Showing posts from 2009

St. Nick's Tears by Greg Stier

The following is a poem by Greg Stier of Dare 2 Share Ministries. I follow him on his blog and really enjoyed this post. I always enjoyed Dare 2 Share Youth Conferences while in youth ministry. Greg has a great heart for reaching people with the gospel. Read on for great thoughts on St. Nick.

St. Nick's Tears

Can you hear St. Nick crying?
His tears fall softly on the ground.
They’re hard to hear beyond the hustle
Of holiday cheer and Christmas sounds.

Before we transformed him into Santa
He was a real man of flesh and blood.
Only one thing about him was different,
It was a heart that beat strong for God.

When he was young he lost his parents.
They left him all their worldly wealth.
But young St. Nick had no concern
About his own financial health.

He used his money to feed the poor
To help those in real need.
He chose a life of selfless service,
Instead of worldly greed.

He took care of impoverished children
By giving them coins of gold.
He slipped the gifts under doors at night
And from this act …

Martin Christmas Letter 2009

We decided to do things a little different this year and post our Christmas letter on my blog. Another difference will be that it is written by J.L. this year instead of Bethany. So, here goes.

Greetings Friends and Family,

The Martins have had a great year in Hesston, KS. Here are some highlights for each member of the family:

J.L.--I am loving my new ministry position of Associate Pastor of Family Ministry at Hesston MB Church. I don't know that any ministry has been as great of a fit for my passions and spiritual gifts. For those who are unfamiliar with my position, I oversee the children's ministry at the church by providing training, curriculum, and encouragement to a great group of volunteers who lead the specific ministries such as nursery, Sunday School, VBS, Children's Church, and our mid-week program. I spend most of my time focused on couples and families. I have personally visited with more than 30 couples over the last year to get to know them and see how the chu…

Books I Am Reading

Here are the books I am reading right now:

Think Orange by Reggie Joiner
Deep Church by Jim Belcher
Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel
God, Marriage, and Family by Andreas Kostenberger
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
Unfashionable by TullianTchividjian
Raising a Modern-Day Joseph by Larry Fowler
Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman
They Call Me Dad by Ken Canfield

If you are thinking, he has been reading some of these books for months. You are right! Some I am reading a second time. Others I prefer to read a chapter each week and think about more deeply. Any of these would be good reads for you. Happy Reading!


This week, has been full of singing in our home and church. Last Sunday, Bethany and JenneaHeinrichs led our children in great music to worship Jesus as part of our Christmas program. The kids did a great job and they had so much joy singing the songs. It was great to watch each of them. That evening, we continued our singing as we went caroling at Schowalter Villa (our local nursing home). It was great hearing the harmonies and singing of multiple generations sharing the gift of song as an act of service to the elderly.

This week, our family has become hooked on Sing Off on NBC. It is a singing competition that started with 8 acappella groups. Each night some of the groups are eliminated. I have to admit it is the first time I have actually voted for anything on TV. The kids were so into it. These groups have tight harmonies and have all been great. It is amazing how all of the music is from their voices alone. Absolutely no instruments! We look forward to the finale on …

Daddy Tips by Mark Driscoll

"’Tis the season for Dad to drop the holiday ball, stress out as the money is being spent for presents, and miss yet another providential opportunity to lovingly lead his family. So, this blog is intended to help dads not fall into the same old rut of holiday humdrum, sitting on the couch watching football and eating carbs, but rather intentionally plan out the upcoming holiday season. Our children grow quickly and if we miss the sacred moments God opens up for us to connect with and bless our families, everyone suffers and we set in motion generations of missed opportunity.

#1 – Dad needs a plan for the holidays to ensure his family is loved and memories are made. Dad, what’s your plan?

#2 – Dad needs to check the local guides for what’s going on to make fun holiday plans for the family. In Seattle it’s here.

#3 – Dad needs to carve out time for sacred events and experiences to build family traditions that are fun and point to Jesus. Dad, is your calendar ready for December?

#4 – Da…

My son is 10!

I cannot believe that my oldest turned 10 today. I can remember clearly 10 years ago. Mitchell was due Jan. 3rd. Bethany had been to the doctor that day (Thursday, Dec. 9th) and they said it would be another 2 weeks before he was born. Bethany kept talking about her back hurting most of the day. She was busy vacuuming at the church that day as well as attending choir practice that night. I think it must have been mother's intuition because she decided to do some laundry before going to bed. In our apartment below the church office, we had a dryer that when it went into a spin cycle it shook everything in the kitchen. So, we went to bed and Bethany was awakened to a crash of dishes falling to the ground because of the dryer. She cleaned up the dishes. I slept through the whole thing. I know I am a bad husband! Bethany came back to bed and could not sleep and then it happened-her water broke at 11:30 p.m.

This put us into rush mode. We did not have a hospital bag compl…

Esther Ratzlaff

Today, I had the privilege of attending the funeral of Esther Ratzlaff. She was an amazing woman! I first met Esther the first week I was at work at Hesston MB. She was here during the day working in the library. She was faithful in keeping the library organized and up to date. Not only did she do this faithfully, but she also taught during Hide N Seek. In addition to these activities, she also filled our pew kits. She was so creative in making those kits paying attention to what the children would enjoy. One of her ideas was pipe cleaners which have always been my kids favorite part of the pew kit.

Around Easter last year, I was invited to Newton to speak at the Community Bible School that Esther was involved in. She taught here for 17 years. She worked here at least two days a week with these children from the public schools. She loved this ministry as well.

When she discovered she had cancer, she was heartbroken that she would not be able to continue teaching at Hide N See…

Snow & Sin

As I watched the snow fall last night and today, I had child-like excitement. I wanted to grab the kids and head to Mt. Hesston for some sledding. But not today. There is just something about the first snow. It seems to fall so effortlessly and so beautifully. It reflects light so magnificently. Someone told me that no two snowflakes are alike. Have you pondered that statement? How can you watch this beauty and uniqueness of every flake and not say, "Praise God!" Every time it snows it produces in me an awe of our Creator God. I am not sure exactly why. But I do know I serve a God who is awesome and creative.

This leads to the second thing I am reminded of by the snow. It is that my sin will be washed away through Jesus' blood-not my own effort. But through Christ, my sins are washed away. In Psalm 51, we read the following:

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away…

My favorite Christmas picture

I have posted a picture of my favorite Christmas decoration in our house. Bethany used to sell At Home America and this was one picture they sold. As I look at this picture, I am reminded that even if no gifts were exchanged, no parties held, no decorations-Christmas would still be great because it's not about those things, but about Jesus. So, if you are overwhelmed with shopping and staying under budget, stressed with all of the activities going on--remember it's about Jesus and all we need to know about the joy of the season is found in Him.

Using Christmas Specials

Bethany commented the other day that it seemed like there were a ton of Christmas specials this year. I agree. It seems like this year alone, in addition to the classics, there are at least two new 30 minute specials (Prep & Landing, Merry Madagascar). Last year, included the addition of Shrek the Halls (at least I think that was last year). We also have Charlie Brown Christmas (one of my favorites), How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and many more. It seems our kids (and maybe us too) could be watching a Christmas special every night.

While I am not advocating non-stop TV viewing, I do believe these specials can become a great opportunity to talk about faith and Jesus. When we watched the Grinch last night, I asked Megan about the Grinch compared to Jesus. What is different? Other than the obvious she replied, the Grinch's heart is small and Jesus' heart is big. She also said that Jesus likes to give not ta…

Please Be Unfashionable

The following is a blog Posted November 30th, 2009 by TullianTchividjian. We, as a pastoral staff, are reading the book right now and discussing it in our staff meeting. I recommend the book as a good read and a challenge to how we do church. Enjoy the post by Tullian and I hope it sparks an interest to live Unfashionable.

I wrote the book Unfashionable to make the point that Christians make a difference in this world by being different from this world; they don’t make a difference by being the same.

My deep concern (which prompted me to write the book) is that many Christians, specifically in America, seem just as fascinated with success, popularity, power, and prestige as the world around them. Materialism, consumerism, individualism, and narcissism—cultural ideals that are antithetical to the self-sacrificial nature of the gospel—are just as prevalent inside the church as they are outside. The sad fact is that we in the American church are better known for producing self-exalting…

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's the most wonderful time of the year . . . to start family devotions in your home.

As many people are flooding the stores today on the "official" start of Christmas, I was reminded how easy it is to pass on faith at home during Christmas. There are many resources available to talk about spiritual things during the coming weeks. I thought I would share a few ideas for you and your family.

One resource we have used over the past several years that the kids really enjoy are called Adornaments by Family Life. Unfortunately, this resource is no longer published, but you might be able to find a new or used one on amazon or ebay. They are ornaments that talk about 12 characteristics of Jesus. They are simple to use. Grab the ornament, open it up and read the devotion. They are worth the cost as you talk about the reason for the season.

Another resource that Bethany bought that we are going to use this year is a book called The Adventure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel. …

Happy Thanksgiving!

As you gather around your table this Thanksgiving, I hope you cherish your time with family. This is a great time of year to think back on the last year and remember God's faithfulness and provision. Take some time to share with your spouse why you are thankful for them. Have your kids share about what they are thankful for. Share with a friend how they have blessed your life this year. Call or talk with a family member (grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.) and share how God has blessed you this year. Let's not forget to thank our awesome, holy, almighty, loving, forgiving, providing, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, just God for who He is and what He has done and will continue to do. Make sure Thanksgiving is a day to say "thank you" to God for all your blessings!

Check back on Black Friday for a post about ideas for Christmas devotions with your family!

Family Worship on Thankfulness

Last night, we had a great time during family worship. We did our usual singing and prayer. But we added a game into our time of learning. I had each of three oldest read the following Scriptures: Philippians 1:3; Colossians 3:15-17; Philippians 4:11. We talked about Thanksgiving coming up and our need to be thankful and content.

I then had prepared 4 questions for a "Family Feud" type game. The kids had to work together as a family. Any points on the board after three strikes went to the Unthankful Family. All of the questions had to do with being thankful. Here are the questions with answers (you can change them to fit your situation):

Thankful for Hesston: Church (42), School (21), House (17), Parks (11), Arboretum (6), & Friends (3)

This Thanksgiving I'm Thankful For: God (33), Spouse (21), Parents (17), Kids (9), Family (8), Food (7), & House (5)

Things I'm Thankful About My Family: Love me (36), Take care of me (20), Play with me (16), Help me (15),…

Be Thankful for Mom by Brian Haynes

The following is a post from Brian Haynes, author of Shift. His blog ( has great ideas for family devotions. I thought his post today was really good and so I wanted to share it with you.

Teach Your Kids to be Thankful for Mom
The days before the Thanksgiving holiday always cause introspection on my part. About this time every year I find myself pondering the things I am most thankful for in life. I ask the Lord to bring to mind the greatest blessings of my life and then I pray, thanking Him for the amazing love He has lavished on me. I have noticed, the older and hopefully wiser I am becoming, the blessings have nothing to do with material possession. As I think about my blessings this year I realize every blessing comes in the form of a relationship. The things I am thankful for are not things at all but instead, people.

Particularly I am thankful for my mother and my wife. They are 2 of the greatest blessings of my life.

It is easy to take mom for granted… until she’s go…

Special Blessings This Week

As many of you know, we are still working to sell our home in Iola. We have had a renter for the past 9 months and that has ended. We are getting the home ready to sell. Please pray with us for a quick sale as we don't want to continue leasing any longer. As I began thinking about the Iola house, I began to worry a little about finances. I began to be concerned with Christmas approaching and wondering how we are going to make it with double payments. Then God made it very clear to me that He was in control and He provides.

Here are the 3 special blessings that God used in my life.

I am reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan and the following quote challenged my worry over the sale of our home. "Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives. Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or …

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You

On November 15th, Sherwood Pictures (Fireproof, Facing the Giants, Flywheel) announced its newest movie project. It will be released early 2011. I am really excited about this movie as this topic relates very well to my ministry as Associate Pastor of Family Ministry. It is focused on fathers and I cannot wait to see it and how it brings about change in dads in our churches and country. Below you can read the synopsis from their website. Visit it at

Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, they face danger every day. Yet when tragedy strikes close to home, these fathers are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, and their faith. From this struggle will come a decision that changes all of their lives.

With action, drama, and humor, the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures embraces God’s promise to "turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers." Souls will be stirre…

Busy Weekend

Well, it's now the weekend. We seem to have a pretty full weekend ahead of us. Not as busy as some, but still filled in many ways. Tonight I had a good time with the family for supper and movie night. We watched UP. I really enjoyed the movie, but don't remember any Disney movie being quite this sad. I have the kids put to bed and getting ready to go pick up "our boys" from SDYC (Southern District Youth Conference). We will have 5 others living in our home this weekend as they attend the conference in Newton. My wife is an amazing hostess. Not only has she cleaned non-stop, but has made tons of food.

Tomorrow, the day begins early as I take the boys back to SDYC by 8:3o. Then Mitchell and I are competing in a Turkey Shoot. No guns! Just free throws. It is a parent/child competition shooting free throws put on by Hesston Recreation. Mitchell has been practicing. I hope I can make a few and we do our best.

From 2-6 p.m. tomorrow, the whole family will be…

Blessed to be a Blessing

I am a blessed guy! I have a relationship with Christ, wonderful wife, great kids, and love serving in the church. When I made the move to Hesston a year ago, I did not know what to expect. This was new territory for me and for the church. There are not a lot churches with family pastors and those that do have very different responsibilities. So, when I shared my job description with trusted friends and colleagues, they were impressed with the focus of this ministry position. Family Pastor was not just a title for doing another ministry (i.e. children's pastor, youth pastor, discipleship pastor, etc.) It truly was to focus on strengthening families (couples without kids, single parents, parents with kids).

Within the last 24 hours, I have had the privilege to be a part of two very different activities that have been a blessing. Last night, I organized a Family Night (the second this year) at church. The purpose of the evening was to provide a meal as well as fun, learning…

Biblical Fatherhood

Our small group is going through a parenting study called, "Visionary Parenting" by Rob Rienow. It is a really great study. This past week, we talked about biblical fatherhood. I wanted to share a few things with you.

Our main roles as fathers is to love our wives and spiritually equip our kids. Rienow used Ephesians 5:25-26 to show us that we need to Love our wives, Serve our wives, and Lead our wives spiritually. He said that Satan will definitely attack us as we try to lead our wives spiritually. We must do these things in order or they will not work. For example, we cannot lead our wives if we are not loving and serving them. This is helpful information, but it doesn't do anyone any good if we are not putting it into practice in our marriage. Husbands, ask God for help and the power to love, serve, and lead your wife!

Our second role as fathers is to train and instruct our children. Rienow pointed to Ephesians 6:1-4 for this role. It is our Biblical job desc…

Thoughts while at the dentist

Yesterday, I had the privilege of going to the dentist for a check-up and cleaning. I really don't mind the dentist. As I was sitting there thinking about what they do during a cleaning-remove plaque to prevent decay and see how well you are doing at home (flossing and brushing). I thought of several parallels to our spiritual life.

First, lets talk about plaque that causes decay. We see so much of this in our culture and within the church. We see media full of commercials and tv shows that are not family friendly. We should not have to worry what our kids see when watching a 7 p.m. show. TV and movies are pushing the limits. I am sure our grandparents would be appalled at the things that are on TV on the main networks during the family hour. I know the ratings for movies has changed dramatically. It is sad to know that directors add to or take away whatever is needed to allow for a certain rating.

Even more alarming is the state of the church. The church used to be a pl…

Quotes from Crazy Love

I am reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan right now. It is a great book! It challenges your thinking about how you view God. Maybe we are not that excited about worship or serving because we have a narrow and small view of God? I have only read the first 3 chapters, but would definitely recommend it to you.

Here are a few quotes to stimulate your thinking today:

"The core problem isn't the fact that we're lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians. The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God."

"Isn't it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?"

"When I am consumed by my problems--stressed out about my life, my family, and my job-I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God's command to always rejoice (Philippians 4:4). In other words, that I have a "right" to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities."


Family Worshp this week

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are focusing our family worship for the next few months on missionaries. As we think about the missionaries we personally support as well as our church, we talk about characteristics that they exhibit that we should have as well. We have already talked about making sacrifices and being content. During these times, we have made birthday cards for one missionary and Thanksgiving cards for another.

This week, we are talking about telling others about Jesus and spiritual gifts. As we talked about how missionaries share Jesus in other cultures, we talked about how we need to do it in Hesston. Each of three kids looked up one of these verses: Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 10:13-15, and Ephesians 6:19-20. The kids participated in their usual ways as they played the piano, sang songs, and prayed together. We sang one of the kids' new favorite songs "Go" by Seeds Family Worship. When we talk about spiritual gifts, we are going to look at 1 C…

A year later

Well, I have officially been in Hesston for a year now. As I think back over the last year, I am blessed by what God has done for me and in and through me. I cannot believe it has already been a year. As I ponder those times of provision and learning, I am reminded that God is always faithful. He has been with us every step of the way.

I wanted to share a few ways God has worked in the last year:
Richard & Rosemary Prieb opening their house to my family. I stayed with them during the week and Bethany and the kids joined on the weekends. Thanks to the generosity of the Priebs!Moving the whole family into our current home which was a complete God thing in how we found out about the house and how patient the Holmes were with us as we tried to sell our house in Iola.Around 30 visits with individuals and couples to get to know them better and to share about the family ministry at Hesston MB. I have loved each of these visits!Closing on our home in Hesston in March.A renter moving …

Books I Am Reading

I like to share what I am reading occasionally through this blog. Here is my current list:

Think Orange by Reggie Joiner
Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian (reading a 2nd time with the pastoral staff)
Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel
God, Marriage & Family by Andreas Kostenberger
Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll
They Call Me Dad by Ken Canfield (reading a 2nd time with D6 Dads groups)
Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Spiritual Getaways

Do you like to get away from home? Do you enjoy times when you can leave the kids with someone else and get away with your spouse? Do you love vacations? I know I love getting away from the routine of life every once in a while. So, do we also need a spiritual getaway? I would say the answer is yes. I am talking about a retreat with just you and God.

Today, I had the privilege of getting away for the day to Stutzman Cabin. I have been here three other times and I am blessed each time. You may ask, "Why are you blessed? Because I spend the whole day with our awesome God. No phone calls, email, books, or projects to be finished. It is just me and God.

What do I do for a whole day? Here is what works for me. It may not work for you, but you will never know unless you try. I start the day in praise and adoration. I read Scripture and sing my heart out to God. Today, I took by iPod and sang worship songs along with it. I have found it is very important to start my ret…

The Battle For . . .Finances

Let me begin by saying this is an area that I have a lot to learn. No, I don't need help balancing a checkbook or making a budget. I can do all of those things well. I understand money and numbers pretty well, after all, I was an accounting and business administration major at Sterling College. But I am talking about giving generously and being a good steward. I am talking about sacrificing stuff so I can have a balanced budget. Yes, I do have credit cards and no, I have not used them wisely at all times. Debt has controlled us at times. However, one decision that I will never regret was having Bethany stay home with the kids resulting in lower income. This decision has created some financial hardships for us, but they were worth it so she could be home with the kids. Finances are one of the areas many couples cite as one of the main reasons for their divorce. Money is at the center of many conflicts and disagreements in marriage.

Here are the lies we tell ourselves or S…

The Battle For . . .Evangelism/Service

Let me begin by saying that evangelism is not my spiritual gift. I know a dear friend who obviously has this gift. She shares Christ with people easily and without reservation. I am thankful for examples like her. However, even though, it is not my spiritual gift, I am still called to make disciples of all nations. So, know that as I write this I am writing it for myself as much as for you. We need to tell the world about Jesus (which could be overseas, but also more than likely across the street or in your workplace)! I also know that it is not just our words, but also our actions. Some people need to know they are loved before their hearts are opened to the gospel which is where acts of service come in. And even though I have them separate in the title of my post, I really believe they closely intertwined.

Here are the lies we tell ourselves or Satan yells at us about evangelism/service:
I wouldn't know what to say.Someone else will do it.They might ask me a question which…

The Battle For . . . Purity

One does not have to watch more than 5 minutes of TV to know that our culture has a flawed view of purity and sex. I cannot believe that I have to have a remote in my hand at all times during 7 p.m. programming on all networks mostly because of the commercials. We are very careful what we watch in our home and limit our TV, internet, and movie exposure. However, as a parent, we cannot ignore this topic, but must talk about it honestly and from a Biblical perspective with our kids at a young age. If we don't talk to them, someone or something will. It can be an awkward conversation, but who do you want teaching your kids about purity?

Here are the lies we tell ourselves or Satan whispers to us about purity:

At least I don't watch ______________________. (We compare ourselves to others and let that be our guideline.)
It only has a little nudity, swearing, etc. in it. It won't hurt me.
Flirting with my co-worker is innocent.
Looking at pornography as a couple will spice up our lov…

Quote to ponder

I just recently finished reading "Unfashionable" by Tullian Tchividjian. This is a good book with the following subtitle, "making a difference in the world by being different." It is all about the church not working so hard to be "cool" and instead be unfashionable. Here is a quote that Tchividjian ends the book with taken from "God in the Wasteland" by David Wells:

I want the evangelical church to be the church. I want it to embody a vibrant spirituality. I want the church to be an alternative to post-modern culture, not a mere echo of it. I want a church that is bold to be different and unafraid to be faithful, . . . a church that reflects an integral and undiminshed confidence in the power of God's Word, a church that can find in the midst of our present cultural breakdown the opportunity to be God's people in a world that has abandoned God. To be the church this way, it is also going to have to find in the coming generation, lea…

Family Worship focused on missionaries

We have decided that we are going to focus on a different missionary that we support or our church supports during our family worship over the next few months. As we share about how they minister in their country or in the United States, we are going to make cards to send to them for birthdays, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. For our teaching time, we are going to look at a particular character trait that we see in that missionary and talk about how it is important in our lives as well. I am excited about this focus and look forward to sharing how it goes. We have already talked about sacrifice and I plan to talk about being content on Tuesday night. Thank you to those who serve God as missionaries!

The Battle For . . .The Church

Obviously, I am an advocate for the church. I work for one and have been involved in one through most of my life. The longer I am in the church, the more I realize both the wonderful ways God is using the church in our world and unfortunately also the ways the church has failed. Let me begin by saying just because you go to church does not make you a Christian. Your salvation is not determined by church activity or attendance. However, the church is Jesus plan for reaching the world.

Here are some lies that Satan tells us in regards to the church as well as lies we tell ourselves:
You don't have to go to church, you can can worship at home.The church is full of hypocrites so I should not go.
I am a Christian because I go to church.If someone hurts your feelings, just find another church.I must have my life together to go to church.I can pick and choose what I like about several churches and get what I need from them (i.e. children's, youth, adult, prayer, men's/women's mi…

Book Review For Shift

I recently had the privilege to read the book, "Shift" by Brian Haynes published by Group Publishing. I picked up the book while attending the D6 Conference in September. It was one of the first books I had to start reading. I highly recommend the book to those who minister to children, youth or families. Brian Haynes offers a practical and helpful strategy for equipping parents.

As someone who graduated from Denver Seminary with a degree in Youth and Family Ministry, I have always known the importance of involving parents in youth ministry. I have a heart and passion for helping parents pass on their faith to their children. I have tried many things over the years to help in this area, but many have not been long term. This is why Shift is an excellent resource. Shift talks about 7 Milestones that people naturally progress through over time. Each of these milestones are things most churches already celebrate so it is not just adding more things to an already busy church cale…