Time For Something New

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seek God's will

It has been a while since I my last post.  The reason is simple, but the story is long.  Suffice it to say that my life situation has changed and my family and I have entered a period of waiting for clarity on our next steps in our journey together.  The good news is that we are doing well in the middle of life’s uncertainties, our family is strong, and that as much as life likes to change, we can rely on our unchanging and ever-faithful God.  That is a comfort unlike any other!

Now that this new chapter has begun I’m sure I’ll be back to doing this blog a bit more.  I just need to first gather my thoughts.

Until next time,

  Blessings!

The “Me Time” Myth

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Food for thought!

Your Mom Has A Blog

We moms are always talking about “Me Time.”  We seem to spend a lot of brain power thinking about it and how to get it.  I even recently saw a red carpet reporter whose sole assignment was to ask celebrity moms how they get the all-important Me Time.  And, each celebrity had different answers.  Pedicures and coffee were favorites.  Lunches and going to the gym were mentioned.  Basically any activity that doesn’t involve the children can qualify, although if doesn’t involve the children OR the husband, then it is really considered a treat.

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And I know why we say this.  It’s because being a mom is tiring.  And draining.  And some days it’s not all that fun or even interesting.  Being a mom requires lots of hard work, lots of putting others first, and lots of doing things that you don’t necessarily feel like doing.  So, when we have been…

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Letting your “yes” be “yes”

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Do commitments mean anything anymore?  Too often we say things like “I promise”, “I love you”, and “Yeah, sure” without giving any thought to what that means and what cost might be associated with fulfilling the meaning of these words.  The evidence of this is all around us and something has to change.

**Disclaimer: political thoughts below**

It is for this reason that I was at first interested in checking out, and am now a full member of, an organization that seeks to remind those that have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America of what that oath, and the document that the oath is stated to defend, really means.

Whether or not you have ever taken the oath as a public servant or defender, I would encourage you to look at this organization if you value the Constitutional freedoms and responsibilities that are granted to those citizens of the United States of America.  See if it lines up with your thoughts.  If it does, we would love to have you join with us.

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About Oath Keepers

 Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders  who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That oath, mandated by Article VI of the Constitution itself, is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and Oath Keepers declare that they will not obey unconstitutional orders, such as orders to disarm the American people, to conduct warrantless searches, or to detain Americans as “enemy combatants” in violation of their ancient right to jury trial. See the Oath Keepers Declaration of Orders We Will Not Obey for details.

 Oath Keepers reaches out to both current serving and veterans to remind them of their oaths, to teach them more about the Constitution they swore to defend, and to inspire them to defend it. 

 Our motto is “Not on our watch!

For more information about the Oath Keepers, including what we are, what we are not, and our bylaws that let you know how we operate, check out the organization’s official website at:

http://oathkeepers.org/oath/about/

Blessings!

10 Things Pastors Hate To Admit Publicly

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Something to think about. Pray for your spiritual leaders!

pastormatt.tv

MB Posts When Ellen and I were first married ministry was not our 20-year plan, the Navy was. We had it all planned out; we were to spend the next 20 years with me being gone for 15. The Navy explained to my sweet new bride how grueling it would be, that I would be gone often and that even when I was around my mind would be elsewhere. Knowing that my particular career path in the Navy would be a marriage destroyer I pursued a discharge for the pursuit of higher education. With the promise of a difficult future behind us we embarked upon an easier dream where everyone would love us and things would be calm: pastoral service.

Twenty plus years later I can tell you it has been a ride we never could have anticipated. So much so that only now do I feel equipped enough to share a…

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Love in the Age Of Autism

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EXACTLY! My son also shows similar expressions of love. If he gives a hug while facing you, he typically leans in and wants to touch his forehead to yours. It has been multiple years of him backing into us for a hug and he has just recently started reaching his arms around to hug us in a more typical manner. His expressions of love are unique, but I never doubt what they are.

Rocky Parenting

image I recently revisited a Temple Grandin TED talk, The world needs all kinds of minds , from February 2010. I have watched this before and my son and I even saw her speak on this topic at the local University. But, each time I watch it I get something new out of it. What really stuck out to me on this viewing was a question asked of her at the end. Speaking for parents, the moderator asked, “Is it unrealistic for them to hope or think that that child loves them, as some might, as most, wish?” The question crossed me as strange and I think, based on her expression it may have crossed Temple Grandin as strange too. She answered saying, “Well let me tell you, that child will be loyal, and if your house is burning down, they’re going to get you out of it.”

I have never…

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You Call This A Storm? It’s Time for a Showdown! (why Lt. Dan might have been right the whole time)

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thunderstorm

Something caught my attention this morning as I walked through the garden, harvesting the morning’s asparagus.  I went out a bit earlier than usual today because we are supposed to have some potentially destructive storms come through our area and I wanted to protect what I could and harvest what I couldn’t protect.

Then the wind picked up, the storm clouds began to swirl, and rain drops began to fall.  It was at this moment, I noticed it.  Maybe I noticed it before, but it never stuck with me like this.

At the moment I was trying to shelter “my” plants from the storm, they were reaching out toward it.  Each plant was standing at attention with its leaves stretched skyward, waiting for the nourishment that this storm would bring.  That got me thinking…

How often do we cower and try to wait out the storms that come into our lives?  If we learn from our surroundings, the plants respond to storms in a completely different way than we instinctively do.  They don’t cower from storms like they do from a hot sun.  They “know” that within the storms lie a perfect opportunity for growth; an opportunity that they aren’t going to miss.  So they reach for it… making themselves vulnerable to being destroyed… taking such a risk!

And it never fails!  After each storm I don’t see dead plants in my raised beds, I see plants that are full of life and energy; plants that are ready to produce what they were created to produce.

So the next time you feel a storm of life approach and you start to feel a bit nervous, consider the plants.  What potential is there for growth?  Fulfillment of such potential doesn’t come without risks, so maybe… just maybe…

Instead of hiding and waiting for the storm to pass, maybe it’s time to reach out for the opportunity for growth that this storm might bring.

You might be surprised how full of life you are when the storm is over.

Hope, Encourageent, and Clean Water

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It’s official!  I have begun the process of making plans to travel to Tenali, India this fall to bring a message of hope and encouragement and to assist in providing clean water to villages that don’t have access to it.  Tenali is home to an organization that is taking care of orphans and widows that have been displaced due to HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and other diseases.  This is where I will be serving while there.

This organization is called Favour the Helpless.

From time to time I’ll post updates about the plans for this trip, including raising money to help provide wells with clean drinking water to villages that do not have access to clean water.

If you want more information on what I’ll be doing while I’m there and how you can help me change lives in India, please visit the GoFundMe site set up for this cause:  http://www.gofundme.com/810mls

Once the trip is complete, I’ll be posting about the trip, those that I meet, and the changes that are bound to happen in me during this entire process.  Will you join me in this journey?

Until the next update,
Blessings!

“The Internet killed community”…REALLY???

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As great as technology is, I often lament the fact that we- as a society- protect our smartphones and internet connectivity more than we protect our character and humanity. You hit the nail on the head with this post!

Culture Monk

the internet killed community

By Kenneth Justice

~ I was meeting with the owner of a coffee shop recently talking with him about coffee house culture, “The Internet really has killed community” he said, “When I opened up my first coffee shop ten years ago it was an entirely different feel. People would come in here all the time simply to hang out and meet people. It was like we offered an alternative to the bar scene for people that don’t want to get drunk. But now, well just look around, every person in here is glued to their damn computer and so disconnected from each other” he said

At times I feel like my articles sound like a broken record; community, connection, conversation; too often I write about the same themes and I wonder if I’m putting myself in jeopardy of losing readership. However, because every weekend I jet…

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World Vision’s Decision To Allow Employment For Same-Sex Couples, The Fallout, and Why It Matters

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UPDATE:  World Vision Reverses Decision to Hire Same-Sex Couples

The following post is my original response to World Vision’s initial decision to allow same-sex couples to be employed within the company.


For more than six decades, World Vision has been providing humanitarian aid to those who desperately need it.  Since its inception, World Vision has had a policy of hiring only those that agree to adhere to a certain set of beliefs/principles- including a strict lifestyle agreement.  Among those things has been the requirement to abstain from sex outside of the marriage relationship between one man and one woman.

On March 24, 2014, that changed.  On March 25th, we found out about it.

To be clear, Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, states:

“I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue. We have chosen not to exclude someone from employment at World Vision U.S. on this issue alone.”

In a nutshell, someone in a legal same-sex marriage/union would not be excluded from employment provided they agree to follow the other lifestyle guidelines and can affirm either the Apostle’s Creed or World Vision’s Statement of Faith.

World Vision views this move as a another step in their corporate journey toward uniting Christians and serving the poor. This is one of many divisive issues within the church that World Vision is deferring to the local church authority to provide theological guidance on.  Other issues include whether or not to allow female clergy, the issue of divorce among clergy, whether or not baptism is required for salvation and how it should be administered in either case, etc.

In their words, “It’s been heartbreaking to watch this issue rip through the church,” he said. “It’s tearing churches apart, tearing denominations apart, tearing Christian colleges apart, and even tearing families apart. Our board felt we cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue. We’ve got to focus on our mission. We are determined to find unity in our diversity.”

Now, those are the facts.

As you can imagine, this decision is being loudly praised by one crowd and loudly condemned by another- leaving many in the middle confused and tired of hearing all of the back-and-forth yelling over the issue.

So, I’ll try to provide a calm, rational opinion that will hopefully spark more calm, rational discussion through this thread.

As a basis for my opinion, let me begin with:

Matthew 25:31-46 (NLT)

The Final Judgment

31 “But when the Son of Man[a] comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations[b] will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[c] you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.[d] 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

I’ve been up most of the night wrestling with how I’m going to respond to this issue.  For the purposes of full disclosure, my wife and I support children through world vision and have for years.  My response as a pastor has the potential to have an effect beyond our personal feelings, so know that this is not a knee jerk reaction but is truly a heart-felt response.  And while the issue is complex on a number of issues, I believe the response shouldn’t be.

In the above Scripture, Jesus tells us that our faith in Him will produce tangible results.  These results include caring for those whom society has determined to be undesirable.  If our Christian Faith allows us to care for only those that think and act like us, we have a problem with our Faith.

Some might argue that this issue isn’t about providing charity toward the gay community, but employment, so this issue wouldn’t apply here.  I would respectfully disagree.

Jesus didn’t say that those who gave a cup of cold water to someone who is thirsty at a church-approved function would be blessed.  Jesus didn’t put limitations on our requirement to serve others.  It might make one person feel better (read: PROUD) to help to minister to the suffering gay homeless man on the street, but if we limit ourselves to serving in that capacity aren’t we missing the point entirely?

Isn’t providing a job to “the undesirables” of the world better than waiting until abject poverty to provide assistance?  Isn’t it accomplishing the same end- except one requires that we swallow our pride while another allows us to flaunt it?

Now, I am not arguing for these policy changes to be made within the local church body.  These local churches should have the freedom to be directed by their own religious belief systems.  I am a firm believer and supporter in that.

In our church, we will not be hiring those who are living in a same-sex relationship.  I see it as living in a contradictory state to say you are a Christian and are refusing to modify behavior as called for in both the Old and New Testament Scriptures.  This is true whether you are in a same-sex relationship (legal by the State or not), sleeping around, cheating on your taxes, abusing your spouse, or attempting to profit off of the suffering of others.

World Vision isn’t a church, though.  They are a corporation that is trying to unite people around a common goal of serving people like Jesus did.  They are not trying to direct the affairs of your church.  They are not sending your money to activist organizations that are trying to destroy your way of life.

So, as you might have guessed, I am okay with World Vision’s policy change for their company.  I will not be pulling my support from my adopted children through this organization.  I will err on the side of providing relief to those that others refuse to- whether through charity or acts that prevent charity from being required.

And I would encourage you to do the same.

Care to share a calm, rational opinion on the matter?  I’d love to see them in the comments below!

For the complete interview with Richard Stearns, visit World Vision Interview: Same-Sex Marriage