Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Last Sunday began the season of Advent (which is celebrated by the Church during the four weeks prior to Christmas).

The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means "arrival" or "coming".

During this time, the Church focuses on waiting on the Lord and preparing ones' hearts for Christ. We remember those who waited for Jesus' arrival 2000 years ago and we're encouraged to prepare our hearts and wait upon the Lord during this season.

This year (as they've done for several years), the folks at All Saints Church in Chapel Hill/Durham, NC have created a helpful Advent Devotional.

This free booklet contains daily scripture reading, prayers and thoughts for reflection. I pray that you find it a helpful resource during this time of spiritual reflection and preparation.

Here's the link:


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Some old Vineyard worship songs....

This afternoon I recorded some old Vineyard worship songs.

Click here for a link to the lyrics.

Here's a link to the music.

I first heard these songs on my first visit to the Cincinnati Vineyard in August of 1987. The church met in the cafeteria of Scarlet Oaks Vocational school and after singing for forty minutes or so, visitors were asked to raise their hands and ushers distributed a cassette tape of worship music.

In today's recording I've tried to include the songs that were on the "Welcome Tape" that I received in 1987.

There are a couple of things that are of interest about these songs...

The first thing is their simplicity. Many of the songs simply say "I love you Lord" or repeat the words Hosanna, Alleluia, or Hallelujah.

(The word Hosanna can be translated as "We praise you" while Alleluia/Hallelujah can be translated as "Praise the Lord".)

The second thing of interest is that in addition to using many popular worship songs of that period, there are a number of songs that were written by musicians in the worship band...including Dave Workman, Kelly Wiseman and Jim Hitchcock. (A few years later, the worship band did a live recording of their own songs called "Homegrown Hosanna").

A final note of interest about these songs is their ability to instruct. I'm convinced that God used these songs to help me learn more about Him...especially His incredible grace and mercy...and to help me respond back to Him in worship. I found these songs so helpful that I literally wore out my "Welcome Tape" by playing it so much on the cassette player in my small red Chevette.

There were others who liked the "Welcome Tape" as well. When I visited my first small group sponsored by the Vineyard Cincinnati in North College Hill, the leader played the entire "Welcome Tape" for the group to sing along to (we even had to pause to flip the cassette tape to play the second side). Later, in a small group in Oxford (that was led John and Pam Bertram) we sang many of these same songs while John led us on his acoustic guitar.

Shortly after I received my "Welcome Tape" I gave a bunch of the "Welcome Tapes" to friends, figuring that they would like it as much as I did. Interestingly, nine years later I was talking to a friend in Michigan and she told me, "Do you remember that tape you gave me a long time ago? I still get it out and play it when I need to focus my thoughts on the Lord."

One big difference, as you'll hear, is that I've recorded these songs in my home office with just my own vocals and guitar - the songs on the "Welcome Tape" were recorded with a full band and with several great feel free to add your own harmony as you sing along.

So, for my friend Kevin (who celebrated his birthday this week) and for my friends at the Cincinnati Vineyard who are celebrating their 25th anniversary are some worship songs from 1987.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Something to Contemplate

This week I'm reading Eugene Peterson's "The Contemplative Pastor".

If I only had one word to describe the book I would say: WOW. This book is soooo good...I'll post a few quotes from the book this week.

Thanks to Fr. Joe Boysel in Hudson, Ohio for recommending this great book.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It is finished....almost

Received confirmation today that I've finished all of my coursework at Reformed Theological Seminary.

I have found the classes quite helpful in learning more about Christian theology, apologetics and Church history.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the school posts many of their lectures free of charge at iTunes U. Let me know if you have any issues accessing the lectures, they are quite helpful.

Next up for me...writing my thesis.

Thanks all for your prayers and support. Special thanks to John Arns for proctoring my exams and Malcom McLellan for serving as a mentor for my classes.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Land Between

This week I've been reading a great book called "The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions" by Jeff Manion.

I highly recommend this book if you are dealing with difficulty, discouragement, grief or loss.

Rev. Manion vividly retells the indirect journey of the Hebrew people who went from Egypt to the Promised Land...enduring a generation in the Sinai desert, which he calls "the Land Between."

There are many things that I like about this book...including his inclusion of a U2 song and the funniest paraphrase I've read in quite awhile (of what God says to Elijah):

"Dude, you could use some lunch. You must be so tired and discouraged." (pg. 75)

Through his retelling of the Exodus account (and several other Biblical accounts of difficulty and despair), Rev. Manion explores how God will uses these times in "the Land Between" to teach us more about Himself and transform our lives.

Again, a highly recommended book...


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Helpful Lectionary Resource

I've written recently about how helpful the daily Lectionary readings can be (for the past several weeks I've been gripped by the readings from Job).

I ran across this helpful resource that I thought I'd share with you. It's the daily lectionary reading in a bookmark format (from our friends in the Charismatic Episcopal Church).

Here's the link:


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ordination as Deacon

In the midst of this busy spring and summer, I failed to note that a highlight for me was being ordained as a Deacon in the Anglican Church this spring.

My ordination was held on April 30th at Apostles Anglican Church in Lexington, Kentucky where I was ordained by the Rt. Rev. David "Doc" Loomis.

Pictured above (from left to right): Fr. Peter Matthews, Rt. Rev. Doc Loomis, Fr. Matt Purmort (who was ordained as a priest at the service) and myself.

I was glad that Sue, the kids and my parents could join me. Several friends from Cincinnati also made drive as well.

The role of a deacon varies among denominations, but in the Anglican Church it is associated with a role of a servant. A deacon typically assists with the Sunday liturgy in the ministry of the Word (i.e. reading the Gospel and proclaiming the Good News about Christ) and service to the poor.

Rev. Deacon David Stiles

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Latest Bible Study - Dealing with Life's Ups and Downs

I recently finished writing a new Bible Study this summer called "Dealing with Life's Ups and Downs".

Here's the link (the .pdf version is available for free):

The study uses many charts and graphs to explain the concepts - and has a number of questions to help the reader/participant reflect on their views.

I'm hoping it's a helpful resource for people who are either new to the Christian faith or seasoned Christians -- to help in understanding more about the fundamentals of Christianity and our incredible Lord of life.

The content comes from thoughts and reflections from my recent seminary classes.

Here are the chapter titles:

Part One
Ch. 1 - Life's Circumstances
Ch. 2 - Life as we want it to be

Part Two
Ch. 3 - The Lord of Life
Ch. 4 - Our Authority in Life
Ch. 5 - An Eternally Living God
Ch. 6 - A Living God in Three Persons
Ch. 7 - Life as it deserves to be
Ch. 8 - The Life and Work of Christ

Part Three
Ch. 9 - Life in Christ
Ch. 10 - Life in the Kingdom
Ch. 11 - A Life of Rest
Ch. 12 - A Life of Becoming


Monday, August 23, 2010

Today's Lectionary Readings

...I realized that I haven't updated this blog site in a few months - so my apologies to the few readers of this site - I'll try to post an update of what I've been up to soon.

I wanted to write a quick note to say that I found today's lectionary readings to be really encouraging. I've been dealing with some feelings of discouragement lately, and found the Old Testament passages incredibly helpful.

Part of the first reading was from Psalm 3 - here's a portion of that passage:

"Many are saying of me, "God will not deliver him." But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side." (Psalm 3:2-6)

Here's a portion of the second reading from Job 5:

"Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal. From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you. In famine he will ransom you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword. You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes. You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season. "We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself." (Job 5:17-21, 26-27)

If you're not familiar with the Lectionary, it is a daily calendar of Scripture readings consisting of:

- one (or more) Psalms

- another Old Testament reading

- a New Testament reading (from something other than the Gospels - such as from Acts or portions of the New Testament letters, which are called the epistles)

- and a reading from the Gospels

This morning for example, the readings were:
-Psalm 1, Psalm 2, Psalm 3
-Job 4:1, 5:1-11, 17-21, 26-27
-Acts 9:19-31
-John 6:52-59

Here's a link to the Lectionary readings. The easiest thing to do on this website is to scroll down to the calendar view and pick the current month then the date.

I hope you'll find this helpful...


Monday, April 5, 2010

Understanding the Resurrection

For Christians, Easter means celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

Here's a helpful article from "Christianity Today" on why the resurrection matters. Here's the link:


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter 2010

Happy Easter 2010....

I hope today has been a great day for you in celebration of Christ's resurrection.

For me, I've spent a lazy afternoon at home with Sue and the kids.

One bonus...Ken Myers (one of my favorite commentators on culture) was on C-SPAN.

Here's the link:

His lecture starts at about 40 min. into the video.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Systematic Theology

Some of you know that I'm finishing up my seminary degree at Reformed Theology Seminary. This week I finished my last Systematic Theology class (there are three).

I've learned so much in these three classes about the person and work of God. I wish I would have had time to write more about what I've learned...maybe some day.

RTS has posted a number of the lectures online (and free) on iTunes. I'd highly recommend a listen.


Monday, March 1, 2010


To be honest, I really don't like videos used in worship services.

I do make a few exceptions, however. Here's an excellent video created last week called "Respond to This", created from audio clips from a sermon.

Here's the link:


Friday, February 26, 2010

Church Signs

Every now and then I see some really bad church signs. In fact, the church down the street from us has a large gate in front of their building and driveway with large "No Parking"'s not too inviting.

Two weeks ago I worked in the city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, a small city located in the northern part of the state just south of the Massachusetts border.

While there I ate most of my meals at the Patriot's Diner (a small diner, with lots of chrome and Valentine's Day balloons). And there, I enjoyed hearing the wonderful Rhode Island accents of the waitresses asking me if I wanted cawfee, sweetened tea, etc.

Driving around Woonsocket, I drove into the Massachusetts town of Blackstone. There, at St. Theresa's Catholic Church I saw one of my favorite Church signs, it said simply:

The Mystery of Faith
Christ has died
Christ has risen
Christ will come again

A perfect sign for any church.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Free Journey - Week #1

I taught this past Sunday at the Mason Vineyard to kick off a new series on freedom in Christ.

My message was about the "Foundations of Freedom" - how freedom in Christ is rooted in the message of the Gospel.

Their website is if you want to take a listen.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

A dragonslaying friend

One person I had a chance to meet at the Anglican Mission Winter Conference in January and then again this week in Indianapolis is Fr. Tom Tirman.

Fr. Tom helps to lead seven Anglican fellowships in central Indiana.

The umbrella church and ministry that they have started is called Saint Michael the Archangel Anglican Church. Here is the church's website:

Fr.Tom's blogsite called "Tales of a Faithful Dragonslayer" is located here:

I'm not sure what's all involved in "dragonslaying" but I'm hoping that Fr. Tom can teach me.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Seven Words for Spiritual Leaders

As I mentioned in my last post I spent part of last week at the Anglican Mission's annual Winter Conference.

On Day One (on Wednesday), we heard from Rwandan Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini (who as the Primate of Rwanda has oversight for AMiA).

David Virtue had this quote from Archbishop Kolini, "We thank God for protecting the baby (AMiA). We also celebrate a child to grow. The Anglican Mission is 10 years old it wasn’t easy getting here. It needed resources. We were often stubborn, often rebels, but we learn from our mistakes. We celebrate the challenge. Many of you paid a price but thank God the baby (AMiA) survived. Our hope was not in ourselves but in the Lord."

Although he had many things to say, I was most impressed by how he began his talk,"We love you and pray for you."

Those seven words resonated with me as a great expression of Christ-like leadership.

The words "We love you and pray for you" are seven great words that every spiritual leader should take to heart...and remember for those that they are leading.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Anglican Mission Winter Conference

Had a great time this week in Greensboro, NC at the Anglican Mission's annual Winter Conference.

In the next few days, I'll blog more about what I learned.

If you are not familiar with the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA), here's the website:


Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

Helpful Resources on Faith, Vocation and Culture

Recently I've been reading some helpful resources from The Washington Institute, a Christian organization that creates helpful resources on faith, vocation and culture.

Here's the link to their website:

Here's how they describe the reasons for Christians to carefully reflect upon the areas of faith, vocation and culture:

The Need: In our work we continue to discover the deep, personal, sometimes aching need of people in all walks of life for wholeness in Christ. Instead, what so many find as they enter their callings and live in their communities is that there is fragmentation, a depersonalizing experience, where daily work and daily relationships have become disconnected from faith. Sunday and Monday do not talk to each other nor do they speak the same language if they do converse.

This gap is most often due to the theology people have come to understand whether it is from their church experience, from their personal reading of Scripture, or simply the daily drag of an info glut culture and its secularizing tendencies. The opportunity that we have experienced to impact individuals, local churches, organizations and seminaries in our work since our founding in 2005 is extensive simply because of the hunger to live such that all of life is to be redeemed be it work, worship, families or souls. People resonate with the understanding that vocation is integral, not incidental to the Mission Dei. Somewhere in the flow of modernity that centuries old connection has been obscured. The ancient word for living such a whole and coherent life is wisdom. Imparting wisdom and helping each other engage in wisdom—this is at the heart of the mission of The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation & Culture.

I think you'll find their articles quite helpful,

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Worship Resources

Here's a helpful blog/website from Jamie Brown who is the Associate Director of worship at The Falls Church - an Anglican Church in Northern Virginia.