Monday, November 23, 2009

2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Predictions - How did I do?

The season is now over...the NASCAR season, that is. At the beginning of the year I made a handful of predictions...here is how I grade those predictions:

1. The 2009 season will have greater parity than ever. With all of the contractions of teams in the off season, this is a year that a "little guy" can make some noise and win some races.

GRADE C - Several "little guys" won this year, including Brad Keselowski (Talladega Spring), David Reutimann (Charlotte), Brian Vickers (Michigan), and Jamie McMurray (Talladega Fall). However, the guys from Hendrick and JGR still dominated.

2. One of the "big guys" will win the championship. My money is on a Hendrick driver - surprise, surprise - but not JJ.

GRADE D - Probably should be an "F." Truth is...until somebody beats him, Jimmy Johnson has to be the favorite...And, sadly, MOST sports fans have no idea what he just accomplished...

3. Mark Martin will win a big race...and maybe a championship.

GRADE A - Martin won 5 races: Phoenix, Darlington, Michigan, Chicago, and Loudon. He finished 2nd (again) in the points, but could have won the championship in Miami...so...not a bad year at all!

4. Dale, Jr will win more than one race....but probably not a championship.

GRADE F - Jr had a terrible year, finishing 25th...one spot below AJ Allmendinger. He won no races. In all honesty, Jr needs to pick it up in 2010.

5. Tony Stewart won't lose his cool until AFTER the July Daytona race. (Because he will have yet to win AND will have just gotten wrecked!)

GRADE C - Tony actually won 2 races before the July Daytona race (but only one points race). Of course, he WON the July Daytona race, too...and, obviously, wasn't wrecked! He did maintain his cool until well into the season...but his tempermental competitiveness emerged nicely at Miami...

6. Juan Pablo Montoya will win an Oval Track race.

GRADE C - JPM was closer than ever with 7 top 5's this year...PLUS, he had all but won the Indy race when a silly mistake cost him dearly. I look for JPM to be VERY strong in 2010.

7. Kyle Busch will win more than anyone else PRIOR to the race for the Chase...at which time he will choke, again.

GRADE C - Busch managed to win 5 races this year, including three in a row early. Unfortunately (for his fans), he didn't make the chase...in fact, the implosion I expected during the chase began to happen earlier...so...I was close...

8. The championship will be decided in the fall race at Phoenix, making Homestead a Ho-Hum race.

GRADE D - I got this one wrong. Homestead was a race that mattered...albeit only to two people: JJ and Mark Martin. Only if JJ made a mistake could Martin capitalize, so, again...close...

9. The Daytona 500 will be won by someone NOT LEADING at the White Flag.

GRADE B - since the White Flag never officially flew, I cannot take credit for an "A." However, Kenseth passed Sadler just before the caution came out and a rain delay ended the race. So, I give myself a "B."

10. By November, the season will seem too short and the winter ahead too long.

GRADE A - Absolutely...let's go racin boys!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Story of the Bible

It's been a while since I have added to the blog...but thought I'd give the RRBC church family a look at the next series...

The Story of the Bible will follow the singular message of the Bible - that God has a plan for his people that is centered upon Jesus Christ. We will follow along as the story unfolds from the Garden of Eden to the Cattle troughs of Bethlehem...our story will unfold as follows:

Nov 8 “The Beginning of Trouble” Gen 1-3

Nov 15 “God Chooses One Man” Gen 12

Nov 22 “God Will Provide a Lamb” Gen 22

Nov 29 “A King Who Fights for His People” 1 Sam 17

Dec 6 “The Promise of an Eternal King” 2 Sam 7

Dec 13 “Born to Die” Mt 1:21

Dec 20 “The King is Born” Mt 1:1-17

Keep an eye out on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/robpochek?ref=profile) for more detail about the specific passages each week...I hope that the series will remind you that the story of the Bible is God's story...it is HiStory...and I hope that is a great encouragement to you!

Pastor Rob

Check out the promo video:


video

Monday, August 31, 2009

AAW- The Purpose Driven© Church Model

The August 26 Ask Anything Wednesday Question of the Week was:
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Purpose Driven© Church Model?

Before we ask about a particular "model" of the church, let's first address "what is a church?" While I cannot hope to be exhaustive on this issue, I can say that Protestant churches have tended to identify threeHistoric Marks of the Church, they are:
The Word - the gospel is rightly proclaimed
The Sacraments - Lord’s Supper & Baptism are rightly administered
Discipline - Members of the church are accountable for the beliefs and behavior

I point this out so that we understand that the Purpose Driven© Model is an attempt to help the church (one bearing the three marks described above) be all that God intends for it to be. Despite what some may think...to be Purpose Driven© or not to be Purpose Driven© is not a matter of fellowship, heresy, or being "hip." Rather, it is an effort to recognize that something "drives" every church...there is a reason a church chooses to use a piano in worship, a reason the pastor chooses to wear a coat and tie, a reason the church must vote to pay the bills. The question popularized by Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Church was: "What drives your church?" To say it another way: Why does your church do what it does?

In essence, the Purpose Driven© Model seeks to answer THREE Questions:
• Why are we (the church) here?
• What is our process for making disciples?
• Do we have a strategy to move people to greater levels of commitment?

In answering those questions a Purpose Driven Church…
Is organized around five core purposes of the church found in:
The Great Commission –Mt 28:18-20 and
The Great Commandment – Mt 22:37-40
These purposes are: Worship, Evangelism, Fellowship, Discipleship, and Ministry (or, Service).
These five purposes answer the question: Why are we here? We are here to Worship God, Evangelize the Lost, Fellowship with Believers, Grow in Christ, and Serve the Kingdom. A Purpose Driven© Church seeks to ensure that all five of these purposes are balanced.

A Purpose Driven© Church utilizes an intnetional discipleship process. In other words, a PDC has a plan to make disciples that is intentional, purposeful, and understandable. While some churches will deviate a bit here and there, all PD Churches will strive to be intentional about making disciples. The "ball diamond" has become the image associated with this process...

Finally, a PD Church practices an outside - in perspective to growth and evangelism. That is, PD Churches recognize that not everyone in the church has the same level of commitment. And, that an intentional strategy is required to move people toward greater commitment. The "cocentric circles of commitment" has become the image associated with this reality...

Now that we have a better - albeit brief - understanding of the PD Church...What are some of the WEAKNESSES of PD Model? This, too, is not intended to be exhaustive, but to simply give us some food for thought...
• Can become programmatic. That is, some churches will adopt purpose statements and edesign their “structure” without the heart for lost that is essential. There are many "traditional-minded" churches wearing Purpose Driven© "clothing." When a church "decides" to become Purpose Driven©, the question needs to be asked: "why?" Without a Great Commission answer, I suspect PD is another program being adopted...in spite of the fact that PD is NOT a program!

• Tendency to “dumb down” the Gospel. I want to be careful to say that this is not an inevitable result of being Purpose Driven©. But, there are those who uncritically adopt a Purpose Driven© approach and ASSUME that means that Bible cannot be preached in its entirety. Here the Pastor and/or Church are fearful to preach the “whole Bible” lest the seeker is offended. In fact, a biblically informed adopting of the Purpose Driven© approach is one that tries to remove as many barriers of offense as possible...with the EXCEPTION of the Bible. God honors his word...proclaim it faithfully and clearly and let God's Spirit do his work!

There are also STRENGTHS of PD Model:
• Biblically-based. I do believe the model is rooted in biblical truth and is not a fad. The five purposes espoused by PD are essential to our faithfully carrying out the Great Commission in the context of the Great Commandment.

• Flexible / Not one style. The PD Model is flexible and is not solely a "contemporary" church approach. There are Purpose Driven© churches in over 100 denominations and/or associations. There are traditional, liturgical, and contemporary churches practicing PD principles. Further, PD is not limited by geography. There are churches practicing these principles throughout all parts of the US and around the world.

• Easy to Understand / Adapt. This is the final strength, in my book...the PD model is adaptable. And...IT MUST BE ADAPTED to each setting. A PD church in California will look different than one in the North East or in the South East. While the principles will be the same, the expression of those principles will vary...and that is how it should be.

Ultimately I believe the Purpose Driven© Model has done far more good than harm. While it has not always been introduced into traditional churches in the best ways, the primary question of the Model remains to be answered by EVERY congregation: What drives your church? Or, Why are you doing what you do? Too many churches resort to doing what they prefer, or what they have always done WITHOUT thinking through a biblical rationale for it. You know you are guilty of this if you don't want someone to ask "why" about an event, a ministry, or a practice your church is engaged in!

At the church I am serving (Raleigh Road Baptist Church), I can assure you that I will always want a biblical rationale for what we do...and, my hope and prayer is that such a rationale will be driven by the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

Monday, August 24, 2009

AAW - Civil Ceremony vs. Religious Ceremony

Marriage issues have dominated the last several questions, which is good...there are lots of things to think about as we contemplate the difference Christ makes in our view of marriage. This week's question is very interesting: If a couple is married in a civil ceremony, do they still have a covenant marriage in the eyes of God?

There are two issues to consider here. The first has to do with God's presence. Several websites mockingly assert that if the ceremony does not happen in a distinctively religious environment, God isn't present, or doesn't see it. The truth is that all of life occurs coram deo: before the face of God. This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one's entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God. So, the idea that “my wedding didn’t happen in a church, God must not recognize it” misunderstands the nature of God and falls victim to a false sacred / secular dichotomy. There is a sacred / secular division, but not because something is not done in “God’s presence.” Everything is done in God’s presence. The question is whether what is done in his presence honors him or dishonors him. So, Can a marriage before a justice of peace honor God? Yes…but that has to do with what defines a marriage…

One component of defining a marriage is the legal / civil aspect…let’s look at:
Mt 19:3-6

3Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"
4"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' 5and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

“Is it lawful?” – this question from the Pharisees about divorce is one that is both a legal and religious question…remember, the Law of Moses was the governing authority for Israel. In Israel the legal and relgious authority was blended. But, the fact that the legal and religious authority are blended in Israel is not a rejection of their co-existence. Think about water...chemically it is H2O…the fact that Hydrogen and Oxygen are together in water does not mean that one of them ceases to exist. In the case of marriage there is a legal authority and a religious authority…

Rom 13:1-2, 5 tells us that God recognized Rome as an instrument; an authority that he placed in power.
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

God recognizes the role and authority of human government…indeed he instituted it. So, a wedding before a Justice of the Peace takes place within the confines of an institution given to humanity by God…and it is certainly under the gaze of God (coram deo)...

There is not, however, solely a legal basis for marriage...

There are some marriages that may be legal, but are not considered a biblical / God-honoring marriage...or a covenant marriage. For example, gay marriage may be legal…but it fails the second test…what I am calling the Spiritual Component of marriage. We see this in Eph 5…By "spiritual component" I mean at least three things:

1. God-honoring commitment is made (to selfless, monogamous relationship; rejection of polyamorous marriages – entered into with intention of multiple partners.)
Polyamory, reports Newsweek, is having a "coming-out-party." Polyamory is the current "term of art" applied to "families" or "clusters" comprised of multiple sexual partners. As Newsweek explains, this is not exactly polygamy, because marriage is not the issue. Advocates of polyamory argue that their lifestyle is not "open marriage." Indeed, they define their movement in terms of the moral principle of "ethical nonmonogamy," defined as "engaging in loving, intimate relationships with more than one person -- based upon the knowledge and consent of everyone involved."
On Dr. Al Mohler's blog, he said of polyamorous marriages: "The ultimate sign of our moral confusion becomes evident when virtually no one appears ready to condemn polyamory as immoral. The only arguments mustered against this new movement focus on matters of practicality." ( http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=4211)

The biblical model is one of leaving and cleaving; leaving and being united…literally two becoming one flesh…not just a sexual act…although it is included…but, in every way, there is an exclusivity intended...a living for the benefit of the one’s spouse.

2. Commitment made between a man and woman (i.e. consistent with biblical model)
Homosexual marriage is an oxymoron (like boneless ribs)…marriage can only be between a man and a woman. I am not here debating the merits / demerits of homosexuality, whether there is a genetic determinate for homosexuality, etc. Rather, I am simply stating that homosexual behavior (like all other sexual sin...pornography, adultery, etc) is sinful - according to the Bible - and the civil uniting of two males or females can never properly be called a marriage.

3. Marriage is picture of Christ and Church (people may not recognize this, but it is true nevertheless)… Every marriage is intended to be a picture of Christ and the Church. I cannot improve on Piper here:

"Now why is the coming together of a man and woman to form one flesh in marriage a mystery? Paul's answer in verse 32 is this: the marriage union is a mystery because its deepest meaning has been partially concealed, but is now being openly revealed by the apostle, namely, that marriage is an image of Christ and the church. Verse 32: "I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church."
So marriage is like a metaphor or an image or a picture or parable that stands for something more than a man and a woman becoming one flesh. It stands for the relationship between Christ and the church. That's the deepest meaning of marriage. It's meant to be a living drama of how Christ and the church relate to each other." (http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByScripture/3/683_Husbands_Who_Love_Like_Christ_and_the_Wives_Who_Submit_to_Them/)
This spiritual component exists whether we know it or not…so, here is my conclusion…
A marriage can be legal, but not biblical / God-honoring…
A marriage cannot be biblical / God-honoring without being legal…

So, a monogamous marriage commitment between a man and a woman, before a justice of the peace, is every bit a covenant of marriage as one before a pastor in a church.

NOTE: There were several follow up questions about common law marriages, etc which I have not gone into here...but...suffice it to say...one attempt to escape either the legal or the spiritual composition of marriage and honor God!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

AAW - Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, and Church Leadership

The first thing we dealt with last night was the importance of doing “THEOLOGICAL TRIAGE”. Triage is what medical professionals call the process of discerning who needs the most urgent medical attention and whose treatment is not as urgent. In theology, some issues are critical to defining Christianity, some are essential in determining fellowship and cooperation, while others are very debatable and should not separate brothers in Christ. Following the lead of people like Dr. Mohler and Dr. Brand, I offered the following categories:
- Dogma – Issues that make us Christian
- Doctrine – Issues that define the nature and ministry of the Church
- Beliefs – Issues that are genuinely debatable and do not constitute a
denial of essential Christian faith OR require removal from fellowship

As we begin each of the questions over the next few weeks we will try to determine where they fall. Hopefully, this will help us to know how to respond to the answers given!

This was the question received via Facebook:
"My question is in regard to the high percentage of non beleivers who are divorced/remarried with blended families. Some churches limit the level at which these folks can serve while other churches all but ignore these circumstances. Since the RRBC target is the unsaved and unchurched so how will this be approached?"

Esssentially, the issue is: What is RRBC's disposition toward divorced (and possibly remarried) individuals serving in leadership. To respond, we first need a general understanding of the Bible's teaching on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage...and then we will apply that to the question of Church Leadership.

First...What category do the issues of Divorce and Remarriage fall into?
Marriage, divorce, and remarriage are "largely" in the third category: beliefs. This is because the bible's teaching is open to some difference of opinion.

For example,
John Piper has written that “All marriage after divorce is prohibited while both spouses
are alive.” You can find his rationale at: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1986/1488_Divorce_and_Remarriage_A_Position_Paper/
Meanwhile, John MacArthur would say that remarriage is permissible in some circumstances.
You can find his ratinoale at: http://www.believersweb.org/view.cfm?ID=822

Since we have two fairly prominent, conservative, bible believing pastor/scholars who come to an honest difference of opinion - yet would not prohibit their fellowship - it would seem that this is likely a third category issue.

Here are four General Biblical Principles regarding Marriage & Divorce, as I understand them:

1. Marriage is intended by God to be between one man and one woman for a lifetime. (Mt 19:1-9; Mk 10:1-12; 1 Cor 7:10-16). This is God's purpose for marriage and it precludes homosexuality being part of God's design.

2. Marriage is a physical picture of the spiritual reality of Christ and the church. (Eph 5:21-32)
The way we treat our spouses makes a spiritual statement about Christ and the church. Consider that the next time you get in a spat!

3. God hates divorce (Mal 2:13-16)
And, I would add...so does everyone who has ever been involved in one.

4. Remarriage is an option if:
- reconciliation is not an option (1 Cor 7:15)
- divorce occurred prior to salvation (2 Cor 5:17)
- remarriage is to another believer (2 Cor 6:14)
- one does not have the gift of celibacy(1 Cor 7:6-9)

These principles should cause us to have a very high view of marriage and reject the culture of divorce that seems to believe that marriage is something you can "try out" to see if it "works for you."

Now, whether formerly divorced persons may serve in leadership is probably in the second category: doctrine…I say probably because I am not 100% sure...it may be in the third category...in fact, I might put it right on the line. It may be 2nd category because it affects our understanding of the nature and ministry of the church. However, you may find that you could be a part of a church that held to a view on this particular issue that differed from yours - in which case it would be more of a third level issue. At any rate, the real question is how will we at RRBC deal with it?

Let's first look at our official document:
From Appendix of RRBC Constitution:
Overseer Qualifications:
3. Husband of one wife. (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6)

Deacon Qualifications:
A. Husband of Only One Wife (1 Timothy 3:12) We believe that God has placed the responsibility of the office of deacon upon men (Acts 6:3). A deacon must have a healthy, Bible-based view of marriage and the home. A man shall be eligible for serving as an overseer or deacon provided he has not experienced a divorce within the past ten years and his immediate family is presently in stable condition. The previous marital history of his spouse shall not be taken into consideration. Men who have never been married or widowers are not to be excluded from the deacon body.

In both overseer and deacon qualifications we recognize that a healthy marriage is vitally important. We also recognize that a previously divorced man is not automatically ineligible for serving in either capacity. Let's examine why this is the case...

General Biblical Principles regarding Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage as it pertains to Church Leadership

1. “Husband of one wife” clause is NOT a blanket rejection of anyone who has been divorced.
What do we do with a man who was divorced as a non-believer? Is he a new creature in Christ or not? It is an affirmation of a demonstrable commitment to his wife, and to her alone.

2. “Husband of one wife” clause literally means a “one woman man.”
- Commitment to current spouse is implied.
- Faithfulness to current spouse is implied.
Commitment and faithfulness extend beyond the act of adultery to emotional affairs and to pornography. These demonstrate a lack of commitment and faithfulness.
- Rejection of “culture of divorce” is implied.

3. Commitment and faithfulness are demonstrated over time.
I believe the RRBC “10 year” rule is attempt to quantify this reality. A man who was divorced three months ago, and is already remarried and "promises" to be committed to his wife needs to demonstrate that. While there is no biblical requirement for such a quantifiable time frame, the intention is consistent with the biblical principles of commitment and faithfulness.

4. A number of factors must be taken into account:
- Spiritual condition at time of divorce (beleiver or non-believer at time of divorce?)
- Circumstances of divorce (abandonment? abuse? adultery? self-centeredness?)
- Current spiritual condition of man and wife (are both believers?)
- Current condition of marriage (is marriage health, stable, Christ honoring?)

My conclusion:
- My preference is for men who have been married once to a godly woman and who have exemplary, stable marriages to serve as overseers and deacons.
- For those who are under consideration and have been through the trauma of divorce: Those men must be evaluated, in light of factors above, on a case by case basis with respect to this qualification.
- Ultimately, I believe my conclusion and the RRBC policy are consistent with the biblical injunction for an overseer or deacon to be the "husband of one wife."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ask Anything Wednesdays

When we arrived in Wilson and at RRBC, my plan was to utilize Wednesday nights to help the church to get to know us...well, more specifically, me and my understanding of key issues. So, I launched an Open Q and A night. (I have decided to call them Ask Anything Wednesdays by "borrowing" the name from Dr. Russ Moore...remember, Doc...imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!)

Anyway, so far we have dealt with leadership philosophy; thoughts on worship, culture and choirs; and this week: alcohol, funraisers and ministry alignment with vision. I will hope to use the blog and FB as a way to interact about the Q and A time...so..

Here was the brief scoop from this week on two big questions:
What is the biblical answer to alcohol use?

First...the bible does not address every issue in terms of "right / wrong." There are some issues that the Holy Spirit MAY personally convict us about, but may give another freedom (i.e. Rom 14:1-22). The use of alcohol is one of them. I say that because, on the one hand, the Bible indicates that wine (including fermented drink) is a gift from God that may be received with thanks. For example, Ps 104:14-15; Dt 14:26; and Jn 2:1-11. On the other hand, the Bible provides stern warnings about overindulgence with wine (i.e. Prov 20:1; 23:29-35). And, the Bible teaches that drunkenness is ALWAYS a sin (Eph 5:18). The most reasonable thing to conclude then, is that alcohol itself is not evil, but it's abuse is sinful.

Now, I personally do not use alcohol for five reasons:
1. I do not use it because I do not have freedom of conscience to do so. However, I will not judge others whose conscience is not so bound.

2. Alchohol is mind altering and I do not want to have anything affect the Holy Spirit's influene over my mind. I, personally, do not want to do anything that would inhibit me from taking every thought captive for Christ (2 Cor 10:5).

3. Alcohol is addictive. Here again, I do not want to push the limits of my "addictions." Right now they are limited to caffeine and, perhaps, Buffalo Wild Wings, but why take the chance that I might become addicted to alcohol.

4. Alcohol is destructive. The use (and abuse) of alcohol in our culture has had a number of negative and destructive effects. From drunk driving to destroyed marriages, alcohol abuse has been a frequent cause of death and destruction. To avoid alcohol is to make a strong social statement against such things. Further, it must be asked whether it is prudent to partake in something that has caused such destruction. For me, the answer is no.

5. I don't like the taste of it. Yes, I have had wine on a couple occasions and champagne once. I have never had an entire glass of any of it and have never had the occasion to drink beer. I do not say those things to boast or to wallow in some type of self-pity. Rather, to state an undeniable fact: I do not like how it tastes.

Again, I would urge every believer to seek the Holy Spirit's guidance regarding things like alcohol. Do not simply assume that your conscience will be bound or free...but, pray, and act in wisdom.

What do you think of fundraisers in the church?
Since this is running longer than expected...let me give a few thoughts.
First, we have to ask biblical / theological questions. Does the bible forbid fundraising? Simply put, NO. Jesus' anger at the money changers in the Temple was related to their CHEATING of people. So, fundraisers ought not cheat people!

We should also ask whether the fundraiser leads to sin...are we leading people to covet? For example, a "raffle" for a new car would lead beleivers to covet the car...as such, it is sin. A car wash, trivia night, etc do not lead people to sin.

A third biblical question relates to the appropriateness of unbelievers underwriting God's work. On this I can only say that there is biblical precedent for it - Ex 12:35-36 says that the Children of Israel asked the Egyptians to finance the Exodus, and they did it! It may be a thin precedent, but there is one...

The other big issue is the practical administration of fundraising. I prefer that there be a limited number of fundraisers avaialable to ministries, the proceeds of which should be used for missions - both local and international. I am not in favor of fundraisers for facilities or for budgets...these are to be provided for through the regular tithes and offerings of God's people.

So...that was this week...if you have questions for next week or the next few, feel free to email me at robpochek@raleighroad.com.

Blessings...
Pastor Rob

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hello, My Name is God!

Well...we are two weeks into our new series at Raleigh Road BC (www.raleighroad.com) and I think God is really challenging us about who HE is. The inspiration for this series comes from a line in Francis Chan's book Crazy Love. In the context of talking about "lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians" Chan makes this statement: "The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God" (p. 22). Wow...as I read that statement in early June (on vacation, sitting by the pool), it struck me that the most appropriate way to begin a ministry at Raleigh Road would be to point people to God. Thus...this series was born.

A little later in the book, Chan quotes A. W. Tozer: "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us...Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like" (Chan, 30). What an amazing statement.

It is my hope and prayer that as we begin to get a clearer and clearer glimpse of who God is...we will be broken, humbled, and restored by the God who does all three!

For those of you who like schedules...here is the overall sermon plan for this series:
July 12 - "I am Bigger than You Think" - God's passion for His Glory
July 19 - "I am Unique in the Universe" - God's Holiness
July 26 - "I Have No Beginning or End" - God's Eternity and Independence
August 2 - "I Know More than You Can Imagine" - God's Onmiscience
August 9 - "I Have More Power than You Can Fathom" - God's Omnipotence
August 16 - "I Am Mighty to Save" - God's Salvation in and through Jesus Christ

I hope to see you Sunday...

Pastor Rob

Monday, July 6, 2009

Email, Facebook, and Blog Notes

Thought it might be a good idea to post a few of my own personal Email and Facebook "rules" for my new friends at Raleigh Road BC and anyone else who sends email my way...these are not intended for or directed to anyone in particular, just a quick public posting for clear communications:


1. I seldom forward anything...ever...even if it is a really touching story...etc.

2. I NEVER forward anything that tells me "if you really love God" / "if you are proud of our troops" / "if you are proud to be an American" / "if you really love Jesus" send this to 10 friends. Really? I love God. I love Jesus. I am extremely proud of our troops and I am proud (and blessed) to be an American...but, neither my faith nor my sense of patriotism are increased by sending an email to 10 (or 100) people.

3. I NEVER forward emails that tell me to send this to the person who sent it to me and 10 other friends that I really care about...do you really want my concern / love / affection to be tied to an email? I didn't think so...If I know you, I love you...at least in Christ, and maybe as a great friend...but, I don't think our relationship is determined by an email that has been circulating for years!

4. I ALWAYS verify stories emailed to me at www.snopes.com ...if you send me one that proves to be false (i.e. threat to religious broadcasting, Pres Obama's muslim allegiances, stories about the troops, etc), I will send you (and everyone else who received the original email) a note that says something like: "God is a God of Truth...and he calls us to be people of truth. Spreading falsehoods does not advance God's kingdom. Please verify stories like this before forwarding."

5. If any of the first 4 offend you...I apologize and ask that you simply do not send me the types of emails in question...that way you will not be perpetually offended! Ha!

6. On Facebook, I try my best to keep my status updated...but, I do not guarantee that I will respond quickly to every comment or message. I will do my best...

7. On Facebook, I ALMOST NEVER respond to event invitations, mafia requests, or quizzes...And, I NEVER "send gifts", etc on Facebook...quite honestly, I have enough trouble just keeping it updated with my current status!

8. As for this blog...I will do my dead level best to keep it updated once a week...usually related to something God is teaching me or something we are learning together at RRBC. Of course, sometimes I will digress and put up a post about something completely "unspiritual" (i.e. Like the one I am thinking about posting regarding my newfound appreciation for Tony Stewart...after he spun Kyle Bush!)

Ok...that should do it...hopefully this will prevent too many hurt feelings in the wonderful world of electronic communication!

God's best...
Pastor Rob

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pochek's Accept Call to NC

On Sunday, May 17, 2009, the people of God at Raleigh Road Baptist Church (http://www.raleighroad.com/) extended a call to me to serve as Senior Pastor. The story of how we came into contact with each other and what led us to accept the call is long...but I will give the "Reader's Digest" condensed version.

In early 2008, I began to experience an uncomfortable amount of conviction about whether I was truly using the gifts and abilities God has invested in me to their fullest capacity. In part this conviction was spurred along from a morning devotional reading of the parable of the talents (Mt 25). I began to pray through whether God wanted me to lead Lighthouse to another level, or whether He might desire to call us away to another place of service. About six to eight months or so into the process of wrestling through this, God seemed to make it clear that He would be moving us at some point. We did not know when or where...but were pretty sure that it was to happen. Yet, nothing transpired. So, we waited, continued to serve faithfully at Lighthouse, and to pray.

When a year passed (Jan 2009), and we remained in Nashville, I started to question whether I had heard God clearly or not. I met with several trusted friends to seek their advice. One of the most poignant meetings was with Pastor Fred Winters of FBC Maryville. Fred and I had lunch at a little Mexican restaurant just down from the church he served. Over that lunch Fred confirmed that, in his opinion, it was time for me to consider a move to more fully realize the potential that God had put in me.

Shortly after that meeting, we were contacted by several churches, each indicating that I was in their final group of candidates. All of the churches we had contact with during this stretch were represented by wonderful groups of people who sought to discern the Lord's will, just as we were seeking to do. Ultimately, we respectfully withdrew from a number of those searches, not sensing the Lord's leading to continue forward. Again, all of those churches are doing great things and we enjoyed meeting teams from each one of them.

In late April, we were contacted by the search team chair at Raleigh Road Baptist Church indicating that God had led their team to me as their primary candidate. You can read some of their testimonies at their website: http://www.raleighroad.com/. A visit was set up for Susy and I May 1-3. We made that visit and both we and the search team felt led to continue forward. We were then invited to visit the church in view of a call May 15-17. Susy and I prayed and asked the Lord for a clear confirmation that we were to accept the call, if it were extended and it was His will. He more than spoke as the church overwhelmingly (97.5% affirative) extended a call to us.

I would be remiss if I did not say how difficult this process has been. We have been in Nashville for 12 years and have many dear friends here. We have, literally, watched children grow up before our eyes...indeed, I'll be performing a wedding ceremony next week for a young man who was in grade school when we first got here! As we have become fond of saying: God seldom calls us to the path of least resistance! Yet, we have great excitement over what is ahead for us and for Raleigh Road Baptist Church. Please keep us, RRBC and Lighthouse Church in your prayers. We are all about to enter a phase in which our comfort zones are stretched significantly: us as we adjust to a new church and area; RRBC as they adjust to a new pastor and his eccentricities; and Lighthouse as they begin a time of transition. I am confident, however, that out of our comfort zones is exactly where God wants us!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Calling or Comfort?

This Sunday at LCC, we will be examining what the story of Daniel in the Bible as we think about our disposition toward our circumstances. Daniel (and his friends) had much to complain about. They were carried into a foreign land as prisoners, they were put on a restricted diet of foreign foods, re-educated in the history and philosophy of their captor's country. They were even renamed - had their very identities taken from them. The question we want to think about is: What attitude should we take when it seems like all of life is stacked against us? Should we simply recoil into a shell? There is the very real danger of becoming "paralyzed" by the circumstances of life that are beyond our control. We can begin to adopt an "it doesn't matter" attitude toward what we do, believing that nothing will change. But, God has made us for more than that kind of attitude.

Now, Sunday is also Mother's Day. Could there be a much better day to examine such a question? Godly moms know the challenge of having to put their plans on hold for the benefit of their children. Godly moms can make that sacrifice knowing that motherhood is a calling from God. When God calls us to serve him he rarely calls us to a life of ease and comfort. Rather, he calls us to a life of great sacrifice and, often, suffering - but he gives joy in the midst of it. Sacrifice, suffering, AND joy? Yes. That is the biblical picture of a great and high calling. Sacrifice and suffering are involved because God calls us out of our comfort zones into a life of radial commitment to Him. That commitment means that we put ALL on the table and offer it to Him to use as He wills. Another way to think about it is this: the way of the cross is not found along the path of least resistance! As a general rule, if it is the easy choice; if it is the choice the is most pleasing to self; if it is the choice that requires the least amount of sacrifice - it is probably not the choice God would have us make. (Perhaps I should reveal the significant amount of Steve Camp music I listened to as a young Christian - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vbmsq1soVio!)

Is God calling you to take a risk for him?
Has God been calling you out of your comfort zone for the sake of his kingdom?
Have I said to much here...what kind of "but's" are you thinking of?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Link to a Great Message

This is the text of Dr. Danny Akin's message in Chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on April 16, 2009...it is well worth reading!

http://betweenthetimes.com/2009/04/16/akin-axioms-for-a-great-commission-resurgence/

Game Over!

Most of us - at least in my generation - still played board games during our childhood. I remember a number of them: Chutes and Ladders (when I was REALLY young), Chess, Checkers, Clue...but the favorite in my parent's household was Monopoly...That was the one place that a blue collar meatcutter like my father could feel like a titan of industry...and, he did! He was relentless. He knew which properties were junk (i.e. Mediterranean or Baltic Avenue) and which ones were really valuable (i.e. Boardwalk, Park Place, etc). And, he was fierce when it came to demanding rent.

Now, in my household we don't do much with Monopoly...we prefer to play the Andy Griffith Trivia game or Seinfeld Scene It...but, regardless of the game, here is the truth - no matter how much money my father accumulated...when the game was over, it all went back in the box. And, no matter how often I show off my knowledge of Andy Griffith trivia (i.e. knowing who played unlucky peddler Newton Monroe...), when the game is over, it all goes back in the box!


On Easter Sunday we began a new series entitled, GAME OVER!. The series is based on John Ortberg's book and small group study, When the Game is Over, It all Goes Back in the Box...In fact, all of our small groups will be using Ortberg's study guide during their time together. The focus of this series will be learning to live in light of eternity. We will be asking questions...hard questions, like: What are you living for? By what do you measure success? Are you living for comfort or for your calling?

Resources we will be using can be found here:
http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=282464&netp_id=511127&event=ESRCN&item_code=WW&view=covers#curr

I hope that when the game is over for each of us, we have lived a life that is rich toward God and accumulated "wealth" in heaven, rather than gone after a bunch of stuff that will just go...back in the box!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Passionately Devoted: Pro-Life Argument at the Final Four

Thanks to my friend Lyle Larson for posting this today...

Passionately Devoted: Pro-Life Argument at the Final Four

"She knew she wouldn't be able to take care of me, so she gave me up...It's the most unselfish thing she could have done for me. The people I'm with now are the greatest people in the world. Without them, I wouldn't be in the position I am now. I thank God every day that they gave me the opportunity to live."
--Scottie Reynolds, Villanova Wildcats

Monday, March 30, 2009

Preparing to Live in Light of the "Box!"

On Easter Sunday, LCC will begin a six part series based on John Ortberg's book "When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box." We are calling this series Game Over!. In Game Over!, we will get to the heart of what it means to be rich toward God if you are going to "win" in the game of life. Is life all about toys, promotions, houses, 401K's, and Harleys (did I have to go there?) OR is there something that lasts longer (no Harley comments here!), something more significant for which we were made?

I want to encourage you to bring your unchurched friends, family, and neighbors with you on Easter Sunday as we begin to discuss this vital issue with a sermon about living a life that is rich toward God. We will start on Easter Sunday because it is Jesus' death and resurrection on our behalf that makes it possible for us to live a life rich toward God.

Here is the proposed schedule...I call it proposed because you never know when God may choose to change our plans!

April 12 - Game Over!
April 19 - Keeping Score
May 3 - Master of the Board
May 10 - Choose Your Move Wisely
May 17 - Playing the Game Well
May 24 - The King Has One More Move

*On April 26, Dave Metcalf will be preaching in both services. Be sure to come out and support him!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Developing Your Shape to Serve

For the next six weeks Lighthouse Community Church will be working through the small group study: Developing Your Shape to Serve from the folks at Doing Life Together (http://www.lifetogether.com/leader/SmallGroupCurriculum/tabid/598/Default.aspx). As has become our habit, each Sunday morning sermon will be tied to the small group lesson that week.

On Sunday, Feb 22 we looked at the reality that God has made each of us unique. He has gifted and "SHAPED" each of us so that we may be a part of extending his kingdom through the church. There is not a single believer who has "nothing to offer" by way of time, talents, or treasure. We also said that God uses the Holy Spirit to develop a servant's heart within us. Part of that development happens as we respond to those God has placed within the church to equip us (Eph 4:11-13).

Over the course of the next few weeks we are going to examine:
Spiritual Gifts: what are they? do you have one?
Personality: how does your personality "fit" with kingdom service?
Experiences: if God never wastes a hurt in our life, does that give new meaning and purpose to the hurts we have experienced in the past?
Heart: what is your passion? what has God put in your heart to do for the sake of his kingdom?

Now...back to the first study...The test I suggested for how well we are doing at developing a servant's heart is this: to what degree are you giving yourself away for others?

For discussion, let me ask...is this a fair test? Is it conclusive? What are it's limitations?

Friday, February 13, 2009

2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Predictions - How did I do?

The season is upon us...for those of you who have not watched three non-points races AND qualifying, I am sure you think I am referring to baseball or some other "ball" sport. O contraire! The OFFICIAL start of the 2009 Sprint Cup Season is Sunday, February 15 when the green flag drops at Daytona...so, in the spirit of wondering "what might be" I offer the following predictions:

1. The 2009 season will have greater parity than ever. With all of the contractions of teams in the off season, this is a year that a "little guy" can make some noise and win some races.

GRADE C - Several "little guys" won this year, including Brad Keselowski (Talladega Spring), David Reutimann (Charlotte), Brian Vickers (Michigan), and Jamie McMurray (Talladega Fall). However, the guys from Hendrick and JGR still dominated.

2. One of the "big guys" will win the championship. My money is on a Hendrick driver - surprise, surprise - but not JJ.

GRADE D - Probably should be an "F." Truth is...until somebody beats him, Jimmy Johnson has to be the favorite...

3. Mark Martin will win a big race...and maybe a championship.

Grade A - Martin won 5 races: Phoenix, Darlington, Michigan, Chicago, and Loudon. He finished 2nd (again) in the points, but could have won the championship in Miami...so...not a bad year at all!

4. Dale, Jr will win more than one race....but probably not a championship.

Grade F - Jr had a terrible year, finishing 25th...one spot below AJ Allmendinger. He won no races. In all honesty, Jr needs to pick it up in 2010.

5. Tony Stewart won't lose his cool until AFTER the July Daytona race. (Because he will have yet to win AND will have just gotten wrecked!)

Grade C - Tony actually won 2 races before the July Daytona race (but only one points race). Of course, he WON the July Daytona race, too...and, obviously, wasn't wrecked! He did maintain his cool until well into the season...but his tempermental competitiveness emerged nicely at Miami...

6. Juan Pablo Montoya will win an Oval Track race.

Grade C - JPM was closer than ever with 7 top 5's this year...PLUS, he had all but won the Indy race when a silly mistake cost him dearly. I look for JPM to be VERY strong in 2010.

7. Kyle Busch will win more than anyone else PRIOR to the race for the Chase...at which time he will choke, again.

Grade C - Busch managed to win 5 races this year, including three in a row early. Unfortunately (for his fans), he didn't make the chase...in fact, the implosion I expected during the chase began to happen earlier...so...I was close...

8. The championship will be decided in the fall race at Phoenix, making Homestead a Ho-Hum race.

Grade D - I got this one wrong. Homestead was a race that mattered...albeit only to two people: JJ and Mark Martin. Only if JJ made a mistake could Martin capitalize, so, again...close...

9. The Daytona 500 will be won by someone NOT LEADING at the White Flag.

Grade B - since the White Flag never officially flew, I cannot take credit for an "A." However, Kenseth passed Sadler just before the caution came out and a rain delay ended the race. So, I give myself a "B."

10. By November, the season will seem too short and the winter ahead too long.

Grade A - Absolutely...let's go racin boys!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Economic Recovery or Spiritual Awakening

WARNING: THIS BLOG HAS BEEN WRITTEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF A LOT OF CAFFEINE AND LITTLE SLEEP!

During the election cycle...you remember that, right? It was when you couldn't watch 10 minutes of TV without seeing repeated commercials for candidates...commercials that usually contradicted each other...sometimes back to back...OK...now that you remember the election cycle...One of the statements made during that cycle was by then-candidate Barack Obama. He described the situation (way back then) as "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression." I'm not going to go all stat-geek on you and question the accuracy of that statement...others have already done so (http://www.reason.com/blog/show/129762.html).

Rather, I wonder why there is such an emphasis on our current economic crisis needing to be "the worst." I think it is because we want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. And, while it may not be "fun", being a part of "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression" gives credibility to the stamina and perseverance of a segment of the US Population known more for its weaknesses than its strengths. To whom, pray tell, am I referring? Baby Boomers. That larger than life, wonderful bunch of post-WWII, hippy-era folks who are suddenly coming to the end of their careers and realizing the utter emptiness of it all. For them, their HAS to be something they have accomplished, something they have withstood, besides building a retirement account and a house with a three car garage...only to see their slacker son/grandson (the one sleeping on the sofa and who prefers body spray to showers) inherit it.

This economic crisis finally provides the opportunity Boomers have been wanting - a chance to prove to their old man that - just because they didn't serve in WWII and protested Vietnam - they really are resilient after all. Now, perhaps I am being a bit hard on the older generation...I'm a Buster you know...a Gen-Xer...a, well, whatever we are called. I'm in that next group down the age chart...and we aren't much better. Listen, here's the deal...we have no business comparing ourselves to the people who lived through the Great Depression...do we have 25% unemployment? NO. Have we seen our GDP contract by 33%? NO. Sorry...the stat-geek lives!

What we have seen in "this economic crisis" is a reduction in our expendable income. For Boomers (and Busters), "economic crisis" means we go on a shorter vacation. It means we complain because we paid $4 a gallon to drive to our vacation destination. (NOTE: we paid it...but we complained!) It means we pay a little higher interest rate on our new car loan. (OR, it means that we may have to actually demonstrate the capacity to pay off a debt before we are extended even more credit! the audacity!) It means we cannot believe the airline is going to charge us extra money to take our luggage to the resort in the Caribbean...how dare they!

Now, what does all this have to do with spiritual awakening? I was in a meeting about a month ago and heard this statement: "With every economic crisis in American history there has also been an increase in evangelical churches and converts." In other words, when our toys and financial security are removed, people start to ask the "big questions" once again. You know: who are we? where did we come from? what is the point of all this? Of course, I suspect things will have to get worse (i.e. a REAL economic crisis) before that happens. But, you see, it is when financial security disappears that people turn to God. It is then that they realize that the money, the company, the 401K, the cars, houses, etc were all a facade...and the desire to be a part of something that is REAL and BIGGER than their own lives remains stronger than ever.

So...if you are a follower of Christ I ask: do you want an economic recovery or a spiritual awakening?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Reflections

I just finished watching the Inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama. And I must say that I am so proud to be an American. Consider the peaceful transfer of power, sadly unique in our world. During the Inauguration I was fascinated by something that is insignificant in one sense, and monumental in the other: the fact that precisely at noon, the White House website transitioned to President Barack Obama. There for the entire world to “surf” was a statement about America – though our political persuasions may differ, we battle with ideas, not bullets. We take each other to task using nouns and verbs, not violence. And when the people have voiced their preference for a leader, the will of the people is respected by those currently leading.

I am also proud of America in that today’s events solidify the fact that we have come a long way. On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. In only the 12th election following that speech, America elected her first African-American President. Indeed, President Obama referenced how far we [as a nation] have traveled. In his Inaugural Address he observed the amazing reality that in the same nation where “less than sixty years ago [his father] might not have been served at a local restaurant [he] can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”

For me personally, I can’t help but think of the many stories of racial hatred and abuse that have significantly shaped my own passion for the underprivileged and for those who are so often ignored by our larger society. For me, the stories of Vernon Johns, Ralph Abernathy, Medger Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Rosa Parks; the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Shwerner; the killing of Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing have etched in me a desire for equality and a passion for justice that crosses racial and ethnic lines.

Join me in praying today for God to give our President wisdom, compassion, and the courage necessary to lead a nation as diverse and as powerful as ours. And join me in realizing that God has blessed America in so many ways.

May God Bless America and President Barack Obama.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rest and Respect

On January 4 we began a new series on the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately I have not posted anything on the first two messages. The third message dealt with the command (s) to Remember the Sabbath Day and to Honor Parents.

Remembering the Sabbath Day is about Rest and Refocus. We need physical rest from the demands of the week. We also need time to Reflect and Refocus our lives. We need to spend a part of the Sabbath asking "Did I honor God this week?" "Am I in God's will?" "Is this what God wants from me?" and the like. We need to be relentless in pursuing and evaluating what God wants from us more than simply taking in a nice church service. This kind of Reflection is modeled by God on the Sabbath, as it is here that God surveys his creative work on the Seventh day.

A couple of other observations about the Sabbath command. This is a critical passage to argue for young earth creation. In this text we hear that God created in six days and rested on the seventh. There was not an Israelite standing at the foot of the mountain that would have thought that God had created in millions or billions of years. Rather, the most literal, natural sense of this text is a 7 day week. If you engage in a debate about the age of the earth, Ex 20 is a great resource!

Most importantly, the Sabbath points us to a REST from our efforts to try to please God through our own works. Heb 4 :8-11 points us to this reality as we are encouraged to enter the Sabbath rest of God.

The second command we looked at was that of Honoring Parents. Here I argued that we honor our parents differently depending on the stage of life we are in. For young children it is about obedience. As children grow it is about learning to manage increasing responsibility and consequences. And, for adults it is about love, forgiveness, value, and appreciation.

If you'd like to interact, let me suggest a couple questions:
1. What is most difficult for you about maintaining a regular Sabbath?
2. What is the biggest challenge you face as a parent?
3. What is the biggest challenge you face as a son/daughter?