Romantically Challenged Support Group, Part 1

Digital Art By mrm

We just concluded our first ever Couples’ Conference at our church. For months, I excitedly prayed and planned for God to bless. After all the labor, the conference began with a fabulous banquet. The meal rivaled any restaurant experience I’ve had before! Then the spiritual meal was served up.

As one of my mentors, Rick Houk, began to speak, the Lord convicted my heart of areas in my marriage that needed His help. Because of my training and current profession (which is my calling), it’s easy to default to what we learn by proxy rather than on purpose. Frankly, many preachers can talk a good game when it comes to marriage, and that’s exactly the problem – for many it’s a game!  Continue reading

Good Habits to Develop – Part 4, Have a Servant’s Heart

The Great Rescue - Landscape

We live in a “dog-eat-dog” society. Everyone is looking for “us four and no more.” It’s about me, myself, and I. Put society’s philosophy together with our sinful nature and the it’s a surefire recipe for a selfish lifestyle. And people seem to be okay with it! Continue reading

Good Habits to Develop – Part 3, “Praise God and Avoid the Critic”

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Over the past couple of weeks, I have shared with you the good habits that began while I was in college. I’m striving to maintain these habits today because I believe they are not only helpful, but necessary in ministry and life. I have seen them stand the test in the lives of spiritual leaders who continue to impact the world for Christ today.  Continue reading

After the Fire

DeerfieldWarehouseFire

 

I remember as a boy watching my friend’s house on fire. Along with grown men, we boys went into the house trying to salvage what we could. Finally, the fire raged so hot that no one else could get close. The fire burned everything else!

For days, I remembered, smelling smoke. My eyes were still irritated from the running back into the house. We often walked back to the house to see if there was anything else that survived the blaze. That day, my friend’s life changed.  Continue reading

HomeBuilders Class’ 11th Anniversary

Eleven years ago, I stood before three married couples and my wife to teach the first ever HomeBuilders Couples class at Desert Gateway Baptist Church. I was so nervous! My hands were shaking. Every part of my body was sweating, even parts I didn’t know I had. My voice was quivering. I don’t remember much what I said during that first class though I remember the lesson. All I remember was this – when I was done I told myself, “I’m glad that’s over.”  Continue reading

Getting Things Done

One of the dangers of 21st century ministry, in my opinion, is the vast amount of work before us. Emails, paperwork, visits, sermon preparation,  leadership tasks are all important and necessary aspects of serving the Lord today. But have you mindlessly accomplished things before? If you’re honest, you would have to say, “Yes.” In the busy, fast-paced, “to do list” type of society we live in, it is extremely easy to live to simply “get things done.” Our lives become a checklist. At the end of the day, we collapse in our beds, thankful to get things done. But the question is, did you really accomplish anything?

Allow me to go ahead and get this out of the way, I am not talking about soul winning, sermon preparation, sending encouraging emails and texts as wastes of time. They are necessary, as we’ve already stated. But I am afraid that sometimes God has something so much more for me if I allow my mind and heart to engage the duty. Let me give you a personal example (and please don’t crucify me for this).

One of my duties at our church is to manage our overall ministry calendar. With over 30 ministries (I know that doesn’t seem like a lot… until you plug in all their dates on a calendar!) it’s a constant challenge to find everyone the time they request to host activities, avoid conflicts, and so forth. Inevitably someone feels left out or overwhelmed, depending on what end of the ministry stick you’re holding. To track everyone’s dates, I have an iPhone (thank you, Steve Jobs- not). I have everyone’s calendar synced to mine so I can see all the dates. Does that make me responsible or just the patsy?

Just kidding. But that said, my calendar is filled. Reminders pop up often, whether it’s a ministry I’m involved in or not. Add to that our personal calendar and I’m tired just thinking about it. I often drag myself through the calendar, hoping to catch my breath from time to time. Those breath-catching times – my family time and dates with my girls!

But here’s what happens, I go on a date and sometimes I treat it as another one of the things I’m trying to get done. I’m waiting to cross it off my list. It’s a badge of “schedule fulfillment.” All the while I haven’t maximized my time with my wife and/or my daughter. Why? Because I’m always looking at what’s next, what else needs to be done.

I purchased a book that really convicted me (I’ll share the title when I’m done reading it, so stay tuned). It was about the time I should spend with my daughter. In the book were ideas on how to connect with her on a spiritual, emotional (that’ll be tough), social, and mental level. It outlined passages of Scriptures to read before the date, how to prepare for it, and what should be accomplished through it. I don’t want to hear about Anabelle’s day on Facebook or Twitter. I want her to tell me. I want to connect with her because my love for her should be her reference point for God’s love. My date nights were not simply things that needed to get done and checked off the list. There’s more at stake!

How are you approaching life? Are you like me? Do you sometimes get in a “gotta get things done” mode? I’m afraid I’ve missed out when I did that. I prayed the other night that God would help me to avoid that mentality. Life is too precious, my family is too important, and my ministry deserves better. Getting things done is good but don’t forget for Whom and why you need to get things done in the first place.

Finishing a Proverb

 

I’ve been spending the last few months preparing for my college class this fall. I have the privilege of teaching the book of Proverbs at Desert Baptist Bible College and I am excited to dive into this rich portion of the Scriptures.

I have been encouraged to read a Proverb a day since I got saved almost two decades ago and I am amazed at what God continues to teach me each day. In my preparation, I have scoured resources to find commentaries, illustrations, anecdotes, and various stories that would help me communicate the richness and depth of this book. Here’s one article that made me laugh and think:

A first grade teacher collected well-known proverbs. She gave each child in her class the first half of a proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb. Their insight may surprise you.

Better to be safe than … punch a 5th grader.

Strike while the … bug is close.

It’s always darkest before … Daylight Savings Time.

Never underestimate the power of … termites.

You can lead a horse to water but … how?

Don’t bite the hand that … looks dirty.

No news is … impossible.

A miss is as good as a … Mr.

You can’t teach an old dog new … math.

If you lie down with dogs, you’ll … stink in the morning.

The pen is mightier than the … pigs.

An idle mind is … the best way to relax.

Where there’s smoke there’s … pollution.

Happy is the bride who … gets all the presents.

A penny saved is … not much.

Two’s company, three’s … the Musketeers.

Don’t put off till tomorrow what … you put on to go to bed.

Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and … you have to blow your nose.

I am afraid that at that age, I would have responded perhaps the same way. But that’s when I began to think:

If God wrote my life as a Proverb, how would it end?

Though God is omniscient, omnipotent (all-knowing and all-powerful, respectively), and sovereign, He still gives us a free will. He still allows us to make choices that can enrich our lives our ruin it. So in a way, what these first graders wrote is indicative of what’s really happening now.

God has given us life. He began our “proverb” but it’s up to us to finish it. Of course, our Saviour is always willing to help, but we have to ask, trust, and obey. My prayer is that my proverb will match the ending God desires for my life.