• “A School of Song & Story”

    This past week was packed with great songs & great stories which had a profound impact on me and trust that it did for others as well.

    We sang songs about the cross on Good Friday. We sang songs about the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday and we sang songs of hope at a funeral on Tuesday. My heart has overflowed with songs this past week.

    We told the story of the cross on Good Friday. We told the story of Jesus’ resurrection to the children on Saturday and again we told the story of the resurrection on Sunday. And at the funeral, we reminded ourselves through stories about life, love, & hope.

    One of the comments I heard on Saturday was, “you tell a great story.” It’s true. It is a great story…the greatest of stories!  I’m not a great storyteller, but I do have a great story.

    Eugene Peterson calls his education, “a school of song & story.” He writes, “The way we learn something is more influential than the something we learn. No content comes into our lives free-floating: it is always embedded in a form of some kind.”

    Truth embedded in song & story! Peterson wrote about how this happened for him, ” I had been enrolled in a school of song and story, God songs and God stories, said and sung by my God-passionate mother. Virtually everything I received in those impressionable years of my childhood had arrived in the containers of song and story, carried by a singer and storyteller mother- everything about God, but also about being human, growing up to adulthood, becoming a pastor.”

    I’m thankful for a mother who did the same for me, and for others who joined the chorus of songs & stories. I’m thankful to be married to a woman who does the same for our children, and for a church that delivers truths in the beautiful containers songs & stories shaping who we are as the people of God.

  • “You Have Redeemed My Soul”

    “You have redeemed my soul from the pit of emptiness. You have redeemed my soul from death.
    I was a hungry child, a dried up river.
    I was a burned out forest and no one could do anything for me
    But You put food in my body, water in my dry bed
    And to my blackened branches, You brought springtime green and new life!
    And nothing is impossible for You.” -Waterdeep

    A prayer:

    • That God would redeem those in the pit of emptiness. Those who are depressed and downcast. Those who are at the end of their rope. Those who feel hopeless. Those who have no answers. God, grant redemption!
    • That God would redeem souls from death. Those who are lost. Those are enslaved to sin through addictions. Those who headed for destruction. God, grant redemption! 
    • That God would be the Bread of Life for hungry souls. Those who are seeking satisfaction in a relationship, a substance, a career, a reputation. Those who are seeking fulfillment where it cannot be found. God, satisfy with Yourself!
    • That God would be the Living Water for the thirsty. Those who are parched for love. Those who have drunk from the world’s fountains and are still thirsty. God, quench their thirst with Yourself! 
    • That God would bring new life in burned out places. Those who have broken lives because of their sins. Those whose lives have been broken due to the sins of others. For burned up marriages, broken relationships, and wasted years. God, grant new life! 

    In His grace alone,

    wes

  • Merry Christmas!

    Kids Christmas Video

  • A Prayer for Seasons When Feeling Overwhelmed

    This is a devotional prayer written by Scotty Smith, founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN . As a church, we’ve been studying through the books of 1 & 2 Kings. This is a great prayer, but it’s also a great example of how we can use the Scripture to guide our prayers.

         When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17

    “Gracious Father, there are times when the “odds” feel quite stacked against us, as your beloved people. With the naked eye, the enemies of justice, truth, and the gospel greatly seem to outnumber your “troops.” Serving you feels quite overwhelming, at times even futile.

    But just when I begin to retreat into a basement of fear or question your concern and faithfulness, once again you open the eyes of my heart and show me the way things really are. You’re such a patient and merciful God.

    Though serving you is not like a childhood game of soccer—where we did our best to choose the best players for our team, nevertheless, it is good—no, vital to know that because of the gospel, “those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16). Indeed, if you are for us, who ultimately, can be against us? What can mere men to do us but take our physical lives? But for us, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

    But the way of the gospel will always be strength in weakness—the transforming treasure of the gospel in fragile pots of clay, like us. It was three hundred poorly armed soldiers, not thirty-four thousand fighting men, you sent with Gideon to defeat the Midianite army. Jesse’s youngest son, David—a shepherd boy, was your choice to be the king of Israel. Most profoundly, it was the crucifixion of Jesus, not an insurrection of zealots, which won our salvation.

    Father, the odds are never stacked against your eternal decrees and covenant purposes. There’s never been panic or consternation in heaven. You never “try” to do anything. You don’t cross your fingers and hope for the best. You never have to go back to the drawing board, or resort to plan B or C. You never hedge your bets. You are God, and there is no other.

    So help us, and your servants throughout the world, not to become weary in preaching the gospel and planting churches, in doing justice and loving mercy. We will reap a harvest at the proper time, if we do not give up (Gal. 6:9), and the gospel is all the motivation, hope, and power we need to not give up.

    Before he returns, Jesus will redeem his pan-national bride, and when Jesus returns, he will finish making all things new. Our labors in the Lord are often exhausting and discouraging, overwhelming and quite costly, but they are never ever in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). Hallelujah, what a Savior; Hallelujah, what a salvation! So very Amen we pray with thanksgiving and confidence, in Jesus’ name.”

  • Abide!

    It has been said that no great work in literature or in science was ever wrought by a man who did not love solitude. We may lay it down as an elemental principle of religion, that no large growth in holiness was ever gained by one who did not take time to be often long alone with God. -Austin Phelps

  • A Missional Church

    10 characteristics of a missional church from Mark Driscoll’s, Vintage Church
    1. A missional church is biblical. Our prayer for Bahama is that we would be biblical in all that we do. As Driscoll says, “A missional church is always, only, soley, fully, passionately, uncompromisingly, wholeheartedly, unwaveringly, and continually, all about Jesus as God, Savior, Lord, Hero, Hope, and Friend!
    2. A missional church practices & preaches repentance- “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken & contrite heart O God, You will not despise” -Psalm 51
    3. A missional church goes into the culture- Let’s not live in a Christian bubble!
    4. A missional church contextualizes the Gospel- We need to contextualize the Gospel in all that we do. Taking the timeless message and delivering in our time & place. John Stott gives the image of a bridge from the biblical world to the present world. It’s easy to under contextualize or over contextualize. Our prayer is to make the Gospel crystal clear in our time & place. 
    5. A missional church loves singles & couples- We will not minister to one group of people. The church is a body, and we love & minister to all. 
    6. A missional church trains Christians as missionaries- We are all missionaries. Jesus commanded all of us to go and make disciples! 
    7. A missional church is supernatural. Apart from Christ, BBC can do nothing. -John 15.
    8. A missional church is countercultural. Much of what we do at BBC will not fit in with culture, nor should it. We meet together to worship & glorify God. This will not mesh well with the world. 
    9. A missional church multiplies. “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how…” -Mark 4:27. 
    10. A missional church is messy. Yep. So, don’t be surprised at the messy parts, but be encouraged. The early church was messy too (Acts 6; Corinthians; Galatians, Rev. 2-3, etc…). 
    For His glory & the joy of all peoples let’s be missional together!
  • Evangelism

    We have summarized the purposes of our church with three words: Exalt, Equip, and Evangelize. But what do we mean by evangelism? What is it? Why should we be concerned about it? In this post, I’ll be working through a series of questions posed by David Proffitt to help us get a grasp of what is meant by evangelism and how we are to carry it out.
    1. What does Jesus possess?
    • “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matt. 28:18)
    2. What are we to do?
    • “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19)
    3. What is the basic message of salvation?
    • “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
    4. What assistance do we have in sharing the Good News? 
    • “Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thess. 1:5). 

    5. How do some people respond?

    • And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit…For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything” (1 Thess. 1:6, 8).

    6. How are we to live our lives?

    • “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:5-6).

    7. How are unbelievers described?

    • “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders…” (Col. 4:5)

    8. What should characterize the way we talk (evangelize)?

    • “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6)

    9. What is Paul’s two part method of evangelism?

    • “So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:17).

    10. What are some other words used to describe Paul’s method?

    • “…explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ” (Acts 17:3).
    • “…he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection” (Acts 17:18).

    11. Did Paul attempt to relate?

    • “For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23

    12. Was Paul concerned with follow-up or personal discipleship?

    • “When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:21-22)

    13. What was the extent of the church’s influence?

    • “And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also” (Acts 17:6) 

    14. Specifically how do we communicate that message?

    • “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4)
  • Here’s a biblical and thoughtful response to what happened in Moore, Oklahoma by Sam Storms:

    TORNADOES, TSUNAMIS, AND THE MYSTERY OF SUFFERING AND SOVEREIGNTY

    I’m inclined to think the best way to respond to the tragedy that struck our community today is simply to say nothing. I have little patience for those who feel the need to theologize about such events, as if anyone possessed sufficient wisdom to discern God’s purpose. On the other hand, people will inevitably ask questions and are looking for encouragement and comfort. So how best do we love and pastor those who have suffered so terribly?

    I’m not certain I have the answer to that question, and I write the following with considerable hesitation. I can only pray that what I say is grounded in God’s Word and is received in the spirit in which it is intended.

    I first put my thoughts together on this subject when the tsunami hit Japan a couple of years ago. Now, in the aftermath of the tornado that struck Moore and other areas surrounding Oklahoma City, I pray that those same truths will prove helpful to some. Allow me to make seven observations.

    (1) It will not accomplish anything good to deny what Scripture so clearly asserts, that God is absolutely sovereign over all of nature. He can himself send devastation. Or he may permit Satan to wreak havoc in the earth. Yes he can, if he chooses, intervene and prevent a tornado, a tsunami, and all other natural disasters. In the end, we do not know why he makes one choice and not another. In the end, we must, like Job, join the apostle Paul and say: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).

    (2) God is sovereign, not Satan. Whether or to what extent Satan may have had a hand in what occurred we can never know. What we can know and must proclaim is that he can do nothing apart from God’s sovereign permission. Satan is not ultimately sovereign. God alone is.

    (3) Great natural disasters such as this tell us nothing about the comparative sinfulness of those who are its victims. Please do not conclude that the residents of Moore, Oklahoma, are more sinful than any other city that has not as yet experienced such devastation. Please do not conclude that we are more righteous than they because God has thus far spared us from such events. The Bible simply won’t let us draw either conclusion. What the Bible does say is that we all continue to live and flourish not because we deserve it but solely because of the mercy and longsuffering of God. Life is on loan from God. He does not owe us existence and what he has mercifully given he can take back at any time and in any way he sees fit.

    (4) Events such as this should remind us that no place on earth is safe and that we will all one day die (unless Jesus returns first). Whether by a peaceful natural death at the age of 90, or by a sudden heart attack at 50, or in a car accident at 15, or by a slow battle with cancer at virtually any age, we will all likewise die. We are not immortal. The only ultimately and eternally safe place to be is in the arms of our heavenly Father from which no tornado or earthquake or tsunami or cancer or car wreck can ever snatch us or wrench us free.

    (5) We should not look upon such events and conclude that the Second Coming of Christ and the end of history are at hand, but neither should we conclude that the Second Coming of Christ and the end of history are not at hand. What we should do is humble ourselves before the Lord and prepare our hearts for the day of his return, whenever that may be, whether in our lifetime or some distant date centuries from now.

    (6) We must learn to weep with those who weep. We must pray for them, serve them, help them, give to them, and do all within our power to alleviate their suffering (even if their suffering is caused by God). We do not have to agree with them religiously or politically to shower them with the love of Christ. Jesus calls upon us to show mercy to those who suffer, even if they do not deserve it. The fact is, none of us deserves it. That’s why the Bible calls it mercy: it is undeserved kindness. Remember Luke 6:27 where Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

    (7) Pray that God will use such an event to open the hearts and eyes of a city and a state immersed in unbelief and idolatry (and I have in mind not merely Oklahoma, but also America as a whole), to see the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and turn in faith to him, lest something infinitely worse than a tornado befall them: Eternal condemnation. Eternal suffering.

    written by Sam Storms 

  • Living on the Title Page

    I was sitting with a friend this week discussing brokenness. Brokenness in the world and brokenness in our lives. As we talked, we encouraged one another with a long view. We read from Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” 

    At the end of C.S. Lewis’s classic series, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” he says it this way:

    “And as He [Aslan] spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all live happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

    All of our lives on earth (with all of the brokenness) is the cover & title page. We have a “hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God!” (Rom. 8:20b-21).

  • Something Greater is Here!

    This past Sunday, we focused our attention on Jesus, the One who is greater than Solomon. In His own words, “The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42). This video is well-worth 20 minutes of your time.