Holy Homes

Regular readers of this blog know that my wife and I are passionate about seeing married couples who are struggling find restoration through Jesus Christ.

We have posted our testimony on the sidebar so I won't go into that right now. However I must point out a ministry that I am very excited about.

It is called Holy Homes and was founded by musician Clay Crosse and his wife Renee. Clay and Renee give more of an explanation here but the basic concept is that they want to see healthy marriages and holy homes!

You will also find a host of awesome resources on their site including internet filters and articles designed to help you grow deeper in your relationship with God and each other.

Check it out.


Relevance or Irreverence

I have a question for you to ponder. However before I ask the question let me quote the Apostle Paul:

"To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some." (1 Corinthians 9:20-22)

Now for the Question: In our desire to be relevant are we slipping into irreverence?

I believe we should reach out with the love of Christ in a way that will actively reach this generation. I believe there is technology available that can be used to reach the hearts of men and women for God. I don't have a problem in going where the people are, to reach those people for Christ.

I do have a problem when our attempts at relevance becomes forays into irreverence. I came across a book this week that was a "snarky" attempt at being real with God. Now I am all for being real with God and others. However this book promoted it's irreverence in my opinion. I could not even make it through the introduction.

The main problem was the language used and the message conveyed. When we talk and act like we have no morals how are people in the world supposed to know we are Christ-followers? When people look at our excessive PDA's how are they to know we have Biblical standards when it comes to sex? When we use vulgar language in everyday conversation how are people to know we love the Lord and revere Him? Are we not called to be in the world but not of it?

Can we not have fun and hang with the world in a way that will still bring glory to God? I believe we can. There are 2 Scriptures I am thinking of at this point. One is in John 17:14 where Jesus says "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." (John 17:14)

Another Scripture is: "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27)

I believe we can be relevant and reverent. I believe we can have fun with those living in active sin while still honoring God in our words and deeds. I believe our lives should be a testimony, in words and deeds.

Lord let me honor you not only in private, but also while living in the world around me. I want to reflect the Son!


Missionary Spotlight: The Freckas

Today will start a new monthly feature called: Missionary Spotlight. Each month I will highlight a different missionary that my wife and I know somewhere around the world. We encourage you to pray for them and their work. You will find contact info if you want to send them an encouraging note and also information on how to donate towards their ministry if you feel so led. I have asked the first missionaries we will spotlight, the Freckas, to write a bit about themselves. You can find out more info about Andy and Rachel Frecka, including contact info, at their website. www.handyrachet.com:

Let there be no talk of self denial. A team from an American church came to visit us in Perm, Russia in 1999 and asked, "Why did you choose to become a missionary, Andy?" I answered with the first thought that popped into my head: "It sure beats cutting grass for a living." There have been some good days and some hard days, but they were all with Jesus, and they were all a whole lot more interesting than cutting grass. We didn't bring Jesus to Russia. He was already here waiting for us, and boy were we glad for that when we got off the train! The best part of going into all the world is that He will be with us to the very end.

How's that for some random thoughts? :)

Andy and Rachel Frecka make their home in Perm, Russia together with their four small children. We have called Perm home for most of our adult lives, living here for ten years now. Andy is the national director of Youth With A Mission Russia, and is involved with multiple mission pioneering projects across the nation of Russia. He also has a teaching ministry in various mission schools throughout the former Soviet Union. It is our dream to see Russia reached with the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to see Russian missionaries sent long term to ALL nations.

Tax-deductible donations (tax-deductions for US donors only) to the ministry of Andy and Rachel Frecka can be sent to YWAM Accounting/Box 3000/Garden Valley TX 75771. Make the check payable to "YWAM" and attach a separate note that states "For Andy and Rachel Frecka". Our names should not appear anywhere on the check. Donations can also be made with the "donate online" feature at www.handyrachet.com


Winter Road

So I read this really awesome book this week. It's called Winter Road: Journey of a Russian Mission

Now to be fair, I know the author. My wife and I actually were in the same YWAM Discipleship Training School back in 94-95. We went on outreach together. Our destination: Perm, Russia. The same Perm, Russia that our friend, Andy Frecka, returned to as a missionary.

Andy and his wife Rachel have been serving in Perm for 10 years now.

SO with that out of the way, you STILL need to buy and read this book. I found myself laughing out loud at his missionary adventures while praising God for the way He has been (and still is) moving in Russia today.

To quote Andy himself: "Russia is not just the land of Sputnik, Gorbachev, borscht, post-Communist civil strife, impressive Olympic gymnasts, and endless landscapes of industrial gray. Russia is also a place where total strangers will spend a morning teaching you to speak without an accent, where the bureaucracy is truly a marvel of human engineering, where the airlines "fly with soul," where hospitality approaches a fine art, and where a village will rescue you if you try, during the spring thaw, to travel a winter road."

So please harass your local Christian bookstore until they bring in this soon to be missionary classic. Or go to Andy's website for more info on the book. You can find the book at Amazon, Amazon (Canada) and Barnes and Noble as well.

You won't be disappointed. You'll find yourself praying for Russia, praying for missionaries to go into the harvest and praying your side will stop hurting from laughing so hard.


Respect Your Elders!

Growing up my Mom and Dad use to tell me to respect my elders. I was raised to say yes ma'am/sir, no ma'am/sir, etc. My parents instilled in me a love for the older generations and for our history and heritage. They didn't know it but they were actually following the Scriptures.

"Show respect to the elderly, and honor older people. In this way you show respect for your God. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:32)

I look at the world around us and sadly I don't see much respect for the elderly, or honor for that matter. 20 years ago euthanasia was a word I only heard about in conjunction with Hitler and Nazi Germany. Yet today 5 nations and 2 US states allow some forms of "legal" euthanasia. How long before the elderly will consider themselves "lucky" to be put into a nursing home?

Then there is the polite respect and honor we show older believers in the church. Some pastors, if they are lucky, are promoted to "senior" pastor, allowed to preach occasionally and brought back for anniversary services.

Seniors are encouraged to rest in their older years and let the younger generation take over the youth groups, the Sunday school classes, etc. Even chances to teach become minimized over time.

Why is that?

My heart aches when I talk to older believers who no longer are made to feel useful or valid. Believers who feel they have been put on a shelf, like an antique, nice to look at and take down occasionally but quickly put back before they "break".

I remember traveling with an older minister, in his late 70's, whom I could not keep up with. He has passed now, but I remember vividly one conversation we had in which I asked him about retirement. He said, "My retirement is eternity. Until then I must be about the Lord's business."

"We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you" (1 Thessalonians 5:12)

We can learn a lot from our elders. I guarantee they have been in our shoes before. They've dealt with sickness, financial struggles, doubt, etc and have come through the other side. We can learn from them the ways of the Lord. We can hear God's heartbeat for each generation in their testimonies of God's moving in their lifetimes.

It is time for the church to stand up for those who have come before and to sit down at their feet and listen to the Godly lessons they can share with us.

Don't let the testimonies fade. Be a receiver. Listen. Learn. Love.


Are We Offended By the Cross?

The Cross. A device used by Rome to torture and kill its enemies. The Cross. A device used by God to save mankind from sin! Rome used it for death. God used it so that through death we can have life!

God sent His Son to die for us. Yes the cross is an instrument of death. It is also an instrument of eternal life! Sadly, the church has turned the cross into a religious icon, devoid of power, destined to hang around peoples necks as a fashion statement!

Yet when it comes to our church services, that is where the cross ultimately stays, as a religious fashion statement. Yes it gets mentioned occasionally. Usually in the week leading up to Easter. We trudge the ol' cross out, do our religious duty of mentioning the sacrifice of God and pack it back away for another year.

Rarely is the cross mentioned beyond that. Sin…the very thing which got the world into this mess, is mentioned about as often!

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2, "For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

I have heard the salvation message delivered many times, often as not people are encouraged to give their lives to God, without nary a mention of sin and none of the cross. Jesus died for you. He will forgive your sins. All very generic.

Are we offended by the cross? Has our church become so politically correct that we are afraid to talk about the cross? Are we afraid to mention sin because we don't want to offend people?

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Love, Grace, Peace. All valid things. God does love us, He did extend us grace, and He does provide peace in the midst of pain. However Sin, Death, Hell, The Cross are just as valid. We are in danger of loving people right into hell!

People need to hear about the sacrifice of Jesus. They need to know it was OUR sin that drove Him to the cross! Accepting the truth of His death AND resurrection is the only chance we have to LIFE!

It is time to get real with a dying world. Let's love them to life, not death.


5 Questions with Erin Bethea

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Erin Bethea. Erin is a professional actress who recently starred as Catherine Holt, one of two main characters in the hit film Fireproof. She is currently an actress in the Magic Kingdom. She is now the co-host for OMX: On Mission Xtra, a show that will tell the stories of people all over N. America who are doing things to change the world's culture while reaching people with the Gospel.

And now without further delay, on to the questions:

Hi Erin,

Question 1: What one word would describe your current relationship with God?

Overwhelming. It is overwhelming what God has done for me, when I am so undeserving.

Question 2: Fireproof was a major hit in Christian circles and made some box office noise as well. Were you surprised by the response?

Yes and no. I think during shooting we all knew that we were a part of something great and hoped that people would catch the vision and the message. We were all thrilled with how well it did and just grateful that so many people were able to hear such a great message.

Question 3: You did a tremendous acting job in Fireproof.
What's next for you?

Thank you. Right now I am still working at Disney. I am also co-hosting a television show for the North American Mission Board called OMX. It airs on FamNet and encourages people to take a fresh approach to missions and reaching their communities.

Question 4: How do you feel acting can help you in sharing God with others?

I feel that entertainment is a great medium for reaching people. Part of the reason Sherwood started making movies is because more people will go see a movie than will go into a church building. The same principle can apply to acting. People want to be entertained. Why not let that entertainment be from people with a positive message. I think it's important to have more positive role models.

Question 5: If there was a Christian biography written about your life what would the title be?

Ha ha, who knows. I'm only 26 so hopefully my biography isn't being written yet.

Thank you Erin for participating in this.

Thanks for thinking of me. God bless and take care!

There you have it. If you haven't seen Fireproof yet you can rent or purchase it today.

To see past 5 Question guests, check out the rotating interview links on the sidebar.


Compassion Art

Over on Thinking out Loud, a blog I read with much frequency, Paul Wilkinson reviewed a new CD/DVD a month back.

The CD is called Compassion Art. Based in part on Paul's review and seeing the CD in the bookstore I picked up a copy and let me just say................WOW! WOW! WOW!

You can read the Press Release here but in short 12 artists: Michael W. Smith, Darlene Zschech, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Paul Baloche, Israel Houghton, Graham Kendrick, Steven Curtis-Chapman, Andy Park, Stu Garrard, Martin Smith all got together to write and record songs for charity.

The proceeds from this and other projects all go to 4 charities picked by the group and 12 by the individual artists.

With an album, book and even coffee, yes coffee, available there are many chances to donate to these awesome charities!

You can also sign up for updates, learn about promotions of other events to help the poor, etc.

If you can tell I am stoked by this project. I have bought the CD, ordered the book and look FW to checking out the material available on this website regularly. So buy the CD, read the book, drink the coffee and help the worlds poor all at the same time!


Sticks and Stones

Whoever said sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt you.....they need to be taken out and beaten with sticks and stones!

Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue has the power of life and death. If you have ever been on the receiving end of a withering verbal attack or had someone make unkind and cutting remarks...then you'll know that it can feel miserable. You can feel less than human. Like a failure. Worthless.

Many, when they constantly receive a barrage of negativity, they began to embrace the hurtful things people say as part of their identity.

The same thing works in reverse....praise and complements can build you up and make you feel wonderful.

Sadly I struggle to stay in the second category of kind words. Oh I don't go out and blast people, but I do tend to joke around a lot and sometimes my joking has had the opposite affect of what I intended.

I use to be worse though. I used to really get angry and let that anger come through. It was a struggle to learn new habits.

I think this is a real struggle in the body of Christ as well. I have met quite a few people who have been total blessings with both words and deeds. However I also have met quite a few "prayer-gossipers", those who under the guise of asking people to pray for someone, instead spread malicious gossip and half-truths. I have also met believers who don't hesitate to chew someone out, gossip about them or worse!

Gossip is just deadly. It kills those around you. It kills relationships and leaves a lot of hrting people in it's wake. I know. I've been the victim and victimzer. I repent! I don't want these trends to continue!

I want my lips to speak the love of Christ! I want my tongue to sing His praises.

If you have been hurt by the words of others know that God loves you and He cares. Your identity is in Him not in the negative comments of others. If you have been hurt by my words, from the bottom of my heart I am sorry!

My prayer is that I will model Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

For it is out the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks! Matthew 12:34

Join me in a new day! A day where we learn, one day at a time, to think on things above and to let the love of God flow out from our lips!


Quit Majoring on the Minors

People love theology but let's face it, churches split over this stuff. Don't take my word for it, pick up a phone book; look up 'church' and see how many variations you can find on each denomination. Yet every time I turn around, a group of believers is trying to draw me into theological "discussions" on Revelation, Creation, etc... Now there is nothing wrong with these discussions, but I have noticed it invariably turns into a defense of "stated belief," and my question is always, "Why?" Why must believers of differing, or even the same, denomination, squabble and bicker over minute points of the Word of God?

Theology can very easily turn into an over-complication of Christianity!

Jesus is coming back. When? I'm not God. He will come back when He's ready. I am more concerned about being ready myself then to argue over when it's happening. When will the Rapture happen? When God wants it to and not a moment before. I have my opinions but in the end that's what they are...opinions based on an interpretation of Scripture. You might have the same one or one that is slightly different. In the end why does it matter? Why not focus on the FACT that He IS coming back, and leave the timing to Him?

I remember being drawn into one discussion on Creation and everyone had an opinion. Six days, 6,000 days...the arguments were rapid and each had a Scriptural defense. In the end though I had to ask....why does it matter? Do you believe God created it? Good. Move on.

I am not saying we should not defend the faith....the sad part is, most of the time we are defending "our beliefs" against other Christians. I'm not saying these are not "major" issues. I am saying that in the end, will our view of Revelation keep us out of Heaven? Will God look in the book of life and say, "Oh you believed in my Son, you accepted Him, yet you thought I was coming back pre-trib....get out!"

My heart breaks when I can see pastors of different denominations stand in a small Christian bookstore and not acknowledge each other because of differing beliefs. When believers will argue to the death over their interpretation of Revelation while not paying the slightest heed to the Great Commission! (Matt. 28:16-20) When the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) gets minimized while the timing of the Rapture gets all the press we have gone astray!

It's time to get back to basics. To focus on Jesus Christ and Him crucified! Are you with me?


5 Questions with Brock and Bodie Thoene

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Bodie and Brock Thoene. Bodie and Brock have written over 45 books of awesome historical fiction. Their works include Zion Chronicles, Zion Covenant and their current series the A.D. Chronicles. They have sold millions of books and won 8 ECPA Gold Medallion Awards. Their website is: www.thoenebooks.com

And now without further delay, on to the questions:

Hi Bodie and Brock,

Question 1: What one word describes your current relationship with God?


Question 2: You have written over 40+ novels during your career. What's next for you both after the A.D. Chronicles?

More on the life of Jesus, until God tells us otherwise.

Question 3: Do you have a favorite book series that you have written?

The Shiloh books are personal favorites because all the characters are family. The A.D. books have had the greatest impact on our faith walk, because we always learn ten times more than we can put in a novel. (In fact, that's where the "Little Books of Why" came from.)

Question 4: What is one thing you want people to take away from your books in regards to our relationship with the Lord?

That all through time...all ages and all events...people lived who were just like us in their hopes, dreams, problems and needs...and God was always...and is always...faithful.

Question 5: If there wrote a Christian biography about your life what would it be called?

Comfort Ye My People.

Thank you Brock and Bodie for participating in this.

So there you have it folks. Please go out and purchase the A.D. Chronicles today.

To see past 5 Question guests, check out the rotating interview links on the sidebar.


Why? Why Not? - Asking the Big Qustions - Just A Thought #32

Recently I posted a comment on my twitter stream that said: Questioning the Why? Why do the innocent suffer? Why are the sick not healed? Why does life hurt so bad? Yet even in this God is good!

I love asking "why?". It really seems to unnerve people though when you ask the question. Why? It means you are questioning things. It means you want more than a surface response and are digging for more info. It alludes to the fact that you are not satisfied with the answer given.

It scares Christians to death.

I have noticed over the years that it is ok in Christian circles to ask certain questions though:

What denomination are you? When is the Rapture going to take place? How long did Creation take?

These are all acceptable questions. Yet, ask things like:

Why does God allow suffering? Why did my "insert person" have to die such a horrible death? Why do the wicked prosper and God's children seem to go without?

Ask these questions and the wheels come off the bus. People panic. I find when I ask these questions many want to shut the door on the topic. "Have Faith! Don't Doubt! You shouldn't ask those questions." I have heard these responses from other believers. It is as if God is shocked or horrified that I have questions. Why?

Every time I read the Psalms of David I see these same questions. 'Why do the wicked prosper?' 'Why am I suffering?' Did David lack faith? These Psalms of Lament were included for a reason. David almost always ended these Psalms declaring God's goodness and His knowledge that God will make things right in His time.

Asking why does not have to be frightful. I am not saying I doubt God but that I struggle with real problems. I have real concerns and I know that God has real answers!

God knows my thoughts. I should share them with Him. When I ask why it always, ALWAYS drives me deeper into the Word and closer to the Father!

I think the important thing to remember, is that though God will not be offended with our asking, still He is God, holy and just in all His ways, and sometimes He wants us to wait--maybe until Heaven--for His answers. Can we allow Him to shape our understanding and trust even if our questions go unanswered for a time? Sometimes He will even ask us to let go of a question completely and entrust that area of our life to Him.

Don't be afraid to ask the question. Let the word roll off your tongue. Wrestle with your faith. Work out your salvation daily with fear and trembling. Asking 'Why' can firm up your faith and solidify your beliefs. Remember that ultimately God is good! His ways are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Step out of your comfort zone and dive into a deeper relationship with God today!