From Pastor To Dad (Reflections on A Day)

Today my role very quickly switched from pastor to dad. I was in a meeting preparing for a potential new ministry our church is considering. We were talking about the future, with big dreams of ministry and new ways of helping people. I love thinking Kingdom-building strategy.

I received a call that went straight to my voice mail. In consideration of those I was meeting with, I decided not to be interrupted. Then there was another call; then a text; then another. I decided I needed to figure out what was the urgency. Sadly, the news was tragic. One of my son Nate’s childhood friends had been killed in an auto accident this morning. The girl’s mother was one of Nate’s favorite teachers.

Nate and his friend Kathleen had been together since kindergarten. They were like brother and sister. They had remained in touch over the last month, both attending school away from home, and even talked within the last day or two. At the point when I got the message, my only concern was getting to Nate before he heard the news in passing. At that point, I was no longer a pastor in a meeting. I was a dad hurrying to comfort a son. Nothing else seemed to matter much the rest of the day.

It’s so hard to make sense of death and tragedy. There are more questions than answers tonight in so many minds. The phrase I heard continually today from Nate and others was, “I can’t wrap my mind around this.” There are no words to say. Eighteen is not supposed to be the age of death. I do know one thing, however. The truth of God’s Word is not altered, even after the tragic news of the day. God truly is close to the broken-hearted.

Nate and a large group of friends from his class were extremely close, but recently scattered to many different colleges. They will be home this weekend, for a very sad occasion, and, in many ways, it will be a reunion. Their coming together will honor their friendship, but also be a tribute to the memory of a good friend, who tragically left this earth too soon.

Please join me in praying for this family and the friends who mourn.

4 Ways To Help Win Your Husband To Christ

I am thankful for the women that bring their families to church every Sunday alone, because their husbands will not come.  I know that many of these women have one great prayer request; that their husband will become a believer and/or assume the role of spiritual leadership in the home.  Having walked through this with many families over the years, I would like to share some suggestions of things I have seen that work for wives in helping to win their husband to Christ.

Here are four ways to help win your husband to Christ:

Prayer – Ultimately, your husband needs the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, even more than your encouragement.  In the end, Christ will save him, not you.  He is personally accountable to God.  Bathe him in prayer daily, knowing that God loves him beyond what you can imagine.

Example – Model Christ’s love for him.  Let him see true Christianity first in you.  (1 Peter 3:1-2)

Gentle encouragement – Look for moments where he is open to talk about spiritual things, such as times of crisis, health situations, times when he needs or asks for prayer, etc.  At those moments when he is open, share truth with him in love as much as he is willing to receive, even invite him to church, but back off when he begins to resist again.

Respect – If he senses you do not, he will usually respond opposite of your desired result.

These are my best suggestions.  I have never seen begging, manipulation or even asking the pastor to “drop in on” the husband work effectively.  Certainly, God can and does use other people, situations and circumstances of life to draw a man to Him, but those are hardly ever forced happenings.  As for the wife’s specific role in this process, these four are where I have seen the most results.

Watching the desire of a wife and mother wrestle through this issue is one of the most difficult parts of ministry for me, but I am so encouraged to have seen hundreds of men others had given up on come to know Christ as a personal savior and many of those are now actively serving in our church.  I know it is totally possible and no man is without hope.

What am I missing here?  Are there any testimonies you would like to share?

What’s Happening In Children’s Ministry?

Adam Bayne is out new children’s pastor at Grace Community Church.  He’s a nut and has added a whole new element to our staff.  Check out his latest video he’s using to inspire children to love church. Crazy!  (Adam’s the pirate BTW.) Keep in mind, the point of this is to gain children’s interest so they will listen to what we ultimately want to teach them. Guess what? It works.

Finishing Well/Leaving a Legacy (A Tribute to my Dad)

My dad has a lot in common with someone famous.

I watched the last couple minutes of a 60 Minutes interview with Ted Kennedy’s son, Ted Kennedy Jr.  I was impressed with one statement he made.  He said, ”My dad was not a perfect man. He made lots of mistakes, but he spent the last days of his life trying to right the wrongs he had made.”  (Paraphrased)

When I saw the interview, I couldn’t help but think about my dad’s story. Without giving all the details, my dad would readily admit that he has made a lot of mistakes in his life. We could pretend those days never happened, but the fact is that his alcoholism and the times of separation from my mom and his children caused scars in the life of his family.

Today my dad is a new man.  He has been sober for many years and he and my mother are now very happily married.  He loves his children and wants nothing more than to be with them and his grandchildren just think of him as Pa Pa, with no personal knowledge of years gone by.  He is active in church, loves to share Scripture with others, and would help anyone who needed a hand.

Perhaps that is what the writer of Ecclesiastes meant in Chapter 7, verse 1, which says, “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.” I learn from watching my dad’s life that finishing is better than starting and that finishing well by loving God and others is the end goal of life.

When I meet with people who have made mistakes in life in my role as a pastor, I am always less concerned with where they have been or what they have done wrong.  I am always more concerned with where they want to go in life and how dedicated they are to get there.  My dad is an example of someone that wants to end well.  I believe his legacy will prove he achieved his goal.

Love you dad!  Thanks for paving a good path for others to follow.

Help For Ministry Wives (Interview with Rachel Lovingood)

005183353_lOne of the toughest jobs in the church must be the role of pastor or minister’s spouse. Recently Cheryl (my spouse) completed a Bible study on her own that she felt was very helpful to her. She believes it will be helpful for other ministry spouses. If her schedule will ever allow it she would love to lead a group of area wives through this study. I decided since it was valuable enough for my wife that I would like to interview one of the authors.

Rachel Lovingood and Jennifer Landrith wrote the study called “In Our Shoes…Real Life Issues for Ministers’ Wives by Ministers’ Wives”. Recently I was able to interview Rachel to find out a little more about this study and the ministry behind it.

Here is that interview:

Ron: Rachel, tell me a little about your background. Did you grow up in church? When did you become a believer?

Rachel: Yes I was a typical good church girl who knew so much about God and even how to live like a Christian…I went on mission trips and youth camps etc., but when I was a sophomore in college one night in my dorm room I suddenly realized that although I had plenty of head knowledge about God I really didn’t have the heart knowledge I needed and so I surrendered my life to Christ and asked HIm to save me.

Ron: That’s a great story and one I am sure many share with you. Was there a time when you sensed a call to ministry, or did you just happen to marry someone in the ministry?

Rachel: I started dating my husband, Jeff, and he was called to ministry so my calling went from following God with my life to being called to marry Jeff who “happened” to be going into the ministry

Ron: What prompted you to write “In Your Shoes”?

Rachel: My pastor’s wife, Jennifer, and I have been friends a long time. She and David, her husband, grew up in the same town and church as Jeff and I did. As a matter of fact our hubby’s have been best friends since like 8th grade. As we have been serving on the same staff for the past several years, Jen and I noticed a common thread among our own staff wives as well as ones we had other opportunities to spend time with–that they are hurting, lonely, feel frustrated, feel inadequate and so on…we both looked and really didn’t find any resources that got to the heart of the matter for ministers’ wives. Although there have been a few resources out there that are good, we didn’t see any that we could use to help equip and enable the wives serving with us–so we decided to write something it and ourselves became “In Our Shoes”.

Ron: Well, it’s a great resource and helped my wife. It is obvious you have a special heart for ministry spouses. If you had one word of encouragement to say to them what would it be?

Rachel: Relax, trust that God knows you and where you are and He has you there for a reason…you are not alone!

Ron: Have you heard from any of the ministry wives who have completed or are working through the Bible study? What has the reaction been to your work?

Rachel: We have been overwhelmed and extremely humbled by the responses we have gotten…some have said “I felt like quitting and my husband walked in from a trip where he bought me your book, I sat down and the first thing I read was like God speaking to me Himself”. Hearing stories like that is the most awesome thing–to know that God really is using this work for His glory is what it’s all about–it also reinforces that there are so many hurting and struggling spouses out there in the world of ministry…

Ron: Are there any other resources for minister wives?

Rachel: We set up a blog for the book so that wives can comment and ask questions or just network about issues that relate to our lives in ministry. (You can find that blog HERE.)

Ron: Thanks so much for your time Rachel. Any closing thoughts?

Rachel: It breaks my heart when I hear of ministry couples divorcing or leaving the ministry because of marriage issues and I always wonder, “What could have been done to save this marriage or protect this ministry?” I am convinced that we will have healthier churches when we have healthier ministries and our ministries will be healthier when our marriages are healthier and our marriages will be healthier when we are healthier…so In Our Shoes is our offering to the church.

Consider buying one of these study books for your minister’s wife. I agree with Rachel. Many times the health of the minister’s family determines the health of the church and ministry.

New Family Picture and Life Change

As I work on other things this Labor Day, I thought I would share one of our new family pictures.  Thanks to Piper Bell in our church for taking these before Nate left for Moody.

Fam 1

On a personal note, because so many have asked, last Thursday night was a weird night for Cheryl and me.  We finished dinner and the dishes by 6:30, no boys were in the house.  Nate is in Chicago and Jeremy was with friends, and we looked at each other and for the first time really felt like empty-nesters.  It’s a new season for us.  It wasn’t a bad feeling, but different.

Yesterday at church we did the song “You’re Gonna Miss This“.  I understand that song a lot better these days.

Anyone else know the feeling?

Leaving a Legacy

beach-footprints2On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the LORD at His sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings. Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no share in the LORD.’ Joshua 22:27 NIV

What is your legacy? There is an old song Christian artist Steve Green sang called “Find us Faithful”. A line in the song says, “When your children sift through all you’ve left behind, will the memories they uncover…?” I recall hearing that song when my boys were young and I was always convicted! I was concerned about the memories I would leave behind for my boys.
Nate, our youngest boy, was often morbid with his childhood thoughts. When I travel out of town he would often ask, “Daddy, what will happen if the plane crashes?” To which I would reply, “Well son, I suppose I’ll probably die.” (I didn’t say that, but I was tempted to sometimes.) The funny thing though was that he wasn’t asking about my death as much as he was asking about his future. He was asking what he was to do without me. It was morbid, but it was a fair question.

What are those who come behind you to do when you are gone? What kind of legacy are you leaving them?  Since children are likely to follow in our footsteps, what footsteps are you setting for them? They often repeat the same mistakes we make. They often experience similar success. What kind of life are you living for them to follow?

Let me ask you an even more direct question: Would you want them to live the life you are living right now, or do you want more for them?  If you aren’t pleased with the answer, start living a different life before them today!

Dear Nate (Letter to a Son)

nate

Nate (formerly known as Nathaniel), you have been a soul mate to me since you were very little. We are so much alike that it scares me for you sometimes. Yesterday was the longest ride of my life after dropping you off at college. This past week has been an emotional roller coaster. I am so excited that your dream of being at Moody has come true, but the thought of you being so far away and not seeing you everyday is overwhelming to me.

You kept telling me “thanks for everything” the last few days. Son, if only you knew how much value you add to my life in so many ways. No thanks are necessary.

This letter will attempt to communicate to you clearly things I hope I have said to you over the years, but never want you to forget.

  • There will never be anyone in your corner more than me.
  • You are awesome. I am your biggest fan.
  • At such a young age you have so much insight into life, leadership, church-life, and relationships. Use it well for the Kingdom.
  • I will try to let you go, but honestly it is proving to be one of the hardest things I have done in my life.
  • I am always here for you. You cannot interrupt me, because you are a part of me.
  • I look forward to seeing you grow and be the man God wants you to be.
  • Your passion for life and Christ is contagious.
  • I hope you always make better decisions than I have at times.
  • I pray you are determined to take risks, dream big, and trust God even more than I was.
  • I will miss most our random conversations about tackling the world’s problems and our belly laughs at things no one else would understand.
  • You have more potential than you even realize, but thanks for being so humble.
  • Feel free to keep asking me to pray for you, but the request is granted long before it is made.  (You can just give me specifics.)
  • My greatest wish for you, as it always has been, is that you will continue to love Jesus with all your heart.
  • We named you well.  You truly are a “gift of God”.

You have my number. I am just a phone call (or text) away.

I love you buddy!

Dad (Pops)

P.S. Love your blog! (nateedmondson.com)

Get To The Bottom And The Up Will Be Found

When an organization, relationship, or situation is in trouble, the faster it can get to the bottom the sooner it can begin the climb to the top again. This is often true in marriages, businesses, and economies.

Recovery will not usually come until the bottom is found.  The quicker you find the bottom the sooner you can reverse the slide from down to up or bad to well.   No one enjoys finding the bottom, but it is from there that any positive movement will most likely be found.

In a marriage for example, some people keep bringing up the same issues and repeating same mistakes and so they fail to initiate change.  Sometimes a spouse refuses to tell the whole truth and so bad news keeps coming out, opening new wounds each time.  The marriage never improves until everything is on the table, there are no more secrets and the bottom is found.

Get to the bottom of an issue or problem and its all uphill from there.

Are you nearing the bottom yet?