No Dominion​

Yesterday we celebrated Memorial Day. A day that we celebrate and are thankful for those who gave their lives in sacrifice to our country (United States of America). So many men and women have given their lives in sacrifice to this country. There is no greater sacrifice then of sacrificing one’s life. This made me dwell on the sacrifice of Christ, His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary.

Romans 6:9 “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death has no dominion over Him.” This morning in my devotional time I read this verse over and over. Paul had just been telling the Roman church that they were united with Christ in His death, that they were dead to their sins because they were baptized into Christ’ baptism of death on the cross. That they died too. But, Christ defeated death and was raised from the grave. Therefore, death has no victory over Jesus, death has no dominion over Him.

As believers in Christ, we are given this promise. In that same chapter in verse 8, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.” We will join in Christ in His resurrection, that we too will be resurrected and death will have no dominion over us. The curse of death will have no power over you. That truth just continued to hit me this morning as we were thankful to those who gave their lives to continue the American way of life, but Christ’ death and resurrection defeated death! Because of His sacrifice, we can know that death will have no victory!

Make Memories

A question that I’ve been asking myself lately when it comes to raising our kids is, “what memories will they have of me?” When my children are grown and looking back on their childhood, what memories will they cherish? What memories will teach them, mold them, and shape them into the men and women they are then? How am I being intentional in the memories that they have?

Reading in Proverbs, you will come along this passage that every parent knows. Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Though never before had I looked at it from this perspective. Our memories and experiences shape us. But how are we as parents making sure that we are shaping our children the best we can to be obedient followers of Jesus? I by no means claim to be an expert, but here are a few things that we are making sure we do as a family.

1. Take Them With You. We believe that if we want our kids to be great servants of Jesus, this means they come along. When I do a hospital visit, or hang door hangers, or even go on a mission trip, we want to bring our children along. We want them to see what it is like to serve Jesus. That they experience daddy and mommy serving King Jesus and they remember what it was like to do so. For some parents, this is really difficult because they are concerned with schedules and other things, but let me ask you this question, isn’t it worth it to keep your kid up an extra hour so they can see you love Jesus?

2. Intentional On What We Say. In Deuteronomy we see Moses telling them to speak of the Law of the Lord with their kids. To teach them. This means as a parent, I am looking for opportunities to talk to my kids about God’s Word. Helping them see how it applies to my day to day life. This also means that I am intentional about what I am putting inside of me, that I am spending time in God’s Word.

3. Make A Plan. This one is the hardest for me, but most essential. What is the vision for my family? Where do I want them to be in a year? What do I want them to experience in a year? These are questions you need to ask in order to come up with a plan to be intentional of accomplishing those visions. You must know the direction that you want to go as a family, how are you molding them, what are the steps you need to take? In order to produce disciples, you must have a plan.

I know this list is not exhaustive, but if you have any other things you would add, put it in the comments!

Intentional Discipleship

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

The primary discipler of your child is you. God has called you to be the biggest spiritual influence in your child’s life. We’ve looked in previous posts about parenting, about being a grace filled parent, but this one I want us to look at that discipleship with children is to be intentional.

Train up a child. To train someone is to be intentional about what you teach them. In the work place this is coming up with a plan to make sure to produce the best employee that you can produce. In children this is being strategic in teaching your child what it means to follow Jesus. You are helping your child be trained in the way that they should go, to follow Jesus in their lives.

Even when he is old he will not depart from it. This promise is something that is difficult. For several parents out there they feel like they have done all they could to help their child follow Jesus and it seems like they have not continued down this path. In a later post we are going to deal with this issue, but for our purpose today, we are looking at the influence that you have on your children. That when you teach your children what it means to follow Jesus, they follow your influence.

As parents we have to make sure that we are intentional about how we teach and spend time with our children. We have to be intentional on what we teach. They are listening, they are watching, what are you teaching?

Marriage: Ministry of the Towel

In John 13 we see Jesus live out a truly practical yet amazing display of service. For some reason there was no servant there to wash the feet of the disciples and because of this, Jesus took upon Himself to step in the gap. He rose from supper and washed the disciples feet. After He finished washing their feet He told them that He had gave them an example that they should follow.

This may seem like an odd text to come in looking at marriage. This example that Jesus gave is not only for actions within the church, but also is something we must take into the marriage relationship. In the marriage relationship this means choosing we over me. Another place we look to is Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Philippians 2:3-8 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

In marriage we must take this into the marriage. Look not to your own interest but to the interest of your spouse. Having this mind that Christ did, willingly laying down His life for the church. Taking the form of a servant and being obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. That is a prime example of sacrificial living in marriage, that’s picking up the towel.

Ministry Depression

I was so hesitant to write this post. For so many pastors and Christians, this is a subject that so many do not want to talk about, or even acknowledge for that matter. Many pastors struggle with depression. But even the “greats” struggled with depression. Looking at the Psalms we can see that David battled with episodes of depression, Charles Spurgeon wrote about his battles with depression, it’s something we don’t want to talk about but must acknowledge. So where does it come from.

1. Feelings of Inadequacy. I put this at the top of the list because this is the one that I’ve wrestled with the most. It doesn’t matter how much you read, how much you try and grow win different areas of ministry, you will never “arrive”. When you feel like you are growing in your preaching capabilities, your counseling is not up to snuff.

2. Lack of results. 65% of churches are in decline. For those of us in revitalization efforts, it only gets worse before it gets better. When you look out in the crowd and it seems to get smaller and smaller. Despite your best effort, it seems like folks are not buying in, and no matter how many doors you knock on and how many folks you share the Gospel with, the baptism waters stay undisturbed.

3. Criticism. You have so many folks in your church with opinions. Pastors have folks that are behind them and others that seem to constantly criticize everything you do. This is something that is hurtful and hangs over your head. When you see them in worship it causes a fear and frustration in your heart.

As a pastor you may face this feeling. The worst thing that you can do is not talk to someone. Share with someone you can trust.

A Year in Review

In March on this year, my wife and I celebrated one year at Springfield Baptist. A remarkable year indeed. We have had so much to celebrate and even more to learn from. This short post is simply learning from what I’ve seen in this past year.

1. Patience. For me this one is something that I should have known coming into an older church. SBC has been around for over 100 years and change doesn’t come easy. My personality is not a big fan of slow and steady, but I’m learning that revitalization is going to take time, patience is the game.

2. Celebrate. Celebrating the small wins and the big wins. Learning that God is doing something every week. As pastor I have to look at the small victories that God has given us.

3. Victories look different. This one has been huge for me. Understanding that what I feel like is a victory may not be what God is doing. I have to learn to look at what God is doing and celebrate those victories.

So if you are a pastor in a small church looking to revitalize, take your time, be patient. I’m not saying this as someone who is on the other side of it, I’m still in the thick, and from what I know, it’s going to get harder. Also, I don’t have all of this figured out either. I’m learning that God is in control, that I need to trust in Him.

Marriage: Wives

In the previous post, we began to look at the biblical call of marriage. We began by looking at the call upon the husband. That he is called to resemble Christ in the relationship between Christ and His church. Today we are going to look at the wife. Now I know that in this post that many will disagree. It is not favorably to look at God’s Word and come to the interpretation that I come to in looking at Ephesians 5. Rather, it is normal to be dismissive of God’s Word in the role of wives.

Ephesians 5:22-24 “22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” For some people, this immediately starts controversy. Hold your horses… First, notice that it says to your own husband, not to all men. Wives are called to submit to their own husbands because the husband is to resemble Christ in the Christ and church relationship. This is to be a display of the Gospel relationship between Jesus and His church. He willingly gave His life for her. Wives, are to represent the church in this relationship. Responding the sacrificial husband through submission. Submission is not blind obedience. Rather she is submitting to her husband because she submits to the Lord. Trusting that her husband has her interests in mind because he is being like Christ to her.

For many wives, this will have to be a true conscious effort. Of making the effort to submit to her husband and not to manipulate nor domineer him. Her reasoning for submission is not because of her husband, but as the text says, it’s for the Lord. Wives will submit to their husbands because they love Jesus more than they love their husbands. Husbands will sacrifice for their wives because they love Jesus more than their wives. No one said this would be easy, but isn’t Jesus worth it?