Monthly Archives: June 2007

Intimacy

We talk about intimacy with God a lot around here. Having a close personal relationship with God is our desire for every person that comes to NewPointe.

What about intimacy in our marriages? We all desire to have intimacy with our spouse, but how many couples out there are balanced in their marriage intimacy? And what does that look like? Most guys don’t like that word, because it is touchy feely stuff. We are not comfortable with emotions and feelings. Well guys, if you want a great marriage intimacy is important.

To have balanced intimacy in your marriage you need to address body, soul and spirit. When we think of intimacy in marriage we most often think about physical intimacy. Having a strong sexual relationship is important, but it is only one part of intimacy. If you start here you often miss out on the other two areas completely. Are you attentive to your spouses sexual needs? Are you comfortable communicating your sexual desires and preferences to your spouse? Are you good at sharing appreciation and love verbally? How often do you hold hands, hug, kiss?

You may have heard the phrase “soul mates”. That is talking about emotional intimacy. This dimension is about friendship. Is your spouse your best friend? Do you connect with each other on a deeper emotional level? Do you love to just be together, talking or not? Do you listen beyond just words? Do you freely express your feeling with each other? Can you give each other time alone or with others without feeling jealous? Do you trust each other?

The last dimension and the most important one is spiritual. A spiritual closeness comes from your own personal spiritual growth and relationship with Jesus Christ. Are you both in agreement about your values and beliefs? Do you talk about God and your beliefs? Do you pray together or read Scripture together? Are you in a small group with other Christians? Do you go to church together regularly?

So where are you at in your marriage intimacy? If your like me you have some work to do. Closeness doesn’t just happen because you have the same last name or live under the same roof. Becoming one in marriage involves the freedom to share all of yourself with your spouse – spirit, soul and body. Are you nourishing all three areas?

Remember that balance takes work and perseverance. Your marriage is for a life time, which means a life time of growing and changing together as a team. For better or worse, in sickness and in health til death us do part.

Weekend Recap

This has been a great weekend! I will start on Friday. A young man stopped in to see me around 10:00 a.m. He had stopped in once before and we talked for an hour about some of his problems, God, church and God’s plan for his life.

On Friday I could tell things were not good. He explained some of the things that had happened to him, mostly bad, and kept saying God must have a plan for me since I am still here. He said something was missing in his life. He had tried to fill it with all kinds of stuff and none of it seemed to be helping.

He told me he believed in God, yet he thought there had to be more. I told him that 95% of the people in America believe in God, but a much smaller percentage have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I asked him if anyone ever showed him what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He said no, so I dove in.

I showed him on paper how we are separated from God by sin, and that no matter how many good things we do we can never fill that gap. How good is good enough to tip the scales? I then told him about God’s plan to send his son Jesus to be a perfect sacrifice for all our sins. I told him about the way they did sacrifices of animals in the old Testament and that Jesus was the last and ultimate sacrifice for us.

I showed him how Jesus filled that gap by dying on the cross and by being resurrected after three days, overcoming death and sin. I told him by believing in Jesus Christ and what he did for us and asking for forgiveness we can receive eternal life with God. Eternal life starts in this life for those that believe in Jesus Christ.

He said he wanted that and we prayed together and he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Wow, was I excited for him. I told him about some steps he can take immediately, like getting into Starting Pointe, coming to church on a regular basis and getting baptized. He is doing all three. I was floating for a while after that.

He still has some junk to work on in his life, like all of us do. But he is a new man, a new creation and his life has radically changed forever.

I saw him in church on Sunday. I am praying for him and hope to mentor this guy in the months ahead.

Later on Friday I went through the steps to Freedom in Christ with someone. That is always an amazing time as we work through the many lies people believe and build truth into them. This person was able to face some deep fears and pray for Jesus to heal those hurts and fears from the past. After our time together their was much more peace and hope in this person. This was an encounter with God, where God touched and healed. God is Good!

On Saturday morning I met with my men’s group. We had a great discussion on what it means to be a masculine Christian man. We talked about how Jesus was not a wimp and we shouldn’t be either. We talked about being the spiritual leaders in our families and homes. We talked about how our church can reach out to men and help them get connected and engaged.

Later on Saturday I officiated at a wedding for Gary Schaffer and Angel Miller. Gary is in the Marines and Angel comes to NewPoint. It was great to see these two young people with a heart for the Lord starting a new life together. I love getting to spend times with couples at their wedding. Talking with them and praying for them. I saw them in Church on Sunday as well. Congratulations to Gary & Angel.

On Sunday, I had the privilege of baptizing two people. Alice Banks and Zack Smith. They both shared great stories about how God was working in their lives and they wanted everyone to know they are Christ followers. Way to go Alice & Zack.

That is why I love this church, because lives are changing. God is moving in an amazing way and I am so thrilled to be a part of that.

Friday morning I had prayed and asked God to use me that day. I made myself available and God did the rest.

After Church on Sunday my wife and I enjoyed a great meal at our favorite restaurant, Lams.

Pretty good weekend!

What are you afraid of?

We all have fears, some more than others. As I listen to people I often hear their fears. I am afraid of roller coasters, needles, and heights. I try to avoid these things as much as possible. You see our fears keep us from doing things.

If I have a fear of rejection I will avoid getting to close to anyone so I can’t be rejected. If I have the fear of failure I will not try anything new because I don’t want to chance failing. If I have the fear of looking stupid, I won’t talk too much around people or give my opinion or pray out loud. The fear of being abandoned may cause me to cling to tightly to someone and even do and say things to avoid losing that person. What about the fear of being alone, that is similar to the fear of abandonment, but the fear of being alone can cause you to go after unhealthy relationships in order to never be alone.

So what is your core fear? We all have them. Fear keeps us from all the things God has for us. It is like the eagle that is nudging her babies out of the nest. They feel safe and secure in the nest. It is comfortable, plenty of food, no stress. But if that little baby eagle never gets out of the nest it can never fly and become the eagle God created it to be. So mom at some point will push the babies out and force them to fly.

Our fears keep us in the nest. God is always trying to nudge us out of the nest and into the Kingdom HE established. Each of us has a role to play in this beautiful creation. You can’t be all that God wants you to be by staying in the nest.

The first step is to identify your fears. Write them down, ask your friends or spouse to help you identify them. Once you identify them you can start asking God why that fear is there. You can ask God for courage to overcome that fear and face it. We always make our fears much bigger than they really are. When you face them it becomes much easier the next time.

I mentioned I am afraid of heights. The first time I tried to clean out my gutters I only made it half way down the roof on the side that is 20-30 feet high. I froze and couldn’t go any further. The next time I made it to the edge, but I was sweating and my muscles were very tense. Now I can walk up to the edge and look down without much of a problem.

Don’t let your fears keep you from the life God has in store for you. To have full life, an abundant life, you must overcome those core fears. To have healthy relationship and a healthy marriage you must overcome the fears that trigger bad behavior, reactions and words.

A great resource on identifying your fears is a book by Gary Smalley “The DNA of Relationships”. This is a must read for anyone that wants to improve their relationships.

1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

We can resolve our fears first by focusing on God’s immeasurable love for us, and then by allowing Him to love others through us. His love will quiet your fears and give you confidence.

Lincoln Principles

I started out my career as a banker. First in auditing, then as a loan officer, then as a branch manager and commercial lender. In those early years I knew that learning and growing were important for me to make it to the top. That is when I began to read about leadership and management. I read a book about President Lincoln that I recently took off my shelf again (Lincoln on Leadership by Donald Phillips). As I scanned through the book I was struck by some of the incredible leadership principles Lincoln had. No wonder he was such a great leader. Most are simple yet profound. Here are some for you to ponder:

“Showing your compassionate and caring nature will aid you in forging successful relationships”

“A good leader avoids issuing orders, preferring to request, imply, or make suggestions”

“It would not hurt you much if, once in a while, you could manage to let things slip, unbeknownst-like”

Remember: Your organization will take on the personality of its top leader”

“Do the very best you know how-the very best you can-and keep doing so until the end”

“It’s not entirely safe to allow a misrepresentation to go uncontradicted”

“Remember that it is not best to swap horses when crossing streams”

“Seize the initiative and never relinquish it”

“If you are a good leader, when your work is done, your aim fulfilled, your people will say, We did it ourselves”

“Sometimes it is better to plough around obstacles rather than to waste time going through them”

“Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today”

“If you never try, you’ll never succeed”

“Loyalty is more often won through private conversation than in any other way”

“Remember, everyone likes a compliment”

“The probability that you may fall in the struggle ought not to deter you from the support of a cause you believe to be just”

“Remember, that the best leaders never stop learning”

Going Deep

This morning I was reading my devotional “When the Lights Go Out” by Graham Cooke. My friend Kevin told me about it and I got it for my men’s group. The sub title is “Surprising Growth When God Is Hidden”. What does that mean?

Cooke talks about manifestation versus hiddenness. “Manifestation is about experiencing all that God is doing. Hiddenness is about possessing the things of God through His Word by faith. During times of hiddenness, you must learn to rely on the promises that God has made to you through the Bible.”

As Christians we all have times of manifestation when we are experiencing God. We feel blessed and filled to the top with the good things of God. However we also have times of hiddenness and in those times we can slip away from God because this is not what we expected. We want God to give us a sign and tell us what to do. We don’t want to go searching in the desert. Hiddenness is not something we seek, yet God uses times of hiddenness to train us and develop us.

Cooke says “Hiddenness is where we start to process deep truth.” In other words we can hear truth, read truth and talk about truth, but to process and understand truth God hides himself, so that we seek wisdom and truth at a deeper level. The disciples did not understand much of what Jesus was teaching while he was with them. They had certain thoughts and expectations about His coming Kingdom. It wasn’t until Jesus died and was resurrected and then ascended that they got it. When they no longer had Him with them, they began to understand what He was showing them.

We don’t gain spiritual maturity by gaining more knowledge about the Bible. It comes from gaining Godly, not earthly wisdom and that comes when we learn to be with God even in hiddenness.

I sometimes hear the question about how can I go deeper spiritually? Be careful what you are asking for. A time of hiddenness may be coming. If you really want to go deeper in your walk with God then start doing what the Bible says. Are you tithing? Are you giving above the tithe? Are you serving in your local church? Are you helping others in your community? Have you fasted lately? Are you in a small group? Are you investing in a non believer? Are you investing in a believer that is not as far along as you? Have you gone on a mission trip? Have you forgiven everyone that has hurt you? Have you confessed to all the people that you have hurt? Are your relationships healthy? Is anyone holding you accountable? Are you content with what you have? Are you using your spiritual gifts for God? Are you using your painful experiences to help others that are going through a similar situation? Is your daily time with God a priority?

Going deep means getting your hands dirty. It means seeking God with all your heart even when you don’t feel His presence. It means developing internally and becoming more like Jesus in your Character. In times of hiddenness God is wanting to teach us about changing our heart toward Him.

The stuff I am doing

We all have stuff we are doing. Our jobs are filled with stuff. Our weekends are filled with stuff. We get busy with all kinds of stuff.

Here is some of my stuff:

Today I spent time on the phone counseling with two people. I spent another hour counseling someone in person. I also coached two baptism video testimonies (We have 14 people getting baptized this summer, June 24th and July 8th).

I wrote a couple of thank you notes and signed some follow up letters to people that wanted information or made commitments over the weekend.

I spent a good hour on emails, following up with people and sending new ones.

I read several blogs from people much more famous than me. It inspired me to write this blog, very exciting , I know. Check out http://www.dwightmason.com/ and http://scotthodge.typepad.com/scott/2007/06/leonard_sweet_s.html

I have another video testimony to coach at 5:00 p.m. and I am meeting with some people about our Divorce care recovery groups at 5:30 and I close out the day with another counseling session with a couple at 6:30.

That’s my stuff for today, but it is really more than stuff, its all about people. People matter to God, and I work for God, therefore people matter to me. I hope that I was able to encourage someone today. I hope that I was able to point someone closer to Christ. Every day we have an opportunity to impact this world. God brings people into our lives, puts us in situations that can be uncomfortable and if we are paying attention we can make an eternal difference.

Here are a couple of quotes to ponder:

“Every significant relationship in your life has your fingerprints all over it-the fingerprints of your character. And those impressions on another person’s life are true indications of what your character is really like.” Steve Farrar

“A life isn’t significant except for the impact on other lives.” Jackie Robinson

Military Funeral

Today at NewPointe we hosted a memorial service for Corporal Keith Nepsa. This young man, 21 years old, was serving his country in Iraq. This was his second tour of duty. He was killed in action last week along with a close friend. This is the first time I experienced a military funeral. I was amazed at how well the Army cared for this family. They assigned an officer to be with the family through this entire ordeal. He will continue to be close to the family as all the details of paperwork and personal effects get taken care of. You could see and hear the concern they all had for this young man’s family.

I got to meet an incredible woman. Brigadier General Margrit Farmer was on hand to participate in the services. I got to meet her on Sunday night and found her to be down to earth, sincere and very approachable. I got to meet some other great officers in our Army as well. As I interacted with these “military” people I was encouraged by the integrity and level of leadership that I saw in these men and women. We have some great leaders that are behind the scenes working hard every day for our country. It was an honor to meet each one.

I also got to meet our Governor Ted Strickland and congressman Zack Space. Other elected officials were on hand as well. Again I found them all to be very sincere in their efforts to honor this brave young man and his family.

The service for Keith Nepsa went very well. Pastor Bill Sowers from Broadway United Methodist church gave the message and did a nice job of honoring Keith Nepsa and his family and presenting the Gospel. Scott Miller sang two songs and was truly amazing. He sang “The Lord’s Prayer” at the beginning and “God Bless the USA” at the end. Wow, with the American Flag on the big screen behind Scott as he sang that closing song it brought tears to my eyes and goose bumps to my skin. Great job Scott!

We also had a great group of people from Geib Funeral home led by Brian Hanner. They did a top notch job in covering all the details that went into this service. Thanks Brian.

We also had over 20 volunteers that came in to help make this service run smoothly. We had a host team in place to greet the people and help them find the auditorium and restrooms. They really helped set the tone as people arrived. We also had an usher team ready in the auditorium to help people find a seat and answer any questions people may have had. We had our sound and tech team in place as well to make sure the sound, lighting and video all worked seamlessly.

I want to personally thank each and every person that took time out of their schedules to come out and serve at this funeral. It humbles me to see people take vacation days and time off work to come and serve. These are special folks that have a heart for Jesus Christ. I really get excited when I see our Church BEING the church to our community. All the glory goes to Jesus Christ.

I am sure that many seeds were planted in the hearts of the people that attended this service. Each person that served and helped put this service together played a part in planting those seeds. What a great opportunity to serve the Lord.

Our prayers and sympathy go out to the Nepsa family.

Emotional Wounds

Most people have heard the saying that “time heals all wounds.” That simply is not true, especially for emotional wounds. As a pastor I often talk with people who are still carrying hurts from twenty to thirty years ago. The truth is, time usually makes the wound worse. When a wound is left untended it quickly becomes infected and can spread throughout the entire body. It is the same with an emotional wound. When that wound is buried and hidden the infection starts and it grows over time. This infection causes many other symptoms and problems.

Many times we try to fix the outward symptoms of anger, bitterness, guilt, jealousy, addictions, anxiety, depression and bad relationships. If you focus on these outward symptoms you never heal the wound. You may be able to mask them for a while, but they usually will return. Time only extends the pain if the original wound is not dealt with.

So, how do you deal with those wounds? On your own you cannot heal those wounds. Only Jesus Christ can heal those wounds. You will also need the help of other people as you work through the pain and open up the wound and pray for God’s healing touch. This may mean getting some professional help through counseling, spiritual help through a pastor or Christian counselor and relational help through a small group of friends to hold you accountable and encourage you.

I have helped numerous people work through steps to finding freedom from the pain of an old wound or wounds. Only the truth can set you free. Truth is the person of Jesus Christ, and only an encounter with Him can heal the deep wounds of your past.

Most of us have believed so many lies throughout our lives that we do not really know who God is or what He is like. These lies shape who we think we are, and what we think about God. With a wrong view of who God is, and who we are, it is easy to stay stuck in the feelings of hopelessness and feeling helpless.

I want to encourage you to take that first step toward freedom by facing your fears and asking Jesus to touch that wound. You may need to seek someone to help you along the way. Pray and ask God to give you direction for the help you need. God does not want you to live in bondage, but to be free and victorious.

King David was experiencing a great deal of opposition and rejection when, while hiding in a desert cave, he wrote Psalm 142. Start like David did and cry out to the Lord. God cares about you and wants you to be whole, not broken.

Adversity

We all face adversity in our lives, some more than others. Some of it we bring on ourselves by making bad decisions and others just happen to us because he live in an imperfect world. I have been slowly reading through a book called “Beyond the Summit” by Todd Skinner. It is about mountain climbing, but has many great principles for our lives.

Todd talks about adversity while on the side of a mountain. I can’t imagine trying to climb a vertical wall 2,000 feet high and having to watch for falling rocks and storms. That is real adversity! This is what Todd says; “You can’t dodge a rock until it falls… we are more often stopped by the fear that a rock might fall than by a rock actually falling. But we can’t cower under an overhang, seeking shelter from any rock that might fall, and climb the mountain.”

As I read that I had to think about the church, not just NewPointe, but the church in general. Has the church been cowering under a safe overhang hiding from rocks that might fall? Am I as a leader hiding in a safe spot because I am afraid a rock might hit me or I will get caught in a storm? The church cannot reach the summit (all people groups) if it doesn’t keep climbing. It starts with us as leaders, getting out on the mountain and start climbing.

It is through adversity that we are shaped and molded into the men and women that God can use. The storms of life draw us closer to God and build our faith. The adversity helps us to make the changes we need to make in our lives. With no adversity or storms in life, we would never change. God does not want us to remain the same. We cannot change and grow if we don’t face our fears and start climbing. When a rock falls you dodge it. When a storm comes you persevere through it.

We as individuals and a church need to remember that we have the greatest mountain climber in the universe along side us. God is with us through every storm, every step, every circumstance, every rock slide. With Him we can reach the summit and beyond. Adversity can be a blessing, because it helps us to grow our faith, character and leadership.

Back From Vacation

We made it back from a great trip to Cape Coral Florida. This is Emily and Allison, my wife Vikki’s nieces (Emily is in the middle).

This was a nice vacation because we didn’t have much planned. Sometimes vacations can be more stressful than work. We just hung out, read books, watched movies and went shopping.

Vikki’s brother-in-law John has his own pool business. He installs new pools and is doing quite well. His wife Sheila does much of the design work. He showed us some of the pools he recently completed, very nice!

This is Mason, trying to eat 5 sour balls. He is really into baseball, his team just won the championship (John is the coach). Mason is also on the All star team. Good job Mason!

This is me eating Sushi and Allison is not impressed! No one else likes Sushi, so I was on my own. I gained 5 pounds, so now I am eating oatmeal every day for breakfast.

This is Jack the cat. We wanted to take him home with us. They have 4 cats in the house which Vikki loved.

I read a great little book while in Florida. It is called “The Dip” by Seth Godin. This book talks about when to quit and when to stick. It is an easy short read that is packed with very good stuff. It helped me to renew my focus and sharpen my resolve. I also was reading a John Grisham novel called “The Testiment”.

Well, that was our vacation. It is time to get back to work and get caught up.