Refusing Help

Sometimes I watch the Dr. Phil show.   It’s mind blowing to me how Dr. Phil can confront people with cold hard facts in an overwhelming way and they still deny the facts he’s presenting to them.  I was watching a clip from his show recently where he was confronting a lady who thought she was married to a man overseas but in reality she was being scammed for hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Doctor Phil and this woman’s family laid out all the facts and showed her evidence after evidence of how she was in fact being duped and used.  She held on to her fantasy because perhaps the truth was too painful.

This is an extreme example but I think we all don’t like to be confronted with areas of our life that are toxic. Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 7.57.40 AM.png

In the Book of Mark Chapter 5 Jesus came to a village and set a man free of the bondage he was in. The man had been full of demons for years.  Jesus cast many demons out of this man and the whole village was in shock.

When this miracle took place instead of getting excited about it the people of the village asked Jesus to leave.  The people were afraid.  Jesus came to help these people and to set them free.  He came to offer them salvation but they would end up begging Him not to stay.

The great irony is that they were kicking out of their city the only one who could help them.
They thought they were ok but they weren’t.
They thought they didn’t need help but they did.

Have you ever been guilty of pushing someone away who was there to help?
Have you refused the good advice someone was giving you because you didn’t want to hear it?
Have you gotten angry with a friend or family member because they told you a hard truth about yourself that you did not want to deal with?

I know I have!

My wife has a way of telling me things I don’t want to hear about myself.  I usually get defensive but upon further reflection she is almost always right. The truth hurts.  I think there have been times when we have all said or done something to push the person away who is sent to help.

Why?
Why do we do that?

We do it because change is hard.
We do it because it exposes our motives.
We do it because sin is fun.
We do it because we want to stay the ruler of our own kingdom of self. 
We do it because we don’t want to admit we are wrong.
We do it because it may hurt our pocketbook.
Pride.  

Are you doing this now?

If Jesus came to your house today would you want Him to stay or leave?

It sounds simple enough but the reality is that when Jesus comes things change.  They always change.  The closer you get to Jesus the more your life will change.

He is a great big light that exposes what is in the dark of your heart.
He is the doctor that tells you that you have the cancer of sin and it must be cut out.
He is the one who pulls back the rug of your life and exposes all the dirt that is underneath.
He is the Dentist you have been avoiding that has to do a root canal to fix the problem.

Today, if Jesus came to you exposing all the junk that is inside of you would you want it fixed?

He offers to fix you but in order to fix you, you must come clean about your sin and repent. There is no other way to let Him fix you.

People hated Jesus. They wanted Him to leave their city.  Ultimately they wanted Him dead.   We never like our sin and wicked self exposed.  So much so, that we would be willing to kill an innocent man to keep it a secret.

This almost sounds silly but this is what millions of people do everyday.  They are confronted with truth and rather than live in the light of the truth they simply ignore the truth or just deny it.

You can ignore truth. You can ask Jesus to leave.  You have the freedom to make those choices.

But you can never make bad choices and have good long term results.

Eventually your sin will find you out.  Eventually you will reap the bitter fruit you planted.  Eventually you will have to pay for your sins.

It’s better to invite Jesus to have control now then for you to end your life separated from God.

Do not ask Jesus to leave.  Today, let Him come and do His work in your life.  Let Him deal with your ‘demons.’  Let Him expose your sin.  Let Him love and forgive you.  It will require some pain and change but in the end it will mean the difference in life and death.

A few steps:

  1. Listen when people you love tell you that you have a problem.
  2. Read your bible and identify what needs to change in your life.
  3. Confess your sin and repent.
  4. Get help.  Go to church. Find a small group.   See a counselor.  Get in a recovery program like this one https://www.christplace.com/chance2/
  5. Follow Jesus.   Make time each day to seek Jesus in prayer and reading the Bible.

 

 

Marriage, The Fountain Of Life Or The Kiss Of Death

Marriage is a pill with the same label to everyone who swallows it, but to some it’s life giving and to some it’s a bitter poison.  I am 13 and ½ years into the best marriage I have ever had.  Ok, the only marriage I have ever had but it is the best!

Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vainlife that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.”

Marriage is supposed to be enjoyed!

I’m at the age where many of the people I went to High School and College with are going through the Facebook change.

You know what I mean. You see it.

One day you see a picture on their profile and it’s just them.  Their spouse is no longer in the picture.  I mean literally they are out of the picture.   They’ve been scrubbed out of the profile and out of their life.

As the world of social media goes, these are people whom I’m friends with but I don’t see on a regular basis.  Many of them I haven’t seen for years.  I look a little deeper into their profiles and I find out that their marriage ended.

…and I grieve for them.

…They didn’t ask me to.

…They may not be grieving…

But I am

You may be one of these friends of mine who has gone through a divorce.  Maybe you are doing well and things are going well after the divorce, for that I’m thankful.

But for me to see marriages end hurts me to the core.  Many times I feel like I grieve over marriages that are lost more than the people getting a divorce.  I know that no one gets married with the hope to someday be divorced.

I’ve been trying to pinpoint in my on heart why I’m so hurt when people I have little connection with go through divorce.  I think there are a few reasons.

I impose myself into their story and I think about if Charyl and I were ever to divorce.   This may be the root of it.  Our lives are so interconnected and our love for one another is so deep that I think for me it would be worse than death.  I think about the deep deep hurt that must take place between two people who were intimately joined together for years and now are split apart. I just can’t even allow myself to go there.

I think about the kids. Having just gone through the Holidays and experiencing the joy of everything together I couldn’t imagine how tough it must be for children to understand how everything has changed. How the very foundation of their security has unraveled and they are helpless to do anything about it.  Many times the children blame themselves.  They have to learn a new life and navigate going to different homes and having different schedules.  They have to learn a new way that their parents are interacting.  No longer as mom and dad but often as adversaries.  I don’t want that for my kids.

I think about how my friends who are divorcing may have been cheated on or cheated in the marriage.  I think about the pain of betrayal and loss of trust that must of happened.  I’m sure it must have rocked them to their very core.  To have the person you trust most betray you in the most intimate way must be a pain that is so deep.  I grieve for them to have to go through that.  I hurt that they hurt, many times through no fault of their on.

It also grieves me because I feel like the most valuable gift a person can have has been discarded. There is no greater gift than marriage. I know this may not feel true for many, for some it may feel like a curse.  But marriage is a gift from God and when a married couple loves and supports each other through life there is no greater gift.

Marriage is making a life together with someone who knows you best.

Marriage is having your best friend with you through every season.

Marriage is getting past the initial butterflies of first love feelings and finding something better, something deeper called friendship.

Marriage is laughing, crying and having someone to send GIFs to all day long. Marriage is frustrating and sanctifying.

Marriage is having someone with you to take you to the hospital and sit with you.

Marriage is exploring life and the world with your true love.

Marriage is a picture of something greater, Christ and His Church.  The real meaning of marriage is to show the world a picture of a relationship that matches God and His people.  When a marriage fails the picture is lost.

I really grieve because I feel like my friends missed out on the greatest gift.  I hate to see my friends miss out on good things.   What they wanted for a good thing became a horrible thing their lives.

I would offer a little bit of hope when it comes to marriage.

If you are not married and want to be married, make sure your marry well.   So many marriages end because they never should have started. Young couples are infatuated with each other and know nothing of commitment but marriage seems attractive to them so they jump in and pretty quickly jump out.  Before you get married you better ask yourself a few questions.

Do our values/beliefs match?

Do we want the same things out of life?

Do we have the same ideas about children (how many we want and how we will raise them)?

Have you learned to fight fair?

Do you like their family?

Do you have the same ideas about money?

Do you enjoy their friendship?  If you weren’t attracted to them physically would you still want to hang out with them?

How do they handle stress? When and if you have children the stress levels will rise.

It is surely better to wait or be single than to marry the wrong person.  Never get married without going to premarital counseling first.  Marriages are easy to get into but painful to get out of.   Get into the right marriage.  Maybe you feel like your season of youth is passing and you feel the pressure that if you don’t get married now then it probably won’t happen for you. Again, better to be single than to marry the wrong person.  Wait. Pray.

If you are married and struggling there is hope!

I have been in ministry for about 18 years now and I have seen so many marriages on the brink of collapse that have been restored and are now healthy and thriving.

Keep Trying.

Keep forgiving.

Go see a counselor.

Talk to your pastor.

Get involved in a couples group at your church.

Actually work on your marriage.

Be loving and respectful even when your spouse is not.

I have counseled many couples and I understand that not every marriage is going to make it.  One person is not enough to make a marriage work. Too many times I have seen one spouse who will literally do anything to save their marriage and the other spouse could care less.  Unfortunately, most of these marriages do not make it.  It takes two people both giving a 100%.

But when two imperfect people surrender to a perfect God and allow Him to lead their marriage there is nothing sweeter!  IMG_7543

If I can help you in some way with your marriage send me a personal message.  There are so many resources out there to help with those who really want it.

 

 

 

 

10 Things I’ve Learned In 10 Years Of Marriage

I can remember it like it was yesterday. It was one of the most defining moments of my life. All the people that I cared for showed up (minus a few that hadn’t been born yet).   My best friend stood beside me. My hands were sweaty and my knees were weak. There was a harpist playing a beautiful melody as couples walked down the aisle dressed to the nines. And then the moment happened…the automated bells tolled and the doors swung open. There she was, my love, my dream girl, my to wife to be! I have never seen a prettier sight.  I was 23 and she was 22 (that seems awful young to me now).   We were two kids in love with a lot of dreams. I am usually not too nervous in front of groups of people, but I was really nervous that day. I answered the preacher and looked into her eyes and meant every word I said. That was an amazing day that I will never forget.

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From that day to this day seems like the blink of an eye. I have a belief that the more you are enjoying your life the faster it goes. We are 10 years into this journey together. I pray we have at least 40-50 more together.   Life has gone by at the speed of light and every year it gets better and every year it moves faster.   I wanted to take just a minute to reflect and share some lessons I have learned in the last 10 years with my amazing wife, Charyl.

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It gets better and things change. Our first year of marriage was not horrible but it was an adjustment. Every year we know each other better and love each other more.   Don’t give up. Maybe you are in year 1 or 2 and you feel like you have been tricked.   Stick with it. As you grow together you begin to grow together. The more life change you experience together the more you learn to trust one another.

Here are just a few of the changes that we have been through in 10 years:

We have lived in 7 different houses.

We have had 4 children.

I added between 20 – 35 extra pounds.

Charyl got more attractive (if that was even possible).

Together we have had 8 different jobs or career changes.

Our income has gone up. Our expenses have gone up.

We have had 2 dogs.

We have had 7 different cars.

We bought and sold a house.

I have infinitely more gray hairs than I had when we got married.

We have made more new friends than we can count.

I have been to 7 different countries.

Charyl started a very unexpected business that has become a career and ministry (Premier).

I have been a youth pastor, middle school pastor, young families and college pastor, senior pastor, and am currently the discipleship pastor.

Charyl went from RN to Jewelry lady.

We became special needs advocates (particularly for families who have a member with down syndrome)

Jesus has been with us every step of the way. He has never left us. He has never forgotten about us.

He has been most near when things have been most difficult.  

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Happy Wife, Happy Life (Or if you are a woman: Happy Man, Happy Land) – Maybe you have heard this statement, “If momma aint happy then nobody’s happy.” When Charyl and I got married my mother gave me some advice that I almost blew off at the time. She said, “Rick, your job is to help Charyl not be stressed.”   In the last 10 years I found this to be a peach on the tree of wisdom. I heard Tony Evans say that if you want to know where you are spiritually as a husband, then look at your wife.   She is a reflection of you.   I have found when I have not been the husband I need to be it affects Charyl. When I do not love, serve, and make time to meet her emotional needs then it affects everything else in our home. She is the heart of our home.   Husbands would do well to give great attention to the heart.   This is an area I hope I am growing in.

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Marriage Is Not 50/50 Or Even 100/100 – I believe the best marriages give all they can don’t expect anything in return. The best ratio would be 100/0 or 100/not my responsibility.  As long as you are expecting something in return you will struggle. Appreciate what your spouse does. Don’t act like what you are doing is harder or more important than what your spouse does. Never belittle them. Your job is to build them up and not tear them down.

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Time Is Short So Don’t Waste It. The first ten years have blazed by. Life has only picked up speed.   Take time each day to hug your spouse, kiss your spouse, pray with your spouse, and talk to them. Go Home! Work is hard and long. If you don’t go home then you will grow distant from your spouse. Date your spouse. Try to make a time weekly or at least a couple of times a month where you just focus on one another. Family time with the kids is vital but it is even more vital that you connect with one another in a setting where you can really talk with no stress and no distractions.

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Little Things Will Kill Your Marriage Or Make It Stronger – Most fights are over little things. He didn’t put is clothes in the hamper. She didn’t remember to get what you asked her to get at the store. Instead of flying off the handle, build a bridge and get over it. They are not perfect and neither are you. Growing your love for one another is also built on little things. Pick up flowers for no reason. Hold hands with one another. Leave notes for one another. Look for little things to appreciate in one another. When you see something, say something. Never let a complement go unsaid. Words have the power of life and death…particularly in a marriage.

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Marriages Are Not One Size Fits All – There are so many marriage books out there but your marriage is not like any of them. Principles can help but your marriage is like you…it’s unique. A system that worked for your parents may not, probably will not, work for you. Make your own normal.

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Your Children Will Bring You Together Or Push You Apart…You Choose Which.   Children are one of life’s greatest blessings. They can bring so much joy to your life and your marriage.   If you make your children the most important thing in your life then your marriage will suffer…it may even die. I have witnessed too many couples that had children and forgot about each other.   The best thing you can do for your children is having healthy marriage. Do not let your children drive a wedge between you and your spouse.

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Marriage Means There Is Someone With You At The Hospital. When you are a teenager, love and marriage is all about emotion and romance. Most of the romance revolves around attraction and the hope of a great sex life. This is all well and good but as your grow older you realize that there is nothing better than living with your best friend and knowing they will be there for you for better or worse, through thick and thin. Romance turns to something more beautiful called commitment.

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Find Something You Like To Do Together. We watch “Chopped” together. This is a cooking show that is on Netflix. My wife and I don’t watch much TV. We really don’t have time. But there is a brief moment at the end of most weekdays between about 8:30-9:30 that the kids are asleep and we still have enough energy to talk. We talk for a few minutes and then we watched Chopped.   We don’t say much. We might hold hands but it is the simple act of being in the presence of one another. Enjoy each other’s company.

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Without Jesus We Would Not Make It – Pray for each other. Worship together. Make church attendance a non-negotiable of your home. Have family worship time at the dinner table at least a few times a week. There is NOTHING more important in your marriage than keeping Jesus as the foundation. There are not many things that make us more like Christ than the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit through marriage.

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Selling Death To 4 Year Old Girls

It seems to be increasingly difficult to raise God honoring children in a culture that celebrates dishonoring the things of God. Halloween is a particularly frustrating time for me as a parent because every store I take my children in is filled with scary and creepy things.

I recently took my 7-year-old son and 4-year-old twin girls to get a happy meal at McDonalds. As you probably remember yourself this is quite a highlight for small children. Any time I ask my children where they want to get something to eat it is always McDonalds. It is not because of the salty fries, crusty cheeseburger or overly processed nuggets. It is always because they know they will get a toy. McDonalds is a genius at marketing to children. They usually put a toy in the box that is really popular in the culture. This particular trip my little girls got a toy from “Monster High.” I have never seen the show and I do not really plan on it, but the toy is a box filled with activities that feature teenage vampires and monster girls who are dressed like prostitutes. The activities on the inside are two sticker books filled with stickers of crossbones, skulls, vampire teeth, and hearts with teeth in them. Also in the activity box are pictures that teach you how to draw a skull with a bow on it.

The dictionary defines a vampire as “a preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse, that is said to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night.”

For our children the line of what is good and evil is becoming more elusive. Vampires are no longer evil. They now sparkle, fall in love with humans, and only suck the blood of deer…unless they get real hungry, then humans watch out.

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I took the toys from my girls and threw them in the trash. I was not cold hearted and I told them I would replace them with a more appropriate toys. I tried to use this moment as a teaching moment. I told my son and my girls that as followers of Jesus we do not celebrate death. I tell them that Jesus came and died the death we deserved so that we might have eternal life. (John 10:10)

Death is not our friend.
Sin brought death into the world.
We will not and cannot celebrate what sin brings.
We cannot celebrate that which separates us from our loved ones.
Death brings depression and despair.
We celebrate joy, hope and life.

I think there has been a not so subtle shift to an acceptance of satanic things and most parents have not even noticed. Horror movies, teen vampire romance novels, and a host of other things that focus on the occult, demons, monsters, evil spirits and witchcraft have been infused into the lives of our children. Is it any wonder that so many young people are taking their lives.

Children and teenagers are naturally drawn to spiritual things. Even if children are not brought up in church or have no religious affiliation they will seek out that which is spiritual, be it good or evil. There is an unseen battle going on for the hearts of my children and for the hearts of your children (if you have them).

With Halloween on its way if you are a Christian parent you should pause and think about how you want to direct your children to think about the Holiday.

In our culture Halloween is largely a celebration of fear and death. If you do not believe me then go to your local Wal-Mart or CVS and count the number of skeleton, witch, and zombie paraphernalia available. As a kid Halloween was one of my favorite Holidays. Cool weather, candy, and dressing up are fun for any kid.

Here are some ways I am going to enjoy October 31st with my family without embracing the culture of death.

1) Have Fun – Not every day do you have a chance to dress up with your kids and walk around and get free candy. I am going to take tons of pictures of my kids and let them be princesses, a flower and a super hero…heck I might even dress up myself.

2) Change the Focus – We celebrate Fall. We celebrate the cool weather. We celebrate dressing up as our favorite characters. We celebrate candy. We celebrate Reformation Day (October 31 is the day the Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the church at Wittenberg. If you don’t know what that means then you should really Google “Martin Luther Reformer”…it’s kind of important)

3) Dress Up – Every child likes to dress up for Halloween. It is one of the highlights of their year. I can remember being a kid and all of the thrill and excitement that came with finding the perfect costume. I only allow my children to dress as something positive and not scary or evil.

4) Teach Your Children why you do not celebrate scary things at Halloween.

5) Use Halloween to the Glory of God – be kind to your neighbors. Do not hide in your basement or turn all the lights out in your home. This is the one time a year you actually have people coming to your home. Buy the best candy on the street. Be the house every kid wants to go to because you give out full candy bars. Have a block party in your yard. My Brother-in-law looks forward to Halloween every year. He gets to know his neighbors and grills hotdogs for everyone that comes by. He told me he gave out something like 200 hot dogs last year and all of the neighbors were so appreciative.

6) Love the Zombies – I have to be real honest, it bothers me when I see a cute 5 year old dressed as a zombie and he is holding a pretend severed head in his hand. I want to slap his parents for allowing him to dress like that. But I am not his parent so my job is just to love him and make sure I give him some good candy. He may come to my church one Sunday.

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Ebola May Be The Catalyst You Need

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Ebola! The word alone can strike terror into every person in the world. I mean, seriously, a deadly virus with a 70% mortality rate. That means that if you get it you have a 70% chance of dying…not cool. Right now the word on the Internet is that it’s not super easy to catch. You must come in contact with some form of body fluid in order to acquire this lethal disease. However, viruses are known to mutate and it could possibly change and become a virus that is more easily transmitted through the air (heaven forbid).

The question that we must think about is the same question we must always think about when news comes our way.

What should I do because of this?
What should I do because of Ebola?

How should I live my life now that this virus is on American soil and could potentially have an outbreak all over the country?

Don’t Panic!

Panic never helps anyone. Panic is an emotional reaction that keeps us from clearly thinking. Now is not the time to stop going to work, to buy years worth of canned goods, or go into your bunker. Fear is the most crippling emotion that robs your joy and paralyses you with inaction. Wash your hands, carry some hand sanitizer with you and stay away from places that may have Ebola (Unless you work in the healthcare industry…Praise God for you and your willingness to help people heal).

Ask The Big Question: Am I ready to die?

This is THE question.

One year ago before there was an outbreak of Ebola you were guaranteed that one day you would die. Today you have the same guarantee.

A deadly disease only makes what is imminent become more plausible.

We know we will die but we all believe it is in the distant future. Fear of a deadly virus articulates that our death could be soon. It might not be…but it could be. So now would be a good time to ask the “what happens when I die” question.

Is there a God?
If so who is it?
How do I know?
Will I just cease to exist or will there be a life after this in which my soul will continue?

Everyone has to answer these questions and if there is an afterlife your eternity hinges on how you answer them. I believe I have found the answer in History.   History shows us that something happened in Jerusalem about 2000 years ago that has completely altered the course of world events. It also seems quite obvious from history that mankind is sinful and wicked to the core.

If there were a God or a Divine Being the very fact that He is God would make Him perfect.

The Bible is a spiritual history book of the Jewish people in the first half (Old Testament) and a history of God stepping into the world to save the world in the second half (New Testament). It says that because the first man and woman disobeyed God, God punished their rebellion with death. Death and sin spread to all mankind. Death is THE ultimate deadly virus.

The Bible reveals God’s character as good, loving, just, and compassionate. He did not leave man to himself but chose to give man a chance at redemption.   God would empty Himself of His divine characteristics and become a man.

This man was known as Jesus Christ.
He lived 2000 years ago.
He did miracles, never sinned, and taught like no one else to confirm He was in fact God.
He was born in a very small town.
Thousands would come from all around to hear his teachings and see His miracles.
He made the most audacious claims of any man. He claimed to be God’s Son.
The claims of Jesus would make Him either a liar, a crazy man, or the actual Savior of the world.
He gave up His life in death at the hands of cruel and sinful men in order to pay the debt that man owed God.

In order to further prove He was God, He rose from death in resurrection and was seen by hundreds of people who attested to this fact. These “Christians” gave their lives for the belief that the Resurrection of Jesus did in fact take place.   Salvation, a relationship with God, and eternal life are offered to all men who put their faith in Jesus Christ.

While Ebola can surely cause death, Jesus brings life. He gives new and abundant life to those who will follow Him. He gives eternal life and a new body (after death) to those who will put their faith and trust in Him.

While all this may sound very fanciful the question every fearful person must ask is “could it be true?”

I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for around half of my life. I have found that what the Bible teaches is not only comforting when facing the prospect of impending death and zombie apocalypse, but it is incredibly practical in helping with all areas of day to day living.

I am a better worker, husband, father, and friend because I seek to follow what Jesus taught in all areas of life.

Following Jesus has simplified my life and taken away much of the fear and sting that comes with facing death. My life is filled with purpose and meaning. My goal in life is so simple. I try to honor and Glorify Jesus in all I do.

I no longer ask questions like, “If God is good then why would He allow a terrible virus like Ebola to kill so many.”

God has made Himself clear through the Bible. God is GOOD!   God has made a way for all to have eternal life through the Death and Resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. He has allowed sin and evil to affect the world for a time but He will soon come again and judge the world and at that time He will end evil once and for all.

This is the hope of Glory.

Maybe you are not a religious person and have never really bought into the “Christian” thing. I implore to find a Bible and read the book of John.

Ask yourself if the words of Jesus are like the words of any other person who has ever lived?

Read the words that He spoke and see if they do not awaken something in your soul you did not know was there.

I have found every promise that Lord gives in His word to be true. I have experienced the peace of God in my life and I have witnessed the hand of God through my life.

All good things that I have are from above.

It is my hope that a fear of Ebola would send you to search for hope and purpose. If you are truly searching for those things they will take you on a collision course with Jesus.

Don’t Hate On Haiti

I write this as I am on a plane on the way home from the amazing country of Haiti. Haiti was in the news a lot a few years ago when a very severe earthquake hit the country and thousands of people lost their lives. Much of the publicity from the media towards the nation of Haiti shows a nation of poverty and hopelessness. It is true that Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the world. However there is so much about Haiti to love. I want you to know what I love about Haiti. I spent 5 days with a pastor named Lesly Bertrand who has planted over 30 churches in the last 35 years in Haiti. It grieves him that much of the publicity towards Haiti is negative. Pastor Lesly loves his country and the people of his country and he wants the world to know that Haiti is an amazing place. I agree with him.

On Saturday we flew into Port-a-Prince and found a whole different world from the one we left just two hours earlier in Miami. Once our team exited the airport we found many people wanting to help us with our bags. Many of these were young children with hunger in their eyes just hoping the rich Americans may give them a little bit of money. Port-a-Prince is a very busy city that is packed with people, vendors, dust and smoke. It is a bit overwhelming. The rules of the road seem to be chaotic while the horns on the cars never stop beeping. The scenery quickly changed as we left the city. We had a beautiful scenic drive to the mountains of Haiti. Most people don’t know that Haiti has some of the most beautiful country imaginable. The mountains are a mix of the Blue Ridge Mountains, mountains of Israel and a tropical island. This is an inspiring hot country that yields an abundance of amazing fruit. While in Haiti we had fresh organic bananas, mangos, watermelon, avocado, pineapple and a variety of other fruits. The people of the mountains were all warm and friendly. They live a quite and peaceful agricultural life. They live off of the land and off the farm animals they raise. The farming they do is 100% by hand. Each morning in Haiti you need no alarm clock as the air is filled with the sounds of roosters crowing everywhere.

What the people of Haiti do not have is part of what makes them so special. In America we live for entertainment. In the mountains of Haiti they have very little in the form of entertainment. Most places do not have power and the people are extremely poor. What they lack in material possessions they make up for in time spent together. The people in the communities of Haiti all know one another. They live in very tight knit neighborhoods that will stop whatever they are doing if someone in the community needs help. Very few of the people of Haiti have transportation other than their feet. Those who do have transportation (usually in the form of a small motorcycle) are more than ready to allow who ever needs a ride to ride with them. It was not uncommon to see 4 people on one of these small motorcycles. Most Haitians do not have a TV so they sit around and actually talk to each other (I know…crazy right?).

The churches in Haiti taught me so much. On Sunday I was blessed to preach in a church that crammed over 100 people in a small tin building that was literally held up with sticks. It was hot and this American was covered in sweat. None of the Haitians were aware that they needed a nice building and air conditioning to worship God. The worship of the people was so strong and pure.

These people have nothing.
They literally need to trust Jesus for everything.
They are totally dependent on Him even for their next meal.

The church did not have a sound system and it didn’t need one. Most songs are sung with only the instruments of the people’s voices. They do not sing with their voices alone but they sing with their hearts and souls. They all sing as loud as they can with their hands lifted in praise to the Lord. The services are long with much prayer and singing. The sermon is on average one hour and if you do not preach that long then you have done the people a disservice. All of the children are in the service with the adults. From newborns to children of all ages they are in the worship service for the duration. I was amazed at the children. Small children did not complain or move during the long and hot service. They were perfectly behaved (Most of them just stared at our team the whole time). Oh and how the church prays! They do not pray with arms folded in silent introspection. They do not ask one person to pray. They all pray…out loud! They attack the throne of God with begging and pleading. They lift their hands. They lift their voices and they beg God to answer them. They seamlessly flow into a song from the prayer time. It was such an encouragement to see these brothers and sisters worship.

I was in Haiti with Pastor David Bridwell and my dad (Tom Hermann). Pastor David and I were commissioned to lead a pastor’s conference of mountain pastors. We taught the book of 1 Timothy and some basics on sermon preparation and planning. My dad taught one night on prayer and served as our prayer warrior and personal bodyguard.

Pastors came from all over to the conference. We ended up with about 40 pastors in attendance. The pastors were so attentive, loving, and encouraging. They loved to talk about the Bible and what God is doing in their churches. Many of the pastors walked for hours to come to the conference. About half of them would sleep on the concrete floor of the mission house during the night because it was too far for them to travel home. The pastors woke up at 5:30AM singing praise to God. It was so sweet to hear these men wake up with praise on their lips.

The pastors in Haiti don’t get paid. They labor, study, give, listen, pray, counsel, visit and 100 other things that pastors do for riches in heaven. They do not complain about this. This is just the way it is and they count it an honor to serve the Lord.

For the two days of the pastors conference there were men and women that prepared meals for the pastors. To me these meals were good but seemed pretty basic, beans and rice and some form of meat and vegetable. It blew my mind when Pastor Lesly told me that this will be the best meal some of these pastors will have all year long.

WHAT I BRING BACK

I want to be thankful. I want to be mindful of all the blessings I have. I don’t want to simply live in comfort but do all I can to help others. I want to remember the face of the little girl who was about 3 years old at the church service I attended. I reached out to shake her hand and she looked at me with wanting eyes and rubbed her belly and communicated, “can you give me something to eat?” I would have taken her home. I would have given her whatever I could, but this was her life. Her existence would be one of struggle. God did not give us riches in America to horde but to invest. I pray I will remember that the church is global and there are millions around the world who do not even have their basic needs met. If I won’t help them, who will?

I want to love my community more. I want to see people in Greensboro come to Christ. I want the members of the church I pastor to have a heart to see their lost neighbors come to faith in Jesus. I want to take more people to foreign countries so they can understand how important it is that we as Americans be involved in what God is doing in the world. We can be such a blessing to these believers if we will take the time to open our eyes to the needs in the community and the needs of the world.

Haiti is full of beauty and wonder. It is a place that has captured my heart. I will pray for my pastor friends. I will continue to invest in their lives. I will be a better pastor to my people.

If you have never left the comfort of your community to go somewhere and share Jesus I pray you would obey the Lord’s commands and take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Save some money, go on mission. When you go to change the world you will find out that it is your world that will be changed.
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Don’t Waste Drive Time With Your Children

Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach them diligently to your children…when you rise

 One of the greatest times of my day with my three oldest children is the 5-10 minute drive from home to school. This is such a key time to teach them something meaningful.   Below is a list of what I am seeking to teach my children over the entire school year. These are foundational life principles that I believe to be of most importance.   I teach them one a week (sometimes it takes two weeks).   They love doing this each morning.   I try to make a big deal about it each morning.   Feel free to take my list and tweak it or steal it.   Don’t waste drive time.  

 FOR TY, KARIS AND KATIE 2014-2015 SCHOOL YEAR

  1. JESUS, MOMMY AND DADDY LOVE YOU…NO MATTER WHAT

Romans 8: 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

  1. GOD MADE YOU WITH A PURPOSE. Your job is to find out what your gifts skills and abilities are and use them to glorify Him

Psalm 139: 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

  1. BE HUMBLE – Think of others as more important than yourself

Philippians 2:Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves

  1. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE? LOVING JESUS

Matthew 22: 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

  1. BE TEACHABLE – Listen to those wise people God has put in your life

Proverbs 19: 27 If you stop listening to instruction, my child, you will turn your back on knowledge.

  1. BE COURAGEOUS – Do what is right even when it is difficult or frightening.

Joshua 1: This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

  1. BE RESPONSIBLE – Take responsibility for your actions and for other people God has put under your care

1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers and example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

  1. BE COMPASSIONATE

Mark 6: 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things

  1. HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE

Colossians 4: 2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving

10. THE THREE P’S OF MARRIAGE – PROTECTOR, PROVIDER, PASTOR

11. SHOW ME YOUR FRIENDS AND I WILL SHOW YOU YOUR FUTURE. 

Proverbs 13:20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

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