Peter Heals the Lame Beggar

Good morning church family!
Parents of children (and youth), I encouragement you to set aside some time today to watch this video with your children. I’ve included the lesson plan from Children’s Church so that you can use that if you’d like. We may not be able to meet like we normally do, but parents still have the opportunity to teach their children this Sunday!




Parents are the Primary Discipler

“It’s easy to let the urgent things in life crowd out the important things in life.”

One of the core values in life is that parents are the primary disciplers of their children. I say that this is a value in life, rather than a value in my life because it remains true whether we value it or not. The fact remains that parents have an incredible amount of influence over their children. Even when parents are not active or when they are not present in their children’s lives, they are teaching them many things. They teach them how to parent by their parenting or lack of parenting. They teach them how to interact with their family and their future children through their own passiveness, or their own intentionality. Parents will impart an incredible amount of beliefs, values, and actions whether they do so passively or intentionally. Parents, I implore you to intentionally disciple your children. Here’s what Moses shared with the Israelite parents in Deuteronomy 6: 4-9:

““Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

What are you teaching your children as you sit in your house? What are you teaching your children when you walk by the way? What are you teaching your children when you go to bed each night and when you wake up each morning? You are teaching them something.

Do they see you pray? Do they see you read the Word? Do they hear you talk about scripture? Do they see you make decisions in your household based on the Word? Do they see you serve “the least of these?” Do they see you extend grace and forgiveness to those that do not deserve it? And here’s a very crucial question: do your children see you share the Gospel?

Your day-to-day life is shaping your disciples/children. There are things your children learn through observation, and for many children, this passive learning is all they ever receive about spiritual things. However, most parents actively teach their children many things. They teach them how to walk and how to talk. They teach them how to play ball and how to get dressed. They teach them how to be respectful and how to behave. They teach these things actively through conversations with their children. They don’t only tell them what to do and how to do it, but they also teach them why it is important or valuable.

Many parents have either neglected or refused to actively teach their children about spiritual things. They don’t actively teach their students who God is and what He has done for us. They don’t actively teach their children how to pray to God and how to listen for His voice. They don’t actively teach them how to be a follower of Christ (a disciple). They don’t teach them lessons from the Bible. So many parents have adopted the approach that it is the job of the church to teach them these things. I beg of you parents, do not be that kind of parent.

I used to believe that one of my roles as the “Associate Pastor to Youth and Families” was to teach parents how to be better parents. That belief is long gone. My role isn’t to tell you how to parent; my role is to equip parents with the resources and encouragement they need to step up and be the primary discipler of their own children. I am a discipler and so are many other Christians that invest in and teach your children. But parents, you are their primary discipler. Don’t do this passively when it comes to spiritual matters. Don’t leave spiritual things to the Sunday School teachers and pastors alone. Rise up and embrace this God-given role. F.D. Elliot said:

“Parents can be funny. They can refuse to give a child the keys to the car because they feel he is not mature enough to make the proper decisions imperative to safe driving, but yet they refuse to direct the religious life of the child because they say they should arrive at their own conclusions.”

If you know that God is who He says He is, and if you know that God’s Word is true, then please do not hesitate to point them in the direction of following Christ. I have no desire or intention of shaming any of you parents. Many are never taught this from Scripture, and many are never encouraged to take this step. I’m here to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry,” and this is one responsibility that parents have. If you have been passive about spiritual matters, repent. It doesn’t matter if your children are one, graduating seniors, or grown. You can start now. It can and it will make a difference.


I’ve found a video that articulates how parents are to be their children’s primary discipler far better than I can. It’s a sermon from a pastor that has grown children and can offer many insights that I’m unable to offer. I’d encourage you to watch it and prayerfully ask God to teach you how you are to be the primary discipler of your children.


Good Friday

Easter looks different this year. We’re all aware and if you’re anything like me, you’re tired of hearing about it. Our church building may be empty, but so is the tomb. Easter may look different, but how is it the same?

We are still saved by the blood of the lamb. The atoning work of Christ’s death is still finished. Jesus is still risen. We are still one body, with many members here at Grand Avenue. We still have the privilege and responsibility to encourage one another and serve one another, even if it is from a distance. God is still good. God is still in control.

Today is Good Friday. It’s a day set aside to dwell on the death of Christ. It was brutal. It was undeserved. And yet it is the Good News.  Good News is especially sweet and treasured when there is an abundance of bad news. Imagine the joy our nation would feel if COVID-19 was mysteriously eliminated overnight. We would be able to go back into the community and resume our “normal” lives. We could visit with friends, family, and coworkers in the world instead of online. Our economy would start to pick back up and people would be able to return to their jobs. It would be very good news because its been such very bad news for so long. We’ve all been affected by it and thousands have lost their lives. We would all be overcome with joy.

What we often forget as Christians is that there is a very real and a very horrible cost to sin. The wages, or what we earn from our sin, is death. Romans 6:23 makes this clear and Scripture reveals that it’s not simply a physical death that we earn, but an eternal spiritual death as well. This death is to be totally separated from God. The wage that we earn is hell for all eternity. Church family, I encourage you to dwell on this. It’s uncomfortable, but sometimes we must embrace discomfort in order to obtain something greater. We deserve hell. We don’t deserve to be happy. We don’t deserve to have a family that loves us. We don’t deserve anything good because we are born with a sin-nature and we choose to sin daily. Ephesians 2 tells us that because of our nature, we are children of wrath. We deserve to have God’s judgement and wrath poured out on us. Next to a good and perfect God, we can never measure up; we fall short. We must be sinless in order to have a right standing before God (righteousness). We must be righteous in order to spend eternity in Heaven with God and there is no one that righteous, not even one. You could be a really good neighbor. You could have the best reputation in the community. You could have always been honest at your job. You could be obedient to your parents and loving toward your children. You could be the nicest and kindest person on planet Earth, but compared to the holiness and sinlessness of God, we are nothing. It’s pointless to compare ourselves to other people (or even other church members), when we are trying to determine if we’re good enough for Heaven. We deserve Hell because we have sinned. But God.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” ~ Ephesians 2:4-5

This is the Gospel. This is the good news. God saved us not because of anything we’ve ever done. God saved us not because we deserve it. God saved us not because we are good people. He saved us in spite of the fact that we are terrible people and enemies of God. He saved us because of the great love which he loved us with. He saved us because He is God and He loves the unlovable.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” ~ Romans 10:9-10

In light of our sinfulness and the wrath that we deserve, this is good news! We deserve Hell, but Jesus died in our place. What I want to leave you with is 1 Corinthians 5:21:

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

For our sake, God made Jesus to BE sin. He was sinless, He is God, He deserved Heaven. The wage that Jesus alone earned was a right standing before God. But for our sake, Jesus became our sin. On the cross, Jesus died a physical and spiritual death. He paid the penalty we deserved. Jesus, who is one person of the triune God, became our sin and was separated from God, which is himself. I can never understand all the details of how it happened, and neither can you. But God the Son cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” God the Father poured out all the wrath and punishment that we deserve upon Jesus. He died so that we may have life. We are given Christ’s righteousness because he became our sinfulness. We are made right before God and our sins are no longer counted against us because Jesus paid it all. “It is finished.”

I don’t think we will wake up to a COVID-19-free world tomorrow, but we have a far better reason to be full of joy. We can rejoice in knowing that if we confess that Jesus is Lord, and if we believe in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, we will be saved, and we will repent from our sin. We are saved from the punishment of our sin and we are saved to an eternity with God. We are saved from death and we are saved to life. We are saved from being enemies of God and we are saved to being adopted into His family. We are saved from be separated from God forever and we are saved to have an everlasting relationship with God.


Waiting on the Lord

Patience may be a virtue but it isn’t one of my strong suits. I’m more likely to tackle a problem head-on than I am to pray about it first. While the world would commend me for my work ethic and drive, the Word reminds me that I am not to be of the world (James 4:4). I should be slower to act and quicker to wait on the Lord.
Amy and I started the process of adopting when we attended our first interest meeting with The Call at the end of 2018. Since that meeting, we waited for the training to begin. We waited for our home to pass inspection with the Division of Family and Child Services (DCFS). We waited for all the paperwork to be finalized. We waited for our first adoption event. We waited for God to lead us to the right child. We waited for DCFS to receive the documents they needed so that he could move into our home. And we waited. And we waited. Almost five months we waited for this to happen. Waiting often is a passive thing. When you know what’s coming though, it takes on a very difficult and a very active form. I’ve never waited on the Lord so actively or so long in my entire life. We’re still waiting on the Lord.
I’d encourage you to read Joshua 9. This part of the Israelite’s history is often forgotten. It’s tucked between two very famous passages of scripture: the fall of Jericho before it, and the sun standing still after it. As a brief recap on the Israelite’s journey so far, the Isrealites finally made it into the promised land after 40 years of wandering. They crossed the Jordan (God stopped the Jordan and they crossed on dry land…just like a previous story). The entire nation dedicated themselves to the Lord. They celebrated Passover, ate the fruit of the land for the first time, and the saw the manna cease. Joshua met the “commander of the army of the Lord” face to face, which is the pre-incarnate Jesus, and worshiped him! God delivered Jericho unto Israel in a mighty display of His power. Achan disobeyed God and brought judgement upon the entire nation. The Israelites repented and re-dedicated themselves to the Lord (and Joshua read the entire law to every man, woman, and child of Israel). And that brings us to chapter 9 of Joshua where the Gibeonites sought to save their own lives by deceiving Israel.
The Israelites saw God do miracle after miracle. They repented of their sins and sought God with a renewed fervor. They met with the Gibeonites and were kind and gracious and decided to spare them because they lived outside of the promised land (or so they thought). They were faced with a problem, so they problem-solved. They even came to a peaceful solution. If this was today, every news station would be commending Israel for their peace talks and diplomacy. The world would commend them for a job well done. But the Israelites were to be holy, a people set apart to God and set apart from the world. One little statement changed everything. Joshua 9:14-15 says:
14 So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. 15 And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.”
There’s a very important part of verse 14. They “did not ask counsel from the Lord.” Israel had a problem arise and they chose to problem solve instead of pray and wait on the Lord to answer. Even though the solution seemed amicable, Israel sinned because they took matters into their own hands.
Amy and I have waited on the Lord for many months to bring the right child into our lives, and we will have to wait many more. We are unable to adopt the young man that our hearts were set on. We know God led us to him. We were able to share the Gospel with him and see spiritual fruit grow. We will have to wait on the Lord to see if the seed we planted will remain or if it will be scorched or trampled on. We will have to wait on the Lord for answers, and possibly never receive them, as to why he called us to pursue this adoption only to have our hearts shattered when we found out we were unable to continue. We will have to wait on the Lord for guidance, for healing, and for wisdom. Waiting on the Lord is so very hard. It is so very difficult and heartbreaking at times. The encouragement we receive is rooted in who God is. He is a way maker, a miracle worker, a promise-keeper, and the Light in the darkness. He is faithful and He will lead as long as we’re willing to follow. In the words of my new favorite song:
“Even when I don’t see it, You’re working.
Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working.
You never stop.
You never stop working.”
We will wait on the Lord. He will reveal what we need in His perfect timing.
Church family, wait on the Lord. He is working in our lives and He will do a mighty work if we trust Him and obey.


Thoughts From a Distance: An Introduction

Life is very different lately. Words like “quarantine” were rarely used or even thought of by most people a few weeks ago. Today, it doesn’t even phase us when we hear a six year old talk about being quarantined. For most of us, we’ve learned new terms like “Social Distancing.” As a church, we have the difficult task of remaining unified in this season when we cannot spend time with each other face to face. We are also tasked to encourage one another, to build up the body, and to love others as ourselves, regardless of our physical limitations. With COVID-19 spreading across the globe, I’m reminded of Hebrews 10:23-25:
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Let us as a church not waver in our faith or trust in God. Let us reach out to other members of our church body and encourage them; talk to them; pray with them. Let’s be creative in the ways we encourage one another through phone calls, texts, written mail, and social media.
Verse 25 teaches us the importance of meeting together regularly. In the strange times that we live it, we should be reminded of the importance of meeting together for fellowship and edification. We should be longing for the time where we can finally meet together again.
As long as we’re unable to meet in person, I’ll be writing online to encourage you and to share my thoughts, from a distance.