Category Archives: Relationships and Family

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

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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The Parsonage Project

What I’m Doing

I would really appreciate your prayers. Pray that God would give me wisdom and a steady mind. Pray that I will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, for stormy waves are trying to distract my focus. Pray for me, if for nothing else, that I will myself remain in constant prayer.

This week the house that we are living in will be listed on the market to be sold, and we are not as ready as we would like to be. On top of that, the house in which we are planning to move is the parsonage of the church where I now pastor – but it is FAR from being ready.

Right now I am having to work a job and pastor a church; record a weekly radio broadcast; record lectures at the seminary; move a lot of stuff into storage; see that a house is ready to be seen by buyers; and oversee the restoration of an old house – a restoration which costs more money than we have and will have to incorporate the expertise of many people. That doesn’t count being a parent and a husband. Can you see why I wanted people to send me guest posts?

That’s why prayer is so important. In James 4:2 we read that we have not because we ask not, so I’m asking – pray for us.

The Parsonage

It is a well-known fact among pastors and their families that parsonages are a mixed blessing. For one thing, when you live in a parsonage (a house owned by a church, but meant to house the pastor), you live in a house that is not your own. Secondly, living in a parsonage usually means that you are not building up any equity or means to move into a normal home. So, what happens is that when the pastor ends up leaving the church where he pastors, if nothing else is done, he and is family are effectively homeless.

But, there are times when a parsonage can be a blessing, like for us, because without it we would have no place to live at this point. Also, the parsonage, if used properly, can be a tool for evangelism and discipleship. The parsonage can also show that the pastor and his family are personally invested in the health of the congregation he shepherds. Therefore, if the church does have a parsonage, it should be well-maintained in order to make full use of its potential.

Unfortunately, the parsonage at the church where I now pastor has fallen into serious disrepair. I am working with different groups and individuals in order to restore the old house, but that will take time, manpower, and a lot of something we (the congregation) don’t have…money. One group of men estimated that it would take $10,000 to make the parsonage livable. On the other hand, I was told by someone else that the costs would be closer to $30,000. And right now this little upstart of a little church only runs around 15 in a decent Sunday!

The Video

Below is a video I made last Sunday. In it I take you through the parsonage and let you see for yourself what needs to be done. Look, Nehemiah rebuilt a wall which his enemies swore would fall down if only a fox pushed against it. Noah built a huge ark with the help of fewer men than volunteers I will have. What needs to be done will get done, but this ship won’t sail without a strong wind of prayer.

If all things were easy and well within our own power, we wouldn’t need God’s help. But, when things seem impossible, we call upon the Lord to do for us what we cannot do (Psalm 57:2), thereby allowing Him to get the glory and praise.

The more impossible the project – even a parsonage project – the more praise, glory, and honor is due our Savior and King.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, Church, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships and Family

Appetite for Comfort

It’s been nearly 5 years since I was “Freshly Pressed” on WordPress. This was the post that earned the honor. I hope it doesn’t make you too hungry for more 😉 

Comfort Food, That Is

There are some things in life that we always go back to when nothing else seems to do. It’s called comfort food.

Comfort food is the stuff that you want to eat when you’re depressed, when you’ve lost a limb, or when you’re girlfriend informs you that all along she has been an alien from Jupiter, and now she wants your brain to take back to her daddy.

Comfort food brings back fond memories of childhood and the “good-old-days” (unless you were a starving refugee), when Mom could make you feel better with nothing more than a spoonful of lard and some corn meal.

Comfort Central

Here in the southern United States we have a custom: when somebody dies, we eat.

Whenever a loved one passes away, bites the dust, or essentially assumes room temperature for an indefinite period of time, we trot them off to a funeral home, and then bring in every kind of unhealthy food imaginable. We all know that when one is suffering a terrible loss, comfort food will help dull the pain. And if nothing else, it will help you get to where your loved one is a little quicker than a salad will.

A typical southern funeral home has a dining area. This is where the family and friends can go when they are tired of standing around in the viewing room. They instinctively know that in that room is food which will make them feel better.

Serious Comfort

Well, not long ago my only blood-related uncle went home to be with the Lord. His body was taken to a funeral home in a place called Whitwell (pronounced “Wutwool“), Tennessee. And it was there that the funeral home staff did something that it does for all their families – serve homemade pinto beans.

Now, don’t be fooled, folks. These are not your ordinary beans. These are about the best pinto beans you will ever put in your ever-loving mouth! Served with some homemade cornbread, these beans made me tear up (no joke) as I remembered my granny, my dad, and a much, MUCH simpler life down on the river.

What makes these pintos so special is that they were soaked for 24 hours in water, then slow-cooked the next day in a crock pot with several slices of thick bacon. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but there are secrets to keep.

A Holy Command

Why do we prepare such food for funerals? Seriously? For one thing, sometimes it is hard to find the right words to say when someone is hurting. That’s when people do what they can, and many times the only thing they can do is prepare good food. Hurting people need to be cared for, and this is one way to show it.

Comforting one another is also something we are commanded to do. 1Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “comfort yourselves together, and edify one another.” And speaking of the hope of resurrection we have in Christ, the Apostle Paul said in the same letter, “comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:8).

But what happens when words are hard to find? Make a pot of seriously savory pinto beans and cornbread. Tears of heartache may turn into tears of culinary joy.

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The Day After Father’s Day

Please forgive me if there are any grammatical or spelling errors in this post, but I am talking into my iPhone as I’m walking around in the rain (The seven can handle that kind of stuff, thankfully), waiting while a bus driver trainee is taking his test at the DMV. I had to bring a school bus down for him to test own, so I’m on the clock and writing a post at the same time. What do you think about that?

Anyway, today is the day after Father’s Day, and I wanted to share with you a thought or two that I had as I was standing in the rain.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, and I enjoyed preaching a great message that was very convicting for all men present, including myself. And I also enjoyed spending time with my daughters who I love very much. 

One of our daughters lives in Charleston South Carolina, so she’s not able to be here. But the other two were in church with me yesterday, and then later for a lunch which a church member graciously provided the money for. 

Last night we ate dinner at home, late, and that is when my two younger girls gave me the presents that they purchased (with their own money!). I have included a picture below.


My youngest daughter, Haley, procured for me the complete box sets of the first two seasons of the television program called “The Unit.” And by the way, that was a fantastic series of which I think they should have never canceled.

The other daughter, Katie, brought back something very unique from Norway. She found a wallet made from the skin of the Nordic moose! I don’t know how much she paid for it, but I know it had to cost more than something I would’ve gotten at Walmart.

After both presents had been opened, Haley asked a question which was very difficult, if not impossible to answer. She asked, “Which one is your favorite?” Now, I don’t know if she was being facetious, or if she was being serious, but my wife quickly answered for me: “That’s like asking which one of you he loves the most; he loves you the same, just differently.” 

This morning as I was thinking about the gifts my daughters got me, and the question Haley asked, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Cain and Abel. I couldn’t help but think of Sunday morning and our worship. I couldn’t help but think of how so often we wonder if God loves us more or less than someone else, simply because of what we have to offer. I thought about what it must be like to be God the Father – our Abba – after a Sunday has passed. 

One of those gifts cost a lot of money (relatively speaking), while the others probably cost a lot less. However, based on the means of each daughter, both were a sacrifice. In the same way, when we go to church to worship God, the gifts and offerings we bring may cost one person a lot more than it cost another. But who are we to judge whether or not those gifts that were given were sacrificial? We don’t know the heart of the child, nor do we know the heart of the Father. All we can surely know is that if the gifts were given out of love, then they are of equal value. More so, if the Father truly loves his children, which He does, there’s nothing that can compare to those gifts given by the children who love Him.

So, in conclusion, this is not only the day after Father’s Day, this is the day after Sunday. What gifts of love did you give your Father in heaven yesterday? I have no doubt they are giving him a smile today.

Happy day after Father’s Day!

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Ten Ways to Fail As a Father

Happy Father’s Day!

Lord willing, my sermon for Father’s Day will be from the book of Joshua…

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. – Joshua 24:15 KJV

There is a portrait of my family hanging in our living room with the above verse written below it. There is a lot to be said about a father who will say those words. There’s a lot to be said about a father who won’t.

Tuff Stuff

I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing a lengthy post, but I do want to leave you with a list I found in a sermon by a Wesleyan pastor, Bruce Howell. I don’t know if he came up with it or if he found it somewhere else. All I know is that it is convicting.

There will be a lot of people talking about how to be a better dad, but if you want to know how to fail, here are 10 sure-fire ways to screw up.

Ten Ways to Fail As a Father

1. Have fights in front of your children. Then when guests come, turn around and act affectionate toward one another.
2. Stifle your children’s questions by saying, “Don’t bother me now; I’m busy.”
3. Take no interest in your children’s friends. Let them run around with whomever they choose.
4. Never discipline your children; try to use psychology instead.
5. Nag them about their schoolwork; never compliment them on their achievements.
6. Demonstrate your love for them with material things. Give them everything their little hearts desire.
7. Never discuss the facts of life with them. Instead, let them learn about sex from their friends, public school, or pornographic literature.
8. Set a bad example so the children will not want to grow up to be like you.
9. Absolutely refuse to believe it if you are told that your children have done something wrong.
10. Let your children make their own choices in the matter of religion. Be careful not to influence them in any way.

Help us, Father God, to be more like you.


UPDATE: This morning I decided to add the outline I will be using today. Feel free to use it or share it.

TEN WAYS TO FAIL AS A FATHER

  1. Have fights in front of your children. Then when quests come, turn around and act affectionate toward one another.
    1. Be one – John 17:11 “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may beoneas we are.”
    2. Demonstrate Love consistently – “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” – Ephesians 5:25 “…and be not bitter against them.” – Colossians 3:19
    3. Don’t be a Hypocrite! – Matt. 23:27 “Woe unto you…”
  2. Stifle your children’s questions by saying, “Don’t bother me now; I’m busy.”
    1. Suffer the little children to come unto me – Lk18:16 “for such is the K. of God”
    2. Come boldly before the throne – Rom. 8:15 “We’ve not received a spirit of bondage unto fear…but…spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.” 4:16, “Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need.”
  3. Take no interest in your children’s friends. Let them run around with whomever they choose.
    1. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. – James 4:4 KJV
    2. Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hathfriends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
  4. Never discipline your children; try to use psychology instead.
    1. Spare the rod, spoil the child (Prov. 3:12; 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:17; Heb. 12:6-8)
  5. Nag them about their schoolwork; never compliment them on their achievements.
    1. The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17 KJV
  6. Demonstrate your love for them with material things. Give them everything their little heart’s desire.
    1. God does say “No.” 2 Cor. 12:7-9; Jer. 29:11
  7. Never discuss the facts of life with them. Instead, let them learn about sex from their friends, public school, or pornographic literature.
    1. Created with purpose

  8. Set a bad example so the children will not want to grow up to be like you.
    1. “Take up your cross and follow me” (Luke 9:23)
  9. Absolutely refuse to believe it if you are told that your children have done something wrong.
    1. “All have sinned…” (Rom. 3:23)
  10. Let your children make their own choices in the matter of religion. Be careful not to influence them in any way.
    1. “But as for ME and MY HOUSE, WE will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15)

Since its first publication many years ago, over 30 million copies of Charles M. Sheldon’s book In His Steps have been sold. In it Sheldon gives this testimony:

“In a log house on the prairie my father taught me to love the Bible. After breakfast every morning, the family would have a devotional time in the parlor. Each of us had a Bible of his own. Father would read two verses out loud from the chapter of the day. Then mother would read two verses and each of us would read two. Before five years were over, we read the whole Bible five times. I think I am the only man alive who has heard the whole Bible read five times. We never skipped, not even those long lists of worthies who begat one another. The minute we finished Revelation, father calmly turned back to Genesis and we went at it again. I want to repeat that my father taught me to love the Bible as the greatest book in the world. 

After we had read the Bible passages for the day, we would sing a hymn and then all kneel down while father offered the morning prayer. We are Scotch-Irish, and naturally father prayed as long as he liked. And he would often pray for us by name.

When I finally left home to go down East to college, I would often be tempted to do what some of the college boys did—swear, gamble, go to the bars, etc. Just as I was about to give way to my desires, I would hear my father’s morning prayer in the log house. It was enough to keep me from falling away from God.”

Gentlemen, we’ve got a job to do. 

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