Sermon Manuscript: Fear and the Grace of God Genesis 12:10-20

This morning we continued our 5 week series we’re calling The Gospel According to Abraham. If you’re new to the Bible, Abraham is the biggest character in the Old Testament. He’s monumental. Three major world religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam claim Abraham as a father of their faith. This means that the majority of the world population trace their beliefs back through Abraham.

And when you read the life of Abraham in the Old Testament, you find that Abraham stood out from the crowd. In a world of sameness, he was different. Life didn’t happen to Abraham—he happened to life. Why? How? That’s what this series is all about.

Click here for the sermon manuscript:

Week 2 Genesis 12.10-20


Sermon Manuscript: Galatians 5:13-15

Yesterday we continued our sermon series through the book of Galatians. We’re calling it Saving Faith. In this letter the apostle Paul challenges those who were distorting the doctrine of justification by grace alone. Judaizers, as we have come to know these false teachers, were teaching that the work of circumcision must be added to the finished work of Christ for salvation. Paul issues the strongest warning he ever gives to these teachers and to this church. To distort the true gospel is to have no gospel at all. To download the sermon manuscript from this past Sunday just click the link below:

Galatians 5.13-15

Books in the Hopper for 2017


Hello friends,

This is the first year an a long time that professors won’t be dictating my reading. Therefore, I’ve put together a reading list that I hope isn’t too audacious for me. I have no clue if I will get to all of these. Pray for me.

1. Christ and Culture Revisited- D. A. Carson
2. Christianity and Culture- J. G. Machen
3. Onward- Russell Moore
4. The Holy Trinity- Robert Letham
5. Theology of the Reformers- Timothy George
6. Spiritual Depression- M. D. Lloyd-Jones
7. Making Sense of God- Timothy Keller
8. Political Church- Jonathan Leeman
Marriage and Parenting:
9. Give them Grace- Elyse Fitzpatrick
10. Parenting- Paul Tripp
11. What Did You Expect?- Paul Tripp
Pastoral Ministry/Leadership:
12. The Reformed Pastor- Richard Baxter
13. Between Two Worlds- John Stott
14. The Story of WWII- Donald Miller
15. Hillbilly Elegy- J. D. Vance. (This book was on the top 10 lists of basically everyone I respect.)
16. King Solomon’s Mines- H. Rider Haggard
17. Nathan Coulter- Wendell Berry
Great Books:
I graduated from the History of Ideas program at The College at Southeastern. The Great books list represents many of the most influential books of Western Civilization. This section includes one book from each general epoch of Western thought.
18. The Symposium- Plato
19. Nicomachean Ethics- Aristotle
20. City of God (Abridged)- Augustine
21. Novum Organum- Francis Bacon
22. Pensées- Blaise Pascal
23. Second Treatise of Government (Abridged)- John Locke
24. The Social Contract- Jean Jacques Rousseau
25. Works of Love- Søren Kierkegaard
26. The Stranger- Albert Camus
27. The Brothers Karamazov- Dostoyevsky
28. Frank Copleston vol. 1
Also, this year I’m going to try out this Bible Reading Plan I heard of from Melissa Kruger. She’s a Women’s Ministry Director in a church in my city and I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her so far.
I have some other personal goals for 2017, and regardless of what I do or do not accomplish this year I’m grateful for the ability to share anything that may help you out. If you have thoughts, or questions, or would like to maybe read one of these along with me shoot me a message.
God bless, and Happy New Year!

Handwriting Gift Ideas

This time of year most of the people who know I love fountain pens and handwriting (see the pictures below) are asking me loads of questions about gift ideas. Having been in the fountain pen and stationery world for over three years I forget how intimidating it can be to select a pen, ink, or paper. Here’s my humble attempt to offer you some gift ideas for those interested in fine handwriting, fountain pens, inks, and stationery.



Goulet Pens– I occasionally buy pens from Goulet because:

  • They are a Christian family business and I like that.
  • They go the extra mile when it comes to educating and serving customers.

Keep in mind they are a retailer and their prices reflect that reality.

Amazon- This is the cheapest place to buy pens, inks, and paper.


Fountain pens come in different “nib” sizes which reflect different line widths (relatively). If you’ve never wrote with a fountain pen before I would recommend either an extra fine nibbed Lamy or a fine nibbed Pilot or TWSBI. These finer nib sizes will be gentle on a variety of papers without bleeding/feathering.

Entry-Level ($10-30)

Pilot Metropolitan- The #1 recommended beginner pen. Great quality. Great price.

Lamy Safari- My first fountain pen was a black Safari. This pen will encourage proper grip (some people don’t care for it, I love it).

TWSBI ECO– Pronounced “twizbee”, the ECO is a cool demonstrator pen (translucent) so you can enjoy watching the ink slosh around inside.

Mid-Range ($50-$150)

A mid-range pen costs $150?!?!?! Are you NUTS?!?! Yes, I realize that I just took someone’s breath away, but please understand that we are talking about heirloom quality tools here. And, except for the TWSBI, all these pens have a 14K gold nib. These nibs glide. Material cost, craftsmanship and rarity of these items make the price reasonable in my opinion.

TWSBI Diamond 580- Steel-nibbed, but a gorgeous and sturdy pen. I currently have mine inked with Sailer Apricot.

Lamy 2000- This is my current daily writer. This pen was designed in the 60’s out of the bauhaus school in Germany. I can’t speak highly enough of it.

Pilot Custom 72- My first gold-nibbed pen. A fine nib 74 does wonderfully on thin Bible papers.

Jonathan, I see an entry-level and mid-range section, how expensive can pens be? Well, I’ve seen hand lacquered Japanese pens that cost over $5,000. Those are obviously one-of-a-kind collector’s pieces. I would consider $300 to be the starting point of high-end pens. A $300 pen isn’t likely twice as good a writer as a $150 pen. The price difference represents materials and design.  Why would anyone pay $300 for a pen? I’d consider buying a pen in this range to mark an important achievement: graduation, an anniversary, or a business milestone. I haven’t listen any here because I doubt the average person reading this isn’t looking in this strata. If you are I can make some recommendations.


When it comes to inks there are a couple things you need to know. 1. If you buy someone a pen and a bottle of ink check to see if their pen comes with a converter to be able to use bottled ink. Ink quality is important, and I get better performance out of more expensive inks.

Sailor Ink– As a general rule I will like any Sailor ink. The performance for the price can’t be beat. While some colors aren’t my favorite, I haven’t tried a Sailor I disliked yet. Sei Boku is my standard blue ink and has superior performance on thin Bible papers.

Iroshizuku- Pilot’s premium inks. The bottles are gorgeous.


Paper matters more than you ever thought. Ball point pens have a viscous gooey ink that sits on top of our modern, cheap, thin paper. Fountain pen ink is water-based bleeds and feathers into cheap paper. Even Moleskine isn’t that great (gasp). Here are two wonderful selections:

Rhodia– Offered mostly in notebooks and pads Rhodia papers are renowned for their smoothness. Their Web Notebook is most similar to a Moleskine, if that’s your thing.

Apica- My personal favorite. Apica makes a variety of notebook sizes to meet every demand. I use their whopping A4 Premium CD notebook for my sermon prep each week. If you follow me on Instagram that’s the one you see most often.

Anyways, I hope this post helps. I’d love to answer any questions you might have. Over the last 3 years I’ve benefited from the knowledge of others in this little world and I’ll help you make the write decision. (Dear, Lord. Forgive me for making pen puns. Amen.)

Merry Christmas!


Sermon Manuscript: What is the Bible? 2 Timothy 3:10-17


This past Sunday we started a 9 week series on Christian doctrine at Lake Wylie Baptist Church.

The first sermon was entitled “What is the Bible?” We saw that the Bible is an authority we need, but it isn’t just an authority. The Scriptures are a conversation. They’re God breathed. We’re invited into relationship with him. Below is a link to the full manuscript:

2 Timothy 3.10-17


Children at the Feast


Many who are curious about Jesus, and many who follow him, think of Christian behavior in purely legal terms (e.g. “God is the great lawmaker and judge. I must keep his rules!”) Though this view of Christian ethics is good and inspires respect, it can also be intimidating, or even frightful.

Thomas Keating, writing about prayer, gives an illustration of the work of the Spirit that I’d like to apply, more broadly, to Christian behavior.

The action of the Spirit might be compared to a skillful nurse teaching the adopted children of a wealthy household how to behave in their new home. Like waifs pulled in off the street and seated at the banquet table in the elegant dinning hall, we require a lot of time to learn and practice the proper table manners. Because of our earthly background, we tend to put our muddy feet on the table, break the chinaware, and spill the soup in our laps. To assimilate the values of our new home, profound changes in our attitudes and behavioral patterns are required. For this reason we may experience our nurse as constraining in the beginning and heavy on the “don’ts.” And yet she always seems to be encouraging in the midst of correction; never condemnatory, never judgmental, always inviting us to amendment of life.

Don’t neglect the image of the judge, but see yourself, also, as the adopted ragamuffin at the banquet table of your loving father. The call to holy living represents the Father’s intention to work through the Spirit to make you like his begotten child, Jesus.


My Thoughts on the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention

In early March news broke that Florida pastor Jimmy Scroggins would nominate J. D. Greear to be the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention at the 2016 annual meeting in St. Louis. I wasn’t surprised. Under Greear’s leadership, The Summit Church has become a mission sending powerhouse in the SBC. I’m excited even for his potential presidency for one reason:

J. D. Greear’s candidacy sounds a call to young leaders in the SBC to recognize that our time is now.

Greear recognizes the need of the hour and referenced it in his explanation for accepting the nomination:

First, it is time for the next generation of Southern Baptists to take personal responsibility for the entities of the Southern Baptist Convention.

This single line on Greear’s blog resonated with me more than any of his comments about higher profile topics (i.e. baptism, CP funding). Why? J.D.’s candidacy signals the transition from the generation of the Conservative Resurgence to the generation of the Great Commission Resurgence.

As a young Southern Baptist, I remember going to FBC Jax as an elementary student for the Pastors’ Conference and listening to Homer Lindsay Jr. and Jerry Vines hold forth. I remember when my home church invited both Paige Patterson and Junior Hill to preach in the same year. When we met Junior Hill at the airport he asked if I would carry his Bible. I nearly came out of my 12 year old shoes. I adored Adrian Rogers and made a special trip to hear his final sermon in Binkley Chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

As a child I viewed these men as pillars and buttresses of the SBC. Even living they had become legendary. The wars they fought for the soul of the SBC and the blood they spilled in giving up the praise of men in exchange for faithfulness to the Word of God deserved honor. But, a future without them never occurred to my 12 year old self. Adrian Rogers was synonymous with the SBC. How could you have an SBC without him? Yet, he’s been gone for a decade.

Whether or not Greear becomes the president of the SBC, his candidacy marks the shift, in earnest, to the next generation of SBC leaders. The day is here when 12 year olds in our churches need their own Homer Lindsay and Adrian Rogers. The generation of the Conservative Resurgence is not yet through with their mission, but I pray their faithfulness will be rewarded by seeing those for whom the SBC was defended take up the mantle and run the race.

As a young pastor who just accepted his first senior pastorate I have come full circle. When I started my time at Southeastern Seminary, to be honest, I was disenfranchised with the Convention. 25 years ago my home church rerouted most funds away from state convention, and traditional SBC giving programs. We supported Southeastern Seminary, IMB missionaries, and other agencies straight out of the offering plate. We didn’t send messengers to the SBC, or state convention.

Two things changed my perspective. First, Dr. Nathan Finn, a professor I highly respected, championed the SBC. He showed me we could love the convention, flaws and all, because that’s exactly how Christ loved us. The mission sending capacity of cooperative SBC churches can’t be matched by any other agency. We shouldn’t abandon it. The second thing that changed my perspective was a short conversation with my seminary president, Dr. Danny Akin. In early 2006 we were walking from Binkley Chapel to Stealey Hall at SEBTS and I’ll never forget him looking at me, almost emotional, and saying that the SBC needed Great Commission renewal. He didn’t care if he was the one that catalyzed it. He simply prayed and begged God for it. By God’s grace, and for his glory, God has been using men like Dr. Akin, Nathan Finn, and I pray he will use J.D. as our next president to call young SBC leaders to the unfinished task. After reading J.D.’s post I hear that call yet again. I hope to be faithful in answering it. It’s time other young SBC leaders answer it as well.