My heart breaks.

In the fifth chapter of Romans Paul uses language that can cause heads to turn. He is writing to the people of Rome and he writes these words: “I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying; my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.” He was writing as a way of saying how terrible his heart felt for those who were not in the relationship that only Christ can provide. Over the past few days I have noticed many people around me that have brought prayer request before me for various reasons. But a few have stood out. One was for a man undergoing significant medical procedures and he does not have a relationship with Christ. Another was for a woman who was in a terrible accident and as well does not have a relationship with Christ.

Over the past few weeks I have learned of other serious criminal offenses in our community. What I have realized over the past few weeks and days is that so much of the crime in our communities could be reconciled if these people had a personal growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Seven young people were arrested at the High School in our community for drug possession. Newton has seen numerous murders over drugs. Consistently there are pan handlers outside of the local stores. There was a drug warrant issued and served on a home in the community where a young lady was taken into custody.

This is a drug issue no doubt. But there is more to it. This is a heart issue. People need to experience the freeing power and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and suddenly at 32 years old my heart is broken for these people who feel as if there is no other way in this life except one that is bent for hell and controlled by the evil powers of this world.

I was born and raised in Wichita, KS (just a few miles south of Newton). In fact, my parents and family still live there and some drive to Newton to worship with us. I feel like Paul in Romans 9. I have great sorrow and anguish for ‘my people.’ We are Kansans. We are Newtonians. We are each other’s neighbors. We are each other’s co-workers and fellow students. My heart breaks for those in our community who do not know the saving power of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer for my own life that God will continue to break my heart for those who have a broken heart. Who is around you that you can show the love and power of Jesus Christ too?



I am YOUR God!

This past Sunday I preached from the 41st Chapter of Isaiah. For most of my adult life I have not had much of a relationship with the Old Testament. I do not know why. I wish I did. I think there was so much information there it always seemed very intimidating. It seemed to not flow from one story to another. It seemed to repeat itself. It seem confusing. I knew the stories like David and Goliath. Moses parting the Red Sea. Even the story of Abraham. But the connection was missing. I wrested with this question, “Why is this important to me as a Christ follower?” I found the answer and I found it in a small section in Isaiah.

Isaiah 41:8-10 says “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

There is so much in these three short verses but two parts really stick out to me. The first is in verse 9 where God says “I have chosen you!” Consider that for a moment. The very creator of this universe. The one who fashioned the stars in the sky. The one that told the waters to stop and the land to start. The one that gave flight to the birds and made the sun suspend in the sky. That is the very one who says “I have chosen you!” And I believe He chooses every single person and He will choose you over and over again. The question becomes, “What I will  be chosen for?” There are so many possibilities. But I would guess that wherever you are right now in life, in mininstry, in your job, in a relationship, in your home that God is saying I have chosen ‘YOU’ for this time. What an incredible thing that the God who was speaking to all of the Israelites is still speaking to us today! That is connection #1!

The second is a small part in verse 10 that says, “I am YOUR God.” Again, the very same God that was leading and blessing the Israelite’s is doing the same for us today. He cares for you. He loves you. He desires to know you better. You are HIS EVERYTHING! And today, He is saying, “I am YOUR GOD!” Are you willing? Are you ready? Are you waiting? He is here and He is speaking to me and He is speaking to you! Are you listening?



100 Years Strong

When Rebecca and I came to Newton just over 5 years ago we began looking through the history of the church to gain a better understanding of where the church had been and what the future of the church looked like. It came to my realization rather quickly that this church in Newton was a tough church. Not tough in that they were rocks and hard to crack. But tough in that they could persevere through some of the most difficult times and come out on the other side stronger than they had been ever before. Through this discovery we realized that First Church of God in Newton, KS would be celebrating 100 years of ministry in 2018. I thought, well, we are here for an interim position we will not get to help them celebrate. But, the Lord has had different plans! We are here and ready to celebrate 100 years of doing ministry in the Newton community.

Consider all that has happened in the past 100 years. World War 1 ended the same year the church started in Newton. Hitler was taken from power. World War 2 began and ended. The Berlin Wall rose and fell. And countless other events. Again, through them all the church in Newton remained true to constant vision, to know Jesus and to make Him known. What a time to be a part of an amazing congregation! We give God thanks for many years of serving the community of Newton and the people of the church. What a few families set out to accomplish is still being worked through and implemented today.

This recalls what I have said every year since coming to Newton. This year is going to be the best year this church has ever experienced. It is not because of anything we are doing as a congregation but simply being people who have found themselves at the feet of Jesus for generations. Our Lord is so good to us. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. His love is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And the church in Newton, KS that is 100 years old is a testament to this love that can only come from the Lord. Will you join me in praying for this next year of ministry? Pray that God will continue to lead us. Pray that His blessings will be upon us. Pray that we will continue to put down roots and strengthen those already there so that we can serve this community for another 100 years!
 


BUSY

 

WOW! That is all I can say to accurately describe how busy I have been over the past almost year. I saw today while making some other much needed updates that it has been 38 days shy of one year since I last updated the blog. It’s not that I haven’t been sharing my thoughts and feeling with others. In fact, I would say more than ever I have been able to share those things with those close to me. But I will admit that some of the extra things in life, like this blog, have been put off due to a word I rather despise, BUSY. Let’s see, over the past, almost year, I have celebrated a birthday, went to Israel for two weeks, had Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, celebrated my 10 year Wedding Anniversary with my absolutely beautiful wife, had all 4 of my boys birthdays, led one of my sons to Jesus, and just recently finished the remodel of our house just to turn around and put it on the market! Side note, prayers appreciated as it has not sold yet!

I can say though that the majority of my business has been by my own doing. I learned through college that it is necessary to create task list, to decide what is important, to categorize, and even prioritize the things that need done. Well, I have not done a very good job of that which is not like me! I decided the ‘un-important’ things were the important things. At times they were easier, more fun, more satisfying, but they never seemed to be ‘accomplished.’ This past summer at our Church of God National Convention I was listening to one of our evening speakers. He was speaking on priorities. As I was extremely the weeks leading up to this event, the week of, and the weeks following I was tuned in. I needed some margin in my life. He said one thing that hit me like a ton of bricks between the eyes. He said ‘Busy has another meaning. It is:

B – Bound

U – Under

S – Satan’s

Y – Yoke

 

Right then, had I become so busy that the yoke I was carrying was not my Saviors? Honestly, I don’t think it was. But I will say I think I was one activity, one more commitment, one less prayer or devotional reading away from finding myself someplace I didn’t really want to be. It was at that moment I decided this was the end of my busyness. The Lord called me, and he has called you, to serve HIM. Not programs, civic groups, hobbies, other humans, or even relationships. It is never too late to stop and examine the yoke on which you are carrying. What are you yoked with? Busyness? Jobs? TV or Social Media? What about other Relationships? See, when we are yoked with the Savior those other ‘things’ always fall into place. I am still cleaning up the mess I made of my schedule when I was busy. But I can tell you this, I inspect my yoke daily. If it is not starting with being yoked with Christ I get back in bed and try it all over again! Be blessed my friends! You will hear from me again soon.