An Interview With My Daughter…

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Today is Take Your Daughter To Work Day! Yes, today I had the privilege of hanging out with my daughter, Ann-Marie (Age 6), while Heather took the two younger children to her MOPS Meeting (Mothers of Preschoolers). Time spent with my kids is always a precious time…even if it’s in the “boring office” (my daughter’s words, not mine). So, to liven things up for my daughter (and me), I decided to interview my daughter on her concepts of life, school, friendships, the church, and the Lord. Here’s what she had to say…

Me – “So, tell us a little bit about yourself.”

Ann-Marie – “Well, I like Caesar salads, and playing outside with my brother, and reading books during school.”

Me – “Ok. What would you say is the most important thing to remember in life?”

Ann-Marie – “That God is in control…”

Me – “Good answer! Next, tell us what you enjoy most about being homeschooled.”

Ann-Marie – “Well, Mom is the best teacher and it’s really fun being homeschooled.”

Me – “Alright. Tell us about your friends. How many friends do you have? And what’s the most important part about being a friend?”

Ann-Marie – “Well, I have three friends from camp and two from church; and the most important part of being a friend is that we should remember to help our friends when they’re hurt…or when they’ve lost their dog…”

Me – “Very good. Next, tell us what you like most about being a part of Prairie Flower Baptist Church.”

Ann-Marie – “Well, we have good teachers here that teach us the true Gospel.”

Me – “Ok. What else comes to your mind when you think about this church?”

Ann-Marie – “Well, when I think about this church, I think about a lot of things. But this is a good church and I really think that there’s good pastors and good teachers and good friends here…”

Me – “I like your answer. Final question…tell us about your relationship with the Lord. You just got saved last month, tell us about that.”

Ann-Marie – “Well, I got saved last month and my parents helped me and it was a very good moment because I really got to know the Lord. I’m glad I got saved because I knew something was wrong and I needed to really know the Lord…and my relationship with the Lord is good…it’s serious. I like to pray to Him and read the Bible…which you can always do, even if you’re busy…”

Some great answers, huh? I really enjoyed conducting this little interview with my daughter and I trust that some of her responses blessed and encouraged your heart. Have a good one!

Down Memory Lane…

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In today’s short blog post, I would like to take a trip with you down memory lane. As we do this, I would like to highlight some of the best pieces of advice I ever got from key people and organizations in my life. I trust that this little adventure will be encouraging and motivating to you…

  1. From My Dad –God is always good. There are no accidents. Pain has a purpose.” He termed this little slogan, the G.A.P. Truths. I pray I never forget these truths…
  2. From the Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Program – “Good followers make good leaders; and good leaders were, and still are (to some degree), good followers.” This Cadet Program (similar to the Boy Scouts) was something I participated in during my High School years. This little program was instrumental in stirring my desires to join the military after High School.
  3. From Winn-Dixie (My First Real Job) – “Pick it up, don’t pass it up…Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” My first employer installed within me a hard work ethic that was focused on excellence, no matter the task at hand.
  4. From the Pensacola Police Department’s Cadet Program (My Second Real Job) – “We’re not looking for heroes. We simply need people to come in, do their job, and go home.” Though never a police officer, I was hit with the reality that police officers are heroes that faithfully serve, day in and day out. There are moments of excitement for sure, but consistent faithfulness and long-term service are of more value than short-term fervency and intensity.
  5. From the U.S. Army – “Slow is smooth; and smooth is fast.” These words were uttered to me while on the Rifle Range during my Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Indeed, this little slogan has proved to be true in both my shooting and leadership decision-making.
  6. From Faith Baptist Bible College – “A good pastor will always be deacon dependent.” I remember these words having an impact on me during class; and I can testify to the truthfulness of these words now that I’m in full-time ministry. Indeed, true teamwork and mutual reliance upon one another is important for effective leadership in the local church.
  7. From Prairie Flower Baptist Church – “God’s will is often found at the intersection of obedience and opportunity.” These words, uttered from a very wise deacon, have really stuck with me. Indeed, so many people struggle with knowing God’s will, but the key is to remain faithful with the current tasks God has given you (obedience) and as new opportunities present themselves, you evaluate and make decisions with prayer.

Well, that’s all for now. Thanks for taking this little trip down memory lane with me. Hey, do you have your own quotes that have really stuck with you? If so, comment below. I would love to hear from you!

Back to School – Back to Structure…

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Well, it’s that time of year again – Back to School! Yes, and Back to School means Back to Structure, at least in theory, right? I don’t know about you, I love the fun of summertime, but I like the stability and structure of the school year a little more. Below are my top three suggestions for maximizing your planning/to-do list/scheduling efficiency this school year…

  1. Determine Your Absolute Must-Haves – These would be items that, no matter what, you will get done in a given day. For me, this would include the following: A) Devotional Time With God – In a given day, I must have some personal time with God, hearing from Him through His Word and talking to Him through prayer. Sometimes these moments with God are long, and sometimes they are very quick, but I must have some time with God. B) Quality Time With Heather – A couple of years ago, I asked Heather how much time she wanted from me in a given day. She responded with, “perhaps 2 – 3 hours…” So, I make it a priority to spend a good hour with her in the morning, sipping on some coffee; and a good two hours in the evening just chatting, playing a game, or watching something on TV. C) Working Out With Beachbody – Health and fitness is a priority in my life. Thus, I designate Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays to working out. I will either lift weights or go on a run, and I usually work out with Heather. We use Beachbody programs and have found them to be really effective in our health and fitness journey. Bottom line: These three items (i.e. time with God, time with Heather, and working out) are my absolute must-haves in a given day/week. I structure my time to allow these items to take place. Something pretty awful or out of the ordinary needs to take place for me not do these three things. What are your absolute must-haves? Have you structured your time to accommodate for these things?
  2. Manage Your To-Do List – Most people I meet do not have a problem creating a to-do list, but they do have a problem managing their to-do list. Here are two fatal errors to avoid as you execute your to-do list: A) Generating Multiple To-Do Lists – This happens when you don’t have a central to-do list planner/system. For instance, you get an idea in your head about some things that need to happen and so you immediately scratch out a to-do list on a piece of paper. A few hours later, another thought hits you and so you write out a to-do list on your phone. Then a few hours later, you create another list on your computer. Catch my drift? With multiple to-do lists floating around, you create competition between to-do lists, and the chances of you forgetting a particular to-do list goes up significantly when you don’t have a central planner/system in place, and B) Doing More Than You Planned – Sometimes people map out what they want to-do in a given day and then they get it done in quick order. Great job! However, when this happens, many people are tempted to dip into the next day’s to-do list and get more done. Yes, this is hugely tempting and seems like the productive thing to do, but doing this on a habitual basis will tend to wear you out and create an unhealthy rhythm in your life. Bottom line: I highly recommend that you have one (and only one) central planning system in your life and that you stick to your list without doing more than is on your list.
  3. Respond to Legitimate Crises/Emergencies – As you all know, there will be legitimate crises/emergencies that come up in your life. When this happens, your to-do list and schedule will be suspended for a time. Indeed, it should be suspended for a time as you respond to the legitimate emergency in front of you. However, the key word here is LEGITIMATE. The following are not legitimate emergencies: tiredness, boredom, sadness, or the “I just don’t feel like it” attitude. To be human is to feel all of these things, but to be a productive human, you must overcome these things with good old fashioned discipline and determination. If you have planned to get something done, get it done…no excuses.

So, as you get back into the swing of things this school year, keep these three things in mind. Indeed, what are some strategies that you’ve employed that seem to work for you in getting things done in an efficient manner? Comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Habakkuk: Review and Sneak Peak…

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This Sunday, we will be landing the plane on our current mini-series through the Old Testament book of Habakkuk. Our meaningful meandering through this Sacred Text has revealed some wonderful reminders:

  1. Godly people can have frustrations, concerns, and doubts.
  2. God never has frustrations, concerns, or doubts…nor is he surprised by our frustrations, concerns, or doubts.
  3. Pain (though never desired) has a purpose that sometimes goes far beyond our lifetime.
  4. Waiting on the Lord is hard, but yields blessing and strength.
  5. Trusting the Lord means trusting both His plan and His timing.
  6. Worshiping before the Lord is necessary for He is holy and glorious.

These are some great lessons/reminders from the book of Habakkuk and this Sunday we will finish this series by looking at Habakkuk Chapter 3. As we do, we’ll discover what to do when we just don’t understand what God is doing…The video below will give to you not only a review of where we’ve been in our study, but a sneak peak of where we’re going this Sunday. Enjoy!

Lessons Learned As A Paratrooper

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Today is National Airborne Day. That’s right, 78 years ago on August 16, 1940, the U.S. Army conducted it’s first parachute jump in Fort Benning, Georgia. And for those of you who don’t know, I use to be a Paratrooper (2006-2010). Yes, I would jump out of perfectly good airplanes…and I loved it! Here are some lessons I learned as a paratrooper:

  1. You never jump on your own – Every time I jumped, I did so on command. I never jumped on my own initiative. I never decided when it was best to get out of that airplane. No, I waited for a command: “Stand Up…Hook Up…Go!” And then, you better go! As you can imagine, these are intensely adrenaline-filled moments. And you realize in those moments that commands matter, leadership matters, and your parachute opening like it’s supposed to really matters!
  2. You never jump alone – Every time I jumped, I was with others. I was with my unit. I was with my team. So, we got scared together. We got excited together. But we always jumped together. You know, there’s something extremely motivating and rewarding when you’re part of that jump group. You realize in those moments that you’re not just an individual. No, you’re part of a team with a singular purpose and mission.
  3. You never jump till your shown – Jumping out of an airplane takes training, practice, and regular reminders of what to do and (perhaps more importantly) what not to do. No one ever completes a jump successfully without being shown how to do it first. These moments, either in Jump School at Ft. Benning, or during training with your unit, are humbling times and important times. You realize in those moments that preparation and practice really matter…your life might even depend on it!

Now, think about our mission as Jesus Followers. Jesus told us plainly: “Make disciples.” So, the command has been given. Will you obey? Will you jump out of the proverbial airplane and do the work that God has commanded you to do? If you do, there’s no need to fear. Why? Because you aren’t alone in this task. Jesus Himself has promised to be with you “till the end of the age.” Also, for many of us, we are part of a fantastic team, the local church, in which we get to do this mission of making disciples with others who can help, motivate, and encourage us along the way. And to top it all off, Jesus Himself has shown us how to do this task of making disciples. Yes, we get a lesson from the Master Teacher Himself! Need a refresher course? Check out John 4 for starters 🙂

Rescue Me

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A week of Vacation Bible School (VBS) is both exhausting and exhilarating. Indeed, VBS is a time of amped up kids and tapped out adults, but it’s totally worth it in the end. It’s worth it because the Gospel is worth it. That is to say, sharing the Gospel with children in fresh and understandable ways is totally worth the energy, time, and subsequent exhaustion.

This year’s VBS is no exception. I am so incredibly grateful for all of the amazing volunteers and workers at this year’s VBS at Prairie Flower Baptist Church. Our theme is “Shipwrecked: Rescued By Jesus” and we have had some great lessons on the rescuing power of Jesus despite our lostness, temptations, and sin. In addition to the lessons, the decorations are top of the line, the skits are creative, the games are fun, the snacks are yummy, and the songs are deep with meaning. In fact, one song in particular has really grabbed my attention this week. It’s entitled, “Rescue Me.” Here are some of the lyrics from this song:

“I didn’t know it would be this hard. I didn’t think I could fall so far, but here I am. How did I stray so far off course? How can I get back to the shore? Lord, here I am. And the waves are crashing all around. I need you God and I need you now. Rescue me. I can feel the water rising. Rescue me, Jesus…Lord, I’m in so deep and I feel powerless to save myself. Only you can be the help I need. Rescue me.”

Just a few thoughts on this song…

  1. Sin, though pleasurable for a time, steers us towards a dark and stormy place. I love how this song captures the subtle and deceptive nature of sin. Yes, the Bible makes clear that sin is pleasurable for a time (Heb. 11:25), but in the end it leads to misery and death (Rom. 6:23). Sin is not to be coddled in our lives, but identified and eliminated with fervency.
  2. No matter how dark the night, we can always cry to Jesus for help. I love how this song mimics the cry of an overwhelmed sinner (Psalm 51). Indeed, there are times in our lives when we are so lost and confused that all we can do is cry to Jesus for help. And when we do, we can take comfort in the fact that Jesus actually hears us, and, in His perfect time, He will answer us.
  3. Only Jesus can truly help us and rescue us from our sin and selfishness. The line in this song that really grabs me is this one: “I’m in so deep [in my sin and selfishness] and I feel powerless to save myself.” Yes, how good it is to “feel powerless” because we are powerless. We cannot save ourselves. We need a Rescuer. We need a Savior…and His name is Jesus (Matt. 1:21).

Here is the full song, if you’re interested in listening…

From the Associate Pastor’s Desk: My First Flip

This last year, my wife and I “flipped” our first house (remodeled a dwelling in order to resell it). Julia and I have always enjoyed Do-It-Yourself projects in our own home, and remodeling house was always a dream of ours. So naturally, when a foreclosure came up for sale behind us, we jumped at the opportunity! It was our first time doing anything this big, but it turned out better than we could have ever imagined. Flipping a house was great, but the greater still were the lessons God taught us all along the way. There are two lessons that kept coming to mind all throughout the project:

I. God is always in control.

If I had a dollar for every time I had to preach or tell myself that God was in control, I could have tripled the money we made on that house! Things were never as easy as I wanted them to be, things never worked out like I thought would, and people (myself included) never acted like I thought they should. The same is true in everyday life. No matter if you’re a pastor, a plumber, a stay-at-home mom, a banker or student, this is just a fact of life that can frustrate even the godliest of people. First, we have to remind ourselves that this is a result of the fallen world we live in. It will never be perfect until Christ comes back to reign. Secondly, there is hope in this fallen world because God is always in control and knows exactly what He is doing. It is also important to note that what He is doing is not always what you think or want Him to be doing, either. We didn’t always get our way and things didn’t always turn out like we thought they would; but no matter the situation, God always had a plan that involved giving Himself glory and involved us growing in Him (Romans 5:1-5).

II. The Christian life is a lot like remodeling a house.

Working on the house for long periods of time presented a space for me to be alone with my thoughts. One thought continued to surface in my mind was how much remodeling a nasty home is like God remodeling our nasty sinful hearts. There are two major steps to the process, as exemplified in Ephesians 4:22-23 and Colossians 3:9-10.

  • The first step is to get rid of the old. The demolition was a long process that never really seemed to be completely finished, to be honest. We gutted that place all the way down to the studs so we could make room for the new. Ephesians 4:22-23 says we too need to put off our old self that is corrupt, so we can put on the new self that is a reflection of Jesus.
  • After most of the demo was done, we slowly began the process of making things new again. It didn’t happen in 45 minutes like it does on TV. Instead, it took over 13 months from start to finish. God does the same thing as He produces change in our hearts and lives. Change is a life-long process and not a life event. It happens slowly over time. We are being changed by the constant renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). At the same time, God is bringing different kinds of people, events, and lessons from His Word into your life–all so we can clothe ourselves in newness of life and better reflect the image of His Son Jesus!

 

It was one of the most stretching things I have ever done in my life, but it was also one of the most rewarding! If you ever have any questions or want to see more pictures of the house, feel free to contact me a jroc3497@gmail.com. Also we you can watch our TV episode on First Time Flippers, done by DIY network. It is titled “No Gutters, No Glory.” Just don’t believe everything you see on TV, that’s all I’ll say about that. 😊

Three Prayer Requests…

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Hi, Prairie Flower! Summer is in full swing and our people are scattered to the four winds with camping trips, vacations, and other exciting events. However, despite the busyness of summer, would you stop for a few moments and pray? Below are three things that you can pray for as a member or friend of Prairie Flower Baptist Church:

  1. Healing – Our church has been through so much this past year. Indeed, there has been so much hurt and pain as a direct result of sin and selfishness in our midst. Would you pray that God heals our hurting hearts? Would you pray that the realities of 1 Peter 5:10 would be our realities? In that passage, Peter states, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Oh, may this be true for us to the praise of God’s glorious grace!
  2. Growth – Our church would be so benefited by the blessing of spiritual and numerical growth. Yes, this growth should be deep (spiritual) and wide (numerical). Stated another way, we want more disciples (numerical growth) and better disciples (spiritual growth). Would you pray with the PFBC Leadership Team towards this end? We so desire (and I hope you do as well) that we would become “a strong church that makes disciples for the glory of God.”
  3. Revival – I’ve saved the best for last! If there is one thing, and only one thing that you’ve got time to pray for, it should be this, namely, REVIVAL! Would you pray that God grabs our hearts and lives and transforms us from the inside out? Would you pray that God molds us to be deeper in love with Him and His Word? Would you pray that He shapes us into loving, gentle, compassionate people who know how to really reach out to our neighbors and friends with the hope of the Gospel? Would you pray that this revival start with you and then inflame the whole of our church? Oh, how we need true revival in our lives and in our church!

I know summertime is a busy time. But please take a few minutes to pray over these items. Indeed, for those of you who are more disciplined, would you pray for these things on a regular, weekly basis? Only God can truly heal our hearts. Only God can truly grow our church. Only God can truly grant to us, our families, and our church family real revival. So, let’s ask Him for these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

My Sabbatical Goals…

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My family and I will be on Sabbatical, in Kansas City, for the month of June. We are incredibly grateful to you, the Prairie Flower Baptist Church family, for giving to us this wonderful opportunity to rest, rejuvenate, and recalibrate. Indeed, would you pray for us during the month of June? It is our desire to steward our Sabbatical well to the point that we come back to you reset and ready for more and better ministry. To that end, here are my personal goals for while I’m away on Sabbatical…

  1. Focus on my relationship with my Lord by means of reading through the Pastoral Epistles.
  2. Focus on my relationship with my Wife by means of learning how to cook from her.
  3. Focus on my relationship with my Kids by means of daily playing and connecting with them.
  4. Pray over my long-term goals at Prairie Flower Baptist Church.
  5. Pray over my long-term vision at Prairie Flower Baptist Church.
  6. Pray over my long-term tenure at Prairie Flower Baptist Church.
  7. Improve my physical health by means of jogging five times a week and doing some weight lifting four times a week.
  8. Improve my mental and emotional health by means of getting rid of technology (i.e. no phone, text messaging, email, or social media of any kind while on Sabbatical) and instead read four good books.
  9. Improve my spiritual health by means of plugging into a good, but different type of church in the Kansas City area.
  10. Begin a dream I’ve always had and start writing a Novel.

Bottom Line: I want to rest, rejuvenate, and recalibrate my life around that which really matters (i.e. God, His Word, and my family), coming back to PFBC a better leader and pastor. Indeed, I want to come back to PFBC with a renewed commitment to pastoral ministry, a better perspective on the difficult events of my recent past, and a greater vision for the future. Please pray with me to that end…

P.S. This will be the last blog I write till my return in July. Thank you!