Tag Archives: Christ

The Ole’ Believer Meter

As I get older there are certain memories that become sweeter and sweeter. As I consider or are reminded of them I often try to almost relive or submerse myself in the memory. Mostly, because that time is gone or maybe the person involved is gone but the fondness of those memories grows as I age and as I begin to notice time is really passing quicker than I would like. I can almost drift back to when I was 8 or 9 and helping my Grandfather with projects around His church. I can see Him walking through the halls, fixing doors, working on the HVAC, and tending to the audio system.  One of these fond memories I can remember is watching Him work in the sanctuary by replacing hymnals in the pew pockets and changing the attendance and offering board that hung near the pulpit.

Fast forward to today and I wonder where did that display of records begin. Why would anyone think that putting last week’s attendance and offering on display, where the entire congregation can stare at it all service, would be a good idea?  I am sure that whomever started this was probably thinking it would be an encouragement to a small body.  In that they could begin to see the attendance grow and the correlating offering which would bring about the possibility of greater ministry. But for some of those smaller bodies, as was my Grandfathers near the end of His life, I can only imagine that it must also have had the opposite effect to see that 12 people attended last Sunday and gave a total of fifty-eight dollars. Especially for those bodies that once were thriving with young families and had ministries that were reaching out to their community. I fear that this “tradition” of counting those in attendance can also leads us into other tendencies which can be somewhat Pharisaical and legalistic.

It is very easy for us to sit in our pews or chairs on Sunday morning and take stock of who is there and who is not. Now armed with this information the question becomes what should we do with this knowledge that Mr. and Mrs. Absentee and their kids have been out two weeks in a row. Hopefully this information will be used correctly and lead us to call on the Absentees to ensure that they are doing okay and if not to determine if we can serve them in some way. I believe a call with the right heart would leave most people feeling loved and thankful that someone noticed and cared enough to inquire. I fear though that the most common reaction to Mr.and Mrs. Absentee is to assume that they are off gallivanting around and are just blowing off church as it is just another activity in their busy life. That the family is somewhat undependable and truthfully not to serious about their faith. With this thought in mind I think we all, if being honest, can think of a family that matches what we would consider as matching that description. They would rather be at the beach, the fair, the mountains, camping, hunting, biking, and almost anything else because they deserve that trip or that activity so that they can blow off steam from the stress of the week. But there it is; I just proved my own point. We can very easily slide into Matthew 23:25 where Jesus condemns the pharisees for cleaning the outside of the cup and leaving the inside filthy.  Meaning maybe we begin to judge others actions based upon a religious checklist of items that is based on external actions rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to discern exactly where the heart is at.

At this point you are probably confused about what side of the fence I am actually standing on, so let me be very clear!! That board near the pulpit that is in so many churches whether physically or just in practice is just a way to foster the “Ole’ Believer Meter”.  This idea that one’s attendance is a reflection upon not only the state of your walk but also the state of your home.  The “every weekers” tend to look down upon those that miss as though they are not living up to their potential or are simply just not putting out the effort that a “Good Believer” should.  And to be totally honest I am still trying to figure out where that line of demarcation is…is it 40 Sundays a year is a good believer and 39 is bad?  Or maybe 48/47 is the line?

Well let me tell you why I bring this up, its because I love my church.  I love my elders, my fellow brothers & sisters in Christ who also call it home, I love our worship, & our men.  Truthfully I love the fact that we tend to sit in the same place and I know my pew will be open when I arrive cause to be honest I really like sitting there.  It is out of that same love however, that I also bring it up to cause the body to consider it’s actions, words, and judgments.  I ask  the body to review the life, the fruit and the walk of those before the meter is used.  Don’t get me wrong church attendance matters!!!  It is the place to worship, fellowship, receive truth and correction, and to be encouraged.  I would also venture to say that if you are reading this and feel I am finally giving you the license to no longer feel guilty about being out you might want to review your motive and heart behind your attendance.

I know this is long, but stay with me one more paragraph so that I can explain myself fully.  My children are in the busiest time of their lives while in my home, which is one of the reasons we homeschool, so that we can spend a lot of intentional time studying the Bible. We do topical studies, book studies, season of life studies, we integrate it into their curriculum and we do them as a group and separately with each child.  I even meet weekly with my daughter’s boyfriend to make sure he is in the Word and on a right path so that if that relationship continues he will be ready one day to take over some of my roles.  In the past week my wife and I have met with couples, counseled parents, carried furniture to help a family in need, all in front of or directly involving our children.  So, how does that impact my church attendance; it doesn’t! I still long to be with my church family every Sunday but if I can’t please know that I am still the same passionate believer I have always been.  Be confident that I am not failing on my duties as a believer but I am actually doing what we are called to do.  We are actually doing what all of the sermons we have attended were teaching us to be and that is to be a missionary for Christ.  So the next time you see me return after I miss a Sunday because one of my daughters or my son is playing in a tournament or we are visiting family,  try to think of it as if I have returned from a missionary journey cause indeed we have.  Embrace us as ones that are weary cause we were in the world fighting for the Gospel, rather than sarcastically re-introducing yourself and I will do the same.  Please don’t take this harshly, just be aware…I am the pastor in my home, I am a humble servant of Christ trying to be more and more like Him everyday, I am a serious missionary to a world that does not know the great I AM!

I am Tyler, a husband, a father, a friend, a teacher, a volleyball missionary, a soccer missionary, a baseball coach & missionary.  I am trying to live my life to glorify the Father, honor my wife, and raise Godly children…if you have doubts come ask and we can have a great time of fellowship and conversation.

God Bless

Reality Check

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

I recently went to a training course through my work to determine my social style. This is a fancy way of saying, “how I behave and communicate with others.” It helps to determine what are my natural tendencies in those interactions and how versatile I am at working through the other styles to ensure all of my communication is as effective as it can be. Even though I was not excited to go at first, it turns out that it was a great course to provide some feedback as well as confirm some things that I already knew.  For instance, I am analytical analytical. This means my primary and secondary behaviors are both analytical. Now I could bore you with what all that means, but the part that is most important in the results is this sentence: “The analytical style person appears to live life according to the facts, principles, logic, and consistency that one can find in reality.”

This was a very intense statement for me as that is honestly exactly what I pray for…REALITY.  I pray that I would see things through Christ’s eyes for what they really are and not for what I want them to be.  I want to see my marriage, my children, my own personal walk where they truly are and not allow Satan to blind me to reality.  I want my connection to God to be as authentic and full as possible and for that to occur I have to see honestly where my heart and my life are.  I believe that far to often we as believers, parents, and spouses willingly believe the lies of Satan because that is easier than dealing with the reality of where our heart truly is.

For example, I often see parents that will allow sin to occur in their home without addressing it and will be shocked by the results that it harvests later in life.  And I believe that is because it is easier to say “Well you know how teenagers are”, or “1,2,3…don’t make me count again” than it is to sacrifice your time and energy to carry out punishments that are needed.  Reality is exhausting as well as acoustic at times, but if we are to truly grow then we must pursue the realness of our Christian faith.  We must not let tradition or customs dictate our beliefs as we must allow scripture to do that.  Of course, with any conversation the pendulum can swing to far the other way as well.  We can attempt to use rigid rules that are so strict that we believe the lie from Satan that tough rules will result in strong character and maturity.  This is not reality either as this can grieve the relationship thereby exasperating the child which causes more sin and destruction leading to the opposite desired results.

So my cry out to God almost nightly is that I don’t miss anything in my home, marriage, children, or personal walk.  That all sin would be exposed,  so that I can truly live my life in a manner that is worthy of God’s sacrifice on the cross.  I know that I will never truly be worthy,  but if I live as Paul instructed us to live in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, I may at least hear “Well done.”

So men of God , I challenge you to be a Reality Warrior.  This means that you must “BE Watchful” for all sin in your life and that of your families.  You must be willing to “STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH” and address all aspects of evil without wilting to the cultural pressure or the lies of Satan.  We must “ACT LIKE MEN” and put away laziness so that we can overcome the hard aspects of life,  so that we can love our wife irregardless of the amount of respect she shows, raise our children to understand that no sin is okay,  and that God cares about every word, thought, and action we take.  We must “BE STRONG” enough to let go of pride and get transparent with our lives and get on our knees and ask for help from the Lord to lead our homes and to keep our eyes in reality.  And we must “LET ALL WE DO BE DONE IN LOVE” so that we are not hypocritical and judging others with the judgment of God and judging ourselves with the grace of God.

Please take a moment to watch this video on Google’s newest product.  It should make you smile as you think about looking at your life desiring to see reality.

God Bless,
PT

Exhaustion

As always we at ITG have wanted to use our writings for truth, confession, healing and hopefully to minister to others so that as Paul says in Ephesians 4:15, “we will in all things grow up in Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” So in that thought I have a confession to make:

I am EXHAUSTED

I am EXHAUSTED from my calendar which has more things on it than hours in the day and more events that one human can do at one time.  I am EXHAUSTED from work; the demands that a full-time, short-handed; on call rotation, doesn’t ever quite leave the brain type work.  I am EXHAUSTED from what it takes to raise a family the right way with constant interaction, complete never lacking diligence in protection, spiritual guidance, supervision, provision, and being the Dad that I hope to be.  I am EXHAUSTED from trying to maintain the proper health and lose weight by eating right and exercising and oh yea I already mentioned the part about trying to find time to do that.  I am EXHAUSTED from the energy that a great marriage takes in sacrifice, communication, trying to date, trying to have a moment to talk without a kid climbing, running, upset, or needing.  I am EXHAUSTED from constantly fighting Satan and his demons from their attacks of my own sin, this fallen world and its desires, and the constant pull of my flesh to flee from the things of God.

Again I am EXHAUSTED

However as I was reading my Bible this morning I received an email from a gentlemen that referenced a verse so I looked it up.

Nehemiah 4:14 (ESV)
14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

Could that be anymore of a charge, directive, command (or whatever word you want) from God?  We are to FIGHT through exhaustion because the LORD is great and awesome not because it is easy or not because we wont fail at times but because He simply IS.   So, today I am here to do as King Nebuchadnezzar did in the Book of Daniel.  In chapter 4 after he witnessed the LORD deliver Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego he said this:

King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.

How great are his signs,
    how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and his dominion endures from generation to generation.

So in my exhaustion I proclaim this:  God is great and because of HIM, I have a beautiful wife, 4 amazing kids, my health to be able to exercise, a job so that I can provide, and a CREATOR that loves me enough to go to the cross despite my sin, failures, and times that I simply want to give up.

Thank you and Praise you GOD!  You are “I AM”

Memories and Scars

What are some of the most memorable times in your life? Your wedding day, maybe the day a child was born? The day that you graduated from College or High School?

All of these are big days and will be a memory that I’m sure you will try to keep in your mind, but I bet even details from these big days might begin to fade a little over time. For example, on my Wedding day there are some details that no matter how hard I try I cannot remember. What food was served? Who was there? What time was it at? No matter how hard I try I just cannot remember those details, all I remember is the church bell ringing the doors opening and the most beautiful creation God ever created walking down the aisle to me and standing in front of me. I don’t remember what was said or if I even knew my name but I guess I did because there are not any stories of it going badly. My point is this: the most glorious day of my life and after almost 16 years there are certain memories that have faded and I just cannot remember.

The interesting thing to me about that is that I have a scar from the 3rd grade that I can tell you every detail about. To include how I received it, who was involved what my parents were doing at the time and I remember it vividly. To be completely honest I remember every scar that I have and how I got it. And I am positive that the four new scars that I have from my latest hospital stay will be forever embedded in my mind and a daily reminder of pneumonia and great infected lung incident of 2014.

Why do we remember the bad and horrible things so easily and on the opposite side of that coin have such troubles remembering the details from days that brought us so much joy? I am afraid that this trend follows us into our spiritual walk all to easily. We are so quick to forget what God has done in our lives but are able to so easily remember the sin that has either been done by us or to us all to well. Of course this is not an uncommon theme from scripture either as we see the Children of Israel are in a constant state of forgetfulness.

So I had to examine this and by no means is this exhaustive but I do after some reading feel this is an example of God’s light and Satan’s deception.

The simple fact is this: anything that impacts us is going to leave a mark. How bad of a mark depends on the object and the force that carries as it impacts us. An example would be a dodge ball and a bullet. The dodge ball may bruise us but after a couple of days you will not be able to tell where it hit, you might remember two weeks later but a year later is very unlikely. On the other hand a bullet will leave a scar that you will have for the rest of your life and I doubt that you will ever forget it.

Now take this analogy to sin. All sin has an impact! It may be like the dodge ball, it might just leave a little mark on your soul that no one can see and is very easily forgotten and reasoned out. Then there are some that are very public and will scar you forever. Scripture tells us in Numbers 32:23 that our sin is against the Lord and it will find us out. That means that it will be exposed and that even if no one on this planet ever finds it out it still leaves a mark. If you do not think that it does remember the beating and crucifixion that Christ experienced for your sin (Luke 22). All sin impacts someone!

And this is where the true battle of memories and scars comes into play. Everyone on this planet has a dark side that is constantly flirting with emotions and feelings and trying to lead you away from God’s path and desires. This “nature” is filled with demons and discouragement that will try to draw you into bad decisions with lies that it is harmless and even comical at times. But this darkness does nothing but promise happiness and freedom only to deliver bondage, death and scars. And for believers this darkness will hound you until you get to heaven so that leaves us with only one choice.

We have to live in the light. We must expose our darkness to the light of Christ if we want it to recoil. We must live in the light of accountability of other believers so that we can have boundaries from the darkness that prevails over this world. When we live in this light we have other believers that can pray for us, we have inspired scripture in the Word that can give us His wisdom and perspectives. We will have fellowship from other scarred believers that can encourage and give us the love we need from our Christian community. The Apostle John says it best this way in 1 John 1:7

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

John tells us that the enemy of sin and darkness is the light of Christ. This means that if we will walk away from the dangers of the darkness, if we will live in the light we will also be able to avoid the scars and consequences of the darkness.

We can only gain true joy and authentic relationships by living in the light of Christ and exposing our darkness to one another. This means ripping the band-aid off and allowing the light to heal those wounds. Some will scar and scar not only you but others as well.  However if the purifying light of Christ reaches that scar and exposes your soul to the God of this universe, that scar will be a tool that He uses to glorify His name.  Allowing the creation a joyful memory out of that scar, instead of a festered bitter infectious cancerous diseased sore.

Alone, even the strongest Christian will backslide into their darkness. We must surround ourselves with lovers of the light that will help us expose our darkness so that the scars and memories become more than just a symbol of pain and impact. They become a mark of freedom and in that God’s Kingdom is glorified and Christians all around can rejoice.

TR