Month: February 2014

Why I Love My Church #3

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i_love_my_churchPractical Instruction for Life.

While I tend to think I’m a pretty smart guy, I fully realize that I still need instruction.  After all, I haven’t figured everything out yet (or come even close).

Today at Cross Church, as we were listening to Pastor R. Floyd speak about raising our children, I was struck by the common sense and practical nature of what he was saying.  It was kind of one of those “hit you between the eyes” moments.  And more importantly, it was biblically based.   I am so thankful for simple “hit home” messages.

One of my favorites – Model before your children how you want them to live.  Children catch more than just what you say or teach them.  Be an example for your children.

It got my mind going – If you want your children to have a deep relationship with Christ, show them that you have one.  If you want them to pray, pray with them.  If you want them in the Word, get in the Word yourself and get in it with them.  Show. Do. Act. Mentor.

Meat and potatoes.  

Another reason why I love my church!

Ava’s Awesome Antics #17

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While sitting in my office, Ava (6) walks in and asks:

AVA:  Dad, have you heard the virgin yet?

DAD:  What virgin?

AVA:  The new virgin.  Not the old one.

DAD:  The new virgin?

AVA:  Yes.

DAD:  What do you mean by virgin?

AVA:  You know, the new virgin of a song.

DAD:  Oh, got you.  (whew….)

Why I Love My Church #2

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Pastor Jamie Lantzsch.

We are blessed at my church to have a number of pastors and ministers on staff and we love and appreciate each one of them.  Pastor Jamie though has a very special place in our hearts.

Pastor Jamie has been the children’s pastor at Cross Church Pinnacle Hills for a number of years and has been nothing short of amazing with our girls.  Even in a large church, he knows them not just by name, but knows and loves on them individually.  Our girls look up to Pastor Jamie, confide in him, seek counsel from him, and look forward to seeing him every chance they get.

Even during this recent journey that our family has been on, Pastor Jamie has been there for our girls and our family.  He is a great leader that has raised up a great staff around him that loves and cares for the children of our church.

One of my favorite moments was when he was counseling Emi in his office after her profession of faith on what her decision meant.  I sat there as a very proud Dad listening to her answer some very tough questions with an unexpected maturity.

My next favorite moment was captured here in this series of photos – when Emi was baptized by Pastor Jamie.  I love the first photo because you can see Emi looking up to Pastor Jamie professing her faith just before baptism.  The second is her baptism.  The third is encouragement from Pastor Jamie post baptism.  And finally, they fourth is Pastor Jamie loving on Emi.

Pastor Jamie has helped my children grow in Christ, been a Christ-like example to them, and has been one of the major positive influences around them. As a result, they are turning in to great young ladies.

Recently, Pastor Jamie has taken on a new role in Pastoral Care for the church.  And he has already on April’s journey, he has prayed for us, counseled us, and led us.  This morning, we woke up to a text message sent to both of us from Pastor Jamie.  On it, an audio file with a prayer for April and our family – just to let us know he is thinking about us, is praying for us, and loves us.

We love you too Pastor Jamie!  What a huge difference you’ve made in our lives!  We are so thankful for you!

AND THIS is just another reason why I love my church!

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Why I Love My Church #1

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Photo Feb 13, 7 13 10 PMMy church family goes above and beyond to pray for us!

Last week, April had a big week regarding chemo treatments.  Some of the ladies from our church self organized and came to our home on Thursday night to pray in person with April.

I watched as several women entered our doors to intercede on behalf of my wife. Women that took time away from their families and other activities because praying for my wife was important to them. Some knew April well, some didn’t.  But for over an hour, they stood in the gap and lifted April up in prayer.  Wow!  What a blessing!

I can’t even begin to express what this means/meant to us.  And this is one reason why I love my church!

Why I Love My Church Series

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i_love_my_churchI  have decided that I am going to start a new series of posts.  I’ve already got a few continuing series – mainly revolving around the antics of my girls (e.g., Emi’s Words of Wisdom and Ava’s Awesome Antics).  And just as their craziness makes me laugh and my heart sing, this new series of posts will reflect events that make my heart happy!

It’s interesting.  As I get older, I find myself becoming both more introspective and extrospective.  I definitely see things through different lenses than I did in my youth.  Maybe I’m finally starting to mature. 🙂

I’ve been a Christian for nearly three decades now and for years I’ve watched as Christians leave the church.  Sometimes it’s sudden like the snap of a finger!  And sometimes its a slow migration and they gradually just slip away.  Regardless, they are gone.

This is not shocking or something new.  It’s happened since the beginning of the church (completely evident in the letters that Paul sent to the churches in the New Testament).  Everyone has their reasons for leaving or not being a part of the church.  I’ve experienced it myself – everything from bad pastors to hypocrites in the pews (including me) – and it caused me to fall away for seasons of my life.  I even fell for the lie that “I don’t need the church.  I know what my relationship is with God and don’t need religion to define it for me.”  How easy it is to be deceived.

The hard part is that while our own internal war is being waged between the desires of the spirit and the flesh, the “world” serves as a mighty cheerleader for the flesh encouraging us to take the path of least resistance.  We are constantly bombarded 24/7 by news media, print media, digital media, and social media screaming that “anything and everything is A-OKAY”, we are way smarter than our fore-fathers, that all differences and doctrines are normal, that religion is an archaic structure, and that the church is unnecessary.  In fact, to the latter point, the church is the source of all of our problems and if you don’t believe me, let me point out some extreme examples and tell you that this is commonplace.  As our daily bread becomes this noise, the lines of of our morals, ethics, and principles slowly blur and erode.  And when we try to course correct?  The world throws us some eye-catching, ultra-ADD level distractions to keep us busy.  ….oh look, a penny.

So with all of this in mind, let me hit you with three thoughts:

1.  We are all called to be part of a church.  It’s a biblically based call to action.  Jesus himself talks about the relationship between he and his bride (the church).  The new testament is filled with instructions for whom?  The church.  AND there is a great mission!  For whom?  The church.   A church family is there to support us, help us grow and develop, teach us, rebuke us, nurture us, and help us fulfill our purpose (among other things).  We are part of a greater body that is there to do His works.  It’s filled with people that can make our lives more rich, and we in turn make their lives richer.

2. It’s not a spectator sport.  I love the old adage, “You get out of it what you put in to it.”  If you sit back and do nothing, you’ll get nothing (or at most very little).  If you step up and engage, become a part, an active participant…everything changes.  You are fed not by just hearing the Word, but by acting upon it.  You are also fed by witnessing others acting upon it.  Give of your time, talents, and treasures, and you’ll find that you get back far more!  I have been that guy that just came on Sundays (most of the time), sat in the seat, listened, and left.  I didn’t engage or give any effort other than to show up.  I compare that to how much richer and more blessed my life is now when actively participating in my church and I wonder to myself, “How did I ever get by with so little?  Why did I let myself get by with so little?”

3.  It’s not perfect. We live in a fallen world.  We ALL sin.  And IF we are all sinners, it means we are not perfect.  And if a church is merely an organization of people, it means that every church around the globe is a collection of imperfect sinners.  People that struggle every day with the battle between the spirit and the flesh.  People that sometimes win that battle, but also sometimes lose it, which is exactly why we need each other in the church family.  We need each other to help lift us when we fall, to encourage us to stay on the straight and narrow, to challenge us when we’re veering off course out of genuine love and concern, and to hold us true to what God has said he expects of us.  For me personally, I find that I am consistently a better person when I am around my church family.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t sin, but it does mean that I sin far less frequently than I would left on my own or with the wrong influences around me.

So, if you find yourself not getting much out of your church and are starting to slip away.  I encourage you to do the following.  Check your expectations – make sure they are set right.  Get active in your church – with the people, the staff, the activities, etc.  Pray for your church! – the pastors, staff, volunteers, ministries, church family, etc.  Talk with your pastors and really understand where the church is going and how you can be a part.  AND if after all that you still don’t “fit in”, go find a bible believing church that may be more appropriate for you.  It took April and I several tries before landing at this one.  The key point?  Be part of a church.

So, let me bring it back to the purpose of this series.  I love my church.  For tons of reasons!  And I feel a need to share why it is that I love my church and engage in it to show the positive side.  When I think about the struggles of the first century church, they weren’t much different than what we face today – an in fact, I’m encouraged by them!  Sure, they didn’t have Twitter, Facebook, CNN or FOX News, but they faced criticisms and attacks nonetheless.  And what did they do? They stayed on mission in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ and growing the church.

I think that this challenge still exists for the faithful – Don’t let the criticism and attacks deter you – continue to spread the Gospel and grow the church.

So, from time to time, I’m going to post short stories, snippets and examples of why I think it’s awesome to be in a church. You’ll find them under this header:  Why I Love My Church

A Little Love From Some Foxes

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Photo Feb 08, 4 15 57 PM (1)I remember once being asked this profound question in college, “Are people inherently good or evil?”  My answer (then and now):  Good.

How do I know?  Because I see it manifested daily by the people that are blessing us during April’s journey.  This situation has shown us that there are amazing people out there with beautiful hearts.  These people INVEST their lives in others and make a positive difference in those around them.

We have been blessed recently by many of these such people.  One great example from this last weekend – A little love from some Foxes.

Emi and Ava were invited over for a play date with Trinity and Kennedy Fox.  But they did more than just play.  Their mom, Leigh, did crafts with them and made us something special for Valentine’s Day coming up.  How special is it when other parents invest in our own children and teach them and model great behavior?  When I picked up the girls, I met her husband Brad – good man.  Leigh then talked about praying for April and gave me a gift for her.  Our family is better because of families like this.

And for all of the Foxes, and Bates, and Fuentes, and Turners, and Denneys, and Gaglianos, and Hills, and Searcys, and Clarks, and Buntins, and … (I don’t have enough room to keep listing people, but there are so many more) there are a hundred more that have touched our lives in a special way.  That have supported us and prayed for and with us. How blessed are we to have such people in our lives?  Beyond measure.

Emi’s Words of Wisdom #12

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Twice this last week, Emi (11) visited friends homes to which the parents made it a point to talk about how polite and well-mannered she was.

On the ride home from the second, I asked her about it and she said the following:

“I am always better when I go to friend’s and family’s homes.  Well, mainly friend’s homes.  Regardless of what you do, family has to accept you back.  With friends, there is no guarantee.”

Words to live by.