Don’t Keep The Good News To Yourself

Some of the most amazing stories of God’s supernatural provision and providence are found in II Kings 2-8. The story recorded in chapters six and seven is about a drought in the land that was so severe that the people began eating their own children.

In chapter seven we read the story about four lepers who are forced with a decision that could’ve led to their death either way; either starve to death or approach the camp of the enemy Arameans in hopes they would have some food knowing they risked being killed. Here’s the story.

Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”

At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.

The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.

Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves.

After reading this story, at least two things come to mind that could encourage us on our journey through this pandemic. First, regardless of how badly the food chain gets disrupted and or how widespread the foot shortage may become, you and I can be at complete peace knowing God can do the unimaginable and impossible to sustain us. I love how God frightened the enemy by making them hear the sound of an army when there really wasn’t one—so frightened that they ran for their lives leaving everything behind for the lepers to feast on.

And secondly, regardless of our current circumstances, this pandemic presents us with a great opportunity to testify to the amazing grace of God. My favorite verse in this story is found in verse 9. Again, “Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves”.

Friends, to receive the grace of God that grants us the gift of being at peace with God and not telling our lost friends is not right. And to have the peace of God that passes all understanding and not share that with those who are filled with anxiety is also, not right.

May it not be so with you and me that we hoard God’s grace from anyone, but be ready in any and every situation to share about the supernatural ways God has delivered you in desperate times. This is a day of good news!!!

I love to tell the story, Mike Altena

 


Sing It!

One of the things I appreciate about the Psalms is that they are a compilation of the writer’s authentic and transparent feelings about how they experience God in the midst of a broken world.

There are several types of Psalms; four that are most common, the Psalm of praise, the Psalm of thanksgiving, the Psalm of lament and the Psalm of trust. Some, like Psalm 18 can include all four of those characteristics. And as many of you know the Psalms were put to music and have been used in worship thousands of years.

In Psalm 96:1 David suggests we must “Sing to the Lord a new song…” Now please don’t hear what I’m not saying. I am not building a case of why we should sing more new songs. Like most of you, I love many of the old hymns! And yet there have been several “new songs” (songs written in the past few years) that have enhanced my worship during this covid pandemic.

For example, I was recently listening to the radio when the song entitled “Even If” by Mercy Me came on. It begins like this, “They say sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some and right now, right now I’m losing bad.” Sadly, my first thought was that this could become the theme song for many farmers and business owners. The writer of the song goes on to tell how it feels like he’s going through a fiery trial, but in the end he trusts in God for his salvation. The song closes with these lyrics, “You’ve been faithful, You’ve been good. All of my days, Jesus, I will cling to you come what may. ‘Cause I know You’re able, I know you can…It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Another song that I was introduced to a couple of years ago is entitled and also known as the “Kyrie Eleison”. The Latin and Greek translation of Kyrie Eleison is “Lord have mercy on us.” Possibly inspired by Psalm 51:1-6, the lyrics of the song are simple. “For the things we’ve done and left undone. For the ways we’ve wandered from your heart, forgive us we pray, forgive us we pray. For the idol’s we put on Your throne, for the loves we choose before Your own. Forgive us we pray. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy on us. For the lies that we clutch to our chests. For the fear that wants to steal our breath. Forgive us, we pray. And give us your grace. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy on us.” Oh do we need God’s mercy at this time!!

I have also been blessed by Lincoln Brewster’s song, “While I Wait.” Like many of the Psalms, Lincoln writes about a time in his life when he and his wife are waiting for God to do a miracle. Beginning with his confidence in God, the song begins, “Deep within my heart, I know You’ve won, I know You’ve overcome. And even in the dark, when I’m undone I still believe it. I live by faith and not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). Sometime miracles take time. When I fall apart, You are my strength, help me not forget. Seeing every scar, you make me whole you are my healer. While I wait I will worship. Lord I’ll worship Your name. While I wait, I will trust you. Lord I will trust You all the same.”

Back to thinking about how shutting the economy down because of the covid virus has especially impacted our farmers, even in the midst of “right now we’re losing bad,” I see them trusting God for a miracle. In some ways it would make no sense to plant the corn or soybeans. Because of the uncertainly of the impact of the covid virus, they really have no idea if there will be a market for their grain this fall, and yet they walk by faith and not by sight…sometime miracles take time. We wait.

I thank God for the gift of music and how it can give expression to our thoughts and feelings in the midst of our broken world so loved by God. I thank God for all the songs that have enabled you and me to express our praise, our thanksgiving, our lament and our trust. I would love to hear from you about a song, old or new, that God has given to encourage you during this pandemic. Call or text me at 320-226-2646. Or email me at mike@arcluverne.org.

To God be the glory, great things he has done…Mike Altena

 


End Times?

Over the past few weeks I’ve read articles, listened to podcasts and had conversations with people who are wondering if, or how, the covid pandemic might be a sign that Jesus’ second coming is getting very close.

Prophetic voices have spoken about super powers making their move towards the one world government and the one world currency.  Whether it’s because we have better technology and increased access to report all that is happening around the globe, or that there clearly is evidence of an increase in evil, pain, suffering and persecution for following Jesus, a person might rightfully ask, will Jesus be coming soon. Maybe you are wondering the same thing.

Apparently the church in Thessalonica was wondering the same thing nearly 2000 years ago; do we know what day Jesus will come back to take us home?

The Apostle Paul addresses their concern with this response as found in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10. As you read Paul’s response, take note of attitudes and actions that we shouldn’t be taking versus those we should   be taking.

1 Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.

But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.

For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. 10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. 11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

Do you see it? What are at least three attitudes and actions we should avoid at this time?

1.

2,

3.

And what are at least five attitudes and actions that should mark our lives at this time?

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

And then of course, the greatest good news regardless of when Jesus returns, take some time to mediate on verse 9-10. Why did God choose to save you? And then spend some time thanking God for his plan to redeem this lost and broken world, and that he gave you the faith and the grace to believe he wants to live with you forever!!

May it not be so with you and me that we would worry about when Jesus will come back, but rather may you be filled with peace knowing that it’s God’s presence in our lives that distinguishes us from all the other people on the earth.

Soli deo Gloria (Glory to God alone), Mike Altena

 


Nothing Can Separate Us

When I think about our current health crises, it rightfully creates concern on many levels. In regards to the economy and jobs, it feels like the dark, discouraging times of the farm crisis in the mid 1980’s. This crisis however has two other significant hardships that we didn’t have to deal with in the farm crisis; the potential for catching the Covid 19 virus and therefore the relational distancing being imposed by our government.

I’ll be honest, when getting present to my thoughts and feelings about the reality of extending my personal comfort space from three feet to six feet; I have a hard time coming up with words to describe it. Words like, unbelievable, eerie, crazy, and wonderful come to mind when I think of the need for separating. If our level of avoidance when meeting people in public wasn’t already a serious social concern, it’s almost comical to watch people in their efforts to keep their distance. J

The good news in all of this, and the promises we cling to, is that NOTHING will separate us from the love of God. I’m guessing many of you have been standing firmly on Romans 8. However, if you’re not, well then here you go, allow the Holy Spirit to pull you up out of your quicksand so that you can stand in this truth!

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In order for the article to fit on this page, I had to leave part of it off.  I would also encourage you to read Romans 8:18-27. When I read through this text I find at least eight profound truths. Here are the first three, you find the rest:

  • v. 28-29 If we allow him to, God will work this out so that we will become more like Jesus—that gives me hope!
  • v. 34 Jesus is praying for you and me right now –that gives me peace!
  • v. 39 There will never be a reason that God will impose “relational distancing” from him—that makes me feel loved!

May it not be so with you and me that we would ever worry about being separated from God’s love!

Grace to you and peace until we meet again,

Mike Altena

 

 


Strengthen Yourself in the Lord

If you’re like me then you have spent much of your week pondering our current reality of “social distancing” in hopes of mitigating the spread of the Covid 19 virus. Many people have expressed that it feels like this is a bad dream, or as posted on Facebook, some kind of “make belief story written by a fourth grader.”

Like me, you may also question whether the threat of the virus warrants the recommendation from our government to avoid all unnecessary contact with those we normally share life with.  (That being said, I also believe I must submit to those who are in authority). It doesn’t take long to realize that our means of slowing the spread of the virus is already having a significant impact on our lives, relationally, financially, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Will I ever be able to touch my face again!? 🙂

And like me, as a result of the sudden halt of our normal daily routines and the uncertainty of when, or if, normal ever returns, the number of times you approach the throne of grace now far exceeds the number of times you wash your hands each day.

As I process the shock of our current reality, one of my favorite stories from 1 Samuel 30 comes to mind. And again, not exactly like the pandemic we’re dealing with, but it’s a story filled with fear, anxiety, anger and a brief period of social distancing which causes David to seek God’s divine help.

The story goes like this, “David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.

“When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.”

Imagine being away from your family and community on a business trip for a few weeks, only to return to find your community has been totally destroyed and your family has been kidnapped. And even worse, you were responsible. Imagine the level of anxiety, fear, and loneliness David immediately felt while walking through the rubble, and even more so, when he discovered his closest allies want to kill him.

And how did David respond to the devastation of his home and community and the uncertainty of the fate of his family? It says, “But David found strength in the Lord.” Or in the NASB it says, “And David strengthened himself in the Lord.”

I’ve been thinking about that verse a lot this week? What action did David take in order to strengthen himself in the Lord? I wonder, did David spend a lot of time on Facebook or Snapchat?  And in light of all that is unfolding in our world, how do I “strengthen myself in the Lord?”

Not saying this is the only way to strengthen yourself in the Lord, but it begins by finding a quiet place to pray. Even Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray (Luke 5:16). Be authentic with God; acknowledge all the different emotions you are feeling. And yes, spend time rehearsing the promises of God found in the written and living Word of God. Spend time in worship; worship through song has a natural way of connecting your heart to the heart of God. And let me also add, nothing wrong with reading other people’s devotional insights, but let me encourage you to have your own encounter with God. Maybe take some time and write your own Psalm and share it with your family. Inquire of the Lord what you can do, and then walk in radical obedience      (1 Samuel 30:7-8).

May it be so with you and me that during this unexpected trial that we grow in “strengthening ourselves in the Lord.” I’m excited to hear about your encounters with God!!

Grace to you! And God be with you til we meet again, Mike Altena

 


March Madness

As one who enjoys watching sports, one of my favorite seasons is the college basketball tournament called March Madness. Based on their season’s record, difficulty of schedule, or being the conference champions, today (March 15) would have been the day 68 teams would have been selected to play in the NCAA tournament; all with hopes of making the “Big Dance” in Atlanta on April 4-6.

However as many of you are aware, the NCAA March Madness has been cancelled and replaced by a new March Madness, the COVID-19 virus. And by referring to it as “madness,” I am referring to the madness of how Americans are responding to the threat of the coronavirus. I fully understand the reasoning behind the cancellations of all kinds of events around the world. And I agree we should do whatever we can to minimize the effects of spreading the virus; however, hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bottled water, and wearing hazardous material suits on airplanes seems like pandemonium to me.

When reflecting on my response and the response of others to the threat of being infected by the virus, I am reminded of my desire to control the destiny of my life. I have been forced to think about what I value most deeply and even more importantly what I believe about God’s providence and protection.

Although it isn’t a story about the frenzied panic of the masses, one of my favorite stories of overwhelming fear on the part of the disciples is when they experienced a sudden storm that popped up while they were crossing the Sea of Galilee. The story is found in Matthew 8:23-27.

23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. 24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

27 The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”

Like us in the frenzy of our current March Madness, the disciples were gripped by fear believing that they were going to die. And not only die, they were going to die the worst kind of death; they were going to drown (The Jewish people had a great fear of what was lurking under the water). By the fact that Jesus was sleeping, the disciples also made an assumption that he didn’t care about their well-being. And it revealed what they believed about Jesus’ ability to protect them.

It’s fun to imagine what actually happened in the boat. Like, I imagine one or more of them shaking Jesus, trying to awaken him. And then finally when they succeed in waking Jesus, did he just lift his head a little bit and say, “Why are you so afraid? You have so little faith!” And then did he go back to sleep? J Oh wait, I guess he didn’t go back to sleep because Matthew remembers Jesus getting up and then speaking to the storm, commanding it to stop.

This part of the story gives us great comfort in the midst of our current storm. First we have to remember, this story reminds us of the spiritual battle in the heavenlies. I believe Satan orchestrated the storm to destroy Jesus and his disciples. But Jesus demonstrates here that he has both the authority and the power to stop any storm whenever he wants. Likewise, we might be afraid that Jesus is asleep; he’s not paying attention to how this virus might destroy our lives (or any other trial we might be going through). But the truth is that Jesus will allow the storm of this virus to last only as long as he sees necessary in order to accomplish his will.

The good news is, while God never promised he would keep us from dying, but rather, even if we die, he will keep us. And so together we can say with great faith the words of Psalm 31:13-14, “…there is terror on every side….But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “you are MY God.” My times are in YOUR hands…”

Grace to you and Peace during this season of madness,

Mike Altena

 


Measurable Growth

If you were to pause and reflect on the ministry of American Reformed Church over the past three years, would you say we have made progress towards the intended outcome of our ministry efforts?  Some of you might think, well I’m not sure what the intended outcomes of our ministry efforts are.

And for those who would agree that we have made progress over the past three years towards our ministry efforts, let me ask you, how would you measure that?

Since last October the Ridder: Churches Learning Change Team has been working on defining some measurable outcomes for our ministry. Basically we were challenged to consider what is the intended goal of our ministry—why are we doing it—and are we succeeding?

In order to help us process our work, we have been reading Gil Rendle’s book, Doing the Math of Mission: Fruits, Faithfulness and Metrics. In chapter one Rendle makes this sobering statement, “At the heart of the church’s struggle to be fruitful is a common non-profit dilemma: nonprofits routinely do not know what difference they are trying to make. In other words, nonprofits (including churches) do not know what outcome they are trying to produce.”

After telling a story to illustrate one church’s lack of clarity on why they were doing what they were doing, a situation came up where a church board needed to make a decision on whether or not to baptize the baby of a mom who was an inactive member of that church. They decided to proceed with the baptism, “Because you never know what good can come of it years later.”

Is that the goal of why we baptize babies, or of why we put so much time and energy into Sunday School, Pioneer Club, Youth Groups, Vacation Bible School (which by the way, that team is already busy preparing), Bible studies, etc.—“because you never know what good can come of it later”?

Rendle then goes on to tell how, because churches don’t know what they are measuring, they end up focusing on counting. Counting things like how much money is given in the offering each week and how many attended worship. He would argue that there is nothing wrong with counting; it’s just that what we count identifies our “resources,” while what we measure identifies our intended outcome.

For example, in 2019 our giving was down $ 8,184 and our average worship attendance was down 3 people than the previous year. Those numbers represent counted resources. However those numbers may also represent a measurable difference in the spiritual condition of our congregation as well.

So if counting and measuring are both important, then obviously it’s important to be clear about the outcome of what we are doing and why we are doing it. As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Rendle defines an outcome as “The measurable difference you believe God has called you to make in this next chapter of your life.”

After much discussion at many meetings, I believe the difference that God has called this ministry to make is to “Apprentice next generations to passionately communicate and demonstrate the gospel message of the Kingdom.” I believe that is an accurate description of our mission to make disciples who obey everything Jesus commanded. So then, if “Apprenticing next generations to passionately communicate and demonstrate the gospel message of the Kingdom” was our intended outcome over the past three years, now could you say we have been making measureable progress towards that goal?

Identifying measurable progress has also become a challenging part of the conversation; can you measure—how do you measure—if a person is becoming more passionate about communicating and demonstrating the message of the kingdom?

Well Jesus had much to say about counting and measuring. For example, from Matthew 7:16-20, 16 “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

May it be said of you and me that our lives reflect measurable growth in communicating and demonstrating the message of the King and his kingdom!

Growing in grace,

Mike Altena

 


Rags to Riches

Super Bowl LIV has come and gone and unless you are a fanatic football fan, or you were stimulated or repulsed by the half time display of soft porn, it likely has become a meaningless memory. That being said, often times in big games like this there is a rags to riches story. Such was the case for the center for the Kansas City Chiefs football team, Austin Reiter.

In 2016 Austin was a center for the Cleveland Browns. The team went 1-15. In 2017, Austin returned for another season with the Browns, only this time was limited to special teams offensive line play. The team went 0-16. That’s the worst two year stretch of any franchise in the NFL.

Before the start of the 2018 season, Cleveland released him. Arguably the worst team the NFL has ever seen determined that Austin Reiter wasn’t good enough to play for it anymore. From the outside looking in, this made sense, your team goes 1-31 and you might as well clean house. After all, exactly how good could a special team’s player be who couldn’t crack an offensive line rotation that allowed a whopping 50 sacks in 2015 and also allowed their quarterback to be hit an additional 130 times?

Reider didn’t have much pedigree to argue. He was a two-star recruit out of high school before signing with South Florida. Then the Washington Redskins drafted him in 2014, but not until the seventh round. He spent his entire time in Washington on the practice squad and obviously no one in Cleveland thought much of him either. Maybe, it was fair to wonder if having the Browns fire him was a sign his NFL career was over.

“One man’s trash,” Reiter said, smiling, on Sunday night (of the Super Bowl), “is another man’s treasure.” Reiter, 28, was standing in the middle of the celebratory swirl of the Kansas City Chiefs locker room. He was wearing a Super Bowl champion hat on his head and a Super Bowl champion t-shirt over his shoulder pads. He was about to get his hands on the Vince Lombardi Trophy, give it a kiss, and pose for     a picture.

The guy who couldn’t make it on one of the worst teams in the league had just been a starting center on the best team in the league. After playing in four games in 2018, the Kansas City chiefs rewarded Austin with a two-year guaranteed contract with up to $5.5 million “The NFL is crazy,” Reiter said. “The Lord works in mysterious way and here I am.”

After reflecting on Austin’s story, I began to think about all the “unlikely heroes” in the Bible—men and women whose “teams” would have released for their lack of integrity or productivity. The fact that Jesus called Peter to leave his career as a fisherman and follow him likely meant that Peter was not a very good student in school. We know about all the times Peter spoke before thinking and especially the time when Peter denied even knowing who Jesus was (what a lying dogfaced pony soldier).

And yet Jesus never gave up on Peter. After Peter reaffirmed his love for Jesus and receiving Jesus’ forgiveness, Jesus re-signed Peter by saying, “Follow me.”

Peter would go on to become one of the great Apostles and would come to understand his reward saying, “What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. (I Peter 1:4). What a rags to   riches story!!

And may it be so for you and me. Don’t ever give up; God’s not done with you. The Lord works in mysterious ways. You’ll play a part on his winning team!

Pressing on to win the prize,

Mike Altena


Dad Tired Conference

Hey dads, as you begin to think about New Year’s resolutions, I wonder if this might be a worthwhile investment of your time. I’ll find out how we can register. Mike Altena

 

Hello brothers and sisters!  My name is Caleb Haverdink.  I am nothing special, just a regular dad and husband who has lived in NW Iowa his entire life.  But I’m very excited for an opportunity that is coming to Maurice Reformed Church on February 29, 2020.  Jerrad Lopes, if you haven’t heard of him, is a pastor in a ministry that he has been serving in for a few years now called Dad Tired.  Yep!  That’s right!  Dad Tired.

He hosts a podcast weekly, which is how I got introduced to the ministry where he gives insight, teaching, and direction on many topics related to men living out the gospel through the various areas of our lives.  The podcast has been downloaded over 1.3 million times now and hundreds of thousands of men listen to the podcast each week.  He has worked with other men in the ministry such as Matt Chandler, Bob Goff, Jon Acuff, Paul David Tripp, Shane Claiborne, and Jefferson Bethke to help equip men to be the husbands and dads that God is calling them to be. He has hosted well-known people such as Tony Dungy, Alfred Morris, Anthony Oneal, Remi Adeleke, Ryan Stevenson, Jon Foreman, Rhett Walker, and Andy Crouch just to name a few.

Jerrad is the author of the best-selling devotional Stop Behaving and his recent release Dad Tired and Loving It.  Dad Tired is a ministry that helps men live out the gospel through their marriage, leading their family, and their personal lives.  In his words, he uses the platforms of marriage and parenting to be able to preach about the gospel.

The Dad Tired ministry has had an incredible impact on my life by providing teaching moments, insights, gut checks, challenges, and encouragement.  A few months ago, I felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit to not only STEP outside my comfort zone, but to completely LEAP out and to contact Jerrad and invite him to Maurice Reformed Church.

The one day event on February 29, 2020 is titled Stop Behaving.  As Jerrad says in talking about this conference, “Your family doesn’t need a man who behaves well.  They need a man whose heart has been radically changed by Jesus.”

I want to invite you and the fathers and husbands in and around your congregation to attend.  Learn about healthy marriage practices, how to speak the gospel into your children, spiritual leadership principles, and develop Christ-centered family traditions.  Each participant also will receive a copy of the devotional Stop Behaving.  I included a link below that directs you to a site that gives information about the agenda for the day, some testimonials, and a couple of videos from Jerrad that show a little more of his heart and how God is using the Dad Tired ministry.  I would love for you and as many men that you know to come and learn, laugh, grow, experience, be challenged, and be radically changed.

https://www.dadtired.com/conference.html 

More specific details of the conference will be available soon as to the cost(estimated to be approximately $25/participant depending on sponsors), space available, etc.  If you have any questions or would like to help in the planning of the event, please feel free to contact me at cjhaverdink@gmail.com or my cell phone, 712-463-3241.

 


With Him For Always

In 1994, the Russian Department of Education asked two Americans to go to Russia and teach morals and ethics based on biblical principles. They went to public schools, prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments, and a large orphanage where 100 children had been left in the care of this orphanage. The Americans related the following story…

Since it was nearing the holiday season, we wanted the orphans to hear the Christmas story for the first time. Throughout the story, the children and the staff listened in amazement. After telling the story, we gave the children pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger.
Each child was given a small paper square cut from yellow napkins we had brought along. Following instructions, the children tore the paper into strips to lay in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel cut from a discarded nightgown, were used for the baby’s blanket. A baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States.
The orphans were busy assembling their mangers as I walked among them. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat waiting after he had finished his project. He looked about six years old. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the boy why there were two babies in the manger. I thought perhaps he had misunderstood the story. The child began to repeat the story very seriously. For one who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related it accurately, until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger.
Then Misha said, “And when Mary laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mama and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him, but I told him I couldn’t because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did.
I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, ‘If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?’ And Jesus told me, ‘If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.’ So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him for always.”
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him, FOR ALWAYS.

I love this story in that it invites me to treasure and ponder the wonder of Jesus’ humble birth. Like Misha, if I were to repeat the story of Jesus’ incarnation, how would I retell the story in order to help you understand how Jesus has brought hope and healing to the broken parts of my life? If I were to repeat the story of Jesus’ incarnation, it would likely include how Jesus values me apart from my performance or productivity. It would likely include my telling about his grace that covers my besetting sins. And it certainly would include the peace I have in knowing Immanuel, and more importantly, that Immanuel knows me.

Ok, now your turn. Like Misha, how would you repeat the story of how Jesus has brought hope and healing to your brokenness?

Bringing you good news of great joy…

Mike Altena