Friday, August 2, 2013

Proactive ways to enhance your marriage before (and after) you say “I Do”

So I am married now! I know right?! I am thrilled to be a husband and to have a wife to go home to every day. It is a dream come true for me. I married my best friend and I couldn’t be happier.

Because of getting married, it has taken me a little while to get back to blogging as with the whirlwind of wedding planning, the wedding and honeymoon themselves, with moving Elise from her old place to our new home, and looking into ministry opportunities time has been anything but present or available.

But even with all the busyness, craziness, and stress nothing could damper married life. I love being married to my wife. In fact, I just like saying “my wife” because it comes naturally for me. I know for some of you reading this you will hasten to say “Be careful it is the honeymoon period” or “Just wait until you can’t hang out with the boys” or “Wait until dinner isn’t ready”. But in reality I don’t think Elise and I have a “honeymoon period” nor will we be looking to jump on to any one issue to damper our relationship.

Sure I know hard times will come, disagreements will abound, stress will arise, and hardships will show their faces but that doesn’t mean I have to love being married any less. Elise and I know that marriage takes work and that we have growing to do, but I also know that we have entered into the covenant prepared. What I would like to communicate to you are some proactive steps to take before marriage to help prepare you to deal with problems that could, and most likely will, arise during your marriage.

1.       Open and honest communication

a.       Communication in any relationship is vital to its success. If you cannot talk to one another, than simple issues become problems, problems become grudges, grudges lead to hurt, hurt leads to unsolved heartbreak, and heartbreak leads to unresolved issues that fracture a relationship. Communication is hard for me personally as I tend to internalize and attempt to deal with all my problems on my own. But this leads to stress, emotional distress, and more gray hairs than I care to mention. This step will take some concessions from both people as you must learn to be open and honest about what is going on in your life, which also means being willing to go on to step two. For those preparing to go into marriage seek out meaningful conversation, ask open-ended questions, and look to know your future spouse better than anyone else.

2.       Be willing to accept fault and apologize

a.       When you are being open and honest there will come times when you will need to admit you messed up and apologize for what you have done. This takes a great amount of humility and self-awareness on the part of the one admitting wrong, but the one to whom it is being conveyed should also exercise step three.  Admitting wrong and seeking forgiveness and grace will always point us towards our heavenly Father. When we begin to see how He bestows grace on those who confess we understand just how pivotal it is for us to follow suit.

3.       Always forgive

a.       When your spouse, or soon to be spouse, comes to reconcile and ask forgiveness, do not hold out on granting that to them. Forgiveness is essential in a marriage. If you harbor pain, hurts, anger, and resentment you will not only become embittered, you will always assume the worst, seek to hurt your spouse, and always be looking for excuses and a way out. This is not how a marriage should look. Again, we are to remember Christ’s example to us, in how He loved us in spite of our short comings and always forgave even when it was underserved.

4.       Engage in premarital (and possibly other) counseling

a.       This is something that to most Christians seems like a no-brainer as it has become almost the norm for any Christian couple to have some sort of premarital counseling. But most Christians also have a preconceived notion that it will be just a “ho-hum” sort of thing, where it will be rife with awkward conversations, outdated material, and little if any help to an actual marriage. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Going to a counselor is one the best things you can do as a couple because it forces you to think through issues you may not have as a couple, you see your differences and learn to work with them, you see the ways you are strong and weak as a couple, and you learn how to love better. Going to see a counselor doesn’t mean you are weak or that you have problems, but it does help you to stop problems from occurring, and grow in your love for one another.

5.       Be a servant

a.       This I cannot emphasize enough. Marriage is not about you. Marriage is not about one person or the other. It is about two becoming one and each working to serve the other in order to benefit each other. This is hard to do, and if you enter a marriage believing you can begin to model it only after you say “I do” you are horribly mistaken. This needs to start taking place before you even begin to think about marriage. I keep coming back to the model Christ set forth (because it is the only model we need) and Christ modeled being a servant throughout His entire ministry and as such we need to model this to our spouses. Learn self-sacrificing love that seeks to build each other up (see step six), strive to serve through all aspects of your life, and never use being a servant as a manipulative tool.

6.       Don’t look to criticize, look to empower

a.       When you are in a relationship you should never look to criticize your significant other or put them down. Our society says otherwise. If you watch television, go to the movies, or witness relationships that are self-seeking and not about serving, you can see clearly how both partners put each other down. This is not love, this is not the cornerstone for a relationship, and in fact this will destroy any relationship you have. We should not look to break down one another but instead we should look to encourage and build up our spouses. They are set apart for us by God and should be treated as the very gift they are to us.

7.       Seek to put aside love of self

a.       Marriage is interesting because you learn more about yourself by putting yourself aside. That isn’t to say you don’t care about yourself or your needs, but rather you put someone else’s needs before your own. This is a tough nut to chew because truly loving someone means putting their needs and desires ahead of your own, understanding it isn’t always about you, and realizing that love and marriage takes work.

8.       Put God as the center

a.       If you truly want your marriage to be one that grows and is a blessing to both people, than God must be the center. I can tell you that sharing the same faith and love for God that my wife does, has made my marriage a thousand times better. To see her passion and love for God as we serve in our church, as we pray, as we read the Bible, it makes me love her all the more. God is the reason we are together, the reason we click, the reason we always will be together, our Rock in hard times, and the cornerstone of our marriage. He will get us, and you, through the hard times, be there during the good times, and never will He abandon you.

9.       Seek to marry your best friend

a.       I know that sometimes people aren’t looking to get married and that person appears seemingly at random, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeking to know that person as best you can. I have been blessed to marry my very best friend. Elise and I have known each other for over seven years now, and because of that we know so much about each other. Sure there is always more to learn, like what type of laundry detergent someone likes, but that comes with time. My point is that even on those rough days where you are in a disagreement with your spouse, you realize it is your best friend and the love of your life and know that together you can make it through anything. In short, don’t settle for marrying someone other than your best friend, someone other than the one person who you cannot live without.

10.   Pray and read the Bible together

a.       This is listed at number ten, but in no way should this be the last thing you think about when it comes to your relationship. Reading the Bible and praying together develops an intimacy that few people realize. When two people read the Bible, a book that has dramatically changed their lives, and pray with each other their emotions, brokenness, and vulnerability. This is when intimacy based in Christ begins to develop in the relationship and it only culminates when eternity with Christ begins.

I know this has been a long post, and I know it is a post that some may write off due to the fact that I have been married for less than two months. But let me assure you that these are areas that will truly help you before, during, and after your marriage.

So in short: Learn self-sacrificing love, that seeks to build each other up, live to love each other through service, know that little things matter (sometimes more than the big ones), always say I love you, spend time together, seek to grow in your relationship with God together, and always put Him at the center of your marriage.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Will you Take the Plunge? Trust is a two way street.

What do youth want? It is a question that many of us have asked ourselves over the years. Based upon how confused my parents were by having five children go through their teens relatively close together, most parents have no idea what teens want. Most teachers don't know, and we see this in their sometimes comical attempt to relate to students. I had a teacher try to rap one time to a bunch of suburban kids in an affluent area in New Jersey while he wore Birkenstock, AE Jeans, and a Ralph Lauren polo. I have seen churches try to relate to students by holding "teen nights" that usually include loud music, junk food, a speaker hyped up on caffeine and Monsters, and a bonfire. But if you were to take a poll of the students in attendance and asked them if their needs were met, most of them would say no.

Now let me say one thing. This is not true in all cases. Some parents, teachers, and churches do an absolutely wonderful job relating to their students. And to those of you who do, I commend you! You are seeing, hearing, and meeting the call to reach our youth. But this post isn't about them, it is about the others who don't, and most notably churches.

You see in working with students I have had the unique opportunity to engage with them. And if there is one thing you should know about students, it is this: They don't trust easily. Students in today's society have learned to be guarded, reserved, closed, and withdrawn from anyone seen as an authority figure. They do not trust those who are older than they are because that trust has been broken too many times to count and they do not want to be hurt again.

Youth today need for us as their leaders and mentors to be trustworthy. This is the first thing we need to realize as youth leaders. Students see this so clearly in everything we do and say. If we say we are going to do something, be somewhere, take them out, show up at their school, or any promise we make we had better stick by it! Students today have been so lied to, strung along, hurt, and misdirected that they are just waiting for us to break our promises or for our word to not be good enough.

Think about this for a moment. Were you ever lied to as a student? Did someone tell you they would be there for you and they weren't? Did you ever feel like someone let you down? The answer is yes! We all have. But the truth of the matter is that over time this didn't get any better, and in fact it has gotten worse. When we were younger we could rebound off of a let down or being lied to, but students today have come to accept this as the norm! No longer does our word mean anything. No longer does telling someone you are there for them hold any salt. No longer do students trust us! We need to earn their trust by showing them we are invested in their lives, their futures, and in them personally and spiritually.

As believers we are told to stick by our word! Matthew 5 points this out very clearly for us. We are told to let our answers be honest and true. We are told that our whole relationship with Christ is based upon trust and faith. And if we cannot model this to our students then why on earth should they listen to what we have to say?

Trust will change our students' lives! Could you imagine what would happen to just one student if someone kept their word 100% of the time with them? Could you see them beginning to trust that person? Can you see the relationship that would be built? In order for us to reach them with the Gospel we first need to establish that we can be trusted. If we are not being honest and truthful, then why should they trust and believe what we have to say? There is no reason for belief if they cannot trust those who teaching.

We as leaders have a high calling to lead younger generations towards the saving grace of Christ. This can only be accomplished by first building a framework that is founded upon trust in the power of the cross!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What I have learned about love by being engaged

Wow, it has been a fairly long time since I last posted. To all of you who actually read this, I apologize for my lack of attentiveness to this blog. But if you know me, then you know I have been extremely busy these past few months. Wedding planning can take up a lot of time, but I have enjoyed every minute of it. And through it all I have begun to realize something. Something has been made so crystal clear to me, like it never was before.

I have realized how incredibly in love I am with Elise. Now please don't write this post off as a lovey-dovey post, because although I do intend to be open about my feelings for Elise, I am going to dig deeper into what love is as portrayed by the Biblical model set forth for us. But you see I only began to completely understand this love, the love a husband has for his wife, as I have begun to spend so much time with Elise.

I never used to love others that much. In fact I would go so far as to say I was pretty self-centered. Sure I loved my family, maybe even some of my friends, but I was always number one. My priorities, my needs, my wants, my desires were always to be met first because I was the most important person in my life. Of course I loved God and put Him first, but I believe my love for Him has grown exponentially through this life changing journey I am on with Elise.

It all started when Elise and I began dating last year. For the first time in my life I began to put someone before myself. It was such a struggle, because my needs weren't first anymore for me. I cared about her. I sought to make her feel loved and special. I went out of my way to spoil her and make her feel like a princess. No longer was it "What does Nick want for dinner?", it was now "What does Elise want for dinner and how can I make it special?". You see I finally was understanding what true love is.

Love isn't about loving yourself. Love isn't about meeting your needs. Love isn't about how you feel. Love is sacrificial. Love is understanding. Love is being a servant. Love is being a leader. Love is loving someone else in a way that you would lay your life down for them. Love is so much more than a feeling or a desire, or the corrupted versions we see in film, television, and in novels. Love is rooted deeply in our Father God who modeled this for us in so many ways. The purpose of this blog post, as I said earlier, is to demonstrate the love God has for us and then looks at how we are to implement that love in our lives in practical and real ways.

The very best place to start looking at love in the Bible is at the beginning...the very beginning. If you look through the first three chapters of Genesis you will see a love unlike any other. God created a place for us as humans to live, grow, worship, commune together and with Him, experience life, emotions, and freedom all under this banner of love He has for us. God gave mankind everything they needed because He loved them and wanted someone to share this love with. We neither had nor deserved the life He gave us, but freely He gave it anyway.

Then what did mankind go and do, but mess everything up. We had it all, and we threw it in God's face in a moment, because we are selfish and our love was for ourselves. But God didn't turn His back on us. Instead He did something we all struggle to do when we are hurt and maligned. God forgave us, put a sacrifice in our place, clothed us, offered us redemption, and still loved us all the more. This is a love that is undeserving, its a love we didn't earn, it is a love we could never purchase or offer anything for it, and yet God freely gave it to us.

Our first lesson on what love is, is this: Love, that is love modeled by God Himself, is free, forgiving, and full. God first gave His love freely. God didn't have to make man, He didn't need to provide a place for Him to live, He didn't have to make a provision when man sinned, and He didn't need to give us anything. And yet that is exactly what He did. God gave His love to us free of charge and didn't ask for anything, except for our love in return. Next God's love is forgiving. Mankind slapped God in the face. Not only did they break His one commandment, they then ran and hid in an attempt to not be caught, then they lied about it. God had every right to condemn them and to rid the world of this despicable race that had now broken His heart, but instead God grieved and loved them more than they deserved. God offered them redemption and forgiveness. They didn't deserve it, they couldn't earn, they had no right to it, but God still offered it. Lastly we see how full God's love is. God doesn't just love us if we follow His rules. He doesn't only love us if we are perfect. He loves us no matter who we are. God created us to love us. God doesn't want any of us to perish but all of us to come to a saving knowledge of Him because He wants us to share in that love with Him.

Let us look at another passage or rather passages within the Gospel of Matthew. This is a love story about Christ coming into a world that was opposed to Him and embracing everyone He encountered, and then calling on them to turn from their sin and come to Him. The first thing we can see about love is that Christ met people where they were at and brought them to repentance. He met the lepers, outcasts, and those that people considered scum (granted this is from John, but it serves the point). Christ's love wasn't based upon who you were, it was based upon how you needed Him. Christ came with open arms, and an open heart. All we need to do is accept Him. You want a lesson in love, Christ is the teacher for it. Christ comes offering love to those who don't deserve it, and He was unbiased about who received it, as long as they accepted Him.

The last area of love I will touch on is this. Love is self-sacrificing. Christ didn't come here demanding we love Him. In fact when all He offered was love and salvation those He offered it to turned on Him and murdered Him. And yet Christ still sought them out. Christ came back and offered a plan of redemption and grace that characterizes the love we are to have for one another. It is a love that lays itself down, but that does so not seeking recognition, knowing some won't accept it, and knowing that it is the greatest demonstration of love that any could ever know. To lay your life down for someone who doesn't deserve it but that you love just because they are who they are is a true definition of love.

So love is this: free, forgiving, full, unbiased, it is for those who don't deserve it, and it is self-sacrificing. Love in marriage, and any relationship for that matter, should encompass all of these facets of Christ's love. There are many other qualities that I cannot touch on due to length this post would be. But let us see the magnitude and grace that God's love has for us. This is real love. The reasons marriages fail is because God isn't the center of them. Putting God first in your lives in all aspects will help you through those difficult times.

We need to realize that loving others is hard. When it comes to a spouse this can be especially true at some points in your marriage. Things will be said, feelings will be hurt, pride will be wounded. It will happen, but loving someone how Christ loved us means meeting them where they are at and not holding it against them. Show them your love and offer forgiveness. That is love! Show them how you are modeling Christ by offering forgiveness and compassion without lording it over them. Show them humility and grace, without payback. This is love, that He loved us first and we now demonstrate it to others.

I am not perfect. I know I cannot always love how God does because I am not God. I know I will mess up and fail. But my goal is to love like Christ loves me. He is our example, and I will do all I can to follow that. Going into this marriage I am seeking to honor Christ by loving my wife completely. I am no longer selfish, I am no long seeking gain, I am no longer seeking to be right always. Instead I am seeking to be selfless, I am seeking her gain and benefit, and I am seeking to serve and accept my imperfections while exhorting her to become better as well. Marriages are never easy, never perfect, and they take work but if you seek to love like Christ you will make it through.

And yes I do know I am new at this. In fact I am not even married yet, but it is amazing what God shows you when you read His Word and allow it to permeate your life. I also want everyone to realize that these are just a few examples of God's love that I have touched on. There are countless examples of His love for us and we are to model those examples as followers of Christ. I would love for you to share how you see God's love displayed elsewhere and how you implement it in your lives. By seeing, then implementing, and growing from it you will see your love for others and for God grow by leaps and bounds, and I would encourage that for all believers.

All this to say, I love you Elise, and I cannot wait to begin this next journey together as we seek to love God by loving each other as He loves us. I will serve you as Christ serves us, and seek to put you first always in my life.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Support for MBI in the Face of Criticism

As many of you know, I am a proud Moody Bible Institute (MBI) graduate. I never intended to go there; in fact back in high school ministry was the farthest thing from my mind. But it is so typical that when we are not looking at our lives the way God does, He radically changes our direction so we see His goal and plan for us. Moody profoundly impacted my life, as it has some many others, and has done great things for the kingdom, so it shocked me when I read this blog decrying Moody's stance on a certain issue: Women in ministry, specifically pastoral ministry.

The above blog has generated a lot of comments, with many of them crying out against MBI's complementarian (Men and Women having different roles within the church) attitude, and attacking its current conservative stance. My purpose in this writing is not to bad-mouth the author of said blog, nor to spawn harsh criticisms, but merely to offer a differing view of MBI through my own experience and the observations I saw during my tenure there.

During my time at MBI I realized I didn't agree with everything that Moody outlined in their rules and regulations. For instance we couldn't watch movies in the dorms, go dancing, drink even if you were over the age of twenty-one, you had a curfew until you were twenty-one, and there were quiet hours. For a college student who had just turned twenty-one I felt extremely restricted and I became very upset with the administration of MBI. My friends and I would spend hours lamenting and lambasting the ultra-conservative and backwards thinking leadership and the donors who, because of their willingness to give, held sway over the leadership and therefore the rules of Moody.

And because of this I (and a few others) rebelled and broke the rules.  I readily admit that I watched movies and T.V. shows, I went dancing a couple times (although what I do should hardly be called dancing), and stayed out after curfew. My attitude was "who are these people that they believe they can control my life just because I attend their school?" Looking back now I realize how childish, naive, and flat out rebellious I was. I felt entitled and wanted to be treated as such. I failed to see that these rules were put in place to protect, guide, and prepare for my future and were not designed to hurt me as I believed. I looked like and sounded like a spoiled child.

But I have digressed from what I originally decided to speak about which is addressing the topic from the aforementioned blog: the seemingly over-bearing, ultra conservative, women subduing nature of the current administration of MBI.

That in and of itself is the nature of that blog post. It is crying afoul that Moody has stripped itself from its original moorings, which were progressive in the nature of women's rights, and then proceeds to critique the conservative stance Moody has taken. Now these are two very large topics to handle so strap yourself in folks, because it could be one long posting.

First let me address the author's tone and the tone of those commenting on the blog. In looking at their responses it is clear that they are upset that Moody is not doing what they want. They believe that Moody should be run differently because they believe differently. Well first of all that sounds a lot like the entitled attitude I used to have. Moody didn't hide anything from those who decided to go there. You had to fill out the application packet, sign the forms, agree to their doctrinal statement, and follow the rules and regulations governing student life. This was a choice that those who attended MBI agreed to abide by. That isn't Moody's fault. They chose to go there. Even if you found it to have been very different from what you thought it to be, than you could have transferred. So by staying there you agreed to submit to the rules. You may not like them, but stop complaining about them. There a literally hundreds of other liberal arts Bible colleges we could have gone to that would have been better suited to your needs if you felt so strongly about MBI.

Second the nature of women in the pastoral role has become a heated topic throughout the last century. And the reason for this is that liberalism has crept into our churches and has caused them to sway from the Gospel. Turn on the television or radio and listen to the garbage people are proclaiming as truth. They say there are multiple paths to heaven, that works account for more than the atonement, that Christ wasn't fully man or God but a man empowered by God, that Christ didn't die to save but rather to appease the Deceiver himself. That is the reason Moody has taken such a conservative stance. They have decided to stand upon the Gospel, not the teachings of men. They have decided to proclaim truth, instead of whimsical feelings. They have decided to be like Christ and as such counter the "norms" of our society.

However, I will say this: Moody is very complementarian. It's a fact. But complementarian does not mean that Moody believes in ridiculing, belittling, ostracizing, or displacing women. It does mean that in accordance with the Word of God (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-16, Ephesians 5:22-33) that men and women serve differently in roles in the church. Yes there are those women in the Bible who serve in a variety of capacities in the church, but from the Greek translations of the text it would appear that all positions of overseer/shepherd/pastor are all oriented towards men.

This is not a slight by God on the women of the world, nor is it an attack by Moody against women's rights. If you look in the Bible God outlines roles and headship for a reason. Not to be overbearing and hurtful but to provide loving leadership, guidance, and support. I would encourage everyone to look to this book (Our counseling book). It is a book about pre-marital issues but it talks in depth about the roles in the household, church, and our lives with God and helps to serve the point here. Moody is not gender biased, nor do they believe in suppressing women in the church, but yes they do submit to the Biblical model of headship and having men only serve as pastors.

Now are all professors, students, faculty, and staff going to treat this subject with the proper vestiges of love, compassion, forgiveness, and tact? No, they won't. I observed like many of the comments stated in the blog that some people, students and staff alike, would approach this subject with ridicule and a condescending tone. This is first and foremost a sin as it isn't Christ-like. We are called to model Christ in all we do, say, and think and that attitude is none of those. Also, how does that come across to the women who are questioning their role in a church? If I were in their shoes I would feel angry, hurt, disillusioned, and like a lesser human being.

But please hear me out! That is not the majority of MBI. You will run into those who are critical, mean, hurtful, ignorant, and self-absorbed wherever you may go. No that doesn't justify it, but please do not allow the hurtful and childish actions of the minority to corrupt your view of the entire institution. I will not pretend to know everything that transpired at MBI because I don't, but as I stated that is my experience. Please do not allow the mistakes of a few to count against the many. The majority at MBI practice what the Bible says, and look to live as Christ intended.

As for women in the Pastoral Studies program, I will speak on that from direct experience. I loved my major, the department, and the godly men and women who served in that department. It is ironic to me that the author of the blog decries Moody not allowing women in ministry because Women's Ministries are located within the Pastoral Department. Moody obviously believes that women have roles and positions in the church that they can serve in. They are not trying to brush them under the rug in a vain attempt to appear equal. They allow women in all classes. I for one can recall numerous classes, both preaching and pastoral in general, where women would attend, contribute, and dare I say it...preach?! Gasp! So where the author of the blog draws his conclusions from I do not know, because my observations within the department were quite different.

Lastly I would like to touch on the subject of conservatism that has now become the norm at Moody. This runs hand in hand with the last topic of women in ministry because that is where the idea formulates. Moody takes a literal interpretation of Scripture and as such has refused to allow for modern distortions of theology and doctrine to take hold of its mantra and instead has stood the solid ground of staying true to the Word of God. I am not decrying anyone who may be liberal, but I would decry a liberal interpretation of the Gospel.

To take a liberal approach on the interpretation of God's holy word and subject it to the whims and fantasies of men will give us the same heresies the church father's fought so hard to prove false. Liberal theology has allowed for other methods of salvation, heresy that Jesus wasn't God, the establishment of Universalism, the corruption of leadership, and the allowance of blatant habitual sin within our churches. That is why Moody has chosen to take a stand on Biblical conservatism. Not to bind any one person or group, but instead to protect its core values and the very nature of the Word of God, and in so doing the people of God as well.

The author of the blog also points out that Moody was progressive back when it was founded. Moody indeed challenged the thoughts and common practices of the culture, but all with the confines of the Biblical mandate as set forth through the Bible that God Himself gave to mankind. So if that is what makes MBI progressive then they are still progressive today as they stand in the face of society that tells them to conform and yet they choose to stand apart as God has called all believers to do. Being progressive does not mean turning a blind eye to something we are not comfortable with but rather addressing it in love, civility, and understanding.

Please hear me out. I am not looking to condemn, to cause arguments, or to attack. I am attempting to engage in dialogue, spur discussion, defend my Alma Mater, and ultimately help one another grow in our understanding of the Word of God. Should you wish to comment on this posting, please keep it civil, and remember to comment out of love not anger or hurt. I would love to talk more and to share my heart and thoughts with any who would like to hear.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thoughts on the new Pope: Are your thoughts and comments uplifting or condescending?

I had promised myself that I would continue writing my series about youth ministry and not be sidelined by other topics, but once again I have broken a promise to myself. But I simply couldn't sit by and allow for this to continue.

If anyone has been reading or watching the news, out in public, talking with people, or simply paying attention to world events, you have noticed that a new pope has been elected. In keeping with the Papal structure the Cardinals met and voted on who would replace Pope Benedict, and came up with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who will now be known as Pope Francis. This is a huge and momentous occasion for the Catholic faith and they are thrilled to have a new pope after Benedict chose to resign due to his age and other reasons.

Normally this would not affect me in such a way because it does not affect my Protestant beliefs since I am not held to the governing ordinances of Rome. But the match that set off this fuse is this: I have noticed an increasing large amount of Protestants (mostly ministers) openly mocking and criticizing the Pope and the Catholic faith. Most of them are doing it in jest but the point is they are hurting Protestants everywhere. And to them I say "Shame on you!"

I am aware that most of you are simply poking fun at something that you may not understand, you do not agree with, you do not believe in, but would you stand by and chuckle should someone speak poorly about your pastor and his manner of dress? Would you smile and brush it off as a pass at poor humor should someone malign one of the Apostles? Would you be okay with people openly mocking your faith, beliefs, doctrine, theology, or personal thoughts? I would submit that no, you would not be okay with that. I myself take great offense when one makes a mockery of my beliefs. As Protestants whenever our faith is attacked we cry afoul, we demand justice, we demand respect, we demand that our faith not be harped upon, but when it comes to other beliefs we mock them openly and in a public setting or forum?

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not in support of the Papal structure. I do not agree with the Pope, the philosophies or doctrines of the Catholic church, nor do I believe that all Catholics believe the way that we Protestants do. But I can say this: we have many brothers and sisters within the Catholic faith who ascribe to the beliefs that we do. I say this because I personally know of many Protestants who have become disillusioned with the lack of structure, the hypocrisy, and the constant infighting in Protestant denominations and have sought out the structure and oneness that Catholicism offers. They do not ascribe to all tenants of the Catholic beliefs (ie: praying to saints, holy water, and the doctrine of Purgatory) but rather find their ability to worship God magnified by their surroundings and the support offered through a unified body. I also know of many priests who have set aside the common liturgy used in the Catholic tradition and instead preach Christ glorified straight from Scripture.

Brothers and sisters, we need to be mindful of what we say. I say we because I know that what comes from my mouth at times is insensitive and hypocritical. But that is not who we are to be! We are called to be different. We are called to be set apart. We are called to be like Christ!

When you invite people to faith in Christ, and then ask them stand beside us as believers as we point and laugh at other people around the world for their beliefs, what have we done? This is not what Christ had in mind when He told us to "make disciples" or when He met the woman at the well. We are called to minister not to malign. We are called to be servants of the Gospel not one who condemns to Hell.

Please understand me. I am not saying that we need to be accepting of all religions, or that all religions lead to eternal salvation. But I am pleading with you to think before you speak. Our tongues can do a lot of good, but also a lot of bad. While yes the Gospel is offense because it calls for one way to God, and no other option, and yes there are doctrines and truths that can cause people to be hurt because it calls their sins into view, that does not mean we need to be offense in sharing it!

My purpose in writing about this topic is as follows: To simply make us think about what we say and how we say it. I will close by pointing us to these verses (1 Peter 4:1-11, James 1:19-20, James 3:1-12, Luke 19:1-10) and asking for us to always be mindful of how we speak because we are representing Christ. Our actions and words speak volumes, but let them speak volumes of love and correction in love to those we should speak to.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Will you Take the Plunge? A look at the needs and promise of Youth Ministry.

So here goes my first attempt at writing a series. I have been pondering writing a post about youth ministry for quite some time, but problems always seemed to plague my posting of said blog. It was too long, or to condensed, or it would leave unanswered questions, or it just doesn't sit well with me.

Let me give a little background as to why I am going to be writing about youth ministry. Youth ministry is my passion. I love it, I crave it, I enjoy working with students, I love teaching and leading, and I feel called by God to serve Him, by leading teens into relationships with Him and changing their hearts and lives.

Honestly, I never really thought I would get into youth ministry back in the day. I always wanted to be a high school math teacher. Trust me, after taking multiple Calculus classes at my first college that dream dissolved faster than a decimal when converted into a fraction. Sorry that was a poor math pun. But math was no longer fun. It during my time at my first college that I really began to study the Bible more (it was after all a Bible College), and I began realized that ministry in some capacity may be where I was headed.

I grudgingly agreed to volunteer at my church's youth group during my time at PBU (now Cairn University). I say grudgingly because students had to have a ministry that they volunteered at to receive course credits each year and I did not want to do this. To be quite frank, I thought I would choose the easy way out by doing something I could check out of, not give a lot of time to, and disengage from completely afterwards. It is funny how our plans are so different from God's. I never would have guessed at that time how different my life would be because of that time of service.

I started out simply volunteering in the junior high program, but eventually was doing senior high as well. It was strange. I never liked teenagers (even though I was only 19 at the time) and I thought that youth ministry was a dumb ministry idea. But something happened to me. I saw the need that was there for these students. They needed leadership, love, support, guidance, acceptance, family, and Christ. My heart began to break as I saw the lives of these students and how desperately they needed to have a void filled.

I took a year off from school and instead of stepping away from ministry; I began to volunteer full time on top of my day job. I began to experience a new found energy and love that after a hard day's work, when I would be exhausted and ready to collapse, when I didn't want to talk to anyone, I would now feel alive, revitalized, and so excited to share God's love and salvation with these students. I began to grow as a leader and teacher. I began preaching. I started to love these students and this ministry.

My heart broke when I heard their stories. I cried and laughed with them. I stayed up all night talking with them. I did crisis intervention. I saw growth. I saw Christ save people! I finally understood where God was calling me. God wanted to use me as an emissary for Him. When this became a realization for me, it was as if the fog had been lifted from my eyes. I felt a peace unlike any other. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was calling me to serve Him in youth ministry.

Over the years I honed my skills at MBI, and I volunteered and led numerous youth ministries and programs. I was in all types of environments from rural, to urban, to suburban. I worked with large and small groups of students. I was able to experience so many different faucets of youth ministry that I got a wide berth of understanding and know how. Through it all, one truth remained clear to me: I was called to teach and lead youth, so that they could experience the gift of grace that only Christ gives. I am still working in youth ministry and plan on continuing that throughout my life. This is a lifelong learning process and one that changes in its approach but not in its intent. We are called to share the truth of the Gospel unabashedly. Youth ministry will always be about God and sharing His gift with students.

With all that said, I have decided to embark upon a series that will look into two specific areas: What do youth need, and why we should "do" youth ministry. This will be a series focusing on addressing the needs of students, youth workers, youth ministry as a whole, and why the very foundation of youth ministry is pivotal to our church and its continued growth. Youth ministry isn't an option, but a necessity. It needs to be in our churches and we need to proactively engage it.

In the days to come I will be sharing my thoughts about this topic, and hopefully encouraging some to take a more active role in youth ministry, edifying my fellow volunteers, building up youth pastors, and opening my heart to share what has been placed there.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Fall

I cringed when I heard him ask the question, because I knew that my answer would be long winded and probably a bit overwhelming. I tried to dodge it and pointed out the nice spread of food we had at our monthly potluck. But this was one stubborn individual. He still persisted and hit me with the question again. This time I tried to talk about the weather and how it was nice to have weather. He didn't buy it, and once more he asked "Pastor, what is your favorite passage of Scripture?"

This was a question I have been asked quite often, but during my tenure as a pastor of a small church in New Jersey, I got asked it almost every week by any number of people. It could have a been a church member, a towns person, or the local clerk at the deli next to my apartment. Everyone wanted to know what the new, young pastor's favorite Scripture was. And it was hard because a lot of people didn't like to hear my answer all the time. Many people assumed it would be John 3:16, or a passage about health and wealth, or a certain Scripture that would bolster their spirits. But my passage didn't do that for most, because my favorite Scripture passage is Genesis 3, the fall of man.

Sure we all know the story right? God had created the perfect place for mankind, free of want, free of sin, free of death, complete communion with God, it was perfect! There is no other word to describe what the garden was, other than perfect. Stop and ponder that for a moment...what is perfect? As a believer perfection is what God is. God is without sin, without blemish, without fault, without evil, without any wrong. So this garden is something that we cannot fully grasp! Sure we can grasp the concept of what the Garden of Eden was and the symbolism it holds, but its unique quality of being perfect is something we can only grasp at the fringes of.

In this perfect garden, man and woman walked and talked with God. They would walk in the cool of the day, or in the evening, or whenever they wanted to, and they would talk with God about everything. If this isn't proof that our God is a relational and personal being, than I don't know what is. But think about having a personal relationship with God where you actually walked along with Him. You could hear Him and talk directly to Him. I am not speaking in the spiritual sense that we as believers now communicate to God with; I am talking about a full-body, physical, visual, actual personal relationship like you would have with your best friend, a parent, a sibling, or your spouse. This was a relationship we will not know until heaven.

Then to top it off they had everything they needed in the garden. Food, shelter, animals, companionship, love, relationships, unity with God, and complete peace. Do you see what this garden was? Do you see the breadth of the love that God had when He sculpted this for Man and Woman? This was an absolutely amazing place to live and flourish.

But all of that, every single bit of it, was destroyed through a selfish act of disobedience. Perfect was gone in an instant because Man and Woman decided that they knew better. And no this is not why I like this story, at least not completely. I will explain that portion shortly. But here we see just how deprived and selfish and prideful and corrupt and conceited and stupid we can be. And please do not kid yourself into believing you wouldn't have made the same mistake. We all would have. Maybe not at the exact time that Adam and Eve did, but you would have and so would I. It is in our nature to rebel and to be something we are not (i.e. God).

Adam and Eve listened to the lies of Satan and believed that God was hiding something (knowledge) from them. They pushed aside everything they knew about their Father who had created them, loved them, cared for them, and protected them, and threw it all into the wind on the word of a serpent. Why you may ask? It is simple really, their lust for knowledge and the power it held outweighed their ability to reason and to remember all they had and knew. Selfishness took hold. Pride gripped their heart. Reckless abandon grabbed hold of their minds. Surely God couldn't have all the knowledge right? They needed it too! Why should God have to know everything? It isn't like He created the world and us, or is an all-powerful, all knowing Deity, right?

When you think about it, anguish and sadness should grip your heart and soul as you see this play out. And not just for Adam and Eve but for all of mankind. We are so far from perfection and so broken and sinful, that this story completely lays out our need for a Savior. We cannot do this on our own. This is evident because Adam and Eve then ran and played hide and seek with God! Now come on! Seriously?!?! He made the garden; don't you think they would have known that God knew all the hiding spots? Well isn't true when caught in a sin, we run and hide, or try to cover that sin up out of shame and despair and embarrassment? This is exactly what they did.

They knew they had wronged God. They had broken His commandment, and the penalty for that was death. God told them they would die for this! Would you want to die? It was here, during their time of brokenness, depravity, frailty, and utter despair that God approached them. He asked them what happened. He didn't accuse or attack them; He just asked what was going on and why they were hiding. But in their sinful and flawed human nature, they played the blame game which has now forever transcended the time of man. Adam said Eve did it, and Eve said the serpent did it, and the serpent said nothing because he knew the axe was about to drop.

And drop it did. God pronounced judgment on all three of the guilty parties. He told man that he would have to work, and work hard to get by (sounds like today's economy doesn't it?), and that he would die. He told Eve she would serve her husband, and that childbirth would be painful from now one. Perfection is gone here folks! No more is life easy and happy and perfect. Pain, sorrow, and death has entered in. God then curses the serpent and Satan. He tells Satan that he will forever be attacking the kingdom of God and that he will strike at God's own Son, but that wound will not kill Christ, but instead Christ will crush the serpent.

In that little bit of text we see such provision because God is already establishing a way back to Him. He had every right to walk away and not look back on the humans who wronged Him. But instead He has compassion on them and provides a Savior for mankind. But a problem still persists...there is no blood shed. Sure Christ's blood will be shed in the future, but God had called for death for this sin at this time. God needed to be appeased.

But again God spares mankind and He takes an animal and makes clothing for Adam and Eve. We don't see this completely laid out in Scripture. There is no text that says "Behold, God took an ox and shed its blood in place of mankind." But what we do see is God makes a provision of skins for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness which was a direct proclamation of their sin. And in order to obtain skins, an animal needed to be killed. So blood was shed for the sin that was committed.

Lastly God kicks Adam and Eve out of the garden and this is another great act of salvation and faithfulness. Now you may be thinking "how is forcing them to leave paradise an act of salvation? He just kicked them out of the one place they were safe!" But in truth they were not safe there. They already knew sin, and if they then went and ate of the Tree of Life they would forever be bound to their sin. They would go on living in an eternal state of death, and what greater punishment is there than that? God showed such compassion and grace when He forced them to leave. Yes their lives became hard due to their own fault, but God made such provisions for them in light of all they did.

Do you see why this is one of my favorite passages now? Do you see the grace that is here? Do you hear and see the love God has for us? Do you see His plan for redemption and salvation? Do you see the need for a Savior? Do you see that ultimately God wins, and that we win with Him? This is an amazing passage of Scripture, one we all know, but one that we sometimes stick on the shelf with the other "Bible stories from Sunday School." But do not do that. Embrace what happened here. Acknowledge our depravity, our sinfulness, and our need for a Savior because only in that will you be free from the death that is rightfully ours.

This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture because God's love, compassion, wrath, faithfulness, understanding, sacrifice, redemption, and overwhelming control is fully evident. It takes so long to explain why this passage is so profound and alive, but doing so is key. We cannot forget that this passage is what has allowed for us to be saved through Christ. God alone provide the sacrifice and atonement for us. I guess when people ask me what is my favorite passage of Scripture, I can say "Have you read about how we messed up, God forgave us, God died for, God saved us, and calls His? Well that is why Genesis 3 is my favorite passage."

Monday, February 18, 2013


Do have a word for the year? A word that defines what this year is going to be like? A word that the Word of God has led you to for any of a variety of reasons? Well I do, and this is the first time I have ever done something like this.

Let me give you a little background. We recently had a guest speaker at our church from Winning at Home Ministries. I was a little skeptical of him at first as he appeared to be quite hyperactive and a bit intense (yes for all of you who are silently chuckling to themselves he reminded me very much of myself) but he grew on me very quickly. His message was to find the word for this year that God is giving to you. This word will define your year, help you grow, shape your life, and radically challenge and change you.

I don't like change. I like consistency and control. I like knowing what will happen. I like being prepared. I mean come on, I was the guy who would leave two hours early for his shift at midnight, that was thirty-five minutes away, in case there was a tornado, an accident, a fire, or an apocalypse! I like to be in control of my life, that's all I am saying. And as I sat in my seat saying all these things to myself, a word kept slapping me upside the head: FAITH! I kept saying "No, no, I have faith. I trust God." But the more I tried to convince my own conscious and heart that I didn't need this word, it kept coming back bigger and louder: FAITH. I wanted to shout (which would have been a bit odd in our church context since it was during the message) out loud that I didn't need this word, but the more I argued with myself, the more I realized just how desperately I needed it.

I have struggled with faith and trust my whole life. The two go hand in hand, especially in a relationship with Christ. How can you have faith in someone you do not trust? Remember the trust fall you did at youth retreats? Didn't you have to put faith that those behind you will catch you? Didn't you had to put your trust in them? Well I never did well with those. In fact I tried not to do them. I couldn't put my faith and trust in something I couldn't control. I would never had made it to Neverland with Peter Pan. For those of you younger folk, you may have to go and watch this Disney Classic!

Anyway, I don't like trusting others and having to put my faith in something outside of my direct control, but the more I argued the more I realized I had to. God was calling me to let go. Faith is being willing to trust someone (God in this case) with something (my life) and putting my trust in Him that He will guide me to where I need to be, when I need to be there.

This is not easy for me. I don't like it, but I realized I need it in my life. A true believer walks by faith, and trusts that God is there for him no matter what. As I was grappling with this word, a passage kept coming to mind (Matthew 6:25-34). It talks about worry, and when you think about it worrying is the opposite of faith and trust, and again if you know me, you know I am a worrier. This word just kept getting more difficult. I am to give up trusting myself and worrying about things I can't control, and let go even more? I was getting a wee bit frazzled.

I asked God during that service why He would give me a word I couldn't, and to be quite frank didn't want to, handle. And His response was simple: "It is a step of Faith." I almost threw my hands up in exasperation! But I knew it to be true. It isn't a word to grow by if it is something you already know or understand. So I finally, albeit a bit grudgingly, accepted that this word would be my word for the year.

That was a few weeks back, and let me tell you that this has been a year where (real) Faith is very actively making itself known in my life. I am realizing that having an active faith means ceding control to the Lord in all circumstances. It isn't a give and take option. I can't say "Sure God, have control over my driving habits, but not my finances." I can't say "Today I have faith, but tomorrow when the day gets hard, I will put my faith into something tangible (sounds like idolatry no?)." Faith is a 24/7/365 commitment, that requires you giving up control, and allowing God to take over. I will be completely honest with you all and say that I don't like it. I don't like not being in the driver's seat! I need to be able to hit the gas or brake because in my mind only I know how, when, and where to do that. And when I actually hear myself say that out loud I realize how stupid it sounds.

Having faith is something we all struggle with from time to time. We look at the way our lives, our society, our culture, and the way our world is going and sometimes our faith may falter for a brief moment. But our assurance is in the fact that our God is sovereign, all mighty, all powerful, all knowing, above all others, and forever in control. Faith is tough my friends, because we don't like to give up control. But let me ask you this question: Who better to be in control than the all powerful God of the universe? Are you better qualified? Can you know the past, present, and future?

Trust me, I know that faith is hard. I struggle with it daily, but I also grow daily from it. I have been trusting God with so many things, and laying burden upon burden on His strong shoulders, and in doing so easing my own. It isn't easy, and giving up control is a struggle I am only now beginning to understand. I feel my mind screaming no, but my heart and soul are crying out yes. And as I have given up control and put my faith and trust in God's plan, I have begun to experience peace. Peace knowing that Someone better than I is looking out for me, and that He has a plan for my life.

That doesn't mean each day is easy, or that I am worry free, because ask anyone who knows me, and they will say that I am anything but. However, I am realizing the freedom and joy I receive from giving up control. My God is Greater, My God is Stronger, My God is Higher than any other. And my joy, my peace, my strength, and my solace is all found within the loving and open arms of my Savior who begs me to give Him control to carry my burdens, struggles, pains, and  fears.

Faith is tough. It really is. But thankfully, faith is rewarding, and peace and love is everlasting. My word for this year is (Real) PEACE! What's yours?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What is becoming of the sanctity of life?

I must admit that this is not what I was going to write about today. I have a couple other posts in the draft stages, one on youth ministry and another about my first Valentine's Day where I get to celebrate with someone, but this post could not go by.

Let me explain why I am writing this. I got into work this morning, and as always we had the television tuned to Fox News, and one of the major headlines was this: More women using the morning after pill. I missed the majority of the segment so I jumped online to try and track down what this wall about. I am an ardent support of life at conception and I am strongly supportive of the pro-life movement, and this stirred something deep within my heart as I began to dig deeper.

I went to,, and and all of them had the story. Although with one of these sites you need to dig through some of the backwater pages to find it. I also was a bit shocked to find some major news outlets weren't carrying the story, and perhaps they have yet to publish it as I am sure there is other news happening and stories they feel are of greater value to the readers.

But in reading these articles a study has found that 1 out of every 9 women, between the ages of 15 (yes 15!) and 44 are using a morning after pill. This is a 4% rise since 2002. This is appalling to me! For those of you who do not know, the morning after pill can terminate a pregnancy. Proponents of this pill claim that it is different from a the "abortion pill" because it is not terminating a pregnancy and is taken only in the first 72 hours following a romantic encounter.

Those opposed to this pill would point to the fact that life is founded at conception which happens once an egg is fertilized, and that this pill can terminate a pregnancy that has just started. Those who support this pill would argue that in the first few days there is no life within the woman and that you are not seizing life from a child. They argue that life does not begin until a certain trimester or in some cases until birth.

But let me explain what I believe. I believe in life at conception, and yes my view is based in my theology, my faith, and my personal conviction. I hold to the Word of God as the one and only source of knowledge and truth, and within the Bible it says "You knit me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 193:13) and how at that point God knew us (Jeremiah 1:4-5). The fact is this, to be known there has to be something. One cannot know of something that does not exist, therefore in accordance with Scripture since we were known in our mother's womb we existed and life was evident!

I am well aware that this stance is not culturally acceptable in our society and that is looked down on as hindering the life of the woman and her choices in life. I understand that, but who has the right then to make a decision for that unborn child? Who is allowed to grant them life or death? Is it us? Are we judge, jury, and executioner? I say no. I report to a higher authority, to one who governs all things, both in this life, and the life to come.

I am not in anyway attempting to malign or criticize those who have or are using these pills. I want those who do or are considering to use them to instead think about what God says about life, and to ponder how different our world would be if your pregnancy had been terminated. If you weren't here you wouldn't be reading this blog, your friends wouldn't know you, you wouldn't have impacted others, and this world would be very different.

Life is life. We cannot allow for this pill to be something that defines our society and our morals. We, as believers and supports of life, need to take a stand for what we believe in and not shy away from sticking to our guns and faith. However, let us not become full of ourselves, and resort to tactics of assault and verbal attacks, nor let us condemn others, for we are all fallen and disgraced individuals in our own ways, and many of us, myself included, worse than the majority of our population. We need instead to reach out in love, support, compassion, understanding, grace, humility, forgiveness, and restoration. Let us be a new generation that seeks to right wrongs, ease burdens, support others, and live and love like Christ.

Let us support life, follow Christ, live like His children, and let us befriend the lost and hurting just as our Savior befriended and saved us (John 4:1-26, Matthew 26-28, Luke 19:9-10).

If you chose to comment in the debate surrounding this blog, I ask that you please keep it civil and respectful to both sides involved. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Is Christ evident in your life?

Well for those of you who don't know me, I am a professing Christian. I know "gasp" right?! If you knew me back in the day that may be quite the literal gasp as I was anything but an adherent Christ Follower. But people and their lives change. Please don't be fooled into thinking that this was a moment when lightening flashed, thunder boomed, and the earth moved and I immediately transformed, because it was a far cry from it. Rather I saw that I needed saving and redemption and at that point a gradual change began to occur that has propelled me to where I am today.

I have served in varying ministry roles for years now, which sounds odd to say as I would still like to consider myself young, and one thing has stood out to me in each ministry or church I have served in. We Christians are a bunch of hypocritical, judgemental, malicious, backstabbing individuals. I had promised myself to not get too crazy and pointed in the first few posts, but recent events have opened up the proverbial Pandora's Box.

I would like to clarify as well that when I say "we Christians" I am including myself. I am just as bad as anyone else, because I am an imperfect, fallen, carnal, sinner. That is one item that separates some believers from others. We recognize that we are still messed up people in need of a Savior and a blood sacrifice. Too often we become prideful, arrogant, and pompous in our beliefs and way of life because we feel that we are now somehow infinitely better than those on the outside of the looking glass. But how quickly we forget where we have come from.

The Bible says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Romans 3 is a great outline for how broken and far from God we are, and how it is only through the redemptive blood shed by a perfect sacrifice in His Son, that we are even allowed to kneel in His very presence. And yet as I have looked around at most of the churches I have been a part of or have visited, I have seen so much dissent, derision, in-fighting, corruption, and malice. I am stating that every church is this way, but I am attempting to call to account those who profess to be followers of the Only True and Risen God, who is perfect and unblemished, and yet live lives like they are no different than those who would spit in the Lord's face.

It pains me to see us as acting no different than those outside of the love of God, because what hope do we have to offer those who come to us? "Hey join the church and follow God so that you can experience more pain from your family in the church then you did outside of it?" Is that what we are called to offer? Or do we have something better to share? Shouldn't our lives mimic the life of Christ? (James 2:14-26, 1 John 1:5-2:14). We are called to something greater than an everyday, ordinary life. We are called to imitators of our Lord and Savior.

Why then are we fighting amongst one another, why must we gossip behind someones back, why are we refusing to greet our brothers and sisters, why must we give into our depravity and sinful nature? Yes we are all by nature of the fall, sinful and corrupt and vile creatures (who would have thought a piece of fruit would contribute to this diatribe?). But by the grace of God we are given a chance for redemption. Let me challenge us all to think about how we treat one another. Think about how Christ responded to those who didn't love Him (John 4:1-26, John 19-20). Christ didn't shy away from those who didn't understand or who needed instruction (and we all know the disciples needed a lot of it in the beginning), He didn't hide from those who weren't part of His group, and ultimately He laid down His life in the most horrific way possible to demonstrate His love for us. Can't we do that for one another? Can't we lay aside our petty differences and show the love of God to others within the church and to those outside of it? Imagine a world where hypocrisy within the church ended, where the truth was told with humility, where people genuinely cared for and loved one another, where people were selfless instead of selfish, where encouragement and love took over in place of pride and deceit! Now ask yourself if that is a world you would like to live in. Are you willing to put aside the flesh and instead showcase the life of Christ?

The question we need to ask ourselves then is this: Are our lives truly Christ-like, or are we living them in a way that we want Christ to be like?

I would like to promise that some of my future posts might be a little lighter, but it depends on the day. Maybe at some point I will post recipes or activities I have gone on or movie recommendations, but we shall see!  God bless all

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Well here goes nothing. This is the first time I am attempting to have a personal blog. I have written in blogs for churches and non-profits before, but never had my own. Recently I have been encouraged to undertake this new and exciting avenue in which to post my thoughts on a variety of subject matters. Elise has been a huge encourager and has been pushing me to put my thoughts paper, errr umm the computer that is, and to share my thoughts and passions. This first post is simply to let you all know I am here, and that I will be posting as regularly as I can. I will post thoughts about youth ministry, church, Christianity, important news, and whatever pops into my ADD wracked brain. Trust me this could get crazy. Hopefully some of you who read this will continue to come back and check in on my writings, but if not it is okay too. Well, that is it for now! I shall be back!