Don’t Let Them Define Who You Are


Don’t let them put out the fire of your passion;

Don’t let them pour cold water on your infectious joy;

Don’t let them destroy your confidence in Christ;

Don’t let them make your life miserable through their negativity;

Don’t pay attention to their cynicism and derogatory comments;

Don’t let them define who you are.


You are a child of the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

You are forgiven, and were bought at a high price – the blood of Jesus.

You are justified and declared righteous.

You are chosen, equipped and sent.

You are magnificently created in His image.

Stand up.  Stand firm. Be who Christ as ordained you to be.

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16


Man Up!

Man Up 1

1. Love God.

Your first love should be your love for God.  Let your family see you fall, stay, and grow in love with Jesus.

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39)

  1. Love Your Wife.                 

Lust and infatuation are not real love.  Real love is more than a feeling.  It is a decision and commitment.  Real love takes work to develop and grow.  Go on dates with your spouse.

Be romantic.  Let yourself fall in love with her all over again.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)

  1. Love your family.

Spend quality time with your family.  Be available.  Eat dinner together.  Share stories, play games, go on vacations together.  Take your children out on dates.  Teach them what to look for in a man.  Teach them how a man should treat a woman.

  1. Work. Work Hard.

God created men to work.  Men, you are supposed to be the provider.  Get off the couch. Turn off the TV. Quit the online games.  Go to work.

There is no problem with your woman working, but you should do your part.  It’s not about the job you have, or the salary, it is all about you having the discipline to hold down a gainful employment.  Your family is relying on you.

1 Timothy 5:8 says, “If a man fails to provide for his household, he is worse than a pagan.”

  1. Lead. Lead By Example.

Your children are watching you.  In fact, whether you want it or not, you are influencing them.  Your influence could be positive or negative.  Use your influence for the good.  You are the spiritual leader of your home.  Lead your family to church.  Lead your family in prayer.

Let your family see you pray, preach, praise God.  Be the pastor and mentor to your children. Teach and disciple your children.

  1. Let your guard down, emotionally, that is.

Men, it is OK to express your feelings.   Life is not about proving our manhood by shutting down our emotions.  Many wives and children cannot wait to hear you say these heartfelt words: “I Love You, Thank you, I am sorry, or excuse me.”  Swallow your pride, and express your feelings.  Talk with your family about deep issues. Do not just be a goofball.  You are the head of the house.

  1. Watch Your Words.

Do you know your words have power?  Do you know what you say can build up or destroy your family?  Watch what you say to your wife and children.  Be very careful what you say when you are angry.  There is nothing cool about cussing.  There is nothing good about gossip.  There is nothing respectful about sarcasm. Instead, learn to encourage and cheer others on.  Bless not curse.  Build up your children, commend your wife.  Be a voice that brings refreshment and hope to your family.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21

Man up

  1. Be Real.

Children can smell fakeness a mile away.  If you want your children to trust you, and to listen to your message, be authentic.  Make sure you are the same wherever you are.  Your words and deeds must match up. “Do as what I say, not as what I do,” does not work.  Be an honest, reliable and dependable person.  Do not over promise and then under deliver.  Be a man of integrity.

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” – Matthew 5:37

  1. Be faithful.

Be a one woman man.  Do not let your eyes wander.  Keep Your Heart Pure.  Some men do not have an affair, but they are struggling with pornography.  My heart breaks when I read about pornography’s hold on so many men in our society. Pornography’s strength is in its easy access , and secrecy.  It appears harmless.  Do not be fooled.  The devil is a liar.  Pornography is very harmful.  It enslaves you; it belittles women; it destroys marriages; it weakens the men of God.  It leads to a horrible addiction.  Think of what Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

  1. Respect your wife.

Your wife is not a punching bag.  If you want to hit someone, go and sign up for boxing at a local club.  Go and compete in the UFC.  Go get beat up by other men your own size.  No matter how angry you become, never hit a woman.

“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.”  (Eph. 5:28-29)

  1. Be accountable to someone.      

Many men do not have close friends.  Many men avoid sharing their struggles with other men.  Let’s admit it, the men code is against the notion of men spilling their guts in front of other men.  It is thought of as weak to break down before other men, and then hold hands while singing “Kumbaya.”

Men, you need to have deep friendships.  You need other men to challenge you spiritually.  You need to be accountable to someone who checks up on your spiritual progress.  To whom are you accountable?

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17

The Revival of My Prayerless Life


Meet with you at sunrise I did

Afternoon prayers just splendid

At bedtime for countless blessings I prayed

Through the night the angels stood guard.

Now, fame and success I chase all day long

Rushed, meaningless prayers fail to make me strong

I am living just a life of Christian façade

Only as a shadow of the holy man God made

Daily devotions I avoid like a plague

I despise advice from a Godly colleague

In times past my heart would not settle

Through prayer the devil I would wrestle

My prayerless life today you have revived

Many days without prayer I barely survived

Today, you have renewed my strength.

In you, o Lord, I put my trust.

Jesus, you have shown me love despite my sin

Jesus, you have forgiven me to bring me in

No matter how stupid and lost I had become

You have always extended your loving arm

Weekly fasting, daily prayers my goal

Through it all, you will restore my soul

With your Holy Spirit’s power I will not fail

As I stay safe in your everlasting arms, oh God.

Your great blessings I anticipate

My life at your altar I consecrate

In your suffering and glory I partake

To receive the Glory in Heaven that awaits


Accepting God’s Will

Happy New Year!Matthew Peter

I pray your year has started well. For some, however, our plans and resolutions may not be going well already. Is your future looking gloomy and hopeless? Is the pain in your body causing you to lose hope? Are your finances in disarray? Do you call on God, and He seems silent? Are you wondering why every door is being slammed in your face? Why?  I am not be able to answer that question, but I want to encourage you to not lose hope. Hang on in there. Do not throw in the towel.

I would like to encourage you with the words penned by Matthew Ball. But first, please allow God to bless you through these verses:

Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Proverbs 19:21 – “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

2 Corinthians 4:7-9; 16-18 — “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned;struck down, but not destroyed.”

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Matthew Ball writes:

“To all who have prayed for us, loved us and supported this trip to Sudan,

Our trip to South Sudan has been postponed. The visa requirements changed and visas are now required before entering the country (aka before departure). We had been told that visas were available on entering the country. However, there was much confusion at the airport as my dad was allowed to board in error and Peter and I were kept from boarding.
Of course, while we are disappointed, God isn’t. Even as we prayed and planned and bought supplies and prayed some more and bought our tickets and arranged lodging and transportation in South Sudan and continued praying…, God knew we would still be home today. Nothing happens outside of his control and we are firmly in His will. Knowing that God had a different time in mind for our trip is very comforting. Also, knowing that our job is the same regardless of where we are: to bring glory to the name of God in everything (1 Corinthians 10:31). And so as I write this in my office in El Cajon, CA my prayer is that my life will bring glory to God today because of the things I do, think and say. God is good and he is worthy of my full devotion today.
About the situation with donations, flights, supplies etc. We will receive a refund for our flights minus a cancellation fee that I will replace myself. We have everything we need for a trip to South Sudan and we are actively planning our trip for a different day. Already we are tentatively looking at a trip in the summer perhaps. Pray that the way will be opened for us to go soon!
I wish you could all have talked with Peter when we found out at the airport that we couldn’t board. While I frantically began calling, texting and emailing to find a solution, Peter kept reminding me that, “This trip is not about us, it is about God.” He also kept quoting verses from Isaiah about God in control. He is totally ready for whatever God has in store and has his normal infectious God honoring attitude. It’s been 27 years since he’s been to his home country and yet he treasures God above everything. He was and is a fantastic reminder to me about what really matters in the face of disappointment.
As I’ve written many times in these updates, please pray for peace in South Sudan. On the day we were to depart, peace talks broke down yet again. The country is in constant turmoil and the peace of God is needed to bring reconciliation and forgiveness between the many tribes and people of the Sudanese region. God is at work there and we must pray that his kingdom come in South Sudan.
Thank you all for your prayers and support and know that I will continue to steward the resources and supplies you have generously provided. Lord willing, we are still going to travel to South Sudan and I will keep you posted as our plans progress!
In His name and for his glory,” – Matthew Ball

Thom Rainer Reveals the Secret Pain of Pastors

Secret Pain

Thom Rainer Reveals the Secret Pain of Pastors

Not all the news about pastors is discouraging.

Pastors feel privileged to be called to their places of ministry. They have a deep love for those they shepherd. Most of them could not conceive of doing anything else.

But please hear me: Many pastors are hurting.

LifeWay Research conducted a national survey of Protestant pastors. Among the questions they asked were two related to the hurts I noted above.

The Discouragement Factor

One of the key symptoms of the pain experienced by pastors is discouragement. More than one-half (55 percent) of pastors are presently discouraged.

I suspect that if we surveyed pastors over just a few months, we would find almost all of them experience deep discouragement.

Don’t Miss

Some interesting facts we discovered in our study:

  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the geographical location of the church.
  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the size of the church.
  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the educational level of the pastor.
  • There was a significant pattern of discouragement related to the age of the pastor. The younger the pastor, the more likely he was to be discouraged.

The Loneliness Factor

Most pastors experience intense loneliness at times.

When we conducted our survey, more than one-half again (coincidentally the same number, 55 percent, as noted above) said they were lonely. Again remember that this survey was for a specific point in time.

Which pastors experience the greatest amount of loneliness? Our study noted some discernible patterns:

  • There was no pattern of loneliness related to the geographical location of the church.
  • Younger pastors were more likely to be lonely than older pastors.
  • The larger the church, the greater the likelihood the pastor was experiencing loneliness.
  • The greater the education level of the pastor, the more likely he is to be lonely.

Why the Pervasive Discouragement and Loneliness?

Why are so many pastors struggling today? In an earlier article I wrote on pastoral depression, I noted the following possible reasons:

Spiritual warfare.

The Enemy does not want God’s servants to be effective in ministry. He will do whatever it takes to hurt ministers and their ministries.

Unrealistic expectations.

The expectations and demands upon a pastor are enormous. They are unrealistic. But if one person’s expectations are not met, that person can quickly let the pastor know he is a failure.

Greater platforms for critics.

In “the good old days,” a critic was typically limited to telephone, mail and in-person meetings to criticize a minister. Today, critics have the visible and pervasive platforms of email, blogs and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Failure to take time away from the church or place of ministry.

Workaholism leads to burnout. Burnout leads to depression.

Marriage and family problems.

Too often the pastor neglects his family as he cares for the larger church family.

Financial strains.

Many pastors simply do not have sufficient income from the churches they serve. That financial stress can lead to depression. Some pastors do not know how to manage the money they do have, leading to further financial strain.

The problem of comparison.

Every pastor will always know of a church that is larger and more effective. Every pastor will always know of another pastor who seems more successful. The comparison game can be debilitating to some pastors.

This one thing I do know: Pastors need our prayers more than ever. They need our support and encouragement. I am committed to pray for my pastor every day, even if it’s only for a minute or so.

Will you do the same? Our pastors pour out their lives for us daily. What can you do to help our pastors? 

LifeWay Research contacted 1,000 Protestant pastors across the United States by telephone. The calling list was randomly drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Up to six calls were made to reach each sampled phone number. Each interview was conducted with the senior or solo pastor or equivalent position. Responses were weighted to reflect geographical distribution of Protestant churches. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +/- 3.2%. Margins of error are higher for sub-groups.

Extreme Makeover – Soul Edition


This Christmas, I would like to remind you Jesus came to redeem us.

What is redemption?  Redemption is the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt.

The reason we need to be redeemed is that we have sold ourselves into sin and have been alienated from a holy God.

Galatians 4:4–5 says, “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

Redemption frees us to be a part of God’s family. We had run away and sold ourselves into slavery. But God redeems us out of slavery into the Father’s house.

Redemption is the remedy.



Repentance means to make a change of mind–a change of the intention from wanting to sin to not wanting to sin–that results in a change in action. It involves the decision to make a change of behavior and/or attitude about something. Biblically, repentance means to turn from sin with a heartfelt desire to change and not do it again.

Luke 5:31–32, “Jesus said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'”

Jesus came to call sinners to repentance.

Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

Acts 17:30 says, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”

This Christmas, remember Jesus is calling us to repentance.


Restoration is the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.

John 9:39, “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see.'”

And John 12:46, “I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me might not remain in darkness.”

Jesus did not merely come to redeem and to call us to repentance; he also came to open our eyes so that we can see the light and walk in it.

The human problem is not just slavery needing a redemption, and lostness needing repentance; the human problem is also moral blindness, needing the gift of sight.

Luke 4:18 says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”

This Christmas, let us remember that Jesus came to give us sight.


Revolution is a very important and dynamic change in the way that people do things:

Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.”

Jesus is not saying that God loves division and strife.

Jesus is saying that strife and division caused by true allegiance to Jesus are better than no strife and division with no allegiance to Jesus.

When you are really redeemed, have repented and given sight, something really radical happens to you.  A revolution.

You begin to see and think differently and feel things differently and act differently.

This Christmas, remember that Jesus came to cause a revolution in your life & family.


Reconciliation is an act of reconciling, as when former enemies agree to an amicable truce.  It is the process of making consistent or compatible.

Romans 5:10 says, “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”

Colossians 1:19-20 says, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

We often try to avoid these unpleasant experiences: separation, rejection, and alienation.

Without Christ, our lives are in crisis.

Without Christ, we live lives of separation, rejection, and alienation from God.

Sin caused us to be hostile to God.  Sin makes us enemies with God.  Sin severs our relationship with God.

But our loving Father solved the dilemma by sending His Son to pay our penalty.

This Christmas, remember that you are reconciled to God.


Rebirth is the process of being born again. It is revival

John 3:5 says, “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”


Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

This Christmas remember that God sent His Son so that we could believe and have eternal life.  Are you saved?  Do you have eternal life?

Why I do What I Do


Into the office, walked in this frail looking, frame of a man.  He had two children on either side of him.  His beautiful, yet weary looking wife walked behind.  This is a young family of four – father, mother and two young children (7 and 2 years old).  They had come to The Salvation Army to register for Christmas assistance.

The 32 year-old father, in between thoughtful pauses, proudly explained how he had been the family’s bread winner.  He shared a few of his hopes and dreams.  However, this was no longer possible.  His dreams were flickering away, like a dying flame.  Sadly, he was recently diagnosed with kidney failure.  This is not how life should be.  Daddy should be able to work till retirement.  Daddy should be able to celebrate his children’s milestones – graduations, weddings, the birth of his grandchildren, and so forth.  But this was not to be.

The wife listened intently.  She then, shyly and softly, mentioned how she had struggled to find gainful employment.  She desperately wants to help ease her husband’s financial concerns.  She is capable and willing to work.  She has only been able to find side jobs cleaning houses.

The Salvation Army employee, Taneya, leans forward and asks the husband, “What would you want for Christmas?”  If I were the one asked that question, I would have said, “James Bond memorabilia, Coca-Cola collectibles, a Kobe Bryant jersey, or a Wayne Rooney Manchester United jersey.”  But not this father.  In his frail, broken voice he responds, “I do not need anything material.  Nothing for me.  Please just help my children.”

With a nod of affirmation, Taneya turns to look at the wife.  She asks the same question.  The wife’s eyes welled up; warm glittery tears flowed down her rosy cheeks.  She reaches for the Kleenex box and utters these words, “I am praying that my husband doesn’t die.”

The husband looked at his wife, touched her cheek and said, “Please don’t cry, honey. It’s going to be OK.”

A reporter asked me yesterday, “Captain Terry, why do you do what you do?”  Here is my response:

  • I do what I do to help such families.
  • I do what I do to be privy to these intimate family moments.
  • I do what I do to bring hope to the hopeless; and healing to the hurting.
  • I do what I do to bring sunshine to a family’s cloudy condition.
  • I do what I do because I am no better than these families. They remind me of where I once was.
  • I do what I do, because God commands me to love the least, and the lost.
  • I do what I do, because I willingly respond to God’s call, to give a cup of cool water in His name.
  • I do what I do because there is nothing else I would rather be doing.
  • I do what I do because I see Jesus on the little children’s faces.
  • Thank you Jesus for the privilege to serve you.