The Pastor’s Conference

We did not get an early start this morning so we didn’t make it to the Pastor’s conference as early as I would have liked.  The theme of the Pastor’s conference was Building Healthy Churches.  Mark Dever, Matt Schmucker, and Jonathan Leeman are all part of 9Marks ministies.  At 9:00 a.m. Matt Schmucker’s message was “Display God’s Gospel by Listening to His Word”.  At 9:40 a.m. Mark Dever spoke on “Preaching and Biblical Theology”.  When 11:00 a.m. rolled around Jonathan Leeman spoke on “Conversion & Evangelism”.  Those are the three messages I was most interested and also the three I missed.

I arrived for Matt Schmucker’s message on “Membership/Discipline” and for Mark Dever’s message on “Leadership”.  I also stuck around for some of the Q&A which was quite interesting as well.

Schmucker’s message was focused on discipline that is only effective within a church with a proper and meaningful membership.  He said churches need to guard the front door.  We need to stop allowing just anybody to be members and start requiring that only Christians become actual members of our churches.  We can allow anyone to come to our church, but we should only allow actual Christians to become members and to be Baptized and to partake in the Lord’s Supper and business meetings.  We should offer church membership classes to show people what they are getting into if they join our church and we should have a church covenant that should be signed by those wishing to be members.  We should stop being churches that have 900 members on roll and only 400 showing up.  Only when we have such high standards for church membership can we discipline our members.

Schmucker also mentioned that we must stop and think before baptizing and admitting anyone into membership, especially children.  I thought this was an interesting concept.  Stop and think.  Is this person really saved? Sometimes that is not something that can be known right away.  We would have to watch their lives, see how they live and if any fruit is produced in their lives before we could be certain as to whether or not we should baptize them.  Later on Kendall and I were going down to the exhibits when we heard an elderly couple walking around saying “I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t baptize people immediately”.  Is this how we get so many lost people in our church membership? In many of our churches getting people baptized and into membership is as easy as working a computer mouse, point and click.  But should it be?  Should we not be more meticulous in who we allow to become members of God’s church?  Isn’t it an abomination before God to allow a lost person to be a member, vote, take the Lord’s Supper, and call themselves a Christian in our midst?  Doesn’t that dishonor the name of Jesus and cheapen his sacrifice?

Mark Dever’s message dealt specifically with leadership.  He feels that churches should have elders, deacons, and a congregation and each has their own function.  The elders (pastor, bishop, overseer) primary focus should be the ministry of the Word.  Pastors should protect their schedule and devote themselves to the study of God’s word and to prayer.  There are plenty of other people in the church that can do what all the little jobs the pastor is forced to do that can often distract him from his main priority, the Word of God.  He also mentioned that churches should have several elders, including men who are not on staff.  This group of men should continually meet together to discuss the direction of the church and deal with the discipline of the church.  The deacons are considered servants.  They should organize various ministries in the church and report to the elders.  The deacons should care for the physical needs of the congregation and by doing so they will be supporting the ministry of the word by taking care of many of the distractions for the pastor.  The congregation itself has many jobs as seen in Matt. 18, 1 Corinth 5, Gal. 6, and 2 Cor. 2:6-8.  Discipline is a major part of that job.

A License To Preach

After seven years of school, training, being an intern, being an interim, and working full time at my church I am being licensed on January 21st. While my main job is working with the youth, I spent plenty of time doing hospital visits, preaching as a fill-in, and doing several other pastoral duties. While it is true that I probably could have been licensed a long time ago, I think being licensed right now in this period of my life is far more significant for me.

There have been a lot of changes in my life within the last year. I married my beautiful wife Kendall about 10 months ago, I’m graduating from seminary with my Masters of Arts degree, and a few weeks ago I found out my wife is pregnant. With all of these changes in my life I feel I’m moving into a whole new area of uncharted territory. Things have been changing so rapidly for me. However, in the midst of all of this life change my church comes along and reminds me of one more thing…my calling. With all of the stuff going on I can so easily forget, but to me the church is stepping in to remind me that I am also spiritually and personally called to the ministry.

The pastor and the board of deacons met together with me to ascertain my divine call and my qualifications. Tonight they asked me questions about my belief, my calling, my testimony, and my family. Once this was all over they voted unanimously to do the licensing, which I believe recognizes and affirms my call to preach and to serve Christ in full time ministry. I’ve been doing that already, of course, but this is just another step in the process that confirms my calling.

From what I understand from this process there are several things to consider when licensing a pastor. The license, first of all, is an approval and verification of a person called into ministry. This is based off of the person’s Spiritual life: their conversion, call to the ministry, and their Christian walk. It’s also based off a person’s doctrinal stance. The person being licensed should affirm their adherence to a doctrine based on the Scriptures. I personally believe that pursuit of education and growth should also be considered in the licensing process. The last thing that is considered is denomination. Since this is a license to preach in a Southern Baptist Church the persons stance on the particular denomination is essential. The license is a churches stamp of approval on a person who they truly believe is called into the ministry and it gives the person the ability to fulfill all pastoral duties including the ability to legally sign marriage license.

It is such an honor for me to be licensed by this church. I’ve grown up here. I was baptized here, I was called to the ministry here, I have been working here for seven years, I was married in this church, and now on top of all that I’m being licensed by the church. This is a privilege and experience that I am not taking for granted.

Dating In The Real World {Part II}

Why do I date and when am I ready?

I began this message with the question, why do we date? The students had several answers. For fun, to find a mate, to learn what and who you like, and so on and so forth. So really, why do we date? Is it to find Mr. or Ms. Right? Is it to have fun, go out, and do things as a couple because the world is organized around coupledom?

I admit. Dating can be fun, it can help us to learn more about the opposite sex and it is certainly an exciting thing to do that teenagers rush into as soon as they can. But what is its real purpose? Ultimately it is to find someone who you would want to spend the rest of your life with. This very rarely happens in high school by the way. 1 in 10 relationships last over a year and less than that make it more than two or three years. If you are dating to find a mate now, the odds are stacked against you.

The world is so bend around dating that telling teens not to date at all most likely isn’t the answer either. We can tell teens that they shouldn’t date until they are older, more mature, and able to know where there life is going and what they want and need, but it won’t stop them from dating. So we have not helped them at all. Really what needs to be taught here is dating smarts. What can teens do to make their dating relationships both successful and godly? That is the purpose of the rest of this series. However, I do want to make the point that it is ok to not date. It is ok to wait, regardless of what everyone else is doing. If 40 million people believe in a dumb idea it is what? Still a dumb idea. So you don’t have to follow the crowd. It is best if you wait to date, but if that just isn’t going to happen or if you want some tips on dating in the future when you do decide to start dating then here are some basic steps to take to start the process.

Dating doesn’t begin with just finding someone who you think is a cutie and trying your hardest to get them to notice you until ya’ll get together and smooch. Doing everything with feelings, emotions, and with sight is the wrong way to start a dating relationship. Dating involves using your head! The first thing you need to do is discover something about yourself: What do I want in a partner? What don’t I want? How do I communicate what I want or need? How do I meet others needs without disrespecting myself or them? What does it really feel like to love and to be loved?

“But what I’ve noticed is that way too often, people get involved and immediately try to force the other person into being their image of what a partner is supposed to be. They ignore red flags, bad behavior, incompatibilities, and try to change the person instead of realizing that this is not the right person for them. Dating is a selection process. The problem is that most people don’t have a clear idea of what they’re looking for. That’s why it’s important to make a list of qualities that you’re looking for. Then, when a person falls short of matching that list, it’s important to say, “Next.”

Here is the first question I have for you: Do you have a realistic idea of what you’re looking for in a partner, or is a fairy tale running the show? You must stop to consider exactly what you want and why?

I asked our students to list characteristics of a perfect mate. Starting with the guys and allowing only the guys to speak I asked this question. Their answers looked somewhat like this: Cute, Blonde, Godly, Christian, Plays X-Box, Not bossy, nice, goes to church, doesn’t nag, prays. For the girls I did the same question and their answers looked like this: Hot, smells good, good sense of fashion, hunts, short hair, nice bod, Christian, treats me like a princess.

While their list was not exactly like these listed, it was similar. Once we had our lists we talked about things that were important such as Godliness, kindness, love, commitment, purity, church, holiness, praying, growing, being Christian and things that were good characters to look for in a person. We then pointed out those things that were superficial like hot, smells good, plays xbox, hunts, fashion. We crossed out the superficial things and circled the good things. Now you have a list of things to look for in someone you date. If the person you are thinking about dating doesn’t have all of the circled qualities then you need to say “Next!” If they have all the superficial qualities and few of the others then it is not the right relationship for you.

Maybe the problem with dating is not that you are doing it, but that your priorities are all messed up. Maybe God needs to change your perspective about who you date and what you look for and need. Some of these qualities are superficial and will fade away with time and you have to ask yourself the questions, will you no longer like the person when they do?

What is the point of dating if the other person doesn’t match your idea of a perfect mate? It is a waste of your time, your emotions, and if you go to far it could be a waste of your purity.

I asked the students to share their list with a friend and allow the friend to be honest about the qualities of someone they consider dating.

The world tends to think of dating as a system of disposable relationships, and the social necessity of being in a relationship is incredibly high but you also need to know that waiting is not impossible. Can you wait for the person that matches your list? By gaining self worth from God, you can wait patiently for the special person God has for you and save yourself a ton of hassle along the way.

Put more work into what is most important, who you are:

The most important thing that you need to know before you begin dating is who you are. Work on your internal qualities and your relationship with God and allow God to take over the rest.

If you spend all of your time trying to become something other than what you are in order to win over some boy or girl you like you are lying to them, you are trying to change yourself, and you will ultimately be disappointed every-time.

However, once you begin to know who you are, you will be able to understand what you need better.

The best way to date is the place it in the hands of God:

Psalm 37:3-4 “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

While I believe it is important to take care of ourselves and our physical appearance, it is even more important to develop our character, spiritual life, and personality. What is inside will last forever. The qualities that are on our lists are qualities that are internal and not external. Wait for the one that fits your list and you will save time, money, and heartache along the way.

Dating In The Real World {Part I}

We started a new series on dating for our Wednesday evening youth program. I wanted to start the semester off with a few practical messages that the students would be able to apply to their lives at the beginning of the school year. I broke the series down into 5 messages and used 5 questions about dating as the title and theme of each message. The first message of the series is:

What do I need to know about me before I start dating?

Topic: Discovering who we really are and how that affects our relationships

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. ” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I was brought up to believe that how I saw myself was more important than how others saw me.” — Anwar el-Sadat

“I define comfort as self-acceptance. When we finally learn that self-care begins and ends with ourselves, we no longer demand sustenance and happiness from others.” — Jennifer Louden

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” — Richard Feynman

“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be.” — Fannie Brice

“Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.” — Betty Ford

Who are you? What do you know about yoruself? Do you know what you want in life? Do you understand what is truely important to you? “Know Thyself” – This is the first step in preparing to date.

What does it mean to be a man or a woman? While we are created in the image of God and we are all human, the fact remains that Men and Women are very different. How our body works and what happens to us and to our hormones when we are teenagers affects who we are and ultimately directs our relationships with the opposite sex if we let it.

It should be obvious that males and females are different. Duh, right? We can be quick to say that this is a true statement, but do we live it? You see, the problem is that when males interact with females and females with males they unconciously expect the other gender to think the same way they do, and this is not going to happen. You are very different.

When you are a teenager you begin to experience some hormonal changes that change the way your body works and the way your mind thinks. Once this begins, it will happen for the rest of your life, and as this continues you will have to learn how to deal with this in the appropriate way. Yes, I did say that you have to learn to deal with it! This is not something that you will be able to ignore or hide. All of you will experience it and will have to deal with it in some way. Why? Because these hormones have the ability to turn an otherwise normal and nice teen into a self-absorbed, self-gratifying person with a one-track mind, pleasing self. Your body is changing so quickly that your mind may not necessarily know how to keep up and this will go spinning out of control if not dealt with. Once you come to grips with the fact that you body is either changing or is going to, you need to ask yourself the question: “What does God want from me?”

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified; that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:3,4

This is a message to everyone, including teenagers! Being a teenager and being flooded with hormones does not exempt you from this Scripture verse, it makes it that much more important to learn how to control your body so that you might honor God. It is the will of God that you remain sanctified or pure, that you avoid sexual immorality, and that you learn to control your body so that you may be holy and honorable. This is what God wants from you.

If you know that these things are happening inside you and that you have these feelings and that to honor God you must control them, the next step is to learn how to control them.

Dating seems like such an innocent thing, but the world seems to have a warped view of dating. Teenagers believe that they must date. That in order to fit in to society, dating is the norm. The world also makes them believe that dating means being physical with one another, and if you don’t get physical in any way then you’re not really dating. To teens, dating also seem like a world of paradise where everything is perfect and wonderful and yet rarely do the relationship last because this fantasy bubble will always be popped, 100% of the time. Teens feel that dating will solve many of their problems, that if they can just date they may be popular or accepted, or more special, but the truth is that dating causes the majority of teens to be stressed out and even more self absorbed. Many feel that dating is safe and fun and yet dating violence is one of the most common forms of violence against teens (verbal, emotional, and physical).

Dating isn’t just a walk in the park, it can alter your future, your dreams, and everything that you hoped for. It can destroy you if you let it. Here is a message that you may not often hear “dating can be dangerous”. It can control our present and future lives. It can completely consume us. That is why it is so important to do it right, or don’t bother doing it at all.

Here is the point I want to make, you can survive high school, and even college without even dating and you would be better for it, not worse. I’m not trying to say that dating is a horrible thing, but it is a risk that can be very dangerous. For the next several weeks we are going to be talking about taking that risk, the reasons people date, how to know when you are ready, what to do when you are ready, and how to deal with sex and other issues that will come up when dating. Before we talking about those things, I want to make this point right now, you do not have to date right now! You have plenty of time. Time is actually on your side. You will be older, wiser, and have a better idea of what you want in life and what you need in a partner when you are older than you will right now. And lets face it, only 12% of relationships will ever last over a year when you are in high school. The odds are not in your favor at all.

Dating at this stage in your life is nothing more than a risk that will most likely end badly until you’ve messed up enough that you decide to do something different or until you’ve messed up so badly that you have no way out of it. I don’t want you to say years down the road, “Well, no one ever told me I didn’t have to date.”

Ok, so what do we know so far? At your age you are beginning to experience some issues with hormones and to honor God you’ll need to know how to deal with them. The other thing you know about yourself is that you have a choice. It’s not important that you date right now, but if you decide to do it you need to know how to do it properly.

What else do we need to know about ourselves?

Gen. 1:27 – “We are all created in the God’s image and created male and female. 31 – God saw what he had made and called it good.”

We are created as people who need relationships and we are created as people who are sexual beings – (That blasted hormone thing again) and both of these things are good. 1 Tim 4:4,5 “Everything God created is good”

Listen closely. Our hormones may begin to work in us causing us to go a little fritzoid and by doing so you may find a girl or boy that fits the description in your head of someone you would want to date and you may begin to look at yourself and say “I’m not good enough, I need to change this, I need to look like this, I need to do something different with myself because I’m not good enough for that person to accept me.” – But didn’t God say you are good? See, we begin to lie to ourselves and try to change ourselves in order to fit in to this dating scene. We try to change ourselves in order to become what we thing other poeple want us to be.

For some reasons we do things a little backwards. Instead of trying to change ourselves, we need to be satisfied with ourselves and then choose to date someone who is perfectly happy with who we are and with who God made us to be. If you need to change yourself to date someone, you are already fighting a losing battle.

As a teenager you are beinging the process of knowing who you are, of shaping who you are going to be. You are starting to develop your own personhood, your own personality and your own independance. Here is a news flash: dating can really mess that up if you don’t do it right.

Remember: You don’t have to jump into dating when you’re not ready:

It’s kind of like driving a car. You wouldn’t let your 1 year old sister drive the car. In fact she couldn’t. Her legs are not long enough and she couldn’t see over the steering wheel. However, when your sister is 9 years old she may be able to see over the steering wheel and touch the gas pedal. Now that she is perfectly capable of operating the vehicle controls, does that mean it is safe to let her drive the car? No. She isn’t old enough, she isn’t mature enough, and to let her drive the car prematurely could not only cause an accident, it could destroy her life. When she turns 16 and she is more mature and has taken the time to learn what she needs to learn in order to operate the vehicle, then you can let her drive the car. With dating you slowly learn and grow and when its time and when you are mature enough then things will go smoothly, but if you do it prematurely you are destined for disaster.

You have plenty of time. No hurry. You must learn self-control, don’t let yourself be out of control. When you discover who you are, what you need, and you begin to develop your own personal values and self control then you are that much closer to being ready to date.

Most young teenagers are so eager to start dating that they jump the gun, run into the dating life as fast as they can and then live to regret it all in the end. Don’t become another teenage statistic. Take the road less traveled.

Modesty In The Church: Are Our Teens In Trouble?

Several days ago Dr. Mohler had a podcast that discussed Modesty at Christian Weddings. This has actually been an on going discussion on several different blogs including: Joshua Harris, Trying to be Mary in a Martha World, A Puritan’s Hope, and GirlTalk.

On the Molher program a lady called in and made the comment that she didn’t think a man should tell a woman how to dress and while I think men are not the ones to go to for fashion advice, I thought Dr. Mohler made a good point. It is the man who will likely sin because of the way a woman dresses and therefore the man should have some input. Fathers should give advice to their daughters about their wedding dresses because fathers know how men think and react to the clothing women wear.

Guys are visually stimulated and that is something that I believe most girls fail to understand or consider when buying clothes. This is a natural response that is built within men and it is not something that can just be turned off at the flip of a switch. Even a happily married man who has eyes for no one else but his wife can be stimulated by another woman who dresses in a skimpy outfit, because that is the way guys are made. Even if he didn’t want to experience this, just a few seconds of someone walking by who is dressed immodestly can cause impure thoughts or feelings in a guy. It’s that easy.

I am certain that most girls who dress this way don’t think to themselves, “I’m gonna make a bunch of men sin in their minds today”. They just want to wear something that they think is stylish, attractive, and draws attention, but what women often fail to understand is that they are drawing the wrong type of attention. Do women really want a guy to like them only because they are attractive and have nice features? No. That is a shallow, meaningless relationship and yet they choose to dress in such a way that suggests otherwise.

This whole discussion brought up the issue of Christian weddings and the question: should churches set a dress code or policy for weddings to regulate what women wear in church ceremonies? While I think this is a good topic to discuss, I want to open it up to a little broader perspective.

As a youth pastor, my wife and I are facing this issue with our teenage girls in the youth group. I am shocked and appalled at what parents allow their teens to wear. Just the other day a teen was wearing a top that clearly showed her cleavage and when she sat down you could see her whole bra and other bodily parts. I noticed when I was passing out material to the youth in Sunday School and I am certain that all the guys that walked by noticed her too. A few days later I saw her again in public with the same shirt on while she was with her parents. After further prodding we find out that her mother bought her the outfit and approves of it. Now at this point you must tread carefully. Do you (A.) – Tell her the shirt is inappropriate at the risk of offending and embarrassing her and making her mother angry? (This method has been tried before in our group. It made people embarrassed and angry and never come back to church. It didn’t stop them from wearing those type of clothes.) Do you (B.) just ignore it and not say anything since the parents are obviously aware of the clothing and approve of it? Do you (C.) deal with the issue on a broader scale by teaching modesty to the girls in your youth group and hope that they make the right choices and change the way they dress?

I truly believe that the way kids and teens dress is a matter of parental responsibility and it is just another area in life where parents are dropping the ball. Our pastor preached on this the other day and I think it is so very true, parents today are more concerned with making their children Pretty, Powerful, and Popular rather than Pious. With that type of thinking, dressing popular is more important than dressing modestly and being involved in school activities, sports and social functions is more important than going to church and learning about modesty and Godliness. This is why the most popular church kids who have grown up in our church and should be the strongest spiritual leaders in our youth group are actually the least active teens. We have teens that have missed upwards of 15 to 16 weeks in a row of youth on Wednesday nights and then parents wonder why their teen isn’t growing spiritually and why they don’t know all the events that are going on. While I don’t understand this mindset, I know it exists because I see it working every week.

Proverbs 16:16 says “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!” Our parents of today and the teenagers that are currently in our churches seem to be so busy that they cannot find time for church. Teens are involved in so many different things that they cannot pull a hour or two out of the week to make it to church at all and so I wonder; where is their wisdom and understanding coming from? If they don’t come to church, who is teaching them? Where are they learning about modesty? Who is teaching them morality and righteousness? I think the answer to those questions is obvious. We are raising up a generation of shallow, baby Christians with no ability to discern between right and wrong and with no understanding of the deep truths of God’s word (Hebrews 5) and the most troubling part of it all is that the parents are not only allowing it, they are fueling it.

What are we to do when parents are the ones allowing their teens to dress and act in these manners? How do we teach modesty to a group of kids who are popular leaders with tremendous potential and yet they never come to church, never get involved, and are too busy to learn anything about righteousness or modesty? How do we reach a group of kids who know nothing else but what their parents teach them about being pretty, popular, and powerful? This is the challenge our youth ministry is facing today.

Today Is The Day

Today is the day that I take on a whole new stage in my life. After 27 years of bachelor bliss, today I am getting married. That being said, I am excited about this new period in my life and I look forward to what God is going to do through us as we start our lives together. Yesterday we spent all day getting ready for the wedding, doing wedding practice, and trying to finish up any last minute stuff. For awhile it began to get pretty stressful and just at that moment I looked over at my calendar, turned to today’s date and read this verse:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

The sudden peace that filled me is hard to describe, and yet I realized that I was placing too much expectation on myself and the people around me and so there was some guilt that accompanied my peace. In the busy process of getting ready for a wedding I forgot God’s part in all of it. Once I was made aware of what I was doing I was certainly humbled. During this whole process we are under God’s mighty hand and my desire is that in this whole process he gets the glory and honor and praise and that today as Kendall and I get married that God is the focal point of our relationship, even now as we begin.

I know that things will be different today as the wedding ceremony begins and I know that the Word of God will be preached and that hearts will be stirred, even mine. I wait in this moment for when the mighty hand of God lifts us up as we make our vows and commitments before him and with him. This is it. From this day forward my life will never be the same, and I am so excited about what comes next.

I would like to ask those who read Avoiding Evil to be in prayer for us today and for the following week as we begin our lives together. Thank you for your patience with me as my posts grew more and more sporadic in these last six months.

The Countdown: 4 Days Left

It’s hard to believe that in only 4 days I will be getting married. It seems surreal that the time has come after years of wondering who it would be, how it would happen, and dreaming of all the things I would like to do and then suddenly it is upon me. Everyone keeps asking me if i am nervous or stressed and I think people expect me to be nervous, but honestly I’m not nervous at all. I have no doubts, no worries, and I am so sure that this is right that I am at complete peace. The only taxing part of the deal is getting everything ready for the wedding ceremony.

I do have a deep desire to continue in prayer for the wedding, our marriage, and all the things I believe God has in store for us in the future. The scripture verse I read today was found in John 14.

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. you may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” – John 14:13-14

I am hopeful that God will be glorified in our marriage and in our ceremony. I have always wanted our wedding to be a worshipful experience that focuses not only on our commitment to one another but the vows that we are making before God. I pray that our relationship with God is an example to those around us and that it is clearly evident that our engagment, marriage, vows, and future relationship is and will continue to be built on the foundation of our relationship with Jesus.

Thank you for the grace and mercy that you have given us through your son Jesus Christ. Lord I am a sinner and deserve nothing less than eternal punishment for my transgressions against a God that is so pure and holy, and yet by your grace you sent your son to die in my place and it is by the righteousness of Christ that has been imparted to me that I stand pure and holy before you. God I owe you nothing less than my life and even my life is not enough to repay you for what you have done for me. Lord my desire now is that Kendall and I will serve you in our marriage, giving our lives to you and doing all that is necessary to be pleasing to you in our relationship with one another and in our personal relationships with you. God, be with our wedding this Saturday and with all of the technical details that go along with doing something of this magnitude, and let us not lose focus of the purpose of the day and the vow that we are making before you. Be glorified in us as we are so satisfied in you God. I ask these things in the precious and holy name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.