“Are you good at counting?”

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

I swear it’s part of my DNA. I didn’t ask  for it. I was addicted to it. I also know it’s not just me. You might be guilty of it too.  You may still do it. Counting.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

Believe me, I should be the last one talking about mathematics.  Ask Cammi. As an eighth grader, I think she’s surpassed my mathematical abilities. I’m both proud of her and embarrassed that I can’t remember my algebra.

But that’s not the counting I’m talking about.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

Like an umpire in baseball uses a “Ball Strike Counter,” we have a tendency to count every strike, every offense, every hurt..

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

We’ll say we forgive…but we don’t stop counting.  We’ll say we’ve let it go…but we don’t stop counting.  We profess to be Christ-followers…but we don’t stop counting.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

N.T. Wright says it best, “If you’re still counting how many times you’ve forgiven someone, you’re not really forgiving them at all, but simply postponing revenge.”  We feel it’s our right. We feel it’s our duty.  What we are really doing is stockpiling emotional weapons and ammunition like we are some form of “offense militia.”  We  thank the Lord for His forgiveness for our sins…but we keep counting.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

I don’t proclaim this as in easy issue. I’ve been hurt before.  I’ve been fractured by leaders.  I’ve been betrayed by friends.  My dreams have been stomped on by people I had respected.  I forgave…but I started counting.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

Around 2003, something changed.  I stopped counting.

1…

My ability to count ended because I caught some perspective.  Not mine.  My perspective is limited to what I know and see.  Many times it becomes my reality.  This revelation came from Romans 4. It says in The Message: “….the one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man: Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off, whose sins are wiped clean from the slate. Fortunate the person against whom the Lord does not keep score.” I thought I was good at forgiving people.  I probably boasted about my ability to forgive. Yet I still kept score.  My counting came to a crashing halt when I began to comprehend how often I act out in my emotions…how often I crossed the line with my anger…how often I trusted myself instead of the Lord.

Daily. Weekly

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….

YET “….the one who trusts God…without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man: Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off, whose sins are wiped clean from the slate. Fortunate the person against whom the Lord does not keep score.”

If Lord keeps score, he’s not forgiving. He postponing revenge.  “Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us.” He forgives. He stops counting.  How can I keep counting?  How can I stockpile offenses? “If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that’s why you’re worshiped.”

How often have you needed forgiveness?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5…

Today is your first step on a new journey of healing. Yes it is a journey.  It’s an every day decision. Let offenses go the way Christ let your offenses go. Trust Him. Lean on Him.  Stop hoarding the hurt.  Stop holding on.

Stop counting.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Hey @kalamazoofirst…”how did you get that car on the stage?”

Happy Monday! The Lions won so it’s a happier Monday for me.

That was the question that was buzzing yesterday at KFirst. Some have figured it out…some are still scratching their heads.

What an outstanding day yesterday at KFirst!  If you were not there, we had a packed day of ministry that makes it exciting be a part of an amazing church community.

Here are 5 things I want you to know about…

#1 – KFirst kicked off our series “Dust” yesterday.

We have taken to heart the focus of John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”  Jesus sees something in me: He thinks I can be like him. He is our rabbi/teacher and we are to choose to follow him.  We wrapped up with a TRUTH: Following Christ is a moment and a process, entrance and walkway, new life and new lifestyle.  If you missed the message, download it from iTunes or hit the website.

#2 – Lifegroups Expo is coming up THIS SUNDAY, September 16th.

It’s happening after church, outside under the “big top” tent. We’ll have food, games and Target giftcard giveaways. Come out to discover our new groups, meet our leaders and get more information on our all Lifegroups. For more info, contact the church office at (269)329-1977 or the KFirst Facebook.

#3 – Our Next Gen ministries had their fall kick off. 

  • Kidzone joined us for worship.  I love seeing the kids in service with us and having the families to sing together.  Don’t forget, they are dismissed while the offering is taken.  I can’t thank our kid’s ministry volunteers enough for the phenomenal job they are doing. Thank you for pouring into our kids on a weekly basis.  Ethan loves his BLAST classes and can’t wait to go every week.
  • Real had a great turnout last night.  Give their promo video a look. My daughter came home so pumped about what Jesus is doing in her youth group.   If you have students ages 6th grade to 12th grade, bring them on out.
  • theHub had their fall launch. Check out their promo video…better yet, show a young adult and invite them out to a life-changing venue. I’m so excited about Pastor Todd’s and Tara’s passion for our young adults.  If you have or are a young adults, get plugged in to theHub.

#4 – Annual Business Meeting is coming up September 26th.  Our trustee nominees will be presented in a handout at the information center and in the church office on Sunday. I’d ask that you intercede over this as we approach 3 trustee positions with prayerful hearts.  I think the nomination committee did a great job in giving us choice candidates to serve.

#5 – Tailgate Party is almost here.

September 23rd is going to be a great day as we celebrate our Annual State of the Church message and celebrate outside at our Tailgate Party.  Park your car on the west side of the building when you come Sunday morning and stuff your cooler full of food for your family.  Most people choose to wear their favorite team’s T-shirt/sweatshirts during the tailgate. I just ask for the MSU stuff to be toned down.  OSU paraphernalia will not be tolerated :)…not that I’m picky or anything.

Have great week.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

“Snoring can cause all sorts of marital trauma.”

Disclaimer: The title has nothing to do with Anne or myself as neither one of us snore.

Now that I’ve defused that potential bomb.

The title is a quote that came up on my twitter feed yesterday and made me both laugh and think a bit deeper about a subject that most people enjoy…

Sleep.

My affinity for the show M*A*S*H has me very familiar with the term “trauma.” In most episodes, the show depicts doctors assessing trauma during triage. Triage, simply said, is the process of determining the priority of patients’ based on the severity of their trauma. Today is a day to do a bit of “triage” to determine if we have caused undue trauma to our lives based upon our lack of proper rest. Trauma defined is:

  1. A deeply distressing or disturbing experience
  2. Emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may be associated with physical shock and sometimes leads to long-term neurosis
  3. Physical injury

Looking back at the original tweet, I might reword it. I would say, “Losing rest will cause all sorts of trauma.” Without rest, you, your family, your walk with God, are all susceptible to trauma (distress, shock, and injury). Marriages go through trauma because couples have no rest as individuals and, perhaps more importantly, have rest as a couple. People suffer trauma because their mindset says rest = laziness or weakness.

In my opinion (which I believe is in alignment with the Lord’s opinion) the subject of rest is completely underestimated and overlooked. We forget, rest was a part of creation.

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Gen. 2:2-3

Rest (coupled with worship) was so vital, God put it in the ten commandments, right along with don’t murder or commit adultery. In fact, a closer look at scripture shows God spent more time (96 words!) on the importance of obeying his command to REST than on any of the other 10 Commandments! For a workaholic like me…that’s hard to wrap my mind around.

We live in a culture which has fooled us into believing that excess is better and busyness is a virtue. We brag about being able to multitask so that more can be accomplished. Far too many people in our world experience spiritual, emotional, and physical trauma because they are overcommitted and fatigued. Hall of Fame NFL coach Vince Lombardi said it best, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

I don’t believe that God wants us to be one step from a nervous breakdown, always on the edge of exhaustion. What I see is a lack of rest is really lack of trust. Maybe we think if we lay down or have down time, things will fall apart because EVERYTHING in life hinges upon US.

The ten commandments tell us to share in God’s rest; to rest ourselves in honor of His perfect creation and His absolute control. Genesis 2, God rests because nothing more needs to be done. We rest because we honor a God who has finished all of it. If He rests, so can we. His control guarantees that the world will not fly apart if we take a day off. In other words, resting, I acknowledge my trust in His control. Rest is more than a mental construct. Rest is a behavioral, practical, visible sign that I trust Him.

If our frenzied lives cannot set aside for rest, what does that say about our trust in the one we claim to worship? Does it mean that we still subtly need to take charge? Does it mean that we dishonor Christ when we think we and our activities are so important that we cannot rest? And what does it say about a religious attitude that ignores this visible sign of trust in God? What does it say to the world when we cannot let go for fear that something won’t get done? Does that reveal the kingdom of God or the kingdom of us?

What’s the answer? There are no easy formulas for success, but there are some suggestions that I want you to think about today:

1. Cut back and do less. Some trauma is so self-inflicted. If this means making less money, cutting back on your social obligations, or even taking a night off from activities, then do whatever it takes to not be so overcommitted and fatigued. I once was told, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”

2. Take naps.

Thomas Edison napping in his lab

Dad taught me the art of the “power nap.” Ask Anne, between work and an evening activity, I’ll pop my ear buds in and take a 10-15 minute nap to rejuvenate me for the night’s events. In fact, do some research and you’ll find that there are historical figures that perfected a life of napping (see above pic). A friend of mine posted a fascinating article by Michael Hyatt on 5 reasons you should nap.

3. Personal Rest. This is different from sleep. If I was preaching I would say TRUTH: Rest should be a nonnegotiable time in everyone’s life. When we rest we get a proper perspective on our life. When we rest we can reflect on what has taken place in our life during the week. Don’t cause undo trauma because you haven’t taken care of yourself. Does your life have control of you, or do you have control of your life? Rest and reflection will help you answer that important question.

4. Marital Rest. You and your spouse NEED a break away from the kids and life. Go on a date. Go for a walk. Meet for coffee. Anne and I for a number of years would put the kids to bed at 8 and sit in bed and watch shows together. We protected that time together. I have counseled far too many couples that struggle with marital trauma at 20+ years of marriage not knowing the person they married. You need frequent rest times together!!! Like #3, this is a nonnegotiable in everyone’s marriage.

I believe that “rest” is stewardship over this life that is a gift from the Lord. We take care of ourselves by resting and I believe that rest is honoring the Lord. It shows a trust in Him.

That’s all I have for today. Get some rest. Show the Lord you trust him by releasing yourself from business. Like me, maybe you need to repent from not properly resting.

Psalm 116:7 I said to myself, “Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings…”

Thanks for letting me ramble…

6 items I want @kalamazoofirst to know on Labor Day

Happy Labor Day KFirst!

There a few things I would love to share with you today…

#1 – What an awesome day at KFirst yesterday morning.  Pastor Matt brought a great word “Connect the Dots.”  If you missed it, check out the KFirst Website or download it in iTunes in the next few days. PMatt shared his testimony and challenged  us with a TRUTH: “The next generation will know Jesus because of people who chose to obey Him today”  I found myself reminiscing of those people in my life that have influenced me and are the “dots” in my life story.  It was an amazing site to see our students and school faculty come forward for prayer as they are challenged to live out another TRUTH: “How you live your life today has the potential to change someone’s life tomorrow”  Awesome job Matt!

#2 – Tomorrow is, officially, the day where all of our children will be school.

  • Pray over their transition into a new school year, a new schedule, and for some, a new school surrounding.
  • Pray over their connections to peers and faculty.
  • Pray for protection for them.
  • Pray for the faculty and administrators (teachers, principals, custodians, bus drivers, etc).
  • Most of all, pray over outreach possibilities your children will have as they live out Christ in the one of the greatest mission fields in the world.

#3 – Today is Labor Day. Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement. It is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.  Oddly enough, Labor Day is seen as a day of rest.  Find some time today find some rest.  But also find a way to invest in your marriage, family, and/or friendships.  Have a BBQ, invite some friends over, and celebrate friendship.

#4 – This is a the week we launch “Dust.” As I stated this past Monday, this series has been developing in my heart for quite a few months.  The old saying, “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.” Reason being, years ago, disciples who closely followed their rabbis along sandy, dirty roads would get covered, quite literally, with the dust of their rabbi.  Join us on this journey as we launch a new series that explores our endeavor to follow Jesus, our teacher/rabbi.  I’m so excited to travel this journey with you.

#5 – DON’T MISS WEDNESDAY!!!

Night of Worship and Prayer is this Wednesday at 6:45p.m. It’s going to be a great time of soaking in the Lord’s presence as we intercede over our school year.

#6 –Pastor’s Prayer has changed to Wednesday at 9:30 JUST FOR SEPTEMBER.  I can’t wait to connect with the prayer team and launch into the fall.

In case you missed our video announcements, here you go.

That’s it for this Monday…I love serving KFirst and cannot WAIT for this Sunday.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

“Get some espresso and wake up.”

Cammi and Ethan

About Midnight, I was finally ready to go to sleep.

Then it happened. (dramatic pause)

An event that is all too familiar for parents. From the moment our children are born, an event takes place, frequently, that will interrupt sleep and delay your planned slumber for at least 20 minutes wondering if “the event” will happen again. It’s called: the bad dream.

Ethan came running into the room. It was apparent that he was not yet awake. He just kept saying, “Dad, help me…I’m gonna steal.” I’ll admit, I was a little confused. My reaction: I started laughing. He as babbling mostly unintelligible words and rubbing his eyes. I walked him back down to his room and laid him in his bed, yes, still mumbling about how he was going to steal. Some bad dream woke him up and sent him running to the safest place he knew. He has a definite fear of them. In fact, when we pray, he has me pray EVERY night for “no dreams.” I don’t know what’s on his mind that causes his dreams but he would rather not dream at all than, in his mind, risk a possible nightmare.

Cammi is a bit different. The battle in her mind takes place before she sleeps. For almost 13 years, she has been known to get out of bed before falling asleep complaining about “bad thoughts.” She is much like her dad. In the stillness of the night, her mind begins to ponder things lost in the business of the day. The mind gets consumed. The mind takes her places.

Both children prove an amazing point: The Mind is a powerful thing.

Proverbs 4:23 says “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (NLT) When I look at a parallel bible, every translation says “Guard your heart…” I looked up the meaning of this word and it says “inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding. To get some deeper understanding of the context, the Hebrew way of thinking says that the heart was not the seat of emotion. The seat of emotion was your intestines or in the KJV “bowels.” (That will make for weird Valentines cards.) It seems to me that this scripture is, more so, charging us to guard that part of us we carrying our will, fortitude, and understanding. We are to guard, protect, and watch over our minds. This is consistent with the translation of the word “repentance” when Paul uses it in Romans. Paul uses a word that we associate with our heart (giving our heart to Jesus, pouring out our heart to the Lord, etc). The word is really associated with our mind. It means, literally, to think differently afterwords. When we repent, we are asking for a change of, not our hearts, but our thinking. God knows that IF a person truly believes differently, then he will feel differently and then he will behave differently.

We are to protect that which, according to Proverbs 4:23, “determines the course of your life.”

For example:

My interpretation impacts my reaction – It’s not what happens to me that matters as much as how I choose to see it. That is tough for me. The way I react will determine whether the circumstance makes me better or bitter. I can view everything as an obstacle or an opportunity for growth. I can stay being a victim or a victor.

My beliefs impact my conduct – We always act according to our beliefs, even when those ideas are false. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are operating on true information! Your convictions about yourself, about life, and about God influence your conduct.

My self-criticism influences my self-esteem – (This may be my biggest battle) We constantly talk to ourselves. Do you run yourself down with your self-talk? Or, in an effort to feel better about what you think, do you tear down others! Stop doing that: “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

I know what my kids watch, read, or listen to affect what they think AND what they dream. It will determine their course…and their sleep.

It’s time to wake up!!!

Guard your mind! Get control of it!!!

Get the Word inside of ya.

Get your minds on the Lord’s perspective.

Why? If you believe different, you will feel different, and you will behave different. And when do you that, you will “determine the course of your life.” If you find yourself confused…if you find yourself with bad thoughts…if you find yourself with no vision…if you find yourself with “bad dreams”…

Follow Ethan’s lead.

Run to the safest place you know. Proverbs 18:10

(In case you needed some inspiration for waking up…my new favorite band All Sons and Daughters)

That’s all I have for today.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

5 Things I want @Kalamazoofirst to know…

Happy Monday KFirst!

There a few things I would love to share with you today…

#1 – What a great morning yesterday!!!  It’s an incredible sight to see people with  “brazen tenacity” praying at the altar.  Some stood.  Some were on their face.  Some knelt in tears. We all focused on who the Lord is and brought that perspective into our prayer life. As one of our TRUTHS said, “The greatest barrier during prayer is not the words or the liturgy but the concept of God.” Find some time this week to pause life and spend time with the Lord.  Open up your Bible and let the Word speak into you.  A TRUTH we didn’t share yesterday (skipped over it): “The bible is primarily about someone to know, not something to do.”  Get to know the Lord better this week.  The only way to foster relationship is to spend time developing it.

#2 – We closed our series “Parables.”  I cannot wait to launch “Dust” in September.   This series has been developing in my heart for quite a few months.  There is an old saying, “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.” Reason being, years ago, disciples who closely followed their rabbis along sandy, dirty roads would get covered, quite literally, with the dust of their rabbi.  Join us on this journey as we launch a new series that explores our endeavor to follow Jesus, our teacher/rabbi.  I’m so excited to travel this journey with you.

#3 – We’ve announced our renovation project of the new “Ministry Center.  Our renovation does more than provide ministry for the our next generations (in my opinion, that would be enough), but it will open up more opportunities for ministry to the whole church. It’s been fun to hear kids and parents are excited about what is in store.  I celebrate the Lord’s provision for the vision He has given KFirst.

KFirst Ministry Center

#4 – Again, this is a great time to invite people to church.  There is something about the beginning of the school year where people are looking to start a new pattern of life. It’s a time of new beginnings. What a great time to be living parables…telling the story of Christ with our lives. We had a great Guest Reception yesterday after service.  It’s so exciting to meet new families and hear how the Lord is working in their lives. Thanks to Kfirst for living out the love of Christ on Sunday mornings and making them feel welcome.

Look for moments this week to connect with those in your neighborhood and look for way to invite them out.   

#5 – Some private schools have started today.  Some of your kids won’t go back till after Labor Day.  Remember to pray over all of our kids this week.  Remember to pray over those who work diligently in our schools (teachers, admin, janitors, bus drivers, etc.).  As I said last week, look for a way to connect with your kids during this week.  Give them one last great memory of the summer before they head back to school. Back To School Sunday is this week and it’s gonna be awesome.  You don’t want to miss it.

That’s it for this Monday…I love serving KFirst and cannot WAIT for this Sunday.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Like a boss

These three words haunt my home.

“…like a boss”

Why? Because my 9-year-old son attaches these words to everything he does.

  • “I just played Minecraft…like a boss”
  • “I just dominated dad in Halo…like a boss”
  • “I’m gonna go shoot my BB gun…like a boss”
  • (after shooting a target) “you see that dad…like a boss”
  • He now tweets #likeaboss @ethanbarringer

I’m sure he’d stop saying it if I would simply stop laughing every time he says it. It’s entertaining to me.  It’s annoying to both his mom and sister.  But this morning, “like a boss” got me thinking about one word: authority.

We live out daily that which has authority over our lives.  Our demeanor, attitudes, habits etc. all make “bullhorn” statements about who, or what, has the most influence in our lives.  Every day is a decision.  Joshua 24:15 challenges Israel, “But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve.”  I used to approach that as a one-time choice to live a journey of following the Lord.  It’s as if once the choice was made and, because of the one choice, everything just falls into place. Even though I made that decision so long ago, I’ve come to the realization that the longer I follow Christ I realize it’s not a once time choice.  It is a daily choice.  And daily I live out a life that reveals His authority.

TODAY I chose to trust Jesus with everything.

TODAY I chose to live out Jesus everywhere.

TODAY I choose to surrender “with all that is within me (Ps. 103:1)” entirely.

Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

Cast off comes from two Greek words

  • apo meaning “from”
  • tithemi meaning “to put in place”.
  • Literally, the word means to remove from its place.

We are challenged to WAKE UP! The day is at hand. The night is gone.  Get up and throw off those old works and connections to the darkness that infected you.  They were once statements of declared authority. Get rid of them.

It is obvious when I have cut the grass.  I am dirty.  I am sweaty. I am covered in dust. My shoes are filled with clippings, and, according to Anne, I stink. Everything about me, including my smell, screams “Dave just cut the grass.” Once I shower, I don’t put the “grass cutting” clothes on. I put them away (sometimes I miss the hamper). I’m clean and I don’t want my connection to those filthy garments on me anymore.

Just like putting on clean clothes after a shower.  Put away that which has been soiled and infected.  In Christ you are now healed.  Now you are clean.  Those old authorities carry a disease that want to take you down.  As the Greek word says, remove them from their place….CAST THEM OFF!!!! Do it now, today, for yourself.  Put on something new and alive.  Put on Christ. Throw off the old dead stuff and get going.  It’s up to you!

As a teenager, I lived for a number of years thinking I could choose Jesus as my authority while not living it out.  It turned out to be simple “lip service.” I wasn’t living out what my words were saying. What will you choose to do with those “things” that want to approach you “like a boss”? God can cast away your guilt.  In fact, He is the only one who can do that.  You must determine what to do with the things that wrestle for your every attention.  They want back in.  They are hungry for authority.  You are entirely free to let them go since they no longer hold you with the power of shame and guilt.  But the decision is yours.

You are not a child who needs to be dressed and undressed.

You are a citizen of the Kingdom.

You have the authority and the power in Christ of removing what once held you captive.

God has opened the jail door but YOU must walk out.

Approach today different.  Today is the day, a new day to choose Christ.  Today is the day let Jesus in your life…like a boss.

Thanks for letting me ramble…like a boss.