Biography, Ministry, Personal, Uncategorized

I’m a Pastors Wife and Taking an Antidepressant


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Several years ago I struggled with muscle and joint aches and pains. I visited several doctors and had many diagnosis from Lyme Disease to Fibromyalgia. Over the course of years I have been prescribed several different medications. When I first started down this path I was determined not to be on any kind of medication. I felt then, and I still feel now, that we have become a society of over medicaters. I felt like as a Christian, if I was taking a regular prescription it meant that I didn’t have faith in God, that I was trusting in man more than my creator.
I decided that I would visit a naturalist. She was a licensed doctor who really believed in people listening to their bodies and healing naturally. I spent several months changing my diet, taking supplements, getting exercise, etc. I lost 24 pounds and genuinely felt better, not perfect, but better. After a year I felt like I had made as much progress with my doctor as a could so I chose to quit seeing her, but continue in a healthier lifestyle. I felt good, but still not quite right.
I finally decided to see a local doctor that was also a Christian woman. I told her all I had gone through. She listened, ran some basic tests and suggested an antidepressant. Alarms sounded in my head. Why an antidepressant? I was not depressed. I was happy, I just felt like I was always at Mach 10. I was always going, running, stressed but in a good busy kind of way. I definitely didn’t need antidepressants. I hesitantly agreed to take a low dose for a month to see how I felt. In two weeks I felt worse. I really did have anxiety and felt very shaky. I felt more hopped up then ever before. This was not for me. I called my doctor and she had me come in again. She wanted me to try another similar medication. I can’t tell you how close I was to saying no because of my first experience, but I was also desperate. I talked to my husband, prayed about it and began to take a very low dose. For the first time in several years I felt like myself.
It took me a while to come to terms with the idea of being on a long term medication, but the truth is that any part of our body can malfunction. It is easier for us to accept things like high blood pressure or migraines instead of issues in the brain, but the fact is that my serotonin levels were out of balance and I needed help getting them back on track. Society’s stigmas are not my problem. Being healthy is my main concern and I really am. I was withdrawing from life and people. Now I feel like I’m an active participant in this life. I feel like I can be at work for His service more than ever before.
This doesn’t mean I think every person should jump on the medication bandwagon. Make sure you are being as healthy as you can be. Talk to a doctor (I suggest a Christian). Make sure it is a person who will listen to you and not herd you in like cattle. Start slow on medication. Get support from your family and stay close to Jesus. He does care about you. In fact, he has given us physicians to help us out while we’re here on earth. Finally, please don’t judge people who are in pain and trying to find relief through medication. They are already under enough stress and anxiety. Be available. Be a friend. Be a prayer warrior for those in need. Your friendship and support can make all the difference.

family, Ministry, Personal

Dear Pastor: How do I balance life’s priorities?


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If you were asked to list all the “hats you wear” from most important to least important, I am confident that most of us would have extremely similar lists.  Listing them in order of priority is not the problem.  Living them is!

If only there could be another day between Friday and Saturday.  If only I could squeeze two more hours into each day, then I could get everything done I need to do.  I wouldn’t say I’m a driven person in the least.  I would say I like to do things well and sometimes there is just not enough time to do everything I am responsible for as well as I would like!

Dave Ramsey teaches the importance of budgeting your money.  His idea is to spend your money on paper before you spend it for real.  It’s a great financial plan.  What is more important than money?  Time.  Your time.  Once upon a time, I worked at a church filled with really great people who loved God.  However, when it came time to volunteer, they were quick to whip out their checkbooks.  That’s great unless you need a Sunday School teacher for a four-year-old class.  We really do value time more than money.  So, if we budget money, why not budget time as well?

Here are priorities as I see them: 

  1. Being a child of God
  2. Being a spouse
  3. Being a parent
  4. Being a church member
  5. Being a community member

Being a child of God is the foundation for all the rest of life.  It is from a right relationship with God that all other relationships can be right.  So, make sure that daily Bible study, prayer, scripture memorization and church attendance are top priority.  If you don’t make these things priority in your life, don’t expect your spouse or children to make them a priority in their lives.  Don’t expect God’s blessing on all the other priorities, if God is not your first priority.  Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” I am tempted to say that as you grow in God, you’ll spend less time working on that relationship, but that is just not the case.  As you grow, you are going to discover that time invested in God gives the greatest return, both temporally speaking and eternally speaking.  Get this priority right and the others will find their proper place.

Being a spouse is the most transparent relationship we have this side of heaven.  No one knows you like your spouse knows you.  So, don’t waste your time trying to convince them you are someone you are not.  Take care of the “child of God” part first then being an excellent spouse will come more naturally and with fewer obstacles.  Create good habits:  say, “I love you” often, kiss good-bye, (and hello), catch their eye and smile, hold hands, clean up after yourself, have a set date-night, be considerate, be patient, be kind, be helpful etc.  Being a great spouse doesn’t have to a lot of time as much as it takes a lot of attention.  Pay attention to what blesses your spouse and do those things.  Let the other, time consuming things go.  Pouting, being manipulative, arguing, controlling, selfish . . . all waste precious time.  Make a habit of avoiding these things.

Being a parent is the most difficult job you’ll ever have.  I love my kids and I could not be prouder of mine.  I have loved them and enjoyed them more every day from the day they were born.  If you have taken care of the child of God priority and the spouse priority, you have a teammate for parenting.  Lord knows you need a teammate for this job.  God was very wise in giving children a mother and a father.   God’s design has always been for parenting to be a team mission.  It is too big for one parent.  There is not enough time for one person to be all that a child needs.  There is some relief in that this time with children is cyclical.  At every age the amount of time a child needs changes.  The type of time a child needs changes.  Rely on God and your spouse to wisely spend time with your kids.  Six-year-olds need time wrestling around on the floor with dad.  Sixteen-year-olds need long drives in the car and one-on-one dinners.  The most important time you will spend with your children is the time they see you putting God first and loving your spouse.  Don’t waste your time making them think they are little gods, because they’ll believe you.  Then they have a serious problem that is going to require a lot more of your time.

Being a church member is icing on the cake!  It’s not an obligation, it’s a joy to be part of a community of people who share the same foundation for living, being a child of God.  I look forward to being in church on Sunday.  There are people I enjoy being with and I go planning on learning something that is going to improve my life today as well as get me one more step closer to eternity with God the Father. We sing, we celebrate, we learn and we serve.  We serve out of the overflow of grace and love that God has been putting into our hearts all week long.  The balance is built in.  You cannot give what you do not possess.  You do not have the capacity to serve in ministry if you haven’t taken care of the child of God part first, and the spouse situation, and the parent responsibility.  There is on order and it is somewhat self-balancing.

Being a community member is your opportunity to shine the light of Jesus!  There is an increasing value of serving in the community.  That is great!  But as the church we are not the hands and feet of an eternal God to only meet the physical needs of humanity.  The church has the exclusive ministry of eternal life by way of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The most important humanitarian aide the church has to offer is the message of Jesus Christ.  I am in no way advocating that we stop reaching out to people in need.  I am advocating that we take care of our priorities first.  We take care of the “log in our own eye” before we attempt to help others in need.  We make sure that we are modeling a balanced, well prioritized life.  Then, the time we spend in the community is maximized for eternal purposes, instead of being wasted on things that will eventually pass away.

I always love to hear from you.  If you have any question you’d like to ask the Pastor, you are welcome to send them to me.

Bless You Big!!

Ministry, Personal, Uncategorized

Desert Heights, We’re In This Together


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When Brent and I first started the church I had dreams, big dreams.  I just knew we were going to be the next Billy and Ruth Graham.  I mean we are honest, hardworking, educated, loving Christian people.  How could God not want more for us?  I thought it would only be a matter of time until our church here in Farmington was so full that we’d have to have more campuses or a bigger building.  I mean the Bible says He’ll give us more than we could ever ask or image, so that means success right?  Wrong! It means He will change you and your heart in a way you never thought possible.  He will make you quit caring about the success.  He will make you love people and a community more than you ever thought you could.  He gave me more than success.  He gave me a family.  He gave me contentment and he showed me blessing after blessing and miracle after miracle.  There is nothing in this world better than that.

I once thought that ministry was like any other job.  You work hard, you move up the chain.  You may be here for a while, but then you transfer to a little bigger church, you hopefully make a little more money and you keep on in this cycle until you are at the top.  How ridiculous I was.  Ministry is not for those who seek notoriety.  It is a calling that you have little say so in.  It is definitely not a way to be rich and famous.   Here is what the Bible say’s about pastoring in 1 Peter 5:2 “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is among you, watching over it, not because you must but because you want to, and not greedily but eagerly, as God desires.” I am now so grateful for God’s direction.  I would never want myself or my family to be rich and famous.  There is nothing wrong with fame, but it can be an unnecessary burden and temptation, maybe one God knew I wasn’t up for; whatever the reason I am truly happy.  I want to do this because God has put it in my heart and for no other reason.

Farmington and Desert Heights Church are my passion.  I care deeply for my church family.  In fact, I love them.  I pray for them.  They are my best friends, the people I want my kids to be around, and the people I call when I have a need.  I know we will never be the pastors of a mega church and I honestly don’t want to be. God called Brent and I to Farmington and there is not a thing in the world wrong with that.  Every community needs a church, ours happens to be in a little town in New Mexico.  I actually have no desire to ever leave this area or my church. I think long-term pastoring has the most benefit for a congregation and a pastor’s family.  There is extreme comfort and safety in the idea of being together permanently.  I hope our congregation knows they are not just a job.  We are invested in them in every way possible.  They are people we want to share life with.  They are the people we want to grow and mature in Christ with.  We want to see every person grow year after year.  We are in this for the long haul.

So what does my story have to do with you?  Well, you may not be where you thought you would be by this time in life.  You may just be floundering and wondering what God’s will is for you.  If you are a believer, all you have to do is love and serve Him wherever you are.  Be the best employee, husband/wife, son/daughter, volunteer, or friend you can be.  Live a life that glorifies Him and I guarantee you will be happy.  He will take care of the rest. As my mother-in-law say’s “Bloom where you’re planted!!!

family, Personal

5 Reasons to Send Your Child to Church Camp


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Growing up I went to church camp and it was always the highlight of my summer. Camp has some of my best childhood/teenage memories. I am so excited that we can offer this same adventure to our church kiddos this year. Here are my five top reasons to send your child to camp:

5. Develop Independence-Let’s face it parents, our kids need a break from us! They need to be given the opportunity to discover more about who they are (positive and negative) and how they will “deal” with themselves as they grow. As parents, we need to trust that God will protect our children and that HE will guide their hearts when we are not part of the picture.

4.Technology Fast-Enough said, right?! For five days, your child can experience what life was like in the “olden days” before WIFI, tablets, cell phones, and selfies- otherwise known as the 1980’s. They may just like sunshine and fresh air all while learning new hobbies and making friends.

3.Nature-What a better way for kids to get to know their creator than by being in HIS creation! Psalms 19:1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God; the skies display HIS craftmanship. I still remember our open-air chapel at camp as a teen, and in the evening, fireflies could be seen twinkling in the meadow just beyond as we read from God’s Word and sang to Him.

2.Build Relationships-I am a social adult, but I was much more reserved as a younger child with crooked teeth. Even so I had many friends from other churches around the state and it was very exciting to get together each year. I believe our children need to see other Christian kids. They need to know they are not alone or odd (as it may seem to some kids) because of their faith.

1.Spiritual Training– The most eternal impact of camp will be that each day God will be poured into your child both from church mentors, but also the camp speakers and worship leaders. Time will be set aside for S.O.A.P. and serious prayer.

 

If you haven’t already pre-registered your child, you have until April 22.

family, Personal, Uncategorized

Dear Pastor: How Do I Be a Christian Man?


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From time to time men comment to me in some form, “I do not know how to be a Christian man.”  My first thought is, “Follow your dad’s example,” because that is what I have always done.  Human behavior is amazingly predictable.  You’ll do what you have seen modeled, especially what you saw modeled by your parents.  Therein lies the problem, many men presently endeavoring to be Christian men have not had a Christian father to model Christian manhood.

Allow me to throw a temper-tantrum for other men for just a moment.  It’s not fair!  It is abundantly clear that it is not fair that all of us were not raised by men who made Godly character a personal priority.  It’s not fair that we did not all see our dad read his Bible, pray regularly and handle discipline with grace.  It’s not fair that not all dads woke the house up singing, “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!” and then begin herding the sluggish family off to church on Sunday mornings.  It’s not fair that some dads quit on some moms and didn’t put up a fight for their marriage and children.  It’s not fair that some dads had addiction problems or abuse problems.  It’s not fair we were not all raised by my dad!   Feel free to stomp your feet, shake your fists and growl.

Now get over it.  Here are the nuts and bolts of Christian manhood:

1. You are the man.

God made you in His image.  He designed you to be wonderfully powerful and graceful, intimidating and approachable, adventurous and committed.  Society may attempt to persuade men to give up our more dangerous qualities.  Instead of being powerful, simply be soft.  Sin would have us take one or two of our qualities to an extreme.  We could become so adventurous that we are no longer committed or so intimidating we are no longer approachable.  Men don’t surrender these qualities, balance them.  God is our example.  Stop making excuses and follow God’s example.  You are the man!

2. Your family will follow your lead.

God did something really amazing in the hearts and minds of women and children.  God miraculously turns the heart of a wife toward her husband.  Intelligent, beautiful brides will lose themselves in the arms of their husband, no matter what a bum he is.  Obviously, this is true to varying degrees.  But the point remains, women tend to lose themselves to their husbands.  Likewise, little boys and little girls will admire dads that have done nothing to be warrant such admiration.  God did that men.  God opens the door for you.  It is your opportunity, your obligation to lead your family to a God glorifying life.  You may have to limit your pursuit to be the best at your job. You may have to give up time with your hobbies. You may have to read a book, even better yet, you may have to read your Bible to learn how to behave like a Christian husband and Christian father. And I promise you will have to sacrifice your selfishness and your immaturity. However, what you receive in return is a family that loves God, becomes contributing members of society and pride in your chest that is larger than any job, hobby or other accomplishment can possibly give you this side of Heaven. I am confident that if you lead a Christian life your family will follow you. You must walk it first, then they will follow.

3. Four Fundamental Characteristics (I’m sure there are more)

Humility:  You don’t know everything. You can’t do everything. And you are not the best at . . . well, probably anything. So, stop acting like it. You embarrass yourself by strutting around. Arrogance is not attractive, confidence is. Confidence is knowing that my wife and children are going to think the world of me even when I have to ask for help. I am the “get’er done guy.” Sometimes I have to ask for help to “get’er done.” I’m not going to fail just because I’m too proud to show my limitations. I would rather teach my family the value of having good friends who are happy to help when I need help. Be humble, it positions you for success!

Discipline:  Discipline yourself. For some reason we get it in our minds that once we leave home or Jr. High, we no longer need discipline.  Men, discipline your spiritual, physical, financial and emotional habits.  Your family will see how you behave and you will not need to verbally correct them as much.  (AS MUCH)  If you don’t discipline yourself, you will breed rebellion when you attempt to discipline your family. You first leader!

Love:  I don’t think men are failing to love. I am around men who sincerely and fiercely love their families.  We just get in our own way sometimes.  We love so strongly that we fail to love gently. For most of us our default emotion is anger. This is why we are so dependent upon God to work in our hearts and habits. We love in our hearts, but showing it is awkward. Take extra time to be with your family. My family spends a lot of quality time piled on our bed having late night discussions with no boundaries whatsoever! Sometimes when I’ve messed up as dad, I go lay next to one of my kids on their bed and I apologize. We visit in the dark, say, “I’m sorry,” and I try our best to stay long enough to laugh. Sometimes I wrap my daughter up in a big hug and kiss her. I have long lunches with my son. I take extra time telling my wife, “good-bye” for the day.  Love is very seldom a grand overture. Love is in the small, consistent gestures. Love often. Love gently.

Grace:  Not like a ballerina! Like God. I have no idea why men fail to consider that everyone is not like us! It is as though the moment our baby is born we have grand expectations of them being just like us . . . RIGHT NOW! I observed a parent correcting their child, “You must be responsible!” they advised sternly to their two-year-old. Crazy child hadn’t balanced their checkbook I guess. Dad was wound up! Men, children need time and space to grow up. They need grace to fail and your patience to teach them to not make the same mistake again. Failure is not the end of the world, it is very much part of growing. Grace gives us all permission to fail successfully! Fear pins us to the ground when we have failed. The result is no lesson is learned and no growth is achieved. To this day my siblings joke about one of my dad’s common sayings was, “Well, that’s alright.” It didn’t matter how big the mess was, dad had his way of reassuring us that our failure was no big deal and that it was all going to be all right. And it was.

Maybe we don’t all have a model dad. But if you can be humble, discipline yourself and gently show your family that you desperately love them, . . well, that’s alright.

If you have questions you would like to ask the Pastor, leave them in the comments or you are welcome to email me at brent@desertheightschurch.com.

family, Personal, Uncategorized

I Know How to Stop Abortion


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Abortion is selfish, actually at the heart of all sin is selfishness. It is placing our desires over God’s. So why is abortion on my mind today in particular? Well, I’ll tell you. My sister had a baby yesterday. I got the call around noon to pick her up and go to the hospital. Her husband was at work out of town and on the way, so I picked her up and got her checked in. I got to be there for the entire delivery. It was amazing. It wasn’t my first time seeing a baby being born, but it was the most recent, and it made me again reflect on the gift of life. I was there the moment that precious little baby took its first breath. There was this tiny human squirming, crying and so incredibly vulnerable. It needed love, care, shelter, and protection. I can’t imagine seeing that and then ever being able to have an abortion. The problem is people who have abortions don’t have to look at the ugly end result of what they do. They don’t have to set eyes on a still, lifeless, vulnerable body and own up to the responsibility of causing its death.

People who are pro-abortion would have told me 12 hours ago that my sister did not carry a true life and that her baby had no rights. They would value a cold, wet, crying puppy on a street more than that baby. I’ll tell you why. It’s because they see the puppy. They hear the puppy. They can’t ignore the puppy, but they can ignore the baby. They can pretend they don’t see it because it’s under the cover of the womb and then they quietly dispose of it. We have sheltered a generation of people who don’t have to see the repercussions of their decisions.

I say abortion is selfish because it requires a person to put more value in their freedom, their self-image, their job, their money situation, etc. over the value of an innocent life. I have heard all the arguments and there aren’t any that don’t scream out, “what about me?” As a Christian we live our lives to imitate the life of Jesus. He is our example. He laid down his life, so that I could live. He is the defender of the defenseless. Here is what John 15:13 has to say about the value of life. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” It is the antithesis of what the world shouts out to us every single day.

Jesus valued life, but people who are lost don’t. They can’t see past themselves. That is the world we live in. If we truly want to stop abortion there is only one way. We must present a living, life changing gospel to a lost world. They must see Jesus in us and want what we have. So, live for Him. Be a bright, shining light in a dark world. Don’t live in a way that damages your witness for Christ. Be truly changed! It will breathe life into everyone you know. You can’t stop abortion, but Jesus in you can.

Ministry, The Church

Not Just Another Prayer Meeting


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Next week Desert Heights Church will gather for an evening of prayer and worship.  I have attended my fair share of prayer meetings.  People trickle in well past starting time.  The pastor may pray out loud, maybe a few others, but for the most part everyone else finds a pew, kneels and prays quietly.  It’s kind of hard to tell how much serious prayer is happening.  At the appointed time to gather for that final prayer, there are a few faithful prayer warriors whose eyes look as if they’ve just woke up.  What do you expect?  Jesus couldn’t keep his disciples awake for prayer either.

I joke about prayer meetings, but the fact of the matter is prayer is serious and this is not just another prayer meeting.  Hebrews 4:16 makes it clear that we have direct access to our Heavenly Father for our needs, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”   There is no reason for us to hesitate to bring our needs to God in prayer, He promises help for us.  And there is no shortage of needs.  Our nation, our own community, our church and our families all have needs that can only be met by a gracious God.  So, we come boldly to God’s throne trusting that He alone is able to intervene.  Like David, we pray, “O Lord, hear me as I pray.” Ps. 5:1. We fully expect God the Father to hear us as we unite our voices for all these needs.  Then David says, “Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you.” Ps. 5:2. Our hope is not in our own abilities, the abilities of our government or our economy.  We do not pray to our church leaders.  We pray to our King and our God!  The only one with power and authority to transform the chaos of this world for His Glory!

Here is the bigger and much more serious picture.  The chaos we see is the result of the spiritual battle we do not see.  The struggle for our nation and our families is a spiritual war.  As Christians we must recognize that we are not in a political or economic battle.  We will not win with better church signs and self-help Sunday school classes.  The fact is, it is a spiritual war that requires spiritual warfare.  Ephesians 6:12, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”  I will pray for better jobs for people in Farmington.  I will pray against the opioid epidemic that is crippling America.  I will pray for the protection of our children as they go to school.  But those are merely symptoms, they are not the source of the problem.  The source of the problem is spiritual rebellion against God.  And God has equipped the church to be the beacon of hope.  As the church is united in Jesus, demonstrating our dependence upon God through prayer, that spiritual strongholds are destroyed.  It is time that we apply our Sunday school lesson, join together, bow our heads and pray boldly to our King and our God for His intervention, trusting that He will hear our prayer and heal our land.

So, yes, this is a special, spiritual time to unite our voices and hearts together and agree in prayer.  It is not only a time of asking God to meet our needs and the needs of our loved ones.  It is also a time of worship.  A time to read scriptures that point to the glory and all sufficiency of God and to sing about the miraculous things God has already done in us and for us!

I’m challenging you Desert Heights:  It’s time we make time for prayer!  We need to pray.  We need to join together as the Body of Christ and petition Him for His grace in our nation, community, church, families and individuals.  God has called us to a life that demands more than we are capable of giving.  We need God’s involvement in our lives.  Let’s unite our hearts and ask for God’s intervention, for God’s grace and for God’s power to live as He has called us to.

See you at prayer meeting!

Friday, March 2nd — 6:30 p.m. — Desert Heights Church

 

Q&A

Am I Ready To Be Baptized?


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Baptism Sunday is coming up this next week, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to do a quick write-up on what baptism is about. This is good information for an adult, but basic enough that a parent can share this resource with a child that might be considering baptism.

Salvation

Before we talk about baptism, we need to understand salvation. Salvation is the act of being saved from something harmful. In the church we have a lot of church jargon-words only other church people understand. So when we talk about salvation we mean being rescued from our own sins-sins which the Bible says, deserve our death (Romans 6:23). But God had a rescue plan from the beginning. He knew He would send His son to die in our place. His son, Jesus, paid our price. But we must acknowledge Jesus died to save us, believe it to be true, and then confess our sins, or the wrongs we have done.

You can use the following questions to determine if you (or your child) is ready to ask Jesus to be Lord of your (his/her) life. The main goal is to recognize that your sin separates you from God and that Jesus’ death on the cross makes you right with God.

  1. Who is Jesus? Matthew 3:16-17
  2. What is sin? 1 John 5:17   Have I sinned? Romans 3:23
  3. What did Jesus do on the cross? 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 Why did He have to die? 2 Corinthians 5:21
  4. What happens to our sins when we ask Jesus to forgive us and we say/confess our sins out loud? 1 John 1:9

The next step is asking Jesus to be the Lord of your life. This is the best part! Here is an example prayer you can use if you need it.

“Dear Jesus, I am a sinner and I need You to save me. Thank you for dying on the cross. Because of this, I am forgiven. I want you to be leader of my life. Help me live my life for You. Amen”

After Salvation Comes Baptism

As a follower of Christ, you need to make your decision public, by getting baptized. Baptism is a picture of what Jesus did on the cross and He tells us to be baptized to show others that we follow Him. Baptism is when we go under the water symbolizing the washing away your sins and Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus died and came back to life on the third day. You can read Matthew 3:1-16, Matthew 28:16-20, and John 3:1-21.

  1. Does this mean you’ll never sin again? 1 John 1:8-10 and Romans 6:1-5
  2. When you sin again, what should you do? 1 John 1:9

Another great illustration to help understand the significance of baptism is a wedding ring. A wedding ring is a symbol that you have made the choice to love your spouse.   Baptism is a symbol that you have chosen to love and follow Christ.

Jesus modeled baptism in Matthew 3:13-17 and we were commanded to be baptized in Acts 2:38.

The final step should last throughout the rest of your life. God wants you to share your unique faith story with those around you. Paul gave us an amazing example in Acts 26:2-23. Your faith story should include how you became a Christian and how your life changed after becoming a Christian.

family, Personal, Uncategorized

I Am the Weaker Vessel


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I hate to make an enemy out of all women out there, but we are the weaker sex. Yup, I said it and I won’t apologize for it. There is nothing wrong with being weaker. It doesn’t mean we are inferior. We are still fearfully and wonderfully made for very specific purposes, just not to be the head of our husband. So, in what way am I weaker? Allow me to explain.
First of all, I am physically weaker. Relative to total body mass men are physically stronger than women. It’s been scientifically proven. Men have stronger bones, ligaments and tendons. Men have larger hearts, more lung volume, greater clotting factors and they even heal from wounds more quickly. I can say with certainty that I am no match for my husband or any man for that matter. My son has been able to subdue me since he was 14. The only thing I have greater than my husband are my thighs. Men were designed to be our protectors.
Gender also effects our decision making. Women tend to be more emotional than men. I’m not being condescending to woman. When you watch a very sad movie do you cry or does your husband? The truth is the truth. We are wired to feel in a way men don’t. It is part of our being. We can’t turn it off. Men take facts and data and make a decision. They are like a laser. You know what I’m talking about. Just try to talk to your husband while he’s watching T.V. or working on something. He can’t do both. Men are also able to take the emotion out of an issue and deal with it in a way woman can’t. That’s the reason my kids have given me the nickname “mama bear”. You mess with my family and I will tear you face off unless my husband gets to me first. Woman often talk too much. It may be in a perfectly just effort to fix things, but nonetheless it fuels flames that should die out. My husband can be objective in a way I can’t. I try to solve and fix everything. It is hard for me to be still and know that He is God.
God made my husband stronger then me and I am so grateful for it. There is something safe and comforting in knowing this. He protects me and would lay down his life for me just like Christ did for the church. He makes wise decisions, and I submit to them as instructed to in Ephesians chapter 5. We talk about everything respectfully and openly and then I trust his final decision. What I bring to the relationship is nurturing our kids, taking care of our home, being his encourager and help mate. That’s my job. It’s the same job that was given to Eve in Genesis chapter 2 and is referenced again in Proverbs 31. We complement each other in a way that only the creator could have designed. Weaker isn’t bad it’s just different. Silk is more delicate than denim. That doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. It is soft, beautiful, requires special care and is highly prized just like a woman, so celebrate who you are.
Now, not every man or every woman fits this profile. Things like our upbringing, trauma or sin can affect our emotions and behavior. If our behavior is at odds with scripture that doesn’t mean we disregard scripture. It means we adjust our lives. Try it. Be obedient to God’s word. It will change your life for the better. And men, if this blog seems foreign to what you see happening in your home take some serious time to contemplate if you are being the stronger partner? Are you leading? Are you loving your wife? Are you being all God has called you too? I am convinced if men lead as they should women will happily follow them anywhere.

Ministry, Personal

What is More Important Than Your Religious Beliefs?


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The staff and I read books together from time to time.  Last summer we read Albert Mohler’s book The Conviction to Lead.  One of the later chapters in the book is “The Leader’s Legacy.”  Yes, you guessed it.  It is a little morbid, thinking through who will lead after you and what convictions they will continue to embody.  It’s not exactly a knee slapping, hand clapping, yee-ha evoking chapter.  It’s more like facing the dark reality that leaders often fail to instill their convictions in the next generation of leaders.  Similar to parenting, we make sure everyone is properly dressed, educated, married and employed, but we don’t stop long enough to define the convictions, the nuances of character, that are the building blocks to being proper.  In the case of the church we face the hazard of teaching Biblical theology to people without developing the building blocks of Biblical character in them.

So, here are my pastoral convictions.  These are not theology and doctrine.  However, they are the building blocks of Christian character that I hope to instill in those who follow in my footsteps and more importantly, those who will one day make the footsteps.

 

  1. The authority of Scripture:

This is foundational.  There is no such thing as Christianity without the conviction that the sixty-six books, Genesis through Revelation, are our authoritative guide to knowing and serving the Christian God.  When we fail to submit to the authority of Scripture we end up comparing our opinion to God’s opinion.  Scripture is not God’s opinion that is in some way negotiable or debatable.  God has spoken.  His Word is true.  We can either submit to it or be judged by it.  We cannot subvert the authority of Scripture and assume to arrive at Biblical Christianity.   To be a Christian is to be a submissive follower of the instructions God has given us in the Bible.

 

  1. Jesus is the only way to salvation:

Churches who have abandoned their Biblical roots are finding nonbiblical ways to find god.  They will call it the Christian God, but that makes no sense.  If the recipe for good hot chocolate calls for two tablespoons of cocoa and a cup of hot water, but you use two tablespoons of coffee instead, you made coffee not hot chocolate!  John 14:6 is clear,  ”Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”    It is not up for debate.  There is no other way to right standing before God the Father other than faith in Christ Jesus.

 

  1. Christians should be characterized by love one for another rather than fighting.

I hear stereotypes of church people that are not at all flattering, but there is a degree of truth to them.  As a pastor, when a non-church goer describes their perception of church members as fighting with each other over unimportant things, it makes my heart sad.  If we can agree on the authority of Scripture and salvation through Jesus we are going to be able to get along just fine . . . unless, you just want to argue.  Sure, there are things we differ on that we can have lively discussions about.  However, at the point that one person is defending their position instead of both persons defending the Biblical position, it is a worthless argument and shouldn’t be happening between two siblings in Christ.  Before Paul was converted, he killed people who disagreed with him.  After his conversation he preached that we are unified in Christ Jesus, that there is one faith, one Body and one God.  The church should look less like Saul and more like Paul.

We must never lob theological grenades at each other.  We must stop defending denominational distinctives and start unifying around faith in Jesus.  The true church of God will humbly lay aside its differences for the purpose of loving one another and even loving those who are lost.  Loving one another and loving the those who are lost is the first evangelistic thing we do.  Which leads me to my next point.

 

  1. Living the Christian life full of joy is the second most evangelistic thing we do.

The world is watching long before they listen.  It’s human nature.  We are more perceptive of what we see in others than what we hear.  I’m currently preaching through the book of Philippians.  Several times Philippians refers to being filled with joy, rejoice and again I say rejoice!  It is as if Paul expects the Christian church to be deeply happy and visibly excited about the fact that they have the privilege of fellowshipping with Christ, sharing in His suffering, and will participate in His resurrection.  That’s a lot to be rejoicing about!  So, let’s try not to look like we’ve been baptized in pickle juice.  Let’s refrain from mourning Christianity and begin to celebrate Christianity.  Jesus did die, but He rose again and is alive in the believer.  I give you permission to show joy about Jesus being alive in you!

 

  1. Share your personal faith story happens third.

I am making an issue of the progression here.  We went through an era of evangelism that promoted simply telling your faith story and the gospel message and then expect that person to pray the sinner’s prayer and be saved.  The average unchurched person is smarter than they used to be.  They want to see the product before they purchase.  They need to see evidence of love and joy in your life.  Then they will listen to and believe your faith story.  Your faith story without love and joy in your life makes your gospel presentation difficult to believe.  Honor the process!  Love and joy first, then your story and the gospel.

 

  1. Point others toward Biblical morality in a genuine and caring way.

Listen carefully:  Biblical morality is a work of the Holy Spirit in a person.  You are not the Holy Spirit.  I have pastored long enough to know that in any church there are regular attenders who range from unsaved to very mature in Christ.  God is at work in each them in His way and at His speed.  I do what people to live in a Biblically moral way, but I can’t force that change.  I can model that change.  Pestering someone about their moral inadequacy very seldom motivates them to change.  Pointing them toward the counsel of Scripture, praying with them and modeling the instruction of Scripture gives them something to strive toward.  The Holy Spirit is the one transforming the person, we are just long for moral support!

 

  1. Genuine love is more powerful than being right.

There is something magical about genuine love.  Genuine love covers a multitude of sins and overcomes all fears.  When there is genuine love we’ll work together to uncover and overcome sin, whether it is your sin or my sin.  When there is genuine love there is no cause for me to fear your motives or for you to fear my motives.  The need to be right works just the opposite.  Being right polarizes people.  Please understand and recognize the difference between being right and identifying truth.   Being right wants you to become like me.  It is selfish and arrogant.  Identifying truth in God’s Word is a journey we can share together, we can walk together, we can talk together, we can share this adventure of faith together.  I believe with all my heart that as we put Christ first and genuinely love others we’ll all arrive at the “right” that God wants us to be.  There is little or no need for convincing.

 

After all the theology and doctrine, preaching and teaching, the church must portray the character of Christ Jesus.  We come to know Jesus with childlike faith and the Holy Spirit transforms us.  We don’t have to explain the intricacies of how it works, we simply believe that Jesus finishes the work He begins.