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The Arrival of Spring

Spring has sprung here in Northern Missouri and it is gorgeous. There is new life being born from leaves on the trees and flowers from the earth, to baby calves and birds laying eggs. New life is in the air.

Spring has always been a good time of year for me. In spring the brown drab of winter begins to come alive and nights at the fire pit and burgers on the grill and time outside once again comes to fruition. Not only does it bring life to the natural world, but in our own lives, spring brings with it a desire for life.

If you are into gardening, you know what I mean. Something inside of you calls out to your soul and draws you to plant and prepare for the harvest coming in the summer. That longing though happens in all of our souls, the longing for new life.

When you open your bible and begin to read about Jesus and his coming and death and resurrection, we find life. Not just that Jesus lives and comes back to life, but that in his death, in the dead of winter, new life springs forth in us.

From the very beginning of creation God has breathed life into us. The account of creation says, “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” Genesis 2:7 NLT

We are told in the beginning of John that through Jesus and by Jesus all things came into existence. Jesus breathed life into all creation and yet through the rebellion, through sin, we died to him. 

Sin brings with it a decaying death. It would be Jesus who once again would breathe life back into the souls of those who choose life in Him.

Jesus, on a much grander way than spring, takes what is dead and breathes new life into it and makes us beautiful once more in Him. What was once ugly and seemed as though had no hope at life, begins to see hope once more and life is all the more perfect.

Men, spring has arrived. Jesus has come, he has sacrificed, and now offers you life in him. Not a new life or a different life, but life itself.

As you shepherd your families and those under your charge choose to be alive. If you are living like a dead man, like a vine with no fruit, your family will struggle and suffer. You must be alive in Jesus Christ before you can take life to someone else.

In the spring the role of a shepherd doubles or triples sometimes. A flock of 100 quickly turns into 300 during lambing season. No longer can they depend on their abilities alone, its just too much, so they call in reinforcements, people who know what they are doing to help for a short time, people to come alongside of them and care for the flock.

You may need to call in reinforcements this spring. Seek to better your walk with Christ during this season, trust him with the increases, and lean on your brothers to help you make it through.

Spring is beautiful. Choose life in Jesus Christ.

Featured

Choosing Peace

Last week was a tough one, things just seemed to be difficult in so many ways. I wonder if you had that kind of week?

On January 31st my mom, Heidi, my beautiful momma, passed away after an 18 month battle with two types of lung cancer. The days were long and often times hard throughout those months as she faced a battle that we knew would most likely end like this, but as that day drew near, the full weight seemed to be pressing down on our family more than we could have anticipated.

Today we are just short of three months from that terrible day when I said goodbye to my momma, and I still have some really bad days and probably will for years to come. Those days seem to be dark and heavy like a cloud I could reach out and touch. As it seems to hover over me it brings this unreal anger and hurt into my mind. That anger leads to some really big issues in my relationships.

Just the other day my wife and son told me that I was really unkind this week. I was sharp and came across as though I was mad at them. That was not my intention, yet when I lose my focus on the Lord, I often times leave a wake of hurt in my path.

The writer in Hebrews has given us some wise words when it comes to living with people. He writes, “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.”

Men, we are called to leave peacefully; at peace with our families, our friends, and those that we interact with on a regular basis. Living at peace with your family is the first place to start.

A shepherd in the hills of of Ancient Israel had to find a way to live with his flock. He had to keep the peace, even if that meant he had to slay the lion and the bears. Whatever it took to keep his flock safe. You as a dad are called to pastor, to care for your flock, to be peaceful and to keep peace.

There are three areas that I would like to show you as you attempt to live peacefully with your family.

Check your issues at the car door.

Before you get out of your vehicle for the day, simply ask the Lord to prepare your heart and to show mercy to your family and seek ways to live with peace on your tongue.

The attitude of the shepherd as he enters the door should be to enter with peace.

When you fail, seek forgiveness

We are going to mess up men, we are going to give up on peace and choose to be the lion. You can recover from it though. 

In those moments, as soon as possible, seek forgiveness from your family.

We are not the Great Shepherd, but instead the under shepherds of our flock. We have been entrusted with our families and yet we are incapable of perfection, we are not Jesus. But, we can strive to be more like him each and every moment.

Teach Peace to your children

A shepherd does not just allow his flock to wander aimlessly. He teaches them safety and how they should and should not act. A shepherd finds a way to better his flock.

You, as a man and a dad, must begin to teach your children how to live peacefully with others, even those that seem to be wolves. I will admit, there are times that we much teach self defense to our families, but the majority of life will be lived with people that just choose chaos rather than peace. As a follower of Christ we are to find ways to leave at peace.

I know men, peace seems like a weak subject, but nothing has ever been further from the truth.

Choosing peace in the midst of moments when you really just want to bloody a nose, that restraint, is what makes you a man, a real man. When we choose peace in our marriage, our families, our work, yes, even in our politics, then things can be accomplished.

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In Pursuit of Dad Pastors

Being a dad and a pastor are not that different. Both are called to care for people in which they love. Both are asked by God to lead and protect, to provide spiritual direction and life wisdom from the Work of God. The pastor loves unconditionally those in his charge and a dad is to do the same thing.

For quite sometime I have prayed and sought to find a way to connect to dads, to encourage them in their pursuit to lead and protect their family, but as a pastor I am also drawn to the calling to lead my family and those in my charge in healthy spirituality. My intention as a writer and speaker is to help bring the two together, to find a way to help dads pastor well.

Dads, you are called to shepherd your family, to draw them closer to Jesus. That can be a difficult task as our lives fill up with stuff and we come home exhausted, and as I tell my wife sometimes, “out of words for the day”. Yet it is in these moments that the shepherd steps in and cares ten fold for those in his charge. It is in these moments that it really matters most.

I want to shoot straight with you for a minute. This is not easy for me. I am over weight, tired, overworked at some times, and just plain exhausted, but when I step in that door I am dad. My life as a pastor does not stop at my front door, the most important flock is just the other side of that door.

That is why I have created this blog, to lead men in the pursuit of serving your family and your church. The road ahead is a long one for us men, and while it can sometimes feel overwhelming through the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to push forward to the end prize.

Men, I am here for you. Let us continue to challenge each other to lead well and when others are unable to lead, to step into their place and lead forward.

Men, shepherd your flock well.

When Loss Affects Our Children

My kids are a huge part of my ministry. They go on visits with me, they serve in the church at age appropriate levels, and they come to love the people of God just like we do. Because of their love for the people, when tragedy hits; their little hearts are broken, sometimes deeply. It is in these moments that you as a dad and the shepherd of your home must speak truth and love into their hearts and help them to worship Jesus.

As I write this post my kids are going through this very struggle. A good friend of ours, the dad of my daughter Olivia’s best friend, passed away last night due to Covid complications, he was in his forty’s. Last night was tough at my house. My kids wept, I wept with them, and we cried until our eyes hurt. Sure we know that heaven has gained a great man, but our hearts break for the loss of someone that made such an impact on our lives.

As we got around for bed we took the time together to read our Christmas devotion and pray. We focused our prayers on our church family and the missionaries that God would call to reach the lost, and then we prayed for our family friend’s wife and kids. As we prayed our words turned to words of praise and thankfulness.

Listen dads, your kids are watching you. They are listening to what you have to say and we must help them to see that God is never-changing and always present, even in the midst of total disaster, even when those we love are hurting, God is still worthy of praise.

I encourage you in the midst of struggle and strife to find a way to teach your kids how to worship. Teach them what it means to worship God even when things go a different way, even when life just really sucks, in all things our God is good and his plan is perfect.

Psalm 34 begins by saying; “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”(ESV) Men, that should be our battle cry each day as we attempt to lead our family through tough times and good times, they are depending on you to help shepherd them through it all.

So, how do you shepherd your family when the pain of loss cuts them so deeply?

Be willing to weep with them.

The first thing you need to do dad is be willing and capable to weep with your kids. They need to know that emotions are ok. Jesus himself wept over the loss of a friend and the pain that death had brought through the first sin.

Your kids will all grieve and deal with death in different ways, and that is ok, as long as you help walk them through it. Let them work it out their way.

Be willing to worship with them.

Dad, you need to seek out opportunities to worship with your kids. That can be through song or reading, it can be through drawing or writing. God has given us so many ways to bring him worship. You just need to find a way to publicly show your kids that Jesus is still in control and worth praising, even if you struggle with it yourself in the moment.

Use the loss of a loved one to teach your kids about salvation.

In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians he writes in chapter four beginning at verse thirteen of the hope that we have in the resurrection because of Jesus. Because Jesus has defeated death and arose from the grave we can have hope as well, that through faith we can once again see our loved ones.

Paul ends that chapter by saying, “Therefore encourage one another with these words”. The greatest opportunity to share the hope of Jesus in salvation is often times in those tough moments. When everything begins to crash around you and the pain seems too great to bare, that is often times where we find ourselves at the end of our ability and our only hope becomes what our first hope should have been.

Your kids need to be lead to, fed, and watered at the feet of Jesus every day. Some days that is harder than others, but as a dad you have been called to pastor your kids and your wife to see the thirst quenching love of Jesus in the midst of the blazing fire of pain and loss.

Your work, Dad, is a noble work. Allow the losses in your life to affect your children, just be sure you help them navigate those losses by pointing them to Jesus every moment you are given.

Keeping a Man’s Priorities Right

Over the last 13. years of marriage there are many things that I have learned. I have learned that I should not comment to my wife about my mom cooking something a different way. I have learned that my wife, Melissa, is not a morning person and that when I jump out of bed on Saturday ready to tackle the day, if I want it to be a good day, I leave her alone and have some me time (which I have come to enjoy). I have learned that my wife is a compassionate woman who had a heart of gold but don’t you dare mess with her husband or her children, that bear wakes up really quick!

I have learned many things, but there is still one of many things that I am working to learn and that is how to prioritize everything in my life. I am a worker. I enjoy work and I feel accomplished when I check everything off of my list even if that means not seeing my kids and wife much if any. I have struggled to say no to others all the while telling my kids no, time and time again.

You see men, the priorities of our lives will dictate the importance of those things in our life. If sports are your thing and you neglect to bring your family into the mix, your priority is wrong. When your priority is work over intimacy with your wife and supper with your kids, your priorities are wrong.

I know, Pastor Kurtis you just don’t understand my situation. Believe me, I do, all too well. I have been in your shoes and I have chosen the lesser of the two things placed in front of me, but I am learning. How do you fix it though?

I have chosen to take the opportunity to bring my kids and wife into what I love and enjoy doing. I am a pastor and that means funerals and weddings and hospital visits, and my kids and my wife are involved in all of it.

When I first entered into the ministry I was warned to protect my kids from the church. I believe that is the worst thing a pastor or a dad can do. Your kids need to know the church, warts and all. Bring them along. Talk with them about the struggles you are working through. Help them to see why you are stressed when you come home from work.

Not every man who reads this is a pastor, I get that. If you are a dad though you have been tasked with leading your kids and your wife, you are their pastor, their shepherd. Choose to lead them well. Bring them along with you and be honest with your family. Life will be much better if you do.

Men, I am praying for you as you lead well.

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