Be Still

A few days ago, I wrote about the idea that we wear our busyness as a badge of honor (read it here).  We are so busy with everything under the sun we don’t have time to share Jesus with other people.  What prompted that article was another article by another minister that was suggesting that we spend too much time studying the Bible.  I wholeheartedly disagree with the notion that we spend too much time studying God’s word.  I do think however, we don’t spend enough time living out what we study in scripture. 

I suggested that we maybe find some other things that we are involved in and figure out a way to take a step back so that we can use that new found time to build relationships with others.  That’s is going to be the most effective way to share Jesus and what He has done for you.  But, I also think that we need to find ways to get away from everything every so often.  Completely unplug, and spend some time one-on-one with God. 

unpluggedBusyness is an epidemic.  We are constantly taking on more and more.  With the aid of technology, we have become great at multitasking, so much so that even when we are trying to unwind at the end of the day, watching tv, or whatever, we have our phones or tablets in our hands because we just can’t slow down.  I’m the worst at that.  Scrolling through Facebook or playing a game while trying to watch shows with my wife (she does it too). 

Busyness is an epidemic.

When people ask me how I’m doing, or how things are going, my go to response is something along the lines of “staying busy”.  Why?  Could it be that we are afraid if we aren’t so busy we seem to be running around “like a chicken with our head cut off” that others will think that we are slacking off?  Is it that we’re afraid that they will think that we aren’t putting enough effort into a task if we even appear to be able to relax?  It’s got to stop.  Especially in ministry.  Ministry is one of those vocations where there will always be more work to do.  That isn’t a ticket to slack off, but just a realization that we will never run out of things to do.

What ever happened to this simple notion; “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

There are times that we need to just stop, get still, and just know Him.  Rest in Him.  Relax in Him.  Spend time with Him.  I’m afraid we have forgotten that in our culture today.  I know that I have at times.  But it is something that we need to get back to on a regular basis.  It could be just for a few minutes each day, which is something that I would suggest.  But I think we could benefit from a greater chunk of time at times as well.

I want to point something out first.  This is something that we can see Jesus modeling for us during His three years of public ministry.  There are many occasions noted throughout the Gospels of Jesus going off on His own, usually up a mountain, and spending time with God.  If Jesus, the Son of God, needed to do this, then I think we have the same needs. 

While I strive to spend a few minutes alone with God daily, I want to take some extended periods of time as well.  I have something in mind too.  It involves going up a mountain, but it doesn’t have to for you.  gcc-picBecause of my relationship with Guadalupe Christian Camp (being on a couple of camp boards), I have the opportunity to spend time at the camp when/if I need to.  That’s my plan.  I don’t know how often yet, but occasionally I will pack a bag, get some easy to make food, and head up the mountain to spend some time being still and knowing that He is God.  I may write, I may read, I may do nothing but pray and meditate, but I will slow down and unplug from the world around. 

How are you going to “Be still, and know that He is God” in your own life?


Pressing On!

ANWPerseverance.  I just can’t seem to get the word out of my head the last few days.  It keeps coming up in different ways, almost playing a constant theme everywhere I look.  My wife and I enjoy the show “American Ninja Warrior”, and so many stories of the athletes that compete there are all about perseverance.  Just a couple of weeks ago, they aired their all-star challenge, and we got to see some of our favorites compete, and persevere through obstacles that they have never faced before.  Some of them even got to compete and complete obstacles that had taken them our during the regular season a few months before.

ETSUMy home town college basketball team, the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers from Johnson City, TN have shown some great perseverance this season.  This past Monday evening they won the Souther Conference Tournament, earning a spot to play in the NCAA March Madness Tournament that kicks off next week.  This was a team that only had one shot, winning their conference tournament, and they did so beating the number one seed UNCG team that had beaten ETSU twice already this season.

Even a movie that Kelley and I watched just a couple nights ago was full of the theme of perseverance.  The 2001 film The Musketeer is a lesser know versions of the story often known as the “Three Musketeers”.  In it, the main character perseveres through the hardships of life after his parents are murdered in front of him.  He is trained in the ways of the Musketeers and travels to Paris to join them, only to find that they have been disbanded.  Not to give away too much of the story if you haven’t seen the movie (or any of them), I’ll just say the rest of the story is about pressing on through hardship after hardship to accomplish his task.  In other words, he continues to persevere.

Much of this life, especially as a Christ follower, is about perseverance.  That’s why I have been noticing this theme all around me recently.  Life may go smoothly for a while, but inevitably, it is going to get rough again at some point.  Like I told our faith family this past Sunday, Jesus never promised following Him would be easy, only that it would be worth it in the end. 

Much of this life is about perseverance.

The fact of the matter is life is not fair, easy, or smooth most of the time.  How can we expect it to be easy when Jesus Himself said that we must take up our cross daily?  Luke records Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23-26;

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

So, without perseverance, without pressing on through all of life’s hardships, then we will just simply get overwhelmed.  We are going to face trials of many kinds in this life.  But we have to keep focused on Jesus.  We have to be focused on the goal rather then what is going on around us at the time.  Paul knew this first hand.  He lived it.  That is why I take so much comfort in his words to the church in Philippi.  He starts out talking about how much he could have boasted in himself at one point in his life, but he realized that only in Jesus Christ is there anything to boast about.  Then he wraps up this section by stating that he realizes that he hasn’t obtained this yet, but he is going to keep on pressing toward the goal.  He writes in Philippians 3:1-14;

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

We have to be focused on the goal rather then what is going on around us at the time.

That’s my goal.  Forgetting what is behind me.  The good and the bad things that I’ve accomplished in my life mean nothing if I don’t keep focused on the prize ahead.  This life is a battle, and perseverance through Jesus Christ is the only way to get through it.  Not only do I take comfort in the words of Paul here in Philippians, I take comfort in the idea that he accomplished his goal.  Not that he was perfect, none of us will be.  But his words to Timothy in II Timothy 4:6-8, near the end of his life, are words that I want to be able to echo in my own life.  Paul writes;

6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

May we all press on, forgetting what is behind and strain for what is ahead.  That’s the type of perseverance I long for in my life.


The End is Near (Of “My 500 Word Challenge)

my-500-wordsAs I am coming to the end of “My 500 Word Challenge”, I want to take a moment to write about what you can expect from “Thoughts From a Crosseyed Jesus Freak” here at  I’m on day 28, or according to the e-mails from Jeff Goins, day 26 of the 31 day writing challenge.  I’ve gotten a lot out of it, and am excited to continue this writing habit that I have developed.

One thing that happened during this challenge that was unexpected is that I have actually posted on my blog every day except for one.  I wrote that day, but decided to keep the article private because of what I dealt with in it.  My original plan was to write for the blog for the first half of the challenge and then focus on writing for my book.  I have done a little work on the book idea so far, but I kept writing for the blog more than I thought I would.  I don’t want to completely abandon my writing on here, but I do need to focus a little more on my book after the challenge is over, if I ever hope to actually complete the book.

So, here is what I plan on doing.  I am going to attempt to continue to write everyday, but most of that will be focused just on the book idea for the time being.  As for “Thoughts From a Crosseyed Jesus Freak”, my plan is to post three times a week, not counting articles that I write for the newspaper here in Carlsbad and our church newsletter.  I will continue to post them on here as well, but those will not count toward my three articles a week goal. 

Along with the commitment for three articles a week, I want to attempt to be as consistent as I can be in when they are posted.  So you can expect to see articles posted on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  That is my commitment to you. 

I want to thank you all for following along with me during this challenge as well.  I’ve enjoyed seeing  your “likes”, comments, and new followers along the way.  But I have never wanted to be about me, or getting my name out there.  I try to remind myself daily that my worth is not found in how many people are reading my articles, or how many likes and retweets I get through social media.  It’s definitely a temptation to find our whole worth in those things, especially in this heavily digitalized society that we live in.  My goal in my writing has always been to point to Jesus, and I will continue that. 

My goal in my writing has always been to point to Jesus, and I will continue that.

I want to write about topics that help us all walk this Christian life better together.  Occasionally, I have focused on writing specifically for ministers, and will continue to do that as well from time to time.  Everything will have some connection to my relationship with Jesus, no matter what the topic is, because that is the most important thing in my life.

I want to write about topics that help us all walk this Christian life better together. 

Through the rest of this week, I plan to write each day for “Thoughts From a Crosseyed Jesus Freak” as I wrap up my time in “My 500 Word Challenge”, meaning you can expect to see articles through Saturday.  On Monday, March 13, I will begin the Monday, Wednesday, Friday commitment.

Thanks again for reading my thoughts!  I hope that you have been blessed, encouraged, and maybe even enlightened along the way.  And it is my hope and prayer that you will continue to be as we continue this life as Christ followers together.  May we all become crosseyed when life starts to distract us!


Unexpected Encouragement: God’s Perfect Timing

Isn’t God’s encouragement amazing?  His timing is perfect, but almost every time we are surprised when it happens.  Just yesterday, I wrote about some questions that were hanging heavy on my mind and my heart.  I wouldn’t say that I was depressed, but I was feeling a little down.  I was feeling inadequate, and had lost my focus on God’s amazing grace.  I had forgotten that my strength is found in Him and not on anything that I do on my own. 

God’s timing is perfect, but almost every time we are surprised when it happens.

Even after I had written those words yesterday morning as I was preparing to preach, God began to remind me of who He is, and whose I am.  Through the music i was listening to, He reminded me that His grace is enough.  You can read all about that here.  But it went further than that.  As we went into worship with our faith family yesterday, other things just kept happening to remind me of God’s all sufficient power in my life.

God began to remind me of who He is, and whose I am.

Then the kicker happened today.  I got an unexpected message on Twitter from a friend that I hadn’t talked to in a long time (I wrote about him here).  All he asked was for my phone number.  Thinking that he had probably just gotten a new phone or something and just wanted to make sure he had my number if he needed to reach me later, I sent him my number and didn’t think much else about it.  That was until about three hours later and my phone rang.  Byron’s name popped up on the caller id.


(Left to right: Kelley, Me, Byron)

I wasn’t expecting to hear from him.  Like I said, I hadn’t talked to him in a long time.  But here he was calling.  I answered, and he went on to tell my about how much my writing here has been an encouragement to him lately.  How he is always excited when he sees a new article pop up on my Twitter account.  How my text to him a couple of months ago about Chris Tomlin’s “How Great Is Our God” had been an answer to his prayers, as he is considering going back to school to get some form of degree in Worship Ministry and potentially pursue vocational ministry.

I was blown away.  Here he was thanking me for being an encouragement to him, and how God had used something from me to help give him confirmation about his prayers.  But what I was able to tell him is that his phone call was an answer to prayer for me.  He was encouraging me through thanking me for my encouragement to him.  I love writing on here, but hearing from someone that is excited to read what I write gave me so much encouragement to keep doing what I am doing.  And it gave me some extra motivation to press on and actually write my book. 

So, I’ll say it again.  Isn’t God’s encouragement and timing amazing?!  He knows exactly what we need and when we need it.  Byron and I were best friends in middle school and high school.  Then I moved away for college to pursue ministry as my calling.  We still consider each other great friends, but distance and life happens.  I was a groomsman in his wedding, and he was the best man in my wedding, but we just don’t have the opportunity to talk that much anymore.  Yet today, when he called out of the blue, it was like no distance or time had ever passed.  We picked up where we had left off pretty much.  And that is because we have the bond of not only friendship, but also brotherhood through the blood of Jesus Christ. 

Isn’t God’s encouragement and timing amazing?!

If you are down or discouraged, take heart my friends.  God knows your pain and He knows your need.  You never know when and where His encouragement is going to come from.  Keep your head up and trust God! 


Confessions of a Flawed Preacher

There is so much on my mind right now as I sit in my office getting ready for our Sunday services.  First, I’m tired.  I don’t know why, but I just feel worn out this morning.  Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t make any coffee today.  Do I have everything ready that is under my control?  Did I put enough prayer, thought, and time into my sermon this week?  How many people will be here this morning?  Will that semi truck that keeps parking in our lot without permission be back next week (fortunately he pulled out of the parking lot about a half hour ago)?  Is this new series that we’re starting today, and leading all the way up to Easter, connect with our people?  Are all the families that I know of that are hurting in one way or another finding comfort in the arms of Jesus, or are they trying to do it on their own?  Have I done enough or could I be doing more?  Am I enough?

Am I enough?

That’s a lot to have floating around in your brain, especially just an hour or so before you are going to preach.  With that much on my mind, it’s hard to be clear headed and focused on faithfully preaching the Word.  This doesn’t happen every Sunday, but it happens more often than I would like to admit.  It would be nice if I could come into my preaching duties completely clear-headed, focusing on God and God alone as I preach His word.  That’s the goal.  That’s the way it should be.  But in my brokenness as a flawed human being, I let those worries above creep into my mind.  And realizing that, it puts even more worry on my mind because I realize how much I truly resist relying on God’s all sufficient power. 

I realize how much I truly resist relying on God’s all sufficient power.

I’ve mentioned on here before how much I listen to music when I am in the office.  This morning is just like the rest.  My Pandora station is playing, and there has been a great mix of worship music pumping through my speakers.  Most of the time, music goes to the back of my mind, meaning I don’t always focus on what is actually playing.  That was the case for most of the morning as all the questions and worries above were just rolling around almost uncontrollably.  That is until songs like “This I Believe (The Creed)” by Hillsong Worship, “My Victory (Feat. Crowder)” by Passion, “Your Grace is Enough” by Matt Maher, an “How He Loves” by the David Crowder Band came on.

These songs helped me focus in like normal, but I was paying attention to the lyrics as well.  I know all these songs by heart, and found myself singing along.  And something clicked.  I remembered that in Jesus, I am enough.  I can rely on Him and His grace.  Through the relationship I have with Jesus and my belief in Him as my Savior, I am free.  All those questions and concerns listed above may or may not go the way that I want them, but God is the One that is in control.  It’s not up to me anyway.

It’s not up to me anyway.

We don’t know what Paul’s so-called “Thorn in the Flesh” was, but it could be that it was something like the concerns and worries that I listed above.  Maybe not, but I think the response that Paul received when he pleaded to have the thorn removed can be applied to us today.  II Corinthians 12:1-10 is where Paul records this event in his life.  Here’s what he wrote to the church in Corinth;

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I don’t have all the answers to my questions above.  And I may never see the answers to all the questions above.  But I realize that it’s not all up to me anyway.  I feel inadequate as a minister on many occasions because I always feel like I could do more or do better.  Or I could find a way to bring more people to the church.  This morning, I was reminded, however, that I am just called to do the best I can do, and be faithful to God and His call in my life.  So, let me echo the words of Paul.  First, the response he received is a great comfort to me.  “My grace is sufficient to you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

I am just called to do the best I can do, and be faithful to God and His call in my life.

That has always been my prayer.  To glorify God.  His grace is sufficient because His power is shown through my weakness, meaning that anything I accomplish in ministry is through His power anyway.  Paul goes on writing about boasting in his weakness because Christ’s power rests on him in those times.  In his weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties, he can delight.  That is the opposite of human nature, but then again, so is just about everything in trying to follow Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.  That doesn’t make sense to most of us.  But we have to remember that we live on God’s power and grace, not our own.


A Servant’s Heart

I had a great reminder today of what a servant’s heart looks like.  Before I actually jump into that, I want to take a moment to mention one think.  As Christ followers, we are all called to be servants of some kind.  Jesus modeled it.  He told His disciples, and us through them, that we should follow His example and be a servant.  In John 13, Jesus is recorded as saying the following in verses 12-17;

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

In washing the disciples feet, Jesus took the lowest of the low positions in Judaism.  Home owners would have their servants wash the feet of their guests, but none were provided where Jesus and His disciples were going to have the Passover dinner.  Yet none of His disciples were willing to wash each others feet.  It too Jesus, their Lord and Teacher to lower Himself and wash their feet.  And then He commanded them to do the same; become servants.  So in that respect, we are all called to be servants in some way or another.

We are all called to be servants in some way or another.

In Romans 12 (read it here), Paul lays out potential spiritual gifts that Christ followers may receive.  One of them is serving.  So, it seems that while we are all called to be servants, some of us are actually gifted to serve and are prone to do it in a great way.  That’s what I mean by a servant’s heart.  And I got to see it in action from two different people today that I hold dear in my life.  The best part, if either of them end up reading this, they might actually be embarrassed about being highlighted for their service.  They weren’t doing it to be noticed.  They were serving because that is their first instinct.

Kelley and I went up to Guadalupe Christian Camp this afternoon for an event that the church at the camp was hosting.  It was a great afternoon with good food, good music, and a great message preached by the former manager of the camp.  Some people from our congregation here in Carlsbad were there, and we were all able to share lunch together around the same table.  The church that was hosting the event was planning on doing all of the cleanup afterward, but Ed had other plans. 

He started sweeping around and under the table that we ate at, and asked me if they were planning on just throwing away the plastic table cloths that were on the tables.  I let him know that I really didn’t have any idea, but that wasn’t good enough.  He sent me to ask the new camp manager, so he could clean up our table as much as possible before moving over to the chapel for the music and message portion of the afternoon.  I kind of hung back and just watched after confirming with David, and Ed is the only one that stayed and cleaned up the table that he and his family (and our church family) had eaten at.  And he did it to serve, not for any recognition.

While all of this was going on, I went into the kitchen where I saw Bev in action.  You see, Bev is Rusty’s wife.  Rusty and Bev ran the camp for 40+ years before retiring about a year ago.  Bev ran the kitchen over those years, and always wanted to be serving in some way.  A year into retirement, where did I find Bev?  She was helping clean and put things away in the kitchen.  I approached her and jokingly mentioned that even in retirement, she just couldn’t stop serving.  She smiled and told me that that is the only place that she feels comfortable.

This conversation with Bev brought back a memory from last March.  At a retirement party in honor of Rusty and Bev, not only did Bev make some of her world famous cinnamon rolls, but when it was time for the desserts to be served, Bev was right there in the serving line passing out cinnamon rolls to anyone that wanted one.


(Back row, left to right: Me, Rusty, Ed; Front row, left to right: Kelley, Bev, Dorie)

These two people, Ed and Bev, are the embodiments of servants at heart.  They are great examples of how to try to follow Jesus’ example.  I long to be a servant like that.  My spiritual gifts are in other areas, so serving in that capacity doesn’t come second nature to me.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t find ways to serve.  May we all find ways to serve, and not for praise from other people.  Bev and Ed, thanks for reminding me what a true servant looks like!


Under the Cover of Darkness

Have you ever looked at the story of Nicodemus?  Most of us know him for one thing, and one thing alone.  He was the Pharisee that came to Jesus at night in John 3 to discuss some things with Jesus.  He comes at night because he was not willing to make his meeting with Jesus known to his fellow Pharisees.  In other words, he thought there was something to Jesus and what He was trying to do, but Nicodemus was afraid of what this belief might cost him.

The Pharisees did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah.  They didn’t even believe that He was a prophet.  In fact, they held Him as a blasphemer, someone claiming to be God, and in so doing, condemning Himself.  After Jesus’ resurrection, Jews that believed and made a public confession of belief in Jesus were kicked out of their families, their synagogues, and considered the scum of society.

Nicodemus was afraid of what this belief might cost him.

That is why Nicodemus was unwilling to make his potential belief in Jesus public.  But his story goes much deeper than what we read in John 3.  It is interesting to note that arguably the most widely known verse in the Bible comes from Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus.  John 3:16 is part of this conversation held under the cover of darkness.  It reads;

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

For most, this conversation ends, and Nicodemus is forgotten.  But John actually mentions him by name on two separate occasions after this conversation.  And when you read between the lines, one can argue the growth in belief and faith that Nicodemus has throughout Jesus’ three years of ministry.

In John 7, we see a story of the Jewish leaders, chief priests, and Pharisees actively trying to arrest Jesus.  Jesus is able to slip away from the crowd, and the leaders are furious with the guards they sent to arrest Him.  Their response is found in verses 47-49, which read;

47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”

They are furious.  And they are continuing to think highly of themselves while putting the common folk of the day under their feet.  That’s when Nicodemus shows up again.  He’s starting to stick his neck out a little and defend Jesus publicly, even if it is not in a direct manner.  John records it this way in John 7:50,51;

50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

He’s trying to argue they need to at least talk to Jesus first, before they arrest and condemn Him.  Of course this doesn’t go over well with the other Pharisees.  They respond like typical Pharisees, but we don’t see much more of the situation unfold in the text. 

Nicodemus is starting to stick his neck out a little and defend Jesus publicly, even if it is not in a direct manner.

The next and last time that Nicodemus is named in scripture actually comes after the crucifixion of Jesus.  And this time, when he is named, Nicodemus appears all in.  He’s putting his neck out there, and there is no denying where he stands in regard to his belief and acceptance of who Jesus is.  It’s easy to miss, because we focus in on the first name in the story.  Joseph of Arimathea.  Of course, we know that name as the man that went to Pilate for the body of Jesus, in order to bury Jesus.  But did you know that Nicodemus was with Joseph.  He not only accompanied Joseph, making it clear that he respected Jesus, his actions proved that he was willing to pay a price for following Him; figuratively and literally.  John 19:38-42 records the story;

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

He brought the mixture of spices to prepare Jesus’ body for burial.  75 pounds worth.  These spices were not cheap.  He publicly was helping bury Jesus, and paying for the materials to prepare Jesus’s body.

When we first see Nicodemus, he is clearly intrigued by Jesus, but he is afraid of what it might cost him in reputation.  By the end something has completely changed.  He is willing to act out in the open, not caring what it cost him, because Jesus had become real to him.  It didn’t matter to Nicodemus if the other Pharisees condemned him.  He didn’t care what following Jesus cost him monetarily.  In fact, through his actions, we can know that the only thing that Nicodemus cared about in the end is who Jesus was. 

We can learn a lot from Nicodemus.


Busyness as a Badge of Honor

I could not believe what I had just read.  In a lot of ways, I still can’t.  As I was getting ready for my day this morning, I was scrolling through Facebook on my phone, and an article popped up from “Church Leaders” that lead to the actual article hosted on  They title of the article got my attention, but I never thought that it would actually read like it did.  The article was titled “Do Christians Spend Too MUCH Time Studying the Bible?” 

Do Christians Spend Too MUCH Time Studying the Bible?

I opened the article, fully expecting to read an argument for more Bible study, or maybe a little different approach to Bible study.  What I read, however, was an argument from a minister claiming that we study the Bible too much.  An argument that early Christians didn’t even have the Bible as we know it (which is true), and because of that, we shouldn’t waste as much time studying scripture as we do.  I’m still in shock over what I read.  If you’d like to read the article, you can find it here. Continue reading “Busyness as a Badge of Honor”

Ministers: Better Yourself for the Kingdom!

There was a simple question asked on a page that I follow on Facebook in the past few days.  It’s a page that is mostly for preachers, but anyone in ministry or leadership of a local church is welcome.  The question came from a youth minister who was getting ready to preach in the main service at his church for the next couple of weeks due to the main preacher being out of town.  Let me just use his words. 

“I am a youth pastor and I’m filling the pulpit the next 2 weeks while my SP is on vacation. I would like to take advantage of the opportunity to be formally evaluated on my delivery. If anyone has a form/survey they use to evaluate you speakers I would love to see it.”

I’m going to leave names out of this, but that is a very good question.  It seems to me that this gentleman is genuinely trying to improve his preaching skills by having others evaluate him.  Then he’ll take the information that they give him, and can make changes to his delivery, preparation, and anything else that he finds that he needs work on.  This is the sign of a person truly wanting to better themselves for the kingdom of God and I applaud him.

There was some good advice given in the comments as well.  Evaluation sheets were purposed, either content, delivery, or a combination of both.  Someone suggested videoing the sermon so that the person asking the question could actually self-evaluate by watching himself later.  All of these are great suggestions and can be beneficial to all of us who are trying to improve (which should be any of us in ministry). 

“Let God be the one to evaluate!”

Then came the last comment.  Actually I was expecting it, but hoping that it wouldn’t show up.  Someone suggested, “Let God be the one to evaluate!”  I’m sure this person was well-meaning.  At least I hope they were.  But they have missed the whole purpose of the question.  Yes, God can and will evaluate, but we won’t necessarily get that feedback.  It just seems to me like it ties into the statement that we hear all to often; Only God can judge me (I wrote about that here).  In this sense, it seems that the person making this suggestion that only God can evaluate our sermon or teaching time, and no one else that is listening to us should have any bearing on if/how we try to improve.

Think about that?  If we are preaching or teaching, God has given us a call to faithful preach His word.  Yes, we need to handle that call with respect, and stay faithful.  But one of the ways we need to stay faithful is by trying to improve how we put lessons together, and how we deliver them.  How can we do that if we aren’t evaluating them ourselves and asking others what we did well and what we may need to improve on? 

You can ask my wife, almost always, after our Sunday morning service is over, I ask her if my sermon made sense.  And sometimes I even ask about particular parts of my sermon if I get a sense that maybe it didn’t come across the way I think it did.  I don’t have the luxury of videoing my sermons each week, but I do record the audio.  I don’t go back and listen to them as often as I should (just something about hearing a recording of my own voice), but I have them at my disposal to listen to, and critique myself.

How can we do that if we aren’t evaluating them ourselves and asking others what we did well and what we may need to improve on?

“Let God be the one to evaluate!”  Again, there is value in that.  What the person is getting at, I hope, is that God is the one that we need to stay faithful to.  In that sense, I agree.  But I also think that God allows others to speak into our lives, and into our teaching/preaching.  Constructive criticism is something that we should all value.  Don’t be afraid to let people give you some constructive criticism in your preaching.  Think about it.  We are charged with handling the Word of God and presenting it to others.  If we don’t evaluate the way we do that, and let others speak into it as well, we can get way off course.  Stay faithful, preach the Word, and continue to improve.

We are charged with handling the Word of God and presenting it to others.


Need help to improve your preaching or leadership skills?  Go over to and check out their resources!


Celebration or Competition?

We are in a competition.  At least that’s what most of us think if we are really honest with ourselves.  It’s not a good or God-honoring competition either.  What I mean is that Christ followers look at churches that they don’t attend as direct competition.  Even ministers look at other ministers and other churches, mostly local but sometimes anywhere, as direct competition.

We compare ourselves to what the church down the street, across the state, or even around the world is doing to win souls.  If we seem to be more successful, at least in the eyes of the world, we look down on these other ministers and churches, asking, “Why don’t they do more?”  Or, if we don’t measure up to what another church is doing, we get down on ourselves.  Maybe we even turn a little green with envy.  In other words, jealousy rears its ugly head.

Christ followers look at churches that they don’t attend as direct competition.

When this occurs, we end up hurting the efforts of the Church in presenting Jesus to the world.  Others are aware of the jealousy and competition that we like to pretend doesn’t exist.  And it hurts our ability to successfully share Jesus.  Even if it doesn’t show publicly, this competition among ourselves hurts more than it helps.  When we compare ourselves to another church or minister, we are forgetting two very important truths.

  1. God has placed us in the context that we are in to do His work (that context is unique, and what we accomplish is unique to that context.

  2. We are all in this together.  This should not be a competition.  Instead, we should be willing to help each other out.  We shouldn’t look down on that church down the street that does things different than we do.  They are hopefully reaching a group of people that we wouldn’t even know where to begin with.  As for churches that we consider being better than us, instead of becoming jealous of their success, why not celebrate the souls that they are bringing into the kingdom!

It’s easier said than done.  I get that.  When you’re serving in a church and other churches seem to be having baptisms every week, and it’s been a while for you, that jealousy creeps in without us even realizing it sometimes.  It can be frustrating, and that leads to us wanting to compare ourselves to another church that is in an entirely different context than we are. 

I write this on a Tuesday morning, coming off of a normal Sunday a couple days ago at Central Christian Church.  We had a few people out of town or sick, so our numbers were down a little, but not the lowest I’ve seen.  It would be easy for a little depression and jealousy to creep in though.  And it almost did.  But I caught it early, and turned that jealousy into a celebration.  That’s why I write this to you today. 

I’m asking you to celebrate with me.

What am I celebrating?  A ministry friend of mine in Kentucky, who went to Cincinnati Christian University with me, had a baptism last Sunday that he posted about this past Sunday.  On top of that, another ministry friend, who is a college age minister at University Church of Christ in Las Cruces, NM was at a retreat this past weekend.  They had at least 10 people that gave their lives to Christ and were baptized during the retreat.  Another minister that I know, whom I also went to Cincinnati Christian University with, is the campus minister at Trader’s Point Christian Church’s new downtown campus in Indianapolis.  They launched the new campus this past Sunday.  Not only did they have over 1,600 people attend the opening of this campus, 42 people gave their lives to Christ through the obedience of baptism.  Now each one of those 50+ lives is worth celebrating whether you know them or not.

And here is the great thing.  I just wrote about 50+ people coming to faith in Jesus Christ over the last couple of Sundays.  Those are just the ones that I know about through social media.  I promise there are more that we can celebrate.  You see, we are all a part of the body of Christ.  There should be no competition among us.  No jealousy.  Only support and celebrating wins for the kingdom!  Because, again, we’re all in this together!