Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I've been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about what it means to be content. Does being married make you content? Does having kids make you content? How about having the right job? What about doing things that make you or others feel good? Does having money or things make you content? What about having a relationship with God? I know I'd be content if I won the lottery! I had this conversation with my wife a few weekends ago. I won't tell you how it ended or what we specifically talked about but I will tell you that I came to a certain conclusion after going down a few rabbit trails. That conclusion was that it's not about me. Yes, you've got it. It's not about me. I know. You think I'm crazy don't you. No matter what I'd like to think, I am not the center of the universe. I am not even the center of Wenatchee. And I'm not even the center of our household. I'd like to think I am, but I'm not. When I stop to think about it, my life, as it fits into God's complete plan for his creation, is less than a blip on the radar screen. It's even compared less than a grain of sand in the whole universe. It's pretty insignificant. But that's still from MY perspective! Thankfully, God views me as being more than insigificant. He treats me the very best that he could possibly treat his child. He has done, continues to do, and will eternally always do more for me than I could possibly ask for or comprehend. He knew me before the foundation of the world! That's significance... to God! So when I put together the idea that it's not about me and that I am significant to God, it doesn't matter what I want to do, but it matters what God wants me to do. It doesn't matter what I want to be but it matters what God wants me to be. As a result, my contentment doesn't have anything to do with what I'm feeling at the time or what I'm doing at the time or where I am or who I'm with. My contentment rests in God! Do I always feel that way? No! Why? Because then I've fallen right back into my contentment being based on what is going on with me. I then have to remind myself that it's not about me but it's about God. Sometimes that's a hard battle to fight. With the Holy Spirit's help, I can be and always will be successful. Are you content? If so, what is the source of your contentment? If it's not on God, then you will soon find yourself uncontent. If you're not content, consider putting God before yourself in every area of your life. If you put God first in those areas, how can he bring contentment? Because really, it's not about you, or me, but about God!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Run toward or away from God?

I heard a quote on the radio the other day that got me thinking: "I know you want to run from the pain because you think, 'If I run from the pain, I'll find help here.' But really, if you want to be free of the pain, you have to run into the pain. If you try to run from it, it will follow you the rest of your life. If you press into it, you can find healing and help there."

My initial gut reaction when I am faced with pain is to get out of it or run away from it. That's our human nature speaking to us. In fact, it seems so "natural" that we usually don't think twice about it, give in, and seek to get as far away from the pain as possible. But as a believer, I have a new nature. I've been redeemed, justified, and changed in so many ways because of Christ's death on the cross and the Holy Spirit's work in my life. So is running as far away from pain what God wants me to do as a new creation?

Each one of us has pain to one extent or another. Whether it's physical pain or emotional pain we all have pain. That pain is manifest in various degrees depending on the person and the situation. As a believer in Christ, what should be my attitude toward the pain in my life?

First of all, the pain may be part of God's will. 1 Peter 4:19 says "those that suffer according to God's will..." God's will includes suffering. If the pain is a result of suffering for Christ instead of a result of sin, then you're smack in the middle of God's will. There is no better place to be. It may not "feel" good but the reality of the situation is that you are where God wants you to be.

Secondly, James give us an insight in to what our attitude should be when we find ourselves in trials of various kinds. James 1:2 says, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds." Our attitude should be joyful. That joyfulness leads to patience, and that patience leads to a completness in everything. Ironically, that is where we want to end up! But we have to endure the trial or pain with joy before we can experience completeness.

So when you find yourself in the middle of a painful situation, do you run toward God ro away from Him? The last part of 1 Peter 4:19 says, "entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good." Do you put your trust in a faithful God or do you put your trust in yourself or someone else? Running to God in a time of pain ultimately brings healing but may require that you endure the pain for awhile. Trusting in yourself or someone or something else, even though it may feel good at the time and feel like you are escaping the pain, only brings a false sense of healing. The pain will return until you trust God to guide you through it.

Friday, March 18, 2011


If you've never read the book of Ecclesiastes, save it for a bright and cheery day. King Solomon, the wisest man who has ever lived, wrote Ecclesiastes as in insight into the world around us. Unfortunately, it's a very sobering insight. It's not a book filled with fluffy kittens, walks on the beach, and giant red hearts. The theme of the book can be found in chapter one verse nine, "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun."
Basically what he is saying is that everything that has happened will continue to happen and everything that has been tried or accomplished has already been tried and accomplished. If you think that it's something new, think again. It's already been done in one form or another. Solomon is saying, "Been there; done that!" That verse seems pretty depressing coming from the wisest man on earth. It's the pessimist's pot of gold.
When I read that verse, I think back to what our family has been through the past five or so years. I think of all of the change that has taken place and all of the challenges and struggles that we've endured.
I think of living in Fairbanks, Alaska and working as a Youth Pastor. It was my dream to visit Alaska and now we were living there. It was like living my dream. Then when I came back from a Pastor's conference, that dream turned into a nightmare. But it was a nightmare where I learned many things about myself and the ministry. I was in our staff meeting and the Associate Pastor, who previously was the Senior Pastor, asked me how I thought I was doing connecting with the young people. I told them that I thought I was doing fine but that I hadn't made solid connections with everyone. We had over 60 kids in the ministry and I wasn't best friends to all of them. It was explained to me that two parents had come and talked with the Lead and Associate Pastor while I was away at the Pastor's conference to express their dissatisfaction with me not being able to connect with their children in the youth group. So I asked who it was so that I could evaluate my relationship with the young people and see if there was an area that I could work on to make more of a connection. But I was told that they couldn't give me their names. On top of that, they said that they would hate for something like this to come out in the annual meeting that was being held in two weeks. They said that it would probably come to a vote which may result in my termination. Now let me explain, things from my vantage point at the time were going great. No one, including the pastors and staff and parents, had come to me to express any difficulties with me connecting with their children. So this was a complete surprise to me coming from left field. I asked the Pastors why they didn't direct the parents to me to talk about their concerns. They said that they should have done that but didn't. They thought they could handle the problem internally. I said that was completely unscriptural and that if the parents had an issue with me or the ministry, that they needed to come and talk with me. But now I was faced with a decision to make; should I wait until the annual meeting to see what the parents and pastors would do and take my chances or should I resign. After I talked and prayed about it with my wife, I decided to resign. It wasn't my desire to have a knock down drag out fight with the church. It was also evident to me that I no longer had the support of two of the three pastors. To continue to run a youth ministry with unidentified accusers and no staff support was a battle I wasn't willing to go through, let alone put my wife through. To put the church through a battle that may potentially tear it apart wasn't something that I was willing to put them through. After I told the staff that I was resigning, I was told that it was probably the best thing since Alaska is a hard place to live far away from family and I struggled with S.A.D. Those became my "excuses for resignation." My gifting as a Pastor was brought into question and I was offered guidance to find my true gifting. At this point I was waiting for the end to come and playing the game that was started only to be partially finished when I was physically gone.
I say all of this because it had a great impact on my life, spiritual walk, ministry, and family. I was deeply hurt but couldn't completely express it my friends because they were part of the church. I was given no opportunity for reconciliation with those who accused me of things because I was never told who it was and no one ever came to talk with me about it. I had to leave a church family, whom I loved, with fluffy excuses for the sake of unity. I was bitter, angry, hurt, and most of all sad. Sad that something like this could happen among believers. Something that Biblically shouldn't have even happened. Sad that two Pastors abandoned me and were wrapped up in so much deception. Sad that we now had to move away from close friends. Sad that all of my connections in the youth group were now hurt.
I learned a few things from this experience though. Christians are people and sin just like everyone else; Pastors included. God still works and is glorified despite the sin. I learned that I need to stand for what is right and true but not at the expense of love or faithfulness. Grace does cover a lot but the hurt still lasts for a long time. I learned that this experience was nothing new. It may have been new to me but it was old hat in the grand scheme of time. It showed me the power and destruction of sin. I also learned that running toward God in a time of trouble is much better than running away because God never leaves us and everything always works out for good. Which brings me to our next change.
If it weren't for the things that happened in Alaska, we wouldn't have made it to Washington. We moved from Alaska into my Grandfather's house in Washington. Since we moved and I didn't have a job yet, it was great opportunity to have a free place to stay while taking care of my Grandfather until I found a job. A few months later, we found out that we were expecting our first child and I still hadn't found a job. I was talking with my dad's church about a possible position there but things hadn't been finalized yet. So we were faced with having a child with no income or health coverage. As a result, we applied for aid from the state. The state accepted us with full health coverage for Heidi through her pregnancy and full health coverage for the baby until he turned one. After that, I was accepted as an Associate Pastor at my dad's church. God was providing for us as he always does. We found out half way through the pregnancy that the baby may be born with some physical or mental handicaps due to an enlarged gap in an area of the brain. Once again God was preparing us for something great. We made numerous trips to Seattle and met with a number of specialists. It wasn't until our boy Hayden was born that we found out about the extent of his "issues." Due to controlled gestational diabetes, Hayden was born a whopping 13 lbs 4 oz via c-section. He had a blood glucose reading of 2 and was immediately rushed to the NICU. After a few hours at the hospital in Wenatchee, the doctors determined that the level of care would be better for him in Seattle at Children's Hospital. So I flew to Seattle with him. I had to leave my wife and be with our son who was very ill. To make a very long story of two months a bit shorter, God pulled Hayden through it all with nothing short of a miracle. Hayden had problems with his heart, problems with his lungs, had multiple blood clots, was on a ventilator, had four spinal taps, a multitude of powerful drugs including sterroids, Viagra, and morphine which he was addicted to until he was six months old, multiple MRI's, CT scans, and EKG's, a feeding tube, a central tube and IV's, a life-threatening NEC infection in his gut, acid reflux and vomiting spells just to name a few. Our son was very sick for the first two months of his life. God graciously provided for us through that experience. Everything single thing was paid for through state insurance. We haven't see a single bill and we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars! We lived at the hospital in my parents RV that they generously let us use. Our church family let me spend the week days at the hospital away from my job at the church and returned on the weekends while still receiving my full pay! Many, many people supported us with their prayers and gave financially to help meet our needs. God continued to be good to us. All of this would have been VERY different if we had lived in Alaska or if I had a job at the time. Needless to say, it was a very trying time for our family. Shortly after Hayden's birth, my dad had surgery to remove cancer in his kidney. On top of that, there were struggles in the church to deal with some long-standing issues. The one thing that I learned is that God is ALWAYS good ALL of the time! Hayden has had a full recovery and is now completely healthy with no side effects or issues at all. Praise the Lord! But really, it's nothing new under the sun, right?
We are now faced with a new change in our lives. I am no longer working at the church. When I started, we agreed to the position for a year's time with an evaluation after that year was completed. When it was completed and evaluated, the church no longer had the funds to support me. Over the last year, many people have taken a huge hit due to the economic downfall. I guess I am included as one of those people. So now I am out of work. Heidi still works at the church on a part time basis. Thankfully our parents help us out along with the food stamps from the state. God continues to be good and provide. I don't know what the Lord has in store for us tomorrow but I know that whatever it is, it is good. Even if it hurts!
So when I read the verses in Ecclesiastes about nothing new under the sun and everything is vanity, I'm not discouraged or depressed. I'm hopeful. I know that what may be new to us is not new to God. Even though I don't know how to handle situations or how to deal with unexpected things, God does. So no matter what happens, God is aways good and God always provides and his way is always best!

So you still want to be a Pastor?

Some people think I'm crazy for wanting to be a Pastor. Not because I'm terrible at it or anything but because they think it's a waste of my time or talents. Some think I could make a lot of money doing something else. And the reasons go on and on. Well, let me tell you why I still want to be a Pastor.
First of all, it's my calling. God has called me to be a Pastor. What I mean by that is God has called me with the specific task of shepherding a local church. He has gifted and led me in various ways to accomplish this. These are things that I have no control over. How do I know this is God's calling and not my own desire? That's a hard question to answer. I've struggled with that over the last number of years because I could really do a variety of things other than being a Pastor and still accomplish things with eternal, spiritual benefits. There are some times when I have a passion for ministry and some times when I don't. I definitely didn't become a Pastor for the money. I've been in churches who have treated our family very harshly and I've been in churches who have loved us no matter what. So how do I know that it is God calling me to be a Pastor and not just my feelings, passions, or desires of the moment? Yes, I could do many things other than being a Pastor and God would be fine with that. He wouldn't look down on me with disgust wondering why I squandered an opportunity to spiritually lead people or wonder why I didn't heed his call. He loves me no matter what I do. It's because of that love that I want to serve Him. I could do it many ways but this is the way I am to do it. I know that it is from God because he has given me the spiritual gift of Pastor/Teacher. Through the Holy Spirit's work, I am able to accurately and effectively preach and teach God's Word into the lives of people so that they are spiritually challenged and make a decision for God. This isn't something that I have chosen. It was given to me at the moment of my salvation. Yes, I have worked at it, gone to school for it, and tried very hard to be the best that I can be in this area. And by God's abundant grace he has grown me. Others who know me well and who are spiritually mature have also seen God's work in my life and have affirmed me in this area. Finally, I look back at my life and can see that God worked in various ways to prepare, train, and equip me to be a Pastor. I could write pages and pages of how God has worked to equip me to be a Pastor. Things that were well beyond my control and far beyond my knowledge and understanding that worked out to get me where I am today. So that is why I know that God has called me to be a Pastor. There are times when the passion isn't there. There are times when I sin and mess up. There are times when I think when I think that maybe my job as a Pastor is over. But there is also one thing that I have realized; it's really not about me. It's about God. So I must be about His work! No matter what I feel like, no matter what I think, life is still all about God. Is life all about God for you?

Starting Over

I've had this blog for awhile and decided to start over. So I erased the three previous posts (from 2005) and will post new ones soon.

If you're interested, check back periodically to read about how my life is going, what I think about certain things in life, and whatever else I decide to write about. You can even leave a comment if you'd like.

Thanks for stopping by!