Missed Opportunities


The church is alive and well in this country. At least there are a lot of people that attend church in this country, and specifically it seems as though there are many people that attend large churches. This seems to be a trend in much of the evangelical churches of today for many people. I don’t have a lot of statistics to support my statement, but this article isn’t really about backing up that claim with statistics. I can look around my hometown and see several large churches that have a big attendance.

I recently attended a home-school conference and the conference was held at a church facility that was quite incredible. They had a very large auditorium, they had a sprawling campus, they had nearly every program that one could imagine to appeal to nearly every segment of every possible audience. I mean they had it all. Youth facilities, that looked to have a rockin’ band, multiple languages, cafe, coffee shop, book store, gymnasium, and on and on, even a jungle room for the tots. If you wanted something for your family and you wanted to go to church this would be the place.

I can imagine the “pull” a place like this has on the people around it. It’s the hip place to go to church. I’ll bet they can sing Amazing Grace like no other place in town. Whether that be a traditional version, or a new modern version, I’d be pretty certain this place can deliver…

It was while attending this conference that something really struck me. We were sitting in the auditorium, and Voddie Baucham was the keynote speaker. He had many sessions over the days we were in attendance and Voddie was very kind and stuck around after his sessions answering questions. A man and his wife sitting a row below us to our right said they were considering home-schooling their children, but the kids were a little older and they were rebelling against the idea. He asked Voddie if they should insist, or allow the kids to have their way. The answer was quite remarkable and probably the opposite of what most people would think. He told them they need to pull them in tight to their bosom and hold them their as long as they can.

In other words, don’t you dare let them go, and don’t you dare allow them to determine their course.   I was blessed by Voddie’s compassion for this couple and I was struck by the pain this couple seemed to be in over this decision, that they were struggling to make.

After the session I was walking outside the auditorium and I saw the man that asked the question and I approached him. I said that I was touched by his question, and had a compassion for his situation. Then I asked him if his church would assist him in shepherding him through this, and helping him make a decision about the home-schooling. It was at this point that I was grateful for what the Lord has done in my life and bringing me to the point that I continue to have more clarity as what the church is for.

He said to me, “well I don’t think they’d care either way… the church is very big and I’m not sure they’d have an opinion…” I guess I’m not surprised, but I’m surprised… this man didn’t go to the church where this conference was being held, but he described it as big, and I can imagine that it was similar. And among the “bigness” of their ministry they have missed their opportunities. They have missed their primary calling as the church. They have blown it… They are so full of the fact that they need to reach more people with Jesus, that they didn’t notice that the people that need Jesus the most are their own attendees.

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. – Acts 20:28-29

These “shepherds” are so busy, they have no time to shepherd the flock. They’ve built such great kingdoms that they have no idea what’s going on at the grass roots level. It is actually tragic, and I fear for these leaders. They have no idea the condition of their flock. I’m sure they think they are doing good work, because they have lots in attendance, but are they really building the church?

I’m not against all manner of large churches, I know of some very good ones, that have figured out how to take care of their people even though they are big. They have available resources, but even in the best of these churches, if you desire to be lost in the crowd, you can certainly do that. I don’t mean to claim my church has it all figured out, because we don’t, but I highly esteem the leadership in our church because of how much they care, and they invest in the lives of the people God has entrusted them.

If you consider what a true shepherd does, and you consider today that most church leaders are nothing more than religious CEO’s it’s a big difference. A shepherd guarded the holding pen at night with his very life. He laid across the doorway that nothing could enter without him knowing about it. The shepherd closely inspected his sheep everyday to see if they had infections. I can’t cast a blanket upon every large church, just as I can’t say that every small church shepherd’s the flock well.

What I desire to have people consider in this article is what is the condition of your flock if you are a church leader. If you are not a church leader and you attend a church, how are they doing shepherding your soul? If you were considering home-school, would they guide you through that process? Or would they be too busy to concern themselves with such a trivial matter?




Colossians 2:20-23  Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations- “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using-according to the commandments and doctrines of men?  These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

What is legalism?  You hear this a lot in the world of evangelicalism.  I would assert most people use this term when trying to defend their sin.  Am I a legalist if I call sin, “sin”?  I think scripture is quite clear in most cases what constitutes sin.  Sin is ANY violation of God’s moral law.  That doesn’t sell too well today and most people really don’t like being called on their sin.

We are currently in the Lenten season and I see a lot of people that want to self-impose religion and false humilities but live in blatant sin.  I’m not sure they realize they are in sin because they’ve wrapped themselves in a religious blanket; they are deceived by the deceitfulness of sin.  However this blanket is damning unless they turn from this sin in repentance and faith in Christ.

Jesus was clear; no set of “rule following” will get you into the kingdom.

Then Jesus looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack:  Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”  But he was sad at this word and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10:21-22 

He requires all of you, your entire devotion of heart, soul and mind.  Not just conforming to a ritual or a doctrine of man.  This is man’s response to feeling better about himself.  Doesn’t it seem easier if we could just do this or do that and then be okay with God?  If I say this prayer, or bow my face to the ground twice a day facing east then it’s all going to be okay?

Weren’t the Pharisees the most religious and righteous of the day?  What did the Lord mean when He said He desired mercy and not sacrifice?  Then He told them that He came to call sinners not the righteous. (Matthew 9:13)  How much more offensive could He have been to their neat little religious system?

Conforming our lives to God’s Word and following His commands is not legalism.  It’s love.  John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.”

Keeping a ritual in an attempt to make you right with God is legalism.  Jesus clearly shows us this truth.

Luke 18:9-14 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, an despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

This is every bit as clear and in your face as it appears and raises questions for us all.  Are you made righteous by your deeds?  Or are you made righteous when you recognize your poverty and your need for Christ as Lord of your life and the only One that saves?  Do you trust in yourself?  Know today that won’t save you.  No religious system will save you.

Isaiah 29:13 Therefore the LORD said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.

Let’s not be legalists.  Let’s be servants of the Most High God; the God that wants your heart, not your lip-service.


When God has other plans…

Last Wednesday evening I was approached by one of the women at our church and asked if we would be willing to share the story of Jen’s miscarriage with a friend of hers.  It seems like such a long time ago that we lost the baby and I hadn’t thought about it in quite a while.  Not because I didn’t care or had gone cold, but since baby Lydia was born last December we’ve been occupied and life continues to move forward.  The baby that we never knew had faded in my memory.

As I thought about this it seemed only too obvious to share this experience.  God is glorified in our lives and for us He receives much more glory in the difficult times.  I say this to our shame because we should be praising Him all day and everyday but we have a much deeper sense of our need for Him when things are tough.  When we don’t have the answers, these are the times the Lord draws us to Himself in a much more intimate way.

Psalm 25:16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am alone and afflicted.

Today I have the privilege to introduce you to my beautiful wife of over 21 years.  I trust you will be blessed by what she wrote.

I spent some time going through my journal today.  I have not opened it for awhile, let alone written in it.   It was edifying to see the Truths in scripture and the constant grace He has poured out to our family. Reading what I had written and seeing the many blank pages following my last entry has prompted me to start writing in it again.  Anyway, I DID write about the miscarriage.  It isn’t very long or poignant but I’ll share it with you.

Feb. 5, 2011
Psalm 9:1-2 ”I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart:  I will tell of all Your marvelous works.  I will be glad and rejoice in You:  I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High”.

I’m not the same person I was two months ago.  Again, through God’s grace I am growing, learning to Trust in Him with everything.
What a gift, if only for a moment.  I’ll never forget the excitement and twinkle in my husband’s face when he found out I was pregnant.  It was a Thursday.  It also was a Thursday, about 7 weeks later, when I found out this precious gift would stay with Jesus.  How could I be sad, if only for selfish reasons?  It’s God’s will and He is my perfect Father.  Grace and Madeline were so excited for the news of a brother or sister–that is after the initial shock wore off  🙂  They would have loved this child so beautifully but God’s love for this child is perfect, so, I will keep Him as my focus and praise Him for His purposes.

Kevin had been on “cloud nine” all month!  I am grateful He trusts in You also.  Lord, may we find contentment in Your will for our lives no matter what we may want for ourselves.  Thank you for Your many blessings.  You know my heart-I couldn’t possibly name them all!  You know what I am asking today even if I can’t put it into words.  Please provide comfort, understanding and clarity to our family, if it is Your will. Love, Jen

that’s all I wrote.

I do remember the spring in Kevin’s step, the air about him, the smile you couldn’t wipe from his face, the excitement in his voice as he called people to tell them about the pregnancy.  I remember us holding each other in the early morning as I got back into bed, after a night of bleeding and I had to tell him I was losing the baby.  I remember us being sad and surprised about the unexpected loss but so grateful at the same time for God’s presence in our lives. His embrace was very tender and I was so grateful to have him as my husband.   1 John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” and Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

As I did my daily Bible reading, the following scripture verses and the previous sprang forth and I could share them with my children, as Madeline and Grace were very sad in the following days.  It was amazing to read to them, directly from the Bible, His Truths. It was a blessing to share God’s Word with them, talk about them.  They could see I trusted the Words I read.  They took comfort in my faith and their hearts were calmed.

Isaiah 55:8  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways.  And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 43:18-19 English Standard Version (ESV)

 “Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

Phil 4:8-9 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

In closing, I found this quote in my journal from Oswald Chambers,”FAITH IS DELIBERATE confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”  I praise God that we could have deliberate faith during that time.  I almost put “during that time of loss” Today I can ask, Was it loss? How much did we lose?  He gave us so much!  He gives us so much!

Love, Jen

Does God have a sense of humor?

“God sure does have a sense of humor!”

Have you ever said this?  I know I have and I’ve heard it a lot more than I’ve said it, so I wanted to see if it’s true or not.  I know what you are thinking; what an odd topic and who cares.  Please hang in there and let’s see if it matters.

I recently heard someone say this and it really had me thinking about whether God does have a sense of humor or not so I began a search to see what I could find.  I searched under the attributes of God from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology.   I scoured the incommunicable and communicable attributes of God but couldn’t find anything resembling a sense of humor.

I decided to dig into the scriptures to see what God’s word has to say.  God talks a lot about laughter so this might be a good sign that God has a sense of humor.  So what does God find funny or what does He laugh about?

Psalm 59:8 But You, O LORD, shall laugh at them; You shall have all the nations in derision.

Proverbs 1:26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes…

This doesn’t sound like God is enjoying a good chuckle with the rest of the God Head, far from being comical God the Father seems to be pretty serious about this.  Maybe God the Son is a little more lighthearted.

John 11:33-35 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.  And He said “Where have you laid him?”  They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus wept.

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him:  He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Nope, the Son seems pretty serious, how about Solomon he was very wise, certainly he enjoyed a good laugh now and then.

Proverbs 14:13 Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, And the end of mirth may be grief.

Ecclesiastes 2:2 I said of laughter—“Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?”

Ecclesiastes 7:3 Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.

Ecclesiastes 7:6 For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This also is vanity.

This is just a small portion of what I found and I don’t find a strong biblical example of God having a sense of humor.  The best thought I had is since man is created in God’s image and we have a sense of humor God must also and what I think people are really trying to say is that God had a different plan for my life and they really find that funny when they realize those plans were different from their own.

Proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.

Proverbs 21:1 A king’s heart is like streams of water in the LORD’s hand: He directs it wherever He chooses. 

Proverbs 3:6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

In my flesh I really love the idea of a funny god, a god that I can hang with and laugh and joke and have a good time.  We are buddies, we are pals.  This god dismisses my sin and says “it’s okay Kev, you’ll do better next time” He’s like my grandpa, he loves me no matter how I behave because at the end of the day I always go home to my parents.  He doesn’t have the day to day responsibilities.

In stark contrast to this god is the God of the bible.  He’s serious about correcting the ones He loves (Proverbs 3:12), He cares about holiness (1 Peter 1:16), and He desires a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51) from those that claim they are His.  He hates sin so much that it pleased Him to crush His Son (Isaiah 53:10).  This God goes to extremes to rescue the lost (Philippians 2:7-8), he is not my buddy, and he is not my pal, He is my Lord and my God (John 20:28).

When I was saved I began a relationship with the God that showed me my sin.  He challenged me to understand that my sin and your sin put His Son on the cross.  Yes I must come to an understanding of that but I must also keep in mind that it was His plan, and the Son went willingly (John 10:18).  I cannot fully grasp the glory of a God that paid such a price and I’m a beneficiary of that grace, for His glory.  Not for my benefit although I benefit but so He can receive honor and praise by His people (Ephesians 2:10).

James 4:9-10 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

If you are a believer remember when you lamented and mourned over your sin.  Remember that God hates your sin so much He killed His Son to pay for it.  If you are a un-believer you are separated from God and the wrath He poured out on His Son will one day be poured out on you, so repent and turn from that sin and be saved (Acts 2:37-39, Acts 8:21-23).

Proverbs 9:6 Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding.

It’s no laughing matter.


My Purpose

What does it mean to live your life on purpose?  To have a purpose creates hope and desire.  Have you ever thought on a deeper level about your purpose?  You see lots of purpose that is misdirected; the desire to fit in, the desire for things of the world, everyone needs a purpose or they become hopeless.  True hope is built only on the foundation of Christ and His finished work on the cross.

Here is my purpose statement.

To love the Lord with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength and with all my mind

Deuteronomy 6:5 / Matthew 22:37

To lead my wife and family and to be the man God wants me to be

Ephesians 5:25-28 / Titus 2:1 / Deuteronomy 6:6-9 / Ephesians 6:4

To be obedient to the word of God in my daily life

John 14:15 / 1 Corinthians 7:19

Love and serve the body of Christ

John 13:35 / Galatians 6:10

Be an ambassador for Christ, spreading the good news of salvation and calling the lost to repentance

2 Timothy 4:2 / Acts 9:20 / Acts 8:35 / Ephesians 6:20 / 2 Corinthians 5:20 / Acts 17:30

Grow in faith and knowledge of the Lord

Acts 17:2 / Matthew 4:4 / Matthew 5:6

I don’t fulfill this perfectly but it is my hope and my desire to live this out to the glory of God.  My purpose becomes His purpose.  I don’t know of any higher calling.  I hope you are encouraged today to go through this simple exercise to write out a statement for yourself.  I keep mine in my bible and refer to it often.