Pages

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Just Wanted To Say...

Hello Everyone!

First off - let me say that I fully understand that I haven't written anything in quite a long time.  I'm aware that this page has been void of anything useful - whether it be my opinion, a story, or a recent photo of my escapades.  I'm sorry - but I'm also realistic in the fact that I'm sure there aren't very many readers of this anyway!

I wanted to post this a few weeks ago, but held off because I felt it could come across as condemning or judgmental.  It's not intended to be either - more so me sharing where God is convicting me.

This last year has been an absolutely incredible journey for our family.  One that was full of huge life transitions.  Transitions that have been hard, painful, and downright challenging.  We've lost friends, gained new ones, and have grown increasingly strong in our faith.  I've come to realize that my faith was truly weak, and that through our trials and tribulations God has grown our faith immensely because we've chosen to trust in His plan.  Can I just say thank you - to everyone and anyone who has prayed for us during this journey? From the bottom of my heart - thank you.

I have so much I want to say.  There are so many things that I've learned (and am continuing to learn) over the last year.  So many ways that I feel like I've matured, but have also realized my immaturity.  Various events, people, and experiences that we've encountered along the way that have helped shaped us into better and stronger people.

I truly hope that over the next year I will be able to write down the various things that God has shown me and is continuing to reveal to me.  Before I wrap up - there are a few things that are deep in my heart - things that burden me everyday.  Things I'm praying over how to change, how to influence, or just maybe a few reflections I need to share.  So, here goes.

1.  I am still as dedicated to following Christ and building His Kingdom as I've ever been. 

For whatever reason, I have perceived in my spirit that people feel like that because we are no longer in "public" ministry that we no longer love Jesus or His church.  Well, that's just a flat out lie.  You don't have to "work" at a church to love Jesus.  To be honest, I've been more dependent upon Him since I've left.  More reliant upon His Word, Truth, and Grace to get me through everyday.  We love Jesus - more than ever.  We're committed to His church, to the cause of the Kingdom, and see it advancing in our world today in amazing ways.

2.  I am more committed to my family than I've ever been. 

My family is everything to me.  God specifically and uniquely has called me to lead my family.  I see now that I failed to lead in may ways previously.  They are my calling, my world, and my focus.  The best investment that I will ever make will be in my wife and two sons.  They are my responsibility, not anyone else.

3.  I see a new perspective, and a world view of Christians - and they think we're a joke. 

Fortunately for me, I come in contact with a lot of people who don't have a personal relationship with Christ.  Oh, they "know" Jesus - but the Jesus they know is wrapped up into an ideology of Christians that acknowledge Christ with their lips, but deny Him with their lifestyle.  Christians who talk love, but don't know the first thing about showing it.  If you feel like I'm being harsh, then there are one of two things happening here: you're either convicted because I'm right or offended because your guilty. My pastor said recently that we, as Christians, use the excuse "we're too busy" because it's an easy way out.  "We're too busy" usually means we're "living only for ourselves."  We need to wake up.  The world sees us as a greedy, ignorant, and a private social club.  We're interested in helping ourselves, but not interested in helping others.  We're known, unfortunately, for what we're against, more than what we're FOR.  Christ said may we "be known by our love."  Known for our love.  Not our bands, not our buildings, not our agendas.  By our love.

I think it's high time for a revival in our churches.  Now, please don't mistake me.  There are many churches that get it right - however they're usually far too small, and far to unknown. There is no perfect church, there never will be.  Until Jesus comes back, we need to act like He's actually going to.

4.  The times are dark, and they're not getting any brighter. 

We live in dark times.  Yes, you can say that it's always been dark and will always be dark.  While I agree, I also see a different perspective.  What I see, particularly in America, is a fading of our moral compass.  A well respected leader and friend of mine that I had the opportunity to spend some time with recently put it this way: "Our nation is being led by feelings, instead of facts.  We're too afraid to offend anyone, so we lead by our "beliefs" and our "feelings" on subjects, not on the clear-cut facts derived from conviction.  We need leaders to lead not because it makes them feel good about themselves, but because they're willing to accept the facts.  And the facts aren't good."

Our nation is in incredible debt.   We spend more than we make in a year as individuals.  We buy what we can't afford, and borrow more each year.  Our churches are filled with divorce (the divorce rate is no different) and we kill millions of unborn children.  We may be saving more trees and more wild animals through conservation efforts, but our society is dying.  Our moral compass is, well, not very directional.

5.  We need to wake up, open our eyes, and realize that if we don't act now it will be too late. 

I have a lot more I'd like to say, but don't want anyone to think I've jumped off the deep end.  I'm simply more comfortable to call it as I see it.  I think that's one of the main problems we have now - both in our nation and in our churches.  We're too afraid to call people out.  Out on their sin (heaven forbid we hold people accountable).  Out on their commitments, and quite simply - out on their word.  If we continue down this path - we will continue to fade.  America will no longer be great, and our churches will only be non-profit organizations that help the common good.  Jesus died so that we could have life - salvation in fact.  He promised us that if we built our churches and our homes upon the "ROCK" then even the gates of Hell would not prevail.  I hate to say it, but the gates of hell are prevailing in many places.

It's time to take it back.
There is still hope.
And don't forget - we, as believers, win at the end.

Let's act like winners.  Like more than conquerors.  Because even though we win, it doesn't mean we should sit on the bench and ride it out until the end.

Now, hear me out before you go and unfollow me on twitter or unfriend me on Facebook.  The Bible calls us to share the "truth in love."  The blunt reality is that most people don't live in truth.  They live in a glimpse of truth, a partial reality to what they think it right but is really not.  That's exactly where the Enemy wants us to live.  If he can get us to see buy into a partial truth, we miss out on the real truth of the Gospel.  The truth that Jesus died so that we could live - not for ourselves, but for Him.  He paid our debt, and our debt must be repaid with our lives.  Lives lived in the truth of the Gospel, the humility of His Word, and the cause of the church.

Before you go off and write me off - I would ask you to pray.  Pray that God would make things clear to you.  Pray that God would make you more like Him, and less like you.  That the God who is near would allow you to truly be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  And that we could get off the bench and bring His Kingdom here on earth.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Boys Will Be Boys



Having two sons, I think I'm starting to understand a little more about what it means when someone says:

"Boys will be boys".

Even though my oldest is only two and the youngest is three months, it has been incredible to see how a two year old boy is wired by God to say, do and be "manly."

I wish I could show you my house.  Since Aiden's birth, our house has become nothing but a collection of toys, books, and games.  He has created his own "domain" in our living room, and it's amazing to see that he's naturally inclined to play with trucks, blocks, electronics, balls, and anything he can knock over or throw.  Matter of fact, anytime we go outside and he sees my truck he starts to say "TRRRRUUUCCCCK!!!!"  He's naturally attracted to it, as am I.

Any parent of a boy knows what I mean.  While girls are precious, there is just something to a boy that makes them different then girls.  Any parent of a little girl will tell you there's a lot to be said about how different a little girl is from a boy.

God is showing me more than ever, about how connected I must be to my sons as I try and raise them to be godly men who love Jesus, love their mom, and serve the Kingdom.   As a father, I must make strategic and purposeful connections with my boys that are relevant, purposeful, and specific to their needs.

I must be connected to their heart.

The book of 2 Kings describes a plethora of information about the kings who ruled Israel after David was king.  As I've been reading 1 & 2 Kings lately, I've noticed something I've never seen before.  As blood lines and tradition passed down from father to son, it's astounding to notice how many of the newly anointed kings followed in the direct footsteps of their fathers.

Here's a quick description of what I'm talking about:

"Jothan did what was pleasing in the Lord's sight.  He did EVERYTHING HIS FATHER, Uzziah, had done."  

It seems like a simple truth, but we fail at this on so many levels as men.  God is revealing to me in great ways that I am the leader of my son's hearts.  They will follow me.  They will try to be like me.  They will try and do everything that I do.

How do I know this?  Because I followed my father, and because I can already see how connected my precious two year old is to my heart.   Can I encourage you, Dad, to do whatever it takes to connect your heart to your son.  Connect your heart to your daughter.  This generation needs men to step up and lead their families and to connect their hearts in Godly unity.

While I am just getting started at this, I'm thankful God is revealing to me how so very important, and necessary, this is.  

Men, what do you think?  Will you join me?


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Ties That Bind Us

Last night I shared with the students in our student ministry about something that binds us all together.   We all share this in common, and we are struggle from it's consequences.

Hurt.

Everyone deals with hurt.  Life includes hurt and we all experience pain, suffering, and to a degree some level of hurt.  Think with me, when was the last time you were hurt.  It could have been today, yesterday, last week, last year or deep in our past.

Every hurt, leaves some sort of wound.  As we all know wounds require healing, however some wounds take longer to heal than others.  These wounds from hurt directly hinder "WHO" and "WHAT" we become.  There is a direct correlation.

I've learned over the years that there are generally two types of people as a result of these wounds:

-Those who hurt people.
-Those who allow themselves to be hurt.

Everything we do at some point is shaped out of our hurt.  Our "hurt" shapes our decisions, relationships, mindsets, and even our spirituality.  If we're hurting, we will do everything we can to protect ourselves from being hurt again.  If we "hurt" others, then we'll do everything we can to protect ourselves from letting others know that deep down inside, the insecurities we face are what cause us to continue hurting others.

Hurt people, hurt people.

But, healed people, heal people.

If the hurt is so great, then the struggle to let Jesus come in and deal with the pain will be a nearly insurmountable.  

Thankfully Jesus can overcome any pain, any struggle, any sorrow.  Thankfully He knows our hearts, and thankfully He even knows our hurt.  He can and will heal your hurt, and allow you help and serve others even through what may seem impossible to let go.

Where are you hurting?

Let it go and ask Jesus to heal you.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Starting Up

It's easy to start something.

Anyone can start something.
The challenge is keeping it going.

For a while, I have had this website and blog because I simply "started it." I started it without a purpose or real reason as to why. It was a fad and trend to have a blog, and to be honest part of me just likes seeing my name as a URL address.

I thought it was very cool say: "Visit my website at www...".  And probably a little arrogant too.

When our first child was born, it served a great purpose in getting information out on his health issues and my wife's. It was a great place to post information and our story on having a premature child and our journey in faith. Once we established some security and a routine, it deflated.

For now, I think I'm going to write and focus on some things that I'm learning as a Jesus follower, husband, dad, and friend. Watching the news and listening to talk shows it is very clear that everyone has something to say these days and most think their opinion is the only one that matters.  People argue and argue about their positions, thoughts, and who is right and wrong.

My opinions are not superior or new or groundbreaking or revelatory in nature. They are simply from a guy who's trying to follow Jesus with all his heart and who wants to lead his family in the love of Christ.

May what I share over the next few days, weeks, months, and years stay the course and remain faithful to God's Word and purpose in our lives. To grow us, shape us, and challenge us to be more like Him.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Project

I profusely apologize for the lack of postings lately. I am in the midst of a big project that hopefully in the near future will be able to announce. Your prayers and thoughts are appreciated, and in the mean time, if you'd like to read our story, please continue through the entries below!

Be blessed, be elevated.

JP

Friday, May 20, 2011

Shannon's Story: The NICU

The NICU

Time went on and we continued to visit Aiden often throughout the day. Eventually I was discharged Tuesday morning, and we made our way home without our little boy. Even though it was a struggle, we came to the hospital several times a day to visit him.

Aiden began doing so well that they gradually started him on bottle feedings. Our times with him were precious as we held him for long periods of time. In the beginning, we could only hold him for ten minutes each. Because he was progressing so well, we were able to hold him as long as we wanted. We eventually experienced giving him baths and bottle feeding him, which was both nerve wrecking and a blessing. What joy to be able to care for our child!

We continued to visit him for the three and a half weeks of his stay in the NICU. During our time with him we met incredible people and encountered divine appointments. Aiden had several nurses care for him that we weren’t familiar with, but had heard of our situation through mutual acquaintances. They were already praying for our family and didn’t even know who we were! Not only were they praying, but God miraculously placed our son in their care. How awesome is that?

We not only had amazing nurses praying and caring for our child, but we encountered other couples in the NICU that we had the opportunity to encourage and minister to. One in particular we met from Georgia. The dad was on business travel and his wife decided to visit him. The night she arrived, she went into labor and had her first child in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. They were stuck away from home with their child in the NICU, living out of a hotel with no clue as to what was to happen next. Talk about challenging.

We spent several minutes talking with this couple and the wife’s parents, sharing our experience and encouraging them. They looked exhausted and emotionally drained, something we understood. We ended up finding out they were Christians and singing God’s praise in the midst of their situation - amazing! We exchanged numbers in case they needed anything and parted ways.

We felt the calling from the entire experience to begin a program that supports parents with children in the NICU. There were so many fears and unanswered questions that we and most parents seemed to face through the process. Fortunately, we had the advantage of John’s dad being a physician. He was able to answer those questions and calm our fears, but most parents didn’t have that luxury. So we felt the burden to create a support system for parents who go through this experience. Who knows where God will take this, but we have had continued confirmation and support to pursue it.

Now we are home with our little boy loving on him as much as we can, and soaking up the blessing it is to be a parent and steward of God’s creation. This whole experience has been nothing but a blessing and eye opener as to how much our God loves us and has a plan for each of us.

Aiden was born 3 lbs. 2 oz. and is now 7 lbs. after almost three months of being brought into this world. He is incredibly healthy and making phenomenal progress. While his progress has been great, our doctors have instructed us to keep him separated from people for a period of time because his immune system is still developing. A small price to pay considering all he has gone through!

As for John, he is adjusting well to being a daddy and his responsibilities at Church of the Redeemer’s Frederick Campus. He is still being a huge support by helping around the house and waking up at wee hours in the morning to change Aiden and keep me awake so I can feed him. My health is significantly better and have spent the last few months at home with Aiden learning the ropes of being a mommy. We are so thankful to the Lord for all he has done and is still doing in us. With Him ALL things are made possible!

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, as I hope you see the results in this story. There truly is power in prayer, and we couldn’t be any more blessed to have such amazing people - even ones we don’t know - covering our family in it.

Thank you to those that have showered us with gifts. We were under the impression that we still had two months to go, and had nothing prepared for Aiden. No clothes, diapers, crib, etc. Because of you, we have more than we need and we can’t thank you enough for rallying together to help us.

Thank you to those that have supported us these last few months with food. Your willingness to take the time and effort to make us a meal has been such a blessing. Your support has been incredibly helpful, since we have been exhausted and trying to adjust to being parents!

Know how much we love each of you reading this and pray that this story encouraged you to keep the faith and continue running the race! The Lord isn’t done yet and has so much in store for us all! May His glory continue to be revealed!

JP, SP and AP

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shannon's Story: After the Storm

Sunday and Monday, Feb. 13/14

The Magnesium Solfate took about 24 to 48 hours to wear off completely, and once it did I was finally able to go see Aiden Sunday morning. John proceeded to help me out of bed and into a wheel chair and we headed towards the NICU.

Once we got buzzed into the NICU we washed our hands before making our way to his bedside. Around the corner there was a long corridor and at the end of it was my baby’s incubator with a Denver Broncos towel draped over it. This scene felt so dramatic, almost as if it belonged in a movie. I immediate felt a rush of emotions and began weeping. It had been two whole days since I had last seen my baby in the operating room. I was so nervous and overjoyed about seeing him! When we got to his little corner, I couldn’t believe how small he actually was - our beautiful little bean.

Once the nurse checked his vitals, we were able to change his diaper and hold him while he was fed through his feeding tube. We couldn’t have been more blessed or privileged to touch and hold our child. As some of you know, John’s father is a neonatologist. He had spent years working in the the Army’s NICU caring for children like our own. He had shared with us that when he was practicing, parents weren’t even allowed to touch their children. I can’t even imagine giving birth to my child and not being able to touch him. Two days was torture enough!

Once things started to calm down Monday evening, we spent some time thanking the Lord and listening to one of Jesus Cultures songs “Show Me Your Glory.” I began to listen to the lyrics intently and broke down crying. The week before this event, I had been blasting this song over and over again in the car, not realizing how God was using it to minister and prepare me for the steps ahead. I was so blessed and overwhelmed by how God knew and was working way in advance. Thank you Lord for your continued faithfulness to our family!