Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Dear friends, family, et al,

As the year 2004 draws to a close, Josie and I want to update you on a recent decision that will significantly change both our ministry and our lives. As you may recall, I have been serving part-time at Chapel by the Sea as the associate pastor, as well as serving in the administration of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) in Charlotte, where I am taking classes in Christian Apologetics. Josie has also been busy caring for her mother, helping Kristin with our grandsons, assisting a friend in real estate, and starting her Pampered Chef consultancy.

This year has been both wonderful and challenging as we’ve juggled our various responsibilities, particularly after June, when I extended my time in Charlotte to two weeks per month. I love ministering with Pastor Clay to our friends and neighbors at Chapel by the Sea and I consider it a privilege to work and study under Dr. Norm Geisler, the founder and president of SES. However, this Fall it became obvious that I need to either serve full-time with the Chapel or with the Seminary, instead of part-time with both. After seeking counsel about our dilemma with Pastor Clay, we committed ourselves to prayer and waiting on the Lord for His guidance.


In early December that guidance came in a phone call from Dr. Geisler, asking for permission to submit my name to the SES Board of Trustees as a candidate for the presidency of the seminary upon his retirement. I was literally struck speechless. Dr. Geisler asked me to pray about starting in January as the vice president of SES until such time as the Trustees made their decision. The new position includes a generous salary as well as tuition-free courses to complete my Masters degree. After much more prayer and consideration I accepted Dr. Geisler’s offer. To learn more about the SES mission to prepare a new generation of men and women to proclaim the Gospel and defend the historic Christian Faith, I invite you to visit the seminary website at


My next task was to find a home in the Charlotte area that would accommodate both us and Josie’s mother. I phoned the housing office at the JAARS Center for a list of missionary-owned houses for rent. The Jungle Aviation And Radio Service (JAARS) Center is the international operations and training center of the Wycliffe Bible Translators ministry.

As I read down the list, the home of Marilyn Laszlo, a Wycliffe translator who spend the last two decades in Papua New Guinea, drew my attention. Soon after Josie and I became Christians in the early 80’s, we saw a video about Ms. Laszlo’s translation work that deeply influenced our interest in foreign missions.

Marilyn’s home is a rustic, country-style residence on a wooded, creekside property near the community of Waxhaw, about 15 miles SE of Charlotte. The house is fully furnished with a bedroom and bathroom downstairs ideal for Josie’s mom and two bedrooms upstairs with dormers, decks, and bathroom. There’s even a woodstove in the living room identical to the one in our Godfrey Branch home! It is almost as though Marilyn was thinking of us when she built her lovely home.

Josie is excited about these new ministry opportunities for both of us. She will be able to better care for her mother’s increasing needs in our new home. Josie sees her caregiver role to her mom in the light of James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is to be with the orphans and the widows in their trouble....”

When Josie told her sister about our decision, Betty said her son in Charlotte had been encouraging her to move there to be closer to her grandchildren. Just this week Jimmy made an offer on a lovely home for Betty in a nearby community. The rest of Josie’s siblings are supportive of the move since we will be more convenient for them to visit. We have decided not to rent out our Godfrey Branch home to allow regular visits back home. We will also make our home available for family and friends.


Earlier this month we helped Kristin move for the 7th time in 5 years. She recently agreed to manage an apartment complex in the rapidly growing community of Garner on the SE side of Raleigh. It is not unusual in the world of property management for a free apartment to be included in her employment package. Kristin and the boys are settling in nicely to their new 3-bedroom apartment and she has a friendly and diligent staff with which to work. Our drive to Garner from Charlotte will be a bit further than from the coast; however, we won’t let that stop us from having regular visits with our precious family.

Monty turned three this month and Bradley will be two in February. They have remarkably different personalities—Monty is outgoing and active while Bradley is shy and mostly interested in food. We had a great time with Kristin and the boys this Christmas as we celebrated the Lord’s incarnation and our daughter’s 28th birthday. Both boys love getting gifts—Monty’s attention immediately went to the new gadget or toy while Bradley was satisfied to just rip off the wrappings and stand on the boxes.


We will soon be packing-up again, but thankfully this time only for the 265-mile move to Charlotte. The hardest part is leaving our Chapel by the Sea family for another season of service. In mid-January I begin my new dual roles as a full-time seminary executive and student. For the immediate future, my MissionMind Ministries activities will be limited to occasionally teaching in the Mercy Ships training schools. Years ago I sensed God’s call to use my gifts, training, and experiences in the preparation of a new generation of missionaries. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine He would lead me along this path. I can’t tell you how unqualified I feel for the task. I cherish your prayers and I cling to Paul’s proclamation in Phil. 4:13 -“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

It is impossible to express our appreciation for the support of our family and friend over the last 15 years of missionary service. To paraphrase a popular song, “You were the wind beneath our wings.” We thank God for this amazing journey of faith on which we have been privileged to serve in over 30 nations on 3 continents. Starting next month God has graciously arranged for our financial needs to be met by the Seminary. We continue to covet your prayers and will update you from time to time on this new adventure. “How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?... (Rom. 10:14-15)

For our new contact information AFTER January 16, 2005, please email me at

Monday, December 27, 2004


This is the sermon I preached at our little interdenominational church on the NC Outer Banks this past Sunday morning. It was the second in a series of messages about the importance of understanding the Kingdom of God. I introduced the message with a segue about the birth of the King of Creation.

The Kingdom of God is all-encompassing. The scope of God's redemptive work encompasses all of creation, including all mankind and all human relationships. Today, some in the church would say, "We only need to save souls for heaven." Others would say that we don't need to concern ourselves with saving souls at all; rather we should concern ourselves with poverty, hunger, and injustice. What does the Bible say regarding the scope of the Kingdom of God? It says that the Kingdom is comprehensive. As such, everything is to be redeemed. The whole of creation is to be redeemed:

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:19-20).

Why did Jesus die on the cross? Many in the church today would respond: "He died to purchase my salvation." Some may go beyond this and affirm that He died to save all humanity from sin. This is very true, but for what else did He suffer and die? The Colossians passage above makes it clear that He came to redeem all things. He died, not just to purchase redemption for humanity, but to purchase redemption for all things. To emphasize this point, the Apostle Paul added the words "things on earth or things in heaven." There is nothing outside the scope of God's Kingdom. It represents a total, global transformation. It is a vision of the entire cosmos, purified of evil and full of the glory of God. This is the end to which the Kingdom advances.

The Apostle Paul said more about the scope of redemption intended by the Kingdom of God:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:18-23).

All of creation was subject to the devastating effects of the Fall. Sinful humans viewed creation as something to own and exploit for selfish gain, rather than something to responsibly steward. The resulting destruction of the environment is sadly evident throughout human history. Several times in the above passage, the Apostle Paul declared that all of creation is waiting for redemption and restoration.

Paul also made reference to the "sons of God" in the above passage. The "sons of God" are God's children (daughters, as well as sons) who have been adopted into the family of God and have, therefore, entered the Kingdom of God. As children of God, we are to grow in expressing our Heavenly Father's nature and character in our lives. As we do, we realize more of what it means to be fully human, and this includes our God-given responsibility to steward God's creation. In essence, Paul was saying that creation is eagerly waiting for us to mature in Christ, so we will increasingly treat His creation according to His intentions. As we mature in Christ, we see the need to stand against natural evil in the world, fight hunger and poverty, and steward the creation. Christians should be leading, not following, the environmental movement. Why? Because we're God's children, and God is redeeming all things to Himself. God is at work, liberating all of creation.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:15-20

The Kingdom of God Encompasses Everything!

Because the Kingdom of God is comprehensive, it encompasses everything! It even sanctifies and exalts the common things of life. It brings a sense of purpose, calling, and dignity to all of life -- even those things that are seen by the world as lowly or common. The Apostle Paul said: "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all it to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). Even things as common and mundane as eating and drinking should be done in the light of God's Kingdom and for His glory:

On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty (Zechariah 14:20-21).

Even lowly, everyday cooking pots and bells on horses are to be inscribed "Holy to the LORD." The Kingdom of God is comprehensive, and things that the world sees as small and insignificant have new significance. This is a radical notion for many in the church today who see a sharp division between "secular" and "sacred." The "sacred" involves devotional lives, Bible study, church attendance, and careers in "full-time Christian service," such as the pastorate or missions. Everything else is in the "secular" category, which seems somehow more lowly and worldy. But God's Kingdom encompasses everything! There are no "sacred" and "secular" categories. Even common things are to be "Holy to the LORD."

As we look at God's all-encompassing Kingdom, our lives take on freshness and dynamism. Even the simple and menial tasks of life have new purpose and significance. All of our lives -- each and every moment, each and every task -- are to be lived "before the face of God."

During the European Reformation, a simple Latin phrase -- coram Deo -- was commonly used to remind the community of believers that God's Kingdom was comprehensive. It is appropriate for us today, as well. Coram Deo means that we are to live "before the face of God," "under the authority of God," and "to the glory of God." The Christians of the Reformation period understood that God's Kingdom is comprehensive and that it sanctifies even the common things of life. They understood that Christ's death on the cross was meant for the redemption of "all things."

In our generation, this understanding of the Kingdom of God is nearly lost. There are, however, people who keep it alive. Consider the woman who has a plaque in her kitchen that says: "Worship services held here three times a day." She understands that common tasks, such as meal preparation, become acts of significance and worship-when done in light of God's Kingdom. She is not a Christian only when she attends church or studies her Bible. She lives coram Deo. A vision of God's Kingdom is infused into every aspect of her life. Likewise, when her husband plants his field, he stands before the face of God. He thinks: "How can I glorify God as I plant? This is God's field, and I want to make it bountiful for Him!" May we each have a comprehensive understanding of the Kingdom of God in our lives!