Just wanted to let you know that my eldest daughter, Kaitlyn (Kait) started a new blog. She’s got a couple of posts up and I would highly encourage you to check it out. Especially if you’re a 20-something, a woman, or a teen. Some great stuff over there, here’s her most recent post: 6 Things You Should Know Before You Date Me
Check it out and share it!
I am not a single issue voter, and on typical policy issues I am silent publicly because of my
role as a pastor. As a pastor I am concerned most with people’s relationship with Christ and never want to put an unnecessary wall up regarding politics because politics and government have never once saved a persons soul.
However, after watching the debate last night an issue came up that is not a policy issue, but an issue of morality, an issue on which neither God nor the Bible is silent and therefore as a Christian and pastor I will not be silent. It is important that we never succumb to cultural pressure to elevate man’s opinion over God’s commands, period!
- The Bible states that all humanity bears the image and the mark of God (Genesis 1:27).
- God has said that because of this it is a sin to take a human life (Exodus 20:13), unless as a punishment for murder (Genesis 9:6).
- The Bible considers the killing of an unborn child murder, even if it’s accidental (Exodus 21:22-25).
- God’s relationship with each human begins at the moment of conception and extends throughout the entirety of their life (Jeremiah 1:5).
The Psalmist, David, writes in beautiful poetic form the tender relationship that God has with each unborn child in Psalm 139, read these words:
For it was You who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. – Ps 139:13-14
According to the Bible, every unborn child has a purpose, was given life for a reason, and can make a difference in our world. How many things have we missed out on, lost out on, and been robbed of because of the millions of innocent lives who were never given breath? How many parents, mothers who have believed the lies of our culture telling them it’s their ‘right’ or it’s just ’tissue’ have been indelibly scarred and broken after the fact. You see the reality is abortion is not just something that affects the child itself, it has far reaching and devastating effects on all those involved with it. It is a scourge that has gouged a hole in the very fabric of our national morality, psyche, and spirituality, and left millions upon millions in it’s horrific wake.
If you or someone you love has been involved in this in some way shape or form and are feeling a level of guilt or despair over your decision, know this, God still loves you, has a plan for you, and wants you to receive His forgiveness. If you are contemplating doing this, I challenge you to reconsider, to realize that the child within you is a precious gift from God to you, he/she is not a mistake or an accident, they were planned before you even knew.
Finally, for all of you, if someone who has pledged to ‘defend and protect’ is not willing to do so for the most vulnerable and innocent of us, will they do that for any of us?
Man, it’s been a tough 18 months for pastors! First, Mark Driscoll the founding and senior pastor of Mars Hill resigned over allegations of abusive leadership. Then just a few months ago Perry Noble, the founding and senior pastor of Newspring Church resigned because he was using alcohol to self-medicate. And, just this last Sunday, Pete Wilson, the founding and senior pastor of Crosspoint Church resigned because he is completely ‘burned out’. These men represented 3 churches that reached well over 100,000 people combined.
I don’t care what you think about these men, but let me tell you something, they all were used by God in ways most of us could never imagine. Are they, were they perfect, no…and that makes all of us! The role of a senior pastor is at times suffocating, overwhelming, emotionally draining, and makes you feel sub-human, because you cannot act like you really want to when someone attacks you or your family. Being a pastor’s wife or kids is often even more difficult because they rarely get to see the resolution of things, like the pastor does.
I’m well aware that all jobs have stresses that are unique, and I am in no way saying that pastor’s stand alone in having a job with pressure. But, there is something uniquely different when you are in full-time ministry. How do I know this, well during 20+ years of full-time ministry I’ve brought numerous people on staff who were in the ‘secular’ workplace. Their struggles, their stories of how radically different, lonely, painful, and secluded they felt (which they had never experienced before) convinced me of this. You see for most church-going folks, church is a place of rest, refreshment, and friendship. For pastors, their families, and other in full-time ministry it’s anything but. Their feelings are rarely considered; their friendships hardly, if ever, are allowed to go beyond superficial; any conversation at any time can morph into yet another counseling session…even at the grocery store (it’s happened people, more than once actually!).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t change what I’m doing or what God has allowed me to do for one minute! I LOVE being a pastor!!! But, it doesn’t mean that it comes easy, or without a very, very, high price. So, whatever church you call home, take time out this week and just send a thank you note to your pastors, AND their wives. Be a friend to your pastors, AND their wives. Treat them like normal human beings, because…newsflash…we are!
Check out this blog written by a fellow pastor Rob Shepherd: Another Pastor Bites The Dust
Many Americans have stayed up late over the last two-weeks watching live event coverage of the Olympics from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. As a sports fan it’s like binge watching your favorite tv show for 14 straight days, exhilarating and exhausting all in one!
Each Olympics has their own heroes (Simone Biles) and villains (Ryan Lochte…nuff said). But occasionally we get to see something special, Like a 42 year old (now 43) mom Kristin Armstrong, who fought back from multiple surgeries and moments after crossing the
finish line for the gold collapsed, only to be comforted by her young son. You can’t make that up, no hollywood script could have been better written and no musical score could have made that moment more dramatic!
If we’re lucky, however, we get to see greatness. Athletes who are so dominate, so incredible that they transcend their sport. They become the thing of legend. During this Olympics there were three such athletes. Each of them winning gold in multiple Olympics and each ones performance so dominating that when they performed it was hard to look away.
Katie Ledecky won her first gold medal in 2012 at the age of…15! Can you believe that?! Can’t even drive yet and she’s whoopin’ on the best swimmers in the world. This year her swims were so dominate that she could have probably had a 44oz big gulp down before second place finished! She won a total of 5 Golds and one Silver, and became the first woman to win a gold in the 200, 400, and 800 meter races in the same Olympics.
Usain Bolt is another legend, but his greatness has extended over 3 Olympics. He is not only regarded as the fastest man ever timed, but he is also the only person to ever win the 100, 200, and 4×100 in three straight Olympics! No one has ever done it in back to back Olympics, much less three in a row. He has figured out a way to sustain greatness over a significant period of time on the largest stage in the world!
Finally, there is Michael Phelps, love him or hate him, he’s the best that’s ever been! Phelps has been swimming on the Olympic stage for 4 Olympics…that’s astounding in any sport, and especially a sport where the young ones are almost always dominant. Phelps has said that this was his last, but it wasn’t his least, he still won 5 Golds and 1 silver and showed very little drop off in dominance. Overall, Phelps has won 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them being gold. Additionally, he’s won gold in multiple strokes and multiple lengths. In a sport where specialization is king, it’s almost unheard of.
So, what makes these three so…special, so dominant, so legendary? Well, obviously their DNA has something to do with it. They were gifted with great natural ability, but my guess is that’s true of anyone that makes it to the Olympics. What sets them apart? I believe it is two things:
- First, each of them is notorious for their training regimen. If we did in a week what they do each day, I think we’d die! They have learned that putting in the time, energy, and effort when no one is watching means that when everyone is watching they’ll perform their best. Under Armour has done an incredible commercial specifically focusing on Phelps and gives you a glimpse of what I’m talking about, you should check it out: Phelps Under Armour Commercial
- Second, none of them are willing to set limits on what they can do. They don’t see boundaries, they don’t think in terms of what is possible. Ledecky has famously said, “I just like to swim fast, I don’t think about the distance”. Bolt has said on multiple occasions, “I don’t think limits.” And Phelps, well he actually wrote a book entitled No Limits, The Will To Succeed.
These athletes can teach us something about life and our walk with Christ. Often times we see the fanfare that others receive and we get jealous. But, what we don’t see is all the hard work, the behind the scenes effort that got them there. If you want to succeed in life and grow stronger as a follower of Christ, you’ve got to be willing to do what’s necessary without the accolades or audience. You’ve got to spend time just you and God, sometimes early in the morning and other late at night. Sometimes is joyful communion while other times it’s painful intercession. It’s in the moments when no one is watching that the strength of your character is forged, that the foundation of your soul is laid.
I also think it’s important for us to begin to remove all of our self-imposed limitations. Stop saying what you can’t do and start doing what you can. It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you just start moving towards your goal. Stop whining and complaining about how others have it easier, you don’t know that! You don’t know what their quiet struggles are, what their times in the dark are like. As the Apostle Paul says so eloquently, “Run the race set before you!” Don’t look at others, look ahead at what God has for you!
I just wrapped up a three week ‘stay-work-ation’, yeah I just made that word up, it’s my blog I can do that! Essentially, we have a ton of work to do on Acorn Ridge to get it ready to serve those who serve. So I spent the last several weeks painting, patching, sanding, weed whacking, and etc. During the weekends I spent my time luxuriously relaxing pool side…in a bleacher seat watching my youngest swim at three back to back to back meets. So, to say that I had a lot of time to think, is an understatement!
Each weekend I was gone I logged onto ExperienceFriendship.com and either watched or listened to one of our amazing elders deliver God’s Word in a powerful and challenging way. It was awesome, and I was so encouraged with what an amazing job they did. What I found myself missing though was the music, yeah you read that right! I found myself this last Sunday, my first Sunday back, just overwhelmed with the amazing sound of nearly 400 people joined in public, loud, joyful, and enthusiastic musical worship of our great God! I reflected on people whom I’ve heard say things like, ‘you don’t NEED to go to church to be a Christian’, or ‘my church is on tv’ or something to that effect. I never bought that excuse, yes that’s what it is, but during our time away I realized just how sad it must be to never experience the joyful worship of God’s people.
During our time off we did see and or ‘hang out’ with people that go to Friendship, but there is something special about wandering the halls on Sunday morning and taking in the buzz of excitement as people are using their gifts to serve our great King. There is an electricity in the air on Sundays at Friendship that just can’t be duplicated, it must be experienced. I, of course, am a little bias on this front, but it has been confirmed to me by others over and over again. I even had a family tell me just this last weekend, that they cut their trip to Kentucky Kingdom short just so they wouldn’t miss this last week. Okay, that’s awesome!
The bottom line is, I really missed being a part of the experience at Friendship, there was a hole in my heart each weekend. The old saying is, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, I don’t know if that’s true in every sense, but I’ve gotta say, being away from you all sure did whet my appetite for getting back!
Okay, this is not really a political post, this is a “Christians get a grip” post! I see many of my Facebook ‘friends’, former classmates, and random people who for some reason I said yes to a ‘friend request’ to on social media having some serious sacred cows, rants, and temper tantrums over the Republican Presidential nominee, the Donald. Well, as your friend, pastor, and random guy you liked on Facebook I’d like to say something to you…deep breath, seriously, take a deep breath! I’m neither here to support nor decry the Trumpster, I’m here to try to give a little spiritual valium to the slightly unhinged and out of focus Christian-Conservative-Republican people out there.
So, first, who is your Messiah? As far as I can remember the Bible clearly states that salvation is found in no one else except Christ, and Christ alone. If you are looking for some politician or non-politician running for political office, you’re going to be soundly disappointed and let down. Not to mention that you are living in a sinful state looking for salvation from another source outside of Christ. If you are fretting and frothing over the possibility of a Trump, or Hillary presidency can I just remind you…
Now he (Christ) is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else–not only in this world but also in the world to come. – Eph 1:21 NLT
Second, is Trump asking to be your spiritual leader? Maybe I missed it, but has your church’s search committee (I can’t believe I just used the ‘C’ word) presented him as your next Senior Pastoral candidate? Then why are you freaking out about the fact that he is obviously, at best, and immature believer? He is running to be President not Pastor, the spiritual threshold for these are pretty different (one has one and the other doesn’t). Listen, if you don’t like his politics and policy ideas than by all means voice your opinions on social media, lets just all be cognizant and careful to not violate Scripture or prove what people have been saying about you in the process…
Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. – Pro 29:11 NLT
Finally, please remember who’s really in charge. Yes, we as Christians are supposed to be responsible citizens and active within our nation, but never forget, if Satan himself was elected POTUS it wouldn’t change a single thing in God’s unwavering purpose, plan, or power within the world. Stop looking at the temporary and start getting excited about the eternal purposes of God. It doesn’t matter who our next President it as long as God is still on the throne.
God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne. – Ps 47:8 NLT
Sure my taxes may change, my freedoms may be liberated or restricted, and the constitution may be used for the bottom of bird cages, but this is all window dressing, a facade to the great plan of God who is actively working to draw all men to himself. Don’t get distracted by politics and miss out on seeing God’s purpose become a reality in your life!
Be all God’s called you to be and let him take care of the rest!
Exodus 35:31-35 CEB
The Lord has filled him with the divine spirit that will give him skill, ability, and knowledge for every kind of work. He will be able to create designs, do metalwork in gold, silver, and copper, cut stones for setting, carve wood, do every kind of creative work, and have the ability to teach others. Both he and Oholiab, Ahisamach’s son from the tribe of Dan, have been given the skill to do every kind of work done by a gem cutter or a designer or a needleworker in blue, purple, and deep red yarns and in fine linen or a weaver or anyone else doing work or creating designs.
Sometimes we get the idea that God only gives gifts that are spiritual in nature. Such as teaching, preaching, singing, etc… However, this is far from truth, in fact, some of the gifts that God first gave to mankind had ‘real world’ applications well beyond church.
The passage of Scripture just above refers to two men and the group that they led. The one speaking is Moses and he is addressing the entire nation of Israel. They are on the cusp of building God’s Tabernacle and everyone is taking account as to what items have been donated, the gold, silver, and jewelry, and also who has certain capabilities. These two men are called out by Moses because they had special abilities in woodworking, metalwork, sculpting, stone cutting, gem work, and practically anything else you could do with your hands. These men were the renaissance men of their day, they could do it all, and they could teach others as well.
What’s interesting about this is that this passage doesn’t say that God ‘just now’ gave them these gifts, but that he had (past tense) given them these gifts. Which means that for years they had been honing and practicing their craft and now God was giving them an opportunity to use their skill in the building of his holy Tabernacle. This was an honor that no one else in all of Israel shared except these two men.
This teaches us a couple of things: First, God has given all sorts of working gifts, and they are far from limited to a ‘spiritual’ setting. Don’t ever say, ‘I’m just a welder…carpenter…electrician…plumber’ God gave you those skills, use them, expand them, and teach them to others. God is honored by this!
Second, God gives each of us special opportunities when we are willing to use our gifts diligently and sometimes in obscurity. He loves to take the faithful workers and bring them to the forefront for everyone to celebrate. So, prepare for your moment, watch for it, and when God calls, jump on it!
Join me this Sunday as I talk about the benefits of working hard!