Thursday, March 30, 2006

How is Grieving/Pain Good?

Do you believe that God works all things together for good? What good can come out of pain? These questions came up twice in the past 24 hours. Once from a teen, trying to understand how God could allow disease/sickness/death to come into a believer's life. Once from my youngest daughter, trying to understand how God could bring good from her painfully hurt toe. How does pain and suffering in my life bring about good? It draws me ever closer to God, leaving me no other choice but to cling interdepently -- even codependently -- to God.

Consider this quote:

ULTIMATELY, lamentation leads to a greater, healing closeness in the divine-human bond. The cause of sorrow may not recede. The trial that evoked the cry may not end. The cry itself may yield no pathway of escape from harsh reality, nor should it be expected to. Lamentations come always from the lips of those who face the harshness, not from those trying to turn away. Still, as the cry pours forth, it opens wide the spirit of the one who issues it. And in this opening the greater closeness grows. -- Stephen Doughty

From pages 89-90 of TO WALK IN INTEGRITY by Stephen Doughty. Copyright (c) 2004 by Stephen Doughty. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.Learn more about or purchase this resource online:

Also, consider that the good that is produced may be through the ministry of others to you in your time of need. God has placed helpers in your life to bring about blessings. It may also be a stronger appreciation for a section or character of the Word of God. No one responds more strongly to the story of a prodigal son than one who has "been there".

So Todd, while I removed last week's post of lamentation (bordering on complaint), good did come out of it. You were able to snap me out of my mope with the direct and stinging comment, "Read your own posts". I was forced to do just that. My wife, also wounded me with wisdom. She pointed out that some of the teens could find the blog post and be crushed at my negativity. Again, I was forced to evaluate. Then, God brought the note of encouragement that has assured me that there is impact being made. Not by me -- or even for me -- through me!

God can, and does bring about good from evil. Where have you seen that in your life recently? What is God working on you about right now? Be vulnerable with God and your relationship will be strengthened!

Growing through the wounding of friends,

The power of encouragement :)

I received a note from one of the teens this past week. It was a great encouragement in more ways than one. Here's a sampling:

Pastor Mike,
I wanted to write and thank you for doing the lesson on Betrayal on wednesday night. It's amazing how God knows what your struggling in and shows u ways to deal with it etc. through other people, messages, etc. Over the youth seminars a past inquire with a certain person made me think about all this stuff again and it became very fresh and clear again in my mind. It really helped when we talked bout it on wed at yg. Also, im reading a devotional book mrs m gave me for christmas and wed night my devo's in that book were all about everything i was struggling with, going through etc. i just think its so amazing how God knows exactly what we are going through and helps us deal with it, (teaches us) through learning in devo's, messages etc. part of the reason i am writing this is cause i wanted to tell you thank you for being my youth pastor and for talking bout that on wed. Even though sometimes it seem like nobodys listening in youth group, I am (was) and continue to grow in my walk with Christ and many of your messages help me in my walk. so Thank you

Man! I can take a whole bunch of junk now! Those words of "hey you made a difference" are to a youth mentor like spinach is Popeye! Power up! :) It is great to hear of a teen really trying to grow spiritually and to develop her ability to handle life God's way! It's great to hear how God is intersecting her life with exactly what she needs for today.

How has God been directing you lately through a variety of circumstances? Who have you been intentionally mentoring with what seems like no effect? Who do you need to write a thank-you note like this one to for their impact on your life? Build someone up today with the power of encouragement!

Thank you for reading,

1TH 5:12 Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Team Roles

Dan Woodard met with us (deacons/trustees/wives) for the first time last night. We discussed some team roles. We took a team roles inventory to evaluate how we contributed to the various teams that we are a part of. Here are my strengths:

Resource/Investigator: Stays current with what is happening outside of the team. Creates external contacts. (people/information)
Shaper: Gets things moving (task/control)
Visionary: Challenges established practice. Introduces new ways of viewing things. (people/ideas)

Those of you who know me, do you see these characteristics in my life?

As I went to a camp board meeting today, I was able to see how I could function in "the easy stuff". That is the function of the team that I am most comfortable doing, that require the least amount of stress/strain. My part is on the program team, working to bring in speakers, deans and ministry teams -- which require a contacts list and connections with a variety of people outside of the board. Chip, the camp director, is also a visionary and a coordinator. LD, the chairman of the board, is the shaper and team builder. I score low in the team builder category!

As I began to filter each of the interactions in the board meeting, I began to value the input of those that had different strengths. I began to think about my best way to contribute to maximize the effectiveness of the team! How empowering!

"Team is a group gathered to accomplish a goal, to move forward in a unified direction, towards a common goal, with a common philosophy."

Go team!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

We Need Adversity?

"We do not need success or all the calls going our way to show Christ to those around us. We need adversity and loss."

Dwight Peterson

What do I need today?

Have you ever considered that we are getting from the Father's hand exactly what we need today? This reminder of the greatness of sovereignty as a confidence booster to deal with disappointment came again from Dwight Peterson at the ESF Youth Seminars. God knows exactly what I need today. He sends it to me not to crush me but to build me -- to strengthen my faith and trust in Him or to draw a key area of weakness to the surface so that it can be removed and /or repaired.

As Dwight mentioned this question, it triggered a whole set of emotions tied to a wilderness trip that I took over 5 years ago with Dwight's bosom bud, Dennis Wilhite. Each day Dennis asked us, "So what does this group need today?" I tried to answer Dennis' question with "to get to point B", "to rest", "to stay dry", "to enjoy being fed spiritually", etc. My answers all revolved around my limited understanding of what God had in store for us. We missed destination goals and plans, we were exhausted and often got wet. My goals of spiritual feeding were more along the avenue of sitting around the campfire and chewing on some deeper theological truth, etc. I missed the value of the question. I began to loathe the sounds of the question each morning or at every juncture of the trail. I began to realize that I had no idea what we needed. I think I even blurted that out by the final stretches of trail!

God, looking down through the halls of time, saw that we would be in the Canadian wilderness in May and that we needed to be stretched in some areas of self-reliance and comfort. He stretched us in ways that have caused us discomfort, pain, panic, brokenness, and repentance. We have never regained our original shape -- old things are passed away, behold all things are becoming new! One little question -- one huge impact.

What do you need today? Your answer may sound a lot like more money, or bigger houses, or a more receptive audience, a brighter future, a more comfortable state in life. Yet God knows best when to give you comfort and when to give you discomfort. So Paul came to the conclusion;

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:12-13, NIV

I need the Spirit of God to help me see the things that need to change, to give the power to change, to help me accept the things that are out of my control, to be wise enough to know how to navigate his course set for me and to win. I need a stronger relationship with God through today's turn of events and to respond to them in a way that brings Him glory. I need to bear more of the image of Christ in my life. And again, all I need to do is ask for help.

Begging for help,

Engaging with an Alternate Worldview

Whenever we live out our worldview (i.e. practice what we preach) we will find two reactions to our actions: conflict or connection. All actions that do not connect with another person's WV (worldview) can create a tension in your relationship with that person. When two WV's collide, there must be evaluation. Either agreement to disagree or resolution and adoption of one of the worldviews must follow.

Dwight Peterson suggested that one of the 2 Cor. 5:17 "new things" that have come at salvation is a different WV. It is now a supernatural (not natural) WV and when we come into conflict with others we have to make a choice. We can choose to be irritated/frustrated by those who hold other worldviews or we can choose to be burdened for them. This means that as we engage with our children (who are still forming their WV), we need to correct the heart issues and not the external actions. (Often easier said than done!)

As much as our politically correct, tolerance-based culture would like to dismiss it, there is a right place for WV (worldview) conflict and resolution. Each time another WV collides with ours, we are forced to evaluate and make adjustments. We either reconstruct or fortify our WV with each new challenge. When I look at it that way, my interactions with unbelieving neighbors, friends, co-workers, convenience store workers, etc. are much more strengthening than a cloistered existence in the church environs. As long as I have committed to studying to show myself approved unto God, (not others) I will not be ashamed for the time/work that I have put into study. As I challenge my way of looking at the world (my Biblical WV) I am growing.

So here are my resolutions from this discussion:
  1. I will continue to study God's Word and challenge my worldview in order to grow spiritually
  2. I will endeavor to live my life before the world in such a way that the world has to deal with the conflict between my WV and theirs
  3. I will engage in the dialogue that comes out of such a conflict with the intention of helping others to become reconciled to God's WV
  4. I will be burdened for those who continue to disagree with God's WV rather than be irritated at them

It is great to know that God gives wisdom to every one who asks and that He does not make fun of my constant search for truth and a Godly WV (James 1:5).

Constantly tweaking my WV,


Monday, March 20, 2006

Another Great Quote

This weekend, at the Youth Seminars, Dwight Peterson was talking about the danger of not living as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). He said "The stakes are incredibly high. There is no danger of not accomplishing the mission. The danger is in missing out on our part of the mission. God is going to accomplish exactly what He sets out to accomplish. It's just that we will get left behind and miss out on the opportunity to be part of the mission."

So spiritual growth has a benefit for me! Clean up the vessel so that God can use you! Watch for opportunities to be part of the mission!

Growing as much as any teen at Youth Sem's, :)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Building a Community of Believers

What is it that attracted you to the church that you are currently attending? What was it in the sea of options (especially if you live in a "Bible belt" area) that made this church stick out? Why should others come to your church?

This question is being asked, more or less, by the leadership team of Wyoming Baptist Church recently. We have experienced some attrition lately and the leaders are looking for answers. This morning during our "SS council meeting", some suggested that it was a friendly warm greeting while others suggested that it was the solid preaching of God's Word. Some even hinted at the robust or spirit-filled nature of the worship service that acted as the drawing card. Let me know where you stand! I will be blogging a lot this next week about this discussion.

Desiring to see this local church grow,

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The crew walking the pier in Jetty Park.
And working on the seaside fortress.

And Playlanding at McD's.

Day Two Fairly Safely Navigated

Well, I cannot top Todd's story of near death experiences, but we did have to apply evasive maneuvers to miss slamming into the back of the car in front of us. I "lost" a car in the blind spot (or so I thought) and I turned my head to check. The car had exited but the cars in front of me were 55 to zeroing. Sue hollered "stop" and I saw the brakes, I flicked the wheel and moved to the other lane, skillfully and carefully avoiding danger. Actually the reflex was probably my guardian angelworking overtime! Glad he didn't get the union report from Todd's angel and go on strike for higher wages! :)

Day two in Florida was even better than day one! Weather was super -- close to 90 deg! We planned a beach day. We walked the pier, built a sand castle, picked up seas shells, and saw a devil ray! We also got sunburned! :(

Dad and I tripped to Borders and scanned through the books at night. No coffee no bookpurchases but fun none the less. Man, I should write a book -- you could make money at those prices it seems! Are any of you looking for a cartoonist/humorous spot illustrator for your book? Count me in! :)

The sea was our substitute for the hot tub and after the burns, we are not ready to get in right now! Ouch! The kids took in a McDonald's playland for a late lunch with Grandpa and we stopped for twistee cones as dessert. I got a Coffee flavored soft serve. Mmmm. They had 24 flavors in addition to the traditional chocolate/vanilla twist!

Tomorrow is supposed to be a ball game at Spring training -- Phillies! :)

Until then, from the Sunshine State,

Friday, March 10, 2006

Broken not Crushed; Stirred, Never Shaken

I read a great verse this morning in my devos about Christ.

"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from people and given to people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he whom the stone falls on will be crushed."
Matthew 21:43-44, NIV

Wow! What a watershed person Christ is! He either cause you to be broken up or crushed. Not exactly the tender and compassionate Jesus that we often gravitate towards. The brokenness comes from realizing that we do not have any idea of what we are doing. We literally hit the wall again, and like the crash test dummies are smashed to smithereens. But so totally like Vince and Larry, we are accomplishing much because we are learning and growing. We are making advances spiritually by coming to the end of ourselves and realizing that Jesus is the rock!

Christ is also the "crusher" or the enforcer. He is the judge! He is coming to cruhs the rebellion, to put the antagonist in his place, to quite literally destroy them as their unforgiven sins deserve. Again, not exactly the kind and forgiving tender side of Jesus. But both aspects of "stoning" must be accounted for in a realistic view of who Jesus is. The reason why I can be so confident of this is the real Jesus (whom having not seen I love -- 1 Peter 1:8) is because it is based squarely in Scripture. It's part of that Bib world view thing. (see other posts).

We are stirred in our spirits, roused to a higher appreciation and communion with Christ. We will not be shaken by the troubles of our world. James Bond had it totally backwards -- stirred not shaken! :)

Rock on!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Great First Full Day in FL

Well we enjoyed a great first day of vacation here in FL! The day included:

  1. great weather! in the 80's and sunny. It is great to wear shorts and play trac ball with Scott in the cul-de-sac at Mom and Dad's.
  2. convertible ride! we rode over to Target and Publix in the convertible, top down!
  3. walks! Sue and I were able to hike for about an hour this morning in the cooler weather without kids! :) Grandpa took them to the park and had a great time as usual. Scott is looking for some advanced equipment this year, but for now, he is content.
  4. hot-tubbing! The kids can barely say hello to Grandma and Grandpa before they head off to the tub (aka the personal pool). Today they had a special treat, two dips in the tub.
  5. visits! Grandma/Grandpa Paris and Aunt Connie came over from Homossassa Springs. Good visit, good food (including pecan and strawberry pies!), and good conversations/catch up.
  6. blogging! with Dad's DSL link and my wireless card, I was able to sit down tonight and blog some of the details of the day. This is becoming a very relaxing way to unwind for me. However, the computer raises Mom's hackles! She feels very left out when the computers come out. It raises her bood pressure and causes her to fuss about the "stoopid compooters".

Sorry that you weren't here today,


Friday, March 03, 2006

Our First Session

This morning in our teacher training/discipleship meeting, Charles and I developed a list of discussion questions (affectionately DQ's) for the opening session of "Decision Making God's Way". It is based on a book by the same name written by Dr. Gary Meadors. Here they are; I thought that they might spark some good posts and dicussion here:

DQ’s for teaching DMGW
As always, each of these discussion questions is intended to make you think. There should always be Biblical thought given to each answer and Scriptural support is strongly encouraged!


  1. What do you understand about God’s will? Is there a general will of God? How is it known? Is there a specific will of God? How is it known?
  2. What are your goals for this class? What do you hope to understand better? What area of own personal walk are you hoping to benefit or improve?
  3. Why is the purpose-driven life (one lived according to God’s will) so attractive to us? What is so appealing about the statement “God has a wonderful plan for your life”? Is this simply an evangelistic baited hook or can we really deliver on revealing such a plan?
  4. What is a biblical world view and values set? How does having these protect a person? (p.13) Have you ever been caught up in this kind of trouble (clarifying life’s questions and challenges)?
  5. What are the personal benefits of knowing the will of God? Are there any corporate advantages?

So, engage with one of these (or more) questions. I'd love to move this classroom into cyberspace! :)

Discerning and doing God's Will with you,


Teacher Training Seminar

I am beginning a new endeavor -- something totally unheard of! Well I think it is new; although we all know that the Preacher declared that there is nothing new under the sun. We (Charles and I) are meeting every Friday morning for coffee and discussion about a book that Charles is teaching for Sundays School at WyBC. It is me teaching the teacher so that he can teach on Sunday. New eh?

Again, think about the great commission.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Christ started this kind of project with his disciples. He taught the next wave of teachers. It was perhaps the first teacher training conference! It lasted for about 3 years! While I do not claim to be Christ, I am a follower. So, am I in good company? I think so. A new idea with a Biblical precedent! Yes!

Make me a teacher of teachers as You have taught me! Help me to be as patient as You were with Your disciples. Help me to communicate clearly and listen intently. Make my teaching plan be Yours. Allow me to impact people for eternity's good and for Your sake! Help me be a humble learner before I am a bold teacher.

Your fellow student,