All posts filed under: Personal Growth

Are You Confusing Self-Control with Righteousness?

Isn’t it funny, and kind of bittersweet, how we look back and see the way we used to think when we were young? The more I age the more I realize I knew very little when I was younger. Kelli and I are going on 10 years of marriage and I’ve learned so much since then. Let me give you some context. When Kelli was 16 years old, just 2 years before we met, her parents divorced. There was a lot of pain for Kelli in the midst of the split and much of it was directed towards her dad. Fast forward a few years and I found myself sitting in Shannon’s office. I don’t remember the context of the entire conversation or why we were even having the conversation. I do remember talking about my marriage and my responsibility as a husband and a man. I remember telling Shannon for the first several years in our marriage my goal was simple: don’t be her dad. It was a pretty easy gauge to control myself …

Are you Championing the Gentleness of God?

A virtue, which I need in a higher degree, to give a beauty and luster to my behavior, is gentleness.  If I had more of an air of gentleness, I should be much mended. – Jonathon Edwards If one of your most influential contributions to Christianity is a sermon titled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” you probably wouldn’t be labeled as “gentle.” As we’ve been going through the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness is one which is very misunderstood.  When we think of gentleness, or meekness as some translations have it, we usually think of weakness. Our mind conjures up a small framed person who barely raises their voice and couldn’t hurt a fly. Much of Jonathon Edwards ministry flourished because of his passion and fire. So why would this 17th century, fiery preacher want to be gentle? A lot of this is to blame on the English language. The Greek word here is prautes and literally means mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, or meekness. Coincidentally, “meek” comes from an old …

4 Fundamental Questions to Improve Your Faithfulness

If you ask someone who sleeps in on Sunday morning why they avoid church, many will point to the hypocrisy or lack of faithfulness in church members. Are you part of the problem? Here are 4 questions for you to reflect on as you work on growing the fruit of faithfulness. Are you faithful to God? When no one is looking, are you still committed to being trustworthy? If no one were to ever find out, would you still walk the right path? In John 14:23, Jesus says, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” Being faithful to God means walking by the Spirit even when the flesh is telling you something different. Galatians 5:16 says, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” Are you faithful to making disciples? Jesus called us to love God and love others. How are you doing at …

God is a Good Promise Keeper

The prophet of Isaiah wrote: Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!” – Isaiah 40:3-5 John the Baptist would be the one to come and prepare the way for Jesus. Let’s look at two ways the birth of John the Baptist as recorded in Luke 1 was miraculous. First, Luke tells us in verse 7 Elizabeth, who would be John’s mother, was both barren and advanced in years. She could not conceive a child. Second, Zechariah, who would be John the Baptist’s father, was chosen by lot to enter the temple and burn incense. It is there Zechariah had an angel appear to him with the message that he and Elizabeth would have a son. Was this chance? …

Are You Waiting on the Lord Patiently?

When I was fairly young, I remember learning a song for a program at church. The chorus has always stuck with me, and both of my boys have heard it several times. Have patience, have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry. When you get impatient, You only start to worry. Remember, remember, That God is patient too. And think of all the times when others have to wait for you. Patience is not something natural for humans. Especially as we move toward adulthood, we become more time-aware, seeking to accomplish everything we can in our lives. Our culture pushes us toward greater efficiency, even at the cost of our peace. We don’t want to wait to accomplish our goal; we want to have the next “viral video” to gain notoriety. We want to take a pill and lose all the fat on our body. We want to jump in the car and arrive at our destination faster than we ever have before. In Matthew 4, Satan offered Jesus efficient opportunities to “accomplish” His goals …

Is Your Joy the Real Thing or a Counterfeit?

In the 16th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Luke takes an interesting turn in his writing. In context, its a very graphic story of those who reject the Father while on earth. A beggar named Lazarus and a rich man are the main characters. They first encounter each other at the gate leading into a city and Lazarus begs for whatever the rich man would give him. It is left to believe the rich man never relieves Lazarus’ hunger, but what we do know is when they die, in eternity Lazarus is by Abraham’s side and the rich man is in Hell. There is a great chasm between the two, and the rich man, overwhelmed with lack of anything to quench thirst, becomes the beggar, asking Abraham to have Lazarus dip the tip of his finger in water and to touch the tongue of the rich man so that he may be cooled from the agony of the fire. Abraham responds: Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus …

Are You Choosing Peace In Every Circumstance?

When you hear the word peace, what comes to mind? Do you imagine white, sandy beaches with the sound of waves? Do you think about sitting near a tranquil mountain stream? Do you picture tie-dye t-shirts and peace symbol necklaces? The word peace can conjure up many different thoughts and ideas depending upon your perspective or personal preferences. During our most recent services, Shannon taught the Biblical meaning of peace is “a serenity and tranquility that comes from trusting in the wisdom and control of God rather than our own understanding.” I vividly remember experiencing this definition of peace when we were in the midst of becoming approved as foster parents. We decided to enter the world of foster care because of a specific little girl. We wanted to be able to adopt her, if the opportunity ever arose. However, as we went through the approval process, the girl’s biological mother completed the requirements of her case plan and the family was reunified. While on paper this looked good, it was frustrating to know the …

Are You Loving In All Circumstances?

Love… how can we try to understand it? It’s not always easy to say what love is, but we tend to know how it feels. If you were blindfolded and given a bucket of items, you could describe what you are feeling but may not be able to fully identify each item. This is kind of like love. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, NIV If love is patient, then love is not demanding. I can remember praying so hard for years about a certain situation and just felt like giving up. God answered my prayer on His own time and in the meantime gave me a journey I needed to experience. We have to wait …

Not a River You Can Just Wade In

Wisdom is less like a deep ocean and more like the force of a river. The power of the river is in its ability to adapt to its environment, change its course when necessary, and yet find its way towards its destiny. – Erwin McManus I read these words recently in a book titled The Way of the Warrior. I was immediately taken back a couple of summers ago when we took a trip out to Colorado. The quote evoked a very specific memory I had of a river we stayed near for a night. There are few places in that area of the country that don’t romance the soul. I remember taking the kids down to the rocky bank and deciding to take a swim. The river had some rapids visible upriver and downriver, but the spot we were at appeared deep enough and slow enough to wade in, chill out, and relax a little. After committing to just past knee deep I was suddenly taken aback and surprised by the sheer force of …

I Have a Confession to Make: Teenagers Scare Me

Teenagers scare me. It’s silly but true. As a preschool pastor and mom to young children, I’ve lived in this preschool/elementary phase for so long  I feel awkward and culturally irrelevant when it comes to engaging with anyone between the ages of 13 and 19. Now, I do remember what it was like to be a teenager and I do understand in a few short years (3 to be exact), I will be raising an adolescent of my own. But… this doesn’t make me anymore confident. Honestly, it wasn’t until earlier this year I began giving much thought to this idea. That’s when I made the connection between my ministry and my feelings. Many of you already know our church is experiencing an amazing period of growth. This is no less true for our preschool ministry. Over the past six months we have averaged nearly 150 preschoolers on a weekly basis! On any given Sunday, there are between 40 to 60 leaders serving in the Treehouse and nearly half of those are student volunteers! That’s …