This week I have look at my regrets and my best decisions. I want to finish this train of thought by writing about my dreams for the future. Here are some of my goals, hopes and dreams if the Lord allows me to live long enough.
1. Spiritual Growth – I want to continue making daily deposits in my life through Bible reading and prayer. I really want to know not just the Bible better, but know God better. I want to understand deep theology and be able to explain it. I want to teach and answers questions from a clear understanding of our Creator and Redeemer.
2. Church Development – I always want to lead a Church that is growing both numerically and spiritually. I pray that God will make it clear to me when I am standing in the way of growth and what I can do to help it. More specifically I would love to connect with other independent Christian Churches in rural America. I would love to build a network that would allow Churches like mine in small communities to work together for the growth of God’s kingdom.
3. Family Development – One of my biggest dreams is to see my children grow up to follow Jesus as adults. I want them to serve in their local Church and lead congregations with love and authority. It is not enough for me to say that “they believe in Jesus.” I want my children to follow Jesus with their lives and into their Churches and into their marriages and then into their families. I want to see the faith that I hold so dear living in my children and grandchildren.
4. Professional Life – I have always had a dream to write a book. Some preachers take a sermon series and turn it into a book. Other people take their blog and turn it into a book. I have thought about both, but they seem to really shortcut the whole writing process. I want to set down and write a full book that is worth reading from the beginning to the end. I have a list of topics I want to write about and one day I hope to have time to get it done.
5. Personal Life – I want to travel. I would love to see all 50 states before I die. I have been to about half already. I believe God has created a world filled with beauty and majesty and I would love to see as much as I am able. I also hope I am able to do it with my wife and maybe even my children.
Honestly, I think that life needs to be lived in three directions. We need to look back and learn from our experiences even if they were not all good. We need to look around and live out of strong convictions right now. Finally, we need to look to the future and have dreams for the days that God has given us. This week I have explored some of my thoughts with you. I hope they have inspired you and challenged you. I hope you will create your own lists and that your future will be bright as you live in the light of God’s grace.
Yesterday I explored the idea of my biggest regrets in life. While I have made some mistakes in life I have also made some good decisions. Here are some of the best decisions:
1. Following Jesus
By far the best decision of my life has been confessing Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Through the years God has directed my life while offering me grace for all those mistakes. He has blessed me, challenged me and forced me to be a better person. His grace has met all my needs.
2. Marrying My Wife
The second biggest decision anyone makes is who they marry. For me I was blessed to find a woman who also follows Jesus. She has been a blessing to my life and my ministry. As my professor told me at college, “I really married above myself.”
3. Never Fearing Change
My wife and I have spent 22 years living the adventure of following Jesus together. We have changed Churches, homes, states and habits. Our worship style has changed, my preaching has changed and our friends have changed. We have experienced all kinds of wonderful activities and met lots of wonderful people. Being willing to change has helped us live this great adventure with God to the full.
4. Telling People I Love Them Regularly
I try not to let a day go by that I do not tell the people in my life that I love them. I try to tell my parents, my children and my wife. Over the years I have lost a lot of people and I have always wondered how they felt about me. I never want anyone to wonder about me and my feelings for them.
5. Taking Time to Laugh Everyday
I take time to enjoy everyday. I read comic strips, read funny stories, listen to comedians and watch funny shows. Most of my life is very serious and I deal with issues of eternity. I help struggling people while trying to point them to Jesus. I pray, I study and I spend time thinking about God. I always need to be reminded of joys in life and not just the struggles. I need to smile and experience light moments that make life more pleasant. A preacher I know likes to say that being able to laugh is the surest sign of grace in your life. I think he is right.
I have made thousands of other decisions through the years and some of them have also worked out well. But these big decisions have guided my life and made me the person I am today. I hope and pray your life is filled with good decisions that bring you grace, joy and happiness all of your days.
Sometimes it is good to stop and reflect on life. I suppose I have been doing that a lot more lately as I face my father’s mortality. I have been rethinking my 44 years and trying to make some course adjustments for the next 40 years. Upon reflections I have seen some of the biggest mistakes I have made.
1. Not Making Small Investments Daily
I really wish I had made a daily habit to read my bible, pray, write something and read a book when I was young. All of these things I have done as I have gotten older and I am amazed at how much I have accomplished. All I can think is why didn’t I do this 20 years earlier?
2. Not Enjoying the Moment
This is hard for everyone. There is always the next class, the next project, the next child, the next job, the next this and the next that. As a result we, at least me, it is rare that I stop and enjoy this moment. I wish I was able to take time each day and stop to enjoy my life. I am so blessed. I have to remember daily to put the phone down, put the camera away, shut my mouth and just enjoy the blessings of that moment.
3. Placing Value on Things Over Experiences
I wish I had taken my money and done more with it. Through the years I have bought cassettes and then Compact Disks. None of which are in my possession any more. I wish I had taken that money and took a friend to a concert. And that is just one example of poor purchasing. I wish I had traveled more. I wish I had taken that year off of college to serve on a mission field. I wish I had done so much more than collect boxes of junk.
4. Letting Sin Win in My Life
I am not going to be real specific on here, but I will tell you that I have made 3 or 4 colossal mistakes in my life. All of them happened when I stepped outside of God’s will and tried to live life on my own terms. I let my flesh win and I quickly regretted that decision. There are some decisions I wish I had never made, but thanks be to God, “I am forgiven.”
The good news is that God gave us today. We do not have to live with regrets as the dominant emotion in our life. I love that line, “Morning by morning, new mercies I see.” I can get up each day and start fresh. I can get up today and do things better than yesterday. It is one thing to live with some regrets, it is another to let them define you.
I need to take a few minutes today to update people on several things going on around Adrian Christian Church
1. Office Administration – At the beginning of June our office administrator, Tisha Costigan, stepped down to accept another job. The Church leadership prayed about the next move for our Church and suddenly God opened a door. Gus Arndt graduated from Ozark Christian College and moved home to temporarily help with the family farm. He offered to help the Church by filling the position of secretary along with being able to help with various ministerial duties. After more discussion and prayer we offered Gus the position of Office Administrator working for the Church. He will work four days a week for a total of 26 hours. Today is his first day.
2. Church office – The Church office will be staffed Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am till 3:30 pm. The office will be closed on Friday. Any info for the program must be to the office by Thursday afternoon, including prayer requests.
3. Children’s Minister – We are a tiny little bit closer to finding a children’s minister. We have one candidate that has made it further than any other. Our next step appears to be a formal interview. Please continue in your prayers as we search for the right person for ACC.
4. Vacation Bible School (VBS) – Our theme for the year is Cave Quest. We will be decorating on Sunday July 10 starting immediately after worship. The children will meet each night from 5:30-8:30 pm on July 11-14 (Monday-Thursday). There is a snack/light dinner provided. If you have any questions please contact me or register through the church website.
5. VBS closing program – our closing program this year will be on July 17. The children will be performing during worship. We will be having a fellowship lunch immediately after worship. The Church is providing the meat and potatoes. Bring a side dish or dessert if you can. We invite everyone to hang around and eat with us after church. (Please note – there will not be any inflatables outside this year)
6. Central Missouri Campus House – On Sunday July 24th we will have representative from the Campus House at Central Missouri here to tell us about their work. They will be presenting an update during our worship time and we hope you will join us to hear about all that God is doing on the university campus. We are trying to help them by collecting several paper products for the coming year. There is a collection tub in the entryway to the Church.
7. Christ in Youth – We have a group of over 20 teenagers heading to CIY this year on the last week of July. Please be in prayer for them while they travel and learn. The teens will return to lead our worship on Sunday July 31. Please come and show your support for our young adults.
8. Email – We have set up a new Church email. If you need to contact the office use the email address of – firstname.lastname@example.org
That is most of the info I have for now. Please continue to check out our Church website for updates and more information. www.adriancc.org
There is this tendency in people to desire originality. We want to be smart enough to figure out our life without other people’s help. We feel our way along and try to do the best we can in every situation.
Well, one of the benefits of being in the Church is that we have a community of people to draw upon. We can learn from our own experiences along with the experiences of others. Through the years I have tried to learn from the people in the Church. I ask a lot of questions and try to learn from the failure and success of others. Here are some of the areas I have sought guidance:
1. Spiritual growth
Find a few people who really know their Bible and ask them questions about how they read. Talk to people who have meaningful prayer lives and discover how they pray. We are surrounded by people who serve, give and love with great intensity. How do they do it? What can I learn from them?
Spend time with people who have had long happy marriages. You can have relationships with couples your own age, but seek the knowledge of those older and wiser.
I would suggest you talk to people who have had your similar life experience. For instance, people who might have had to deal with a spouse who travels just like you. I love talking to people with four children, especially if they had four boys. How did their marriage survive the parenting years? What did they do to make time for themselves?
You also need to have some open conversations with people whose marriages failed. What happened? What would they do differently?
3. Parenting [or Grand-parenting]
Evaluate what your parents did right with you. The hard part is that their weakness will probably be your weakness. Keep the good and be aware of the bad.
Talk to people whose children have grown up to be believers as adults. Many people just emulate what the parents around them are doing. I want to know what people did who raised Godly children and they remained that way as adults.
Also have honest conversations with people whose children have drifted away from the faith. What do they think happened? What would they do differently?
These are just a few of the areas I try to learn from the generation before me. We are part of community called the Church so that we have support, encouragement and can share in a large pool of knowledge. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Ask, talk and learn.
The Bible describes the devil as the “Father of Lies.” When he lies he is simply speaking his native tongue. He distorts the truth and it changes people for the worse. Unfortunately some people believe his lies. Here are ten of the most common lies I have heard in no particular order:
1. I’ll do it tomorrow
The Bible is very clear that we are never promised tomorrow. Some things should not be put off another day.
2. It won’t happen to me or my family
All of us want to think we are immune to sin, struggle and defeat. The hard truth is that most individuals and families will eventually encounter something they never thought possible.
3. The Church is here to serve me
While I believe the Church can be an enormous blessing to the lives of people, it only comes when people start serving others.
4. A little sin won’t hurt
Sin separates us from God and one another. It always leaves a residue of ugliness we can not wash out. We may understand this tomorrow or it may take 20 years but it always hurts in some way.
5. Everything I feel is right
Frequently we want to judge truth by how it makes us feel. If we feel it deeply, then it must be true. We feel this way about issues, about ourselves, about others and even about faith. Truth is truth no matter how it makes you feel
6. The Bible is hard to understand
Taking time to read it is the hard part. The more time you spend reading it, the more simple it is to understand.
7. We are smarter than every generation before us
We feel this way about things like science but it spills over into our ethics and spiritual thinking. Our vast knowledge of the world some how makes us deep people with deep understanding. Rarely is that true.
8. People do not see through my excuses
In 20 years of ministry I have heard excuses for everything. I don’t really believe you, no one does. Yet we keep using them instead of facing the truth.
9. Someone else will do it
We know the needs of teen mothers, the homeless, at risk children and hundreds of other people. We know someone else will help one day soon.
10. No one cares about me
People will sometimes quit Church and when I contact them they tell me that no one cared about them. Then I start a series of probing questions. Did you come early to Church or stay late? Did you invite people over to your house? Did you accept any invitations for anything? Quickly I discover that the truth is no one knew this person. They never opened themselves up to anyone. They wanted relationships while living in a box of impenetrable secrecy. People want to care but we often do not let them. That is a different from saying that no one cares.
I know there are other lies people believe everyday. Little deceptions and distortions that cloud how we see God, other people and the world in general. One job of every believer is to be continually searching for the truth. Only when we know the truth shall we truly be set free.