Category Archives: Christian Living
30-some years ago, we were introduced to Jim and Debbie Reeves. As folks coming in new to Westwood Christian Church, our senior minister Don Boswell formed a group of young married couples to study Scripture and do life together. We met at Jim and Debbie’s house.
While we enjoyed all the couples in that group, a special bond formed between the Reeves’ and us. We found ourselves hanging out together outside of “church related functions.” I had our kids call Debbie “Grandma Debbie” (because she is a couple months older than me) from the get-go. People would ask if Debbie and Peggy were sisters, to which they would quickly answer, “YES!” We have a bond that goes far deeper than friendship. We are family.
We shared with each other in the ups and downs of raising our kids, and we share in the joys and heartaches of grandparenthood now. We can go months without communicating with one another, yet pick up like we just spoke earlier in the day. We are family.
Jim and Debbie come to Florida a couple times a year now. They have a “retirement home” about two hours away from us (long story that is not important to this blog), and while neither are retired yet, they are making plans along those lines for the “near future.”
We had the privilege of spending some time with them last weekend, while they were here in Florida. We ate (way too much). We watched KY basketball. The girls shopped. You see, Stein Mart was having this “huge sale” that they just could not resist.We ate. We cat-napped around the house. We had deep, meaningful, spiritual discussions. We talked about stuff that made us laugh and had no eternal significance at all. We ate. We just relished each others’ company. Oh yeah, and we ate.
We have established a few “local spots” where we like to eat, and the trick is trying to hit them all any time Jim and Debbie are here with us. We failed to hit them all, but it was not for a lack of trying!
While Debbie and Peggy are not biological sisters, we all are related by Blood. It is the Blood of Christ which binds us together. The common interests we have, the common sense of humor we share, the bonds that endear Jim and Debbie to us are all because of our shared love for Jesus. We are truly blessed to call Jim and Debbie family, and honored that they feel the same about us.
God created us all to crave community. We were not designed to follow Jesus on our own. We need people who share our values and faith, but who also share our likes, sense of humor, and goals in life.
Make no mistake about it. I love being a husband, a dad, a Pop Pop. I love my biological brothers and sister. I love Peggy’s sister. I love our biological family. Those are important roles I play in life. But I love being a brother to Jim and Debbie Reeves. They have made and continue to make this journey called life such a pleasure.
I pray that you have someone in your life like that. If not, you are missing out on one of the biggest blessings God could every bestow upon you. Our BFFs absolutely make our lives a more rich and rewarding experience.
How about you? I would love to hear about your BFFs and the impact on your life. Let’s continue the conversation in the comments section below.
In my previous post, I discussed what a biblical Elder should look like (or smell like), citing work done by Dr. Lynn Anderson on this matter. Elders are shepherds, mentors, and equippers. Knowing that, how should I react, and how should I relate to my Elders. Let me suggest a few items for consideration and prayer.
First, we need to pray for our Elders daily. These men are under the call of God to lead the flock of which we are a part. The least we could do for them is to pray.
We need to be willing to be mentored and equipped for works of service. I would dare say that we should look for areas of service where there is a need, and where we have skills to help meet that need, and VOLUNTEER to take care of that area. We need to let our Elders know that we are with them.
Dr. Anderson asserts and I agree that we can help our Elders by shepherding flocks ourselves. At Vero Christian, we call those flocks “Life Groups.” Our Life Group leaders shepherd the people in their group. If there is that rare shepherding need that arises needing an Elder’s attention, this need is reported to the Elders. Otherwise, the Life Group leader and his group members handle the shepherding needs of the members of their group. This is a TREMENDOUS blessing not only for the people in the Life Group, but for the Elders as well.
We all play the role of shepherd to someone. Whether it is raising your children in the faith, teaching a Sunday School Class, discipling a fellow Christian, mentoring a younger man or woman, or leading someone to Christ. Realize that God has designed you for those roles. God expects each of us to mentor others. On purpose. As Paul told Timothy, we are to “teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
Elders who have a servant’s heart can overextend themselves, taking on responsibilities that should be delegated to others. They see areas of need, and often dive in to handle that need themselves. What if we, members of the flock, looked around at areas of need (preparing and serving Communion, helping in the children’s ministry on Sunday mornings, etc.) and VOLUNTEERED to meet those needs? We would be serving the body and would be obedient to God’s call on our lives.
I wonder what would happen if we approached an Elder and asked them to mentor us? Yeah, you are right. They probably would faint. It would be fun, though, wouldn’t it? I mean to have an Elder pour themselves into us. Having an Elder looking at our lives, seeing what God can do through us, and casting a vision for us in that manner. You thought I was referring to making an Elder faint, didn’t you?
The body of Christ is healthier when we all function as we were designed. God has gifted each of us in different ways, and those gifts are to be used for the building up of the body of Christ. Biblical Elders will shepherd, mentor, and equip. Christians will respond by being willing to submit to the Elders; by being willing to be mentored by someone who is further along in their faith journey than us, or someone who has a skill set we need to learn; and by being willing to allow someone to equip us properly for works of service.
I declare this to be “freak your Elders out week.” Approach an Elder and ask how you may be of service. Better yet, tell them about how you have seen a need and how you are willing to meet that need.
I would love to continue the conversation in the comments section below.
Having “grown up” in the church for most of my life, I can honestly say that I hadn’t given much thought about what an Elder should look like or act like.
I mean, Elders were those old guys with sour looks on their faces, like they had been baptized in pickle juice, you know…they hung around in the shadows of the church building, coming forward to serve at the Communion Table and sit in those throne chairs left over from the Dark Ages. I never thought of them as “bad guys,” I just didn’t want to hang out with them.
You, too, may suffer from misconceptions about what the role of a biblical Elder is. Manmade traditions have clouded the clear call of God in this matter. To this end, allow me to summarize some thoughts from Dr. Lynn Anderson, president of Hope Network and author of the two volume work, “They Smell Like Sheep.“
Elders are shepherds.
Which, is a good thing in light or Isaiah’s assessment of us when he wrote: “we all, like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.” We need a shepherd who lives with us, walks with us, feeds, waters, protects us in a hands-on, personal manner. A shepherd is simply there for the flock. A biblical Elder smells like sheep.
A shepherd is committed to the Lord, to the church, to the clear teaching of the Scriptures, and to the people entrusted to his care as an Elder.
A shepherd is trusted. They are followed because they have established that they can be trusted in the good times and the not-so-good times. Shepherds attract flocks through loving service and authentic relationships.
Elders are mentors.
While a shepherd tends the flock, a mentor pulls up along side individuals to model behavior, values, and faith through a shared life. Mentoring is pouring your life into someone else so they become more like Christ. Mentors are models, not moguls lording it over anyone. Elders as mentors are not cowboys driving the herd, or sheriffs “enforcing the law.” Mentors who pour themselves into others often see things in the person they are mentoring that the person being mentored may not see in themselves.
My spiritual mentor, Don Boswell, saw in me the potential to move out of that broadcast journalist mindset and into full-time ministry. 30 years later, I am still living out that vision Don cast before me, and loving every minute of being a minister of the Gospel of Christ.
Elders are equippers.
News flash: biblical Elders do not do all the work of ministry that needs to be done. They cannot do all of the work of ministry that needs to be done. As the flock grows, needs grow, and those needs outgrow the ability of a handful of Elders to handle. So, Elders need to follow the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:11-13, and equip others for works of service. This means that Elders must
Delegate meaningful tasks to others.
Search for the “right fit” for the tasks at hand.
Train them with the skills necessary to accomplish those tasks.
Knowing this is what God expects from Elders, what is our responsibility to our Elders? I am so glad you asked. I will offer some thoughts on that in my next post. Meanwhile, I would love to hear your thoughts on this post. Leave a comment below so we can continue the conversation.
My oldest son Elliott and I are currently reading Bob Goff’s book, Love Does. Yeah, there are three links in my last sentence, and you should check them all out! Every chapter in this book grabs me, stomps on my toes, and/or has me standing and cheering “YESSSSSSSSS!”
satan does not deserve the respect or the credit of having his name capitalized, even at the beginning of a sentence. Now, I understand that many folks want to give him more credit than he deserves, but satan is a wimp. He is a liar, a braggart, a self-deceived and self-deceiving cast out from heaven. Now, I understand satan can be stronger than we humans can be, and I understand folks fear satan for what he can do in their lives. However, those people are allowing satan to hold that power over them. I refuse to do so.
I am not claiming that satan does not wage war against me every day. He does. I am simply saying that I call him out for what he is: a spineless, wimp of a wannabe god. I recognize that satan does indeed have power to wield, but I will battle that power with the superior power of God’s Word and God’s people in my life.
I have spent much of this week drawing closer to God, while expressing my pure hatred for death. Death was not part of God’s original design, but satan helped facilitate death’s entrance into the world when he enticed Adam and Eve to sin. God is the Father of Life, while satan is death’s daddy. I long for the day of Christ’s return when those who are in His Kingdom, those who are His Bride, go to be in His presence forever, and when death is told to “go to hell.”
Meanwhile, I want to encourage those who are doing their best to follow Christ daily to resist satan and to draw closer to Jesus. I want to remind us that satan holds no power over us unless we give him that power. Instead, let us draw from the mighty power of our Heavenly Father by spending quality and quantity time in the Bible, in prayer, and in doing life together with fellow believers.
Time in the Bible
Use the reading plan that best fits you. I have, for the past couple of decades, read the One Year Bible plan. You get a does of Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs every day. Last year, as readers of this blog know, I added an immersion into Colossians in my daily reading. This year, Peggy and I are immersing ourselves in 1 Peter as our couples devotion. I personally love the Bible App from YouVersion. Others prefer to use a Bible from their bookshelf. Whatever. I just cannot over emphasize the importance of daily immersing yourself in God’s Word.
Time in prayer.
I use desconsos to help remind me of prayer matters. My wedding ring reminds me to pray for Peggy. Grinding Juan Valdez Café reminds me to pray for Dale and Jeanie Meade and the Colombian Christian Mission, a glasses-wearing flower sticker reminds me to pray for Francesca Rodriguez. I have desconsos reminding me to pray for my kids, my grandkids, the folks at Vero Christian Church, the lost in our community, etc. I have dedicated times of intensive prayer, and I have an attitude of prayer through the day. I am not a master of prayer by any means. I consider myself a novice but I work to make prayer a discipline in my life every day.
Time doing life together with fellow believers.
I disciple a couple of different men right now. I am in a Life Group. I lead two different praise teams at our church. I LOVE the time I get to hang out with Peggy. Well, you get the picture. There is no such thing as a “Lone Ranger Christian,” and it is important to surround yourself with believers for encouragement and accountability.
I pray that this post is an affirmation for you. Don’t give satan credit he doesn’t deserve, but don’t think that you can overcome his schemes on your own. He knows you weaknesses, and will attack in those areas. What are some ways you counter those attacks? I would love to continue the conversation in the comment section below.
Having read Kyle Idleman’s latest book, “Grace Is Greater,” I am moved to tell a story of grace, forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation from my own experience.
I have written in the past about the fact that my Dad lived with us for several years before having to place him in a skilled nursing facility where he passed away last May. The story of how he came to live with us has not be written before.
Dad and my sister Donna had a co-dependent relationship for decades. Donna played the role of addict well, and Dad was an enabler extraordinaire. This co-dependency kicked into high gear following the death of Mom in 1993.
While there were serious warning signs of things to come as early as 2005, Dad kept me at arms-length regarding the depth of the co-dependency. Oh, I knew it was there. I even told Dad in a letter that I would do anything I could to help, IF he would let me. If he wouldn’t, then I would simply stay out of the way. All this, after I was accused of trying to control Dad. He was hospitalized (for what I now know was the 1st time of being hospitalized for polypharmacy), and I wanted to get his car repaired. I backed off.
Fast forward three years, and I found out that Donna was in jail, Dad was home alone, his bank account beyond depleted, his car hidden in the garage because he was afraid the title pawn folks were going to take his car (and they would have), his phone disconnected, and his electric about to be disconnected (again). Oh yeah, and the house was in the early stages of foreclosure.
Donna’s addiction had taken her to the point where she had written tens of thousands of dollars of bad checks on Dad’s account (she and I were both listed on the account with Dad), she had maxed out all of his credit cards, and his bank account had been closed because it was in the red for more than three consecutive months. Dad was clueless about all of this, except for the fact that Donna was in jail, and some guys were looking for his car.
Donna did indeed spend quite some time in jail for her bad check writing deeds. During that time, she wrote to Dad demanding that he bring her money and toiletries. I told Dad that he could not do that because he didn’t have any money. I wrote Donna, telling her that I loved her, but she wouldn’t be getting any money from Dad since he was tens of thousands of dollars in debt, I was trying to save his house and his car, and establish a new checking account where he could get his pension, social security, etc. direct deposited. I know that Donna thought I was satan in the flesh. I will confess that I was very angry with what she had done to Dad. I was also angry with what Dad had done to enable Donna to get to that point.
Long story short, Donna is out of jail, making restitution payments to several counties where she wrote bad checks. I temporarily saved Dad’s house, but eventually had to give it up. I got thousands of dollars of debt taken care of (either paid off or forgiven) before Dad’s health demanded placing him in skilled nursing as a medicaid patient.
Like I said, I was angry about what was going on, but I did NOT want to play the role of the older brother in the story of the prodigal son. I prayed and prayed. I prayed for Dad. I prayed for Donna. I prayed for me. I prayed to be a dispenser of grace. I did FINALLY come to the point where I truly released all of my anger, hurt, frustration, and resentment to God.
There are consequences to actions, and trust takes a LONG TIME to rebuild. I will simply tell you, that trust has been restored in my relationship with Donna. It has not been easy. Can’t find anywhere in Scripture where it says that life will be easy. I had to let go. I had to get to the point where I truly put all of this very painful situation in God’s hands. Again, I was as angry with Dad as I was with Donna. Yet, we took Dad into our home and cared for him as best we could for as long as we could without risking serious injury (Dad had balance issues…he fell NINE times in the last eight days he lived in our home). Donna, on the other hand, was still playing the co-dependent card with Dad all the way up until the point he was a medicaid patient and no longer had any money or assets she could use. She did another stint in jail about four years ago, and at about that time, I was giving the house back to the mortgage company. Now, Donna was literally alone and without a place to live, etc.
I will finish the story on Monday. And by finish, I mean I will bring you to the present day in this journey of Grace.
Peter reminds us that humility comes from a tender heart. Man, is that so counter-cultural. Especially for us men, who are supposed to be rugged, tough, take-no-guff guys.
But humility doesn’t mean that you think any less of yourself. You just think of yourself less.
God has no favorites.
The paradox in our Christian life is the fact that we hear (or should hear) often that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to take our sins away. We are the object of God’s great love. At the same time, Paul reminds us in Colossians 3:26b “For God has no favorites.” Peter echoes that sentiment in 1 Peter 1:17, “And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites.”
When I am tenderhearted, I am more Christ-like.
As I try to make sure I have a proper perspective, it is important for me to remember that as crazy as God is about me, He is that crazy about everyone else in the world. I have no reason, nor any right to become puffed up with myself. I need to remember that a modest opinion of my own importance, rank, etc. IS the proper perspective in the Kingdom of Christ. When I am tenderhearted, I am more Christ-like.
Of what can I boast? Any skills that I have come from God. Anything good I can conceive comes from God. Anything I can do that promotes peace, harmony, and love comes from God.
On the other hand, pride, arrogance, and judgementalism, those all come from my sinful nature which I am attempting to wipe out of my new life in Christ. I have no room for such sinful attitudes and behavior in this new life in Christ. It is my desire to see such traits disappear as I walk closer with my Lord every day of my life.
My prayer is that God will humble me daily, as I relate to others. I want to serve the King of kings and the Lord of lords ONLY.
So, how can I be a more tenderhearted, humble person? Here are a few suggestions to start off on that path:
I want to consider the wants and needs of others ahead of my own desires.
I want to serve those who can do nothing for me in return.
I want to serve without hesitation or condition.
I want to be a source of encouragement always.
I want to realize what my part in the Kingdom is, and to do that part with reckless abandon.
I want to be content with my part in the Kingdom, and not desire someone else’s part.
Just a little food for thought on humility today. What are your thoughts? What do you actively seek to do to be more humble, more tenderhearted? I would love to continue the conversation in the comments section below.
We all like to receive gifts. Especially gifts that keep on giving. Like the Patriots comeback win in Super Bowl 51. Now THERE’S a gift that will keep on giving for quite some time. lol
Whether we realize it or not, we all have received gifts from God that fit that bill. While many Christ-followers want to feign not having any spiritual gifts from God, Scripture is quite clear that we all are given such gifts. Whether or not we choose to use them is another point. Whether or not we recognize those gifts is yet a further point, and one I want to explore.
Peter makes no bones about it: God has given each of us a gift from His variety of spiritual gifts. To deny that you have any spiritual gifts is to deny God’s Word and the clear teaching on this matter. Now, the form your gift takes may be the hangup you have.
In the 1st century AD, some people were given miraculous gifts from God to help get the people’s attention so the Good News could be presented. Once the Bible record was written out, the need for these miraculous gifts disappeared. While there are a few places in the New Testament where spiritual gifts are discussed and even listed, none of these lists is meant to be exhaustive. Some of those gifts are of the miraculous nature (remember, those are no longer needed to spread the Gospel), and some appear to be quite “ordinary. Read 1 Corinthians 12 to get the full gist of what I am saying here.
Peter makes no bones about it: God has given each of us a gift from His variety of spiritual gifts.
So, what about those “ordinary” gifts? Gifts like wisdom, a discerning heart, hospitality, a love for others, all of which may be considered “ordinary,” but I submit that they are essential to living an authentic Christian Life.
As you do, please note that Paul, like Peter says that these gifts are to be used to serve others! An “ordinary” gift that is far too often over looked is the gift of hospitality. Having people in our homes to share a meal, to share some fun, to pray with and for one another, or just to sit with each other doing absolutely nothing…now THAT is a gift.
Peggy and I have made it a point to have an “open door” policy at our home. We believe that God has given us the physical property where we reside to be used as a tool to promote Christian love. Once you have had the “nickel tour” (on your first visit to our home), you are told to never ring the doorbell again unless the door is locked. If the door is locked, you may want to go on down the road, we are “empty nesters” after all. lol
The point is, once you have been to our house one time and had the tour, you are HOME. You are welcome. You may be handed a dust rag or the vacuum cleaner and told to help out, but that’s what happens when you are HOME. You are welcome to share in the next meal, be it leftovers, or some gourmet concoction that Peggy is delighting us with that day.
We consider it pure joy when people feel so “at home” and relaxed in the home God has given us.
Over the years, we have had countless people in our home, make themselves right at home, and we consider it a privilege. We have had countless people talk about the peace they feel at our house, and most of them have fallen asleep on our couch or love seat in the middle of the afternoon. We consider it pure joy when people feel so “at home” and relaxed in the home God has given us.
Hospitality. A simple, “ordinary” gift. One that can serve others at any time. A gift, I highly recommend you try to exercise. What are some “ordinary” gifts you have seen or have been gifted with for serving others? I would love to hear your story in the comments section below.
As I work this year on getting my perspective in it’s proper alignment with the Word and Will of God, I cannot help but notice all the admonitions in Scripture for followers of Christ to be humble.
Humility is not an attitude you see much on social media. Honestly, it is not an attitude you see much in real life, either. Christians are admonished to think of others as better than ourselves. We are told in Scripture to live in peace with everyone. We are told to live quiet lives.
So, American Christianity has had a radical, in-your-face attitude for quite some time. I have to (shamefully) admit that I have fallen into that trap in the past. The, “we’ve got the Truth and we must shove it down everyone’s throat” approach is one of which I have repented.
Rick Atchley says, “When you live in Babylon, you must learn how to be courageous without being obnoxious.” Now THAT’S a word all of us who claim to follow Christ should follow! We DO live in “Babylon.” America is NOT the Chosen Land, and Americans are NOT the chosen people. Christians are God’s Chosen People, and we need to live in allegiance to the Word of God first and foremost!
When you live in Babylon, you must learn how to be courageous without being obnoxious.
What we do need to remember is that we ALL need prayer. Those who do not know Christ need prayer, and our loving them to Jesus. Those who do know Jesus need prayer to overcome the sinful attitude of being RIGHT even when we are wrong. They need to lovingly be guided to Scripture like 1 Peter 3:8.
So, how do we “tone down” in our interactions with others online and in person?
Pray for God to help us be humble in spirit.
Refuse to “get in the gutter” on any issue. No sense in mud wrestling with a pig, because the pig enjoys it.
Ignore social media posts that get you “riled up.” I do it daily.
Advocate for Scriptural positions in LOVE always.
I cannot emphasize enough the need to pray, pray, pray!
As someone who LOVES logic and who LOVES to debate, I am reminding myself every day of Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2:11 – 11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. For me, the urge to debate is a worldly desire against which I must wage a daily war.
What about you? How are you striving to live with a tender heart and a humble spirit? I would love to continue the conversation in the comment section below.
One of my pet peeve phrases that really grates on my nerves, is “it’s nothing personal.” Oh yeah? It usually feels extremely personal when someone has said or done something and then feels obligated to say, “it’s nothing personal.”
Make no mistake, sin is personal. It is personal to the one committing the sin. It is personal to the one being sinned against. Most of all, it is personal to Jesus. Peter reminds us that truth in the 2nd chapter of his first letter:
Jesus personally carried my sins to the cross, so that I could be dead to sin. Woah! Jesus loves me (and you) so much that He did that! So, when I purposefully choose to go back to my “favorite” sin, it is personal to Jesus.
If I am going to properly align my perspective this year, I must realize that sin in my life is EXTREMELY personal to Jesus. I cannot sin, then say to my Lord, “it’s nothing personal.” Realizing the personal attack on Jesus sin in my life is, should help me in my battle with said sin.
my sin is a personal attack on Jesus
I am no different than anyone else who follows Christ. I still wrestle with sin. I have allowed certain “favorite” sins to have the upper hand in my life in the past. I have a new attitude towards that this year. Yes, I have heard countless sermons on how to combat temptation that leads to sin. Yes, I have a couple of different accountability partners to help in that regard. Yes, I have still struggled with certain sins. Yes, my attitude is different now as I remember daily that my sin is a personal attack on Jesus.
When I am tempted, I am now trying to implement the following strategy:
Immediately remove myself physically and mentally from the tempting situation.
Immediately start praising God for the blessings He freely pours out on me daily (it’s is harder to sin when we are praising God).
Immediately start reciting 1 Peter 2:24a
Immediately remember that sin is a personal attack on Jesus.
Immediately apologize to Jesus in prayer for the attack that just occurred, or could have occurred.
Immediately ask for prayer cover from my accountability partners (text messaging is a godsend in this regard).
I have to say, having implemented this strategy this year has done wonders for my thought life and my prayer life.
What are some strategies you employ to overcome temptation and sin? I would love to continue the conversation in the comment section below.