Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

From now till around the end of January is my most favorite time of the year. The almost three months that this time frame encompasses has many great memories, traditions, and special days that I love to reflect on and celebrate. Its also the best time of the year to drink coffee but that's a different blog.

Tomorrow, we leave to go experience the Suiter Family Thanksgiving. This is no small event and is looked forward to throughout the year by my whole extended family. It's more like a family reunion with many of its own long-standing traditions and experiences. It is a time that I really get to connect with my parents, sisters, brother-in-laws, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, cousins, cousin's kids (I think that's all and you get the picture). It is a big event and great fun. I'm really looking forward to it again this year.

Then right after Thanksgiving is my birthday and then we quickly move into the Christmas season with all of its wonderful and fun festivities. Then comes New Years Eve and Day and lots of college football. Right after that, we get to celebrate the birth of two of my three children. Anna's birthday is January 6 and Mary's is on the 15th (hard to believe that she is almost one!). And then hopefully, intermingled in all those great events are some really cool WV snow days!

So yeah, I'm looking forward to this fun stretch for the Suiter family as we wrap up a difficult year and look forward to a new year with hopefully less stress than 2009 presented. Here's to the most wonderful time of the year! Yeah I know the tune that is running through your head right now! :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Words For Sin

Sin used to be called sin and people actually felt bad and convicted about it. Now we have so many new names for sin so that we can keep from feeling bad and convicted. Here are some examples - instead of sin, we now call it a complex, an addiction, a dependency, a mental disorder, a chemical imbalance, an obsession, a phobia, a quirk, an indiscretion, a mis-spoken word, a mistake, etc....

I'm not trying to say that none of these other ideas and words don't have their place as far as our present problems go but we have certainly come a long way in making ourselves feel better about our sin by trying to find something other than ourselves to blame it on. Maybe our culture and today's church would both be in a better place if we all still called sin what it is. It is not a complex or any of the other things listed above, it is missing the mark that God has set for our lives and without Jesus, sin keeps us separated from Him. Sin has, is, and always will be sin!!! No culture or word changes will ever change the fact that sin is war against God and keeps people from Him!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Live Free

"Our aim is always to become so free in spirit that it no longer matters whether or not we have the earthly things we crave. So be vigilant over your will and desires, for these are the corrupt forces that dwell within, and keep you from living free." John of the Cross (1542-1591)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where Has Respect Gone?

I have recently been troubled as I watch our culture slip further and further away from respect. I get more and more upset when I see those my age and younger behave as if no one matters but them - as if no opinion matters but theirs. I want to scream, "REALLY? Do you really thing that you are that important?"

"A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions." Proverbs 18:2

I guess I should not expect individuals who do not know Christ to be respectful (although, there was a time in our country when even the lost were respectful) but the new trend that I see that is so disturbing to me is the lack of respect found in those who claim to follow Jesus. I observe people who say with their lips that they desire God and desire to follow Him and yet act with great disrespect to others (authority figures, businesses, the law, peers, other's property, even their own property). They say things to individuals that they have no business saying. They send emails they have no business sending. They show up late for everything screaming, "my time is more important than yours!" They leave trash all over the place when they are 10 feet from a trash can. They talk over others eager to tell their own stories. They never say "please" and "thank you" or "yes sir/ma'am" or "no sir/ma'am". The list could go on and on.

Maybe I'm just being old fashioned at 36 years old but I don't think so. If there was ever a time for respect, its now. If there was ever a better time for Christians to be different than the world, its now. And what better way to shine that to be respectful - to put forth a new and different attitude than is prevailing in our culture that says, "Hey, it's not about me".

I don't believe a new level of respect would solve all the world's problems but I do believe if Christians were intensely selfless and respectful, it would shine the light of Christ into a very disrespectful and dark world!

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. "
2 Timothy 3:1-5

The Eternal.....

"God must reveal to us that nothing in this life is truly good, for it is not lasting. And our soul, which is eternal, must stop trying to find its resting place and security in earthly loves and worldly joys. Nothing in this life can offer the secure hope, the limitless love our soul needs - for the earth and all that is in it is passing away, but our soul is eternal....."
John of the Cross (1542-1591)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And I Thought My Life Was Hard

I just read a brief article detailing how unhappy Micheal Vick is playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. REALLY!!?? Are you serious!!?? I mean after what he has been through, you'd think he be happy that he was just suiting up on Sundays in the NFL. But apparently that and the fact that he is getting paid $1.6 million to suit up just isn't enough for Mr. Vick.

"It would be hard," Vick said of returning to the Eagles (next year), according to excerpts released by NBC. "It would be an everyday struggle. I won't be a Wildcat guy. I can't," Vick told NBC. "It's a different style of play. It's almost like a hit-or-miss type of thing. My position is quarterback. That's what I was born to do."

WOW!!!! I can't even begin to imagine how hard things are for poor Mr. Vick. An everyday struggle? Are you serious??? Man I tell you what, things are getting bad in our country when a guy gets out of prison and then goes to work playing a game and gets paid $1.6 million for it and he is still unhappy! That is just sad and crazy. I sure hope Micheal Vick finds what he is looking for. I hope he finds happiness. I hope he finds Jesus!

As I read this article and was filled with indignation over his complaining about his situation, I wondered how often I sound like this to God. God has blessed me beyond imagination! He has released me from the prison of sin and death and then given me amazing resources that I don't deserve and placed me in a calling (aka. job) that is wonderful. Then I still find reasons to complain. My whining and moaning to God is probably worse that Micheal Vick's since I have the Truth and the Holy Spirit.

I want to take my indignation with Micheal Vick and turn it into humility before my great God. I want to stop moaning and complaining when everything doesn't go exactly like I want it to and praise and thank God more. I think my new slogan is going to be "No Whining!"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Fall Of Nineveh

Nineveh was one of the greatest and most wealthy cities of its time and it ruled for centuries. It's sin and wickedness in the form of violence was unparalleled to any other city probably in all of history. The whole story of Nineveh is an intriguing one. I won't go into all the details but I do want to point out one thing that God showed me as I was reading and studying the minor prophet of Nahum this morning.

One can get a great view (perspective) of God and His character through the storey of Nineveh. The prophet Jonah was sent to preach judgement upon Nineveh but they repented of their sin and God relented. It's then interesting to note that this repentance must not have lasted very long because God later announces sure judgement upon Nineveh through the prophet Nahum.

The thing that I took away from this is that God truly is "slow to anger and abounding in mercy" AND that "He will not withhold judgement forever." This is the perfect picture of the both/and sides of God. He is perfect mercy AND He is perfect judgement.

If you are in a time of sin and rebellion, embrace His grace now while He is offering it! There will come a time and maybe soon where His judgement will overtake you. His mercy and grace are great and His judgement is fierce. Choose His grace and love while it may be found so that you do not have to experience the terrible wrath of a Holy God. Seek God today while He may be found (check out Isaiah 55:6-7) and do not turn back to sin and rebellion.

P.S. Study the fall of Nineveh. It will scare the you know what out of you!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Our Temporal Future

I know that God is in control of all things and that we are not to worry about the future. I know that we are to follow Jesus and trust Him in all things. I also know that we are to be students of our culture and our society and protect those that we love and protect innocents so with all that said, watch this clip and answer this question: Scary or no big deal?

Does Jesus Really Love Me?



Wow! This is such a great word from Brennen Manning! The love of Jesus is bigger, deeper, and more vast than we can ever get our mind around. How would our lives change if we trusted in the love of Jesus Christ and embrace His grace! Man I needed to hear that!

Stephen

Acts 6 and 7 tell the story of Stephen. The Bible says that he was full of the Holy Spirit. It also says that he was full of grace and power and was performing great wonders and signs among the people. Wow! That sounds awesome doesn't it? If you really want to be used by God, you look at the beginning of Stephen's story and his description and say to yourself, "He was awesome, I want to be like him." Then comes the rest of the story.

Stephen was being used by God so much that he stood out and hacked some people off (it was probably jealousy). Then it got worse for Stephen when they tried to argue with him because he spoke with so much Spirit-filled wisdom. So his opponents made up charges against him and brought him before the High Priest and he ended up being executed by stoning as the first Christian martyr.

I don't think this jives with our idea of 21st century American Christianity. I think that most of us believe the prosperity gospel. We say with our mouths that we don't believe it, but with our thoughts and attitudes, we do. We think that if God is really with somebody that bad things just won't happen to them. We think that if we have lots of crazy circumstances in our lives and lots of stress, then God must not care about us.

Our idea of Christianity is completely backwards of what Jesus and the Bible teach. Jesus said that this story of Stephen would be the norm if we really lived for Him. He said that people would hate us if we took on His name and followed after Him radically. Why do we act so down when things go wrong for us. It ought to be a sign that God is probably with us and the devil is after us and that we are right where we are supposed to be.

Where did we ever get this idea that we could be a "good Christian" and everything would always be well with us. We need a revolution in our "Christian" thinking! We need to follow Jesus above all else and let the chips fall where they may. We need to learn to really trust in Him and let go of all our ideas for our lives. We might get rich and live a long time or we might be poor and die a martyrs death in a foreign land. Only God know the plans that He has for us. Let's not pretend that we know that we are supposed to be the ones who live rich and long and lets just trust in Him. I know its much easier said than done, but at least, let's strive to change our thinking about what we "deserve". Let's follow Jesus and leave the rest up to Him.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Favorite Quotes - Part 2

"Your view of God is the most important view that you have. To the extent that your view of God is out of focus, your life is out of focus." Gordon Borror

I am in great debt to Dr. Borror. He was my worship professor in seminary and it was one of the best classes that I have ever had. Dr. Borror challenged me in the way I viewed God and the way I viewed worship. That class was revolutionary for me and so was this quote which was Dr. Borror's favorite.

The truth of this quote has impacted me differently at different times in my life. In seasons of my life where my view of God has been skewed and off, the quote has served as a reminder of the true attributes of God and of His greatness and sovereignty. In the seasons of my life where my view of God was as close to correct as I know, the quote served as a basis to stay where I was in my mind as well as a basis for worship.

If your view of God is off right now then your life is off right now too. If you view God is wrong (a cosmic Santa Claus, a cosmic killjoy, a genie in a bottle, etc.) then you will think and act wrong too.

Get in the Word of God and get to know who He really is!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Favorite Quotes - Part 1

I thought this week that I would take some of my favorite quotes and write about them. So here goes with favorite quote #1.

"You will be the same person you are today five years from now except for the places you go, the books you read, and the people you meet." John Maxwell

Do something that expands your horizons, that challenges the way you think, that gets you out of your comfort zone. Allow your small view of life and way of thinking be challenged and expanded by the new.

It is so easy to get into a rut. It is so easy to get so wrapped up in our own little world that we can't see beyond ourselves and our little lives. We constantly struggle against this so we constantly need something to stretch us and pull us out of mediocrity. I love this quote because it gives one way to do just that. Pursue and experience the new and do it not for pleasure sake but to aid you in seeing beyond yourself.

The three ways, according to this quote, to do this is to read new books, see new places, and meet new people. Seeing new places doesn't require as much time and money as you think and those new places do not have to be beautiful or fun places. Seek out the new to change you. Travel to dirty, poor, and needy places to see how others live and be moved with compassion. Travel and see the different parts of nature in God's amazing creation. Travel and appreciate.

Meeting new people is easier for some than it is for others, but the more people you meet and invest in, the more perspectives you will have by which to view life. The more people you meet, the better person you will be if you constantly keep a right perspective of God and people. Meet new people and appreciate them. Allow them to be them and don't ever get prideful because you think you are better.

READ new books! This may be the one area that requires the most self-discipline but is at the same time the easiest to do. And this one is huge. Just think, by picking up a book and reading, you can get inside the brains of the greatest theologians, romantics, scientists, poets, preachers, counselors, creative thinkers, and the list goes on and on. Just by reading, you have a world of knowledge, wisdom, insight, and perspective at your fingertips that you would never have in your brain if you chose not to read. If you don't ever read, you will never grow. You will stay small in your thinking. This is probably the most important of the three. You must read if you want to get out and stay out of a rut. You must read if you want to grow.

So yeah, expand and grow. Go see some new places (maybe just drive in a new neighborhood that you have never seen), meet some new people (reach out beyond yourself - say "Hi, how's your day going?"), and most definitely read some new books (go get a library card and get started!)! It will change you for the good if you let it!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Make His Mark

"Our mark isn’t worth our life. Living to make my mark is too small a thing to give my life to, but to somehow be positioned in a place where God can work through me is something worth giving my life to." Andy Stanley

Accepting That Which I Do Not KNow

The other day, I was taking pictures with the camera on my phone and then emailing them to myself at home so I could use those pictures on my blog. While I was doing this, it occurred to my how crazy amazing technology is. I mean, here I am miles from home, taking pictures of the nature around me and then driving home and when I get back to my computer the pictures that I just took are already there for me to use. Now maybe your brain doesn't work this way but mine really freaks out when I think about it. How in the world does this amazing technology work? Then the next thought on my mind was how many times in a day that I willingly and joyfully use something (phone, computer, Internet, microwave, hot water heaters, car, plumbing, heat, satellite TV, electricity, etc.) that I have no idea how it works. I do so without questioning how or why it works . I just know it works and I use it. All of the inventions that I use to make my life better and easier, I just use without questioning. I don't get mad at them or stop using them because I don't know or can't understand how they work.

As I pondered all this, I wondered why I treat God so differently. Why do I question the way He works? Why do I think I have to figure Him out? Why can't I just run to Him and trust Him in everything? Why can't I embrace the truth that I already know? Why can't I just exist in the peace and joy that He brings when I trust? Why do I have to get obstinate at times and demand to know how and why He is who He is? Why does His actions or lack of actions bother me? Isn't God so much more important and trustworthy than my Blackberry?

"Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. " Isaiah 64:8

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Great Fall Run











I just got back from a great fall run. I ran 33:37 and it felt great. I haven't been running much recently and I hate that, but it sure felt good to pound out some miles today. The temperature was around 40 degrees and I'm sure not used to that yet but it was great nonetheless. I set out with just myself and my Zune. I listened to a sermon by Francis Chan. It was a great combination of exercise and the Word of God. The trail was wet and littered with colorful leaves. The scenery itself was beautiful. I love the fall. I am thankful for the ability to run and thankful that I live in such a beautiful place like Morgantown, WV. I put up some pictures of the trail where I get to run and one of me right after my run today. Maybe now, after today's experience, I'll start running more often but I know continued diligence and discipline is still very much required. We'll see! :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

My "Little" Girl


I know that Brannon is still a little girl. She is only 5 years old, but still; it blows my mind how big she is and how much she can do. She can actually see over the top of the shopping cart now so she can push it around the grocery store without running into things. Becky and I are always amazed at how fast she has and is growing (she is learning to read right now!). I know it is not a new phenomenon and that every parent experiences it but it doesn't make it any less mind blowing to me. It seems like yesterday that she was just a baby or running around in diapers. It just blows my mind how big she is!


Yesterday in the grocery store, Brannon and I were having a conversation about how big she is and about how much she has grown. Right after that she asked me to pick her up and hold her and carry her through the store. I looked down and my "little" girl who has grown so much and I asked her when she was gonna be too big for me to hold. Her answer was so great! She looked up at me and said, "Never!" Needless to say, I picked her up and held her and carried her through the store and I did so with tears in my eyes. I hope she always feels that way!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Perspective is Reality

Maybe you've heard the phrase, "perception is reality" which means that the way that each individual perceives life, that is that person's reality and it affects and often clouds one's ability to relate to others.

"Perspective is reality" is my little tweak to this idea. Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a friend and told them of an idea that Becky and I were considering for our family. When I was done, he was looking at me like I had just grown a second head. He then proceeded to insult me and tell me why that idea was a dumb one. Now I was a tad bit offended and wondered why he thought he knew what was best for me and my family and wondered what gave him the right to tell me so. Then it hit me: "perspective is reality"! From his perspective, I'm crazy but from my perspective, everything about my idea makes perfect sense.

As I walked away from this conversation, I realized something about perspective, reality, and grace. Most people do not have the same perspective as me and therefore have different ideas about how to live life. We all have different personalities, backgrounds, motivations, sin issues, etc. and we all think we know what is best. The problem comes when we try to impose our perspective on others and give no grace for people to have their own ideas. This could be anything from how we keep our house to our opinion on adoption to where someone wants to live. It could be anything! We have thoughts and opinions on everything which is fine until we think our way is the only way. The world would be a much nicer place to live if we enjoyed our perspective and opinions but kept them to ourselves. It would be even better if in our attitudes and especially our words, we gave others the same freedom that we desire - the freedom to live according to our own perspective.

Here is a short side note for all of you out there who love to jump to conclusions. I am not talking about the essentials of the Christian faith or sin issues (although grace in both of these is a much better alternative to a judgemental attitude). I am talking about the everyday things of life that make up our personal preferences. You know, all the things that are no big deal, but we make a big deal of them because everybody is not just like us. Anyway I'm just sayin.......

Strive to be a dispenser of grace in all things!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Marley and Me

Last night, Becky and I watched Marley and Me. It was a great movie! It probably ranks up there in my top ten movies of all time. In lots of ways, its a "dog movie" and I am not a dog person at all so one might think that I would not like the movie. But it says so much more about life and relationships than just being a "dog movie". I was so pleasantly surprised that Hollywood produced a movie that romanticised true love, family, and commitment instead of the usual flicks that promote romance, casual sex, and pleasure.

The movie had much to say about the hardships and difficulties that come with family, children, and commitment. It didn't sugarcoat the fact that family life especially when starting out isn't all fun and games. It is hard work. Tiredness is a constant and much stress is placed on the marriage relationship. It didn't shy away from the "look at all I've given up" conversation. It showed the hard times but in the end, revealed the product of committed relationships and family.

It was such a good time for me to watch Marley and Me. This is the exact stage of life that I am in and it is very difficult. Having three children under the age of six is constant work in addition to trying to carry out another "job" as well (parenting is the hardest "job" you will ever experience). You can't ever clock out from being a parent or a spouse and the issues are non-stop. Even having enough milk in the house is a constant battle at the cereal loving Suiter house and that is a VERY small thing. Mary was born at the beginning of 2009 and it has been a very trying and hard year. I never even saw it coming. There have been times when I wondered if I was going to make it but through it all, I realize how incredibly blessed I am!

There are still many moments when my frustration level gets very high (like this past week during a wind storm when I was up practically all night with 2 very frightened little girls) but the reality is that I am blown away but the goodness of God. He has blessed me with a wonderful wife and three beautiful little girls. Every time I hold any one of the four of them, I am moved with gratitude and amazed that I get to be Becky's husband and Brannon, Anna, and Mary's daddy.

Check out the movie. Its really good, but a small piece of advice for all you young couples out there who don't have children yet: remember when watching the movie that while it doesn't romanticize the wrong things, it still romanticizes things and it takes a lot longer to see your kids past 2nd grade than 115 minutes!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Pain of Discipline

Discipline is so hard! It doesn't matter if its self-discipline or discipline imposed as a parent. Both are incredibly difficult though for totally different reasons. But with either one, living by accident is so much easier and doesn't take much thought or intentionality at all. The only problem with living a life with no discipline in it is that the outcome really sucks. The Bible and experience prove the that to be true - that discipline is never pleasant in the moment but in the end produces strong character and integrity.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

I hate having to make (force) myself to do something. Being lazy (living by accident) is so much easier but I don't want the life product that laziness and a lack of disciple produces. So I must persevere in my pursuit of self-discipline. This is also majorly true in the lives of the children that God has entrusted to me. I cannot even begin to explain how hard raising kids is and being consistent with what you say to them and consistent in their discipline. It is never fun disciplining my girls and so much easier to ignore their disobedience. But since I love them, I cannot neglect disciplining them. I want them to grow up and be amazing, productive lovers of Jesus Christ. This will never happen if I neglect discipline in their lives.

So I must pursue discipline in my life and in my kid's lives if I desire to attain any semblance of what God wants for me and for them.

And thanks be to a great and Holy God who loves me enough to discipline me as well. I praise Him that He is the perfect parent.

"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Hebrews 12:5b-6

My Blogging Hiatus

Sorry I haven't been doing so well on my blog recently. I don't really have any good excuses. I just have been in a different spot recently trying to figure out what God has in store for my life, and ministry as well as some practical things in the life of my family. I have been very introspective and haven't felt like sharing much. I hope to get back to regular blogging this week as God is leading in new directions in my spirit.

Oh and maybe, I'll start up blogging about my runs again soon - that is if I ever find the time to run. AHHHHHH!

Anyway, thanks for your patience. I hope you have been checking my blog and will continue to do so and keep reading. I will do better about posting in the future.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good Friends


This past Saturday, I married Brian and Shannon. It was a good ceremony and I am so happy for the couple. I have known Shannon ever since I moved to Morgantown. She was one of the first people I met. Becky and I have been praying for 4 years for her to meet a Christian man that she could spend her life with. We are grateful to God for answering that pray in Brian.
After the wedding, we obviously hung around for the reception. Chris and Linda Haddock were there in attendance and sat at the table with us at the reception. Brannon sat by Chris. Right before the meal was served, I looked across the table, and my oldest daughter was sitting in Chris' lap with her head on his shoulder. I was then overcome with crazy gratitude for the great friends that God has put into our lives. I am so thankful for Brian and Shannon and Chris and Linda and all the other individuals at Crossroads Church who mean so much to the Suiters. I am especially thankful for a man who I completely trust and who my daughter feels so comfortable with that she would put her head on his shoulder. This is a testimony to the character of Chris H. It has nothing to do with the Suiters. It is because of the investment that Chris has put into Brannon that she responds to him like that. I was so thrilled to see it. I am so glad that someone loves me, my wife, and my children so much to invest in us like Chris and Linda have.
Two things quickly came to my mind in this moment:
1) I am blown away with gratitude for the friends that God has put into my life and into my families life (there are more than Chris and Linda and you know who you are - the story is just about Chris and Brannon). We are so fortunate to have so many people care for us like they do.
2) You will only get out of relationships what you put into them. Some people get so upset because they don't have relationships with others or a specific other and they always find a way to blame the "other". But the fault in most relationships that never happen lies with us. Brannon would NEVER have been sitting in Chris' lap with her head on his shoulder if he had not spent some serious time and effort investing in her. If we want great friendships, we must lay our lives down for each other and be willing to give - to sacrifice. Then, and only then, will we have the kind of love and trust that exists when a 5 year old sits in your lap and puts her head on your shoulder. To have a friend, you must first be a friend. Get outside yourself and invest in someone else and you will be surrounded by friends.
Thanks Chris! I love you man!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Living and Serving Like Jesus

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.
3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-3;14

3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.
John 13:3-5;12-14

3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:3-8

I know the idea that Jesus is God and that He came to serve us by dying in place of us because of our sin is a common Christian theme but I was blown away again by the gravity of this truth today. Jesus is GOD! He has always been! He created everything! He sustains everything by His Word! He is infinite! And He took on flesh (hunger, feelings, pain, tiredness, stress, confinement to one place and time)! And He came and served us by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross! This is crazy cool theology! This is crazy cool love!

I love Jesus because He first loved me! Thank You Jesus for your unmerited favor, grace, and love!

After doing what He did (and being Who He is), He commands us to treat others with the same kind of love that He has for us. This is SO convicting (if you want to read more on the subject, check out Matthew 18:21-35) and quite an undertaking. I believe the world would quickly be changed for the glory of Jesus Christ if His church would truly live out His forgiveness, love, and compassion for others.

God has recently been impressing on me how much I need to grow in this area. In the past, I have always viewed my time and energy as belonging to me but God is revealing to me that those things are not mine at all. They are tools to serve and love others and bring glory to God. I have always known this in theory but living it out in practice is another thing but I want to so honor God with my time and energy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

On Guard

"Let us then be on our guard. We live with indwelling sin that is inclined toward insanity, because it is inclined to believe lies that lead to our destruction. When we are feeling the powerful pull of worldly temptation we need to take Paul's exhortation very seriously: 'But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called' (1 Timothy 6:11-12)."

Jon Bloom
Exc. Dir. of Desiring God Ministries

When I read this statement today in a letter from some stuff from Desiring God Ministries, this part really jumped out at me. I loved the section about how our sin inclines us toward insanity. I think so often we treat sin like its really no big deal but the reality is it leads toward insanity! Jesus said that the flesh profits NOTHING (emphasis obviously mine) and I am reminded of something that I heard recently from a pastor friend of mine. He said that we have no idea how deeply sin has marred us from our original God ordained condition.

This is all so true. Sin sucks, but it has such a strong pull on us. We need to be on guard and stand firm. We must stay in the Word and in prayer. That is the only way for apart from Christ, we can do nothing.

Stay the course my fellow travellers! Be on guard, watchful and alert! Our enemy is smart and patient. Our path is narrow and fraught with difficulties. Stay close to Jesus! He is our only hope!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Place To Be

"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'" John 11:32


I love this verse. It jumped off the page at me this morning as I was reading. Because of recent events in my life and my recent line of thinking, I can totally identify with Mary in this instance. Her brother has just died and she knows Jesus could have done something about it if He had just gotten there sooner. She is upset and from her perspective Jesus has totally let her down. Obviously, she has no idea what is about to take place (Jesus is going to raise her brother from the dead!!), and so she is upset and is laying some, if not all the blame at Jesus' feet. BUT, she is also laying something else at Jesus' feet - herself. Yep, I love this. She is upset with Jesus because of her lack of understanding but she still falls at His feet. Even though she feels like Jesus has let her down, she still recognizes her need to be at His feet.

This is SO applicable to my station in life. I have to continually come to grips with the fact that God is infinite and I am not. I think I know best, heck, I usually think I know everything and I continually get upset when God doesn't work everything out exactly like I want it to go. I obviously have a hard time letting go of things and trusting God from time to time but even in my most faithless times, I am like Mary. I recognize that in my times of mistrust and confusion, the best place for me to be is at the feet of Jesus! It's amazing how time at the feet of Jesus brings clarity in the midst of darkness. It helps me recognize that my perspective is so small and limited and that God truly knows best. He is totally trustworthy!

It amazes me how often we struggle with the weighty things of life and faith and then continue to move forward or try to figure things out on our own. When we do this, things just get blacker and more confusing. When we finally recognize that the best place to be is at the feet of Jesus, peace always comes. Maybe answers don't always come, but peace does. I'm sure that when Mary got off her knees, she wasn't immediately OK because her circumstances hadn't yet changed but I bet she had a new peace that she hadn't had since her brother had died. Jesus was there and even though there was still confusion, there was now a new peace.

This is exactly what I have discovered in the past few weeks. No matter what the source of blackness or confusion, the best place to be is at the feet of Jesus! He can handle all of our struggles, fears, and questions. Nothing is to big for Jesus. The problems are with us. We just have to learn to let go and trust. Yep, the best place to be is at the feet of Jesus trusting in Him.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Grace in The Church

"The church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners"
Morton Kelsey


I so long for this to be true of Crossroads Church! May God forgive our self-righteousness as we seek to minister to a city and a world that is desperate for the grace and love of Jesus!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blown Expectations

Life would be so much easier if we could live lightly with little expectations. If we could live easy, flexible lives, we would never get frustrated, disappointed, or upset. I know that is a major oversimplification but it seems that expectations do way more harm than good. We expect things from our spouse, our children, our friends, our church, our meals, our vacations, etc. Then everytime our expectations are not met, we get disappointed and our attitude suffers. Life would be so much better if we just accepted life and relationships as they came. I am not saying things would still not be hard work and require intentional living. I am just referring to living with as few expectations of situations and others as possible.

I noticed two things about this yesterday. As the Suiter family explored southern West Virginia, my expectations were blown out of the water and I was not happy. After I got frustrated, it negatively affected everyone in my family for the next 6 hours. It was not good because I allowed my expectations to dictate my attitude, perspective, and outlook. It would have been so much better for me and my family if I had been more flexible. The second thing I noticed is that with innocence and trust comes few expectations. My kids are so good in this area. They trust their momma and daddy so much that they are just along for the ride. They want to have fun and experience fun things but if we ride in the van all day and that's what momma and daddy say we are gonna do then that's OK with them. They have little or no expectations and it shows in their happiness and joy in the little things. We adults need more innocence and trust.

After this experience, I wonder how we approach God in the realm of expectations. I wonder how often we get frustrated or disappointed with God because He doesn't do or respond to our prayers the way we expect Him to.

Wouldn't life and our walk with God be so much sweeter and filled with less stress and more joy if we would let go of so many of our selfish expectations and just allow God to take us wherever He wants us to go. Wouldn't our relationships and life events be so much better if we would lower our expectations of others and situations.

Just a thought, but after all this, lower expectations seems more Christian and less worldly. I'm gonna try to live my life with less expectations and more trust in God and more flexibility with others and situations. Maybe then this pain in my neck will go away! :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Death By Selfishness

"Selfishness is a form of slow suffocation, choking us on the limited air of our own self-interest."

"Some people are imprisoned by their demand for comfort. Others are imprisoned by their demand to be noticed, or appreciated, or respected. Some of us are imprisoned by being selfish with what we own. God invites us to experience a new freedom and a new joy that is found when we ignore our first selfish impulses and allow God's Spirit to give us a heart for others. He wants us to expand our focus and turn our eyes away from our own small world, and to find ourselves by losing ourselves in service to His people."
Gary Thomas


I wonder how long it would take for the Church of Jesus Christ to completely change the world if we actually laid ourselves down and actually lived like Jesus calls us to. It is amazing how selfishness controls us. It is amazing that we are so self-centered and we really think that it is about us. We never say that. We just act like it. I need to get my focus off of me and onto Christ and His church and His mission for a lost city and world. God help me/us if we keep making it about us! Help me/us to get serious about You and others.

Lets forget about ourselves and magnify Him!!!!!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

GREAT Song!



Check out this amazing song! It is SO good. It is by one of my favorite bands and song writers (Martin Smith and Delirious). Let the Lord speak to you through it. Worship Him! I haven't checked with Ian yet but I am hoping we can do it at a Crossroads gathering soon. Enjoy!

My New Ride!


Just got me a new ride. Here it is. It is a 1998 Isuzu Amigo. Brannon and Anna love it!

Among Dark Hearts

You have got to check out this short excerpt of a piece of writing from Bernard of Clairvaux. He wrote it somewhere around the year 1125. It is amazing how clearly and relevantly it comes across after 900 years. Check it out!

"Churches are full of people who are fairly miserable because they are still bound to earth, and not free in spirit to soar with the joys of heaven. And as for good character and godly living - it seems that the quality of Christian character goes down as our numbers increase.

For now, it must be so. You and I must live among others who fill up the church and whose hearts are truly dark. Run from any 'Christian' who lives to please his flesh, as if you were fleeing from the worst danger. For fire is prepared for all those who lead little ones astray. Do not let your profession of faith - 'I am following Christ' - turn out to be a mockery.....

Do not be led out of your place in Christ, I tell you. Instead, remain true to God and you will know the true working of grace, which gives strength within."

Truth and Rubbing Alcohol

I was thinking again this morning how truth has the tendency to make you mad or make you holy. There is no middle ground with truth. It made me think about pouring rubbing alcohol on an open wound. Its really good for you because it kills bacteria and promotes healing but it really hurts a lot. Truth is a lot like that. It can really hurt (and usually does) but it has the tendency to kill sin and wrong thinking in our lives and promotes life transformation. I want to always be open to God's truth (btw - its the only kind). It is difficult to welcome it into our lives, but the benefits are way better than blocking it out.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Spending Time With Daddy


As my girls get a little bit older, I am amazed at how much "daddy"time that they desire and need. It is crazy how many times a week that I hear, "Will you hold me?" Every time I leave the house, Brannon and Anna ask if they can go with me. Sometimes to calm them down or hold them off from rushing out the door with me, I must make a promise for "daddy" time later in the day or week. Another thing that Becky and I have noticed concerning this issue is how the girls act when there is a lack of "daddy" time. If I am gone for any length of time, the moment I get home, Brannon and Anna cling to me. I can hardly go to the bathroom without them following me. Also, the longer I am gone, the worse their behavior gets. It is a strange phenomenon but one that is not without merit. Its true in every facet of life and culture. "Daddy" time is vital. That is one of the main reasons our culture is going down the toilet. Too many daddys are not spending enough quality time with their children and it is killing our culture!


The real application that I want to make is how this issue with me and my girls is like us and God. We NEED "Daddy" time! When we don't get it, our behavior goes downhill fast. Also, as I have been thinking about this recently, I have been asking myself how much do I crave "daddy" time with God. It has been a good question for me because I have concluded that I do crave it. I desire God so much. My "Daddy" time with God may not look like others and it may not always look the same in my life, but the truth is I do crave time with God. I want to be with Him. I want to know Him. I want Him to teach me and lead me and hold me. I desire and definitely need God way more than my girls desire or need me. Both of these lessons and insights have been very healthy for me as a "daddy" and as a "child".


Now, go spend some time with your kids (if applicable) and go spend sometime with your heavenly Father. You need it! :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Crossroads Website

Hey! Check out the Crossroads website! It looks great and has lots of new stuff (pictures, content, and links) on it. Ashley A. has been working on it almost all day and it shows. Thanks Ashley! I am finally excited about our website again. Tell your friends and hand out our invite cards. Our website is a good draw again and the future looks bright for it as well. Sweet!

http://www.wvcrossroads.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Crossroads Vision

"Crossroads Church exists to grow and strengthen the body of Jesus Christ by living out His love." The main thing that drives this vision is humility. We believe that humility will result in involvement in other's lives which will directly result in diversity. Then we will be a group of Christ-followers that looks like and acts like the true church of Jesus Christ.

These few brief sentences describe the passion of my heart! I could speak for hours about this vision and write pages about what it means and how it looks. But they are just words on a page or wasted breath if there is no action behind them. When God called me into ministry and specifically when He called me to plant Crossroads Church, I had a burning passion to change the whole world for Jesus' sake. It seems to me that 2009 has been anything but pursuing that vision. My year has been consumed with dollars and buildings and it has taken its toll on me and on the vision of our church. We never set out to have a fancy building or a big budget. I have never had the desire to run an organized machine and call it a church. I desperately want to see lives changed and transformed by the power of the gospel. I want to see Jesus transform the culture of northern West Virgina because Crossroads exists as a church. My desire for us as a church to be involved in other's lives with the love of Jesus is the thing that birthed this church and has driven this church until this year. It is amazing how draining the details of ministry are to me. I just want to see Jesus change lives! I owe a huge thank you to Chris H. for reminding me this morning how important the past 7 months have been. He reminded me that the building and the budget are VERY necessary FOR the ministry.

With all that said, I have been very unsettled as of late, chomping at the ministry bits. I am ready to move past the nuts and bolts and on to future ministry direction. This stirring inside of me is a good thing and God is firing me up to move forward with the Crossroads vision from three years ago. I am excited about the direction that He is leading my heart and mind. I am excited about the people He has placed at Crossroads to carry out the mission that He has given us. It is going to be great! The future is bright and exciting. I can't wait to see how God is gonna use us to impact lives with His love and grace.

Looking back, I am profoundly grateful for the past 7 months. I am grateful for how they have set us up for future and long-term ministry. It has been a difficult journey for me, but I am thankful for the practical and spiritual growth that has occurred since January. We have a new building to use for Kingdom growth and new dollar amounts to seed Kingdom growth. That is the practical. I am also thankful for the spiritual. I am thankful for how the past 7 months have set my heart up for the future, how God's stirring in me is re-kindling the fire upon which this church was started.

We are marching forward into a Kingdom future as we walk humbly before God and our fellow man. It is going to rock to see all that God can and will do in us and through us as we move forward in obedience. The vision is alive and well and we are poised to attain new heights of Kingdom impact and success as we follow our head - Jesus Christ

Thank you to all who are part of the Crossroads family. Thanks for being a part of the journey. Thanks for believing in what God is about to do in and through us. You guys rock! You are such a blessing to do life with and to do ministry with. Thanks for all your love, support, prayers, dollars, sweat, and partnership. The vision is strong and the future is bright!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The God-Shaped Hole

I drink coffee to help me focus. I do not drink coffee to wake up or help me stay awake. I just realized that coffee sucks for the later purpose. At the moment, I am sitting in my office and I am very tired/sleepy. I haven't gotten much sleep, well lets just say for the past three nights, and its 10 AM and I need a nap. Anyway, in the middle of a book that I am reading, I closed my eyes for a moment because of my level of sleepiness and realized that there was no way that I was going to sleep after my two cups of morning coffee. That's when it hit me that coffee keeps me awake but it doesn't keep my body from being sleepy. Coffee doesn't fulfill my real need for sleep. Coffee can never meet my body's need for rest. It can only mask my true need.

As I was contemplating this, I thought about how just like we as Americans try to substitute coffee for sleep, we also try to substitute so many other things for our deep need for God. We seek out so many other things to fill up our "God-shaped hole" in our lives. Then just like me and needing sleep but not being able to sleep because of my morning coffee, we think we are fulfilled and our "coffee" (aka, stuff) takes the edge off our need for God. But even when we seek other things and we seem satisfied with all our toys and pleasures, there is a nagging under-current in our lives telling us that we are desperately missing out on something deeper, something more important, our true need, God!

It is my prayer today that I will embrace my desperate need for God and seek Him with my whole heart and stop running after all the "coffee" that the world has to offer.


"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hay!







Becky says she is a "country girl" now since we live in the middle of a hayfield. It really is great and the girls have loved watching the hay bales come out the back of the hay baler. Here are some pictures from the back stairs of our house.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Found It!

After 3 plus years of searching, I have finally found it!

I have spent countless hours seeking the answer to, "What is it that re-charges my batteries?" Everybody has things in their lives that drain them and things that energize them. Now after 3 years of church planting, I have become acutely aware of the things that drain me while never finding that one thing that fills me back up. Over the past 3 years, there have been many times when I was so drained and dry that I just wanted to run away. I was like a sink with the drain wide open and no idea how or when to turn the faucet on. That is why I bought the motorcycle. It was a desperate attempt to find the faucet. After a VERY draining year with the birth of Mary and all the stress of the DR mission trip, the new building , and our Crossroads growth and everything with all that as well as trying to keep up with all the regular ministry stuff and relationships, I had about all the out go that I could take with nothing flowing in. I was SO tired and just wanted to re-energize and re-gain my passion for ministry. Becky and I talked about what was going on in my life and that is when we decided to try and see if a motorcycle would be the answer. I promised her if a motorcycle wasn't my faucet and I discovered what was, that I would sell the motorcycle. Well, needless to say, the motorcycle is for sale. I don't regret buying it at all even if I have lost some cash. I guess it really isn't lost at all when you take into account the fact that it helped me find what I was really looking for in the first place.

So, are you ready for it? My search is over and I can't even tell you how excited and relieved I am. To try so hard to find something, especially when the answer is within you and not find it has been VERY frustrating over these past 3 years. I am so pumped! OK, OK, here it is . My faucet is exploration! That's it! It's so cool and the best part is that it doesn't matter what it is as long as its exploration. I want to do new things and go new places. It can be 40 miles on the Appalachian trail or simply a new road or new grocery store. You may think I am crazy (I probably am and most of you probably think so anyway), but this realization is huge for me. When you don't have major drains and stress in your life, the re-charge isn't that big of a deal and that is why I never looked for the recharge or even knew that I needed one until the last 3 years. So its really hard to find the words to describe how excited I am. Becky is excited too for lots of reasons; one being we can find ways to meet my re-charge needs as a couple and as a family. So yeah, major epiphany in my life and ministry and I am looking forward to the future as God leads toward more growth and stress.

O and by the way, anybody want a great motorcycle!!??

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Resurrection

If Jesus Christ is resurrected and alive, then that changes everything! Sound crazy? Of course Jesus is resurrected and alive you say. But if we really believed it to be true, then our lives would be radically different wouldn't they?

If the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is true then we need to busy ourselves being about the Kingdom of God. If the Resurrection is true, then only the things that we do for God and His Kingdom will last. Only those things really matter. They are the only truly important things in life.

As Christians, if the Resurrection is not true, then we are to be pitied above all people (check out what Paul has to say about this in 1 Corinthians 15). If the Resurrection of Christ isn't true, then we are religious fools and we are wasting our time, money, and energy when we could be spending all our resources on ourselves.

So what do you say? What do you believe? Is Jesus alive or dead? The answer to this question changes everything about how we live. It changes how we eat, work, play, think, speak, etc. It changes everything. Meditate on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Read 1 Corinthians 15 and let the gravity of eternity sink in.

Check out this quote from Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) about this very idea.

"But if you fix the eyes of your soul on the Resurrection, the fear of sickness, impairment, and death will slowly lose its power over you. You will experience peace and rest in the Lord in your very being as you ascend in spirit over your mortal flesh. We only do our souls good as we meditate on the glories that will be ours when we are raised to be with the Father forever."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Grace

"Grace would not be grace if it were a response to resources in us. Grace is grace because it highlights God's own overflowing resources of kindness. Grace is eternal because it will take that long for God to expend inexhaustible stores of goodness on us. Grace is free because God would not be the infinite, self-sufficient God He is if He were constrained by anything outside Himself."

John Piper

I'm Back!

I just noticed the date of my last blog entry! It was a month ago tomorrow! I can hardly believe all that has transpired in the past four weeks. It has been so crazy! Instead of trying to post an accurate description of all the activities (stress) that have kept me offline and not blogging, I'm just gonna say it has been overwhelming, stressful and at the same time very fun watching everything come together. I have been so busy it has been ridiculous but I am in the midst of my first semi-normal week this week and am looking forward to some down time in August. So yeah, just gonna say its been crazy and now I'm back. I'll just pick up from here and blog ahead into the future.

O but one thing that I will add - Praise God that our preschool construction build-out is done!!!!

Maybe two things - I would rather cut off my toes than to be on the phone for one more minute with ANY utility company! Can somebody please tell me how these companies stay in business!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Going Offline

I am about to shut down my office computer and move it to our new building. I don't know when I will have an Internet connection again because everything is up in the air right now. There is so much going on at the new building. The mission team from North Carolina is here and they are doing an amazing job on the preschool build-out. It is all gonna be awesome, but the meantime is downtime as far as routine goes and I don't know when I will be back to normal (as if I will ever be normal). I am not complaining. I am stoked about all that is going on and excited to watch everything take shape. It's all good even though I will be out of pocket for awhile. I've done it before (the whole summer of 2006) and this time won't be as long or as bad so yeah, it's good. But at the same time, I don't know how much more transition I can take. For someone who loves change, even I am being stretched during this season of my life. I am truly looking forward to a good routine, not a rut, but a routine. I think I need that soon. Anyway, prolly won't be blogging much until that happens but keep checking back, I am trying to do my best to keep it updated amidst all the craziness!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Past Month

Well here goes my attempt at catching up on my ravings over the past month. It has been crazy to say the least. The best way I can describe how things have gone down over the last four weeks is that I have not run or had a home cooked meal in that time frame. It has been nuts and Becky asked me Sunday on the way to church if this week was gonna be normal. Not sure I know what normal is but here's hoping this week looks more like it than the previous four. Anyway, here is my attempt to catch up on my blog:

  • We have moved into a new house and are daily reminded of God's hand and grace in our lives.
  • Moving is fun. It is also stressful and exhausting especially when you do it with 3 kids under the age of 5.
  • Change and lack of structure has been hard on my kids and has probably stressed them out as much as me and Becky.
  • The way that Mike and Irma B. love me and my family is truly astounding!
  • Becky Suiter is AMAZING!
  • Moving my family and my church and traveling out of the country all in the same month was probably not the best idea.
  • God has reminded my a lot in the past four weeks, "My grace is sufficient for you"!
  • Missions is the key to church growth. It is not my preaching! It is obedience to God in giving and missions. God will bring the increase.
  • It is a great privilege to partner with GO Ministries and with Francisco Feliz in order to provide physical and spiritual nourishment to Batey Cuchia in the Dominican Republic.
  • God is presently challenging me and expanding my idea of what in means to be involved in missions. This hopefully will have great impact on our church and the Kingdom of God as a whole as Crossroads is obedient in giving and going.
  • It is amazing the difference that $2,000 makes in the life of a Dominican pastor.
  • It was so invigorating to meet like-minded American pastors at the GO Ministries Mission Conference. God has burdened so many for the same things that He has burdened me with.
  • For all the things that Crossroads Church does wrong, we are doing most things right and God is blessing because of it.
  • The timing of God is perfect!
  • What is man that God is mindful of us!? The love and grace and humility of our Savior is truly unfathomable!
  • We met in our new building this past Sunday with an attendance of 124! Did that really happen?!
  • The two weeks leading up to Sunday in which we were trying to get everything ready was CRAZY! A BIG thanks to everyone who helped! Couldn't have done it without you all!
  • Still much work to be done and am exhausted by the mere prospect of it.
  • I am buying me a motorcycle! I gotta have an out and its all I could think of. If you have any other ideas, I would be more than happy to entertain them. Don't say a nap or a book. I am not that kind of guy!
  • If I could pick two words two describe the past four weeks, I would pick BUSY and GRACE. I used to think that I knew what "busy" was until the past month. You take all that has been on my plate and then you throw 3 kids under 5 in the mix and "busy" has a whole new meaning! Sleep has become a luxury and I am beginning to think that is going to be the case until Mary is at least 5 or 6. Whew, we got a long way to go. I have been blown away this past month by the grace of Almighty God! In the midst of the most busy, stressful time of my life, God's amazing grace has come shining through in every facet! The house, the ministry, the new church building are all expressions of God's grace to me. He has also been teaching me so much about how to manage busyness and leadership in the process of a busy ministry and family. His grace has truly overwhelmed me as much if not more as my busyness has this past month. I am so grateful to God for the grace that flows to me through Jesus Christ my Lord! Without grace, the busyness would be empty and deadening!
  • That's all for now. I will try to pick up from here as the days roll on. There has been SO much more to blog about but I don't want to bog you down or me down. So, I just hit some of the high points and will try now to start fresh as I try to get back on track with everything in my life including my blog.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Overwhelmed

I am so overwhelmed! It is crazy! I really don't have time to blog but I want to check in really fast. There is so much going on in my life right now that I didn't know doing this much was even possible. The crazy thing is that everything that is going on is all good stuff. But too much of a good thing can still overwhelm you I guess. Well, I gotta run back to the new building. We have lots of work to do before Sunday. I'll try to do a list blog on Friday about all that has been going on the last two weeks so I can catch everybody up with the ravings of a running rev. Later everyone! Keep me in your prayers!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Celebration of Ministry Partnerships Conference

I am headed back to the Dominican Republic tomorrow. This time, I am going for the GO Ministries Celebration of Ministries Conference. It is an event that GO does once every four years to celebrate all the ministry partnerships that God has put together and all the work and ministry that has gone on over the past four years. It is also an opportunity to meet everyone involved in the ministry. There are going to be 178 of us there from America, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Mongolia. It will be great to meet like-minded pastors and others who are involved in the same kind of mission work that we are involved in. It will also be great to meet all of the GO staff and local pastors and missionaries who are doing the work in their home countries.

Pray for me as I go. Pray for the conference itself, that God would get great worship and glory form our meeting and our partnerships. Pray for unity and closeness amidst the awkward language barrier. It will be tough with more than 4 different cultures and languages represented. Pray that God would do a work in my heart and continue to grow my desire to lead Crossroads more toward missions everyday.

I'll be home late Saturday night and I'll see everyone on Sunday! Have a great week!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Are We Really That Different From The World?

I wanted to share a short excerpt from a Phillip Yancey book that I am reading that kinda shook me. The book is entitled Rumors of Another World. It deals with the crazy differences in this physical world that we can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell and the realities of the realm of Jesus Christ. Here is the excerpt:

"All too often, the attractions of the visible world simply overwhelm those of the invisible. Three centuries after Jesus, when the church had already spread throughout the Roman empire, John Chrysostom complained, 'We admire wealth equally with them (non-Christians), and even more. We have the same horror of death, the same dread of poverty, the same impatience of disease; we are equally fond of glory and of rule....How then can they (non-Christians) believe?'"

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Our New House!







I can't believe we are really moving into our new home this weekend! It is so crazy how God has worked this out for us. I never in a million years believed that I would be living in a house like the one we are about to move into.

Here is the quick story. We had been trying to sell our house for well over a year. We presently live in 800 square feet and were expecting our third baby girl (Mary, of course, was born in January) and thought we needed something just a little bit bigger. When our house never sold and I/we got to a place of contentment with where we were, then God moved. We had just decided to take the house off the market and stay where we were and just spread out a little bit by moving me and Becky into the living room. As soon as we stopped looking for the next step and decided that God wanted us to be content with where we were, that is when He opened up the new door.

I won't go into all the details, but lets just say that the Suiters are about to move into a house beyond our wildest dreams (four bedrooms and two large bathrooms) and we don't even have to pay for it!!!!! (I'm not even kidding!) A huge "Thank You" goes out to Mike and Irma B. You guys are amazing. Thanks for your friendship, support, and love. Thanks for giving of yourselves for us and for the Kingdom of God. An even bigger "THANK YOU" goes out to Jesus! He is the giver of all good things and I want Him to get all the praise and glory for this move. Sure the Suiters get the benefit, but may all the glory for this move and this house go to Him!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Never Quit on a Monday!

Throughout my ministry, I have heard many pastors say, "Never quit on Monday!" I never understood it until recently and now it is so true with me and this rain doesn't help at all. It seems that the higher my Sundays are (and we've had some awesome Sundays recently!), the lower my Mondays are. I have so much on my plate right, I don't know what to tackle first. Anyway, I once read a Perry Noble blog about the best time to pray for your pastor. He said to always lift up your pastor on Sunday evening and all day on Monday and that is for sure. Please pray for me today as I continue to tread water today (almost literally).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Humilty

Humility is a core value of Crossroads Church. That means it is one of the main things that drives all that we do. But Crossroads Church does not have the market cornered on humility. I believe that humility is the main marking characteristic of a follower of Jesus Christ. Each and every one of us ought to be growing in humility as we are sanctified in our walks with God.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

If we really believed and lived just this one verse from God's Word, our whole world would change. We think we are humble but we aren't even close. If we were truly humble like Christ, people would be getting saved and needs all over the world would be met. Stress and struggles in our marriages and all of our other relationships would essentially be gone. Humility would and will revolutionize our lives for God's glory and people's benefit.

But we just can't let go! We have to hold on to all that is dear to us and we continue to walk in selfishness. I want so much to live like Christ and walk in humility. I want the people of Crossroads Church to lay their pettiness down and make humility a true value of our church. Let us move toward this. Lay yourself down today and run to Jesus and to others!

Here is another awesome quote from Theresa of Avila (1515-1582) concerning humility. "You should never deceive yourself into thinking you are living in godly humility unless His love flows out of you toward others. Here is the secret: God's love and His humility can never exist in you unless you grow in this state of detachment from everything that is of this world. As long as any created thing has power over you, you cannot 'rule' over it in the love and humility of our King."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Foot Injury

I haven't been able to run all week because I hurt my foot on Sunday. I have no idea what happened but after my lunch digested, I dusted off my bike and went for a quick but hard ride. When I got home, got off my bike, and took my shoes off, my left foot hurt so bad that I could hardly walk on it. It was weird. I have no idea what could have caused it. My cycling shoes are locked into my pedals when I am riding so my feet never even move. Its Thursday and it still hurts to walk on. I am going to wait until Saturday morning and see if I can run on it then. If I can't run, I don't know what I will do. I guess all my racing goals for the summer will go down the tube. Oh well, we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Friend Hogan

I just got off the phone with my friend Hogan. I love this guy and he inspires me! His love for God, his family, his ministry are so awesome. He is doing such a difficult work in the inner city of Pittsburgh but he is so faithful. His hard work and consistency are so awesome and admirable.

On the phone today, we talked about who God is and what He is doing in our lives. We talked about the struggles of ministry and the difficult things that we are both facing in ministry right now. As we were getting off the phone, Hogan prayed for me. His love for me came across the phone lines as he prayed for me. I was moved by his heart for me when he really has it much worse than I do and his calling is more difficult than mine. When I hung up the phone, I was moved by his faithfulness to God and his calling and moved at Hogan's love and respect for me. He is a great guy and has a great ministry. Please check out his website (http://faithbridgecc.com/content/) and pray for him and his ministry. If you can do more than pray, please do. I know he has many struggles that God's family could help out with (he has two broken down cars right now that he can't afford to fix). The world and the church would be a better place with more "Hogans" in it. Check out his story and be inspired along with me. Pray for him and his family and his ministry. Send him a check if you can.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Running with a Cold

I have had a head cold since I went to Florida and it is still holding on. My ears are stopped up and I even have a little chest congestion. I ran on the beach on Wednesday and only went about 2 miles but it felt terrible and I wished that I hadn't done it. Today was a little better but still wasn't great. Steven and I went a tad over 4 miles in 33:01 with a final mile in 7:35. It wasn't super slow or anything but it didn't feel good and probably wasn't the smartest thing to do when my body is fighting something. Oh well, I gotta keep my miles up right?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Reflections from Exponential 2009

Seven of us from Crossroads got back from this year's Exponential Conference late last night. It was an amazing conference and trip and I thought I would just share some highlights from the week. Here goes:

  • The weather in Orlando, FL in April is awesome!
  • I would put Ian and our worship team up against lots of other church's best.
  • I need to be more intentional about taking care of me and my family relationships. If I am not OK, then Crossroads Church is not going to be OK.
  • The overall theme of this years conference was that it is not about one church but it is all about a full blown Kingdom movement!
  • A church planting movement will never be safe. It will be risky and dangerous!
  • We need to pray more!
  • A movement will never happen with the old measurements of success of money, attendance, and baptisms.
  • The beach is definitely NOT my favorite place on earth.
  • Church planting has become a "big business" and I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing or if it just is what it is.
  • I am SO proud of Crossroads Church and our partnership with Francisco in The Dominican Republic through GO ministries.
  • I love sitting under and listening to men with like hearts and passion who have already been where I am and have gone through what I have and am going through. It is very convicting and inspiring!
  • We need to pray more!
  • I love Jesus and His Church!
  • I love the enthusiasm of our Crossroads team.
  • I like driving rental vehicles!
  • Flying with a head cold is miserable!
  • It is absolutely amazing how small and insignificant that I am! God doesn't need me at all. I just praise Him for giving me grace, calling me, and allowing me to be a part of His story.
  • We need to get out of the fish tank and into the ocean!
  • We need to stop allowing fear and pride to determine our actions.
  • We need to bicker less and love more!
  • We need to spend less and give more!
  • We need to stop viewing church as the end and see it as the means. God wants to do something bigger than we could ever imagine and it goes WAY beyond anything Crossroads can do. It is not even about Crossroads Church. That statement needs to be more than a statement that I say on Sunday morning. How can God use us to see a Holy Spirit filled movement sweep this country and the whole world?
  • We need to pray more!
  • It felt good to be home. I love West Virginia!
  • "It is not good for man to be alone!" I miss Becky when she is not around!
  • We're doing more right than I thought we were. We are not a perfect church and we never will be but I came home encouraged at all that we are doing right.
  • It was so good to see all the Tennessee guys from our Churches Planting Churches group.
  • We need to pray more!
  • It was so great having dinner with Chad, Natashia, and Hannah Priestley. It was so good to see them and to visit with them. It is hard to believe that they have been in FL for almost a year and that they will be home soon. I can't wait to have them back in attendance at Crossroads!
  • It is amazing what God is doing outside of America in the rest of the world.
  • We need to be better at using technology to get the message of the Kingdom of God out there.
  • Never judge other's sin! You are only condemning yourself!
  • I love airports just not airplanes!
  • Did I mention that we need to pray more? We can do all the right practical things and possible grow a church but without the presence of the Holy Spirit, it is all for nothing. Without the Holy Spirit, it is not real and will carry no lasting impact into eternity.
  • A big thanks to our state convention (Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey)(they paid for our conference tickets), my Uncle Dwight and Aunt Betty (they let us stay in their FL condo), and Crossroads Church (for the plane tickets, food, ground transportation, and the gracious and supporting spirit to want more for your leadership). You all rock!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Night Reflections

  • I am overwhelmed by the grace of God on my life, ministry, and preaching!
  • I am so thankful for all the servants at Crossroads Church. I am thankful for all the little things that people take care of that I don't even know anything about.
  • Ian and our worship team ROCK! Every Sunday, I am so thrilled that I get to worship at Crossroads with those guys and gal leading me. It is amazing and I pray I never take them/it for granted.
  • God is flooring me with all the new things He is teaching me and how He is challenging me in my preaching.
  • Did we really have 105 today?!!!! God is SO good! I am SO stoked at what He is about to do in and through us for His glory and our benefit. The place was packed and we need in our new space now! I am so excited to move to a new building. It's all so surreal. Is this really happening? Did we really just start with 20 people 3 short years ago? To God be the glory great things He has done! May I/we never get comfortable and may we always seek the next Kingdom challenge with courage.
  • What's next God? Lead on O King Eternal!
  • Seriously, it would be so easy to get comfortable right now, but I am eager for God to reveal the next crazy goal/dream that He want s to accomplish in and through us. There is much to be done. There are a lot of people in Morgantown who aren't yet worshippers of the one true God and lots of starving kids in the world. We must stay busy being about His Kingdom!
  • I am so glad that Steve Finn is in Morgantown, WV and that he is my friend. Hung out a bit with him tonight at the ranch. The new administration building is amazing. It is a testimony to God's work through Steve and Dawn's faithfulness. Check it out here - http://www.chestnutmountainranch.org/ Steve and Dawn - you guys rock and your lives and testimony inspire me!
  • I am so thankful for my family! Becky Suiter is the most amazing and loving wife and mother and I still can't believe that I have three little girls. Who would have ever thought that?!
  • I am so thankful for all the new people/friends God is bringing to Crossroads. It is so cool to watch this thing grow right in front of my eyes and it is so great to see who God is bringing our way and to get to know them as new friends.
  • I am exhausted. I have no idea how these pastors at really big churches preach two and three times in one day. I guess it just has to be more of God's grace. I am looking forward to finding out though.
  • Thank You God for freedom!
  • Thank You God for Honey Nut Cheerios (that is not sarcastic and is not meant to be a joke, I am REALLY grateful for them!)
  • Thank You God for all my peeps from Arkansas who believe in what we are doing in West Virginia enough to move up here and be a part of it! Crazy cool!
  • I miss my mom and dad! September can't get here fast enough!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Speed and Pain

Tonight's 5 miles were the fastest 5 in my memory. Steven and I did it in 40:04 with a final mile in 7:39. I hurt most of the whole way. I don't know if it was the speed or the chocolate cake I had at lunch. It was a great run even though it hurt. The weather was finally great and I ran in a t-shirt. That was nice. After our run and while we were stretching, we met a nice guy and talked to him for a good while and invited him to church. It was a good night. I came home to a home cooked meal and then had some Honey Nut Cheerios for dessert. Good times!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Barrier of Pride

"Beg the Lord to keep you from any temptation that causes you to keep falling into the sin of pride. It is pride that keeps us blind to our own sins, and so loveless that we are always aware of the smallest sins of others. And so we ask God to correct and judge them, but to spare us!

Unless you completely open your soul up to God you will never bear the true mark of a follower of Jesus Christ and that mark is love!"

Theresa of Avila (1515-1582)

Today's Run

It was a good run this morning although it rained on Steven and I harder than any other recent run and my hands were like ice cubes. Other than that it was great! We went 5 miles in 40:17 with a final mile of 7:19. It is nice to be getting in more running and faster running. I am looking forward to my racing times toward the end of the summer. They should be way faster than in recent years. We'll see!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fast Sandwich

My post title is not what it sounds like. I had to run alone tonight because Steven had to work late. It was 52 degrees and sprinkling. That is perfect running weather and I was already super amped to be running. Add to that some rockin 80's hair metal and I ran my first mile way too fast. 10 minutes into my run, I was hurting and so miles two and three were pretty slow. Then for mile four, I really picked it up and ran hard and fast through the pain, thus the "fast sandwich". Get it? All in all it was a great run and I enjoyed the hills (I ran in Westover), the rain, and the music. I am not sure exactly how far I ran, but I know it was a little farther than 4 miles because I ran for 34:15.

Future Grace

The things that God has been teaching me the past three weeks about a believer's position IN Christ and about the full impact of God's all encompassing grace has been truly life altering! I am deeply indebted to the teachings and writings of Miles Stanford (The Principle of Position) and John Piper (Future Grace) for all of their direction and wisdom on the idea of God's grace. I am so thankful to the Holy Spirit for using these men's writings at this stage in my life when I was ready to really see how the grace of God practically works in my life.

The idea that we are IN Christ and that we are to live obediently in response to His Word out of the future grace that He will give instead of living some life born out of gratitude for past grace according to some legalistic set of rules has been so freeing. To live for God based out of His promises instead of His requirements has been a major mind sift for me. It has not only been freeing but has also been more empowering than I ever thought. Living in light of the future and not the past and living according to who I am IN Christ has so much more implications for Holy living than striving to "be good".

If you want all the details and the practical application for what I am talking about, go to http://www.wvcrossroads.com and check out my sermon from Easter Sunday. By the grace of God, it is probably one of the most enlightening and best sermons that I have ever preached. I know that the content of my message has forever impacted me. If you want to go even deeper, I would strongly suggest that you read the two books that I listed above. It is amazing stuff! Just like the grace of our great God!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Another Cold and Rainy Run

Well, the weather was not very good for an early Saturday morning run but Steven and I headed out anyway. Its been a crazy week and we haven't run since Monday. And this morning, I certainly didn't feel as good as I did on Monday's run but that was probably the Mexican food and ice cream that I had last night.

I sure am glad that I braved the elements and started my day off with running. I feel great right now and I know a hot shower will feel even better. We stepped it up just a bit this morning and went 5 miles instead of 4. Our time was 40:23 with a final mile in 7:18! Yep 7:18! I was pumped. My goal is to post some fast race times this summer and with the training getting faster, I am well on my way. Sweet!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A 7:20 Mile!

It was a cold evening run in April. I just love Morgantown weather! When the temperature started dropping and the rain started falling, my desire to run lessened but I am so glad that I went. It was the best run that I can remember. I felt great and strong. Running more often since Steven has been here is obviously helping. Every step was awesome. We ran a little bit over 4 miles in 32:25 with a final mile of 7:20. The best part was when I finished, I didn't feel like I had worked that hard. I was so amped! It makes me excited for this upcoming race season.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

An Early Saturday Four

Steven and I ran four miles this morning in the cold sunshine. It wasn't the easiest run that I have ever done (it was probably the ice cream I ate late last night) but it was a little bit faster than my most recent runs. So this past week's consistency has obviously helped and I am looking forward to more consistency over the spring and summer resulting in much faster race times. So Steven's presence here in Morgantown has already helped my run times. It should only get better. We ran the 4 miles today in 32:37 with a final mile of 7:36.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Don't Waste Your Life Part 2

John Piper all by himself. Wow! What a great word!!!!