Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Music Wednesday - Leveler by August Burns Red

This song is not for everyone. It is harsh and brutal. However, I chose it for this week's song because it shows the change that takes place in the heart of someone who chooses Christ.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Fear of Death Cannot Enter Your Heart

I had the opportunity to see Act of Valor over the weekend. While it was not the best movie (the acting was terrible, but they weren't trained actors), it serves as an incredible tribute to our soldiers.

At the end of the movie, a very fitting poem was shared. While it was used for the Navy Seals, I believe it is also very appropriate for our Christian walk.

So live your life so the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their views, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and of service to your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a stranger if in a lonely place. Show respect to all people, but grovel to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise ones turn to fools and robs them of their visions. When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

An Explosion in the Idea of Scripture Memory

The other day I wrote a post about memorizing verses with children. Since I wrote that post, there has been an explosion in posts about Scripture memory. While I would like to think that it was because of my article, I think it has more to do with the Lord wanting us to memorize His Word.

Here is a round-up of some of those posts:

Andy Johnson gave a stockpile of Scripture memory resources.

The folks at North Point Community Church offered some tips for memorizing with preschoolers.

One of my favorite websites, Memverse.com, had a blog post about adult memorization.

Finally, my wife's blog had a post about a great Scripture memory album.

If you enjoy memorizing Scripture, enjoy. If you don't, well, get with the program.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wives and Youth Ministry

On a recent written interview, I was asked a question in regards to what role my wife would play in my ministry. I'm going to keep response private for the time being (waiting to hear about the future), but I did find it interesting that another blog addressed this very topic. Here is a just a bit of what Josh Evans had to say on the topic.

God designed for her gifts to not be your gifts- Have you heard the cliche, “opposites attract?” This is true. My wife and I are different people with different abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and interest. This is such an important reason to make your ministry successful. There are things that come my way in our student ministry that my wife can implement her gifts in areas that I am a bit uncomfortable or not gifted in. She compliments me, because her gifts are different from mine, and when both of us are using our gifts for the ministry, our ceiling and potential becomes higher.

Your wife can offer you a different perspective- I ask my wife about ministry, sermon series, games, etc. Her insight blows me away every time, because she brings about a different perspective on those things. She thinks and brings up questions that I would never ever think of, because we are made differently. Also, she understands where teenager girls are coming from. This is impossible for me to understand at all, and she gets it, and helps me as I address things to them.

It brings an example for your students- You should be putting your wife on a pedestal. You should never demean her in front of your students. You should constantly be building her up and lifting her up. Students in our youth groups are coming from broken homes and families, and they are craving a Godly and Biblical example of what a right relationship should be according to the Bible.

Josh had some other great insights. I hope that you will take the time to read some of his other thoughts on his blog.

Personal note: I have developed a bit of "relationship" with Josh, as much as one can through Facebook, blogs, etc. His blog is a treasure trove of great ideas and useful articles.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Things I Didn't Know Before I Got Married

I am married to a pretty amazing woman. She's been a blessing and the mother of my four children. However, there are a number of things that I didn't know about her before we got married. It wouldn't have changed my decision, but something tells me we wouldn't have the number of awkward conversations that we've had if I had known these important things.

  1. My wife has never seen Star Wars or any of the sequels or prequels. She has no understanding of who Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, or Princess Leia are. The other day she saw a Millenium Falcon birthday cake at Chick-Fil-A and asked me, "Is that from Star Trek?"
  2. The terms slick shoes, pinchers of power, truffle shuffle, or One-eyed Willie mean nothing to her. The Goonies is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest movies ever made. When I was growing up, our entire household would stop whenever it was on television. I have seen it more times than I can count and we own the DVD. Yet, my wife has never seen it and, for some unknown reason, has no desire. It's tragic.
  3. My wife does not have an appreciation for the African-American television shows of the 1970s. I recently introduced my boys to the wonders of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids on Netflix. My wife had no idea. She has never seen Sanford and Son, Good Times, What's Happening, or The Jeffersons. I had no idea that the woman I love had no idea about Rerun, J.J. or George and Weezie. Breaks my heart. I took her to see Jimmy Walker perform at the Flamingo in Las Vegas on our honeymoon. I was ecstatic, but she didn't get the appeal.
Here are some things that I do know about my wife.
  1. I love her to death.
  2. She is a wonderful mother.
  3. She has supported me through all of my hare-brained ideas (and there have been a lot of them).
  4. I would not be the man I am today if it wasn't for her.

So, despite the fact that she is woefully ignorant of the things that I deem important, I couldn't ask for a better wife.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ministry Search - Update

It has been some time since I have posted about my search for a ministry. I don't have a lot to report. I have been faithfully praying and sending out resumes to churches that have posted for positions, but they are usually to no avail. I applied to a church in a town very close to us, but they were not interested. A friend of mine told me that he had spoken to a pastor about me and that the pastor was interested, but he has never returned any of my emails. I spoke with the pastor of the church I attend about the vacant youth pastor position, but he decided to go with someone else. There was another church that looked promising, but my lack of experience in church work was the eliminating factor.

While all of this sounds discouraging, there is a bit of hope. I applied to a church in my hometown and had what I would consider a very productive meeting over coffee. We had a great talk and discussed many things. My family has visited the church on several occasions and we really enjoy the atmosphere of the church. After many weeks of waiting, I received an email from the pastor of the church letting me know they were interested in talking with me. I was sent a questionnaire with about 20 questions, asking me all sorts of things from my testimony to my view of Scripture to women in ministry to what books I have read. It was challenging and really required me to think about how I view ministry. After prayer and counsel, I submitted the completed form and am now waiting for the search committee to make a decision.

Please be in prayer in regards to this. My wife and I have been praying for this for some time and I would like to believe that God would not have brought us to this place if there wasn't more to come. It is an exciting time and I hope that you will be in prayer for us.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Music Wednesday - Save by Twenty-One Pilots



(Please note: this is not the official video. The guy who made the video is incredibly talented and makes some great stuff. Be sure to check out his YouTube page.

Why Reading Scripture Is Vital to Pastors

I know that my title seems a bit redundant and obvious. Of course, pastors need to read Scripture. But why? Can't we just read the latest book and build our sermons off of what someone else wrote? Matt Chandler, from the Village Church, gives a dynamite answer as to the necessity of intimately knowing Scripture.



This is why I'm working toward reading over 3,000 chapters of Scripture this year. I want to know and understand what God has revealed to us in the Bible. How can I think that I can stand before God's people if I don't intimately know what I am speaking to them of?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Memorizing Scripture With Children

As I've made clear before, I am a very big proponent of Scripture memory. I think it is a bit disappointing that so few adults put any value into memorizing Scripture. It is actually a lot of fun and the experience is extremely rewarding.

Here are a few thoughts that I had on memorizing Scripture with children. I have three boys of my own (with another on the way) and my oldest is getting to the age where he can begin to memorize Bible verses.

  1. Make it a daily routine. The way to memorize Scripture is to do it daily. Go over the verse a couple of times each day, at the same time. You can do it at dinner, before school, or at night before bed. The idea is to be consistent.
  2. Choose appropriate verses for your child's age. While all verses in the Bible are inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16), not all of them are necessarily age-appropriate for your child. I would recommend start with John 3:16, Genesis 1:1, John 1:1, or Romans 3:23. As your child progresses and learns some verses, gradually increase the difficulty of the verse.
  3. Make learning the verse fun. If you can, try to make learning the verse an enjoyable experience. It should not be a chore. When I was in Sunday School, we would often do an activity where the teacher would write the verse on the board, then gradually remove words until the entire verse was gone. You can also try to turn it into a song or add motions to the verse. Doing this will help your child retain the verse long after you have moved to a new verse. I actually still remember 1 John 4:7-8 and most of 2 Timothy 2:15 because of songs I sang as a little kid (Awana, anyone?)
  4. Memorize Scripture yourself. One of the most awesome privileges of being a parent is the fact that our children want to do everything we do. My little boys pretend to shave when they are in the tub because they have seen me shaving in the morning. If we want our children to love memorizing Scripture, they need to see us doing it as well. Make it a part of your daily life. If you memorize one verse a week, you will have learned 52 verses in one year. Imagine the impact that doing something as simple as one verse per week can have on your walk with God.

I am sure that I am missing some tips, so if you can think of something or want to share what you do to teach your children Scripture, please add your tips below.

What are you doing to teach your children (or yourself) Scripture?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Funniest Thing I've Read in a Long Time

Here is a funny post that I found on Rachel Balducci's blog.

“Let’s have a math contest,” I hear one boy tell his brothers. “You have to answer the math problem before this timer rings, and if you get it wrong…I punch you in the kidneys.”

Why do I feel like such conversations are a part of my future?

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Fine Art of Cussing Someone Out

Over the weekend, I found myself in a heated discussion over whether or not it was appropriate for individuals who call themselves Christians to use swear words. The very sad fact was that some of the folks who were in the discussion call themselves believers and yet have no problem with using foul language. One of the arguments that was posed was the fact that the Bible never specifically says that a list of words is prohibited. This is true, but I believe there are several principles that should guide us in the appropriate use of language.

  1. The Bible speaks way too often about our speech and the importance of watching our tongues to think there is no danger in the words that we use. A cursory read through the book of Proverbs will make this point abundantly clear.
  2. As Christians, we are to be different from the unbelievers around us. We are not to be different in a weird, kooky way, but there should definitely be some easily discernible difference. 1 Peter 1:16 (quoting Leviticus 20:26) gives the command that there should be something unique, something holy, about us because the God we serve is holy.
  3. There is no place to have one sort of speech for this group and another sort of speech for another group. This is nothing more than hypocrisy. One of the individuals in the conversation said that it was normal practice to have one type of talk for one group and another type of talk for another. Just because something is done every day doesn't make it right. That is nothing more than pragmatism. James 3:10 says that we should not have two types of talk coming from the same mouth.
  4. If the world can understand that certain words are considered inappropriate, Christians should definitely grasp that fact. I understand that words have societal meanings where something that is offensive in our culture may not be offensive elsewhere. However, because we live in a particular culture and that culture has deemed certain words offensive, it is best for a Christian not to use them. Movies are often given the ratings that they are because of the language. Music is labeled "Explicit" because of the language that is contained in the lyrics. If unbelievers can understand that there are words that should not be used, why is it that Christians would want to use them?
  5. It is impossible to cuss to the glory of God. In both 1 Corinthians and Colossians there are admonishments to do every thing to the glory of God. Colossians 3:17 is particularly clear that every word should be to the glory of God. I don't think that an individual can drop the F-bomb and believe that it is glorifying to God.
It is likely that some of you reading this will disagree with me and I am fine with that. I have laid out what I believe to be the principles that Christians should keep in mind before using expletives. I'll leave with you one final passage from Ephesians.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)

If you are interested in a different take on this topic (I agree with some points and definitely disagree with others), you should go here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

FinishYear 2012 - Reading 3,000 Chapters of the Bible - How It's Going

If you were to do a Google search for "Professor Grant Horner's Reading System," you would discover it is quite the rage this year. There is even a Facebook group with almost 2,000 members. I am using to help me reach my goal of reading 3,000 chapters of the Bible this year. Here is how it is going so far:

  • I have read over 420 chapters of the Bible so far (more by the time you are reading this).
  • I have read through Proverbs and Acts once each and am working on my second time through.
  • I have read a good portion of the New Testament.
Additionally, I have read through the following books of the Bible:
  • Joshua
  • Job
  • Proverbs
  • Matthew
  • Acts
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Within a week, I will have finished Genesis, Judges, Ecclesiastes, Mark, and 2 Corinthians

I realize that reading 10 chapters per day is quite a stretch for some individuals. There are days when I am unable to do it. However, I find that the more time I spend in the Word, the more time I want to be in the Word. Also, the multiple readings of the books will be of great benefit to me. If my desire is to be a pastor (and it is), I need to know what the Bible says so that I can share it with others.

How are you doing with your Bible reading this year?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Reflections on Having (Another) Boy


On Tuesday, my wife and I found out that we were going to be having our fourth boy. We currently have three boys, aged six, three, and one, and we were a little surprised to find out that we were going to have a fourth (yes, I know how that happens). We prayed for a little girl and we were hoping that it was going to be a girl. I had even picked out a name and was referring to the baby as a "she." Needless to say, there was some letdown when we saw that "special part" on the ultrasound.

Here are some thoughts I have about having a family of all boys.

  1. I know all about little boys. My wife and I have very busy lives. She runs a very successful blog and babysits a house full of kids. I teach full-time, do a large number of after-school activities, volunteer at the church, and study a good deal. As a result, surprises are typically unwelcome. Having had three boys, there are very few surprises. We know what to expect.
  2. My boys help me be a better man. As I've lived in front of my boys, I've come to realize that they are going to grow into the men that I've modeled for them. This is an awesome responsibility. If I disrespect my wife or other women in my life, they will do the same. I want my boys to grow up to love their mother, their wives, their families, their God, their Bible, and their church. I have a responsibility and privilege to teach them how a man is to act toward others so that they can carry on that legacy when they become men.
  3. The dream of adoption continues to be alive. My wife and I have long discussed the idea of adopting. For me, there is no clearer picture of God's love for us than to adopt a child and make her a part of our family, showing unconditional love for someone who is not related by blood. If we had found out that the baby currently growing inside my wife was a girl, I think that dream may have been shelved for a while, if not indefinitely. Now, knowing that we are having a little boy, we can continue to dream of the day we make our family a little bigger through the joy of adoption. Plus, we get to continue the domestic vs. international just a little longer.
  4. God must really love Pearsons. Okay, this one is a bit of a joke, but with the number of Pearsons that are coming from my family, that is one name that will be around for quite some time.

Did I want to find out that we are having a little girl? Absolutely. Am I disappointed? Not at all. We serve a powerful God who knows what is best for each of us. God has deemed Tina and me worthy enough to have another little boy and I wouldn't change that fact for anything in the world.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

President Obama, You Can't Choose to Be a Christian When It is Convenient

I am not one to write about politics very often. I will argue politics (and get very heated about them), but I usually don't write about them. However, a few things have happened recently that have really irked me in regards to President Barack Obama. It is a well known fact that our president claims to be a Christian. When he was running for president in 2008, he sat down with Pastor Rick Warren and quoted Micah 6:8. He will often refer to his Christian faith. But here's the deal: while I'm not one to question the validity of someone's faith claims, it would appear to me that President Obama only uses his Christianity when he believes it will help him in the polls.

Recently, President Obama claimed that the reason he was so adamant about taxing the wealthy and giving their money to others was based his Christian faith. He referenced Luke 12:48 as the reason why it is acceptable and required that the wealthy pay even more taxes.

The second thing that President Obama did was to require that all religious organizations provide medical benefits that would include contraceptives, including ones that would induce an abortion. This is not a suggestion; it was a requirement, one that was done even when he was urged by others not to do so.

If I may be so bold as to address the president for a moment: Mr. President, while I am thankful that you claim to be a Christian, and I hope that it is true, I find it difficult to reconcile the things that you do and the laws that you pass with what the Bible teaches. As Christians, we have the joy and the pleasure to help others out of a love for our Savior, not because we are required to by the government. Many Christians are extremely generous individuals. We strive to help others and meet their needs. While I am sure that you are desiring the same thing, forcing individuals to do so through taxes is not the appropriate way to go about it.

Additionally, Mr. President, your requirement that religious organizations provide means to abortive contraceptives is overstepping your bounds. As Christians, we are called to respect life, knowing that all life is made in the image of God. Your policies do not mesh with these beliefs. I'm sorry, sir, but I do not believe that what you are doing here is right.

Mr. President, you cannot be a Christian when it is convenient or when you think it will be good for you in the polls. Being a Christian requires every aspect of your life. Again, while I have no desire to question your spiritual condition, I think that it is important for you to read 1 John before making any more claims as to being a Christian. Sir, there is much about your life that is causing many to question if you are truly a believer or simply one that is using the name of Jesus to get ahead in the polls. I pray that it is the former.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sex Outside of Marriage is a Lie

Sex outside of marriage is a lie. Not a lie as in “sex outside of marriage doesn’t exist” or “sex outside of marriage is not wrong after all.” No, what I mean is that sex outside of marriage is an attempt to tell yourself and others that you are something that you are not. Allow me to explain what I mean.

If you read about the first couple (Adam and Eve) from Genesis 2, you will see this unique and interesting passage in Genesis 2:24. It says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Do you see the phrase “become one flesh”? That means that the man and the woman become one person when they come together in a sexual relationship. When they are intimate together, they are declaring to the world that they have become one with each other. My wife and I are one because our souls and bodies are now knit together. Of course, they are not knit together like Bob and Walt (from Stuck On You), but you know what I mean.

Now, here is where the lie comes in. When you have a sexual relationship with someone, you are declaring to her (or him), yourself, and everyone you know that you are now one. But you aren’t really one, are you? It was just a temporary thing, even if you are in a long-term committed relationship. Basically, when you have sex before you get married, you are declaring to the world that you are a member of a club that you have not yet joined. It is the same as if you walked around wearing clothes from a particular college, talking about that college, acting like you are a student at that college, even though you’ve never been accepted or even applied to the school. Okay, I know my analogy falls a little short, but I think you can understand. Sex outside of marriage says you belong to something that you don’t. It makes you a liar. And funny how the world hates liars, but having sex is perfectly acceptable.

Don’t be a liar.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Who I Am - Most Influential Films in My Life

To almost anyone who will listen, I like to say that my personality was shaped most by 80s movies and 90s alternative rock. Being born in 1979, I grew up in the 1990s, but I remember watching the films of the 1980s the most. I have the most fond memories of summers watching classic films. Below is a list of the films that I believe have influenced my personality the most.

The Goonies is one of the greatest films ever made, especially to anyone who would be a part of the Gen X (can we still use that term?) age bracket. There are so many quotable lines and memorable scenes in this film. It is an instant community builder. Start quoting a line from the film and instantly everyone in the room who has seen the movie will start laughing and having a good time.
Gremlins is probably one of the funniest movies ever. It is my understanding that Gremlins was the reason the PG-13 rating came to be. It was rated PG, but after parents took their children to see and the nightmares began, the stronger rating was adopted. I remember watching this in the theater and being terrified to go upstairs at my house. To this day, I still get chills at Christmas time whenever that song is played. You know what song I'm talking about. The choir sang it this year at church and it was all I could do to keep from running out of the auditorium. The sequel is pretty funny as well.
While I never skipped school, this movie certainly made me want to. I promise it doesn't get any cooler than Ferris Bueller. So many good lines and classic moments. I drop quotes from this movie all the time. And Abe Frohman has to be the greatest alias ever, surpassing Art Vandelay and even Chuck Finlay.
I'm pretty sure The Karate Kid led to more actual fights in my house than any other movie. My brothers and I would watch this film and then hold our own karate tournaments. It was supposed to be pretend, but someone would also hit or kick the other too hard and even though there is no pain in this dojo, as soon as the crying stopped, the gloves would come off. It tears me apart that they made a remake of this film. Blasphemy and sacrilege.

I got to watch a lot of movies and television when I was growing up. The joys of being a latch-key kid. As a result, my sermons and teaching is often peppered with illustrations and subtle references to these and other films from my childhood. I feel bad for kids who don't have great movies to grow up on.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Music Wednesday - Skeleton Bones by John Mark McMillan

These Are the Nebraska Years

Jon Acuff, in his book Quitter, wrote this passage that seemed particularly fitting.

These are the years when you'll travel 2,000 miles in cold temperatures to speak to fewer people than an NFL team. These are the years you'll throw away canvas after canvas because the colors refuse to cooperate. These are the years you'll teach three people how to swing dance when the studio space you rented would fit eighty.

What Jon is describing is the period of time that everyone goes through before they arrive at their dream. My dream is to be a pastor. My dream is to work at a church and minister to people. My dream is to share God's Word with others. My dream is to see lives changed through God's working.

Right now, my dream hasn't come true. I send out resumes and get no response. I have a Sunday School class with two people in it. I get asked to preach about once a month (and I am extremely thankful for it). Sometimes I get asked to preach at the church two hours from my house that has a congregation of 12 people. I write a blog that, on a good day, 16 people will visit.

These are the Nebraska years.

I'm going to look back one day and see that it was all worth it. Right now, it's a little hard to do.