Pastor's Blog
Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7   Entries 6-10 of 31
February 7, 2012, 5:53 PM

Whiskers of Love

              Last Friday was a big day in our household…no, it was momentous. You see last Friday was the district UIL meet for the elementary school, and my oldest Jentri was competing in two events. This was such a big deal mainly because it meant she had to practice after school since last semester on random days for random amounts of time resulting in her father continually being late to pick up her up or forgetting her altogether, and now that was over, Selah (This is a biblical thing, google it). Oh yeah, this was also a big deal because she was competing in Ready Writing and Storytelling, and last year she placed 2nd in storytelling and did not place in creative writing. So to say hopes and dreams and expectations were all running very high would be quite an understatement especially since we’re dealing with a eight year old girl.   

                When I arrived at the meet near the end, I was mobbed by Jentri and told how she had won 1st place in Ready Writing, and was eagerly awaiting the results of storytelling. She was acting a little weird (again, hard to define what that looks like for an eight year old girl) and bouncing around a lot which didn’t make sense until she told me she had used the voucher the school had given her to buy and eat 2 snickers and some sour ropes. After a ridiculously long period of time, they finally announced the results, starting with 6th place and counting down. When they announced second place and Jentri realized that is was someone else and that she had won she screamed (like a girl) and hugged all her friends.

                Man, I was proud of her right then. She is so smart and creative it didn’t surprise me at all to see her do well, but it pleased me immensely to see her enjoying the fruit of her hard work. But do you know, that wasn’t the best thing she did that day? Hours later when we got home, everyone was pretty tired out. I sat on the couch and was joined immediately by Aleigh, my 3 year old, on one side and Jentri on the other. I honestly think I might be a black hole that only attracts my children whenever I sit down, because the minute I do they all are inexorably drawn to gather on my lap, arms, back or wherever they can get. There are actually fights about who gets to sit with Daddy. But that night, none of that happened, just two of my girls by my side. Aleigh eventually wondered off, but Jentri sat right there, arms wrapped around one of mine with her knees drawn up to her chest with her head right by mine. She slowly leaned over and started rubbing her cheek on mine, and after awhile smiled and said, “I love how your whiskers are scratchy.”

                It was at that moment that I was most pleased and proud of my daughter that day. Because while it is great and good that she won first place in two hard events at her district UIL meet, I do not love and enjoy her because she is smart and does things well. I love her because she is my daughter, and what thrills my soul is not when she does things, even great things but when she simply lets herself be my daughter and loves me as her father. My day was made that night on the couch, not at the UIL meet.

                How silly we are not to realize that things work the same way with God. We feel this overpowering need to perform and produce in order to please God and to make Him love us or even like us, and spend so much time doing things to impress Him or to appease Him, that we feel like we can never do enough or be good enough to really be liked, much less loved by Him. Why do we think God requires us to do things for Him to love us? The cross was nothing we did, and is all that is required for us to be loved by God. He loves us first, and is waiting for us to love Him back, not do things for Him. Yet as we spend all our time and effort to usually grudgingly do things for God never realizing that what he wants is just us. A friend sent me an email the other day and had a profound thought, “Remember, God is not nearly has concerned with the produce of your life has He is the character of your life.  Anything He wants done He can do without you.  The one thing He can’t do is have a relationship with you without you.  That’s His primary agenda.  Enjoy Him and let Him enjoy you.” We’ve known this for so long, and yet we forget! As a matter of fact in the 1640’s the Westminster Shorter Catechism wrote as its first question and answer, “What is man’s primary purpose? To love God and enjoy Him forever.” The Psalmist put it this way in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know I am God.” Be still and love Him. Selah.

That’s what Jentri did with me that night, and that’s what must learn to do with God. So I don’t know how it needs to look for you, or what method you might need to take to do it, but quit being so busy for God, and crawl up on His lap and rub your cheek against His and love Him. How have you loved God lately?  


11-12-2012 at 11:22 AM
Lydia Wiatrek
Love the analogy...really makes you think

On a more funny note... from what I hear from my parents, it was my oldest brother's fault, but I was left at church as a baby. On the upside, the pastor enjoyed my company. :-)
02-09-2012 at 9:12 AM
Ed Griffin
Wow, I sent close to the same message this morning to Beth. Sometimes we must just be still, and know that God has already mapped our day out. Travels (life) of any sort or kind can be scarey and full of doudt, but His presents will safety, hope and love. Thanks for the whiskers. Selah
Post a Comment

January 23, 2012, 9:03 AM

We Leak What We Love

So nothing really from me today, thought instead I'd share a little bit with you about Bob Goff, founder of Restore International, you can find his blog at Bob is a lawyer, and before you prejudge him, know that the foundation he started is dedicated to somthing worthwhile.  "Restore International was birthed out of a passion for justice and a desire to get to the “do” part of life and faith. It has quickly grown into a world-wide organization. Now consisting of two US based offices and several international locations, Restore is pursuing audacious ways to restore justice to children and the poorest of the poor around the world. Restore is comprised of a dedicated group of people committed to ending human rights abuses towards children by moving from awareness of injustice, to action. Without justice, there will be no real peace; without love and compassion, there will be no justice." Since we've been talking and thinking so much about how to stop oppression and really learning to seek out the needy, I thought I'd read the blog of someone who is actually doing those things. As I read this entry, it just struck me so I thought I'd share it with you. Hope it impacts you like it did me. Enjoy!

We Leak What We Love

Posted by Bob Goff.

I’m taking the surgeon who repaired the damage done by a witch doctor to a brave little Ugandan boy out flying in a seaplane I have up the Pacific Northwest today. This doctor did what seemed impossible to me. He made new body parts out of old ones for this little boy. This trip is a small thank you for what he did. He loves to fly, and I’m delighted that I can help make that happen.

The plane is called a DeHavilland Beaver and it takes off and lands on the water. I can’t lie, this plane is tough, it’s rugged, it’s all guy. There’s no sound quite like the one it makes when it’s huge radial engine starts and a cloud of oil soaked blue smoke explodes out of it. Because it was built over fifty years ago, the engine leaks oil. Not a little oil; lots of it. There’s nothing wrong with the plane, it’s just what Beavers were designed in the factory to do; they leak. The oil gets on the windows, on the wings, on the passengers, on everything. It’s just great! People who own Beavers say with tongue in cheek, that you know when they’ve run out of oil, because they stop leaking.

I understand more about my faith when I think about that Beaver. We were made to leak as well; we were made to leak Jesus. We’re the ones who are supposed to love each other extravagantly, spontaneously, not just on Wednesday nights or Sunday mornings. And when we do, people might look at us a little funny, like there’s something wrong with us. But there isn’t. It’s what we were made to do. When we love each other extravagantly, our love gets on everybody and everything.

I know when I’m fearful, stressed out, distracted or hedging too. In those times, it feels like I’ve run out of love and what I notice always happens first, is that I stop leaking. My love isn’t as messy or spontaneous anymore. It doesn’t get on anything. It comes across as painfully polite, merely pleasant, barely tolerant, it’s somewhere in the mid-range rather that an explosion from a big engine and lots of blue smoke. When I stop leaking, I’m reminded that I’m not living the way I was designed to from the factory.

I’ve seen new parts made out of old ones by this surgeon. I’ve seen God do the same impossible thing with entire people. People like me. He takes the old version of us and whispers to us that we were made to leak our love. He tells us to do it with extravagance; to let it get on everything and everybody. What I like about the way God extravagantly loves us, is that He doesn’t make us love Him or anyone else either. Instead, He lets us decide every day whether we’ll play it safe or leak what we love.

When I get out of that plane this afternoon it will have oil all over it; I’ll have oil all over me and I’ll smile hoping that everyone who’s been near you will have evidence of what you love all over them too.

Post a Comment

January 17, 2012, 11:57 AM

Willy Wonka and Jeremiah

Jeremiah 6:19 Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it.

I was reading this verse as part of my quiet time today, and really it made me think of Willy Wonka. I know, kind of a weird picture, but that is really the first thought that came to my head. First off, let me clarify and say I am talking about the old Willy Wonka and have never seen the new one, but I don’t see how Johnny Depp could be much creepier than Gene Wilder as he leads the contest winners through the factory. Ok, I guess a little context might be in order for those of you who do not know this film. So here’s Wikipedia’s synopsis:

The story centers around an average boy named Charlie Bucket, who lives in extreme poverty with his extended family, and his adventures inside the chocolate factory of Willy Wonka. Fifteen years prior to the beginning of the story, Willy Wonka opened the largest chocolate factory in the world, but spies stole his recipes, so he eventually closed the factory to the public. Although, it wasn't closed forever and one day he decided to allow five children to visit the factory. Each child will win a lifetime supply of chocolate after the factory tour. The children have to find one of the five golden tickets hidden inside the wrapping paper of random Wonka bars. Augustus Gloop (a boy who eats constantly), Veruca Salt (a girl who is spoiled), Violet Beauregarde (a girl who chews gum all day), Mike Teavee (a boy who loves to watch television), and Charlie Bucket win tickets and visit the factory.

The factory is full of strange and fantastical rooms, including a chocolate-mixing room that looks like a huge garden, where everything is made of candy and there is a chocolate lake in the middle, a research and development room with dozens of complex machines designing new forms of candy, a nut-sorting room with an army of trained squirrels that sort the good nuts from the bad, and a TV studio-like room with a giant "Wonkavision" camera, which can teleport giant bars of chocolate into people's homes through their television. The factory is staffed by small, pygmy-like men called Oompa-Loompas. A pink Viking sugar boat and a special glass elevator (with walls covered in buttons) take the tour group from room to room; the elevator can go "up and down, sideways, slantways, and any other ways you can think of."

"Accidents" happen while on the guided tour. Augustus falls in the chocolate lake and gets accidentally sucked up and taken away to the room where they make the most delicious kind of strawberry-flavoured chocolate-coated fudge. Violet, ignoring Wonka's advice, tries some of his three-course-dinner gum in the R&D department and swells up like a blueberry upon reaching the blueberry pie dessert. While in the nut-sorting room Veruca, after a failed attempt to obtain a goose who lays the golden egg by getting her father to buy one, attempts to steal one herself – the Oompa-Loompas deem her a 'bad egg' and throw her down the garbage chute (her father then dives down the chute to save her). Mike tries to use the Television Chocolate machine – a machine that sends chocolate bars via television and allows someone to literally take the bar from the screen – and ends up shrunken to about 6 inches high. Charlie, being the only child left and the one Wonka likes the most, wins the prize: he will one day take over the factory from Wonka, Wonka wanting to pass his factory on to someone else but wanting to choose a child so that he won't have to deal with an adult trying to do things his way rather than learn from Wonka's experience. Wonka, Charlie and Grandpa Joe board the Great Glass Elevator, which bursts through the roof. As they float in the air, they witness the other four children returning home. The pipe has made Augustus thin as a straw and he is still covered in chocolate, Violet is drained of her blueberry juice but her face is tinged purple, Veruca and her parents are covered with garbage, and Mike is overstretched and is now overtall and extremely skinny.”

                The trouble is, although Wonka continually tried to warn the children away from what they were doing by pointing out the horrendous results that would occur if they continued on in their actions, they nevertheless continued on with their selfish desires until they ultimately got what they were seeking after, including all the horrible consequences. They were so focused on what they wanted and what they were going to do that they ignored the warnings they received and in the end they got what they deserved. They were so captivated by their own desires and lusts that they sought after what they did not need and got what they did not want. If they had simply listened and obeyed, not only would they have been safe, but they would have gotten in the end all the glories of the factory.

                So…what about Jeremiah 6:19? The verse comes in the middle of what is a section (2:1-6:30) on the fact that God’s people have been conventally unfaithful. That they have committed adultery by seeking things other than God, and that even after God has pleaded with them to return they have steadfastly refused. The end result of that is verse 19. God is bringing disaster upon His own people. How? By giving them exactly what they want and allowing them to do whatever they want. The kicker there being, they must also receive “the fruit” or the end result of their decisions and choices which is disaster, specifically in the form of Babylon coming and conquering them and carrying the majority of their population off into captivity. Why? Because God warned them but they wouldn’t listen and just reached out and grabbed for everything that caught their eye and now they must pay the consequences of their actions.

                When I read this verse it made me think immediately of Violet who grabbed the gum that tasted so good at first, until it turned her into a blueberry. Funny in the movies, sobering when I think how often I have grabbed forbidden things in my selfishness that tasted good at first only to find how they had forever altered me. What a horrible thing it is to experience the passive judgment of God, as He allows me to do what I want, and then to reap what I sow. Reminds me of Hosea 8:7, “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” Ever thought that the worst thing in the world might simply be for God to let you do what you want and to go after whatever it is your heart desires?

                We should never despise the discipline of God. Those times when He yanks our chains and steadfastly refuses to give in to our self-centered hearts which scream out, “Mine, mine, mine, I want, I want, I want!!!” When He in love breaks us down and we despise Him for it, asking why me and why it always seems to happen to us. We so easily get angry with God, never realizing we are like the petulant teenager who when they are forbidden by their parent from doing something life threatening storm off screaming, “I hate you!!” Oh that we would mature enough to realize that, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Revelation 3:19” Do we ever comprehend how God is stopping us from sowing something that we could never reap?

                I personally am trying to be more thankful for those times of discipline, when God will not give me what I want and in so doing saving me from having to reap the horrible consequences of what I would do. How has God disciplined you that you perhaps resented only to find out later that God was really sparing you?



01-17-2012 at 1:26 PM
Debbie W. Schmidt from Mo
Miss you, your precious family and even though I didn't hear many, your great sermons. I read this today and it made me want to send it to all our Beta Kids. This weekend at the Beta Convention in Dallas, our kids were witness to a horrific hopefully accident in which a 15 died from a plunge to the floor of the hotel. I think this would indeed be words that they need to hear. Kyle Dean was there as also my daughter Jillian Schmidt also her cousins, Marissa and Marcus Sauseda from B-Eddy, one of Jills friends Jacob Trevino from Moody also saw way too much and I worry about him. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate it.
Post a Comment

November 22, 2011, 11:31 AM

Circumcised Hearts

I don’t normally do this, but today I think I’ll make an exception. The following is an excerpt on a verse I was studying during my quiet time, where I am currently going through the book of Jeremiah. Truth be told, Jeremiah has spoken much to me as I go through it this time, and I see the reality all too often of how I do not see God correctly and put Him in His correct place in my life, and Jeremiah is ruthlessly honest and brutal in calling out our sinful ways. Take for example this verse,  Jeremiah 2:20 "For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, 'I will not serve.' yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore.” OUCH. Every time I turn to something besides God for anything, I am like a prostitute who lays down in front of everyone to sell myself. Uncomfortable with that imagery in this blog? I am, even more so with it in my Bible, until I realize that God is using this harsh (i.e. brutally honest) language to show us how serious He takes it when we trust in things other than Him. He is all we need, and He is here to turn to, why are we looking elsewhere? With that in mind here are some of my thought on Jeremiah 4:4. After you read, I would love to hear your thoughts on this verse in the comments section.


Jeremiah 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds."

God is not going to identify us by outward signs, but if we have the signs of the covenant in our hearts. If we allow God to mark our hearts and to radically change them for Him, then our outward behavior will also change. But only in this order! God changes us from the inside out…heart change to life change. This is unfakeable and lasting, even if we wander once marked we will always return to Him. The call of Him, His touch upon our lives, His hands on our hearts are never forgotten and always drive us…away from Him due to shame and misunderstanding of His love as we seek Him in other gods that leave us empty, dry and aching in a dark land that will never be home; or directly into his arms understanding that the only cure to our brokenness and wandering heart is to fall into the just and righteous arms of the one who created us and knows us better than ourselves. In the quiet when no one is around we know this is true and that we are always drawn to and away from God at the same time, but we can never be rid of Him. And if we honestly examine these fickle hearts of ours and our seemingly never ending desire to appease our needs on empty and dead idols that we know only increase our needs and steal away from us what little we have,  we see that what we long for is the firm hand of God cutting out hearts with His mark, taking away all we thought we needed and opening our eyes to the realization that all we ever desired was always found in His grasp, in Him. If we’re honest we realize every day anew our desperate need for Him to carve his mark on our heart anew. When will we grow tired of seeking the reality that can only be found dwelling in his hands, in every place but Him? When will we realize our failings are always found in the reality that we are looking for God everywhere, never stopping long enough to know He dwells in our hearts and let Him imprint His mark in us again.



01-18-2012 at 11:30 PM
Ed griffin
Wow, chocolate and God\'s wrath. I\'ll never eat the stuff again. I guess the moral is to get the golden ticket to get the coolest elevator ride to the top.... Only to fall back in bed with your grandparents. Good blog
12-14-2011 at 6:22 PM
Ivy Moore
Years ago I was seeing a counselor, and I was complaining of a stick sore neck. He said,"Why don't you see if you find a Bible verse that speaks to that?" What I found was Deut. 10:16 "Circumcize your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer." OUCH, as you said. Then I wondered how to do that,until I found Deut. 30:6 "The Lord will circumcize your love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." It is a lifelong and daily choice to make.
11-28-2011 at 3:59 PM
Karen Schuenemann
So many thoughts on God and my heart. I am constantly asking Him to search my heart and often needing my heart changed. I pray that He will change it and He does in His time as He wills. I am thankful for that.I always want my heart to be after Him and be for Him. Thank you for sharing on this.
11-22-2011 at 2:04 PM
Earl Whiteley
I wake up each and every morning struggling with this very subject. I know that I have idols in my life that I want (in mind) to hang on to and that I will sin sometime during the day. However, the few times in my life that I have been able to fully step out on faith and realize that I am at the end of my rope, I am always amazed at what he does in my life and more importantly the people in my life. Our pastor recently said that "being on the edge of dispair is an awesome place to be, because at that moment we have no one else to turn to but to HIM!" Keep preaching brother - you never know who is watching.
Post a Comment

June 23, 2011, 10:46 AM

At any moment...

So in the past two weeks I've seen God do some crazy things. I was at children's camp last week (yes, I am almost recovered) and enjoying all the things that go with that camp (sweat, dust, camp food, kids throwing up into the pool, small showers) when I unexpectedly met God. Sounds silly I know, but sometimes in the midst of serving God we forget to realize just how big God is and all that He is in the process of doing. Last week He was in process of revealing Himself to a bunch of preteens. On the second night of camp, all the men got together and prayed before the services, and prayed specifically for the pastor that God would move in Him and that God would speak that night, and that children would recognize that and respond. So at the end of the service, the pastor gave an invitation, not an emotional pull but the simple fact that as sinners we are separated from God and the only bridge to God past our sins was Jesus. When he asked if any kids wanted to do that, 89 went forward. Oh, so did 1 adult. Seems he'd been in Afghanistan for 7 years as a contractor and had just decided to return home. He'd been going to church in Afghanistan, and that night he realized it was time for him to go forward even though it was children's camp. Imagine his surprise when he went forward to see his son had also gone forward and received Jesus. Six of our kids also made decisions that night...God is crazy big and powerful. And he wasn't done, over the next few nights a total of 116 people found forgiveness and redemption from our God. He is so good, so merciful, so loving, so amazing.

Last night I saw God being amazing again. there is a lady at our church who's been coming for the past few months. I know God has been wooing her because I watch her as I pray and see the Spirit just pulling at her heart. She's really become involved in the church, and has even been paired up with another lady to learn how to follow Jesus. She has shown a great desire to be baptized, and after church last night came up to me and asked if what she needed to do to be baptized. So we sat down at the back of the church and I explained that baptism was just a symbol of salvation and our desire to follow God, that before that can happen we have to trust in Jesus with all that we have and are. That we must acknowledge we are sinners and that that seperates us from God, and that the only thing that can wipe away our sins is Jesus' death on the cross. And if we will believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that we need Him and his forgiveness, then by his death on the cross our sins are forgiven and we are given relationship with God, and that we also receive eternal life because He rose to life 3 days later. But we have to trust in Him alone to change us, to forgive us, to save us. I asked her if she had ever prayed for that, and she replied that she prayed all the time to see God's face. I told her that was not the same, that we can't just be intrigued by God or attracted to Him, but that we had to totally give ourselves over to Him. She was silent for quite some time and started crying, and then she looked at me and said, "It's just so scary." I told her it was. To bet your entire life, to put it all out there and trust in someone to heal and fix you is scary. To bet everything on someone you cannot see and trust Him to do what He promises is scary. But I also told her how God had never let me down, that through it all He had never left me, never let me down, never deserted me but that He had been good to His promises. We talked about how there is little to lose if you trust in Jesus, but everything to lose if you didn't trust in Him. At one point she smiled at me and said, "It'd be foolish not to trust in Him."

At this point I almost stopped, almost told her to think about this and when she was ready to make a decision to do so. But a conversation I once had at a conference struck with me. The speaker for this session on sharing Christ had told us that your friends expect you to share Jesus and give them an opportunity to respond to the Gospel. And that often because we don't want to pressure them we never push the point at all, and then they start to wonder. They wonder why you don't, because if it is as important as we say, then why wouldn't we bring it up and let them decide. They expect us to do it, and if we don't it makes them wonder how serious we are about it. This all flashed through my head after what she said, I decided to press a little more.

I looked at her and asked her why not now? I told her I knew God had been wooing her and pulling at her heart. I told her I even thought she really wanted to do it or she wouldn't have hung around as long as she had at the church. I asked her again, why not now. She sat and thought about it, still crying, and then looked me in the eyes and nodded her head and said, "I want to do it." So I told her there is no special prayer to pry, but if she needed help she could just repeat after me a prayer telling god what was on her heart. And then we prayed, and she started off fine, but by the end could barely speak past her tears.

So we're gonna baptize her on Sunday. Along with a friend who I've been praying for over a year to get saved who accepted Jesus a couple of weeks ago and who has been hungrily diving into the Word and is already growing a lot. And we're also going to baptize his step-son, who went forward that night at camp and who I got to counsel with that night. God is amazing.

Here's what really blows my mind, when God decides to work, He does. At camp, at church, wherever. At any moment it can go from a normal moment to a holy moment with God's presence there. A normal conversation can turn into a life altering one. And it depends not on us, not on anything we say or do, but on the great love and mercy of God as He calls and draws hearts to Himself. We just might get blessed and get to be there to watch God forgive sins, heal souls, and restore life right in front of us. And it could happen at any moment...are you ready when it happens to you? Who are you praying for it to happen to?



07-11-2011 at 12:01 PM
Keith Jones
I don't see other comments listed, but will dive right in...great blog, and it is always amazing to see God at work. Glad to hear He has been moving in your area. We see "showers of blessing" in the Georgia mountains, but are praying for an outpouring like you saw at children's camp...
Post a Comment

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7   Entries 6-10 of 31