My New Book “Mosaic Marriage” Available in 3 Formats!

In Mosaic Marriage, I offer a collection of memoirs and thoughts about marriage and relationships, some of them printed from my blog. I share my ideas about building a strong marriage using personal anecdotes and many Biblical examples to provide a guide for those seeking insight and wisdom about their marital relationship. Each chapter provides a thought for a day and a challenge to work on.

There is nothing perfect about marriage; it is full of flaws and issues. But when it’s put together in a covenant with God, a beautiful picture comes into focus. Mosaic Marriage serves to assist, encourage, and build up marriages and soon-to-be marriages. It’s the guide to help bring broken pieces into one complete marriage.

For your copy in soft, hard, or “e” format, click on the image link below:

Pastors and Pastor’s Wives: 5 Reason to Change Armour

One of the biggest challenges I’ve found in pastoral ministry, has been the “hand-me-downs.”  These, quite simply, are church and pastoral expectations formed by previous experiences, both good and bad, that get handed down or passed onto a new pastor whether he/she like it or not.  These ideas are filled with comparisons and assumption, hope and doubt, excitement as well as apprehension.

Hand-me-downs are common in the ministry. And if they’re not handled correctly,  they have been known to crush ministers and their spouses of every type. It makes me think of the pressure David felt to step forward but wearing someone else’s armor.

Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. 1 Samuel 17:38-39

David’s response is simple:

“I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off… 1 Samuel 17:39

Please understand: This isn’t a “boo-hoo” blog. We’ve got far too many diva ministers living the victim-pastor role.  This blog is a note of encouragement and help in navigating through the pressure of wearing “Saul’s armor”: Those hand-me-down expectations to be something or someone beside whom God has called you to be.

Currently, I am the 15th Lead pastor in our church’s 84 year history. I have followed 14 absolute legends.  In the words of Sir Isaac Newton,

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.

But along with every position comes a full “closet.”  That storage space is filled with the pastoral perceptions, responsibilities, and production developed from previous leadership.  It would be naive to not recognize within that wardrobe would also be failings, shortcomings, and disappointments. Pastors normally make one of two mistakes: He/she either chooses to wear the weight of that armor, or closes the door ignoring what is there.

What do you do? Do you quit and church plant? (NOTE: Most church planters will tell you that they may not have much “history” to their church but the people who show up do have past church experience). Do you suck it up, fall in line, and be who people expect you to be?

I want to encourage you to be YOU. I want you to see that God called you

I fell in love with this church in the winter of 2008…issues and all.
In the spring of 2009, Kfirst took a chance on this pastor…issues and all.

And I wanted to give you a few thoughts I’ve learned about stepping forward without having to wear someone else’s armor: 

1 – The past is great to visit; it’s a miserable place to live. So much time and energy is spent on expectations and identities connected to former ministers and/or ministries who may or may not have been very successful (whatever ministry success is defined as).  You are the man/woman God sent to that church. You are not the previous pastor nor any of the others before him/her. BE YOU! I have no problem honoring people and moments in our church and/or fellowship.  I will not idolize them which means the church cannot be about them. Part of pastoring is navigating through the past so that the church community no longer lives in the past.  Why? I believe what God is doing NOW is greater than what was done BEFORE.

Your history can be a baton to your ministry without being an anchor keeping you from moving forward.

2 – Get busy living or get busy dying (one of my fav quotes from Shawshank Redemption). There is a necessity for all of us individually, as well as collectively, to experience change. It isn’t easy when people are expecting you to wear the role they have developed for you.  That armor was forged from their own experiences and ideas. I guess that type of armor would be a bit easier to put on and wear if EVERYONE had the exact same expectations.  But even then, that armor wasn’t made for me.  It belonged to someone else.

I’m much slower with change than people perceive. Usually I’ll talk and dream with staff about it for a while before it’s done.  Change is the natural result of discipleship.  To refuse to change, is the stifle discipleship.  And discipleship is life and vitality.  And both you and your congregation need it.  

There’s a difference between “having church” and “being the Church.” And being the church means discipleship. And whether you like it or not, discipleship means change from the inside out. We see that God created seasons to facilitate a healthy earth.  Why shouldn’t we approach it the same?

Listening to their heart (hurts and all) may or may not mean you need to do what is expected. Listening to them does mean you look into the issues/expectations for deeper issues so that you can lead people toward health.  You can go insane trying to tailor make your ministry to every expectation.  But do your best to do position the church for health and not preference.

3 – Fear isn’t there to energize you; It depletes you. You cannot pastor out of fear.  Fear makes you wear the comfortable look and feel of someone else’s expectations. You’ve got to pastor out of conviction. And that is easier said than done.  Conviction positions us to the leading of the Holy Spirit and, normally, that takes us out of our comfort zone.

I want to give you a tremendous piece of advice a mentor (Ron Ruch) in my life gave me.  From his decades of experience, he spoke 6 healing words: 

“I give you permission to fail.”

Those six words have put a fearlessness into me.  NOTE: fearlessness doesn’t mean reckless. It doesn’t mean I don’t plan nor do things without excellence.  But it does mean I need to move fearlessly forward while carrying a heart for the Kingdom. People may not always understand my decisions or catch the vision behind them. But I pray people will know my heart.  My heart is for the Kingdom.  I want Jesus to shine.  Preferences drive fear. Grumbling drives fear. Guilt drives fear.  But God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear, “but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Walk with Holy Spirit conviction and be fearless.

4 – Build your ministry with relationships and not titles. The old saying by Theodore Roosevelt goes, 

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”

I cannot count how many meals and coffees I have a year with people from our community.  Why that much investment in food and beverages? Relationships.  Being relational helps create context for what you do and what you say. But until you develop a consistent history (I hear it takes 7 years of it) of relationship building as a pastor, people will see you in light of previous pastors. Until there’s relationship, they will respond to you in light of who previously pastored them. How do you shake loose of the identity of those that have preceded you? One cup of coffee at a time.  One meal at a time.  It might seem slow, but it’s deep seeded connection that builds a healthy congregation.

5 – Relinquish what wasn’t yours to begin with. Whether we are talking about power or people, pastors and parishioners need to loosen their tight-fisted grip. Two thoughts: First, There are those that will put pressure upon you to do everything within the church. The expectation is for you to wear every hat in the church. Second, there are those pastors who put the pressure upon themselves to do and be everything.  

My advice is simply: delegation and release.  Delegate responsibilities.  Release superfluous things that claim resources and time that are not the current vision of the church. Empower others to do ministry. If someone wants to leave the church, let them go with blessing being prayed over them. There are far too much energy holding onto power and people; two things of which do not belong to us in the first place. 

Today, if you are tired of wearing someone else’s armor…if you’re tire of walking in someone else’s shoes…

Then it’s time to strip. It is time to step out of their shadow and into the life-giving light of Christ and his calling.  Their armour doesn’t fit. You are called to be you.  God only made one of you and he’s charged you to do it.  

Stop living out and in what somebody has handed you. Saul’s armor isn’t for you.

Be YOU in Jesus name.  Be YOU covered in spiritual armor. Be YOU living out YOUR identity in Jesus. 

You can do this. 

I love waking up ever day serving this amazing congregation.  Honestly, I want you to have the same love for yours. 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

2 Minute Devos: Crash – Day 10

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Today’s Scripture: 1 Chronicles 28:9-10

“And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. 10 Be careful now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it.”

Crash Prayer Card 2

2 Minute Devo: “Reciprocate Faithfulness”

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We started a new series this month called “His Faithfulness” We are looking at the faithfulness of God revealed to us in the scripture.  Take time to read the passage here on the blog or in your own bible.

Today’s scripture: Psalm 89:19-37

English Standard Version (ESV)

19 Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one,[a] and said:
“I have granted help to one who is mighty;
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
20 I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
21 so that my hand shall be established with him;
my arm also shall strengthen him.
22 The enemy shall not outwit him;
the wicked shall not humble him.
23 I will crush his foes before him
and strike down those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him,
and in my name shall his horn be exalted.
25 I will set his hand on the sea
and his right hand on the rivers.
26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’
27 And I will make him the firstborn,
the highest of the kings of the earth.
28 My steadfast love I will keep for him forever,
and my covenant will stand firm[b] for him.
29 I will establish his offspring forever
and his throne as the days of the heavens.
30 If his children forsake my law
and do not walk according to my rules,[c]
31 if they violate my statutes
and do not keep my commandments,
32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod
and their iniquity with stripes,
33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love
or be false to my faithfulness.
34 I will not violate my covenant
or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;
I will not lie to David.
36 His offspring shall endure forever,
his throne as long as the sun before me.
37 Like the moon it shall be established forever,
a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah

2 Minute Devo: “Key Ingredient” Psalm 51

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October is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Resurrecting Repentance”.  It’s as simple as viewing the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Psalm 51:

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me,[a] O God,

    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

2 Minute Devo: “Repentance is about relationship: Ps. 32

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October is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Resurrecting Repentance”.  It’s as simple as viewing the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Psalm 32:

Psalm 32

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,

    whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up[b] as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
7 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

2 Minute Devo: “Saul’s Opposite” 2 Samuel 12

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October is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Resurrecting Repentance”.  It’s as simple as viewing the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is 2 Samuel 12:

2 Samuel 12

And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms,[a] and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord,[b] the child who is born to you shall die.” 15 Then Nathan went to his house.

And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lordand worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.”22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether theLord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

24 Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him 25 and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah,[c] because of the Lord.

26 Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and took the royal city. 27 And Joab sent messengers to David and said, “I have fought against Rabbah; moreover, I have taken the city of waters. 28 Now then gather the rest of the people together and encamp against the city and take it, lest I take the city and it be called by my name.” 29 So David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah and fought against it and took it. 30 And he took the crown of their king from his head. The weight of it was a talent[d] of gold, and in it was a precious stone, and it was placed on David’s head. And he brought out the spoil of the city, a very great amount. 31 And he brought out the people who were in it and set them to labor with saws and iron picks and iron axes and made them toil at[e] the brick kilns. And thus he did to all the cities of the Ammonites. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.