Lessons Learned On Our Adoption Journey…

Adoption

My wife and I are currently engaged in the process of adoption through Faithful Adoption Consultants, a consulting agency based out of Georgia. Needless to say, the process of adoption is a long and difficult process. This difficulty comes in many different forms, to include: a mountain of paperwork, a thick price tag, and a lot of tiring emotions. But, it’s worth it. Why? Because life matters. Life is precious. Life is valuable. Indeed, my wife and I long to hold our fourth child, our adoptive child, sometime (Lord willing) in 2020.

Below are three things I have been immensely reminded of during this hard, but beautiful journey of adoption…

  1. God can change hearts. My wife initially proposed the idea of adoption very early in our marriage. I quickly shot it down. I wasn’t trying to be mean or insensitive, but adoption simply wasn’t on my radar. It wasn’t a part of my plan for my life. Little did I know that my wife was praying for me. Never underestimate the power of a godly wife praying for her husband! God used my wife’s prayers to change my heart by first changing my mind. God made it abundantly clear (through a series of events played out over many years) that my life really isn’t my life (it belongs to Him) and thus “my plan” for “my life” is irrelevant. In the end, I was the one who restoked the conversation of adoption (earlier this year) with my wife. You read that right; I was the one who reintroduced this topic of conversation into our marriage. My wife didn’t pester me, guilt trip me, or nag me about adoption; she simply prayed for me. And over many years, God changed my heart and is allowing me the wonderful joy of leading my wife in this process.
  2. God always provides. The paperwork is daunting, but God always provides. The financial price tag is high, but God always provides. The emotional roller coaster is exhausting, but God always provides. Our God is a provider! When the paperwork is overwhelming, He provides extra energy and a wonderful guide (Jason through Faithful Adoption Consultants) to help us. When the financial price tag seems too high, He provides a little boy from church who literally put two quarters into my hand one Sunday and said (with excitement), “Pastor Dave, it’s for your adoption!” When our emotional tank is running on empty, He provides us with exactly what we need, when we need it. Our God always provides.
  3. God adopts. This whole process of physical adoption has provided me such a beautiful picture of my own spiritual adoption into the family of God. Indeed, physical adoption is such a beautiful picture of the Gospel. Passages like Galatians 4:4-5, which states, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” And passages like Ephesians 1:4b-5, which says, “In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ…” have come alive to me in powerful ways. That God would reach down and save me, adopt me, and love me…Wow. What grace! What mercy! This whole process of physical adoption has helped me to relish my spiritual adoption into the family of God in bigger and better ways. Indeed, I like what David Platt says about the process of adoption, “It is important to realize we adopt not because we are rescuers. No. We adopt because we are rescued.” Yes, rescued by God, and adopted into His family, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ…How precious it is that our God adopts us.

Please continue to pray for me and my family as we walk this adoption pathway. It is hard, and it is long, but it’s so worth it. Indeed, our child is out there somewhere, we just have to work hard (by God’s good grace) to find them.

The Gospel: A Short Animated Video

Bible Project

From Our Friends at the Bible Project: “Gospel” is one of the most common words in a Christian’s vocabulary. But what does it mean in the original languages of the Bible? In this video, we’ll discover that “gospel” is a royal announcement about Jesus, who is the crucified and risen King of the world who overcame death with his love…

PFBC: December’s Upcoming Events…

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Sunday, Dec. 1 = Portraits of Christmas Series Launch at 10:15 AM; Halcyon House Nursing Home Ministry at 2:30 PM

Wednesday, Dec. 4 = Kids4Truth (Jesus’ Birthday Night) and Outfitters at 6:30 PM; Prayer Meeting at 7:00 PM

Sunday, Dec. 8 = Annual Election of Officers (After the Morning Worship Service)

Monday, Dec. 9 = Women’s Prayer Group from 10 – 11 AM

Tuesday, Dec. 10 = Men’s Prayer Group from 6:30 – 7:30 AM

Wednesday, Dec. 11 = Kids4Truth (Store Night) and Outfitters at 6:30 PM; Prayer Meeting at 7:00 PM

Sunday, Dec. 15 = Leadership Team Meeting at 5 PM

Wednesday, Dec. 18 (Dec. 25, Jan. 1) = Christmas Break – No Activities!

Sunday, Dec. 22 = No Sunday School; Sunday Morning Worship Service at 10:15 AM

Tuesday, Dec. 24 = Christmas Eve Service at 6:30 PM

Wednesday, Dec. 25 – Saturday, Dec. 28 = Church Offices Closed For Christmas!

Guest Blogger: Phil Parsons – “Leave it All on the Court”

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Phil Parsons and his family have recently started attending Prairie Flower Baptist Church. He is a member of the Board of Directors and President of Epaphroditus – a missions minded organization with a heart for the country of India. Phil is also an attorney here in southeast Iowa. We are pleased to have Phil be our Guest Blogger this week. In this particular blog post, Phil talks about the need for passion – “Leave it all on the court!” – when it comes to our Great Commission as disciples of Jesus Christ. ~Enjoy!


My oldest daughter, Alex, is currently playing basketball for Pekin Middle School. As a father who enjoyed basketball as a kid, it is simultaneously fun and frustrating to watch. It takes a great deal of self-control not to make a fool out of myself while watching and “encouraging” my daughter. My wife may argue that I fail at this more than I succeed.

One aspect of basketball that can be frustrating for parents, and coaches alike, is the absence of total commitment. Too often you see players merely go through the motions. To correct this halfhearted behavior, a coach my yell “Leave it all on the court!” The idea behind this phrase is that players should not hold anything back. They should use all their heart, mind, and strength to win the game; being willing to sprint back on defense, dive on the floor for loose balls, and mix it up in the paint…blood, sweat, and tears.

The reason behind this reckless behavior is the desire to accomplish the primary goal, to win the game. Interestingly, being a Christian is not terribly different.

When Christ came in the flesh, he came for one purpose, to save sinners. He didn’t come to go through motions. He didn’t come to build wealth. He didn’t come to climb the corporate ladder. He didn’t come to create a Pinterest life. Jesus took on flesh, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross to achieve the goal of seeking and saving the lost. As disciples of Christ, our purpose is not different. You can see this in the calling of the first disciples.  In Luke 5:4-11 we read these words:

“[W]hen he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.”

In verse 10 we see Jesus tell his disciples that they will be catching men. This was their new purpose as followers of Jesus, to look out upon the sea of faces in this world and throw out the net of the Gospel and draw men to Jesus. Peter, James, and John are the first Christians, and in their calling, we are given the first example of what it means to follow Christ, to partner with Him to seek and save the lost.

But how do we do this? It begins with a commitment to leave everything on the court. Notice verse 11, “And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” Let that sink in…they left everything…everything; their boat, their source of income, their dreams, and even their dad. At this moment they were giving it their all, literally.

Now…it is time for some self-evaluation. How do you stack up? Do you view yourself as a Christian, as a disciple, as a follower of Christ? Has Jesus called you to be catchers of men? Have you accepted that call? Have you committed yourself to the primary mission of seeking and saving the lost? Have you given it your all? Have you left it all on the court? Or are you going through the motions?

Remember, when Christ calls you, it is not into passivity, but activity, and it is an activity of total abandonment. Later in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says these words, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33).

Christ calls us to leave it all on the court, to give everything we have, blood, sweat, and tears to the God-glorifying, eternal, Gospel-centered mission of saving sinners.

From the Desk of the Associate Pastor: Deck the Halls?

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You have heard the debates right? The back and forth between when one can appropriately begin listening to Christmas music? For some not till November, others would say after Thanksgiving. Still others will take a more hard line stance of not till two weeks leading up to Christmas. And then there are those who secretly begin to listen in October or earlier. So, most would say that there really is no right answer, it’s just a preference thing, and maybe that is true, but I believe there are some helpful thoughts regarding this subject as we head into the holiday season.

I first want to make a very important distinction between music genres. In my definition Christmas music only includes songs that celebrate the advent of our Savior while Holiday music would encompass songs that celebrate the secular meaning of Christmas. If a song includes ideas about Santa, Reindeer, Snowmen, silver bells, or chestnuts it probably falls in the secular category.

Now is it wrong to listen to holiday music as a celebration of the warm and fuzzy and nostalgic feelings one gets as they think about this time of year? No, not really, but in my personal opinion, you should not be subjecting others to such music before the 10th of December. I say that half joking, but the reason I want to make such an important distinction between “Christmas” music and “Holiday” music is because this time of year holds such a special theological place in my heart. Now, as a disclaimer, I recognize that December was probably not the actual historical month that Christ was born, but it has become the accepted season to spend a focused time celebrating the birth of Christ.

Let us think for a minute about the ramifications of the birth of Christ. Mankind had rebelled and abandoned their Creator. Even those who were supposed to be the people of God had largely and repeatedly brushed any loyalty to the one true God aside. Yet over and over again God promised to send a Savior who would “crush the head of the serpent,” and would “sit on the throne of His father David,” and would be “God with us,” and so much more. Now the true followers of God had waited and waited for Him to fulfill all these promises. In the birth of Christ, and His subsequent work on the cross, we have all these promises fulfilled.

This is why we have such cause for celebration and it just seems we cannot adequately do this with just reindeer and sleigh bells. And in fact, I believe that in large part these cultural Christmas references largely distract from the true celebration of Christmas.

Brothers and sisters, it is not my attempt to infringe on your Christian liberty in denying you the fun of celebrating the secular aspects of the Christmas season, but please for the sake of your children and for the sake of a lost and dying world, do not allow these things to take away from the true celebration of God with us.

Even though God waited for centuries and millennia to fulfill the promise to send the Savior, He ultimately did so. As Paul wrote to the Galatians: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a virgin, born under the law, to redeem those who are under the law.” The implications of this are huge to us. The fact that God fulfilled His promise to send the Messiah means we can trust Him that He will eventually, and in just the right time, fulfill every other promise that He has made to us. That is why I say listen to your Holiday music for a short time (if you must), but feel free to celebrate and rejoice with Christmas music whatever time of year the mood hits you.

Merry Christmas!

My Sixth Year As Pastor

My Sixth Year As Pastor

This Sunday, November 10, 2019, I will celebrate six years as the Lead Pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church. Can you believe it? Six years have come and gone so incredibly fast.

This sixth year as a Minister of the Gospel has been a blur of activities from praying to preaching, soul-winning to soul-care, weddings to funerals, and from weeping to rejoicing. The full-orbed life of pastoring may be many things, but it’s certainly never boring. I know cops and doctors get all the TV shows for how fast-paced and exciting their work can be, but make no mistake about it, pastoring can be just as intense. Indeed, pastoring can be so incredibly intense at times because pastors work in the physical realm, but operate in the spiritual realm. Sound spooky? Make your brain hurt? Yeah, mine too.

Well, what have I learned this past year? How has God continued to mold and transform me? In life and ministry, there’s always lessons to be learned (and relearned), so here are three lessons that I am walking into my seventh year with…

  1. Stress – Like many of you, I have been in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. That’s a difficult place to live. It’s hard to breath down there! And certainly there is great stress in this valley, but I have come to realize that even on the mountain peaks, there is stress. Examples: 1) A lost sinner places his faith in Jesus Christ. Celebrate? Yes! But then there is the difficult work of discipling this new believer in their faith. That produces some stress. 2) A baby is born into your family. Celebrate? Certainly! But then there is the difficult work of raising that sweet bundle of joy and literally providing for all their needs. That produces some stress. 3) A church begins a new building project. Celebrate? You bet! But then there is the difficult work of lining up contractors, volunteers, and getting the work done. That produces some stress. Get the picture? Stress in ministry isn’t simply regulated to the bad; even good things have stress points attached to them. So, at some level, I’m learning that even good things (and the stress that goes along with it) must be stewarded well.
  2. Opportunities – As we go through life, we will have many opportunities. I am personally so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been afforded. God has been so gracious to me. And, like many of you, when you start to take one opportunity after another, like dominoes, the opportunities to do this or that can become…well…overwhelming. There are so many good things to be a part of and do! So, which ones should you take? What is the difference between better and best? When is the best time to take on more responsibility? Should you downsize and restructure first? So many questions…But I think I’m learning that when new opportunities present themselves, no matter how good and intriguing they seem, I must ask many questions, consult my wife (that’s marriage 101), and (of course) pray like crazy.
  3. Pain – I don’t mean to sound nonchalant when I say this, but everyone has pain in their life, sometimes deep pain. I feel like everyone I meet these days has some trauma or great difficulty that they are facing or have faced in their past. This broken, sin-cursed world can be so miserable to live in sometimes. As a pastor, I am learning to “beware of the smile” that people present. Behind many of those smiles are hidden hurts, past abuse, and deep pains. Indeed, hospital elevators are fascinating places. As a pastor, I spend a lot of time on hospital elevators. In those elevators, you’ll meet all kinds of people: excited parents with a new-born baby, a grieving wife whose husband just died in surgery, concerned doctors and nurses with burdens so great (both personal and professional), frustrated patients with more questions than answers, and the list could go on, and on, and on. I am learning that everyone has pain in their lives. Some people’s pain is deeper and more complicated than others, but everyone has pain. What a joy to walk with people amid their pain while pointing them to Jesus, the Man of Pain (AKA: the “Man of Sorrows”), who is always there and always faithful.

Well, that’s a wrap. Year six is in the bag! What a joy to be one of the undershepherds here at Prairie Flower Baptist Church. This past year has truly been a blur with many highs and a few lows, but God has been and will forever be faithful to His character, His promises, and to us – His people. I am looking forward, with serious joy, at this new year of pastoring to come. Please pray that God continues to give me the grace I need to pastor with a shepherd’s heart.

Happy Reformation Day!

Reformation Day

On this day, 502 years ago (October 31, 1517), an amazing event happened that sparked what become known as the Protestant Reformation. Thus, today is formally recognized as Reformation Day. Thanks, Martin Luther! But what exactly was the reformation? What is Reformation Day all about? Click on this short video below for some answers!

PFBC: November’s Upcoming Events…

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Sunday, Nov. 3 = Annual Election of Officers’ Nomination Process Ends; Nomination & Election Committee Meets at 2:30 PM; Growth Groups at Various Times; Friendship Bible Study at 4:30 PM

Wednesday, Nov. 6 = Kids4Truth (Stars and Stripes Night) and Outfitters at 6:30 PM; Prayer Meeting at 7:00 PM

Saturday, Nov. 9 = Leadership Team’s Strategic Planning Meeting from 9 AM – 5 PM

Sunday, Nov. 10 = Pastor Dave’s 6 Year Church Anniversary! Baptism Class at 9 AM (Church Library); Final Growth Groups of the Year at Various Times

Monday, Nov. 11 = Women’s Prayer Group from 10 – 11 AM

Tuesday, Nov. 12 = Men’s Prayer Group from 6:30 – 7:30 AM

Wednesday, Nov. 13 = Kids4Truth (Group Color Night: Blue, Khaki, Red, and Green) and Outfitters at 6:30 PM; Prayer Meeting at 7:00 PM

Friday, Nov. 15 = Outfitters Activity: Game Night (TBD)

Saturday, Nov. 16 = Women At Risk at Kalona Coffee from 9 AM – 2 PM

Sunday, Nov. 17 = Baptism Class at 9 AM (Church Library); Final Friendship Bible Study of the Year at 4:30 PM

Wednesday, Nov. 20 = Kids4Truth (Cowboy/Western/Flannel Night) and Outfitters at 6:30 PM; Prayer Meeting at 7:00 PM

Sunday, Nov. 24 = Baptism Sunday! Annual Election of Officer’s Official Ballot is Posted; Parkview Nursing Home Ministry at 3:30 PM

Monday, Nov. 25 = Pastor Tim’s Birthday!

Wednesday, Nov. 27 – Saturday, Nov. 30 = Church Offices Closed For Thanksgiving!

John Leonard – The Missionary Miracle

The Leonards

Today it is my privilege to re-blog an article that my alma mater, Faith Baptist Bible College, posted on October 15, 2019. Our Associate Pastor’s wife gets some great publicity in this article… 🙂 Yes, this article concerns none other than Jonna O’Tool’s father, John Leonard, “The Missionary Miracle”…Enjoy!


The fact that John Leonard is still alive is a miracle. That he returned, at all, to the mission field where he was nearly murdered, and continues to minister today, is nothing short of heroic.

John Leonard was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and raised in Brazil, South America, as a missionary kid. His wife, Bev, was born and raised in Marysville, Kansas. They both attended Faith, where God prepared them for ministry. While at Faith, Bev said she gained confidence in her belief, and she was then able to talk to the unsaved and give good answers when asked about Christianity.

The two met at church while they were attending Faith in 1981. They were married on December 31, 1983. Before meeting Bev, John had served in Brazil for four years as a leader of a church that had closed its doors. He felt called to return to Brazil as he knew of their great need for the Gospel. Bev also had felt led to ministry, and her “life calling” was confirmed when John wanted to minister for the Lord. They now have four adult children who are grown and married and serving the Lord.

When asked what he would tell a current student interested in ministry, John said, “Missions is not for the faint of heart, but if God is calling you, you won’t be happy doing anything else. God will make a way where there seems to be no way!”

There certainly seemed to be “no way” for John to ever return to Brazil after he was shot six times by a pair of drug lords outside of his church in Alagoas, Brazil, in 2005. One of the bullets struck Leonard in the spinal cord, and doctors in Brazil were unable to remove it. Leonard was in a coma for 12 days and was not expected to live. After being transported back to Iowa, doctors were able to remove the bullet, but not without consequence. Leonard woke in his hospital bed, paralyzed from the neck down.

John has faced significant challenges being in a wheelchair, but he said the biggest lesson he’s learned in his ministry is “How big God is, and how little I am. Nothing is impossible with God.”

John and Bev returned to the mission field in 2007, where they continue to serve the Lord faithfully. Recently, two young families have been saved as a result of their courageous work. John spends time preaching, teaching, counseling, and discipling, as well as overseeing building projects. Bev works with ladies and children’s ministries, and music ministry.

The story of missionaries John and Bev Leonard demonstrates God’s glory received even through trials. John’s testimony is a powerful tool used to witness to the people of Brazil. Together John and Bev have been involved in ten church plants.

You can follow the work and ministry of John and Bev Leonard on their blog: prayforjohnblog.wordpress.com

From Megachurches to Micro-churches: What Ever Happened to Faithful Churches?

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As a local church pastor, I like to keep a good pulse on church trends and fads. At the very least, it provides interesting entertainment value. Like clothing styles and music styles, church styles can be all the rave one season and totally drab the next season.

Such is the case with the megachurch model. Indeed, it seems like Americans are quickly becoming disillusioned with the idea that “bigger is always better” when it comes to church life. So, enter the latest all the rage church model – the micro-church!

This model of church goes by many names. A recent Christianity Today article states, “These communities go by different names – fresh expressions, missional communities, micro-churches – but they bear many similarities….Though the structures of these communities vary, their values are generally consistent. These include intentional focus on mission to a specific population (fitness enthusiasts, or single moms, etc.), an emphasis on lay leadership, low costs, and a high rate of reproduction.” Interesting, isn’t it?

My goal in this short blog post isn’t to argue the merits of micro-churches over megachurches (or vice versa), but to simply ask a simple and direct question: What ever happened to the biblical model of church? What ever happened to churches just being faithful? What ever happened to this whole Pauline notion that “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)?

Does it really matter how big or small a local church is? Maybe to a degree. I mean, numbers tell us something, right? But isn’t it possible for a church to be on fire, faithful, and fervent in their mission to “make disciples” (cf. Matthew 28:18-20) and be either huge in numbers or quite tiny in numbers? I think the answer is obvious.

Perhaps local churches that intentionally strive to be either mega or micro are totally missing the boat. Maybe, just maybe, we should desire church growth without demanding church growth? Perhaps trying to reach the crowd for simple numbers sake isn’t really fulfilling the Great Commission after all. And is the solution to this problem really to tailor church to a specific demographic just because big church isn’t working out so well? Again, I think the answer is obvious.

Here’s the bottom line, perhaps churches have a responsibility to steward, plan, and strategize for church growth BY MEANS OF staying faithful in prayer, preaching, and meeting the needs of the people that God brings to them (cf. Acts 6:1-7). Perhaps we should keep the main thing the main thing. So, in the case of Prairie Flower Baptist Church, what is the main thing? Well, it’s “to be a strong church that makes disciples for the glory of God.” Can’t we just devote ourselves with white hot passion to that mission and vision and leave the growth results to God?

I mean, who was it that said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”? Oh yeah, that was Jesus. And who is Jesus? Listen again to the words of Paul from Ephesians 2:19-21, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”

Honestly, I don’t think it’s all about being a mansion of a church or being hipster with a tiny church model. Perhaps you can be a megachurch and faithful. Perhaps you can be a micro-church and faithful. Perhaps you can be a “normal church” and faithful. Indeed, at the end of day, I think that mere faithfulness provides some rich fruits, whether that be visible, tangible fruit like numerical growth or invisible, spiritual fruit like spiritual growth. But faithfulness always yields the sweet rewards of fruit. Yes, at the end of the day, I think Jesus just wants us to strive to be faithful churches. Amen?