Kingdom Politics

Hi Friends!

I wanted to encourage you to listen to the most recent podcast. In this recording, I wanted to briefly reflect on implications from Biblical Exile…in comparison to the division we see today in our political system. The voting booth should not be our sacrificial altar. Click on the player below. You can also subscribe to my podcast through iTunes!

Also, check out a post I made a couple years ago pertaining to voting. Perhaps this will shed some light on where our minds and hearts should be. Click here!

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A Father’s Blessing

a-fathers-blessingWhat happened to the practice of a father blessing his children? When I say “bless”, I don’t mean the act of bestowing material goods. I mean blessing in a similar sense that we use the word “anoint” in the biblical context.

In the Bible, we see several instances where a father gives his children a blessing, and this would include an affirmation of who they are and what the father is praying they will become.

Today, we live in a society that would reject this concept on many levels. The current prevailing conversation about the growth of a child centers on the child exploring who they are and forming their own identity. There is nothing wrong with allowing a child to grow and discover what occupation they want to be involved in, but this is not the same as the concept of identity. This task can be confusing and even discouraging for a young person. Perhaps, they are not supposed to do this alone.

The biblical imagery of the father’s blessing shows that the father is instrumental in calling the spiritual identity out of the child as if they were calling upon a militia in hiding to join the battle. A father or father figure’s affirmation in this area is vital, because he is the one who is tasked with recognizing what is not easily seen in this young life.

Today, I want to make known the blessings I have for my children in the form of short letters:

Dear Josiah,

Your name means, “God Heals”. You have such a competitive, and powerful spirit and I have recognized that you also have a compassionate heart. You are my boy, and I love you. Heal the broken. Clothe the naked. Feed the less fortunate. Become a hero to the hurting. You were made, just like the king in scripture who also bears your name, to bring people back to God. You have a huge job ahead of you, and I bless you in the name of Jesus. Grow into who you were made to be. I am so proud of who you already are and how you are a champion for the less fortunate. Fall in love with God’s word. Continue to fight for what is right. Serve the church. Give generously. Share your testimony of how God will show you His miracles. Never stop doing good.

Dear Lynae,

You are my little princess. You were made to glorify God with your body, mind, and spirit. You are too gorgeous for your own good, and this fact will give you great power and impact on the world around you. Always remember that you are perfect. Reject the devil’s lies. He doesn’t stand a chance against you as long as you remain in Christ. I have recognized in you the power you possess in your prayers. So, I am calling out this gift in you. In the name of Jesus, I am blessing you in this area. Continue to grow as a mighty prayer warrior. Someday, you will be sought out for this quality and people will specifically ask you to intercede for them. Your words, and your connection to God will change the outcome of lives that are represented on your prayer list. People will sense God’s presence when they are around you. Even though you are little, you have impressed me with your desire to be nurturing, kind, and loving. Don’t forget who you are and, most of all, whose you are. Daddy loves you.

Kids need direction and affirmation for who they are. They are brand new explorers of this world, and without a tour guide, they will become lost. If you are reading this today, will you allow me to bless you too?

In the name of Jesus, I am calling out the spirit that made you who you are and who God wants you to be. Love each other. Stand for what is right. Pray for your enemies. Remember your value. Don’t forget who you are and whose you are…

That’s all I got…

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos

Mass Marketing

It happens to all
when going for a drive
we get distracted by marketing
Meant to make businesses thrive

They are seen when our eyes wander
when we are not looking ahead
They try to sell us goods
expecting us to believe what we just read.

Some are for public service
warning us to stay on track
to keep our lives together
giving us information we may lack

Others may be rather crude
selling things we dare not buy
for fear of a tarnished reputation
with messages so sly

I am interested in a message of hope
one that will take away my pain
not another gadget
to flush my money down the drain

There was one billboard I heard about
displayed back in ancient times
One that advertised love
through a man paying for his crimes

The odd thing about this ad
was he didn’t do anything wrong
But this marketing piece
seemed to sing a different song

The one on display was called a fake
for the whole world to see
shown on the side of the road
humiliated publicly

I still can’t help but think
there was something good about this guy
The one they called Jesus
With compassion in His eye

I hear he came for joy
and to set the captive free
a billboard painted in blood
a marketing piece meant for me.

-Landon DeCrastos

The Church I Want to Lead | In Other Words

church doorI am a young pastor. I have limited experience on many levels, and because of that I know that there are not many who would give much weight to my words. Years ago, as a student, I could have told you what type of church I wanted to work in, and the type of people I wanted to minister to. I wanted to be a part of a church that had some history; that had thriving ministries, and had enough money in the bank to cushion any hardships that may come their way. I wanted plenty of people to pick from when it came to having a need for volunteers and I wanted a church that was progressive and valued new ideas. I had so many ideas (if money was no object and people were abundant of course). Back then, my idea of success revolved around shrinking seating space, and expanding offerings. In fact, if everything worked out well, then I may get into a church that had excellent music, incredible preaching, and a flexible congregation that really wanted to try new things.

Over a period of time, as I grew in confidence and knowledge, I began to have complaints. My first church was somewhat small, and didn’t really have much of a budget for the youth program I was leading so I often sat in my office and felt sorry for myself and blamed everything else for why my ministry wasn’t growing. I began to become jaded about the church for various reasons (they still sing from hymnals, they sat in pews, they needed new carpet, they didn’t have a very nice website). Surely all of these things PROVED they didn’t want to grow. If they valued ministy, then they would pay me more so I could do more things. I would sit around, in a mental autopilot, waiting for things to change so that “real ministry” could begin.

After being a youth pastor for a while and seeking more education, I started to realize the horrible faulty thinking I had come to believe. I realized I was the problem…not the old furniture or traditional music. It was ME. My heart and mind needed to conform to God’s.

Then, God called me to start a new church. At first, my thoughts revolved around ways this new congregation could be cutting edge, different, and set apart from any other church in town. If it was different and exciting, then people would come to my church instead of any other. If you know me now, you may be surprised that this was my thought process, because over the last 5 years God has completely transformed my heart and now I desire to lead a church much different than the one I used to crave. I have a new desire.

Now… I want to lead a church who:

…cares more about the broken than looking all put together.

…welcomes the single parent, widow, and widow and desires to be a source of encouragement for them

…prays for those who do not look, smell, or sound like them and embraces them with compassion

…will give up their comfort and be sacrificial for the advancement of the kingdom

…will put God’s word into action

…will do things that are bad for business but great for relaying the gospel

…will welcome the abused, rejected, oppressed, and hated

…will hate sin so much that they are willing to be grace agents

…will seek what sacrifice truly means

…will welcome the sinner no matter what their sin, and treat them with respect and dignity

…will follow God into the darkness; ready to be the light

…will do everything they can to see other churches grow

…will accept the fact that the Church must be real and transparent

…will not be a different person in the seats than at home

…want passionate worship instead of manufactured praise

…want to serve more than want to be served

…understand that “being fed” means feeding too

…want imperfection in-process instead of processed perfection

…desire God’s will to be done no matter church size, money in the bank, or political climate

…look at the world around them with love instead of bitterness

THAT is the church I want to lead.

I’m sure glad I do 🙂

-Landon DeCrastos

Infinite Compassion

compassionAs Christians, we often talk a big game. Our pastor stands in front of us weekly and teaches us about things like forgiveness, giving, sin, and compassion…hmmmm….compassion. This word, that we hear often said from the pulpit is one that we often agree with in principle, and even yell “amen” when it is mentioned. We agree because we saw that Jesus thought it was a good idea and scripture, in various places, brings it up. What does it really mean, though?

I think we know the concept. When we feel compassion we feel sorrow or sympathy for misfortune or suffering of another. The ignorance found in our Christian behavior is not, though, in defining this word…but truly living it. I mean, who really cares what it means if it is not displayed? Like anything else in our Christian life, we must get to a point where any particular concept that is vital moves from an academic knowledge to a practical passion that is played out in our lives. What would compassion look like to you if it was passionately pursued in your life?

The Christ-following exercise of compassion is more involved than “giving a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name”. Sure, this is definitely something we are called to do, and it shows a surface level compassion, but in this instance a person could give this cold water and walk away feeling better about themselves. What if true, deep, compassion caused you to change the way you live our lives? What if our schedule, budget, home-life, convenience, and emotional state were uprooted because of our dedication to compassion? God doesn’t call us to be inconvenienced, does He? I submit, yes. Yes He does. Why? I think He called us to disrupt our comfort because, first and foremost, we are not designed for this world. So, if this is true, then there should always be this divine irritation for the routine of this world (which is defined by suffering, sin, erosion, and decay).

One way I have seen this topic on display lately is through a new ministry created by a good friend and his family. It is called “Infinite Blessings“. This family noticed a need for housing, training, and guidance for several teens and young adults who needed extra support to get back on their feet. This includes people who have graduated from the foster care system and have no place to stay, people who have grown up in difficult family situations, and  young adults who are temporarily homeless and need a roof over their head. Obviously this is implemented with significant implications to home-life, expenses, and changes family dynamics. Despite this, compassion is being displayed and God is being served in the process. These young people come with pasts, things to learn, and infinite possibilities for their future. I think this is a ministry that needs to be more widely known. Click on the link below and give to this ministry to help them along.

Give with compassion. Give to compassion.

click-here

Love you all. Remember you are valued.

-Landon DeCrastos

7 Questions Christians Need to Ask Themselves | In Other Words

countrychurchOn a daily basis, hundreds of questions come to mind about this faith that I profess. As a pastor, sometimes it is hard to admit that there are times that I need to be intentional about my spiritual growth. This type of progression doesn’t come naturally, because I think humanity’s natural tendency is to follow that which is comfortable and easy. “Comfortable and easy” has me written all over it. Even though this is the case, there are frequent occasions when I need to get real with myself and ask the hard questions. Allow me to take the time to invite you into my own growth process for a few minutes…It is possible you may have to ask yourself these questions too.

Among hundreds of others, I think there are 7 Questions Christians Need to Ask Themselves.

1. Why Do I Follow Jesus? 

I often think about the stories in the Bible about the amazing miracles Jesus accomplished. Whether it was turning water into wine, healing a sick person, or making food appear when supplies were limited, each time He performed these feats His “fan base” would grow considerably. People would follow Him around and immediately come to His side when He showed them something incredible. This was great, but I can imagine that many followed in hopes that He would do these great things for them. In today’s Christian culture, there are many who simply follow Jesus because they want to have their eternal destiny “locked in”. I am not diminishing this concept, but I fear that if this is the only reason we follow Jesus then our faith becomes about what Jesus has or can do for us instead of the light we should be in the darkness.

2. What Gives Me Joy?

So many Christians get the concept of happiness and joy mixed up. In our most immature state, it is easy to want to “abandon ship” when a series of tribulations come our way. I often get discouraged about things that simply do not affect the flow of the kingdom AND, I tend to forget that God has answered much bigger prayers in the past. I have seen miracles and He has spoken to me. Wretched, poor, nothing-to-offer; me. What brings me joy is a delight in knowing that the same loving force that created the universe has everything under control, and loves me…even when I am experiencing temporary chaos.

3. What Am I Doing to Grow?

Do you think farmers get upset because their crops need water and sunlight? Do you think they feel as if it is legalistic to assume that their livestock need fed in order to eventually feed the multitudes? Of course not! A good farmer does what it takes to make sure they are planting and harvesting as much as they can each year. They take advantage of the fertility of their land so that their yield will be bountiful. When a pastor stands up in front of his or her congregation and talks about “legalistic” things like spiritual disciplines (scripture reading, giving, community worship, prayer, etc) they are simply teaching their people how to effectively feed their soul. They are teaching the farmers to farm and experience their own personal harvest. Do we, as Christians, rely on one hour every week as the sole means for our spiritual growth, or does it carry throughout the week?

4. Have I Sacrificed Anything to Follow Christ?

Now, please hear me when I say that this is not a question I publicly ask to send the accuser your way. I think it is a genuinely innocent question that all need to ask themselves. Whether it be in the areas of time, talent, or treasure can we really think of a time in which we had to release something we valued to God? Sometimes we think that we are being persecuted because someone made fun of our prayer time before our lunch break, or we see the direction the government is going in a certain political area…but…what would our faith look like if it was all we had left? Many do operate this way. Just something to ponder…

5. Do I Value Comfort Over Christ?

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people complain about the taste of the communion wafers at various churches I have attended. Really?!?!…Really?!?! We are remembering a time in which Jesus just got done saying “goodbye for now” to His followers and indicated death was coming, AND for some reason we complain because of the taste of a cracker. Okay…that part of my rant is complete, but in all seriousness, when God asks us to become uncomfortable for His purposes, how do we react? Do we disobey, or give our all?

6. How Do I Treat Non-believers?

It may come as a surprise to many, but non-Christians have no reason to act like Christians. Yep, you heard correctly. So, with this as an understanding, why do we base our judgement of non-Christian behavior using Christian values? Granted, I believe that Christ-following is the source of an abundant life, but we can not expect people who don’t know Him to fully live as if they do… God has sent the Church into the world to serve these people regardless. They are human. They are loved by God. We were in their shoes too at one point. Do we treat people who don’t know Christ with compassion, understanding, and love? Or, do we spit venom at them to inflict mortal wounds? Sure, we must share Christ with all, and be the light of Jesus in this dark world but do we really accomplish this when people flee from our sight when they learn our affiliation?

7. How Important is My Faith?

Assuming that mostly Christians are reading this blog today, the question I have is about how we view the priority of our spiritual life. Ask yourself if your faith is a hobby, habit, or a hunger. When we look at things in this way, it will help us honestly evaluate our relationship with God. Whether it comes to church attendence, giving, prayer, or general growth, can we honestly say that we have a hunger for the things God considers a priority. Is our faith a hobby that we take part in when we don’t have anything else to do or when everything is running smoothly? Is it a habit we have always taken part in, but there is no real meaning attached? Or, do we have a deep hunger for God’s spirit to guide, grow, and send us daily?

When we take the time to honestly evaluate our faith, things can get rather hairy. It may cause us to *gulp* change some things and go a different direction. This is just how it works. Trust God to reveal the sharp edges He wants to chisel as you ask these questions.

Keep Him the center. The world is at stake. Hell hates it when you do.

Love you all

-Landon DeCrastos

6 Things God May Be Trying to Tell You

GodtellyouHave you ever tried to talk to a preschool age child (or husband) during their favorite show on TV? The lack of attention can get on your nerves. Okay…I guess you caught it. I am one of those parents who allow my child to watch TV in the morning. Hey, sometimes I am tired and I need my son just to do his own thing for a few minutes while my brain wakes up. I am horrible…I won’t even talk about the fact I don’t buy organic…OH THE AGONY!!! Call the police!

I digress….ANYWAY, have you ever been in a situation in which you have tried to have a serious conversation with someone only to find out more than halfway through that they didn’t hear or understand anything you have said t them. Frustrating huh? Or, like I mentioned above, have you ever been listening to someone talk and their tangents got in the way of the message? This can also be infuriating. Sometimes you just either want to clearly convey your message or you want to be heard.

I think God feels the same way much of the time. There are times when I am certain that He is trying to teach me something, and because of my own pride or reluctance, He can’t get through. Not because He is powerless, but because I am distracted or I have my proverbial “fingers in my ears” and I would rather follow my own way. Well, there are many things the creator of the universe tries to say to us, and we could spend all day discussing them. Today, I want to touch on a few.

Here are 6 Things God May Be Trying to Tell You today…I think all are applicable to anyone who believes. 

1. No hurt goes unheard– It is so easy to begin to believe that all our suffering is falling on deaf ears. Sometimes we can pray with such passion and for such a long time that, when we don’t see the answer or relief coming, it seems like God is ignoring our plea. When we are going through these trials, God is right there with us, suffering as well. He definitely has insight into the His own perfect plan, but I can only imagine that the reason He also suffers is because He wants to bring the solution to you right now…He just knows what is perfect. He wants the best for you, and sometimes this means we have to wait. No one likes to see their child in pain…even if we know that the pain will not last forever.

2. Sometimes the answer is not as difficult as you think– When we pray, it is easy to ask that God brings a miracle that will completely change the whole situation. We often wonder how God will resolve the conflict we are facing, and trust that He will, but also concoct complicated answers that we think will solve the problem. Then, we tell God these are the steps that need to be taken to implement the miracle. The answer is often easier than that…and it involves becoming uncomfortable and barreling through to victory.

3. Doing the right thing is always the best thing– This is hard to hear. It is also hard to understand sometimes. Many times, we truly do know what is right, but often it conflicts with what is easy. What is right may hurt feelings, or change lives…but the right thing will always lead to abundance. The wrong thing may feel better in the moment…it may even relieve some pain temporarily. It will never, however, lead you into the fullness of God’s plan. The right thing also will always be in line with God’s word.

4. You will never stray too far– There are people who do not follow God because of their anger, guilt, and shame. These feelings often come from a time of reflection on the person they have become and memories of a sin-filled past. Many think that they have sinned way too much for God to accept them…this is simply not true. God wants to meet you where you are at, and give you His abundant life now. Not after you clean up your act. He is waiting.

5. You will never get too close– If you have ever had a relationship in life that has truly let you down you know exactly what I am talking about. You know, you have loved someone and trusted them deeply and they turned around and used that power against you. Guess what. Your relationship with God is nothing like that, and it will never be that way. You can cultivate a close intimate relationship with Him and expose all of your flaws. He will accept you and use it to grow, stretch, and mold your life. It is about time you let go of the fear of getting close.

6. Wearing a T-shirt doesn’t count– If you really want to know what it means to be a follower of Christ…it has nothing to do with the cool new Christian T-shirt you just bought online. You may think you are telling satan to “shove it” when you wear it around town, but what you are really doing (sometimes) is trying to find a way to display the message without living it. This will not work. God wants you…not your clothing. Inanimate objects can not be spiritually redeemed. They have no soul. Now, when you wear that inspirational t-shirt…remember this…how can you truly be a walking billboard for the creator? Add things like compassion and forgiveness to the mix as well. These will go far. Your t-shirt will doesn’t count when talking about your Christian witness.

God wants to say so much more to us. Don’t let a blog have to be the one to tell you.Open your ears, eyes, and heart. It is time to listen.

-Landon DeCrastos

Do it anyway

Your life is falling apart…trust anyway

You’re tired and scared…love anyway

Things are not going your way…believe anyway

You’re not sure how things will work out…give anyway

You’re discouraged and angry…minister anyway

You’re in pain and feel used…forgive anyway

You feel as if you are not worthy…show compassion anyway

You have so many excuses…surrender anyway

You feel dead inside…choose life anyway

You simply don’t feel like it…worship anyway

You are tempted and tried…grow anyway

The enemy is attacking…be bold anyway

   With God as our resource, we can do all things. Don’t forget that…

-Landon DeCrastos

Friday Update Email List

Good Morning Friends,

I wanted to personally invite you all to my Friday Update email newsletter. This newletter will keep you up to date with things going on in the life of my family, and the church that I pastor. Usually, I give an update every other Friday, and the content of this email is more personal in nature. I appreciate all of you, and I think you for the support you have given me! There is a new email update coming out today. Sign up now!

Click here to sign up!