Monday, February 26, 2018

United

What does it take to have a marriage that is fully united? 
Can you and your spouse honor marriage and keep your vows? 
Can God help you through all kinds of valleys and difficulties? 
The answer is YES!

Make Jesus your Savior and Lord.  Receive his forgiveness for your past sins.  Ask for his help to live a new and better life each day.  Learn from the mistakes of others.  Memorize the promises of God found in his Word.  When a couple stands with the Lord, they will stand the test of time and trial.  God's Holy Spirt, and his powerful and living Word, will be your guide if you will allow him to lead.

We focused on the united couple that has been healed this Sunday.  As I shared a brief message and we heard a testimony of a couple that went through divorce and then reconciliation, it was amazing.  I was reminded of several other couples that were present in the room that had overcome great trouble and even separation to become a healed, holy and healthy couple!  God is still working!

I skipped the end of the sermon so that we could pray for couples.  Here is what I skipped.  I have copied this directly from my sermon notes.

What Heals?
        Commitment – Believers should follow Jesus' command - “Let not man separate.”  (Matthew 19 and Mark 10:9).  When at all possible, avoid separation.  Don't get mad and walk out.
        God’s power – God can do miracles in people.  Even if you are separated, let's pray for miracles in people.
        God’s instructions - Ephesians 4:32 says,  "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."  What if we obeyed the Scriptures about how to treat other believers at church?  Better yet, what if we applied those instructions to the treatment of our own family at home?!?!
        Kindness – Ephesians 4:32
        Tenderness – Ephesians 4:32
        Forgiveness - Matthew 6:14-16  "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." 
        Humility - Ephesians 5:1 says," Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
        Relationship with Jesus – Malachi 2:15 encourages the couple to be "one in spirit."  1 Cor. 6 says, "You are not your own," but "bought with a price, honor God with your bodies. " 1 Cor. 7 says, "The husband's body is not his own and the wife’s is not her own," but we yield to each other.  Ephesians 5:28 says that husbands ought to "love their wives as their own bodies… "  A united couple is going to be growing spiritually together.  A united couple will learn that they literally belong to each other in every way.  A daily relationship with Jesus will change your marriage.

Jesus is our peace and has broken down the wall of separation.  Paul was speaking of separation between Jews and Gentiles, but he can bring down a wall of separation in a couple too.  As believers, we are given the ministry of reconciliation (guiding people to be reconciled to God through Jesus).  If that is our ministry to the world, how much more should it be our ministry in our home?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Why Community Matters

Americans value independence and individualism.  "The Lone Ranger," "Super Man," "The Captain of Industry," all characters that point to our over estimation of the individuals power and ability.  Look beyond our hero worship.  Most superheroes have a sidekick, or an entire culture behind them (Super Man was the beneficiary of all of Krypton and his host planet Earth).  Every great leader in business has an entire workforce following their lead.  As Christians, we often fail to realize the power of community in making us what we are, even in our individual, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In Exodus twelve, God commands the descendants of Israel to celebrate the first Passover.  Each individual must determine to celebrate this action by faith so that they will not be swept away in deadly judgment.  Each individual family, and each man/father is going to be responsible for the salvation of each first born individual in that home, through this act of faith.

It is an individual obedience, but there is a community component.  Each parent is to, "Take a lamb for his family..." (12:3).  As a community of salves, some must be poor.  "If a household is to small...they must share one with their nearest neighbor" (12:4).  And then look at this, "...the community of Israel must slaughter them (the lambs for the meal) at twilight" (12:6).  The individual will pay the price in their family if they veer from God's command.  But the power and collective encouragement of a community working together draws, pushes, and pressures them all into a stronger faith and a greater majority choosing to obey the Lord.

When you are connected to your faith family it matters!  Some choices are a little easier to make when you have support from true friends.  Battles are more likely to be won when others are with you in the fight.  Commitments are more easily kept when you have some partners.  When I think of the influence of friends and older mentors in the early days of my walk with Jesus, I realize that community matters!

Get connected at Life Stream Church.  Don't just sit in a chair during a church service a couple times a month!  Attend church regularly.  Get involved in a small group and stick with them.  Bring you kids to church, they need community and multi-generational examples of church involvement to succeed in their Christian life.  Find a team to serve with and make friends working together.

Reading Exodus in my devotions I came to chapter 12.  The thing that stood out to me was the power of the community to help everyone follow Moses and God's command.  Community matters now as much as it did in those fateful days when God was moving among his people, "with a mighty hand!"

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Why is marraige better than living together?

I encourage you to read this recent article from the New York Times.  I found this article through an e-mail from my premarital counseling tool that I use, Prepare and Enrich.  The title of the article is, "How did Marriage Become a Mark of Privilege?"  The title ends up being a bit tricky.  It seems from the sociological evidence in the article, that privilege may be a mark of marriage.

Another very interesting and informational link for you to consider is this video that makes reference to the "marriage premium."  After looking at these two links, you will see evidence that making the choice to live with a boyfriend or girlfriend for financial reasons is erroneous.  An excerpt from the above mentioned e-mail from the Prepare and Enrich organization says, "Over the past 25 years, a sharp class distinction has emerged, with only 26% of poor adults and 39% of working class adults being married, while 56% of middle- and upper-class adults are married."

As stated in the article, there are two ways to look at this change.  A liberal view will say that economic factors have made marriage an institution for the privileged.  If there were more jobs, better redistribution of wealth and adequate government programs, more poor people would get married and be happily married.  An conservative view may say that cultural breakdown and its following poor choices have led to economic breakdown for individuals who now incur the ramifications of the devaluation of marriage.

A Biblical and compassionate view would suggest these alternatives.  First, our nation and its social net system needs to remove economic hindrances to marriage for people receiving services or funds.  Part of the problem not addressed in the New York Times article is that many poor people who receive benefits may loose part of that benefit if they were to marry and so they choose to live together.  Second, as stated in the New York Times article, the church and local civic groups can play a big part in helping people reshape their views on married life and find encouragement in a community of shared values.  Third, though the Biblical view does not promote marriage over single living, it does say that to honor marriage brings the blessings of God and to have a low value of marriage brings the depletion of those blessings.  Many blessings follow those who honor the Lord.

An interesting set of thoughts following our most recent message at LSC on Marriage, Divorce, and Singleness.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Why the Bible Matters

Proverbs 16:2 says, "All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit" ESV.

People usually assume that they are doing the right thing.  Most people assume or like to think that they are good people.  It is true that God has placed in your conscience a compass from him.  But, Romans one tells us that our culture, upbringing, and other influences can cause us to reject or turn off that God given conscience.  The inference of Proverbs is that we may not realize how much we have turned off the compass.

Then, a person begins to read the Bible, God's Word.  Soon we find, by reading and studying God's Word, that our goals, motivation, and means may be full of sin.  If you want to live for God, you have to read and study his Word.  Proverbs says that, "the Lord weighs the spirit."  He is competent and has authority to judge each of us.  He judges us by the truth and revelation of his Word.

Even people who claim Christ may not have their God given conscience re-awakened fully.  We are in the process of un-learning old stuff.  We are learning and re-learning new lessons from the Lord.  Open God's Word.  Study and learn the Scriptures.  It is full of instruction, and full of promise for you if you will receive it.

Look next at Proverbs 16:20.  It says, "Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord."  Give thought to his Word, and give thought to your words.  Then, trust God for the results of his blessing.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Miracles in and Through Kids

Wednesday was our annual awards night for Royal Rangers, Girls Club, and Rainbows.  What a great night!  First, it was so exciting to do an event with both our campuses together.  Second, it was so exciting to hear voices of kids from Washington and Union saying their pledges, their scripture verses and singing songs together.  Third, it was so fun to fellowship together with ice cream served up by the Ranger young men after the awards ceremonies.  I am so thankful for people who love kids and are fully committed to Jesus first, and Life Stream Church as their local community of believers.  Thank you all!

While we were having the awards event, the Stand Youth were having a recap of their powerful experiences with God at Southern Missouri District Youth Camp.  I am so glad that my kids are growing up here.  I am so glad that another group of younger kids are growing up here as my kids have grown up an out of the kids ministries.  I am so glad to have a full nursery and baby dedications going on regularly.  We are about the business of raising the next generation of people who trust Jesus and live by the Word of God.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Union Campus Launch Team



Wednesday night our Life Stream Church launch team met officially for the first time.  The launch team is made up of members from Light House Assembly of God under the leadership of Pastor Carl Bay and a group of Life Stream Church individuals from the Union area.  Pastor Bay of Light house, has been a huge and loving help to Pastor Lance Langenberg, who is the new campus pastor for this campus.

I am writing today to say how proud I am of Life Stream Church and our staff in accomplishing so much in the last three weeks since we started.  First, we have had an amazing garage sale that really cleaned out the building and raised a good amount of funds.  Second, we are ready to serve this Sunday with a nursery and preschool children's church!  Third, plans are underway to start the building remodel and updates that must be finished before the Launch date of September 17th.

I am so proud of our staff.  Tim Willard has put in some serious time helping us to get started with the renovation plans.  He is full of good ideas.  Much needs to be updated.  Dylan Glastetter met with Lance to select classroom space for the future and is out right now getting a smart TV for the preschool room.  Stephanie Scheperle and Karen Davis have been helping in many extra ways in the office.  Karen has helped to set up some new tracking tools for giving and her work with Tim.  Stephanie has been making two bulletins each week and has added attendance tracking for the new campus.  Everyone is working so hard and so well together.  I am extremely proud of our staff.

I also want to say how proud I am of our volunteers.  Some of the launch team from the Washington campus going to Union are important kids volunteers.  They are already starting to serve there.  I am so thankful for Kristin Temple and Jaimie Kleekamp and their leadership in helping to arrange our Washington campus schedule for these changes.  The volunteers who helped with the garage sale and cleaning of the Union building were amazing!  The building looked so much better today than I had expected.

Since our merger on May 7th, the Union campus has had two visitors who have continued to attend.  Last night at a restaurant, James Austin and I were able to invite our server to attend the Union campus.  We had never met her before.  When she heard that we were with Life Stream she said that she had heard about our Union church (I have no idea how) and wanted to check it out!  James prayed with her and I hope she and her family will visit soon.

God is working.  People are already being given more opportunities to serve.  Lives are already being impacted through invitations and new visitors.  There is a lot still to do.  But, things are really on the move.  Thank you all for all your hard work!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

More Life

How can you have more life?  I don't mean to ask, how can you live longer.  But how can you have more life from God?  Look at 1 Thessalonians four verse three and then verse seven.  "It is God's will that you should be sanctified..." and "God did not call us to be impure..."  Paul goes on in the next paragraph to stress that we should grow in love for brothers and sisters more and more.  Finally in the next paragraph, he stresses that we should work with out hands and abilities so that we are not dependent on anybody.  You can grow in purity, in love and in the work and service you give with your hands.

Jesus said in John chapter ten, that he came to give us life, abundant life, life to the full.  When you were saved, you were given new life.  But what if there is more life to receive from God!  As I grow in the Lord, as he sanctifies my heart, mind, emotions and responses, I gain more life!  As I grow in love for people, in purity of heart and willingness to serve, I gain more life.  As I work with my hands and talents, I am not dependent on others, the government, my church, my family, I gain more life!

I recently did a funeral for a wonderful believer.  The family asked me to read from her journal.  I found a 20 year old entry titled, "Things I am Thankful For."  This dear saint wrote this at seventy-two years of age.  Item one said, "I am thankful for my job so that I am not dependent on anybody."  She nearly quotes the scripture in her thanks.  She was living a full life!

I encourage you today from Hebrews twelve, "...throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  As a follower and believer in Jesus, you have life, but there is more to have as we walk closer to him.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What I am Reading

My sister texted me and my brother.  She and her husband are planting a church in Oneonta, NY.  My brother is a campus/teaching/worship pastor at a church in Iowa.  My sister started a conversation about some things that she is reading that she wanted to share with us.  It was a really great conversation.

Usually, I feel like a real bum when someone asks what I am reading.  Most successful pastors can always tell you what they are reading.  That question usually makes my mind go blank and I cannot remember what I am even reading at the time.  I usually assume that others read so much more than me.  I am a slow reader.  Today I realized that maybe I am not such a bum.  I am actually reading a ton when you consider what I have been reading to be prepared to preach.  So, here is what I have been reading.

One, I just finished Born Again by Chuck Colson.  Lance Langenberg loaned it to me.
Two, for fun I am reading The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gains
Three, for Wednesday Bible study I am in the middle of reading three commentaries on 1 Corinthians.  Authors are Hammar, then Fee, then The Complete Biblical Library.
Four, for my small group on Friday nights I am on chapter seven of a commentary on the book of Isaiah.  It is a volume also from, The Complete Biblical Library.
Five, I am slowly reading through a book on church health from a Baptist Pastor in Washington D.C.
Lastly, I am reading through my Bible in a year as I do every year.  It is a Bile reading plan on YouVersion called Eat This Book.

After the conversation with my brother and sister, I think I have all the rest of the books that I could possibly read this year!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Make Questionable Investments

Think about the inner circle of disciples that Jesus kept close to him.  These three disciples seemed to have a little greater investment from Jesus.  These were invited to special moments in Jesus life.  They were invited to an inner room to see a girl raised to life, invited to the mount of transfiguration and invited to a closer location to Jesus at Gethsemane to name a few.

Peter: 
Very active in the book of Acts.
A leader in the early church.
Assisted Mark in his gospel.
Wrote two epistles.

John:
The disciple Jesus loved.
Active in the book of  Acts.
Wrote one gospel, three epistles and Revelation.

James:
Listed as a disciple in Acts 1.
Killed by Herod in Acts 12.

If Jesus knew James' end, why did he invest so much in a disciple who would be martyred so early in the spreading of the church and is not mentioned often?  What was God's plan for James?  What kinds of things did he accomplish in the life of his brother John that we can only infer?  What was the purpose of his close connection to Jesus in the inner circle of the twelve if his life was snuffed out in a surprisingly premature way.  We may never know this side of heaven.

When I find a nugget like this in the Bible, I always ask, "How do I apply the principals of this situation in the Bible to my life?"  Here are some possible answers.  One, investment in people is not based on what they will produce later.  People matter, because people matter.  Two, investment in people has a depth factor that may not be noticed in the big public events and news items.  Depth of impact and affect matters.  Three, there are a lot of people in your life that need your investment regardless of their potential to produce statistically noticeable fruit.  Four, invest in people because the Father leads you to do it.  Leave all the results up to God and know that you obeyed his call to serve.  Only God knows the depth of impact you will make, and you will not face the future regret of "what if I had done something?"  Someone will always question the wisdom of your investment when it does not produce according to their assumptions.  Lastly, Always learn from the examples of how Jesus made disciples.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Worship the Lord.

I was praying this morning for all kinds of requests.  I prayed for people, their problems, people in the hospital, people with family problems.  After a while, it gets a little heavy.  I try not to carry worry for others, that is unhealthy.  I do my best to pray hard, trust God and move on.  I can not be mentally bogged down into negativity by others problems and often, bad choices.

Then, I remembered to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is Lord.  Not the elected leader, but my king and the King of Kings.  He is also first among many brothers and that makes me his peer in another sense.  He is fully man and I feel his desire to be connected to me in his humanity.  Jesus is my Lord and I daily make him my master, but his is also my friend.

When we worship the Lord Jesus Christ, we are lifted from the weight of our troubles into the glory of his presence.  We enter his majestic court with praise, where he is seated on the throne.  When I worship him, I am reminded that he is my foundation, my corner stone, my provider, and the giver of the Holy Spirit!

I worship the Lord because he is worthy.  But when I worship the Lord, I often receive so much more from him than I could give back to him in worship.

See these: Mathew 6:25-34; 1 Timothy 2:1; Revelation 19:16; Romans 8:29; Philippians 2:6; James 2:23; Psalm 100:4; Matthew 7:24; Psalm 118:22; Philemon 1:6; Matthew 3;11

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What is Truth?


“'What is truth?' retorted Pilate."

John 18:38 records the statement of Pilate to Jesus Christ.  Think about it.  Pilate asks this snippy question to the only person in all of history who claimed to be, "the truth and the life..."

NPR reported on December 2nd that the Oxford Dictionary chose “post-truth” as the 2016 word of the year.  In a year where “post-truth” is the word of the year, we sure seem to be hearing a lot of cries for the truth!

In recent years, we have seen the disintegration of truth.  “Truth is relative.”  Relative truth has been the cry of liberal thinking people for the last 20 years.  Everyone has their perspective.  All perspectives are valid.  Those who reject the concept of a God who is absolute would say, “there is no absolute truth.”

If one thing has emerged through our difficult election cycle this year, it is the necessity of truth.  Suddenly, we are furious about “Fake news.”  I am not writing to defend fake news.  We need a fair, unbiased, and free press to help inform the public.  While thinking about this saga of fake news and all the commentary following it, I am hearing some news outlets suddenly backing off of relative truth.

We cannot consider truth as relative one moment and then absolute the next.  We are crying for absolute truth when considering intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  We want absolute truth about Russia and our elections.  But, we want relative truth when we are faced with the proof that Jesus rose from the grave.  I guess we prefer relative truth when we don’t receive the truth standing right before us.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Passed Over

Have you ever been the last one picked for a team at recess?  Have you ever been invited to an event at the last moment, like they forgot you or you were the last choice to fill a empty seat?  If you are like me and most people, you know what it feels like to be passed over.  You know what it is like to not be picked for the team.

Many times we miss God's direction for our life.  In big things and in everyday little things.  Most of the time, when we miss those moments they are gone forever.  We can not turn back time and re-make decisions and opportunities.

Maybe you feel passed over today.  I want to encourage you.  You have not been passed over.  God still has a plan for you.  His favor and presence are still offered to you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Valuable Questions

John 16:19 says, "Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’?"  Focus in on these words, "Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him..."

There are times when a speech is necessary.  There are times when a press conference is necessary.  A speech is important because there are times when all the thoughts need to be expressed and defined before unnecessary questions side track a clear and efficient presentation of information.   But even after a clear presentation, questions may be very important in good communication and learning.

As Jesus taught his disciples, he noticed when they wanted to ask him something.  Maybe they were timid to ask.  Maybe they were embarrassed to ask.  They wanted to ask, but were not asking him directly.

As a parent, teacher, leader of a Bible class or small group leader, you need to lead like Jesus.  Look for times when those you lead want to ask a question.  The best moments for learning are usually when the student has a question.  Don't just wait for the question, anticipate it and promote the question when people are timid to ask.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Back to the blog.

The last blog entry was in June of 2016.  I stopped writing for several reasons.  One was lack of readership.  After praying about it for several months, I feel like I need to start again.  Why start again?  Here's the list.

1.  I have many thoughts I want to share with everyone at Life Stream Church, but don't have time to share in the two sermons I preach each week.  Sermons would be way to long.
2.  Sharing these thoughts and writing them down is a form of Spiritual renewal for me personally.
3.  Social connection sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram did not give me the ability to post things in a context that will be taken seriously.

I hope that you will consider following the blog and share it with your friends.  I hope this will be a blessing to you.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Your Most Important Ministry Gift

In the last few months, I have had the opportunity to help with some ministry training of new ministers.  It has given me time to think about what might be most important.  Obviously, the most important thing for a minister is a strong spiritual foundation.  Your relationship to Jesus is really your only asset.  Everything else rests on your spiritual foundation.


But, what is the most important gift in ministry?  What one thing does every minister have to work on, keep sharp, and improve continually?  No matter what your ministry, communication is your most important gift.  You have to communicate well to share vision, passion, directions, structure, worship, prayer, financial needs, and the gospel message.


If you are going into ministry, I strongly urge you to take a public speaking class.  Get your hands on anything that teaches you about public speaking in every type of venue.  Work on pronunciation.  Start now and remove all unnecessary stuff from your casual conversation.  You can become a great public speaker by practicing these in your everyday conversations.


Here are some things to eliminate.
Um...
Like...
Well, you know...
The thing of it is...
The funny thing is...
Blah, blah, blah...
You know...
So, I'm like...
And uh...


Next, get rid of all mumbling.  Study the mispronunciation of words so you pronounce words correctly.  Don't use a word if you don't say it right.  Don't use a word until you are sure what it means.  Learn to pronounce your consonants with strength so that you sound confident.  Learn to look people in the eye in conversation and then make eye contact in your public speaking.  Eliminate large and awkward silent spaces in your speaking.


So far, I have focused on things to eliminate.  Remember that the Bible says even a fool who keeps his mouth shut will be considered wise.