool. I was briefly stunned for a moment much like a boxer who has received a powerful blow to the head, then I collected myself and thought that I needed to swim to the side of pool so that I might shake off such a hard blow.

I began trying to reach out with my hand but my arm would not move. Kicking in my mind, my legs and feet would not move either. I frantically worked through each of the muscle groups in my body trying to find any muscle or appendage that I might move to aid me in coming up from the water and reaching the side of the pool for a breath of air. In that moment it became clear to me that I was going to drown in the bottom of the pool unless someone quickly acted on my behalf. Believing that I was about to die, I prayed for a few moments rejoicing in the goodness of my God who had reconciled me unto himself through the atoning work of his son Jesus and had promised that my trust in him was not in vain.. Then, I began to praise him as I waited entering into his presence through death.

As the time was passing, my sons began to take notice that I had not come up from the water. They began working together struggling to drag my body to the shallow end of the pool and turn my face up so that they could hold my head out of the water. As they approached the shallow end of the pool my eldest son began CPR and was able to revive me until the paramedics arrived.

Later that day, the doctors told my wife, Amy that I had fractured my C5 vertebrae causing paralysis below the level of the fracture and that they could stabilize my neck by performing a surgery. What they could not tell her was whether or not the paralysis would be temporary or permanent.

After the surgery, I spent two weeks OLOL hospital in Baton Rouge and then moved on to spend another two months at Touro Hospital in New Orleans on their rehab floor. After leaving the hospital in New Orleans, I returned home to pick up where I left off two and a half months prior. Needless to say, since the injury each and every day presents a host of trials that God has called me to walk through.

Often during the past year I have considered the exhortation given by James (Jam 1:2) where we are commanded to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” These trials, spoken of by James, are manifested in the life of the Christian in numerous ways, some very obvious and others not so obvious. The trials of recent days, since my spinal cord injury, seem to be much more obvious than those trials endured prior to this life changing event.

As I have thought through this passage contemplating how I might remain faithful and obedient to our Lord, one prevailing consideration continues to stand at the forefront – that is the question, “How is it to be accomplished, the counting it all joy?”

James gives us the answer in the exhortation when he says to “Count” or "Consider."

And how do you consider? The answer is, that we consider with our mind. Counting or considering with the mind stands in contrast to considerations of feelings. In the text, James is more concerned with our thought process than how we might feel about the trial that God has ordained.

James is not saying, "feel joyful," but rather, learn to think joyfully in your trials. This does not come easy to most of us and one might wonder why such difficulty? Several factors are involved some of which can be traced to our fallen nature and dumbed down, hyper-emotional culture which has taught us to feel rather than to think. The reality is that Christians may find it a strong temptation to tackle this imperative found in James’ epistle with “feeling” or “emotion” rather than thoughtful wisdom and consideration.

Many will be inclined to think. “I am walking through a trial and I am commanded to be Joyful, to be happy… so to be obedient to this imperative I simply need to muster up happiness; that will be a faithful pursuit in honoring God. But this is the wrong approach.  “Counting” or “Considering” it joy is to be rooted in the thought process.  We should think like this, “I am tempted and afflicted – yet – because of the truths that are revealed in God’s word concerning his glory and our good -  I will recognize this circumstance as a means of revealing  the joy and the love of the father who works in me all good things.”Phil 2:13

Paul tells us that he learned to be content in every circumstance. Whether he was being assaulted from temptations arising from his internal desires or whether he was suffering the temptations to sin from external sources, Paul had learned to be content. If he was being persecuted from within the church or from the outside – Paul learned to be content – to ‘count it all joy.’ That is his own testimony given in Philippians chapter 4.

Php 4:11-13  Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

“Count it all joy” means to exclude the negative emotions, exclude doubt, exclude feelings and to consider with your mind.

So, how is this accomplished? How do we experience joy in the midst of trials ? How do we engage the mind?
How do we obey the word of God, counting or considering it all joy, especially when it seems so contrary to what we have come to know throughout the course of our life? (i.e. heartache, despair, grief, disappointment, etc)

The answer is - We apply our thoughts to truths that we know, truths that are given to us in the Word of God which are intended for just such a purpose. We fill up our minds with Holy Scripture which renews our mind (as Paul commands in Roman 12:2).

We consider the words of Peter.  (1 Pet 4:1)  “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking.”

We count trials as joy as we remember Heb 12:3-4  “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”  We remember that –“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

We count Trials as joy as we remember or consider the words in 1 Jn 3:13 “ Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”

We Count it Joy as we remember the words of Paul to the church at Philippi 3:8-10 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…..that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

As you consider the trials that God ordains in the life of the Christian recognize that these trials demonstrate to us observable evidences that we are friends and followers of Christ. As we contemplate our calling and response, it will become increasingly clear that we are enduring the same suffering as Christ and striving to advance the same interest, as our Lord. We “Count it All Joy.”

Lastly we recognize that in ourselves – we can do nothing. We are born in sin, our hearts are born corrupt, and there is none righteous…. No one does good, we are born slaves of this world, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. But by grace we have received a Holy calling and by adoption we have become the children of God.

We count all things as Joy as we consider or remember the words of Paul to the church at Philippi.

Php 2:13-16 “…it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,  holding fast to the word of life,…”

Counting it joy means considering that God is working in us and through us for his good pleasure – therefore I have no legitimate cause for grumbling or questioning – only joy in the midst of trials which lead to steadfastness and an unshakable faith.

Remembering these truths has been a great blessing to me as I have walked through the trials of this past year and indeed throughout the course of my Christian life. By God’s grace, I will continue to count it all joy as I face trials of various kinds; every struggle as a father, a husband, a Pastor, indeed every struggle which is common to these bodies of flesh.

I pray that these words of James will find a sweet place in both my heart and  in yours as we faithfully follow after our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

7 Distinctives of Trinity Baptist Church

From time to time, individuals will ask me or members of Trinity Baptist Church to tell them something about our congregation. Our Pastors have identified 7 Distinctives that really bring the Biblical expression of our congregation into focus. In this blog post, I wanted to share them with you for your consideration.

The First distinctive of Trinity Baptist Church is: Christ Centered

CHRIST CENTERED - By this we simply mean that the centrality of Christ is at the very heart of our church. We recognize His ownership of our church and seek to glorify Him in everything we do. It is our great desire that our worship, our theology, our preaching, and our evangelism all have Christ as the focus and that our lives be conformed to His perfect righteousness. He is worthy of all praise, honor, and obedience. Recognizing Christ as King over all things, we look for His return when all men will stand before Him to give account.

The second distinctive of Trinity Baptist Church is: Sound Doctrine

SOUND DOCTRINE - We believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. The Bible alone is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice. We presuppose the authority and sufficiency of Scripture in every work of our church. A right understanding of Scripture is essental; it governs everything in our church from our worship to our preaching and teaching to the lives of our members. We are a confessional church which means we hold to a statement of faith or confession as an expression of what we believe about the Bible.

The third distinctive of Trinity Baptist Church is: Biblical Worship

BIBLICAL WORSHIP - We believe the Bible is the only rule to determine the proper worship of God. We incorporate into our worship only those elements that can be specifically found in the Bible. We give a high priority to the preaching of God's Word. We sing hymns that exalt our Lord. We seek to observe Baptism and the Lord's Supper in a Biblical manner and recognize that the Lord's Supper is the place of discipline. As a church, we have resisted the modern church-growth movement's tactics which place a premium on entertainment while giving little significance to the preaching of God's Word.

The fourth distinctive of Trinity Baptist Church is: Expository Preaching

EXPOSITORY PREACHING - In contrast to topical or other forms of preaching, we believe expository preaching to be the best way of preaching the whole counsel of the Word of God. Expository preaching allows the text to direct the flow of the sermon and maintains balance and consistency as we set God's Word before the congregation.

The fifth distinctive of Trinity Baptist Church is: Personal Holiness

PERSONAL HOLINESS - It is the great desire of our congregation to conform every area of our lives to the Word of God. Personal sanctification is an ongoing work of God in the lives of His people and the New Testament continually presses the work of growing in hoiness as the pursuit of every Christian. We emphasize the importance of strong families in the pursuit of holiness. In addition, we believe in a regenerate church membership and that true Christian conversion will be accompanied by the fruit of holiness.

The sixth distinctive of Trinity Baptist Church is:

LOVING COMMUNITY - We place high importance upon our covenant relationship, each of us watching over one another in love. In our union with Christ we have been blessed with unity with one another. Our members continually seek ways to express the love of Christ.

The seventh of Trinity Baptist Church is: Commitment to Evangelism

COMMITMENT TO EVANGELISM - We believe in the importance of evangelism. God has clearly commanded us to preach the Gospel to all men. Although we understand that salvation is a supernatural work of God and that it is not in our power to bring about the change that enables a person to embrace Christ, we have great confidence that our labors will never be in vain. We believe the church must be involved in purposed evangelism and that every believer must endeavor to place the Gospel of Christ before all men.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Mortification of Sin

Come Join us at Trinity Baptist Church - Baton Rouge, for a new Study beginning Sunday's at 5:00PM. The Study is based on John Owen's "The Mortification of Sin." Should be very beneficial to all......... See you there.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Exploring the Land – Cheniere

    Recently we had the timber cut on some land that we have at Cheniere, LA. It has been some years since I have been able to walk the land because it was pretty grown up from being logged back in the 80's. When I was a boy my Dad and Grandfather would take me to walk around the land and they would show me the boundaries and all of their favorite spots. I decided that we I would avail myself of the opportunity to start showing the boundaries to my oldest five boys.


    We hadn't been out of the van for more than a couple of seconds - and my boys already had their walking sticks.








    We could not get across the creek - so we decided to head back to he highway and cross over the bridge and make our way around the back way.



    The Water was by far the most exciting destination. I think water most excite the imaginations of most boys.


    Cade came upon a Deer Skull and a collection of leg bones. They were greatly impressed.


    There were some great obstacles to cross. Everybody did pretty well - except Cai - he landed face up in the middle of a mud puddle.


    Abram looks like he is pretty focused at this particular moment.

    We probably walked around for about 3 hours and we were all pretty tired. I was glad that Abram was able to keep up. I was concerned that his little legs would give out - but with a little encouragement - he finished the journey.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Neighborhood Trails

When I arrived home a few days ago - I saw my oldest two boys playing the in the back yard. I realized that I needed to spend some time with them ( I have been really busy the past few months with our moving and the freshing up of our old house in preperation to sell it.)
Being young restless boys - they are always in need of some adventure and knowing that it is important for fathers to train their children and guide their natural inclinations - I was looking around for something that we could do together.
I remembered that we have a community trail that runs behind our property and the home owners association mentioned that it was cluttered and somewhat unpassable since Hurricane Gustav rolled through last summer.
I decided that we should go and search it our for ourselves. Once we got through a lot of brush and downed trees - the trail system opened up to a nice little gravel pathway.

We found a few bridges that were in need of repair but still passable.

Some parts of the trail were almost undistinguishable - and we probably would not have known where they were - except for the bridges that served as landmarkers.
You can see this bridge was lucky to be standing with this large oak laying across it. The boys crawled under the tree and I opted to jump over it. (maybe I just wanted to see if I could - but probably would have been smarter to crawl under it.)
We also found the pier (located on Bayou Manchac) that we learned of from a neighbor.
It might be nice place for fishing - however we did see a small gator swimming by while we enjoyed the view.

After we made it most of the way around the perimeter of the neighboorhood - we doubled back and made it home in time to eat supper. I imagine that this will not be our last excursion - but next time - we should bring some water and a machete.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Camping with Dad

I just got back from an adventure with my 4th son, Cai Daniel. We went to Fountainebleau State Park for a father son retreat and enjoyed some great time together. The picture below was taken by the trusty time delay on the camera perched upon a brick column along one of the gravel trails.

Bike Riders Cropped

I first stared taking my boys on a camping trip when my oldest son, Cade, was 4 years old. As a desperate and concerned father - it seemed to me that I was was not doing a great job at capturing the heart of my son and I thought it would be time well spent - to go and spend some time without anyone else around. It is so difficult to really spend time talking to children with all of the distractions - that are constantly competing for our attention. As the dynamics of our house have changed - I find that not only do toys and technology compete - but even siblings compete for attention with their father.

Cai raking leaves

As soon as we got there - I began unpacking the equipment and I had Cai to rake the leaves and sticks away from the spot that we would be pitching our tent. His raking skills are not as developed as mine but his heart was into it. He really wanted to do a great job and wanted to be involved. It has taken me some time to relinquish my desire to have everything just such a way but I have come to find that I can not do everything because there is just too much to do and to little time to do it. Much better to assign a job to my sons (my helpers - in this case - Cai Daniel) and let them accomplish it to the best of their abilities.

I certainly do not let them slack and give me any old poor attempt - but I am often content to be thankful for their willingness to help and accept the fact that God has placed me in the family to lead, train and instruct and I must not grumble about the quality of helpers or the youthful skills that they posses - but rather I am called to be thankful and to be faithful with my part.

Climing wall

climing wall portrait

Certainly - there must be some fun mixed in with all of the preparations.

Cai's Tree As we were riding along - Cai noticed a really old tree. He said, "Dad!!! - look at that old tree!!!"

The tree had obviously lived out its life and was now on its way to becoming one with the earth.


Cai took some of the bark that had fallen off of the tree and began to investigate and test its strength.

Beach ripples We also spent some time talking about the way that the waves create the ripples in the sand - down by the beach. Surprisingly - the lake was very low and the pier was almost entirely out of the water. It will take a lot of rain to make up that short fall. None the less - it presented a good teaching example.

Close up shot We also stopped often for a couple of photo opps.

Ducks A Bridge We stumbled upon a large wooden bridge out in the marsh and there were a couple of great observation points to watch the large number of ducks and other water fowl.

SDC10095 Supper was pretty simple - Hot dogs, chips and marsh mellows. Some times we do splurge.

SDC10110 I almost forgot - it was a little cold - but our trusty electric heater was up for the challenge. And Yes - Daddy can fit into that little tent. I wasn't going to have to sleep outside.

SDC10174 With Four "4 year old" camping trips behind me - it looks like the next one will have to wait for Abram James - however - all of the boys have already decided that we must have a camping trip pretty soon with just the guys. They were waiting for us when we got back yesterday and wanted to hear all about it.

Emma Waiting I think Emma was even trying to figure out how she was going to get in on the action.