Category Archives: Relationships and Family

Topics related to how we deal with the people God has placed in our lives.

No Home Down Here

It is just after midnight on Monday morning. I’m in bed, ready to go to sleep, but something is keeping me awake a little longer, and it’s the sting of something my youngest daughter said.

Haley said, “I don’t want to live in another house…I want a home.”

You see, she had come home from an over-nighter with some friends, and it was their house that got her attention. She noted the artistic way the place was decorated; the years of family photos that graced the walls; even a special area where one daughter’s paintings hung for all to see.

We live in a parsonage, the second one in ten years. The last place we lived was only a temporary stop until this parsonage was livable. All other places we’ve lived during her first 7 years of life were rentals.

The fact is, sadly, we live in a house, but we don’t have a home. My 17 year-old daughter has never lived in a place where family would always be, put down roots, and call it our own. We are nothing more than transients.

That’s the life of a bi-vocational pastor and his family, just trusting the Lord to keep a roof over our heads till we are asked to leave or God opens a door. Not very glamorous, for sure.

But, to be honest, there’s a lesson that’s not been lost on me during all this. Simply put, nothing on this earth will last forever, not even the deed to a home. No matter who we are, we’re all pilgrims in this world. As a matter of fact, living in a borrowed place down here just reminds me of how this world is not my home, I’m only passing through.

No, I don’t own a home down here, but at least I know where my real home is. One day I’ll go there, and you’re all invited. I bet my daughter will even be impressed with the way the Builder decorated it.

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Filed under Life Lessons, ministry, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials

Monday Meditations

We must strive to be godly, noble examples of fatherhood to our children, always mirroring unto them our holy and just, compassionate and merciful Heavenly Father. But when we fail, we must then strive to mirror the most humble, lowly, repentant sinner that ever fell at the Father’s feet.

Ephesians 6:4 (CSB) Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

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Girls, Take My Advice

What I’m Not

I know it may offend some of you, but I need to get this out in the open right from the start – I am not a woman, nor do I feel like one…and I don’t want to.

I am very happy to be a man – one born that way – with no desires to experience female-related problems. Those males who do desire to “feel like a woman” seem to want to avoid those problems, too. For example, I rarely hear it reported that a sex-change operation will promise one the glorious ability to experience menstruation, heat flashes, mood swings, or endometriosis; that doesn’t appear to be a selling point.

And now that I think about it, should I ever – which I won’t – decide to become a “female,” I tend to think multi-tasking and “women’s intuition” wouldn’t magically appear with the removal of my guy parts and the injection of estrogen. So, if I couldn’t have those two advantages, why become someone who has to worry about hair, makeup, heels, fabric combinations, etc., etc., etc.

Oh, and if you think what I just said was stereotypical and sexist, it might have been. And if it was, then why is it that men who say they want to become women can’t become women in the masculine context in which they were born? In other words, why is it that Bruce Jenner had to turn into the stereotypical vision of what a “woman” is “supposed” to look like? Why couldn’t he, and every other trans, stay the way they were instead of trying to fit into the box of the stereotype? There’s MUCH more that I could say on this issue, but I will digress.

What I Am

Like I said, I know I am not a woman, and I don’t want to be. And because I am not a woman, it might be hard for me to understand …scratch that… it’s nearly impossible for me to understand how women think. However, I do have some valuable insight based on years of experience with women; therefore, you might find it beneficial.

You see, even thought I am not an estrogen-producing sis-female (to be PC for once), I have lived a long time with a bunch of them. But what’s more important than what I don’t understand is what I DO understand, and that is the mind of a man.

I am a man… a red-blooded, stereotypical, gun-toting, testosterone-producing (no shots needed), stand-up-peeing kind of guy. I have a one-track mind, can compartmentalize like you wouldn’t believe, and love the smell of gunpowder in the morning.

What’s more, I am a faithful husband, a spiritual leader, and a father to three wonderful girls. That’s what I bring to the table today.

My Advice

My daughters (at least the two younger ones) are eventually going to find husbands, one probably sooner than the other. The advice I would like to leave with not only them, but all of you other girls out there, is what to look for in a man you will marry. Take it from me – a man – I know the difference between a good one and a not-right-now-put-him-back-on-the-shelf one.

10 Words of Advice to Girls Who Are Searching

  1. Know your own worth.
  2. Don’t settle.
  3. Find a man who loves God more than you. Matthew 6:33
  4. Life is like a trip through the Atlanta airport – even the smallest of baggage gets heavy after a while.
  5. Never, ever assume the man you meet will become the man you want. Ain’t gonna happen.
  6. Accept nothing less than a spiritual/moral leader you can respect; if he looks up to you more than you look up to him, ditch him.
  7. It’s better to be single than smothered, abused, and/or controlled.
  8. Know who you are, what you are, and Who’s you are, then find a man who accepts and compliments (yes, I used that word) all you desire to be.
  9. If he doesn’t honor and respect his or YOUR parents, then he will most likely never be the kind of parent worth respecting – and he might not live long (Matthew 15:4; Ephesians 6:2-3).
  10. Lastly, make sure you like his family, and he likes yours… and that your family likes him, too. Marriage is meant to grow family, not destroy it.

Look, you don’t have to agree with any of my advice, but it comes from years of experience and professional observation. You have a choice in the matters of love, so don’t let someone sweep you off your feet without first doing your homework.

When you let the wrong man sweep you off your feet, you’re likely to fall from arms that can’t hold you. 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Defining Marriage, General Observations, Life Lessons, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships and Family

Imperfect Me

Are any of you perfect? You might think you are, but I’d bet you’re not. I know I’m not. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty messed up.

Just today I was reminded how flawed I am. I’ve screwed up so much it ain’t even funny.

For one, I got into a heated argument with my wife which led me to say things in anger, things I wish I’d not said. Two, it was made obvious that I’ve made some poor decisions in parenting, some of which will haunt me till the day I die. Third, I’ve made some bad decisions in my past, and tonight I wish I could roll back time (cue the Cher music).

On top of all the above, I’m facing issues for which I have no good answers, and I’m not even sure there are any. Do you know how helpless that can make one feel?

Wednesday night I shared an impromptu sermon based on something I had written earlier in the day, and today I was reminded of it. I had been to the church parsonage and seen the work being done, took a picture, and wrote the following.

This a blessing to behold, and further confirmation that God is not only doing something now, but will be doing something more in the future to bring glory to the wonderful name of Jesus.

And to be honest, I’m as clueless as anyone to what plans the Lord has for this little old church, but plans He has. We are just going to be faithful, prayerful, worshipful, and hopeful (not with an earthly hope, but one that rests in His promises that never fail)!”

Faithful. Just keep doing what’s right, even when it’s hard. Don’t be like the one who gets inpatient and steps out in his own strength to accomplish what is not in God’s timing. The results of faithless action never produce a positive outcome. See Proverbs 28:20.

Prayerful. If Dory had been a Christian fish, she might have said, “Just keep praying, praying, praying.” Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).

Worshipful. God deserves our worship. But not only that, some of the Israelite’s greatests battles were won when, instead of swords and spears, the first line of offence – their Spec Ops Choir – carried trumpets and lyrics into combat.

Hopeful. Why be worshipful? Why praise? Because we have a hope that is different from the world’s kind, the kind that is more like wishful thinking – like, “Now that I’ve picked the numbers, I HOPE I win the lottery.” No, we can be hopeful in fact, because God’s promises, when made, are as good as done – actually, they’re already done – in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20)!

I’m not perfect. I’m not a source of unfailing wisdom. I’m not the best husband, father, preacher, pastor, or anything. I have no clue how God is going to get glory from what He has planned to accomplish in my life, but I’ve read the first chapter of Ephesians, and one promise is that I’m going to bring him glory and praise (v. 12). It’s as good as done!

And, even though I feel pretty weak and helpless, He wants me to understand that what’s going to be accomplished will not be determined by my own ability, but His “exceeding greatness and power” which raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:18-20)!

So, even though I’m not perfect (which is an understatement), my faith is in One who is, and He keeps his promises (Prov. 22:6; Isaiah 55:11; Matt. 16:18).

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Depression, Life Lessons, Parenting, Relationships and Family, self-worth, worship

I’m Going To Be a Grandparent!

Unbelievably, the time is come for me to become a grandparent. My oldest daughter and her husband have made plans to adopt, so a grandchild is just around the corner.

#WestbrookPartyOfThree

But because we don’t yet know if it will be a girl or a boy, I don’t know if I’m going to become a grandmother or grandfather.

Congratulations, Josh and Alicia!

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Unity, Liberty, Charity: Disagreeing With Grace


The Way It Should Be

Isn’t it wonderful to have a platform where we can openly discuss the Bible? Isn’t it wonderful to be able to express our thoughts over the web without fear of retribution or imprisonment? Unfortunately, we often misuse the wonderful gifts we’ve been given, the gifts of the internet and our blogs, to bellow out our opinions as we blast our opponents, rarely taking advantage of the freedom we have to show grace, mercy, and love to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

A few days ago we started this discussion of glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and its modern relevance to the Church. What I have seen so far, both by way of posts and comments, has truly been encouraging. The series is still young, but I’ve yet to see a single critical, ungracious comment! Everyone who has written has been cordial, even in disagreement. That is the way it should be!

Therefore, before I go any further or get any deeper into the discussion at hand, I feel it best to clarify some things about my personal beliefs. The reason for doing so is to lay the groundwork for any further posts or comments I may write while addressing this particular subject of contention and misunderstanding within the Body of Christ.

Clarifying My Position

First of all, I am happy to say that I have many dear friends who differ with me on the issue of glossolalia (speaking in tongues). Those friends are not only in the Charismatic/Pentecostal branches of Christendom, but even within my own Baptist circles. Therefore, it is not my intention to belittle or demean what they believe, nor is it my wish to harm our relationships by openly disagreeing with certain doctrines they hold dear – they are family, and I love them. No, my sole intention is simply to state what I believe and why I believe it.

To be very honest, there are times when I wonder if it would be best just to leave things as they are and never discuss our differences. For example, some of the most godly and faithful people I know have a different understanding of the passages on which I will expound in a future post: they truly believe that the 4th and 14th verses of 1 Corinthians both affirm and give evidence for the faith to which they hold. Therefore, when they enter into their prayer closets and humbly bow before God in intercession, should their view of secondary or tertiary doctrines be a concern of mine? So what if their persistent, fervent, private prayer leads to ecstatic speech? If they are encouraged in the Faith, and it only leads them to stand stronger in it, why should I care? Honestly, at least they are praying! Lest we forget, right theology does not a prayer warrior make.

Nevertheless, as a minister I am tasked with the responsibility to read the Book distinctly, give the sense, and cause the listener to understand what’s being read (Nehemiah 8:8). As a preacher I am supposed to be “instant in season [and] out of season,” speaking the truth in love, despite the consequence or mood (2 Timothy 4:2). And should I choose to remain silent, never offering a proper treatment of a particular passage, even if doing so would seemingly cause no harm, then my shame would be justified (2 Timothy 2:15). Scripture is not up to “private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20), so it is always appropriate and ultimately edifying to get closer to the interpretation that’s correct.

The second thing I would like to make clear is that I cannot, in good conscience, label myself a total cessationist (i.e., one who believes the spiritual gift of tongues ceased with the apostolic age); there is still room in my understanding of glossolalia for God to work outside my denominational box. However, it is of my opinion that the overwhelming majority of modern-day examples of glossolalia are nothing more than “ecstatic speech” (emotionally-induced language-like sounds). Even without referring back to the directives issued by Paul in1 Corinthians 14:27-33, the average example of glossolalia fails the most simple of linguistic tests, therefore demonstrating that whatever is being spoken may sound like a language, but it isn’t. Then, when one does insert 1 Corinthians 14:27-33 back into the equation, the average Charismatic or Pentecostal worship service becomes incredulous (i.e., ten people running around the sanctuary and speaking in tongues at the same time, all without an interpretation).  Simply put, if glossolalia is a gift still being given, the actual practice of it in public worship is probably extremely rare.

In my next post on this subject I am only going to address one particular verse of Scripture, 1 Corinthians 14:4. There are obviously several other passages which could be discussed, but for the sake of brevity (as if this post was short), this one verse, viewed in context, will be enough for me – at least for a while.

For the time being, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity” (Rupertus Meldenius, circa 1627).

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, Christianity, Relationships and Family, Theology

Parenting 301

I’ve heard it many times before, and I’ve even said it a time or ten myself, “Enjoy them while their young.” But as my children and I age, the truth of that statement becomes more profound with every day.

When they were young; when they were just wee little crumb-crunching Barney lovers; that was the time when we only thought we were pulling out our hair. Those were the days when babysitters were hard to find. Those were the days when milk got spilled and urine only leaked through diapers when you were wearing church clothes.

I’ve seen poor young moms, all frazzled and worn, look forward to the day when their terrible tikes could feed themselves, go to school, and go to the bathroom alone. Yet, if only those moms and dads could realize the physical stress of the moment is nothing compared to the emotional and spiritual stress of later years.

Those of you who still have small children, may I give you some sage advice? Those of you with children still at home, whether toddler or teen, will you listen to what I have to say?

Don’t waste a single minute, don’t even read to the end of this post, and get down on your knees and pray for your children.

I can’t tell you how much I wish I’d prayed more for my daughters. I can’t tell you how much my wife and I regret not praying for our girls every day, day after day, since before they were born. You might not be able to change the past, but would you change your future? Pray for your children!

We live in such an evil time, friends. Satan (I believe he is real) has never been more active in seeking the destruction of innocence. There is no way we can keep them from every danger, so we must intercede for them like their lives and souls depended on it…because they do.

We are in a war for the souls of our kids, and the only weapon proven effective in this conflict is the effectual, fervent prayers of righteous men and women. Are your prayers effective? Are they being fervently offered? Do you even care enough about your own life and character to be concerned if whether or not your prayers are being heard?

Again, we are in a war, a war of sedition, and the casualty rate is swallowing our sons and daughters!

Parenting 101 is easy stuff. Parenting 201 is the practical stuff. But Parenting 301, if there is such a thing, break your heart and bend your knees. If your not used to it, the fall to the floor is going to hurt – a lot.

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Filed under Parenting, Relationships and Family