Facebook Friendaversary (revised)


The link I shared had privacy settings, so here is what I posted on Facebook on a personal note:

Two years ago, thanks to Jodi, Jennifer searched for her future husband on FacebookšŸ˜‚. The next day, I went to a Nerium party (skin care product for those who don’t know). I was the only guy and had all evening to talk with Jennifer. I had no idea that night that God had picked her to be my wife. For anyone who has gone through the pain of divorce, you know the difficulty of finding a good mate and thank God daily when He finally sends you one. I celebrate today because God allowed me to meet via social media a lady who is always by my side, cheering me on to be the best God would have me to be. I love you, Jennifer!

The Easiest Decision That People Try To Make Hard Every Day- Jesus Christ.

Great testimony by TJ Petri! I encourage you to check out his blog. You’ll find a wide variety of topics and a few posts that will take the edge off.

Don't Label My Kid!

I have never been one to take peopleā€™s word for things and it was no different went I got my first bible bruise on my head from a bible thumping Baptist who thought he WAS Jesus I think. I did not say ā€ ouch that hurtsā€ I think I will dedicate my life to Christ. However I was also smart enough to let one irritating Christian chase me away from Christ, just in case my investigation decided that Jesus really was who He said he was. After all his comments were not too light- like John 14: 6- ā€ I am the way the truth and the life, NO MAN shall see the Father except through meā€ If I did scratch him from my list, I wanted to be sure.

I enjoy investigating things, and finding out for myself what truth was about anything. I reads some good books, oneā€¦

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UncomfortableĀ 


I am sitting here dwelling on some things that are uncomfortable. For my family, it is a little bit warmer in the house because the AC decided to have an issue we will need to have examined. I think about my supervisor who is recovering from a broken hand (a pain I can’t imagine). I think about people who live in fear tonight of abuse and violence. Those who are sick and will only get worse. The list goes on. My heart is deeply moved, and I pray for these and others who are uncomfortable for one reason or another. 

Despite the extra warmth of the house, I am thankful to have electricity to operate fans. I am thankful to have a roof over my head. I am thankful to have a job and coworkers I enjoy. I am thankful to be called to plant a church in a community I love and long to see the denominational and ethnic divide demolished by the power of God. I am thankful for the people God has given me to pastor and pour my life into. I am thankful for my wife and children. I am thankful for a dependable vehicle. I am thankful for second chances. I am thankful for the blood of Jesus that has washed away my sin. I am thankful for good people in my life. I am thankful for parents who sacrificed for me and other family members who have encouraged me. I am thankful for those who encouraged me to not forsake my calling when the enemy wanted me on the shelf. 

Some of you who are reading this may be dealing with some minor issue like the AC going out, and it would change your perspective if you would simply count your blessings. Others of you will struggle with counting your blessings because life has been a series of difficulties for you. I will not condemn you for your struggles. I pray that God will somehow reveal Himself so sweetly to you and bring healing to your life to the point where you can begin to see the blessings. 

Father, I know that many who read this are walking through things I will never understand. Although I can empathize, I will never grasp the pain, guilt, or whatever they are carrying today. I take great joy in knowing that You understand their every heartache and can dry every tear. May each reader find encouragement and experience Your sweet love that is demonstrated through the sacrifice of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross. I thank You that Jesus conquered death and lives today so that all who read this who have placed their faith and trust in Him can experience His resurrection power. May their discomfort be replaced by the sweet comfort of the Holy Spirit. For I ask this in the sweet name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

Be the Fire!Ā 

Please beware of this elderly man who is starting fires in people’s yards. He is old and dangerous.


Seriously, this is my friend Howard. He and some others came and helped us with some needed work around the house today. As we were working, I took this picture and thought that it could turn into a great blog post.

In life, I have found that there are 3 kinds of people in relation to fire.

  1. There are those who avoid fires. They don’t like conflict or anything that might be contagious positively or negatively. They play it safe and never take a chance. These are those who say, “I won’t get burned if I don’t get near the fire.”
  2. There are those who create fires for others to extinguish. These are the trouble makers. They always like to make a mess for someone else to clean.
  3. The third type is my favorite – those who are the fire. You may ask what I mean by that. These are passionate about their cause and spread like wildfire. They know the proper surroundings that are necessary to be contagious and spread. John Wesley said, “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” This is what I want for my life and for the group of believers of whom I am privileged to pastor. 

We need more people who will be the fire. Revelation 3 says that God wants those who are hot and on fire for Him. Will you be a fire in your home, workplace, and community?

Losing My Religion


If you’ve said, “I almost lost my religion”, I hope you go ahead and lose it. Go all the way with it. Don’t just get rid of some of it. Get rid of all of it! 

Great advice coming from a pastor, huhšŸ˜€? I think so. Religion is manmade. I have probably encountered more people with a manmade, mustered-up version of something God never intended. That kind of religion has created some of the meanest, snootiest people I have ever met. This is the kind of religion where people try to be good enough. They know the right things to do, say, wear, etc. The problem is that it is fake. The outside conforms, but the inside is dead and empty. Religious people strive to be “good enough”, and the only way to measure that is by comparison. We compare ourselves with others to see if we are better or worse. That’s when church becomes a competition, and we try to figure out who won the “holier than thou” award this week. 

Biblical Christianity is not about comparison because none of us would be good enough to make it into Heaven. What would the standard of righteousness be anyway? God is the righteous standard, and the only way to have God’s righteousness is through faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn from your sin and turn to Him. It sure beats the whole comparison thing because we will NEVER measure up.

I will close with the lyrics from the R.E.M. song “Losing My Religion”. Read these lyrics with the thoughts above in mind.

Life is bigger

It’s bigger

And you, you are not me

The lengths that I will go to

The distance in your eyes

Oh no, I’ve said too much

I set it up
That’s me in the corner

That’s me in the spotlight

Losing my religion

Trying to keep up with you

And I don’t know if I can do it

Oh no I’ve said too much

I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing

I thought that I heard you sing

I think I thought I saw you try
Every whisper

Of every waking hour

I’m choosing my confessions

Trying to keep an eye on you

Like a hurt lost and blinded fool

Oh no, I’ve said too much

I set it up
Consider this

The hint of the century

Consider this

The slip that brought me

To my knees failed

What if all these fantasies

Come flailing around

Now I’ve said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing

I thought that I heard you sing

I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream

That was just a dream
That’s me in the corner

That’s me in the spotlight

Losing my religion

Trying to keep up with you

And I don’t know if I can do it

Oh no I’ve said too much

I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing

I thought that I heard you sing

I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream, try, cry, why, try

That was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream

Dream

Written by Bill Berry, Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, Peter Buck ā€¢ Copyright Ā© Universal Music Publishing Group

Co-Parenting


I have been blogging consistently for almost 2 years, and I have read several blogs by other writers. Surprisingly, I have never read a post about co-parenting. You know the grueling task of sharing children with an ex?

I have been doing this for about 3 1/2 years. As the time passes, the challenges increase. Kids get older. They move from the emotional trauma of the parents not being together anymore. Then they adjust to a new “parent” or two being in the picture. Add issues like behavior, problems at school, puberty, and sibling or stepparent/stepchild rivalry into the mix. Kids playing the game of divide and conquer while you and the one to whom you were once married (potentially your arch nemesis) have to be on the same page, despite the fact that you couldn’t get on the same page when you were together. Can anyone relate?

What do we do in these difficult situations? I can’t write the book on this subject, but I can give a few helpful tips to those who are struggling through this. To give you a clearer picture of my scenario, my ex-wife and I are both married to different people. I have 3 kids from that marriage and 1 with my wife now. My three live 4 hours away. My current wife has two from her previous marriage, so a blended family of 6 (ages 10 months to 14). Both exes are in the picture, so you can imagine that 4 different philosophies can cause tension. With that in mind, what would I recommend?

  1. Do what you want and make the ex vehemently angry. Just kiddingšŸ˜‚! Compromise! You will not agree on every matter, but civilly discuss issues of disagreement and come to a truce. It is not about one party willing to die on the hill of being right. 
  2. Take some time before you respond! Do not respond emotionally or hastily! These responses only intensify matters. The Bible says in James 1:19 to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Hear all perspectives and allow the Holy Spirit to control what you say. Fire is not put out with fuel. 
  3. Unite for the sake of the children! This has several aspects to it. First, a set of rules must be agreed upon and implemented. Second, kids can be divisive and find a loophole in EVERYTHING. They do this even when the family unit is a traditional family, so this is intensified in the blended family when exes have to co-parent. 
  4. Don’t parent out of guilt! This is an easy one to do when the family unit you once knew has been decimated and you want to soften some of the blow. Principle must not be compromised. Bad behavior is inexcusable, even if the kids have been through a lot.
  5. Get counseling! I am a firm believer in a professional counselor. I would not be where I am today had I not had some great counselors when I was going through my separation, divorce, and remarriage. Most people will dismiss this because of pride. I threw my pride aside when I knew I needed help. Counseling digs beneath the surface and reveals things that must come to the surface. It is best to bring the junk to the surface rather than sweep it under the rug. It will come out anyway, so it is best to process the issues sooner rather than later. No wonder the Bible says “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26).

As I said, I can’t write the book on this subject. I can just pass along what little bit I am learning and invite you, the reader, to chime in and share your insight in the comments. It’s a hard road to hoe, and co-parenting is not for wimps. Here’s to all the brave parents who share this journey and its accompanying battle scars!

Addiction


I normally don’t address subjects like this on my blog, but it’s real! I cannot count how many people I know who struggle with an addiction of some sort whether it be porn or sex-related, alcohol, food, illegal drugs, prescription meds, or whatever the case may be. The thing that concerns me is that most churches either don’t know how to handle those who struggle with addiction or don’t want to handle it because it’s uncomfortable.

A few months ago, God allowed my path to unite with TJ Petri, author of Don’t Label My Kid blog. Since that initial phone conversation, I have begun to partner with his blog to provide a spiritual element to it. TJ became an addict at an early age and overcame through the power of God. He personally experienced the hell of addiction, withdrawals, and all that goes with it. 

I want to share what TJ has posted on his LinkedIn page. Read what he says below:

“Our goal is to make a difference at what we do. Our vision is to set the bar so high that an entirely new standard of care is at least in our daily thoughts. In the mental health and addiction industry it seems at some point, we all just quit demanding answers and started accepting mediocrity. 

“The only numbers that have increased are the cost of the trophies we hand out. Certainly not in the success rates of the problems we have. I guess I just cannot settle. Maybe because that hell took half my life. 

“If someone is not telling me that I am crazy when they find out what my plans are- I am missing something. 

“If I know a way to help even one person overcome the throngs of addiction and mental illness, and sleep well without making a move, -I am a failure.

“My career is not about me wanting people to like me for the way I choose to help others ..If I’ve been through the hell of addiction and I know a way out that’s better, I could care less who agrees.

“I respect education greatly. Especially internships. When it comes time to pull the trigger on a model of treatment I think might help even 1 more person than the last one did- you better believe my mind is not on some pie in the sky manipulated numbers or a text book. 

“My mind is STILL on a hard cold floor of a filthy detox/rehab that I laid my head on and vomited while the ‘experts’ made their rounds to remind me that I was letting my children down telling me I ‘just did not want it bad enough’ (coming from those who have never known more then chapter 8 & 9 in their college texts about withdrawals).

“Right about then is when we ‘slouchers’ scanned the room for sharp objects.

“For those of us who do make it out (mental health or addictions)- We must find every single ingredient that made it possible for us to the make it to that finish line –

“{BTW- wish us luck this summer as we meet with BC/BS -Fl. -They want a closer look at our treatment model….T.J & Team”

If you or someone you know struggles with addiction, click on Don’t Label My Kid and contact TJ. He’s not interested in your money. He wants you to overcome. 

A Simple Formula for God’s Direction

God's direction

If there is one thing that someone who loves Jesus wants to know, it is how to figure out what God wants for his or her life. I was praying about something the other day and reflecting on two verses of Scripture I learned when I was in 3rd grade. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Note that there are 3 steps here with a promise. Let’s break this down a little bit.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” The first step to receiving the Lord’s direction is trust. We have heard this illustration many times, but it’s amazing how most all of us trust that a chair will hold us up when we sit down, and we do not give it a second thought. We fully rely in the ability of the chair to hold us. However, the Lord of the universe has so much more ability than a chair yet we are slower to trust Him with our life. God is calling out to us, “I hold the whole world together, so why can’t you trust me to hold your world together?” Your first step to receiving God’s direction is complete and total trust in the Lord.

“Do not lean on your own understanding.” Why do we try to help God out? I pray about something and then do 100 things to figure out life by myself. God is reminding me that it is not up to me to figure it out. He takes me back to the principle of trusting Him first. If I trust Him fully, I should not lean on my own understanding. I should let “Jesus take the wheel” and relinquish my will to His. It’s a control issue. I want control of my situation. God wants control of my situation. He is the greater power!

“In all your ways acknowledge Him.” Do you see the climactic nature of this verse? Rather than try to figure out life for myself, I should pray and seek the Lord’s direction in ALL my ways. I heard a pastor preach several years ago and give advice about asking God to show them basic things like which toothpaste to use, which way to turn at a stoplight, etc. He then asked the question, “If you don’t know what God wants with these basic things in life, how are you going to be able to know what God wants you to say when a young couple who lost a child comes to you for counsel?” Those seem like silly things to pray about, but the pastor had a point.

When we do these things, He promises to direct our paths. We tend to complicate life while God gives us a clear road map called the Bible which gives us principles to help us. Do you want direction? God laid out the principles. Now the ball is in our court. Obey or keep wondering.

What’s Missing in Church/Ministerial Training

I have been doing some research among pastors and other believers about what is missing in the church’s and ministerial training programs. My findings were not surprising. I will summarize what people told me on both levels: from the pew to the pulpit.

Those “in the pew” said the following:

  1. Not enough practical teaching. As a pastor, I can agree with that. I have 3 degrees from Bible college and seminary, and I can tell you how pastors are taught. We are taught the technical aspects of delivering a sermon. From that education, many leave seminary to pastor their first church and show off their knowledge. Meanwhile, those in the seats want to know how to live out the Bible. They are not impressed with the pastor’s knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. They want to know how to deal with home-related issues, figuring out the will of God, and other practical, real-life issues.
  2. The Holy Spirit is left out of the equation. Because I come from a primarily non-Pentecostal setting, most of the people with whom I associated went to the other extreme and avoided teaching and preaching about the Holy Spirit. BALANCE! WE NEED BALANCE! Teach the whole counsel of God, even if it’s uncomfortable.
  3. There’s not enough love in sermon delivery. Paul said in Ephesians 4 to speak the truth in love. Once again, balance!
  4. Not enough doctrinal teaching and preaching. Whereas we need practical teaching, people need to understand doctrine also. They need to know who the Holy Spirit is, the doctrine of the Trinity, the Second Coming of Christ, and issues like this. Someone said that they saw a doctrinal statement about 6 months after he gave his life to Christ and had no idea what any of it meant. He is now rooted in the Bible, but no one taught or discipled him in the early days of his faith. Many churches today are very weak in discipleship. People do not know how to think for themselves biblically because they have never been taught or they never exercised the discipline to study for themselves.

Here’s what pastors are saying:

  1. The primary thing pastors didn’t learn in their seminary training was leadership and how to deal with people. They got into the pastorate and didn’t know how to deal with conflict, organize the church financially, or possess the people skills needed for ministry.
  2. Emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. Many pastors work 50-60 hours per week or more and do not take time to care for their own emotional, spiritual, and physical health. I was very fortunate to receive a Master’s degree in Leadership which taught these principles, but many seminaries do not address this.
  3. Counseling. Some pastors do not feel adequate enough to counsel people. Pastors more than likely did not get their degree in psychology or counseling. Therefore, many in the church are better off going to a professional counselor. I was also fortunate to have some counseling training in school, but I also know when I am in over my head and need to make a referral.
  4. Mentoring. One pastor said he wished he had to shadow a pastor for a semester. Some schools do this. I transferred schools before I went through what is called a “practicum”, but I was blessed to work alongside pastors who were very honest about church issues and taught me lessons about ministry, how to perform weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc.
  5. Evangelism. Some pastors do not feel adequately trained to share the gospel, especially with people of different religious backgrounds. People automatically assume that a pastor is gifted in the area of evangelism. Although I know how to share the gospel and witness to different people and groups, my gift and passion is discipleship. Pastors are each wired differently and must staff the church according to their weaknesses.

If you would like to add anything to this, please comment below. Also, if you would like resources to help you in ANY of these areas, I will be sending out an e-newsletter soon with these resources. Go to my blog page (mdw4Christ.wordpress.com), enter your email address, and subscribe so I can send it out together. This is the best way and would help me out greatly. I am here to help you, so do not hesitate to contact me. My contact info is on my “About” page.

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