raising children

“I have no greater desire than for my children to know and love and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ministry is a blessing. And I do hope and pray that God would be pleased to use me to lead others to Him. But when it comes to my very own children, my passion is deep and heavy and intense. God gave Valeria and I JJ. Then He gave us Eli. And very soon, Lord willing, we will have Noah. (i’m thinking of calling him NoMo, which is short for Noah Morris) Valeria and I want God to use our boys lives for the sake of the Gospel. We want their lives to count for the glory of the King.

We are sensing more and more in our daily affairs an acute focus upon disciple making- in our home.

This is great for Valeria and I too. Our faith has nothing to do really with what we do at various times in our week. But has everything to do with who were at all times. We pray that God would be discipling our sons even now into faithful followers of Jesus. The type that will so mimic and resemble Him that others know their identity is found in Christ.

  • We want them to know the Bible is something we absolutely stand upon. From it we understand everything. From it, we especially understand ourselves and our God.
  • We want them to know that essential to life is being a servant. Jesus was, and we are not greater than Him. Others really are more important than us.
  • We want them to know that prayer is our power. We pray a lot. And we want our sons to always respond first to every situation, good and bad, by praying. Let’s go to our Father with this.
  • We want them to know that happiness is found in making others happy. That is one reason giving is so important. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
  • We want them to know that everything is a gift and that nothing is deserved. Therefore, we take nothing for granted. We can rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances.

“Children are a heritage from the Lord… like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.” Ps. 127

“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.” Deut. 6

JJ’s new bed

With our third son on the way and due very soon, we needed to get JJ moved out of a crib and Eli moved into JJ’s room. We did that this past weekend. Here is a video of us surprising JJ with his new bed. There are countless joys in parenting. This is one!

fasting: how to & how not to

After preaching on Fasting recently, I’ve learned this about fasting:
(it comes from Matthew 6:16-18)

How not to fast:

  • do not look gloomy
  • do not do it to be seen by others
  • do not do it looking for earthly reward (which is praise of man)

How to fast:

  • anoint your head
  • wash your face
  • do it not to be seen by others
  • do it to be seen by your Father in Heaven
  • do it looking for the reward from the Father

Conclusion: we need God much much more than we need food!

selflessness

Life is not about you. This quote is good. We need to not be so selfish.

“To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.” -Thomas Merton

thoughts on fasting

Our church is taking this week to focus on prayer and fasting. We passed out a devotional guide to reading, praying and fasting this week. Today is the first day of it.

Last night, I preached on Fasting.

I want to share some awesome quotes that I found while preparing. Be blessed. My sermon title on fasting was “Jesus is our top priority!”

Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus’ words-
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Thomas a Kempis
“Jesus has many lovers of His kingdom of heaven, but he has few bearers of His Cross. Many desire His consolation, but few desire His tribulation. He finds many comrades in eating and drinking, but He finds few hands who will be with Him in His abstinence and fasting…But those who love Jesus purely for Himself, and not for their own profit or convenience, bless Him as heartily in temptation and tribulation and in all other adversities as they do in time of consolation. And if He never sent them consolation, they would still bless and praise Him.”

Glen Argan
“A spiritually awake person would see everything as gift, even suffering. We deserve nothing and yet we so often act as though we deserve everything. Nothing should be taken for granted. We should say thank you every day to God and to each other for all that is provided for us. This is one reason why fasting is such an important spiritual discipline. Not just fasting from food, but also fasting from cars, shopping centres, the news – whatever we have an inordinate attachment to. Fasting can help re-kindle our gratitude for all that we have been given.”

Dallas Willard
“Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in Him a source of sustenance beyond food.”

J.I. Packer
“We tend to think of fasting as going without food. But we can fast from anything. If we love music and decide to miss a concert in order to spend time with God, that is fasting. It is helpful to think of the parallel of human friendship. When friends need to be together, they will cancel all other activities in order to make that possible. There’s nothing m*gical about fasting. It’s just one way of telling God that your priority at that moment is to be alone with him, sorting out whatever is necessary, and you have cancelled the meal, party, concert, or whatever else you had planned to do in order to fulfil that priority.”

Isaac of Syria
“When the devil, the foe and the tyrant, sees a man bearing this weapon [fasting], he is straight-away frightened and he recollects and considers that defeat which he suffered in the wilderness at the hands of the Saviour; at once his strength is shattered and the very sight of this weapon, given us by our Commander-in-chief, burns him.”

coins

“Coins are like people, every single one has value.” -J Greene

You may have noticed that I have tweeted this quote a few times recently. Its a big deal. It doesn’t need to be that important to you, but it sure is to me.

People matter to me. They really do.

Well, for years I have had a great hobby of picking up spare change on the ground. I absolutely love it. I am often walking with my head down because I am looking for pennies.

Three days ago in the Wal-Mart parking lot I found 39 cents (1 quarter, 1 dime, and 4 pennies). Today walking to Circle K with several youth to get Polar-Pops, I found 8 pennies.

It excites me so much.

Here is why? Coins are money. They have real worth and value. Even a penny is US currency. It may not be much, but it still has worth. And it all adds up. Enough pennies can buy a drink. A lot of pennies could buy a car.

The same is true for people. God made them all.  There is no way that we can live by Faith in Jesus and act like anyone else is not important (or valuable).  From the dirty trailer park kid to the loud and annoying grown man to the uneducated lady, all of them matter. Christ loved them and so should we.

People love to ignore pennies or dirty coins. People also ignore the marginalized people.

My hobby of picking up every single coin I see reminds me of Jesus and his concern for people especially the outcasts.

I am hoping to follow this theme much more in the future. For now, I will continue looking for coins. They minister to me. God uses them to make me lowly and humble and mindful of people.

creator God

I have been preaching a 3-part series on “knowing God as creator” at the chapel services of CAL-Southwest. I have really enjoyed it.

Here are some videos to help lead you in worshiping God as Creator! These videos bring tears to my eyes. God is amazing!

teaching youth the Bible

For over 7 years, Valeria and I absolutely loved working with the young people of Fairdale. We loved it so much that we still find ourselves spending a large portion of our time with the Youth. We enjoy it! But God called me to be the Pastor of FBCF, and so now we do not get to teach the Youth on Wednesday nights.

When I read this article recently called Your Students Can Handle Expository Preaching, I was reminded of our main strategy in Youth Ministry… simply explain God’s Word to them. Wednesday night after Wednesday night for many years we made sure each kid had a Bible in their hands, and we explained the Truth to them verse by verse and book by book. In my mind, this is the best way to teach youth. God’s Word is the power!

Fairdale High School FCA

One of my most enjoyable times of the week is the 30 minutes I get to spend at the nearby high school, Fairdale High. I go there once a week to be a part of their Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting.

God is working there, and I am blessed to be a part.

This is a picture of Coach Renfroe speaking to the students.

stuck in my head

2 Corinthians 4:5

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”

This verse continues to blow my mind.

  • We have a message we proclaim and IS NOT US.
  • The message we proclaim is JESUS AS LORD
  • We are to be YOUR SERVANTS
  • for Jesus’ sake

This verse is loaded. Meditate on these 4 points for some time. Allow God to give you a goal and purpose in life.  This verse could be it.

For anyone who wants to say that Paul’s message was not the same as Jesus’ message, they are wrong. This verse is an excellent example.