Why I Do What I Do

I love Paul’s letter to the Romans. I find myself going back to it over and over again in my personal quiet times. There is just something about it that resonates with me. Recently, as I was reading, a thought stuck out to me, and I realized it is exactly why I do what I do. Before I get lost in that, let’s look at the section of Romans that I was reading through. Paul is making his plea for his fellow Israelites to come to faith in Christ. To be saved through the blood of Jesus. He wants to see them accept who Jesus is. Romans 10:11-13 reads;

11 For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame, 12 since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (CSB)

Paul is telling us that there is no distinction between Jews and everyone else, which is great news for us. Salvation through Jesus Christ is open to all! And that was a hard lesson for those of Jewish backgrounds to accept. But Paul continues his argument, and it is the next few verses that really stuck out to me. Romans 10:14-17 reads;

14 How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. 16 But not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. (CSB)

That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I write here on Thoughts from a Crosseyed Jesus Freak. That’s why I teach Sunday school, Bible study on Sunday evenings, and youth group for the teens on Wednesday evenings. That’s why I preach!

Jesus is our only hope!

This world needs Jesus. He is the only thing that can heal the brokenness of this world. Jesus is our only hope! And the world needs to hear about Him. Like Paul says, how can they call on Him if they haven’t believed? And how can they believe without hearing? And how can they hear without a preacher? God called me to preach His word. I didn’t choose this life. I accepted His call. And I don’t take that lightly.

There is nothing special about me. I’m an imperfect human being that tries his best to follow the call of God on his life. I’m not writing this post as a “look at me”. I’m writing this to remind us all that this world needs Jesus. He is our only hope. This world is broken and dying, and only in Jesus Christ, and His redemption of us on the cross, do we stand any chance.

So, if you are someone that Christ has called to preach His word, stand strong! And let me just say this. If you are a Christ follower, you have a story to tell. You might not be called to preach full time, but you can tell others about Jesus. You can show them that faith in Christ is the only way to navigate this world.

There is nothing special about the people who preach Christ. It is their message that is special. It is their message that is important. It is the gospel…the salvation offered to those that might give their lives to follow Jesus. That’s why I do what I do. Honestly, I could care less if anyone knows my name. It is my desire to step out of the way and let Jesus shine through me.

Every Sunday, those that lead our service where I serve gather to pray just before our worship service begins. It’s a practice that I started because I wanted us all to have our minds focused on God and glorifying Him. Part of my prayer is the same every time. “God, help us to lead well. Help us to step out of our own way, and let You shine through us. May it be your words that are heard this morning, and not ours. May everything we do this morning be for your glory”.

This world needs Jesus.

In other words, my prayer is always, “Help me to not make this about me. This is about You God, and You alone.” This world needs Jesus. There is no doubt about that to me. So, let me ask this. What are you doing to spread His word to those you come in contact with? Preachers, remember that it is not about us. It’s about pointing others to Him!


Thoughts From That Other Jesus Freak

*Yesterday, I posted an article that I had written as a guest post for a friend of mine.  He has written a guest post for Thoughts from a Crosseyed Jesus Freak, and I am excited to share his words with you today.  Peter writes at https://www.onlyopendoor.com/ about the Church and why we need to be involved.  He’s also the youth minister at First Christian Church in Lovington, NM and in his own words is, “That Other Jesus Freak”.*

My 15th birthday was a day of joy and total sorrow. Just like any other birthday, I got to choose a friend to join me and my family for dinner at a restaurant of my choice. After dinner, I was told we would take my friend home, then head home for a bit before anyone was allowed to do anything that evening. It was then that my parents sat my brothers and I down in the living room. I knew something was up, we never met this way. That evening, my parents broke the news that my father only had months to live.

Years later, I had the opportunity to become a youth pastor in Arizona. I was fresh out of college, well, I was 26 at the time I graduated, and this was my first chance to work in the ministry. I was excited and scared to be moving from Minnesota to Arizona. Things started off so well, but they didn’t end up that way. After only months, I started to feel the negative attitude of some in the church, and it never really got any better, which ultimately led to my negative departure.

These stories are not meant to depress you or make you feel sorry for me. I share these stories because as a Jesus Freak, I feel the need to share the positive side of these negative stories. You see, God answers all our prayers. You might be thinking, you prayed that God would take your father? That would be insane. I prayed for my father to be healed. I prayed to be able to do God’s work and to grow in my own spiritual walk. God’s answer is not always the one we want though.

You see, my father was healed. He was a Christ follower, and I truly believe that he has a new body, free of tumors, in heaven. Not exactly the healing I wanted at the time. I also would have loved to continue working with the students I had in Arizona, but God wanted me to take some time away from ministry to grow personally before landing me in New Mexico as a youth pastor once more.

There will be trials in our lives, especially if we choose to follow Jesus Christ. It isn’t an easy life to be a true Christ follower. If it were easy, there would be more people that would give up the things this world offers to follow Christ. There will be tough times ahead.

But we can have comfort in Christ through these tough times!

John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (CSB)

Being courageous is sometimes easier said than done. It is not easy to be courageous when you are faced with uncertainty and loss. But Jesus also tell us this in Luke 12:25-26

“Can any of you add one moment to his life-span by worrying? 26 If then you’re not able to do even a little thing, why worry about the rest” (CSB)

We cannot live our days worrying about what will come. We MUST learn to trust that God will provide us with what we need. When the times are tough, call on Him. When things are going well, thank Him. Don’t worry about what the world will think of you when you follow Christ.

“I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus Freak, there ain’t no disguising the truth.”

Thoughts from that other Jesus Freak, Peter Wernimont.


Make It Your Own

*This post originally appeared on my friend Peter’s new blog here.  Check it out and follow his work there.*

CHRCHPeter asked me to write a guest post for his new blog.  It’s been great getting to know him over the last few months since he moved to New Mexico.  We’ve collaborated on a lot of stuff for Guadalupe Christian Camp, and he is the only other person I know with a “Jesus Freak” tattoo.

I’m a lot like Peter in how he described his experience growing up in the church.  My grandparents weren’t in ministry like his, but I grew up basically in the church anytime the doors were open.  And that was great.  I love that I grew up that way, but I came to a point in my life that I walked away from the Church.  Here’s some things I’ve learned from and about my experience of walking away.

I used an excuse of something I was frustrated about to justify walking away.

During my time in youth group, I was all in.  I was a leader in the group, especially in the last two or three years of high school.  It was that youth group that helped me through the death of my father as a fifteen year old.  One of the main things that we fought hard for during my time was a united group.

As we entered the youth group as seventh graders, it became pretty apparent that there were some major cliques in the group.  The students in the class before me and my class fought very hard to dispel the cliques, and try to be as united of a group as we could be.  Not trying to brag, but I feel that we did a pretty good job of that.  We tried to be friends with everyone in the group, and hang out with everyone as much as possible. 

After graduating high school and moving to the college age Sunday school class, however, I found out real quick that those cliques had reformed there.  Instead of trying to get rid of the cliques, I used them as an excuse to start slowly walking away from the Church.  There were other subconscious factors that lead to this as well, so I used it as an excuse.  It started as just missing Sunday school, but slowly and surely it go to the point I would miss a Sunday altogether.  And then the next thing I knew, I was skipping multiple Sundays and using my job as an excuse.

I thought it was possible to be a Christ follower on my own.

I convinced myself through this whole thing that I could maintain my relationship with Christ on my own.  I didn’t need to be going to church every week.  I was planning on going into ministry any way, so I was in a good place.  Pay attention to this section if you don’t pay attention to anything else.  I was dead wrong.  One thing I have figured out in my life is that God created us to be in community with Him…and with fellow Christ followers.  Christianity is not a path that can be easily walked without love, support, and accountability from a community of other believers.  It just can’t happen.

The more I tried to follow Jesus on my own without that community, the more I just started really going through the motions of my belief and faith.  When I ended up going to Bible College a couple of years later, that translated into just having fun and not taking my faith, or my studies seriously.  Here I was, living on campus surrounded by fellow Christ followers, but I was still just pretending and going through the motions.  You cannot follow Christ on your own…at least not very well.

The longer I was away, the harder it was to go back.

I think subconsciously I started realizing this, but I had walked away from a true Christian community for a few years now.  A simple turn back to God was all that was needed.  Think of the story of the Prodigal son.  God is ready to run to us when we finally take a step back toward Him.  But it’s not always easy to get to a place where you are ready to take that step.

Pride in trying to do it all on my own was a huge stumbling block.  Again, I really think I saw what was happening, but I thought that I could fix it on my own.  I had this.  I could come back anytime I wanted to.  But the longer I was away, the more pride got in my way.  It’s hard to stand up and admit, even to God, that you’ve messed up. 

It wasn’t until a relationship ended in a very hurtful way that I truly began to wake up, to realize that I desperately needed God and a strong Christian community to truly live out my faith.  But I also realized something that would really change everything for me…

My faith was not my own…yet.

I realized that the faith that was so strong even through my youth group years wasn’t really my own.  I had been raised to believe in Jesus, to know the Bible stories, to go to Church, and all of those things are great.  There is nothing wrong with any of it.  But at some point, you have to take that faith that your parents instilled in you, and it has to become your own.

I was baptized because all my friends were getting baptized.  It was just the natural thing to do.  I loved God, don’t get me wrong, but I was living on a faith that was given to me by my parents and my friends.  And that’s a good starting place.  You just can’t stay there the rest of your life and truly live the way that God is calling you to.  It has to mean something to YOU…not for someone else, but for you. 

There is a passage in Mark 8 where Jesus is talking to His disciples.  He asks them the question “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  They respond, “Some say Elijah, others John the Baptist, still others a prophet.”  And those were good answers.  They were putting Jesus up there with some of the heroes of Hebrew history.  But that’s not who Jesus really was.  He then turned the question from who the crowd thought He was to the disciples.  “Who do you say I am?!”  Peter spoke up and gave the first confession of faith.  He said “You are the Christ!”

When we are living by someone else’s faith, even if they are correct in their understanding, we can be like the crowds.  Jesus is important.  No doubt about it.  But He may not be seen as Lord of our lives.  We have to answer Jesus’ second question.  It’s not one that He just asked the twelve disciples 2,000 years ago.  He is asking us as well.  Who do you say that Jesus is?  Until we view Jesus as the true Lord and Savior of our lives, and therefore put Him in the proper place in our lives, we will not be living our own faith.  If we are not living our own faith yet, then it’s easy to make excuses and not gather with other Christ followers.  That’s why the percentage of people who claim to be Christians and the percentage of people who are actually active in Church is so drastically different.


Kraig Birchfield is the main author on crosseyedjesusfreak.com.  You can check out more of his articles there.  He is first and foremost a Christ follower.  He is a husband to Kelley, a writer, preacher, and a Crosseyed Jesus Freak.

Well Done: A Tribute to a Friend Gone Too Soon

I woke with a sadness in my heart this morning.  Over the last few days, I have been seeing a prayer request posted and reposted on Facebook from a friend in Tennessee, asking for prayers for her friend Jane.  What I didn’t realize over that week was that she was asking for prayers for a Jane that I highly respect and has been a huge supporter for Kelley and I over the last few years.  I just found out yesterday morning through a separate friend’s post that it was my friend Jane that was needing prayer.  Sometimes this long distance thing isn’t any fun.

While watching a couple of shows last night, and winding down for sleep, the news came across my social media feeds that Jane had passed away.  I’m just blown away.  Jane was someone that I would have never expected to pass this soon.  While she was older, she seemed in great health the last couple of times we were able to go back to Tennessee for a few days. 


You see, Jane’s husband David and I served on the board together at Crossroads Christian Church before Kelley and I moved to New Mexico.  Dave became an elder at the same time I became a deacon.  David and Jane were constantly encouraging us, praying for us, and genuinely excited for us in our opportunities for ministry.  After moving to New Mexico in September of 2014, I always looked forward to seeing them when we would go back home for a few days.  They always wanted to know how things were going, if there was anything that they could be praying for for us, and would always have that encouraging word and piece of advice for us.


For the last few months we were in Tennessee, Kelley and I were in the same Sunday school class with David and Jane.  It was amazing to see their love for the Lord, their interest and knowledge in the Word, and their genuine care for those that didn’t know Jesus yet.  They have served as missionaries, especially David, who uses his background as a doctor to invest in lives overseas.

Jane was the type of person that could always put a smile on your face.  She was talented, energetic, and just plain fun to be around.  She had a lot of talent in the drama field, directing a few different dinner theaters and dramas at the church over the last few years.  Her love for God, people, and service will be greatly missed.

I started off saying that I have a sadness in my heart this morning.  And it’s true.  I’m sad that I will never get to talk to Jane again.  I’m grieving over our loss here on earth.  My heart is breaking for David.  Even as I type these words, I feel myself choking up.  But I’m also rejoicing right now.  I have this intense sense of joy because Jane is no longer suffering!  I’m confident (as confident as I can be in regards to someone else) in her relationship with Christ.  I’m rejoicing that while she has been taken from this earth, her work is done.  She’s heard “Well done my good and faithful servant”.  And in that sense, as sad as I am she’s gone, and as joyful as I am that she is not in pain, I’m a little jealous. 

Jane’s finished her race.  She’s won her prize.  She’s at the feet of Jesus!

Jane’s finished her race.  She’s won her prize.  She’s at the feet of Jesus!  Rest well my friend.  While I miss you and hurt for your family, I’m so incredibly overjoyed for you!  Thank you for all your love and encouragement over the years.  You’ll never know how much it meant to Kelley and I.  Until we meet again my friend.


What Do You Want From Me?


Day 10.  I have been writing a minimum of 500 words a day for the last nine days.  Really there hasn’t been a day yet that has been under 600 words.  And that is just what I am recording here.  On top of that, i’ve been writing sermons and Bible studies on top of my 500 word challenge.  For example, I wrote over 1,000 words for a blog post yesterday, and then wrote my sermon outline that I had been thinking through all week.  That outline ended up being almost 1,000 words as well. 

I’ve confirmed something through these last nine days (ten including today) that I have said for a long time.  I love writing.  This is the first time that I have been able to be this disciplined writing, however, and I am finding that I love it even more than I thought.  There have unexpected things that came up (you can read about that here) that in the past would have caused me not to make the time to write.  Yet, I have written every day (if you look through my website, you might say there is a day missing; I wrote that day, but kept that writing private), even when it wasn’t easy or convenient. 

So, why do I write?  Better yet, why do I love the process of writing?  That’s part of it.  It’s a process.  I love getting my thoughts out there.  Thinking through an issue and formulating a response to it is actually soothing to me.  And it’s addictive.  I also love having the possibility of speaking into someone’s life and helping them through a problem.  That’s why I write mostly about Christianity and trying to better our relationships with Jesus and one another.

I love it as well because it helps me learn and understand things better for myself.  Think about it.  When you are teaching someone else how to do something, or how to understand something, you learn more as you are trying to teach them.  If you don’t understand something, how can you teach someone else to do something.

As much as I love it, there are things that are difficult and/or frustrating.  It can be time consuming, especially when you don’t have a whole lot of motivation at the time you are trying to write.  There are so many grammar rules that can make things complicated and frustrating, especially when you have been out of high school/college English and writing classes as long as I have.  When my writing starts flowing, I can really get bogged down if I concern myself too much with the grammar side of things. 

Sometimes the most frustrating thing about writing for me is actually coming up with a topic to actually write about.  That is one of the reasons I haven’t pursued writing a book in the past.  That’s one of the main reasons that I haven’t been as consistent in my blogging as I would like to be.  And that is the MAIN reason I am writing this post today.

I need your help.  I want to know what some topics related to being a Christ follower that you would like me to write about.  Give me some ideas.  I have a few topics in mind for the next few days, and I am committed to reading more as well, so that will also give me ideas for the future.  But I want to write about things that you want to know about as well. 

So what questions do you have?  Is there something that you are struggling with, and want to see a different perspective on it?  Do you have questions about scripture or doctrine?  Are you a non-believer at this point, but are curious and want to know what following Jesus is really all about?  Comment on this post, or click here to contact me if you’d rather ask your question in private. 


Disclaimer: I am not guaranteeing that I will be able to answer, or attempt to answer every question.  There is the possibility I respond to your question privately as well.  If there is a question or topic that I do not feel comfortable writing about, I will contact you privately as well to inform you of my decision.

A Legacy of Faith (Newspaper 5-14-16)

While you are reading this, I am currently relaxing and enjoying a little vacation time in Tennessee with my wife.  It’s great to get away for a little while, but this trip has a little more significance to it than just a time of relaxation.  It is a celebration as well.  Let me explain.  The minister from the church that I grew up in in Tennessee is retiring this weekend, May 15, and we are here to attend and speak at his retirement party.  He has spent the last 42 years in ministry, all with the same congregation.  This celebration of his time in ministry is being called “A Legacy of Faith”, and it is just that.

I write to you today about Clint because he has been a huge influence in my life.  He is and will always be a mentor to me.  In fact, I do not think I would be in ministry today if it was not for him.  When I was finishing up high school, he is the person that first put the thought of ministry in my mind.  He was the person that took me under his wing when my dad passed away when I was just fifteen years old.  He is the person that taught me more about the practical side of ministry, not just how to study and put together a message, but more of the day to day, taking care of people.  Not only can I say that I would not be the minister that I am today without his influence, I can honestly say that I would not be the person that I am today without his influence.  And other people have realized that as well.  In fact, I was asked to be one of a handful of people to speak at his retirement party, and I am humbled and honored to get to do that.

I have a point in writing all of this.  I am not just writing about someone that you have never met.  The point is this.  Clint is a mentor of mine, and because of that he has helped shape my personal and professional life.  My life has been blessed with a number of great mentors, and that is something that I think we all need in our lives.  A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor.  It’s someone that has lived out what you are going through, whether on a personal or professional level.  That’s the relationship that we see between Paul and Timothy in the New Testament.  Paul’s letters to Timothy, that we know by the name I and II Timothy are full of Paul’s knowledge, in an attempt to help Timothy develop and become who he needs to be.  Take a moment and read this advice from Paul in I Timothy 6:11,12; “11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

We all need someone that can speak into our lives like that, like Clint and others have done for me.  If you have that relationship, celebrate it.  If you don’t, find it.  Also, find someone that you can be a mentor for as well.  We were never meant to live this life alone!

What God Taught Me About Prayer

About three weeks ago, I challenged our church to partner with the leadership and me to pray for our church and the impact we can have on our community for a full 24 hour period.  We broke the 24 hours into 15-minute time slots and asked people to sign up for slots that they would commit to praying for the whole time they signed up for.  I committed to take any of the time slots that were still left, so that we were assured of covering the full 24 hours.

As I write this now, we completed our 24-Hours of Prayer about three and a half hours ago, and as I’ve reflected on the time spent in prayer, focused on our church, I realized that God has taught me a lot through this process.  I’m still processing everything (and exhausted because I was up most of the night), but I feel that there is value for you to hear what I learned as well.

Prayer is one of those disciplines that I always feel like I can and need to improve in, and having a commitment to praying for a specific amount of time caused me to set up a plan for how to follow through and keep my commitment.  My wife graciously helped me cover some of the open slots, but in the end I had three hours and forty-five minutes that I had committed to praying during.  A big chunk of that time (two hours and 15 minutes) was in one block, from 1:15-3:30 AM.  I’m not saying this because I’m trying to brag about praying this much.  In fact, I was really concerned at the beginning that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate and pray constantly through that entire time.

There were others that had committed to large chunks of time in one sitting like that as well, so to help them out, and myself, I put together a prayer packet, with a suggested order of prayer, Psalms that they could read and pray through, different prayers of Jesus they could read and pray as well, and also a selected reading from Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline about prayer.  It was through this process that I discovered something that helped me so much.  Prayer is more about setting aside time to communicate with God than it is about the words that we say.  It should be a conversation between you and God, instead of just a one-sided listing of things you want from Him.

So, what did I specifically learn?

1. Start your prayer time with Confession

Starting prayer with time of confession to lay all of your sins at God’s feet really sets the time apart.  The time I spent in confession last night means more than I ever thought it would.  A prayer partner of mine taught me to do this a few years ago, but I never really understood the benefit of it until last night.  I started my prayer time confessing those things that I just can seem to shake in my life, and it was the usual reaction on my part.  That is until I realized just how broken I really am.  That was a hard realization, and it led me to literally weeping for a few minutes in my brokeness.  And it caused me to cry out to God like I hadn’t done in a long time.

Crying out to God like that helped me connect with Him again.  It led to the rest of what I learned throughout the rest of the night.  I got into the flow of a conversation like I was literally speaking to a friend in the same room.  That was something that I hadn’t felt in a long time either.  My two hour and 15 minute time block of prayer seemed to fly by after I was able to settle in to that conversation like I had.  If you are having a hard time connecting with God, make a point of spending time in confession to Him on a regular basis.  It may just be that the sin in your life is keeping you from that connection, and that confession and crying out for His help is all you need to reconnect.

2. There is value in praying for individuals

My prayer time actually started with a simple 15 minute session at 7:30 PM.  Since I just had 15 minutes, and was just finishing up dinner as well, I decided that that 15 minutes would be best spent praying for each individual that had agreed to pray during our prayer event.

Later on in the evening, after my time of confession during my long block, I wrote out a list of all the people that attend our church (we’re a small congregation, so it wasn’t too hard to name each person), and then spent some time praying for each individual and family.  It made me appreciate each person, even if there are things that I don’t agree with them on.  How can you hold a grudge with someone if you are committed to praying for them on a consistent basis?

3. Find your own style

For me, I concentrate best with music on in the background.  Complete silence allows my mind to wander, or I just flat out fall asleep (especially at 1:30 in the morning).  So I put headphones on, turned on my Pandora shuffle, and listened to Christian music while I was spending time with God.  In fact, when certain songs came on that really connect with me and are like prayers from my heart, I treated them just like that.  I stopped talking, and just worshipped along with the song that was playing.  They became my own prayers, and I even literally hit my knees a couple of times during the songs, because I was drawn to throw myself down before God.

The point I’m trying to make here is simple.  Find your own way to remain focused, especially if you are undertaking a long prayer time.  If it wasn’t for music playing in my ears, no matter how committed I was to praying, I would have either fallen asleep or I would have been just daydreaming.  But knowing that about myself, I was able to correct it and spend that time focused on God.

4. There is value in praying others’ prayers

I knew there I was going to have a hard time praying my own words for that long, no matter how committed I was to it.  So I took my own advice, and spent time praying through prayers from Psalms and Jesus’ own prayers.  I did this during my 6:00-6:30 time slot.  After my 3:30 session ended, I caught a little bit of a nap, setting an alarm for 5:50, so I would be awake for this short 30 minute session.

I was out of it, but awake enough to be able to follow through with my commitment.  This seemed like a good time to pray some already written prayers, instead of having to come up with my own words.  But at the same time, I wanted these to become my own prayers as well.  So I read through them, concentrating on the words, and placing them in my own life.

5. Journaling is great

Writing is something that I find great joy in.  I process things through my writing, whether someone else will ever read those words or not.  Journaling during my prayer time, however, is not something that I have been very consistent with over the years.  One of the journals that I have is a combination of Bible study notes, thoughts, and even a few prayers, although not many.  I had that laid out, not really sure what I was going to do with it, but at one point, when I had run out of words, I flipped through that journal, reading every prayer that I had written there.  It was a great experience, but it was also a little terrifying, because I realized some of the things that I was struggling with now, and had confessed earlier, were the same things I was confessing throughout this prayer journal, dating back several years.

I also spent over an hour total writing down some of my prayers.  That was a great experience, because I was able to really concentrate on my words, and communicate exactly what I wanted to say to God at that moment.  It is also great because now I have a record of my prayer time.  I prayed some pretty big prayers, and now I have a record of that, so I can look back at later and see how God has chosen to answer those prayers.  One of the prayers is actually going to be worked into my sermon this week, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I didn’t have them recorded.

6. Silence is part of prayer

Prayer cannot just be one sided.  If you are doing all of the talking the whole time, there is really no value in it.  It’s almost as if you are just dictating to God.  There is value in “Being still, and knowing that He is God”.  Sitting in silence, and just listening for what God may be trying to tell you is one of the best parts of prayer.  This world is full of noise, yet when we can shut out the outside world (even if that means listening to music) and just patiently waiting for God really helps our connection with Him.

This 24-Hours of Prayer that we did with our church has been an eye-opening experience for my.  In a lot of ways, I was actually disappointed when my time was over.  That is until I realized that I can spend time with God in these same ways anytime I want.  I just have to be committed to setting aside the time to spend with Him, and I am going to try to make this a daily thing for me from here on out (maybe not almost four hours a day).

What do you need to do to improve your prayer life?  Is there anything I can do to help?  Trust me when I say that spending committed time with God in prayer can truly change things!


I am more convinced than ever that this life that we live is better lived in community, and that community being with fellow Christians.  We call our congregation here in NM a faith family, and that’s because we try to treat each other as family.  That means that we take care of each other.  Do we always get along?  No.  But what family does?

We are a family simply because of our relationship with Jesus.  We, as Christians, are Christ followers, and therefore we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  And because of that bond, we need to help take care of each other, in the good times and the bad.  But our faith family should be more than just the church that we choose to attend.  Our faith family, in all reality, should be anyone who follow Jesus.  Anyone who is a disciple is your brother or sister, and that means we should be trying to help take care of each other even more.

And the events of today that took place in TN around my mom have proven that this is how the Church or  Christ followers should interact with each other.  My mom lives alone, and when you get a phone call from one of her neighbors asking if she is ok, it’s a little unnerving.  But at the same time, that neighbor was helping to take care of and look out for my mom.  I’m 1,400 miles away, and had no idea that something was wrong, but a neighbor, and fellow Christian called because there was an ambulance in my mom’s driveway.

Turns out, my mom had gotten her feet tangled in a heater cord and fallen.  She landed on her left arm and snapped her humerus, but was able to get to her phone and call 911.  She was taken to the hospital and got the treatment that she needed, but the family aspect of being taken care of doesn’t end at my mom’s neighbor calling me.

Some how, a man from her church found out what was going on, and showed up at her house to check on her.  A lady from a Wednesday morning Bible study that she attends was there, along with my aunt making sure the dogs were taken care of and anything else that my mom needed taken care of.

As a minister, I understand the role of checking in on and praying for someone in the hospital.  Well, it turns out the staff of mom’s church is on a staff retreat this week, but the church has stepped in to take care of her.  One of the elder’s almost immediately called me to make sure I knew what was going on.  I don’t even know how he knew.  He told me to keep him updated when I found out what hospital she was being taken to.  I did, and then found out from my aunt that another elder and his wife showed up at the hospital almost at the same time that they arrived.  They stayed with them the whole time, and ended up taking mom home after she was discharged, so that my aunt could go home and pack a bag to stay with my mom.

There have been countless comments and prayers being offered through social media.  The same neighbor that called me initially has already offered to take mom supper at some point this week, and promised to help take care of her since we are so far away.  I tell you all of this to say the following:  That is what being a Christ follower is all about.  Taking care of each other.  We are family.  Yes, there are times we don’t agree, but our bond of being brothers and sisters in Christ should trump those disagreements.  We have other things that we are called to as being Christians, but one thing we have got to remember is that we’ve got each other’s backs; NO MATTER WHAT!  Seeing it in action over the last several hours, even from 1,400 miles away, gives me hope that we can all remember to treat each other with love and respect.  Not being able to be there for my own mom is hard, but knowing that she has a family bigger than just blood makes me so thankful that I get to be a part of this bond of brothers and sisters in Christ.

Guilty (October 2015 Newsletter Article)

I’ve never been a fan of shows like Judge Judy but a clip appeared online this week that caught my attention.  It’s only about 30 second long, however, it caused a great deal of laughter between Kelley and I.  In the clip, the plaintiff is explaining what was in her purse that was stolen, apparently by the defendant.  She is going through the list of what she had to replace, and said that she had an ear-piece in the handbag.  Then, out of nowhere, in a move of stupidity, the defendant speaks up and says, “There was no earpiece in there ma’am” to Judge Judy.  And Judge Judy starts laughing hysterically.  This guy, not even realizing it, admits to stealing the purse.  In under 30 seconds, the case is over, the defendant has incriminated himself, and Judge Judy has awarded the plaintiff an award of $500.  The guy was guilty, but what made the situation so funny is that he accidentally admitted to the crime.  Who knows how the case would have gone if he had just kept his mouth shut, but he didn’t.  The man got what he deserved. 

We’re guilty too.  Romans 3:22-23 states, “22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”.  For all have sinned.  We are all guilty.  And honestly, if we think about it, if we were to go before God trying to hide that sin, we would mess up just like the defendant in front of Judge Judy.  We can’t fool God, and He’s going to know exactly what we did.  But the beautiful thing for us, as Christians, is that we don’t have to appear before God on judgement day alone.  We will have someone to fight for us.  Paul hints at this in a way in I Timothy 1:15-17, which reads, “15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Paul is saying that he is that guy on Judge Judy.  The one that has sinned and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is guilty.  But Jesus has offered him mercy to show us all that His mercy and grace are available to us.  That should be comforting.  We don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing when we come before the judge.  We have someone that will confess us before Him.  Matthew 10:32-33 records Jesus as saying, “32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”  If we have confessed Jesus as our Lord and Savior before men, and not been ashamed of Him, He will confess us before the Father.  We have someone that will be our advocate.  In fact, to finish out what Romans 3:22-23 is saying, read Romans 3:24-26.  It says, “24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

I, for one, am glad that I have Jesus.  I will not be ashamed of the fact that He is my Lord and Savior.  I want to live that through my life.  And He will be my advocate in front of the Father.  I won’t have to try to keep myself from saying “there was no earpiece in there, ma’am”.  We all know I’m guilty, but Jesus’ blood has paid the price for my sin, and for your sin if you’ve confessed Him before others!  No more being ashamed of Him!

Sick Of It

Today has been one of the hardest and most draining days that I’ve had since I’ve been in ministry.  I really didn’t have to do anything today either, except watch a family grieve as they said goodbye to a 21 year old kid that died way too young.  I didn’t have to speak at the funeral, but as I set there, watching family members weep uncontrollably at times, and watching this kid’s friends walk up to his casket, I’m just emotionally and spiritually drained.  This kid’s death could have been completely prevented.  It was an accidental overdose, so all of those involved are just heartbroken, thinking what could have been.  I think I met him once or twice in passing, so it’s not that I was emotionally tied to him.  But his aunt and uncle are core members at my church.  And their youngest daughter is the same age.  Watching all of them deal with his death breaks my heart, because there is nothing I can do to take away their pain.  Quite frankly, I’m sick of it!

But it’s not really what you think.  I’m not sick of ministry.  I’m not sick of trying to be there for people as they go through tragedy.  What I’m sick of is sitting back and not doing more to try to introduce people to Jesus that don’t know him.  The kid that died was not a professing Christian to my knowledge.  And now he’s gone.  My heart breaks for the family, but more than that, my heart breaks for his friends.  As I sat in that funeral home this morning, it was amazing to see the different crowds.  You had his family and friends of the family that all sat toward the front.  It was the type of crowd that you would typically see at a funeral.  But then behind the row I was sitting in, there was a crowd of his friends.  I try not to judge by appearances, but it was the type of crowd that you would expect to see at a wild party somewhere.  These are the people that my heart truly breaks for. 

A few of them, before the funeral started, and before the family was actually brought in to the chapel, came up to the casket one at a time.  They stood there looking at their friend with the same blank expression on their faces.  They didn’t understand what was going on.  And who could blame them.  When you’re 21 years old, you think you’re invincible.  All I could think while watching them then, and as they were filing out of the funeral home after the service was I hope and pray that seeing your friend lose his life this young will be a wake-up call.  But not just a wake-up call to get clean and live life sober.  I pray that they see this as a wake-up call that life with a relationship with Jesus is so much better than any other kind of life.

It’s been a wake-up call for me, that’s for sure.  I’m sick of not doing as much as I can to impact the community around me for Jesus.  This world is lost, and seems to be getter further and further from the truth at a rapid pace.  And there is only one thing that can fix that.  Jesus.  He’s the answer.  Addiction takes hold in many forms, and it’s usually an attempt to fill a void in our life.  But there is only one thing that can actually fill that void.  John 10:10 reads, “10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Those of us that have found Jesus and have a relationship with Him have got to stop keeping Him to ourselves.  This world depends on it.  This world desperately needs Jesus, and we are called to help make the introduction.  I wrote a couple of weeks ago about being unashamed of the gospel (read that here).  In other words, we need to live out our faith, and we need to be sharing it with those that we are able to build relationships with.  If watching this family mourn the loss of a 21 year old kid has taught me one thing, it’s that the stakes are even higher than we could imagine.  We’ve got to start sharing Christ with those that don’t know Him, because you never know how much time someone has.

Romans 1:16, 17 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”