17 Ways Missionary Kids Are Awesome

This is a tribute to my five children and to all missionary kids who are often the unsung heroes of missionary life!

Our 5 missionary kids at Awana headquarters in Streamwood IL

Over the past Nine months we’ve drug our kids literally from sea to shining sea, traveling over 10,000 miles in our little mini-van, visiting dozens of churches and staying in many people’s homes. There were times my kids would have loved to stay home with family, times when they probably didn’t want to hear me preach the same sermon again or listen to our missionary presentation for the 53rd time! There were certainly times when they would have loved to do anything other than sit in the car all day as we rolled across endless farmland and plains in the Midwest.

Yet, they endured! They stuck with us, and for that alone they get my respect!

Just a couple of weeks ago we gave our ministry report to our mission board. I brought the kids up and introduced them. After our report the board gave us a round of applause, that was nice. But what they did next really surprised me, they turned round and gave our children a round of applause! That was unexpected and amazing!

My children really appreciated it and told me “Wow, that was so nice that they clapped for us!”

That applause got me to thinking a little about my children’s experience as missionary kids. I want to share with you 17 reasons why missionary kids really are awesome!

1. It was their parents who chose to live the missionary life, not them, yet they willingly go!

2. They make new friends faster than anyone, even if they know that they’re leaving tomorrow and will probably never see that person again!

3. They can sleep in any bed or not in a bed or in the car!

4. They gracefully endure their parents missionary presentations hundreds of times!

5. They’re not afraid to stand up in a church service where they know absolutely no one and introduce themselves!

6. Every time they visit a church in the States several people come up to them and tell them how little they were the last time they visited, they smile politely at the strangers!

7. Even though they’d rather stay home and hang out with their friends they willingly go on excruciatingly long road trips with their parents to visit people they have absolutely no memory of!

8. They learn a new language better than their parents, whether they want to or not!

9. They are effective and bold in sharing the gospel with their friends on the playground and at school.

10. When someone asks them where they’re from, they have to ask for an explanation of the question before they answer because there’s at least four possible answers!

11. They “get” to visit many places in the world when they’d probably rather stay home and be a normal kid.

12. They learn to develop a relationship with their grandparents over Skype!

13. They know that going to college probably means living several thousand miles from their parents and they won’t be able to see them for Christmas and other holidays!

14. American culture is a foreign culture for them, but they learn to adapt.

15. No one really understands how they think and who they are besides other missionary kids.

16. “Home” for them isn’t a spot on the map, it’s the few people in their lives who are the closest.

17. Finally, after all is said and done, many of them choose to be missionaries themselves and that’s just plain incredible!

Now it’s your turn!

Tell me why you think missionary kids are awesome. Also if you want to leave some encouragement for our missionary kids, I know they would appreciate it!

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We Could Have Been Killed Today!

This happened on the road today, about sixty seconds in front of us!
SONY DSCIt stopped us and all lanes of traffic on I 90 for over three hours!

At first it seemed like any other traffic jam but as we came to a dead stop on the freeway we noticed the thick black smoke billowing up in front of us on our side of the road.

I jumped out of the car with camera in hand and started heading toward the black smoke while praying for those involved. As I approached I could hear and feel explosions coming from the vehicle ahead. When I arrived the semi-truck was fully engulfed with flames reaching fifty feet into the air.

Thankful the driver managed to escape unharmed. No other vehicles were involved.

As we sat on the freeway and waited I had a lot of time to think about what just happened.

That could have been us!

The truck was just about sixty seconds ahead of us. We could have easily been involved in this accident. We could have easily lost our lives! But we didn’t, and I’m thankful for that!

People are praying!

I often ask for prayer when we travel. This month we’ve gone from Gig Harbor, Washington to Washington D.C. and now we are on our way back. It’s about 6200 miles round trip. That’s a lot of miles and so far we’ve had absolutely smooth sailing.

If you’re praying for us, you deserve a big “Thank You!” Your prayers are working!

You can die in a safe place!

Many people are worried for us when they hear that we are still planning to fly back to Ukraine on August 11th. After the downing of the Malaysia Air flight over Eastern Ukraine, people sort of assumed that we’re canceling our plans to return.

Well we’re not cancelling anything! We’re flying from Amsterdam to Kiev, Ukraine in less than three weeks!

A missionary friend once told me, “You could just as easily die while on vacation in Hawaii as you could while serving the Lord in a ‘scary’ foreign country.” So, which one would you chose as your method entry into heaven?

Here’s the deal, we could just as easily die here in the US, which is a safer place according to most people, as we could in Ukraine! So why shouldn’t we take a little risk and get back to serving the Jesus in Ukraine?

Keep praying

We still have a couple thousand miles to travel on this last road trip before returning to Ukraine! So keep your prayers real because we really need them!

Help us go

If you’ve been thinking about helping our ministry financially this would be an awesome time to give. Thankfully our tickets are already purchased but we will need some funds to help with shipping a few things to Ukraine.

You can join up with our support team here.

Or you can give a special “going away” gift here.

Question: How would you rather die?

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Why We Start Worrying and How To Be Free!

To be free from worry is a gift; it’s the gift of deep, blissful sleep and waking with hope for the day!

Children possess this gift. How can a child go throughout his day without being bothered by the worries and cares of this life? There is a very simple reason – he has perfect trust that his mother and father will provide for his every need. He has never known otherwise. His parents have always clothed him, fed him, comforted him, played with him, sheltered him, and held him close in their arms. Thus, he plays with blissful ease not knowing and not caring that there is a frightfully dangerous world right outside the warm safety of his parents’ home.


Special note: This post is an excerpt from chapter one of my new book “What If… How to Kill Worry and Anxiety Before They Kill You” You can pre-order it now on Amazon If you do pre-order it, send me a note and I’ll send you a free MP3 download of my sermon “Worry the Acceptable Sin”.


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With maturity comes knowledge of the outside world and responsibility. Often when responsibility comes, so does worry. Let me tell you about how it started in my life.

I’ll admit, I tend to be a pretty laid back type of guy, but appearances aren’t everything. I can worry too! A couple of years after my wife and I married, we started a small painting business. I bought one of those white utility vans with the ladder racks on top, like the telephone company uses. We lived in Tacoma, Washington, in a part of town that tended to have a lot of drug activity and the crime that goes along with it. Since we were poor seminary students, we could not afford to rent a house with a nice garage where I could park my van. That meant my work van, which was loaded with tools for my painting business, sat out on the street every night.

Honestly, I didn’t give it too much thought. I just parked the van on the street in front of our apartment building every night and in the morning it was always there waiting for me. Then one night it happened! They broke the sliding door window and very conveniently removed the contents of my van!

In the morning I got ready for work as usual and headed out the door to find a mess of broken glass on the pavement next to my van. Immediately my stress level shot up; a thousand thoughts invaded my mind and my pulse began to race! Who did this? Where are my tools? How am I going to work today? Where am I going to find the money to replace these things? What’s my wife going to say?

I began to ask questions and I began to worry. As a result, I decided to change the way I did a few things. I ordered metal bars for the windows in my van, installed an alarm, and found a nearby storage unit where I could unload most of my valuable tools at night.

Despite the fact that I had made all these changes, I still worried. For the next couple of months my ears were sensitive to the sound of car alarms. I thought every alarm was mine. Several times I got up in the middle of the night to investigate strange noises I had heard outside! Even though my van was technically more secure than it was before the theft, I was now more uneasy about things.

Let’s compare my situation with the child I described at the beginning of the chapter. The child doesn’t worry because he trusts his parents. However, he also doesn’t worry because he lacks knowledge of the dangers of the outside world. Before the break-in, I was like the child.

Yes, I knew that it was theoretically possible for someone to break the window and steal my tools, however, it didn’t worry me because I hadn’t personally experienced it. The lack of personal experience kept me ignorant of the real danger and allowed me to “sleep like a baby” every night. The problem is that once I went through the experience, it was impossible to go back to the previous state of ignorance.

Sleeping Through the Storm

Now let’s take a minute and look at Jesus. Here’s a guy that could sleep through anything! Remember when Jesus went out on the lake with the disciples? Jesus was sleeping right through a powerful storm that was threatening to sink their boat!

And as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.
(Luke 8:23-24)

There’s no question that the disciples were worried in this passage. They didn’t gently tap Jesus on the shoulder and say, “Master, if you’re not too tired, we could use a little help now.” They repeatedly called for him, “Master, Master!” They made the situation look dire, “We’re going to die!” They didn’t just tell him, they kept telling him!

The disciples couldn’t sleep in the storm, but Jesus could!

What was the first thing Jesus said to the disciples after he woke up? You’d think he’d say something like, “Wow, you weren’t kidding – that really is a terrible storm!”, or maybe he’d say, “Sorry for sleeping, guys; but don’t worry – everything will be OK now.”

Jesus’ response must have shocked the disciples.

He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”
(Luke 8:25)

After rebuking the wind and the waves, Jesus turns right around and rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith. It was the absence of faith that kept them on edge, didn’t allow them to sleep, and caused them to wake Jesus in their desperation.

Babies sleep like babies because they haven’t yet experienced all the dangers and problems in life. Their worry-free sleep is what we sometimes call “blissful ignorance”. On the other hand, Jesus could sleep despite the fact that he knew there was a storm going on. Jesus could sleep because he had perfect trust in the Father.

You and I don’t have the luxury of sleeping in blissful ignorance. If you’re old enough to read this book, then you are old enough to know that there are very unpleasant things in this life, things that can keep you up at night.

We’ve had painful experiences, or heard about others who did, and now we want to avoid them. As our minds struggle to find a way out, to protect us from the dangers of life, we can easily slip into a pattern of worry.

Worry rarely starts suddenly. It begins small and innocent; it’s almost hard to recognize at first. We want to look for solutions to possible problems, we want to avoid difficult situations; pain, sickness, and death. This is not wrong. However, our desire to avoid the difficult and distressing things of life can quickly lead to unwarranted fears and a destructive fixation upon the problem and the possible results.

No, worry doesn’t usually start suddenly, but when it’s not dealt with, it will eventually drag your mind into a deep pit of fear, anxiety, and apprehension. The deeper you go into this pattern of thought, the harder it will be for you to dig yourselves out. It will seem impossible for you not to think about it. Your mind will play through the possibilities over and over again. You become restless, irritated, feeling like you need to do something but not knowing what to do.

Worry infests the mind like maggots, destroying us from the inside out! It paralyzes us with fear, fills us with doubt, and crowds out our ability to think logically and rationally.

There is really only one way out of the pit worry and that is up! Jesus gave us a great example as he slept through the storm. He also pointed us to the only real hope that we have, the only thing that has the ability to rescue us from the depths of our worry!

A Call for Faith

Jesus reprimanded the disciples for their lack of faith, their failure to believe, their inability to trust. The faith that Jesus was talking about is not a general faith that is often referred to in today’s popular culture. It is not faith in some higher good or simply having a positive outlook in life. It most certainly is not faith in yourself, in your abilities or talents. Jesus called us to a faith much higher than ourselves. He called us to believe in the only thing that can actually lift us from our worries and set us on solid ground.

Jesus called for faith in himself!

After all, he had just proved that he was able to calm the storm with his words. Who has power like that?

When it comes down to it, worry is nothing more than your mind desperately looking for a solution to all your problems. When you come to Jesus, you find the ultimate solution. Your tired mind can stop searching; Jesus is the complete answer!

Don’t get me wrong, Jesus doesn’t promise that when you put your faith in him that he will protect you from all pain and hardship in this life. His promise is much greater! He promises to give you a hope that reaches beyond this momentary life, he guarantees a joy and peace that is much deeper than your temporary struggles. He promises to take your worries upon himself and free you from their weight, but this can’t happen until you begin to trust him!

If you’re like me, then you have gone through things in your life that could give you reason to worry. You can’t un-experience what you have experienced and you can’t un-know what you have learned, so that leaves you with only two possibilities. You either choose to make worry an everyday part of your life, or began a life of trust in Jesus and start sleeping well again!

Question: How did you start worrying?

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Who Shot Down Malaysia Air Flight 17 Over Eastern Ukraine?

My heart sunk today when I heard the news that a passenger airplane carrying 295 people had been shot down by surface to air missiles over Eastern Ukraine!

Just when it seemed like the Ukrainian army was starting to makes some progress in removing the Russian separatists from their strongholds this happens!

Immediately after the terrible news broke, the Ukrainian government blamed the separatists for shooting down the plane. They even published recorded phone conversations with separatists leaders claiming responsibility.

Unfortunately, the Russian media also started to blame Ukrainian forces, saying that the separatists don’t have access to the Russian missiles that were used to bring down the Malaysian plane.

What we know is that 295 innocent people are dead and that their plane was shot down by Russian made missiles over a separatist held area of Eastern Ukraine.

So who really shot down the plane?

russian misslel-001

Honestly it doesn’t really matter at this point.  Ukraine and Russian will continue to play the blame game and in the mean time more innocent people will die!

This tragic incident points to a significant rise in tensions that don’t seem to be going away very soon. Over the past week Russia has also begun to blame Ukraine for several mortar shells that crossed the Russian border and even resulted in loss of life on the Russian side of the border!

There is also evidence that Russia is once again building up more troops near the Ukrainian border. So if you thought things were cooling down in Ukraine over the past few weeks, you thought wrong. It seems that Moscow is looking for every reason to intervene and they are finding more than a few!

Join Us in Prayer!

Please join with us in continued prayer for Ukraine and for the families of all who lost loved ones on the Malaysia Air flight! This is a tragic moment for Ukraine and for the world!

Here’s how you can pray:

  • Pray for the families of those who died on Malaysia Flight 17.
  • Pray for the Ukrainian government as they try to bring peace and stability to Eastern Ukraine.
  • Pray for the families of the 550 Ukrainian civilians and 270 Ukrainian military killed so far in this war.
  • Pray for the 86,000 refugees who have fled the war zones in Ukraine. (Learn how you can help them here.)
  • Pray for our family as we prepare to fly to Ukraine in just three weeks.

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When Will Persecution Come to American Churches?

Persecution of Christians is still on the rise in Eastern Ukraine where Russian separatist have taken control. Just a few days ago in the city of Donetsk the separatist seized Donetsk Christian University along with about 20 staff.

For the last 23 years there really was not any significant persecution of Christians in Ukraine. In fact when people would ask me about freedom of religion and worship in Ukraine I would often tell them that one of the great things about Ukraine is that we don’t have any government limitations on preaching the gospel and worshiping God.  In a way Ukraine has enjoyed more freedoms than the US has in the past 20 years or so.


Special note: If you have already pre-ordered my book “What If… How to Kill Worry and Anxiety Before They Kill You”, send me a note with the following in the subject line, “I pre-ordered your book” and I will send you a free MP3 download of my sermon “Worry the Acceptable Sin”.


 

persecution flag-001

However, for Crimea, Lughansk and Donetsk regions this freedom was lost much quicker than anyone expected! This has caused me to contemplate the freedom we have enjoyed for so long in the USA.

Let’s be honest, persecution really has not come to the US yet. I mean we may worry about loosing our church’s tax exempt status or getting laughed at for our antiquated beliefs but I don’t think these qualify as persecution. On the other hand what is happening now in Eastern Ukraine, forced seizures of church buildings, abductions of church leaders who are then held captive and beaten for their faith, that’s persecution!

If you want some great examples of real persecution versus fake persecution I highly recommend checking out a blog post by Benjamin Corey called Real vs. Fake Persecution: How You Can Spot the Difference.

Persecution of the church is something that will eventually happen in the US so my question is,

“When will real persecution come to America?”

After observing how and why persecution began several months ago in Eastern Ukraine as well as why there was persecution in Bible times here are five conditions that will eventually lead to persecution in America.

When the Church stops preaching prosperity gospel.

I’ve written here about the problems with the Word of Faith movement, which includes prosperity theology. As long as pastors are teaching their church members that real faith will lead to a comfortable and luxurious life there will be no persecution!

Or maybe I should put it this way, any persecution that does happen will quickly fizzle out because those who follow the prosperity gospel teaching will just as quickly compromise their faith to avoid the persecution. Prosperity gospel does not prepare believers for persecution but rather deceives them into thinking that if they have enough faith they will never experience persecution!

When the Church starts calling people to repent of their sins.

Biblically and historically persecution tends to happen around those who are clearly calling people to repentance! John the Baptist who preached “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Mat 3:2) was imprisoned and eventually beheaded as a result of this type of preaching.

People don’t like to be called sinners or have their lifestyle condemned. That’s why Jesus said that the world hated him and will hate his followers. (Joh 15:18) The problem in many churches today is that very little is said concerning sin and the need for repentance. On the other hand a lot is said about how to have a great marriage, how to raise kids, how to deal with finances, etc…

Honestly I think it’s OK to preach a “How to” message from time to time but as long as our pulpits are filled with “How to…” and are devoid of “Repent and believe” there will be little persecution in America.

When the Church takes uncompromising stands on righteousness.

To some extent this is happening already in a few churches. Taking an uncompromising stance on moral social issues such as abortion, homosexuality, doctor assisted suicide, divorce, sex outside of marriage, etc… will eventually lead to persecution. The problem is that sin is a money making business for many and those who profit from it see the Church as a threat.

Paul caused a riot in Ephesus because of his strong teaching against idols! (Act 19:23-27) When society looses it’s historical moral foundation churches will find it necessary to take clear stands on moral issues that they never would have dreamed would become controversial.

When there is a clear difference between the life of a believer and an unbeliever.

As long as believers blend in, go with the flow and look, think, and act like the rest of the world there will be no persecution! However when believers start transforming their minds (Rom 12:2) the result will be transformed lives that look much different than the world.

This difference will make us stand out and the more we stand out as followers of Christ the more likely it is that we will face persecution.

When we least expect it.

This is a lesson that I’ve learned in the past few months. How was it that Eastern Ukraine could go from complete freedom to preach and teach the Gospel to persecution in a matter of days? Pastor Sergey’s story of being beat at the hands of city officials was a shocker for many!

It’s easy to be lulled to sleep by the false perception that you will never face persecution. However, we are much closer to persecution that we think! Whether it happens today or years from now the lesson we need to learn from our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ is that we need to be ready!

Peter says it best!

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
(1Pe 4:12-14)

Question: When do you think persecution will come to America?

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Happy Independence Day!

Our family would like to wish you a happy Independence Day! We hope that you take a time today to pray for America and to remember her rich history, one that was filled with many men of faith who honored God with their lives and leadership of our country.

SONY DSCI was born am a US born citizen and Christina is a naturalized citizen. That means we have the benefit of two perspectives on what it means to be an American. For me, living outside of the US has increased my thankfulness for all that my homeland has given me!

I’m thankful for the freedom to worship, the opportunities to work hard and get ahead, a fair justice system and much more! When it comes down to it the USA still is a great nation which offers followers of Jesus tremendous opportunities to worship corporately, witness publicly, and honor Jesus privately in their every day lives!

Indeed America’s forefathers had great foresight and wisdom when they printed these words on our currency

“In God We Trust”

I believe that there are many in America who still trust in God today but sadly that number is shrinking. Let’s also remember today that God can still bring revival to our country and the best place for that revival to start is in our own hearts!

God bless America!

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Why You Should Stop Worshiping Celebrity Christian Leaders!

What do John MacArthur, Mark Driscoll and Bill Gothard all have in common?  I know you’re probably thinking nothing right?

Wrong!

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What they have in common are followers who are dedicated to these men  and their teaching in a way that borders on idolatry! Honestly I could name many more celebrity Christians but those where just the first three that popped into my mind.

I was reminded of the problem of celebrity Christian leaders recently as I was reading about the Bill Gothard scandal.  One of the reasons Gothard could make sexual advances on young girls for so many years was simply because so many people followed him in a fanatical unquestioning way.

The truth is that even if the leader doesn’t fall morally, bad things happen when we elevate Christian leaders to a place where only Jesus should be!

This is not new

At first I was tempted to think that this type of stardom in Christianity was something new and a result of our Hollywood fixation on the life of the rich and famous. However my friend Justin noted in a comment,

“Do you think this is a new phenomenon, only with present leaders? How about people like David Livingstone or others who are often called “Hero’s of the faith?” Do you think there is a distinction between calling them “Hero’s,” as the cover of the biography my kids are reading does, and turning them into idols?”

Of course Justin is correct, this is not a new phenomenon. In fact you can find it in the Bible.

When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”
(Act 10:25-26)

Or here

And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”
(Act 14:11)

Or here

They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.
(Act 28:6)

What should be noted about the above instances is the responses of those to whom the worship was directed. Peter stated it plainly.

“I too am a man.”

When Paul and Barnabas realized that people were starting to worship them their response was immediate and passionate!

“They tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out,
Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you.” (Acts 14:14-15)

 

Paul’s response in Acts 28 isn’t recorded but I suspect it was similar to how he and Barnabas responded earlier.

It was a problem for the early church

Paul reprimanded the church in Corinth for following after teachers in the church. This type of fandom created discord in the church.

What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”
(1Co 1:12)

For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. (ICo 3:4-5)

Paul uses the entirety of 1 Cor 3 to explain why we shouldn’t follow after other human teachers and then he sums it up with one verse that puts it all into perspective.

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
(1Co 4:1)

That is how you and I and every member of the body of Christ ought to relate to our teachers, pastors and spiritual leaders. They aren’t super star Christians endowed by God with unique insight into God’s Word, they don’t have special status in God’s mind and they shouldn’t have it in ours either!

It happened in Church history

Throughout church history there has often been a tendency to focus too much attention and adoration on the messenger instead of the message!

Steve Lawson gives a great example of the 18th century English preacher George Whitfield. It seems that many who heard him revered him in a way that bordered on worship. Lawson gives this description of a farmer named Mr. Cole in his book The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield.

“When I saw Mr. Whitefield come upon the scaffold, he looked almost angelic.” He described Whitefield as “a young, slim, slender youth before thousands of people, and with bold undaunted countenance.” The talk circulating among the crowd was, “God was with him everywhere.”

As Whitefield began to preach, Cole sensed a great fear gripping his soul. The preaching came with much power upon this farmers’ unconverted heart. Cole said the young preacher “looked as if he was clothed with authority from the Great God, and sweet solemnity sat upon his brow.”

Now honestly that seems a little overboard to me! People worshiped Whitefield so much that they left his casket open for viewing for over 50 years after his death! At one point someone even stole his right arm but it was returned a number years later!

On thing we can learn based on how often this happened in the Bible and in history is that man longs for someone visible that he can worship! I’m sure that Whitefield would have condemned the way people “venerated” his corpse.

If leaders are not careful they can unintentionally create unhealthy followings of themselves.

The dangers of celebrity Christians

There are many reasons why it is so dangerous to turn our Christian leaders into celebrities and here are a few of them.

It will make you discontent with your own pastor

This is a problem I often see. When people start following after the big names in Christianity they quickly start comparing the pastor of their local church to their favorite mega-church pastor. It’s really an unfair comparison to make because chances are your pastor doesn’t have someone on staff who does all his research for him, or edits all his sermons into books, or takes care of all the counselling needs so that he can focus 100% on studying for his next sermon.

It’s also unfair because that celebrity Christian leader doesn’t have a personal relationship with you like your local church pastor does. We tend to think the celebrities are better because we only see their “good side”. The side they want us to see. That’s why they seem so amazing but the fact is that they are human and they are flawed and they probably have a few ugly parts of their character that you haven’t seen.

On the other hand your local church pastor can’t hide from you as much, you can know him better and he can know you. That means you can see some of this faults but in a gracious local church body that’s OK because that’s how we grow!

It will make you discontent with your local church

This really goes with the first problem of comparing your pastor to the celebrity pastor. It’s easy to see everything wrong with your church and think that if only they did things like _______ Church it would make everything better!

The fact is that every church has a character of its own. Like people, every church has its strengths and weakness’. Chances are that your church of 100 members isn’t going to be able to support the same type or number of programs that your celebrity pastor’s church of 10,000 members does!

And that’s OK! After all God doesn’t judge any church by their programs.

It may cause the leader you’re following to become prideful

Just remember what happened to Herod and read these verses -Acts 12:22-23!

It’s a bad testimony to unbelievers

For some reason unbelievers can smell this kind of thing and they usually despise it. They can’t figure out why people are so fanatical about Pastor _____. They think it’s stupid and they’re right! Better to let them think you stupid for following Jesus instead!

His teaching may be good but it’s probably missing something

It’s always dangerous to limit your teaching to one person. To grow properly in your faith and your understanding of God’s Word it is vital that you put Scripture and personal study at the core. The teaching of your local church should come next and after that you can supplement it with the teaching of others.

If your favorite celebrity Christian falls you’ll be devastated

It’s always bad when a Christian leader falls morally but it’s much worse for those who idolized him and were dedicated followers. The best way to avoid this is by making sure it is Jesus you are following and not Pastor _____!

Jesus will never fail you!

It takes your eyes of Jesus and puts them on a man

This is the big one! I’ll just say it like this,  we are called to follow Jesus and not celebrity Christian leaders!

Do I need to say more? I hope not!

Let’s be grateful for the teaching of well known men in the church but let’s let them remain just that

-men in the church!

Question: How can we avoid turning Christian leaders into celebrities?

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#33 The Church’s Acceptable Sins

Every time and every culture has certain sins that it excuses, ignores or tries to justify. We are no exception to the rule! American churches are hiding some pretty big sins simply because they don’t think they’re so bad.

In this episode of Now is the Time I talk about the three biggest acceptable sins in American churches today.

By the way, make sure you stay tuned until the end of the podcast for a surprise interview!

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This podcast is really the continuation of a conversation I started on Facebook and Twitter about acceptable sins in the church. Check out the conversation below.

Announcements

I’m excited to announce the launch of my book “What if… How to Kill Worry and Anxiety Before They Kill You!”

The official release date is August 1st 2014 but you can pre-order your copy now!

Pre-order here

About the book

Did you know that excessive worry and anxiety can lead to real physical problems like memory loss, a weak immune system and even heart attack? Worry isn’t something you can afford to ignore, it’s dangerous and if you don’t take care of it really could kill you!

In the book Caleb takes you beyond the outward symptoms of worry to understand its root causes. He shows you that worry isn’t just an annoying personality trait. It’s a problem that must be dealt with at the heart level, the longer you let worry go on the more damage it will do in your life and the lives of those around you!

Thankfully there is a way out! Caleb doesn’t offer superficial tricks or temporary fixes! These are real solutions that you can put to practice now and reap the benefits from for years to come!

This book will open your eyes to the shocking truth of what worry really is and where it comes from. It will expand your understanding of how worry destroys lives from the inside out. It will teach you to recognize worry it all it’s ugly forms and then it will give you the tools you need to kill it before it does any more damage to your life!

Pre-order on Amazon or Read the 1st chapter here

Links

You can easily download this podcast on your mobile device by subscribing on

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Stitcher

If you enjoy the podcast please leave a rating and review, this helps get the podcast out in front of others!

Books

Besides my own book I mentioned two book by Jerry Bridges in this podcast.

The Pursuit of Holiness
and
Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate

Question: What do you think is the biggest acceptable sin in the church today? What needs to be done to reveal it and deal with it?

Category: Ministry, Now is the Time Podcast · Tags:

The Pastor’s Kid -Book Review

I’m a pastor’s kid but I’m more than that, I’m the father of five pastor’s kids and that’s exactly why I was so intrigued by this book written by Pastor John Piper’s son Barnabas Piper called “Pastor’s Kid”!

pastor's kidThankfully Christianaudio.com was kind enough to provide me with a pre-release copy of the audio book! It goes on sale July 1st.

Christina and had a bit of driving to do over the weekend so we plugged the iPod and spent the trip listening to this book!

The first thing I noticed about the book is that John Piper wrote the foreword. As the father of the pastor’s kid who wrote this book it must have been a bit hard for him to read and it was!

The book is narrated by the author, Barnabas Piper, which is both good and bad. You could certainly hear some of the passion coming through in a few sections of the book that detail some painful times for Barnabas. However, there were other times when his reading was a bit dry but that’s understandable since he’s not really a professional reader.

The book is written with Pastor’s families and churches in mind. It takes pastors and their churches to task for the often double standard that is held for the pastor’s kids.

As I listened to the book there were times when I could hear a bit of cynicism coming through. It was obvious that Barnabas had been through a lot growing up  as the son of a mega-church pastor! Most of the book deals with Barnabas’ personal experience but he does often quote other pastor’s kids as he comments on the problems of growing up in the pastor’s home.

Despite Barnabas’ cynicism and taking churches to task for having one standard for the pastor’s kid and another standard for everyone else’s kids in the church, he strikes a theme of grace in chapter eight. I found this refreshing. He also offers some helpful advice on how pastors and churches should relate to pastor’s kids.

Personally I found the book helpful for me to understand some of what I went through growing up and even more helpful as it gave me pause to stop and think about what my children might be going through right now and how I can graciously help them see Jesus in the midst of it all.

Rating 4+ stars

Recommendation: Highly recommended for all PK’s and church leaders!

Where to get it: Pre-order on Christianaudio or Amazon

 

Category: General Updates · Tags:

The Secret to Why I’m More Attracted to My Wife Now Than I was 17 Years Ago!

This month Christina and I took an overnight trip to Victoria, BC to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary.

While we were walking around the harbor I snapped this candid photo of Christina with my phone.

christina 17 yr anniversary-001I uploaded the photo to my Facebook wall with this description,

“Celebrating 17 years with this girl today!”

To my surprise within a couple of days it chocked up over 200 likes! When I noticed that it was getting a lot of likes I showed it to Christina and said,

“Can you believe how beautiful you are? Look at all the likes people are giving the photo of you!”

It was a moment that would have made any husband burst with pride. I mean, I know that Christina is beautiful and finally the rest of the world is realizing it too!

But then I began to think about it. Did my wife’s photo really get all those likes because she’s so beautiful?

Certainly she doesn’t look bad in the picture but this isn’t glamour shots, I mean she doesn’t have make-up on or an amazing outfit. She’s simply wearing a content smile, hoop earrings and her favorite fleece jacket!

So if it wasn’t because of sheer beauty, then why did the picture get so many likes?

Let me come back to that question later.

You see this photo also made me think about myself. When I married Christina 17 years ago I was attracted to her. Her face pleased my eye and her physical presence could make my heart pound and my mouth dry! We were both 19 years old on our wedding day, young and knowing little except that we were in love!

So Christina was 19 and beautiful when we married and now five kids and thousands of poopy diapers later her beauty has not faded nor has my attraction to her waned, not even an inch!

The truth is I’m far more attracted to Christina today than I was 17 years ago when I looked into her teenage eyes and recited my vows!

What’s my big secret?

Here’s what I’ve learned about attraction and I want to share with you. Please read the next sentence very carefully!

Attraction has little to do with physical beauty and everything to do with values!

That’s it, that’s my secret and that’s why I’m more attracted to Christina today than I was 17 years ago or even than I was last year.

You see it’s really our values that determine what we are attracted to.

Do you value cars? Then you’ll be attracted to cars, whether it’s restoring an old car or purchasing a new luxury car, that’s what you’ll be attracted to!

Do you value sports? Then you’ll be attracted to anything that has to do with your favorite sport. You’ll probably make time to play that sport and buy sports equipment and make plans to watch the championship game with your friends.

Do you value entertainment? Then you’ll be attracted to the latest movie that was just released or invest in a larger TV or a better speaker system.

Too often after seven or eight years of marriage spouses begin saying that they “fell out of love” that they’re just not attracted to each other any more  and other garbage like that!

So let me tell you the truth about why those men are no longer attracted to their wives. It’s because their values are messed up! They probably went into marriage assuming that their physically beautiful and attractive wife was going to always fulfill all their emotional and physical needs and urges!

Most likely their highest value is themselves and their own pleasure. As soon as they realized that marriage means self-sacrifice and putting aside what you want so that you can serve your wife and your family they grow discontent.

Discontentment kills attraction!

It blurs the vision and turns even the most beautiful wife into an unattractive woman. Make-up, designer clothes and diets won’t help in this situation. Attraction may start on the outside but it will only continue if we cultivate it on the inside.

Ultimately what we are attracted to finds it’s roots deep in our heart. So men, if you’re highest value is physical beauty you will eventually lose attraction for your wife. However, if you learn to value her as God values her then you have a chance of not only keeping that attraction but also making it grow.

I’m attracted to my wife today more than ever because I choose to value her second only to God in my life! She is my priority, my passion, my pursuit! I value her for who she is and I can tell you that she’s much more than just a beautiful face (although she is that too!)

  • I value her heart and my desire is to see her grow strong in her faith.
  • I value her mind and seek to give her opportunities to learn and grow.
  • I value her emotions and do my best to comfort her when she’s sad and laugh with her when she’s happy.
  • I value her body and work to ensure that the she is healthy and well taken care of.

I value my wife and that is why I am attracted to my wife!

Now that brings me back to what I started with, Christina’s photo on Facebook. I don’t want to put words in people’s mouths but I think those 200 plus people who “liked” Christina’s photo liked it not just because Christina is so amazingly beautiful.

I believe they liked it because of their values! They liked it because they know and value Christina. They liked it because they valued that we’ve been married for 17 years. They liked it because they saw the beautiful contentment of married life in Christina’s smile!

Question: What do you think creates attraction in a marriage?

Category: Ministry, Writing · Tags: