Last Sunday morning we began our first Sunday in Nehemiah. The preaching series on Nehemiah is going to prove to be a very important series for Berean. The application to today for us will be tremendous. The lessons that we will be able to extract and apply will be overwhelming at times. We will get to know Nehemiah and his passion for the God's glory in a new or fresh way. We will learn to love a man who is passionate about accomplishing his purpose in life.

What is your purpose? Why were you created? What is the purpose of the church? From the OT book of Nehemiah, we are going to see this for ourselves in the 21st Century.

Let me encourage you to, first—read the entire book several times. Second be faithful. If you can't attend the service for whatever reason get the DVD/CD and make a point of listening to the sermon sometime during the week. How many of you will be able to say I listened to the entire series?

In the OT, God's covenant community were the followers of Jehovah normally descendents of Abraham. In the NT, God's covenant community is the church. In the OT, Jerusalem was the primary place where God was worshipped in unique and special way.

God has now seen fit to permit believers in His Son to assemble all over the world and worship Him in places we call churches.

The degree to which these churches accomplish what Jerusalem and Israel were intended to accomplish—namely bringing glory and honor to the One True God—is based upon how much the church is a Christ-centered community of passionate, fully committed followers of God.

In the same manner, Nehemiah was committed to returning Jerusalem to a city for God's GLORY; we must be just as passionate about making Berean Baptist a city within the city.

This Sunday, I want to focus on this idea of a city within the city for God's Glory!

Will you be present?


Upward Soccer 2007

Last night, we concluded Berean Baptist's first Upward Soccer season with a pep-rally of sorts in celebration of our Lord and the boys and girls that participated. The pastoral staff came together to plan and execute this event and did a very good job! It seemed that nearly everyone present had a very good time. Prizes were won, songs were song, and every boy and girl received a trophy and size 2 soccer ball (I didn't know there was such a size). Many thanks should go out to Jeff Woosley, Lisa Harvey and Darren Hawk for their combined effort throughout the season. Additionally, all this would not have been possible without the coaches and referees. Many teenagers did an awesome job unselfishly contributing hours of their precious Saturdays for our sons and daughters. Over 200 boys and girls participated and we look forward to an even greater participation next year.

I have heard some comments about the size of the field for the older boys and girls and we are examining how we can have a bigger field and goals for the oldest grouping. We also are looking at how we can start all the games at the same time so that everyone can pause for devotions throughout the day of competition.

The mission of Upward Sports is to reach boys and girls with the good news of Jesus Christ—this is done first and foremost through the coaches who are fully devoted followers of Christ. The coach is charged with the responsibility to impart the teachings of Christ into soccer (and basketball). He or she does this during practices and games and the manner in which they conduct themselves both on and off the field.

We are considering starting the season a bit later into the year—I am sure you recall the blistering heat during several of the first Saturdays. I am also reviewing the purpose and focus of the closing ceremony.

I would love to hear from every coach, referee and players parent if you have praise for someone or a productive suggestion that we should consider as we retool for next year. Please go easy on us but we are open on ways to improve. Berean wants to provide Fayetteville with a great alternative to recreation league that may not be focused on Christ first and foremost, but we also want to teach boys and girls the fundamentals of soccer and good sportsmanship. Please post your comment on the blog or send me an email at and put "Upward Soccer 2007" in the subject line.

If our Lord should delay His glorious coming, I look forward to seeing some returning veterans turn up the heat on our fields next year.

Once again thanks….Pastor Sean



Prepare the Horse for Battle

Do you read a chapter of Proverbs every day? There are thirty-one chapters so it works out nicely even on months with 31 days. Today is Sunday, October 21, 2007 and the last verse in this chapter is one of my favorites and in many ways describes how I want to live my life.

The horse is prepared against [for] the day of battle,

but safety belongs to the Lord.


This verse combines God's Sovereignty and what God expects of humans incredibly well in a very practical sense. What God expects of humans is called human responsibility. Sometimes you may hear God's Sovereignty and free will—but a disciple of Christ isn't focused upon free will. I want to know what my responsibilities are in this kingdom whose King is Jesus Christ—what does He expect of me? What are my human responsibilities? I see clearly in the Bible that He is Sovereign in all aspects of life and in the universe.

Even the opening verse in this chapter, Proverbs 21.1, reminds me of this fact:

The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water:

he turneth it whithersoever he will.


This verse compares the manner in which Our Sovereign Lord turns the heart of the king to the manner in which HHHhH e turns rivers—He can redirect a river as He sees fit anytime He chooses. Consider any flood and you know the manner in which a river is no longer contained in its normal path. We seem to understand well how God works in all of creation—but within the heart of man we limit God—why is that?

The Bible doesn't!

If a king has a choice in any matter, it is because God permits him that choice and our God gives us many of choices. But I don't want to focus on that. As a Spirit-filled follower of Christ, my focus in life should not be upon what choices I have—it should be on just the opposite! What my Lord expects of me should be my focus. What are my responsibilities? In this verse, He tells me to prepare the horse for battle. The horse isn't going to prepare itself for battle. The owner of the horse prepares for battle with the horse.

Many men and women in Berean go to battle. They literally go to places all over the globe where the rifle range is two-way, and people shoot back. These men and women need to prepare for battle—they must train hard. Jesus taught that the foolish king goes to battle without counting the cost and determining if he can win (Luke 14.31). Yes, "safety" is of the Lord. Or "victory" in the ESV is of the Lord. Safety and victory is of the Lord! But the horse must be prepared for battle. God gives man a brain to use and to prepare for the battle or the storms of life. This can be applied to personal finances—we must prepare the horse for battle. We call this an emergency fund. Most Christians simply do not have enough money in the bank; hopefully, they are not flippantly saying deliverance is from God—God will provide. The horse is
prepared for battle. Man prepares the horse for battle.

The out of shape soldier who can't shoot; follow instructions; and perform his warrior tasks in battle can't claim half the Bible verse for himself. He is instructed by King Solomon to prepare himself and his horse—his equipment—for battle. The student who hasn't prepared for the examination doesn't say victory is of the Lord.

The born-again believer who gets advanced notice that a tropical storm is coming doesn't declare God is Sovereign—safety belongs to the Lord—without preparing for the storm.

He prepares and prepares and prepares.

He stock piles potable water; buys extra food; covers windows and brings in that which he doesn't want blown away from outside; he does all he can to prepare for the storm and then bows the knee to the Sovereign God of the Universe and says, "safety belongs to the Lord."

As a disciple of Christ, that's how I want to live my life. How about you? Do you understand that our emphasis in life doesn't need to be on free will—it needs to be upon my responsibilities before my King!

Don't get me wrong, I love free will—

I love the choice to drink sweet or un-sweet iced tea.

I love the choice to buy a blue or brown suit.

I love the choice to drive a truck or a car,

But let's be real what will all that matter in eternity.


I don't have a choice in serving the King. The Sovereign God of the Universe has called me into his Kingdom to be a foot soldier for the Captain of my Salvation and I will obey.

I have but one life to live for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords—I will surely not live it to its fullest for Him if my heart is focused upon my free will.

By God's grace, I want to focus upon my Lord and Savior. My prayer is that He will show my everyday how to better prepare my horse for battle and I will do it—by His Grace!

Pastor Sean

Berean Baptist Men's Retreat

These four men exceeded the weight limit for the tube, but not the boat.

Team Captain Rudy did an incrediable job with the boys and youth. I think these smiles accurately reflect how much everyone enjoyed themselves.

Music was a major part of the retreat; our worship sessions were the best.

A father and son enjoy some time together by the lake; some dads were able to spend more time with there sons during this weekend than they have previously for weeks. Getting away just seems to create moments like this.

We used the our new tour busses to get to Camp Anchorage. The trip was about 90 minutes long and provided for our first chance to fellowship.

This activity provided hours of enjoyment.

Do those men look like they are having fun? I pity the poor fellow on the red team.

Big House


Last night, I joined the Senior High Youth for their Wednesday youth meeting after Pam and I visited with wonderful new family in Berean. Pastor Steve Rahn gave an excellent short message on prayer and I really appreciated it; therefore, I have asked him to articulate his thoughts in writing for my blog. Thanks Steve for your love for our Lord Jesus and youth.


Matthew 6: 5-13 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


Sometimes I think that prayer is one of the most frustrating parts about being a Christ follower.


Can someone please explain to me how prayer works? Can you give me a legitimate explanation for why God answers the prayers he answers? And then explain to me why he shuts other people down?

Just this week, I have seen relatively trivial prayers answered, and I have also seen earnest prayers of daunting importance seemingly ignored.

What is up with that?

Is it because some people have more faith than others? Not according to Jesus. He says if you can gather up faith the size of a mustard seed, God will move mountains for you. So it's not about the size of our faith.

Is it because some people have a more religious vocabulary than others? Nope. Jesus basically tells us to cut out the fancy words and the vain repetitions. He says the heathen think that they will be heard because of "their much speaking." They're wrong. And the directive from our Lord is "don't be like them."

So it's not about the length or breadth of our vocabulary, nor is about the length or breadth of our faith. So what is it about? How does it work? How can we get the results from prayer that we desire?

Well for starters, shut your door.

Jesus said, "when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret;"

So you go into your room and you close your door behind you. And to get the full 21st century effect of this 1st century command, you'll also have to turn off your cell phone, your pc, your ipod, your TV, and any other noise that floats in and out of your day. Jesus is asking that you commune with God, and God alone.

And Jesus promises that "thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

Ch-ching! So that's the key to getting the results I desire from my prayer time! Excellent!


Jesus says our Father will reward us openly. He doesn't say that our Father will grant our every wish. God is not our vending machine. And many times His rewards are not the ones for which we have asked. We get so caught up in our own personal requests that we squander what could be incredible prayer time with God. In verse 8, Jesus reminds us that our "Father knoweth what things we have need of, before we ask him." God knows what we need, and he is taking care of us.

So when we are spending the majority of our prayer time asking for needs to be met, we are missing the point of prayer!

I wonder how many of us struggle just like I do with the idea that prayer is not about me. I have, so often, prayed prayers to God that were almost totally focused around me and what I wanted from God. I throw in a few "God bless my family" prayers, and a few "God help John Whoever to get feeling better" prayers. But essentially my prayer life is centered on me.

And I have it backwards.

God tells us that He already knows what we need. So let's get past that.

Have you ever been to a huge house? Like a celebrity style mansion? Where you think you've seen every room, and then you discover another whole wing that you haven't even stepped foot in yet. Imagine rooms and rooms and rooms, beautiful pools, libraries and studies, recreation and workout rooms, magnificent dining rooms with tables full of perfect looking food.

Imagine you visit an estate like that, and you ring the doorbell, and the butler lets you in. He takes your coat and announces your arrival to your host. The butler takes you into a small, comfortable lobby with a large screen plasma TV on the wall and a stack of magazines in a rack at your feet. He invites you to relax on a plush leather couch until your host arrives.

Now imagine that you never leave that room.

Your host comes in and asks if you'd like to join him in the rec room, perhaps play some pool or some video games.

Nah, you say.

How about a meal? You can have any kind of food your heart, or should I say, stomach desires?

No, you respond. I'm fine. I'll stay here.

And you never leave. It's the smallest room in the house. They are so many wonderful experiences that you are forgoing. And your host is more than willing to take you to any room you want. And you decline.

That's kind of where we are with prayer. The only room we've visited is the vending machine room.

"God, I need this. God, I want that. In Jesus' name, amen." And we never leave that room.

Listen to Jesus' model prayer:

God, you are holy. You are perfect.

Have your will in my life.

Please meet my needs today.

Please forgive me of my sins.

Please deliver me from temptation.

Only twenty percent of this prayer was devoted to asking for needs to be met.

The first essential part of this prayer was acknowledging that God is perfect and holy, and worshiping him as such. Begin there in your intimate time with God. Spend quality time telling God what you love about Him.

The second part is begging for His will to be done in our lives. Honestly ask God that He do His will, then see how that changes your "grocery list" of needs to be met.

Then Jesus says to ask God to meet our daily needs. After we worship Him, after we beg for His will to be done. And not before.

The fourth part is a sincere plea for forgiveness. And if you are like me, spending honest time with God always reveals sins in my heart, mind and life.

The final part of this model prayer is a plea for deliverance from temptation and future sin. Just uttering a dependence upon God will alter how you deal with evil thoughts and actions for the rest of the day.

So, perhaps you're like me, and you are occasionally or perpetually frustrated with your prayer life. Or perhaps you struggle with boredom or apathy. Why don't you try Jesus' suggestions on the matter?

Get in your room, shut your door, and shut out any other noises.

Spend much less time on your own personal needs.

Spend much more time on worshiping your Creator, begging for His will to be done in your life, asking Him to forgive you of your sins, and praying for strength to glorify Him.

And see if God opens up rooms to His house that you never knew existed.

Statement on Tony Denton

The purpose of this email is to inform you that a former employee of the church, Tony Denton, has been arrested for sexually molesting three teenagers 30 years ago. Presently, he is in Jacksonville, FL until he is extradited to Fayetteville.

Obviously this in no way affects the present day situation in as much as Mr. Denton has not been employed by the church in over 25 years.

Please refer anyone from the media to Dr. Steve Wilson as our single point of contact.

We have policies and procedures in place in order to guard and protect our children and teenagers.

Presently, the victims are not members of the church and we pray for these ladies and their families.


Praying in Jesus’ Name

On Tuesday, of last week, Jonathan and I went to the Fayetteville Police Department to provide a devotional/mini-sermon during the Christian Law Enforcement Officers (CLEO) monthly lunch. In order to show our appreciation of Christian law officers Berean provided lunch (subs, chips, cookies and soft drinks).

This is the 2nd time I have spoken to CLEO and have really enjoyed my time with this fine group on both occasions.

During my last time with them, I learned that the Fayetteville city was circulating a final draft policy letter prohibiting employees of the city from praying in Jesus' name—Christ—or any other deity.

My understanding is that the city is attempting to protect itself from potential lawsuits from the ACLU.

What was left to be determined was what the consequences of violating the policy would be. Additionally, CLEO was considering asking the city manager or lawyer or leadership to meet with them to provide clarifying instructions.