Wedding Day


On Saturday I had the privilege of officiating at the wedding of Jeremy McCaully and Johnna Saylor. The wedding was held at Schoenbrun Moravian Church in New Philadelphia. The church holds around 150 and we ended up with nearly 200 people.

On the song to bring in the grand parents the electric went out. Needless to say it started getting warm in there. We decided to keep going and hope for the best.

The mother’s came in and lit the unity candles and the wedding party entered. After the bride got to the front, I welcomed everyone and was just about to pray when the lights and air conditioning came on. Praise God!

The rest of the service went well, except one of the groomsman had to leave because he was starting to see stars. He made it without passing out.

This was a fun wedding with lots of smiles and laughter. Jeremy & Johnna are such a great young couple, it was good to get to know them. I pray that they have a long happy life together.

The reception was at the Senior Center in Dover. Great place for a reception or party. The food was good and the conversation fun. I even got up on the dance floor to do the “electric slide”. I know that is not very pastor-like, but it was fun. Denise Royer joined me on the dance floor, you go girl!

In my message to the couple I talked about dance steps from the Bible that will help their marriage. Those dance steps are “Choose your words wisely”, “Settle your disagreements quickly”, and “Practice forgiveness”. Those are foundational dance steps to learn in a healthy marriage.

Moving Day





On Monday night my small group got together to help some ladies move. Carol and her mother Marie called the church looking for help to move from Sugarcreek to Walnut Creek. I checked with my small group and they all could make it on Monday night.

This is the third time we have helped someone move. We have also done numerous other serving projects together, such as drywalling, replacing windows, and other general repairs. Serving together has brought us closer together. Our group has been together for almost two years and we will be starting two groups in September. I am excited about meeting some new people and serving with them.

Helping Carol & Marie was very rewarding. Carol served in the military for 21 years, but was in an accident that caused her to not be able to continue. She moved here to take care of her mother. We showed up with four pickup trucks and started hauling things away. The neighbors even came out to see what was going on. The manager of the old apartment gave me her card and thanked me for helping out.

They were both very grateful for the help and Carol even made a donation to the church’s Helps fund. The reward you feel after helping someone in need is worth the effort of giving time and energy. The church is God’s plan to reach the world and show them His love. I hope we did that in a small way on Monday night.

Are You Listening?

Do you consider yourself a good listener? Most people would rate themselves above average as a listener, but few people are really good listeners. I read a quote today that jumped out of the page at me and made me start thinking about how I listen and see the world around me.

Here it is; “That’s why I am talking to you. You are one of the rare people who can separate your observation from your preconception. You see what is, where most people see what they expect.” That was from John Steinbeck in East of Eden.

It made me ask the question; Am I one of those rare people that sees what is? This can be a very difficult thing to do because we all view other people in a different way based on our own experiences and beliefs. It is so easy to make judgements about a person before we even get to know them. If we see a poor person we tend to think and act a certain way with them. If we see a person that looks wealthy again, we tend to act and think a certain way.

Do people want to talk to you? Do you find that people come to you often for advice and counsel? Do you wonder why this is happening? If so you are one of the rare people that God has given the gift of discernment. You are able to see the real issue or problem before others. You are able to quickly realize if someone or something is good or evil. You are able to see through the fronts that most people put on. You can even tell if people are lying or telling the truth.

Most people go through life with a mask on, not letting people too close to their world. The rare person can see through that because they really see and really listen. It’s the rare person that patiently listens to a problem or situation, asks a few clarifying questions to draw out the real issues and helps a person feel better. It’s an even rarer person that can see the problem without even having to hear a word.

I know some of these rare people and I am amazed at their ability to discern and see what is. I have to keep working on it because I still sometimes see what I expect. Slow down and really listen to people. Observe them and become curious about what is going on with them. This is especially true in our close relationships with family and spouses. Listening and trying to understand and empathize is a great gift to the people around you. All of us can listen and see better. Take off your blinders and begin to see other people the way God sees them. Listen with compassion instead of judgment. That will raise your compassion level and cause you to see what is, not what is expected.

Obligation or Opportunity

I am reading a small but powerful book called “You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader” by Mark Sanborn. That title says a lot, and I have always believed that, but I have not always lived it out. I grew up in the corporate world of banking and consulting and titles were very important. What level of Vice President you were gave you status and power. My goal was to become President and CEO. Great titles, right, but those titles didn’t make you a good leader, it just shows who is in charge.

Some of the best leaders I have seen were not the CEO or President. Great leaders don’t wait on a title to start leading. They take initiative and help get things done. They look for ways to make a difference and improve things. They make suggestions and give their opinion. They don’t back down when confronted, but take a stand for what they believe in. They persevere and are patient when they have to. They are humble and yet persistent. They get things done and work well with other people. They encourage team members and are willing to do the dirty work.

In Sanborn’s book he talks about opportunity versus obligation. This is what he writes “How do you live your life? As an obligation, or as an opportunity? Those who see life as an obligation want the task at hand to be done with as quickly as possible, with little regard to the outcome. The people who change the world around them-for themselves, their companies, communities, and families – rarely act from a sense of obligation. In fact, the people who act as leaders almost always act from a sense of incredible opportunity. They don’t interact with the world around them because they have to. They do so because they want to.”

So how are you viewing your circumstances, your job, your marriage, your church, your community, your school? Are these obligations or opportunities? When the phone rings do you respond to each call as an opportunity to impact someones life or an obligation to answer a question. The busier you get, the more pressure you are under, the more you tend to view things as an obligation and you miss many opportunities. As you feel the pressure and the stress your motivation goes down and your sense of obligation goes up.

To change your perspective maybe you need to simplify your life. Maybe you need to narrow your focus and re-evaluate your priorities. Viewing life as an opportunity to do your part in God’s bigger story will increase your motivation and drive. You see, God has a plan for your life and my life. Every day God gives us opportunities to make a difference, to be a miracle for someone, to be a light, to be an encouragement. Begin to look for opportunities to make a difference and pray for the courage to dive into God’s story.

Steps

We kicked off a wellness program this week for our staff at NewPointe. We are on three teams and competing in several areas. The idea of course is for all of us to get healthier. I am excited about this new program because it has already motivated me to get into better shape. I went on walks the last two evenings. I would like to invite all those fellow blog readers to join us in this wellness effort.

This week we are counting our steps for an entire day. On day one I only had 9,300, but I got my step counter after first service Sunday. Todd Colucy was the big winner on day one with over 36,000 steps, wow! Today I am at 13,000 steps.

I know we all want to get in better shape and for me I need a little motivation. This may be the catalyst that I need to get over the hump and lose the weight, body fat etc while lowering my cholesterol.

I want to challenge everyone that reads this to set some goals for the next month. Get out and walk once or twice this week. Go on bike rides, stretch every morning, whatever it is for you. Then get out and start doing it.

It is the same for us spiritually. Set some achievable goals to pray, read the Bible, listen to messages or read a book. Then start doing it. Spiritual and physical health doesn’t just happen, it takes some effort, planning and accountability. Next time you see me ask how my diet & exercise is going. You can also ask me how my prayer and Bible reading are going too. If you ask me, I will ask you.

Personal Growth

My personal mission statement is “Growing in Faith, Character & Leadership” To me the most important part of that statement is the first word; “Growing”. Growing means that I am learning, changing, adapting, failing, planning, attempting new things, going, doing, thinking and focusing.

If I am not growing then I am declining. I want to grow in my personal faith, becoming more intimate with my Lord. I want to know Him and experience His presence and learn His ways.

I also want to grow in character, which usually happens through adversity. I want to be known for the character qualities others see in me, not the accomplishments. Qualities like dependability, flexibility, patience, responsible, determined, gentle, wisdom, discernment and courageous.

I want to grow in leadership as well. To become a better leader with the people that I have influence with. Leadership is about influence and I want my influence to grow. I want to be the leader that God created me to be. To step out and take chances and live life to the fullest.

So how do I grow? One way is I read a lot of books. I love to learn from other people. The more I read the more I grow in knowledge and understanding. I just finished three books I had been reading over the last couple of months. Each of those books challenged me in a different way. It fed my desire to become a better husband, employee, pastor, friend and Christ-follower.

Reading is very important in growing. Remember as a child how reading played a significant role in your development. In school I had to read, in college I had to read even more. Now I read because I want to. I read books on leadership, Christianity, discipleship, business and management. I also read fiction, usually stories about ordinary and extraordinary people. My favorite fiction writer is John Grisham, my favorite non fiction author is Erwin McManus.

As important as reading is in personal growth, so is going and doing what what I read. I need to put into practice what I am learning or it is wasted. If I read the Bible and don’t do what it says, all that reading is wasted. My challenge to you is to Grow. Don’t stay where you are at spiritually, emotionally or intellectually. Read, listen to Cd’s, watch DVDs whatever works for you, but don’t stop learning and growing. The more you grow the more God can use you.

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.

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.

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.