Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Christmas Message: God is here!

I'm writing from Knox-Vegas. Enjoying a week with family and relaxing alittle bit. Before I sign off for a couple days I wanted to share a devotional thought I received from one of my Lutheran friends.

The roulette wheel whirls in a red and black blur. The ball clatters and jumps, finally settling into one of the slots. In that moment, just before you can read the winning number, time freezes. That is particularly true for the person who has piled all his chips on the table, investing his whole bankroll on a single spin. Ecstasy or despair? It all rides on something beyond his control, the bounce of a ball.

Most of us do not hang out in casinos wagering the milk money on games of chance, but we may do something similar with our emotional health during this Christmas week. Heart-warming television specials, a rose-tinged memory of holidays past, and a deep desire to turn the page on whatever disappointments and stresses linger at year’s end tempt to us to invest too much emotional capital in the next few days. Don’t get me wrong. I am looking forward to time with family, the quiet mystery of Christmas Eve worship, and the chance to disengage from familiar routines. But expecting Christmas to satisfy all our longings is like hoping two days at the gym can undo a whole year of overeating and riding the couch.

If we expect Christmas to “fix” all our broken relationships or give us joy when we have not cultivated the ability to find it in our daily existence, we will inevitably be disappointed. Tempers flare when the family gathers. Deep griefs intrude as we think of empty places at the table. Life can not measure up to a Hallmark card’s fantasy world.

So, rather than expecting Christmas to supply a year’s worth of hope, let it be what it was that first night in Bethlehem , a visible sign that, even in the midst of the darkness, there is light. Christ did not come fully formed into the world. The mystery had to mature; it was years before its implications were manifest. Christmas is not an oak, strong enough to bear the full weight of our human need; it is the acorn of hope planted in our lives to grow slowly, but dependably, each day of the coming year. Let Christmas teach you a new way of seeing the world, as a place where heaven touches even the most ordinary act, fills it with radiance, and calls you to celebrate God’s drawing near.

This week, by all means, remember, but do it also during the other fifty one: “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given! So God impart to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.”

The Christmas Story: Luke 2:1-20

Merry Christmas

Thursday, November 5, 2009


God really had my mind of the nations today.

Jerry Rankin, retiring President of the International Mission Board, brought a powerful message in NOBTS Chapel.

I also spent the day reflecting on Psalm 96.

And finally I received a video from "The Walk," a college ministry of Sevier Heights Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN. Last week during the gathering Tim Miller challenge 100's of college students to give to a orphanage in Haiti....The actual shoes on their own feet.

*They won't allow it to be embedded here :-( , so you'll have to click the link.
Testimonies on the Blog.

All of these made me want to post a simple blog. I pray that we all actively pursue new & creative ways to:
  • Pray for the Nations
  • Give towards the Nations
  • Go to the Nations
Psalm 96 must drive our hearts to engage our neighborhoods, cities, states, country and world for Christ.

16Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
17Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!
--Psalm 67:16-17

Saturday, October 31, 2009

That'd be 'the day'

October 31, 1517 Wittenberg, Germany... that was the day.
The day change began.
The day the Reformation began.
The day God got All the Glory.
Martin Luther gathered a hammer, nails & his 95 Theses.
His desire was to refocus the church on salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone

His study of God's Word inspired him to adhere to God's Word. He knew the Truth and courageously stood for the Truth no matter the cost. He suffered many hardships because of this and was continuously questioned. His life is a great example.

Video Clip of His Defense (From 'Luther' the movie)

*'Luther' the movie is a great reenactment and retelling of his life.

I pray that we are encouraged and inspired to know God and His Word like Martin Luther.
May God work today in and through our lives for His Glory.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Well, it’s been awhile. Honestly I’m so slammed each week with ministry, school and my relationship with my beautiful fiancĂ© that I don’t have time to blog. Life is in the fast lane. But what am I telling you, so is yours. Life is good.... and IT’S BUSY!

Have you noticed that the busier we get the less time we spend with our Lord Jesus? Yes, even a seminary student & church leader can get so busy that he or she can actually go a whole week without growing personally. The Christian life is all about learning and becoming more like Him. But sometimes my Bible serves as a paper weight instead of the manual for daily life that God intends.

Sarah and I have both noticed this in our life this semester. So we’ve done some talking about what we’re going to do about it. (Yep, she’s a precious gift from God and I'm grateful to be so blessed.)

What about you? Can I ask you what your plan is for being intentional to study and grow in your relationship with God? This day, week or month?

I wanted to share with you some things I am pursuing.
First, Sarah and I decided to take a date night that I worked to plan for us next weekend (Nov. 6-7th). We will be spending about 35 hours in B-Ham with our UT friends the Sams. Friday evening Sarah will experience her 1st Secret Church at Brook Hills. If you’ve ever been to a Secret Church you know just how intense this evening will be. If you’ve never been you should check out the website and plan to attend the one in May.

November Teaser:


That gets my adeline pumping every time.

**Note: tickets sell out in minutes for this thing, I only got two by luck because my friend works for the church.

What is Secret Church? Well David Platt basically provides seminary level teaching for free in 6 hours chunks twice a year. People of all ages fill the room to learn all they can in that 6 hour time. It’s like trying to drink from a fire hose.

Why do stuff like this? Well I truly believe that every Christian should be diving deep into God’s Word. This means some intense study where we really absorb this Bible, yes all 66 books.

When Matt? I don’t have anytime, I’m so busy.
Well here’s what God told me about Sarah and myself. “Matt, you all spend 4 hours on Saturday watching the mighty Vols and 3 hours on Sunday watching the 2010 Super Bowl Champs Saints :=)” Some of you all reading this watch 1-2 hours of TV a day, surf Facebook or Tweet. We all have our hobbies. That’s not bad, unless they take us away from Jesus. So fast for a while and focus more fully on Him.

So, here’s my challenge.
  1. Check out the Secret Church Website
  2. Pick one that covers a topic which you're interested in, watch it and learn.

How? Every Secret Church is about 6 hours so if you do the math that’s 12 “Office” episodes. Divide it up in chunks and it becomes real easy. 30 minutes here, 1 hour there.

Try this challenge and see if your soul doesn’t hunger for more.

A Final Word
Technology like the internet is amazing. There’s never been an easier time to become a fully devoted followers of Jesus. I hope that your local church in which you are serving is teaching and growing you. If not, well pray about how you should change either that church or move to one that is. Also, why not use the numerous resources on the Internet to your benefit?

Below are several men I listen to & learn from who offer all of their Biblical wisdom for FREE!

Mars Hill Church, Seattle, Mark Driscoll
The Village Church, Dallas, Matt Chandler
The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, Daivd Platt
Desiring God, Minneapolis, John Piper
Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York, Tim Keller

Check it out and dive into the feast. From personal experience it’s delicious!

Monday, September 28, 2009

That's our Jesus

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Seattle, spent a couple of weeks of August in Israel in preparation for a 3 year journey through Luke's Gospel.

After I saw this clip I wanted to post it here for people to see.
This is the conclusion of his 1st sermon from Luke. He is talking about the one thing that impacted him the most on his trip, which is a new insight that he learned about one verse in Luke.



Luke 23:34-36
34And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine.

What a humbling verse.
What a sobering thought, that Jesus would forgive me.
Thank you God.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Greatest Title

In the 1700’s cobblers were not expected to make much of a global impact. In 2009, fast food workers and garbage men would probably face similar expectations. The life of William Carey, one such cobbler, reveals something very different.

In 1786 Carey began his humble career working bi-vocationally as a preacher & shoemaker. However during this very time God began to work in his heart for taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation by Rev. Andrew Fuller was an important book that Carey read. The drive of this is as Fuller states “If it is the duty of all men to believe whenever the Gospel is presented to them, it must be the duty of all who have received the Gospel to endeavor to make it universally known.” Fuller’s conviction became Carey’s conviction and the world would never be the same.

As Carey began to discuss foreign missions, many of his fellow Christ-followers thought he was speaking a foreign language because the idea was so unfamiliar to the Christian culture at that time. A famous rebuttal that he received was “Young man, sit down! When God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your help or mine!” Despite this criticism, Carey knew God had a desire to reach the nations. He also knew that God would use Christ-followers as Gospel vessels to accomplish this mission.

1792 was vital in the development of William Carey's heart for God's call to missions. Carey was able to devote more time to studying God's Word. On May 30, 1792 he delivered a powerful sermon from Isaiah 54:2-3 with two points that are now every missionary’s motto: “Expect great things from God: Attempt great things for God.” In the fall of 1792 a missionary society was formed (against the advise of most London pastors.) Carey willingly offered himself as the 1st missionary to be sent out.

When the Carey family arrived in India in 1793, there was probably a small sigh of relief to see seven years of prayers realized. But the work on his knees was really only beginning. He loved and served for four years before he saw his first convert and seven years before his first India native convert. The missionary joys were accompanied by a fair share of sorrows & struggles. But Carey remained entirely given to the mission of God.

His legacy reads: “30 missionaries, 40 native teachers, 45 stations and substations, and approximately 600 church members.” Through his work thousands continue to go and reach the nations.

William Carey is now known as the “Father of the Modern Missions.” He is one of the heroes of the faith for sure. But he made a remarkable statement as he neared the end of his life. “There is nothing remarkable in what I have done. It has only required patience and perseverance." He later added, "When I compare things as they now are in India with what they were when I came here, I see that a great work has been accomplished, but how it has been accomplished, I know not.”

To me, the most amazing thing about God is that every Christ-follower is equal in His eyes. Sure there are greats like Paul, Carey, Luther, Wesley and Graham. But these men have titles and accolades only because we have given it to them. In God’s economy a Christian engineer or accountant who passionately lives missionally in his or her office building is just as much of a giant as the pastor of a 2,000 member church. Christ-followers are gifted in different ways because there are million different types and kinds of people that do not yet know Jesus as their savior.

No matter your age, occupation, title or personality I would love for you to reflect on Colossians 3:23-24. Paul uses the powerful phrase: “You are serving the Lord Christ.” See the true biblical picture throughout scripture of Christ’s church is not a building but servants in and among various cultures: living, loving and serving people as Jesus Christ would himself.

I hope and pray that every Christ-follower will redeem the office buildings, neighborhoods, break rooms, coffee shops and school all across the world. God’s desire is that we all begin to see our work as a way to make his salvation known among all nations. The reason is because we are all missionaries whether that be in India, New Orleans, Montreal or where ever God has placed you.

Carey’s last words in 1834 were “Dr. Duff! You have been speaking about Dr. Carey; when I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey — speak only of Dr. Carey's God.”

There’s only one unique figure, his name is Jesus Christ. Everyone else is to trust Him as Lord and then go share with others about Him as servant. The most important title for Carey was “Servant of Christ” and this is the only one that you and I need to pursue.

Source: William Carey's Biography

More Information on Carey: great links to click and read

Other Christian Biographies

Monday, June 1, 2009

My Studs....

After a long, intense, rigorous application process, I have finally chosen “The Studs.” Lame weddings call them Groomsmen. But dear friends, Nov. 21st will be very far from lame. I’m so excited that I’m personally doing everything that I can to not miss it! And of course I hope you will do the same.

Josh (Best Man)

I met Josh at UT on the smoldering hot turf outside the Aquatic center. We spent many afternoons sweating during the Pride practice and evenings cooking in his apartment on campus. Many of the business classes we took together were nothing really to write about. Zzzzzz.... Except there was that golf class! We still always grab a quick 9 holes whenever I visit Knoxville. He currently does financial work for TVA in Knoxville. Truly my best friend (outside of Sarah of course).

After 3 yrs in the UT band we started a tailgating & face painting tradition with friends. Josh still keeps it running.

Jonny B

Jonny and I have grown up together since the 3rd grade. Actually, I hope he’ll stop growing so that I can catch up with him. There are many lessons that I have learned from our friendship over the years of high school, college, Centri-Kid and now lunch meetings. The amazing thing is that God has led our two lives to different places, hundreds of miles apart but the friendship continues to hold. Jonny lives, works and serves in Nashville which is a place that can provide a fix for his country music passion.

Big Nick

As his older brother I have really enjoyed watching this guy mature. From our all-day play-days with forts, wrestling and "stair sliding" to wonderful Valentine’s Day desserts for Sarah and I. This chef is already amazing and probably one of the best kept secrets. I’m excited to see what the next four years of Culinary School will create.


In 2001 when we started dating Tate was the #2 most terrifying man in the world, only behind Sarah’s dad Frank. Over the years we have become friends which has made me more comfortable. He is currently Sarah and mine best UT football news source coming out of Knoxville. I also appreciate the bond and advice that he shares with my future bride.


I have never known a bigger blessing for a family than Mr. “McKinley” has been for the Mondays. Like my brother, Sarah and I have enjoyed watching him grow up. This coming fall he will enter Middle school which blows our minds. He is also loved because I can let my creative juices flow when we hang out. Sarah and I plan on flying him down every year to help us decorate our house for the Christmas season, which is his speciality. If he continues to improve on the piano he might become much like the beloved New Orleanian Harry Cornnick Jr.

Cameron (Lord & Keeper of the Ring)

“Cam the Man” is a firecracker and a true dudes dude. He was born on the same day that I personally witnessed from “The Swamp” my mighty Vols beat the hated Gators in 2003. This alone makes him very special. His hyper active spirit makes Sarah nervously freak out. However, I enjoy getting a good sweat on playing & chasing him in the pool, creek or yard. If there was one worry for Nov 21st, it would be that I hope that my wedding ring makes the journey down the aisle, because knowing him there are a million things he might do with it.

Check out how Cameron catches butterflies.

Source: The Bricks' Marriage Blog
173 Days away!

Friday, May 29, 2009

New MAC & Apple Store Lesson.....

This week was certainly a big one for me. I converted from PC to MAC. This is one of the biggest decisions I have ever made that will effect the rest of my life or at least that’s what all my MAC friends tell me. You know MAC’s can do this and this and so on....

The time I spent in the Apple store here in NOLA on Tuesday and Friday did indeed change me. I certainly learned a lesson that had nothing to do with my MAC’s amazing ability, but instead has implications for a Christian’s life and Christ’s church. If you’ll read, I’m going to share my experience.

I purchased my MAC on Tuesday, opened it on Wednesday and noticed a small chip on the face of the keyboard. I returned it Friday to receive a new one. As I waited for the exchange to happen I noticed some amazing things. 

Every Apple store is pumping with energy. There’s an excitement like non other in these stores. There are bright colors, fun music and stuff to mess around on while you wait. Today just about every computer and iPod was being used by people (young & old) who just looked so happy to be in the store. As I stood there I was actually happy while waited, which is more than I can say about other stores in the mall. The environment is great and all they sell are high priced computers and phones.

Not only is the vibe great, but the employees are exceptionally happy and helpful. Dennis was my salesman on Tuesday and he was also working Friday. When I walked in he noticed me and spoke to me even though he was finishing an order with another buyer. When I told him about my problem he immediately moved to act while also closing out the other order. He was a great multi-tasker. In a few seconds he had the other boy’s new MAC and my new replacement ready for check out.

As he stepped away he informed me that he was headed to lunch. It was 1pm, which in my opinion is pretty late to head to lunch. Re-checking out took about 30 minutes, during that time Dennis proceeded to help three more customers. When I walked out of the Apple store after my 45 minute visit he was still assisting people with problems and answering questions. If I had to guess he probably never got his lunch break and I don't know if he even cared, he loves his job.

As I headed to my car I reflected on my wonderful Apple experience and my mind was immediately drawn to the Sunday worship gathering @ Vintage Uptown. Can I also ask you to think about the worship gathering that you serve in on Sundays or Wednesdays? My first thought was: “Man I wish Vintage was like the Apple Store.” And I bet you would have the same response, I mean how could you not?

Just imagine churches all across the US, Canada and the world where people were running to enter. Gatherings with an energy that was electric and people that were loving, helping and serving others. However some times, I think churches are more like funeral homes. As the pastors and members of churches only we can really effect the vibe of our corporate & small group gatherings. No matter where your church falls on the scale I think there is always room to improve. 

Apple sells computers which in my opinion are far from worthy when compared to the Gospel that every Christian has the privilege to communicate to friends and family on a weekly basis. When I compare my new MAC to Christ I can’t help but echo the words of Paul in Philippians 3:7-11. MAC computers are rubbish when placed next to Christ’s righteousness. 

I don’t know if you have ever personally been in an Apple store, but I would recommend that every pastor, staff member and church member make a visit. You don’t have to buy anything, just go and surf the web and check your email for a few minutes. As you do this observe and note the vibe. Then let this research impact the way you live, love and serve as a “Gospel Specialist.”

I truly hope that more churches will, if not already, be a joyous environment where every member is overjoyed to serve and sacrifice a lunch in order to continue to help people.

As a Christian you are apart of the Kingdom of God, rescued from the pit of sin. Think about this fact and then GO enjoy your personal position as one of God’s beloved children ready to serve. If I do my part and you do your part, then every church will become a vehicle through which God can work in an even greater way to bring about His Salvation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Summer Plans....

The weather is heating up which means Summer is coming fast.

Monday evening Sarah and I enjoyed hanging out and talking face to face for the last time in a couple of months. Much like the last few summers, this summer we will live, work and serve in two different cities. However, we are excited since this will be the LAST summer we do this....because this time next year we'll be married!!

<--This was the solution for Delta Delays experienced on Monday

See it totally worked!!

Sarah will be chilling in Knoxville this summer to nail down all of the details for November 21st!

She will also be packing up the rest of her life for the big move to NOLA to pursue a Master's in Accounting @ University of New Orleans. Classes start in August.

The goal is to have the wedding plans done in order to fully focus on school and that blasted CPA Exam.

Matt is living, loving & serving in our home, NOLA this summer with Vintage Church. He will be coordinating the mission teams coming every week in June and July to work in Uptown. Spending everyday in Uptown is what excites him the most about this summer.

Searching for Sarah's apartment and blogging will be his way of relaxing, so make sure you check back frequently.

Our prayer for our work this summer comes from our family Psalm:
1)May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us,
2)that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
--Psalm 67:1-2

We also pray & hope that God blesses you in your work over the next two months.

Source: The Bricks' Marriage Blog
Tomorrow: The Announcement of Bridesmaids

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lessons from Sarah

I enjoyed another weekend in Knox-Vegas catching up with friends and family. Sarah was in NYC w her annual scholarship trip and then spent the weekend in Boston for her friend Madison's graduation.

Monday was the day that both of us were looking forward to, since we were going to get to see each other for about half a day before our separate summers begin. Instead Delta has delayed her flight three times, just today. Hopefully we'll get a few hours in before tomorrow morning.

However, this seems to be just what Pastor Larry was preaching about yesterday at Asbury.

This small little church means the world to my sweetheart. The entire Monday side of the family serves in this church, which means that about half the people you meet when you attend are related to Sarah. I always try to be on my best behavior :)

This altar is where Sarah and I will make a commitment in 187 days to live, love and serve each other for the rest of our lives. Yesterday marked a huge milestone in our relationship, 7 1/2 years of dating. Which means two things: 1. We are closing in on marriage under common law & 2. We have been high school sweethearts for a long, looong time.

Yesterday Larry's sermon was about sacrifice and giving your all. The call of Christ is one that is from selfishness to willingness. Christians are commissioned to give their ALL for the sake of the Gospel. At the core of this call is attribute of LOVE. As I have reflected today I have realized that God has given me the perfect illustration to help me understand a Christian's call, in my relationship with Sarah. Over the past 7+ years we haven't been perfect, having had our share of fights and disagreements. But no matter what we have worked together to come to an agreement and worked it out. For better or for worse we stick together.

Marriages only last this way: when each person loves the way Christ loved the world....Sacrificially. This is the example that Christ modeled.

Can I ask you to reflect today on areas in your marriage, family, work or friendships where you need to be more sacrificial?
>Then go and do it!

May we all live today with a willingness & readiness to give our ALL for Jesus, to the glory of God.

And... Can someone please go to Atlanta, fly her Delta plane and land it in Dang Knoxville so that I can see my beautiful Bride? We would both really appreciate it... VERY VERY MUCH!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lessons from youngest son & little brother.....

Yesterday the last Brick graduated from South-Doyle High school, which means that the school will never be the same. Nicholas has had many nicknames throughout his 13 years of school. The two most memorable are Frankie and BIG Nick.

Watching this young man last night walk the stage in Thompson Boling Arena was weird, especially since I remember when we use to roll around wrestling and building play forts. All day play days were great days. Now he has all-day cook days making his own dough and sauces from scratch.

In honor of Nick's accomplishment my parents, Lauren and I complied a list of "What We have learned from our Big Nick"

The youngest son & little brother Lessons:

  • Why talk when you can text
  • Prime Rib and Spare Ribs are not the same
  • You don’t sweat as much if you stay inside
  • You get what you ask for, so be specific
  • A car can run with no oil … but not for long
  • Bruno train sets and Lincoln logs make great forts for all day play days
  • Putt-Putt is always fun, no matter if it takes 8 times to get the ball in
  • Transfer of the title of the 4Runner means transfer of purpose – it becomes a wrecking ball – “what car behind me”

  • UT football passion can be taught and passed on

  • Cooking from a box is of the devil

  • Fifteen minutes of driving = ten minutes of napping

  • Showering is not a daily necessity if you have Axe body spray
  • Height is just in the eye of the beholder; big brother is always big brother
  • Why go to the symphony when you can get the same array of sounds playing X-Men
  • Why wipe the toilet seat when the next user will definitely have to do it

  • Little brothers watch and do what they learn from big brothers
  • TV is a soothing serenade for sleep

  • Friends should not just be guys, but girls and girls and girls too
  • Nothing better than little brother desserts for Valentine’s not even Sucre

  • Cookware is much like drum ware – get it all
  • Always look for fingers in the doorway before you shut a door

  • You can make it through childhood with out riding a bike
  • Sleepovers are longer than the night
  • Fluff on the dryer is quicker than ironing
  • Nothing’s more important than hanging with your friends
  • There is always tomorrow

  • Your body needs eighteen hours of sleep a day
  • That someone does need your advice

  • Seniors can find something to do every night of the week

                                            • All about tennis

                                            • There are other fun things to do at the beach that stay out of the contact with sand
                                            • Christmas is always better REAL-EARLY
                                            • Turtles don’t stay small for long, nor very clean for long
                                            • You can never dress too crazy for Spirit week
                                            • Even though you are taller, I am older
                                            • You are never too old for toys

                                            As my little brother you are one my favorite honored guest in NOLA

                                            Move over Emeril, Here comes BIG Nick

                                            Monday, May 11, 2009

                                            Weekend travels gave me this....

                                            I just arrived back in NOLA from my second of three Knox-Vegas travel weeks in May.

                                            Sister married last weekend

                                            Sarah graduated from UT this weekend

                                            And my little brother, who we call BIG Nick graduates this coming weekend from high school.

                                            Busy time for the Brichetto family.

                                            The main reason for this blog is to share with you a sermon clip from one of several I listened to on my 18 hours of road travel this weekend.

                                            Mark Driscoll is one of the pastors at Mars Hill in Seattle. We at Vintage Church read and listen to his preaching and teaching for equipping in our own personal ministry. He is currently one of the main voices for Evangelicals and for this I am so grateful. He unashamedly stands on the Bible, this is his source of authority and substance for all of his preaching. God is using him to reach many people. Mars Hill is the church that started the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, which Vintage has also just now become apart of.

                                            May 3 he preached a powerful message about humility.

                                            Below is a short clip.

                                            Link: Short Clip

                                            I would strongly encourage all ministers whether you are currently in leadership or are being raised up in a church to watch the entire sermon. It is long, over 1 hour, but very convicting.

                                            Link: Sermon

                                            I pray that God drives to everyone's heart and reveals places of pride in your life.

                                            Sunday, May 10, 2009

                                            It ain't over yet....

                                            Last Night Sarah and I broke fast by enjoying a steak at Outback. It was not the best one ever, but we were given a gift which made it free and that's always good. We learned a lot through this journey which I will post later this week. Today is the last devotional for Daniel. I pray that God has spoken to you through the study of His Word.

                                            Sunday May 10: Daniel 12
                                            In the end the ultimate victory goes to the Lord God Almighty. Satan and his followers will receive judgment and shame while God’s children will receive honor and everlasting life. Until then our job is to be vessel that God uses to lead people to His righteousness that is found in Jesus through faith. (v.3 & Romans 3:21-24) There is an allotted inheritance awaiting the ones that faithfully finish the strong. Today direct your focus towards going your way until the end. (v.13)
                                            Deeper Study: 1 Corinthians 15 Rely on the same power that resurrected Christ

                                            I write this as I drink my first cup of coffee in 14 days. I never experienced withdraws which I thought I would. Reflecting on this has brought Paul's words to the Corinthians to my mind.

                                            Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

                                            Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. -- 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

                                            The life in Christ is the supreme treasure in all of the the world. There is life with Christ and life without Christ and the life without is no life at all.

                                            Saturday, May 9, 2009

                                            Bad situations need a Mighty One

                                            Saturday May 9: Daniel 11
                                            In spite of present evil situations, God is in control! He has always been and will always be sovereign. The prophecy given in this chapter is amazing when you read history and see that everything God shows Daniel is fulfilled in exact specificity. God knew and controlled the Babylonians, Persians, Alexander the Great and his four sons. When the antichrist arises in power and unleashes havoc God will still be in control. Daniel concluded by saying “Yet he shall come to his end, with none to help him.” (v.45) This infinitely powerful God guiding the events of history also daily extends His guiding hand to each Christian. Where, what or how do you need God to be your guidance?

                                            Deeper Study: Compare yourself with Gideon (Judges 6 & 7)
                                            Ask God for direction in that area in life that you most currently need Him.

                                            Friday, May 8, 2009

                                            Use your free iPhone....

                                            Friday May 8: Daniel 10
                                            John Piper described prayer as a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church against the evil one. Daniel experienced spiritual warfare in this chapter as evil forces challenged his prayers. But the resistance made him even more fervent and earnest.(v.12-13) In the same way that the iPhone and Blackberry are powerful tools in the hands of business professional, faithful prayer is in the hands of Christians. Set your heart today to the task of asking your heavenly Father for understanding, strength and the Words of Life to speak. Use prayer for the proclamation of God’s Glory.

                                            Deeper Study: Meditate on Ephesians 6:10-20 Prayer is for wielding the Word

                                            Thursday, May 7, 2009

                                            Two Powerful days in Daniel...

                                            Sorry I didn't get a chance to post yesterday. I encourage you to read both.

                                            Wednesday May 6: Daniel 8
                                            Daniel was so overcome by the visions of the future suffering of his people that he was set back a few days.(v.27) At this point Daniel didn’t fully understand the vision. Further details were to come later, but until then Daniel got on with his work. When you think about the enormity of task in front of Vintage New Orleans, how do you respond? Today let these thoughts drive you to diligently pursue sharing with people how they can become a child of God.
                                            Deeper Study: Soak up Luke 15 God’s heartbeat is to find that which is lost.

                                            Thursday May 7: Daniel 9
                                            Daniel’s prayer stands as the model prayer for us to follow as we intercede on the behalf of New Orleans, North America and the world. The beginning (v.4) the end (v.17-19) and everything in between is primarily focused on God. God honoring and glorifying prayers are ones that have Him placed at the center. God does all that He does because He is who He is. (v.17-18) The answer for accomplishing Vintage’s world vision of reaching the nations must be found in God Himself. (v. 19) This type of prayer has an impact upon our daily life because we realize that God is even more passionate about His interests and purposes than we could even imagine. Today use this chapter as you pray and like Daniel bring God’s greatness and glory into your prayers for His sake.
                                            Deeper Prayer: Use Nehemiah 1:4-11 to help you be in continuous prayer today.

                                            Listen to Rob's sermon on Prayer from Sunday.

                                            Tuesday, May 5, 2009

                                            Give me some Power!

                                            Today is a big day because we are now half through the Detox Fast. In the devotion a shift also happens today from historical to apocalyptic.

                                            An Apocalyptic summary statement: “I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.” Daniel and Revelation are two of the most different and difficult books to understand in the Bible. Both are known as apocalypses, carrying the meaning of disclosure. The message communicated through an apocalypse is that the future prediction of God’s action is something that would break into the present. Daniel 7 makes a major transition in the book, turning from stories about Daniel and his three friends (Chap. 1-6) to Daniel’s visions of the future (Chap. 7-12). Daniel’s visions revealed that the Messiah would be the ruler of a spiritual kingdom that would overshadow all other earthly kingdoms. Even though the second half contains what some might consider weird images and symbols, this section is still God’s revelation of truth to his people. So let’s dive into His message to us as we continue in this present spiritual battle between God’s children and Satan.

                                            Tuesday May 5: Daniel 7
                                            The most important truth that comes from Chapter 7 is the vision Daniel receives regarding the sovereignty of God. The Most High is the supreme ruler that controls history and human nature. This is at the core of the Gospel that we share with our friends and coworkers. At one time we were all eternally separated from God, but the amazing thing is that God did the impossible by making a way to us through Jesus Christ. (Rom 3:23-24) The Most High is a conqueror and His saints receive the eternal kingdom. (v.17-18) Will you live in the power and victory of the Most High today?

                                            Deeper Study: Colossians 1:15-29 Commit yourself anew today to the Gospel.

                                            Monday, May 4, 2009

                                            Gut Reaction...

                                            Sorry that I missed the past two days devos, had a really busy weekend. If you want to read them check out Vintage Website.

                                            But I'm back today with one of probably my favorite chapters in all of Daniel.

                                            Monday May 4: Daniel 6
                                            This chapter is packed FULL of meaning and application for our Christian life. Today focus in on prayer as exampled in verses 10-11. When a law was published against prayer, Daniel’s immediate response was to go home, kneel down and PRAY! Prayer was an integral part of his daily life. Today if one of your lost friends barged in on you at home, where would you be found? Are you paying attention to earthly kings or your heavenly king who is the King of kings and Lord of lords? Today get so actively involved in sharing your faith that you have to passionately pursue guidance and strength from God.

                                            Deeper Study: Compare the pictures of the living God in Daniel 3:8-30 & 6:16-27
                                            Allow these passages to explode your view of God, who is more than able!

                                            I hope that prayer is always immediate in your life. Today is the most important day in your life.

                                            Friday, May 1, 2009

                                            Focus of Fasting....

                                            The book of Daniel is divided into two sections: the first half of the book provides a historical account and the second half is prophetic. The theme throughout is God’s sovereignty and power over all nations and powers. Yahweh is the one true God. All other gods are merely idols.

                                            Friday May 1: Daniel 3
                                            -Who or what has your full attention today?
                                            -Who are you serving today?
                                            -Who are you worshipping today?
                                            Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were three Jewish studs that trusted in the Most High God who is all-powerful and in whom there is no other. They committed to worship God more because of who He is whether than what He would or would not do. (v.17-18)

                                            Deeper Study: Examine how Paul defines the Christian life (Philippians 1:12-30)

                                            Ps. 90:12-17
                                            12 Teach us to number our days aright,
                                            that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

                                            13 Relent, O LORD! How long will it be?
                                            Have compassion on your servants.

                                            14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
                                            that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

                                            15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
                                            for as many years as we have seen trouble.

                                            16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
                                            your splendor to their children.

                                            17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
                                            establish the work of our hands for us
                                            yes, establish the work of our hands.

                                            Thursday, April 30, 2009

                                            Detach from the World....


                                            The book of Daniel is divided into two sections: the first half of the book provides a historical account and the second half is prophetic. The theme throughout is God’s sovereignty and power over all nations and powers. Yahweh is the one true God. All other gods are merely idols.

                                            Thursday April 30: Daniel 2
                                            “With the all-powerful God nothing is impossible.” This was Daniel’s reply to King Nebuchadnezzar in verses 27-30. Wisdom and power belong to our God (v.20) but He freely gives to us because of His mercy (v.18). Before you go too much further today ask God to enable you to make Him known and intercede for the lost in this city.

                                            Deeper Study: Compare Daniel 2 with Genesis 41 the story of Joseph and Pharaoh

                                            The reason to detach from the world is to attach to God. Be desperate for His Spirit today.

                                            Wednesday, April 29, 2009

                                            DETOX Engaged!

                                            Here we GO!

                                            The book of Daniel is divided into two sections: the first half of the book provides a historical account and the second half is prophetic. The theme throughout is God’s sovereignty and power over all nations and powers. Yahweh is the one true God. All other gods are merely idols.

                                            Wednesday April 29: Daniel 1
                                            Daniel detached from the pleasures of his status in Babylon in order to maintain his identity as one of God’s children. Prayerfully consider other activities, objects or “royal food” of the world that God would have you abstain from in order to focus more clearly on Him over the next 10 days. May God grant to you favor, compassion, understanding and wisdom (v. 9, 17 & 20) as a result for your undeterred loyalty to Him.

                                            Vintage Podcast: listen to Rob talk about why Daniel & fasting means for us today.

                                            Ps. 90:12-17
                                            12 Teach us to number our days aright,
                                            that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

                                            13 Relent, O LORD! How long will it be?
                                            Have compassion on your servants.

                                            14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
                                            that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

                                            15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
                                            for as many years as we have seen trouble.

                                            16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
                                            your splendor to their children.

                                            17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
                                            establish the work of our hands for us
                                            yes, establish the work of our hands.

                                            Monday, April 27, 2009

                                            Detox Foods.....

                                            Have you ever wondered what a diet of only fruits and vegetables would look like?
                                            Well here you go! Below are the Foods to include in your diet during the Daniel Fast…

                                            All fruits: These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned (watch for added sugar).
                                            Honeydew melons

                                            Vegetables: These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned (watch salt content).
                                            Brussel sprouts
                                            Chili peppers
                                            Collard greens
                                            Ginger root
                                            Mustard greens
                                            Sweet potatoes

                                            Legumes: (we're not sure if this is even a word)
                                            Dried beans
                                            Black beans
                                            Pinto beans
                                            Split peas
                                            Black eyed peas
                                            Green beans
                                            Green peas
                                            Kidney beans
                                            Peanuts (includes natural
                                            peanut butter)

                                            All nuts (raw, unsalted)
                                            Ground flax
                                            Natural Almond Butter

                                            Whole Grains:
                                            Whole wheat
                                            Brown rice
                                            Rolled Oats
                                            Plain Oatmeal- not instant
                                            Grits (no butter)
                                            Whole wheat pasta
                                            Whole wheat tortillas
                                            Plain Rice cakes
                                            Popcorn (see recipe in FAQ’s)

                                            Water (spring, distilled, filtered)
                                            Unsweetened Soy Milk
                                            Herbal (caffeine free) Tea
                                            100% Fruit/Vegetable Juice (no added sugar)

                                            Soy products
                                            Small amounts of Honey
                                            Small amounts of Sea Salt
                                            Small amounts of Ezekiel Bread
                                            Small amounts of Olive Oil
                                            Spices (read the label to be sure there are no

                                            Foods to avoid on the Daniel Fast…
                                            All animal products including all meat, poultry, fish…
                                            White rice
                                            White bread
                                            All deep fried foods
                                            Coffee (including decaf b/c contains small amount of caffeine)
                                            Carbonated beverages
                                            Energy drinks
                                            Foods containing preservatives, additives
                                            Refined foods
                                            Processed foods
                                            Food additives
                                            Refined sugar
                                            Sugar substitutes
                                            Raw sugar
                                            Cane juice
                                            White flour
                                            High fat products
                                            All leavened breads
                                            Baked goods
                                            All dairy

                                            Yummy! :)

                                            Here are some FAQ’s

                                            What about prepared foods?
                                            Read the labels of all prepared foods. Remember the Daniel Fast is sugar-free and chemical-free. So, if you use any canned fruits, vegetables, packaged foods, or prepared sauces you must read the label to be aware about just what is in there.

                                            What about pasta?
                                            Make sure the label says whole grain pasta with no additives (watch for sugar). Whole grain pasta offers 7 grams of protein per serving (3/4 cup of dried pasta).

                                            I know it says raw, unsalted nuts, but what about roasted nuts?
                                            The goal would be to stick to raw, unsalted nuts. But these are harder to find so in a pinch just make sure you get plain roasted, unsalted nuts with no preservatives.

                                            How do I get enough protein in my diet while on the fast?
                                            The following are protein-rich foods that are allowed on the Daniel Fast… almonds, sunflower seeds, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, split peas, whole grains, and tofu.

                                            What kind of peanut butter is allowed?
                                            A natural peanut butter with no additives…watch for sugars including molasses. Smucker’s creamy natural peanut butter has nothing but peanuts in it.

                                            What about popcorn?
                                            Corn is listed in the vegetables to eat list. You can use a pot on the stove…here is a recipe.
                                            1) Put two tbsp. of olive oil in the bottom of a large pot.
                                            2) Add enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the pan.
                                            3) Turn heat to medium high. Look for the first popcorn kernel to pop.
                                            4) Put the lid on the pot. Using potholders shake the pot over the burner.
                                            5) Continue shaking until you no longer hear kernels popping. Remove from heat.

                                            How can I identify whole grain foods?
                                            Typically if the ingredient lists "whole wheat", "rolled oats", or "whole corn" as the first ingredient, the product is a whole grain food item. Another way to identify whole grains in the foods you eat is to look in the nutritional facts information and check if the food item contains dietary fiber. If it contains a significant amount, it most likely contains whole grains. "Wheat flour" is not a whole grain and therefore does not indicate a whole grain product.

                                            Where can I go out to eat?
                                            Well, we think you can go anywhere and order cautiously, asking lots of questions to the wait staff, knowing ahead of time that you may be ordering a salad with olive oil and a baked potato with no extras.

                                            The Vintage Website got DETOX-ed over the weekend, check it out!
                                            The Podcast should be up tomorrow. Rob's sermon(s), 2 20 minute sermons, were a powerful word from the Word of God. You should also check them out before Thursday.

                                            "Expect great things.....
                                            Attempt great things!" --William Carey