Jesus In The Manuscript of Matthew


This Sunday (12-2-18), we will launch our brand new sermon series through the Gospel According to Matthew. This grand expedition through the narrative of the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of JESUS will take us all the way into 2020. I am beyond excited at all that the Lord has in store for us (i.e. knowledge, growth, revival, etc.) as we focus on JESUS as a man, JESUS and His men, JESUS and His message, JESUS and His methods, and (ultimately) JESUS and His mission. In the end, in case I’ve been unclear, this new sermon series is all about JESUS! Check out the video below to get a taste of what’s in store for us, starting this very Sunday…

Your 2019 Officer Nominees


After a thorough and prayer-filled nominating process, we are pleased to announce your 2019 Officer Nominees:

For the Position of Deacon (Elect 1):

Darwin Carroll

Zach Shepherd

For the Position of Clerk:

Mike York

For the Position of Financial Secretary:

Steve Donnolly

For the Position of Treasurer:

Duane Davis

For the Position of Sunday School Superintendent:

Brian Wilson

The Annual Election of Officers will be held on Sunday, December 9, immediately following the Morning Worship Service. The vote will be held by secret ballot. All elected officers will then take office on January 1, 2019. Also, please bear in mind, that during the Annual Election of Officers, we will vote on the Glen Galbraith Initiative and we’ll vote to move the Annual Meeting from January 6, 2019 to January 13, 2019. Please be in prayer over these voting items.

The Highway of Sand and Stars

sand and stars highway

This is a blog post that I wrote back in April 2018 (perhaps one of the most difficult months of my entire life), but it’s worth reposting again (with some slight revisions) and perhaps reading again…

Like Sand Through Our Fingers

My wife and I are originally from Pensacola, Florida. When we have time and opportunity, we like to visit our hometown and stroll through the downtown area and walk on the very famous Pensacola Beach. The sand there is white. Indeed, if you’re originally from up north, the very first time you encounter white sand, your mind interprets such an oddity as snow…at least that’s what my brain did. But this sand is white, beautiful, and on a hot Florida day, will scorch your feet.

When I encounter such white sand, I always do the same thing…I’ll bend down and pick up the biggest handful I can muster. Do you know what happens when I do this? Inevitably, the sand will begin to run through the cracks of my fist; and as I slowly release this clump of sand, the rest of it will quickly and decisively throw itself back to the ground.

You know, I’m convinced that our attempts at finding ultimate joy, beauty, and satisfaction in this world are a lot like my attempts to hold this white Florida sand. Inevitably, all that we try to grab in this life for ultimate satisfaction runs through the cracks of our fist and leaves us empty and dry. Do you know what I mean? Perhaps this describes you right now. Are you desperately clinging to this life (family, work, money, land, education, travel) hoping for ultimate happiness? Like sand through your fingers, such attempts will leave you with nothing.

Stars In the Night Sky

So, like fools starring in our own parade, we look for bigger and bigger thrills. Indeed, I am convinced that mankind is in an unending pursuit of one powerful drug…wonder! We want to be amazed, inspired, and wowed by something that is so far beyond us, yet easily obtainable by us. We are creatures desperate for wonder…for amazement. We look to the stars on a chilly, clear evening and we make our wishes for happiness, treasure, or love. But even if we got these dreams to come true, would it ever be enough? I think not…

Satan’s Stunning Offer of Everything

One of the most amazing events recorded in the Sacred Text centers around the person and offer of Satan. You’ll remember the story… “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil” (Matthew 4:1). Remember the three temptations of Satan towards Jesus? The third and final temptation blows my mind the most… “Again, the Devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me'” (Matthew 4:8-9).

Do you realize what Satan was offering Jesus?! One word: Everything. Jesus was offered “all the kingdoms of the world AND their glory.” Jesus was offered it all…Jesus was offered all that this world has to offer in terms of joy, beauty, and satisfaction. And how did Jesus respond… “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” What? Why? How would you have responded if Satan legitimately offered you everything your heart so desperately craves?

Jesus and His Humble Forfeiture

Jesus once said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” It’s a fair question. But think about the direct implication of this question. Jesus was and is forcing people to choose: This world OR me? Jesus is essentially asking, “Do you want ‘all the kingdoms of this world and their glory’ OR do you want me?”

“Isn’t this a false dichotomy?” “Can’t I have both?” “Can’t I have sand, stars, and all the happiness that this world has to offer AND my Jesus too?” “Do I really have to choose?”

Yes, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” You can’t have this world and Jesus too. You just can’t. You must make a decision. Unfair? Too much pressure to decide? Maybe, but that’s the reality we all face.

The Curious Case of Solomon

The wisest and wealthiest man to ever live on planet earth can also vouch for the need to choose between this world (and its glory) and God (and His glory). In his book entitled, Ecclesiastes, Solomon describes his pursuit of joy, beauty, and satisfaction via the Highway of Sand and Stars. He said, “So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after the wind…” (Ecclesiastes 2:9-11).

What is Solomon saying here? Simply put, at the end of the Highway of Sand and Stars is mere emptiness that will leave you thirsty for more. Oh, you’ll have fun and enjoy yourself, but (in the end) you’ll remain empty. Laughter, wine, houses, gardens, cattle, sex, and song were not enough to satisfy the longing and aching of Solomon’s heart. Indeed, he had it all…and it still wasn’t enough…

Our Schizophrenic Pursuit of Satisfaction

As a local church pastor, I meet so many people who are on this quest for ultimate satisfaction. They try to fill a Gospel-sized hole with anything and everything except Jesus. But it’s Jesus alone that will satisfy. Do you believe that? Will you choose to believe it again?

Friend, I know it sounds cliché, and perhaps some nut jobs out there have tainted this message with their presentation of it, but the truth remains, Jesus (and a dynamic, deep relationship with Him) is the ONLY thing that will satisfy the cravings of your heart. Nothing else will satisfy. Not food, drink, pills, sex, education, children, houses, vacations, chocolate, movies, songs, power, fame, money, or any other experience this world has to offer will satisfy your longings.

Indeed, think about it, the Highway of Sand and Stars was never meant to satisfy the deepest longings of your soul. Perhaps this highway was just meant to stir your soul toward greater and deeper affections? Perhaps, by the grace of God, at the end of the Highway of Sand and Stars is Jesus Himself wooing you to something better? I mean, just ask the Wise Men. What was at the end of their literal Highway of Sand and Stars?

I beg of you, quit the schizophrenic pursuit of satisfaction by looking to the “kingdoms of this world and their glory.” Look instead to your Savior, Jesus Christ, and with bold faith say to Him, “I can’t see you now. I can’t hold you now. But I’ll worship you and serve you with love and passion.” And in the end, such a life won’t be sand running through your fingers, or some shooting star in the night sky, no, it will be life, joy, blessing, and glory forevermore.

My Fifth Year as Pastor


In just a couple of days, I finish my fifth year (and will enter my sixth year) as the Lead Pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church. I can hardly believe how fast time has seemingly zipped by. Indeed, “swift fly the years.” Can I get a witness?

I was barely 26 years old when I took on the joyful burden of being one of the pastors at Prairie Flower. I am now 31 (almost 32 come January 2019) and over the years I have grown and learned so much. This is not an exaggeration. I knew barely anything about pastoral ministry when I began five years ago, but I’ve gleaned so much experience over the years. Yes, I have a lot more to learn, but by the grace of God, here’s some lessons I’ve learned along the way…

  1. Pastoral ministry has many periods, fewer exclamation points, and more question marks then I initially realized. Check out my Facebook post from five years ago…”Preparing for the weekend! For those of you who don’t know, I am candidating for the position of Pastor at Prairie Flower Baptist Church in Washington, IA! I’m super excited! Please pray for me and my family…we need grace, strength, energy, and wisdom from above! And as always…I love you Heather and Ann-Marie…you two are my greatest earthly treasures!” Not necessarily a bad post, but did you notice that every one of my sentences ended in an exclamation point? There are a total of five exclamation points in this one post. I almost wish I could go back in time and coach myself with the wisdom that ministry has moments of excitement, but pastoral ministry is mostly made up with good old-fashioned (sometimes boring) periods, and way more question marks then anyone truly cares for.
  2. Pastoral ministry is slow progression in a fast-paced world. In other words, there is nothing really fast-paced about pastoral ministry. Indeed, sanctification is slow (for the pastor and his people). Change, in the church, is slow (especially for the pastor). Growth (whether spiritual or numerical) is mostly slow. Yes, pastoral ministry is slow progression in a fast-paced world. In fact, if you want to thrive in pastoral ministry you must embrace the slowness of life and ministry, not buck against it.
  3. Pastoral ministry (at times) will tear your emotional guts out while simultaneously reminding you that God is always good. I have said it before and I’ll probably say it again, but I have never cried so much in my entire life as I have in pastoral ministry. The ministry is so emotionally exhausting at times! Yes, I know I used an exclamation point there, but it is definitely warranted. As a pastor, you minister to people who are both perpetrators of pain, and victims of pain, and all of that causes deep pain within your own life. I have gone to my garage many a time and simply wept over people, their sin, and their pain. My heart hurts for the evil and sin in this world. Indeed, if I’m not careful I can find myself in a carnival of despair and depression. But just as soon as the dark becomes really dark, God (time and time again) rushes in and reminds me of His goodness. How? All kinds of ways…from people, to nature, to an intrusive, but beautiful thought…Yes, God reminds me (especially in the darkest night of soul) that He is near, and He cares, and He is good.
  4. Pastoral ministry is done by sinners for sinners. There is no getting around it. I am a pastor and I am a sinner. No amount of pastoring will ever obliterate my sin nature. I still get angry, prideful, and gluttonous. Does that list disturb you? It shouldn’t…and it could be longer. Indeed, if you’re reading this, you have the same heart I do and, according to Jeremiah the prophet, it’s so sick and deceitful, who can know it?! But by the grace of God, I am saying “no” to my sinful flesh more today than I did five years ago, and God still chooses to use me despite all that I am (i.e. a sinner) and all that I am not (i.e. fully sanctified). The same is true with you. Aren’t you glad?
  5. Pastoral ministry (specifically at Prairie Flower Baptist Church) is a joy. I was recently reading in my personal devotions through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He says this in the fourth chapter, “Therefore, my brothers (and sisters), whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” Wow. I read those words and just stopped for a moment. I thought to myself, “Could I really say this about the people of Prairie Flower and actually mean it?” Then I began to think of all the people that make up this precious church…So many names, so many precious people…And I concluded, you know, I’m no Apostle Paul, but I love the people of Prairie Flower. They took a risk on me, bringing me as their pastor at barely 26 years of age, with no prior experience at all…Yes, they took a risk on me, and gave me grace upon grace upon grace as I made many mistakes. Simply put, they have loved me these past five years. How could I not love them in return? Indeed, I love the people of Prairie Flower and pray that I grow in my love and admiration for them.

Just some thoughts as I get ready to exit year five of pastoral ministry and enter year six. Nothing mind-blowing or earth-shattering here…and that’s ok. Why? Well, I still have much to learn in the years to come…thanks for reading.