Expecting

Let me begin by saying that, to the best of my knowledge, my wife and I are not expecting another child. I’m sure some of you are wondering if we are ever going to stop😆. Anyway…

I’m sitting here on my lunch break thinking about the new year. In my last post, I stated that I believe 2019 will be a game changer. I am expecting something. Do I have a clue at this point what it will be? No. I have no way of forecasting anything, but I believe that God is ushering me into another season that will be built upon the past as its foundation.

Many people want to move into a new year while forgetting about the past. The past is what makes us. Pay close attention. I’m not saying that your past has to dictate your future. I am saying that the lessons of the past are a stepping stone to your future. Don’t miss the lessons!

I have spent parts of my life trying to block certain things from my mind. It doesn’t work. It always lifts its ugly head. At one time, I would have chosen for a redo. I would want to change so many things, but I must live in the reality that I cannot. I must choose to learn from the lessons of a failed marriage, ministry hurts, and life’s bumps in the road.

Go into 2019 with expectation. But don’t expect the past to go away. Expect that God will fulfill His promises in making crooked paths straight and using the difficulties of life as a testament to His faithfulness.

God bless each of you in this new year!

2018 In Review

What can I say about 2018? This is probably, by far, the weirdest year I have had yet. I began the year as a pastor of a church plant, wondering if it was headed anywhere. Within weeks, I saw some promise. We went through ups and downs, and God made it abundantly clear in September that I was no longer meant to be there. I immediately unplugged. Let’s jump back for now.

The month of May brought a special addition. Our little boy was born. He has brought so much joy.

The Summer was depressing. The church hit a slump, another church made a proposal, and I preached for the first time with someone interrupting me 5 minutes into the message and turning the power off. I have no words to describe the craziness of the situation.

The Fall provided some predictability. I always tend to get more weddings, funerals, and other preaching opportunities during the Fall. I enjoy that (not the funerals necessarily but the opportunity to minister to families).

Now, we are just days into the Winter. I am ready for 2019. I’m believing it will be a game changer. I don’t want the same old thing I’ve been experiencing. It’s time for change.

I have some goals I haven’t verbalized to anyone. Part of me wants to keep it between me and God and then say later, “Look what God did!” I think I’ll do that. Here’s to a forthcoming report of God turning things around for His glory.

And Just Like That…

I’m always a bit melancholy when December 26 comes around. We spend months building up to Christmas, and then BAM! The plug is pulled, and everything goes back to normal. The radio station play what they played before, and people act like nothing ever happened.

I find that to be true with people. They “encounter Christmas” in the sense that they say they are saved or born again. They go through a big deal and may even get baptized, but nothing changes. Everything goes back to normal after they have been “saved”. The Bible says that we are new creations that live a new life when we are born again. I know that Christ changed my life and gave me a purpose and destiny I did not have without Him.

Yes, Christmas is over in the sense that the festivities are done. The reality of Christmas still remains. What happened that first Christmas Day changed my life. Has it changed yours?

Praising Through the Pain

Anyone who has read my blogs for a while knows I really have a heart for the hurting. Been there and done that. Because I have seen quite a few social media posts on the subject, I will address the subject of praising through the pain.

This was something I learned when anxiety and depression hit my life hard in 2012. My worship became much more genuine. I began to look at others through a different lens. That continued as I went into my first pastorate and then through my separation and divorce. When I was unemployed and felt that I lost it all, I knew the One thing remaining was my relationship with Christ. I chose to praise Him through the pain. That does not mean that I was perfect through it. I had my lows and moments when I literally screamed at God, trying to figure out why I had to endure that season and its repercussions. Somehow, it always led back to praise. With hands lifted and tears rolling down my face, I would sing and recall Scripture and truth that would help me persevere.

This song I would like to share is one that helped me through this dark season. It is a song written and sung by Don Moen. Don is not the modern showman that you will find in modern worship music, but he was a pioneer who paved the way for worship to be more free and less restricted. His song “I Will Praise” resonated with me, and I trust it will with you. I know it’s hard, but you will begin to feel deliverance on the way if you could but just muster up a little praise. Let this song minister to you.

Avoiding Hurt

I have noticed a horrible trend in my life over the last few years. When life came crashing down in 2013, I began something very unhealthy. I began to seek opportunities and people that I thought would bring little to no hurt into my life. I was done with the pain of backstabbers and toxic ministry situations. May I give you a revelation – you CAN’T escape it!!! Pain is everywhere. People can be mean (intentionally or unintentionally). My efforts to protect myself have been in vain. I have experienced ministry pains since then, and I am still re-evaluating this next season of ministry.

I know I’m not the only one who is in a battle to protect yourself. You have experienced heartbreak after heartbreak, and you have gone to the extreme where you have built iron walls and no one is allowed to enter. I challenge you to avoid that at all cost. The iron you use can quickly be brought down, and you will find yourself with the same pain.

Although it is not God’s perfect will for people to be hateful, He warned us. He also wants to heal us through that. Allow Him to be the balm you need to soothe the painful places in your life. You can’t avoid the hurt, but you do have a God who stands ready to heal you and make you stronger. He will use your scars as a testimony if you will allow Him.

Before the Day

Every time my Dad takes the train here, it is scheduled for arrival at 5:50 am. That means that I have to wake up and get ready a bit earlier than normal. So, that’s what I did. However, I was in and out of sleep for the last few hours. He texted me a little after 5:00 and said there was a delay. It is now going to be a bit more of a delay than anticipated.

I decided to go ahead and get partially ready and enjoy the quietness of the house. When you have 4 kids in the house regularly and 7 when they’re all together, you cherish silence. I am reminded why the writers in Scripture and preachers of years past wrote about rising early to pray and be with God. There are no distractions. Not many people are contributing to social media. It’s peaceful.

There is a song that impacted my heart several years ago. We do not hear much from this group anymore, but they were very much a part of early contemporary Christian music. The group is NewSong, and the song is “Before the Day”. Let the words minister to you.

The Greatest Christmas Gift You Could Give

Most people would agree that the greatest Christmas gift that God could have ever given us is His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The baby in the manger was the King of glory. He was the Lamb of God who had come to take away the sin of the world. He extends the gift to all who will receive.

What can we give in return? Our life. He gave us breath, and He gave us His life. When we give Him our life, we get so much in return. The beautiful thing is that we do not selfishly want when we become a true follower of Christ. He gives us a giving heart. Our desires begin to align with His.

This Christmas, give God the gift of yourself if Jesus is not your Lord and Savior. What do you have to lose? Eternity!

Another 6-Year Mark

Six years ago today, I stood behind the pulpit and preached my first sermon at my first pastorate. I was 32 and full of enthusiasm. Little did I know that I would only serve there for 11 months, but I am thankful for those who prayed for me, supported me, and followed my leadership. So many things came crashing down during that time, and quite a few were there for me after I resigned.

I want to say to my church-attending readers to love your pastor. You might say that your pastor is unlovable. In that case, pray for your pastor. Many pastors move miles away from family and friends to give their life for the sake of the gospel. You may be the only family they have for Christmas. Don’t let them be alone! Let them be a part of your family this Christmas.

Christmas Pain

So many of us are in over our heads with holiday festivities…buying gifts, attending parties, getting ready for the big day. Others are experiencing the opposite.

In December 2013, I was the guy experiencing the opposite. My ex-wife and I had just separated, and I got to “borrow” the kids until the middle of Christmas Day. I was in a place where I had little emotional support, and I was alone on Christmas night for the first time in my life at the age of 33. Watch a Hallmark movie? No way! They had happy endings. My life sucked at the time. I lived in a church-owned house, was no longer the pastor, and I needed to pack so I could be out within the next week and a half. I had no one to help.

Five years later, I am doing so much better. Although I am doing alright, I am keenly aware that many are where I was in 2013 – depressed and feeling like life is over. If you are not there, reach out to someone who is. You don’t know what a phone call, visit, or some kind gesture will do. For me, it meant the world. Shine some light in a dark place this Christmas!

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