Announcement: Acceptance of New Call

Announcement: Acceptance of New Call

View from the parking lot of Fellowship PCA

After much thought, prayer, and discussion with my wife and trusted friends I have accepted the call of the congregation of Fellowship Presbyterian Church, PCA in Newport, TN to be their solo pastor.  I am very excited and humbled at the Lord’s working to bring this opportunity to reality. 

It was not an easy decision. Though our hearts are breaking, and though we care deeply for the people of Landis, my wife and I believe this is the right time for us to make this move.  We have nothing but the fondest of thoughts for God’s people at Landis Presbyterian Church.  They have been supportive, kind, and patient with their young pastor (ministerially at least). It is our greatest desire to see Landis grow and become the salt and light the Savior says they are in a community that so desperately needs the Gospel    (Philippians 1:3-11).  We ask that you pray diligently for them and that God would abundantly provide for them. 

Our immediate plans are as follows:  I will continue as the pastor of Landis until August 1, 2017. Between now and then we will look for housing in the Newport, TN area.  Our plans are to rent a home for one-year and then purchase a house in the area. We are now in packing mode, both at home and in my study at the church. Lord willing we will be in our new home by August 1. Pending presbytery approval, the installation service will be August 13, 2017, at the church.  

I look forward to this opportunity and privilege to shepherd God’s people as they pilgrim through this world. It is humbling to think that the Great Shepherd of the sheep has entrusted His people to my care, and the care of godly elders. I look forward to what the Lord will do in Newport, and I am praying that His name would be glorified in all that we do and that many would come to the Lord Jesus Christ as result of the ordinary means of grace God has given to the church. Please pray for us as we make this transition and please pray for God’s people at Fellowship. 

My Reasons for Leaving Facebook

My Reasons for Leaving Facebook

The other day I decided to deactivate my Facebook account indefinitely. Some have indicated that they would like to read my reasons, so I offer them in this brief post. 

My decision for leaving Facebook is my own, and this article should not be construed as a list of rules as to why you should as well. I have no ability to dictate or determine how one uses their time and energy. We all have decisions to make in life and, as I am often heard saying, “life is about choices.” This decision is one I made, for me, and for no other reason.

My Reasons for Leaving 

First, Facebook is a source of stress, sometimes, due to the drama that usually takes place in the discussions and status updates of others. It is a place where people often vent and rant and spout off with little or no thought as to what impact their words will have. I have been guilty of this too often, and the best way for me to stop is to leave.  The medium does indeed control the message and debates on Facebook usually have little profit, at least in my experience. 

Second, Facebook has become a place where the potential to waste significant amounts of time is real.  Again, I am not speaking for anyone else. I am speaking for me.  Many of my readers know that I am a busy pastor of a small congregation.  As a result, I do almost everything necessary for the church to operate day-to-day. I prepare two sermons a week and write my own Sunday school material. I counsel and disciple young Christians and visit the members in their homes. That is my calling, and I have found that the hours I waste on Facebook take me away from those primary duties and responsibilities.  On top of all that, I am called to pray, as are all Christians. I seriously doubt the Lord will accept my excuse that I did not pray enough for the people He entrusted to me because I was on Facebook (or any other social medium). Christians are to redeem the time because the days are evil.  The potential to waste time is simply too great.  I have heard people tell me they don’t spend that much time on it.  However, if you add up 5 minutes here and 12 minutes there for an entire week, I suspect the time spent would be shockingly large. 

Third, Facebook has the potential to be a place to “promote self.” Again, I have been guilty of this too often.  I know of no other way to avoid that issue except to remove the temptation.

Fourth, I see little value in knowing every action, thought, etc. of people.  I know I can block them or remove them from my friend’s list or unfollow them.  For me, that is too much of a hassle.  I opted to stop the process altogether.  The flip side of this issue is that I have often engaged in this activity (for instance, check-ins to a certain location. Really? Do people care where I am?).   I am not that important and do not think I need to let people know everything about me — where I am, what I am doing – etc.

There are probably other issues.  The first two are the primary reasons.  None of these are profound. 

The Value of Facebook

There is value to Facebook, to be sure. It is nice to stay in touch with loved ones and friends who live outside your area. It is nice to see pictures of people you care for and hear what is going on in their lives. However, for me, that represents a very small fraction of why I am on it. Another benefit is seeing recommendations regarding books, articles, etc. from others. However, I can get that information through RSS feeds as well as Twitter (which does not require a ton of time at all because I set up lists and quickly scan valuable items). 

Those who read these reasons may disagree, and that is fine. Again, these are my reasons. I doubt anyone will care why I left Facebook.  Again, I am not that important.  I wrote this for my benefit.  


Family Worship Manual: May 14-20, 2017

Family Worship Manual: May 14-20, 2017

In a recent post I mentioned that I would be writing a “Family Worship Manual” for the congregation I pastor at Landis Presbyterian Church, PCA.  I have completed the manual for May 14-20, 2017.

A few notes: First, the “Preached Word” section covers the sermons I am currently preaching at Landis. If you plan on using this manual with your family, you will want to substitute that section for the sermons in your church.  Second, the plan takes a family through the New Testament one chapter at a time. Third, the discussion points are suggestions. They are designed to provoke conversation.  Fathers or heads of households should be mindful of the age of their children and adjust them accordingly. As I said, they are merely suggestions. 

My intention is to release the manual every Friday, Lord willing. I hope this is useful for you.  If you do use it, please let me know. I would also appreciate your feedback and suggestions.  Thank you.

You can download the manual in the attachments section below in Word and PDF format.

Sermon Database

Sermon Database

I was privileged to exhort often throughout my seminary life.  Now that I am a pastor who has the same privilege of preaching each week I wanted to be sure that every element of the worship service was somehow cataloged for reference and research.  I looked in vain for exactly what I wanted to include in a database. Therefore I wrote my own using Access. I am no expert in Access and the database I created is quite simple, but it does capture all the items I want for each worship service. The list of items I capture are:


  • The location, date and time of the service (AM or PM)
  • Call to Worship — The text of scripture that I used for the call to worship
  • Hymns — We have three hymns in our worship.  The first is immediately after the invocation/prayer of adoration.  The second is immediately after the confession of sin and assurance of pardon.  The last is immediately after the sermon. 
  • Confession of Sin — I write the confession of sin that will be used in the worship service structured around the reading of the law (first Scripture reading) used in the worship service. 
  • Confession of Faith — Utilizing the historic creed and confessions, (i.e. The Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, etc.).
  • Scripture readings — We have two.  The first is the “Reading of the Law” which precedes the confession of sin.  The second is the sermon text. 
  • Sermon notes — I attach the outline used for that worship service to the database.
  • Sermon quotes — I attach quotes that were used for that worship service if any were used. If I use quotes, they are always on a separate sheet of paper other than my outline. 
  • Sermon text — the passage of Scripture that is immediately related to the sermon.  It may or may not be the second Scripture reading.  Sometimes I read more than the sermon text in the second reading to offer the full context.
  • Sermon outline — the two or three points only. 
  • Notes — my database has a section for my own notes, unrelated to the sermon notes, if needed.

The advantage of having a database structured in this way is that I am now able to search by Scripture or hymn or other items and have the results immediately.  For instance, if I search for a sermon text it will give me the hymns that were used in the worship service. I can share the database I wrote in which you can use and modify as needed.  If you want it, let me know. The database I send will have all of my material, but you can easily delete things and start fresh with your own. 

I can share the database I wrote in which you can use and modify as needed.  If you want it, let me know. The database I send will have all of my material, but you can easily delete things and start fresh with your own. 

Sermon Preparation Using One Note

Sermon Preparation Using One Note

Microsoft One Note is a fantastic tool.  It is FREE for everyone (the free version requires that you use One Drive).  You can download it here.

NOTE: I would be interested in what others do to prepare their sermons. What methods? Leave a comment below. 

This post will walk you through my sermon preparation setup in One Note:

The first step in the setup is to create a notebook.  Click, file > new and determine where you want to place the notebook and the notebook name. I have titled mine “NT Sermons” and OT Sermons.” If you are using the cloud, which I recommend, you will store the notebook in the location suggested by One Note. Once the notebook is created, it will automatically open. 

The second step is to create a new “section group.” To do this, right-click in the area below the menu ribbon and select “new section group.”  Name it for the book of the Bible you are currently preaching. I suggest you number the groups according to the arrangement in the OT or NT.  Thus “Matthew” should be named “01 Matthew,” Mark should be named “02 Mark,” etc.

The third step is to create a new “section.” This section should be titled by the chapter of the book you are currently studying. Thus, chapter 1, chapter 2, etc.

The fourth step is to arrange your “page” for the pericope you are studying.  You can do this anyway you want.  My setup is shown to the left.

By clicking the “add page” button (to the right of the main page), you can add the pages you want for that notebook section. For instance, if you are preaching from Mark 11:1-11 you would add a page titled “*** Pericope Mark 11:1-11 ***” I add the asterisks to set each section apart.  I also add a number corresponding to the numbered sermon preached thus far through the book. Keep adding the pages needed to work through that pericope. I have a page called “Translations” to compare the main translations for the text. The next page you will add is the “verse.”  Thus, 11:1, 11:2, etc. until you have all the verses in a separate page for the passage. 

I also add a “scratch pad” to keep track of notes and thoughts that pop up when studying. I do that because I don’t want to forget anything that occurs when doing the exegesis. 

I add other pages as well.  It is up to you how you want to arrange it.  Notice the next pericope in the image to the left, complete with the number and the asterisks.  That sets off the pages from one another.  Again, you can do that however you want. 

The fifth step covers the first page you created, “***Pericope Mark 1:1-11”  In this page, I copy the Greek (or Hebrew) text as well as the English text for the translation of the Bible I will be using in the pulpit. I also do the structural analysis on this page, both Greek/Hebrew and English. I also make notes and observations — first impressions — as I work through it.  You may notice the superscripts next to each Greek word. I use that feature to number the words in each verse, and that is used in the verse pages I created. 

The sixth thing to setup is the individual verses, complete with a parsing chart for each word. The numbers correspond to the superscript numbering in the verses. This page holds my parsing, translation, lexical and grammatical cross-references for the verse, textual issues, genre items, as well as my own personal commentary on the verse and the commentaries of others. Everything for the verse being studied is contained on that page. 

I have included the “Scratch Pad” to show how I use it throughout the study of the passage. I frequently bounce back and forth here when ideas, applications, illustrations, etc. show up in my study. 

I highly recommend One Note. If you have questions as you try to set this up, please let me know. I will do what I can to help you. 


My Sermon Preparation Outline

My Sermon Preparation Outline

I am (overly) organized.  Therefore, I wrote an outline to help me carefully schedule my sermon preparation each week.  We have two worship services, so I need to get two sermons done.  The following outline keeps me heading in the right direction, so I am not in panic mode on Saturday night. 

I. Greek / Hebrew
    A. Text: Greek/Hebrew
    B. Text: English
    C. Structural Analysis
        1. English
        2. Greek/Hebrew
II. Verse by Verse Analysis
   A. Translation: parsing, notations, etc.
   B. Words
       1. Lexical
       2. Grammatical
   C. Cross References
   D. Textual Criticism
   E. Translation Comparison
   F. Genre
  G. Commentaries
      1. Personal
      2. John Calvin
      3. Matthew Henry
      4. Matthew Poole
      5. Others
III. Pericope Summary
      A. Summary Statement (general thoughts/comments on the passage)
      B. Rough Outline / Proposition
IV. Final Outline and Proposition
      A. Audience? Occasion and Adaptations
      B. Applications — NOTE: I have some great worksheets that help with this process. I will make them available soon.
      C. Illustrations 
      D. Sermon Purpose
      E. Final Outline
      F. Final Proposition
      G. Conclusion
      H. Introduction

Using the above outline, I structure my week as follows:

MON: My day “off.”

  • 1Sermon – 1 // The number after the dash relates to #I. in the outline above. Therefore, all I care about on Tuesday is translating the passage, doing a structural analysis, and noting any grammar, lexical items as I translate. I have started working ahead on the translation phase.  If I am ahead, I jump right to the Wed. work with the idea of getting ahead. 


  • 1Sermon – 2 A, B, C, D, E, F, G // On Wed I start point II. above. 
  • 2Sermon – 1 // Following the outline, I will translate and note any textual items for the PM passage.


  • 1Sermon –  2 A, B, C, D, E, F, G // On Thur, I complete point II. above.
  • 2Sermon – 2 A, B, C, D, E, F, G // 


  • 1 Sermon – 3 and 4 // On Fri, I complete the outline, aside from any last minute items and other things.  The sermon is nearly complete. 
  • 2 Sermon – 2 A, B, C, D, E, F, G // Friday afternoon is usually dedicated to this section of the outline and the P.M. sermon. 


  • 1 Sermon – Final // I usually work until 3 in the afternoon on Saturday, tweaking and adjusting the sermon.
  • 2 Sermon – 3 and 4 & Final // The afternoon sermon is completed on Saturday morning.

I am constantly tweaking and adjusting this process, but it has worked for me, for the most part. Keep in mind that this process assumes a quiet week in the pastorate. That sometimes happens, but not always, which is why I am trying to get ahead on the translation phase, which gives me a full day in the event I need it. I hate the feeling of dread when Saturday arrives, and I am nowhere near done. Every pastor knows that feeling. 

Feedback is welcomed. What process do you use?