Why I Hate Wearing Ties

When I began my career in the business world believe it or not…I wore ties.  Yep, every day I’d get up, grab a collared shirt, and put on a different tie to start the day.  Don’t get me wrong, I had cool ties and rarely wore the same one twice in a month.

I thought that if I wore a tie it showed I was successful.  It was a sign that I was important and people should listen to me.  I even thought if I wore ties people would respect me.

I wore ties so I could pretend to be someone I thought I should be.  Someone I thought I wanted to be.

It took me 7 years to realize that although I was becoming exactly what I thought I wanted to be, I wasn’t becoming who God wanted me to be.

Now, I’m not saying that working in the business world or people that wear ties are not becoming what God designed them to be.  In fact, I believe that may be exactly what God designed you to be.  But for me, that tie represented a mask that was hiding the real me.

After years of 4+ hours of driving a day, dry heaves in the parking lot, sleepless nights, and stress upon stress, I realized that God was telling me my time in the business world was over and He had designed me for ministry.  Don’t kid yourself, I was scared to death and had no idea what the road of ministry looked like, but I felt an indescribable peace when I walked away from my tie for the last time.

When you find the groove that God created you to run there is far less friction in your spirit.  You love what you do and your heart begins to beat in the rhythm God created it to beat.  You actually feel the Shalom or peace that all of us desire.

I can honestly say I’ve found the Shalom rhythm as a Pastor.  My heart beats fast as I wake up, walk through the door, and when I get home.  I love being used by God and letting Him leverage any bit of the ability He’s given me for his glory.  I have found my soul’s sweet spot and I’m free to be who I am in Christ.

I believe everyone can find the Shalom God intended for you, but I guarantee it will take a leap of faith.  It may mean mom won’t understand.  It may mean you will make less money.  It may mean you will lose friends, comfort, and maybe even have to move, but you CAN find what God intended for you to be, do, or become.

Please don’t be something God never intended you to be just so you can be what everyone thinks you should be.

Put more trust in the God that loved you enough to die for you bloody and naked on a cross and will provide for you beyond what you can imagine when you are in His Shalom.

Don’t be a tie wearer with clean hands if God designed you to have dirty hands with ripped jeans.  You will only be fooling yourself but not God.

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How Important Is It I Marry A Christian?

“Is this really a big deal Pastor?  After all, I don’t want to force my beliefs onto my spouse because I think faith is a personal thing between God and me.  I know God is more interested in us being happy and in love than whether or not we believe the same things about Him.  I’m sure after we get married they will come around in their own time.”

I find these questions and inner monologues eating at the heart of many relationships.

I suspect they are asked more often than not by bright-eyed, Christian, young women who have been dating some dude for awhile and see the possibility of a fairy tale wedding on the horizon or have been dating him so long that at this point they feel they have to.

In my experience, a great case is usually presented for the person about how nice, loving, caring, hard working, and special they are just to establish they didn’t meet the person as a prison pen pal.  But, shortly after the resume is presented, the uneasiness of their soul begs the reassurance that it’s ok to marry them if they aren’t a Christian.

Now, if I were to cut away some of the fat of the question I think what’s really being asked is “Should I marry someone that doesn’t believe in God?” but if I cut even deeper to the marrow the ultimate question is “Should I marry someone that doesn’t believe in Jesus?”

So what is the answer?  What does God really say about whom we should marry?

The answer is very clear.  God DOES want Christians to marry Christians.

As I’ve said before, God is always more interested in our holiness than our happiness.  Happiness is fleeting and changing with every person you meet.  Therefore it is impossible for God to meet all of our happiness expectations without compromising his moral perfection. Holiness is consistent, unwavering, and designed let us live in communion with God.  By following God’s plan we place our self in the hands of the creator and we discover far more than happiness.  We experience joy.

Additionally, marriage is one of the most sacred and powerful institutions God ever created.  The binding of one man and one woman together for a lifetime and sealing by God Himself in Holy matrimony is a marvelous gift.  The holiness of marriage was also designed to set us apart from the normalcy of the world we live in.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

Placed in the context of marriage, Paul’s words are meant as a sober reminder of what is at stake when we say “I do.”  The joining of two lives together in marriage is the placement of a yolk on them.  Not so it can be used as a dated punch line to a marriage joke, but in the true sense of being united together for the work set out for them in this life.

When a yolk is fastened into place, the person next to you is the person you will be working with in the good and bad.  But unlike a cow or horse that has no say in who the farmer yokes them to, you do have a choice. You have the choice of whom you will be united with forever and choosing poorly can have grave consequences.

Having a partner that desires the things of God, wants to raise a family that goes to church, wants to spend their money wisely, and wants to seek a personal relationship with God is very difficult if the person they are yoked to wants none of those same things.  You can say all you want that God is a personal thing and you don’t want to force your beliefs on them, but when you yolk up you better believe you will be dragging that person’s dead weight along with you during your journey.

However, if you choose to marry someone that isn’t perfect, but is honestly seeking and pursuing Christ as there Lord and Savior, your work becomes much different.  In fact, you may even find it to be easier because as you both pull in the same direction—even the rainy season may not seem that bad.

Christian woman — God designed you to find a man like that.

Christian man — God designed you to find a woman like that.

The tweet I read from @amlykax3 and @KaylalaBailey said it best,

“A Man Who’s Not After God’s heart, should not be after mine”

Please be picky, be patient, and be prayerful about who you yolk yourself too.

Don’t let yourself get caught up in so much emotion that you lose sight of God’s holiness.

Now, can a non-Christian find Christ while married to a Christian?  Absolutely by God’s grace!

But, is this the original design by God? No.

We can fight God’s design in our life all we want, but I truly believe this decision is a matter of life and death…the life and death of your marriage.

Be patient Christian and trust God.

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Why Doesn’t The Church Leave The Building More?

It’s been awhile since my last blog, but now that I’ve got my head above water a bit — and have had some great God moments – I’m back.

One of these amazing moments actually happened the other day.

On July 22, the Parkview Lockport Campus held our second annual “Church Has Left The Building” event.  Now to be honest, the idea is not very complex nor is it completely new.  In short, rather than holding a worship service on a Sunday at church we release the members of the church into the community to serve the community.  As I tell my Lockport Peeps, by leaving the church we are giving our congregation a chance to actually do something with their faith by being the hands and feet of Christ to others.

We have been blessed to strike up a great relationship with a local school district in our area.  The administration at the school has been tremendously open to our people coming to their school and cleaning, fixing, mulching, painting, and this year extending a free wellness clinic to the local community.

The interaction between the community and our congregation has been nothing short of miraculous and has been personally life changing for me to say the least.  It’s one day out of the church calendar that I can point to see God working in overdrive.

So why don’t more churches do this?

I don’t necessarily mean hold an event to mobilize a congregation for a specific day to do something in the community.  To be honest, lots of civic groups clean up highways and pick up trash at local parks, but they wouldn’t attribute it to a burning desire to glorify God.

What I mean is why don’t more churches encourage their people to DO something with their faith?  I’ve known churches, and maybe you do too, that have a way of saying without saying that “all you need to know about being a Christian can be accomplished on Sundays at our church.”  There really is never a “now what are you going to do about it moment” because the only call to action is to come back next week.

I think the bride of Christ is becoming obese with Christians who are bloated with spiritual calories on Sunday, but never do anything to burn them off.  Our churches quite possibly could be part of the problem of the stagnation of the Christian faith if we aren’t careful.

Jesus’ mission for His followers cannot be completed if we don’t put our faith into action.  A faith brought into the world He called us to love.  A faith developed not just be learn-ing but also by do-ing!

Jesus says in Matthew 25:45 ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

In James 2:16-17 we read, “If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Notice the indictment in these passages is not in the lack of knowledge but in the lack of action.

Knowing a lot about golf doesn’t make you a PGA golfer, just like knowing a lot about being a Christian doesn’t make you a Christian.  It’s only when you apply what you know that you become what you want to be.

Can this swing the wrong way?  Absolutely.

Paul spells it out clearly in Ephesians 2:8 when says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

The pendulum can swing so far over to the other extreme that we think that feeding the homeless, cleaning windows at a school, or giving money to the church will save us.  We can think that our good works will somehow build the bridge over our chasm of sin, but that is equally foolish.

It is only by the saving Grace of Jesus that we are made free from sin and not by our works.  In fact, the Bible actually goes so far as to call our righteous acts “filthy rags” in His sight if they are void of Jesus.

However, I would much rather go down swinging by following Christ and doing as much as I can for His namesake than sitting in the pews waiting for my spiritual BMI to get to a level that kills me.

It’s time for the church to leave the building and get moving!

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4 Ways To Improve Your Walk With God This Week

I just felt like maybe this week we could all start out very practical.  So often we complicate our walk with God and make up rules and expectations we need to live up to that God never designed.

This week I hope you can follow these 4 simple walk improvement steps to help reconnect and refocus your time with God.

 

1.  Read About God

1 John has five chapters in it and will give you a directed reading plan for this week.  1 John was written by the disciple Jesus held closest to Him.  Shockingly, his named was John.  John is known for his emphasis and focus on love in his writings, so use this time to read how much God loves you and how much He wants you to show that love to others.

 

2.  C.H.A.T. With God

We make praying to God way too hard.  Some of us think that if we don’t have the right “Holy words” He won’t hear us.  As if God only communicates with us in King James speak.  Others get stuck not knowing how to pray or what to pray for in their lives.

This week use this simple acronym called *CHAT to direct your prayer time with God.

CConfess your sins to God.  Tell Him where you messed up.

HHonor God.  Give Him praise just for being God and loving you.

AAsk God.   Ask God what is on your heart.

T Thank God.  Thank God for all He’s done.

 

3.  Be Still With God

Instead of drowning out your drive to and from work with mindless talk radio or music, take a 5 day hiatus from the noise.  Use this time instead to pray, reflect on where you are in life, and think about what God may have in store for you.  Maybe there is something that you’ve been overlooking or avoiding.  You’ll be surprised how much clearer we hear God when we don’t talk.

 

4.  Talk About God

This week make a point to talk to one friend about God.  You don’t have to make it weird and tell a friend you think they are going to hell because they don’t know Jesus.  In fact, if you do that, I’d encourage you to punch yourself in the head.  But this week, make a point to share something you learned at church, in your 1 John reading, or just something that you noticed about God with a friend.  The NBA draft and Toddlers and Tiaras will still be there next week, so this week take a break and talk about something deeper.

Increasing our relationship with God is far less about available time and much more about choosing to be available.  Each day we need to choose to make God our priority, because God has always made us His #1 priority since the beginning of creation.

The sooner we realize the intensity of the love God has for us the sooner our relationship with Him will grow.

Have a great week!

 

*CHAT is a Willow Creek model I heard presented during a recent sermon I attended.

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