A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’.

C.S. Lewis

Open Hands

Savannah has proven herself over and over again to be tougher than anyone her age. Her strong will is amazing …. And as her dad, sometimes scary:)

Her independence and passion for doing things her way is refreshing in a world of caring way too much about selfies and self gain. She works hard at school, loves to live in the moment, and longs for every adventure that comes.

My prayer for her as she grows older, is that she lives her life with open hands. Hands that are currently calloused covered from so much time on the monkey bars:)

Hands

I want her life to be filled with richness only found in Jesus, and to know that her life is His and to go wherever he takes her.

There is so much evil in the world aimed at girls. From marketing, to wicked boys who will want to take her heart away from Christ, to girl attitudes that bring a greater pain than any regimen of water boarding.

I pray that she continues to be rooted in her love of Jesus, and that she embraces her role in the big story of God’s rescue mission for the hearts of his children.

As her dad, I want the world for her, but more than that, I want her toughening hands to stay open to receive all that God has in store for her life.

High Altitude Solitude

I literally just got off a plane in San Diego. I’m here to work with some men who serve in various capacities in their churches & businesses, Harbor Ministries. It’s for leaders who exhibit a passion for the life giving truth of the Gospel to invade all areas of life. It’s a process I went through several years ago and was forever changed and now have the honor of walking others through it.

However, as I flew over thousands if not millions of lives to get here, I began to wonder if I need this more than the men who are coming from all over the country. Do I still have that fire in my belly for Jesus to roll off my lips more than the NCAA championship game? Do I still long for the life of Christ to inspire those on the ground who have never heard his name? In my prayers for revival, will I be filled with unending joy when it lands in the church down the street? Is my heart set on engaging as many as I can with the Good News, or do I just want to be left alone with my headphones on?

We must never forget that it’s all about Jesus. Our lives begin with Him, grow with Him, and end in His arms for eternity.

The gospel changes everything. It affects the way we go about all areas of life — the workplace, business, the arts, culture, serving the poor, everything. We are to live all of our lives in a gospel-centered way. When we are driven by the gospel, we act in God’s power and work for the peace and prosperity of everyone (Jer. 29:4 – 7). And God’s call on us is to do this through all kinds of work, not just ministry work. 1

Peoples lives are at stake. This isn’t a game or a club.
I needed to be reminded of that from 30,000 feet.

Is God for us, despite our sin? Joyfully the Christian answers, ‘Yes.’ But why is He for us? Simple indeed is the Christian answer to that question: He is for us simply because He has chosen to be.

He surely has a right to receive whom He will into His fellowship: and as a matter of fact He has chosen to receive us poor sinners who trust in Christ; He chose to receive us when He gave Christ to die. It was His act, not ours.

J. Gresham Machen

Super Berry Boys

This week was a big week for the Berry Boys.
Sunday, I introduced Eli to The Amazing Spiderman movie and in our 5–7am man times this week, we watched Captain America.
Super

There are several loaded facts in the above statement.

  • Is Eli old enough?
  • Did Mike share in the this joy more than Eli?
  • 5am!!??
  • Isn’t Eli 8.5…. what took so long?

Yes, Eli gets up between 5–5:30am most mornings. He’s been an early riser for quite some time. We used to fight it, and work systems of punishment for waking up his parents that early. Now, I just get up with him:) I am more interested and overjoyed with the prospect of many quiet mornings with Eli, sharing thoughts, bible study, books, and 80’s tv shows like MacGyver.

Eli has a very tender heart, which leads to some pretty terrifying dreams at night…. often from things he’s watched or more often from the thoughts in his ever active head. There have been countless nights over the years with him sprinting to our room at night, as if he were being chased out of his skin. We think his visual aptitude leads to some of this fear, along with some random occurrences of sleep walking like behavior.

As we try to guard his heart and his head, we don’t allow him to watch much of what his friends are exposed to at his age. Right or wrong, we know what’s best for our boy and pray the Holy Spirit leads us more than our own efforts.

So, with some trepidation, we sat down to watch The Amazing Spiderman Sunday afternoon. I was prepared to skip past the parts that showed The Lizard or just shut the whole thing down, but he did fine. Then, we picked up Captain America later in the week for his viewing of awesomeness!!

No nightmare images from either movie……. at least I don’t think so. He was woken one night, but with no recollection of why.

I share this, not as a cheap plug at my parenting prowess or awesome super hero knowledge, but as a cautionary tale for anyone who is raising/leading children. They are sponges who absorb everything we throw at them. They hear conversations mom and dad are having, they listen intently to every word a teacher says, they take to heart the barbs thrown at them on the playground, they remember visually every burnt image in their memories, and most importantly, each child is different.

There is no cookie cutter technique or singular book/method to follow. Chasing that perfect method will only make you as frustrated as the Yeti society.

Engage with your kids
Chase their hearts
Listen to their words
Hold them tight, but not too tight
Train them in truth
Show them how much Jesus means to you
Make sure they see you read your bible
Make sure they hear you pray
Teach them that God is for them
Show them that Jesus is better than everything else
Set them free to go into the world with wonder

Mountains & Space

I do love the mountains and I have loved them ever since I can remember anything at all.
– J. Gresham Machen

mountains & family

I’ve been fighting for some space in my life as of late. I know better than to let the busyness of life to creep in and choke out my joy, but isn’t that exactly how sin works. It creeps in slowly, like a trickle of water dripping from the roof of a cave, and before you know it, there is a stalactite formation of rock blocking your way out of the darkness.

Life in ministry can be overwhelming, but it is the life every pastor is called to, and we must take care of ourselves spiritually, emotionally, and physically, or we will be no good to anyone who needs us. We see the consequences in the news every day. Men who have committed their lives to making Jesus famous, only to make a mockery of our savior. I refuse to be that kind of man, but only a constant focus on the gospel will keep me in the arms of Christ.

For me, I find solace in the mountains. Just gazing out across our property causes me to be in awe, and a short venture to the Snowies can bring great perspective. I am prone to arrogance and pride. Not something that I like about myself by any stretch of the imagination. Being on top of a mountain looking out over the landscape, or at the bottom looking up at a massive wall, helps me to feel really small and understand that God must be my everything.

I can breath deeply. I can rest with my back to a rock. I can close my eyes and let the sun bake my face. I gain perspective. I can weep with only the wind to hear me. I can grieve my sin and beg for Jesus to empower me in the fight.

I love the mountains because I need them. Because they point me to HIM

In every other religion the indicative flows from the imperative. Which means, ‘because I do, therefore I am… because I do this, therefore I’m a child of God.’ But only in Christianity does the imperative flow from the indicative. ‘Because I am in Christ all these things, therefore I obey.’ Exactly the opposite.

Tim Keller

Another fun fact about living in Wyoming. Dippin’ Dots fall from the sky…. Which is awesome!!! at Berry Ranch – View on Path.

Hoax, hoax, fool, fool, trick, day
Eli has embraced this “holiday” :)

We Are All Waiters

I was listening to on of David Platt’s sermons, when he defined his role during Sunday Morning Worship services.

I’m not a chef, mixing up ingredients to make something for people to eat. The meal has already been cooked by God in His word I’m just the waiter, who’s job it is to serve the already prepared meal and bring it hot. Wow! He just summed up the core of how I believe and how I passionately understand my role as a preacher/communicator. I’m not tasked with creating anything new or spicing up some tired old recipes each week. In reality, my role in the work of God is to stand up and unpack what he has already said. Nothing more, nothing less.

It’s perfectly fine to be creative and culturally relevant, essential really, but when people leave church, they should NEVER be speaking praise of the special effects, graphics, or illustrations. The center piece of EVERY sermon is the word of God, and Christ put on display.

People should walk away amazed at the meal prepared by God in his love letter written to his rebellious creation. If the waiter knows his role, he is humbled to dish out what the master chef has prepared; refusing to take any credit. Where you see the opposite in a person, run!

As you pray for people during Lent to be open to the truth of the gospel, know that your don’t have to be the most articulate, the most knowledgable, or the most charismatic. Your only have to wait for the Holy Spirit to sit them down, and then serve them what God has already prepared.

Pastor Mike

The Berry Boys are an adventurous duo… Hit the slopes with my buddy today. He’s rocking the blues already!! (at Snowy Range Ski Area)

The Joy of Snow

Yes, you read that right, and no I’m not delusional. There is a joy that erupts in my heart when fresh snow falls. The way it covers the land, clings to the trees, and makes my view of the Snowies even more awe inspiring. Before moving to Wyoming, snow brought with it snow days!! Lazy mornings and afternoons with a book for this former teacher, later to be made more epic with kids and snow ball fights. Now, I do dread the bone chilling wind, the drifts that block our driveway, the ice in the parking lot after the sun melts the precious snow, and my face covered with powder after I am propelled off of my skis.

Often when outdoors, my mind races with thoughts of our Creator, and my heart swells with joy over his love for me. I’m filled up with the overwhelming truth that I am often a mess, but because of God’s love for me and sending his son to rescue me, I am “white as snow”.
snow

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

Did you catch that? “Let us reason together”. The logic of the Lord is laid out for us to connect the dots. Our sin marks us as red. The color of blood stains. The color of death poured out and sacrifice.
God’s mercy makes us white as that fresh power. The moment when it’s still lightly falling, the plows haven’t come by, the mix of sand and salt hasn’t begun to create a mess.
PURE .. STAINLESS .. BEAUTIFUL .. PERFECTION

The Hymn writer wrote about this decades ago, and it still rings true.
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Our faith in Jesus is one of relationship, personhood, commitment, sacrifice, love, mercy, forgiveness, and complete joy. A faith paid for with blood and with no effort of our own. Meritless grace poured out on us like pure snow.
So, as the snow falls I will be filled with joy, now and forever.

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