2 Strange Letters

There are 2 strange letters

on your word I see

Their placement on the front

Doesn’t make sense to me

I am pretty good at reading

But these 2 don’t fit

They don’t describe what I see

It’s the meaning I don’t get

The first letter I have seen

In books and other things

The second is also familiar

But confusion is what it brings

The word is badly changed

And it doesn’t reflect the truth

It doesn’t show how I see you

Whether aged or in your youth

These 2 strange letters

Throw everything off track

They mess up your description

And set the meaning back

Without these intruders

The definition wonderfully fits

They initially seem harmless

But shatter hearts to bits

The letters are “I” and “M”

But I remind you they don’t work

The accuser uses them untruthfully

To diminish the Master’s work

The word in question is “perfect”

And in its purest form

Is how I look at you daily

Through sunshine, snow, or storm

Don’t let the enemy convince you

That you are not good enough

And that God can’t possibly love you

With all of your broken stuff

While you may be human

And lacking in many things

You are perfect; you are loved

You are a child of the King


How Renewal Happens

renewalOne of my fondest memories of college occured in late fall/ early winter of my sophomore year. This was my second year in our school’s traveling men’s choir, and we happened to be in the midst of a tour in Northern Indiana. This choir (Testament Men’s Choir) was one that traveled around the midwest singing in churches for ther worship services. We were used to singing in large venues and very small ones. No matter what the size, every one of us truly loved what we were doing, and felt God had called us to use the voices He gave us for the glory of the kingdom. Despite our love for what we were doing, sometimes it became a monotonous task to sing the same songs and go through the same routine. This tour turned out to be different…

In Northern Indiana, when we were inbetween performances, we decided to take an excursion to the local mall. Christmas marketing was in full swing and every square inch of the mall reflected this fact. Our song set for choir also reflected the season with the necessary songs to celebrate the birth of Christ. We had the songs memorized almost to boredom, and because of the frequency of how often we sang these tunes, many of us hummed them without even knowing it.

As we formed into clumps of people and scattered throughout the mall to do some shopping, God began to stir something in the hearts of most of the guys. As a few of us were walking around in one of the clothing stores we began to hum one of our tunes called, “In the First Light”. This musical infection started with a couple of the men who were really singing it to give into the fact that is was burrowing in their brain. Then, as the other members heard, they began to join in using their assigned harmonies.

We were not really paying attention to the people around us at first, and after a few lines, we looked up and the staff of this particular clothing store had stopped what they were doing to listen. Tears were coming down the cashier’s face and this started a conversation about what we were doing in town. The patrons and workers were excited that we were singers and wanted to hear more… This gave us an idea.

The small group split up to collect as many of the guys throughout the mall as possible. Our idea was to gather the full group and meet in front of this store to give the workers an impromptu show, and make them smile at the very least. Oddly enough, right outside this store was a piano that the mall often used to randomly entertain patrons with carols and such. We decided to highjack it for our purpose. We also were able to collect nearly every member of the choir for this show.

We began to sing. We had never been so into what we were singing and the harmony poured out like never before…As we sang, people from all over the mall gathered to listen. People were crying, many had their eyes closed in reflection, and some even had out their cell phones recording the event. We never thought anyone would notice, but it moved people unexpectedly. People were drawn to the event. We had a blast!

Here is the point…I think, as the Church, we get the wrong idea about how God moves. We think that we have to set the perfect mood, and make a pursuasive case for belief. What we often forget is that there is something terribly attractive about the concept of God’s people worshiping Him with passion. God will draw people to Him when His people praise. This is how renewal happens. A spark…then a fire.

Trust God today.

-Landon DeCrastos

The Week that Broke My Heart

Consider these facts:

    • Over 27-32 million Americans have significant hearing loss
    • About one in four families have at least one member who is deaf or hard-of-hearing
    •  The number of severely to profoundly deaf people in the US is estimated at 1 million
    • Only 2% to 4% of deaf people claim to know Christ as Savior

When I first read these statistics, I honestly skimmed over them as if they were another pile of information to wade through on the internet. It is so hard not to. There is so much information out there that would have startled a person years ago, and we have become so jaded as a culture when it comes to new information of this kind. The stats above came from their website.

Last week, I had the awesome privilege of working, for 5 days, for a ministry called “Silent Blessings Deaf Ministries“. The purpose of my time there was to help the organization develop a fundraising strategy for a campaign they have coming up in the near future. So, my time that week largely consisted of getting to know the ins and outs of the mission, vision, and values of this ministry. Silent Blessings is an organization that desires to bring people, both deaf and hearing, into a profound encounter with the reconciling love of God through Jesus Christ. I would say that is a worthy goal.  They also produce a TV show for deaf (and hearing) children that is broadcasted all over the world. It is called Dr. Wonder’s Workshop.  All of the actors are deaf and the voice-overs cater to the hearing population.

I know very little sign language and I only personally know a couple deaf people. For a while, for some reason, I have felt like our church has had some sort of call by God to reach out specifically to this people group. I am still not sure how that is going to look structurally, but we have already started dabbling in sign language as a church to prepare for what God has for us.

My week there was exciting, and I felt like I was at home with my temporary co-workers. I felt like we had the same mission in ministry even though I did not have much connection with the deaf commnunity I know God was nudging me. God broke my heart that week, more deeply, for the deaf community. In many surveys, this people group is called the largest unreached people group in America. To hear stories of how the deaf are marginalized, abused, and ignored entirely made me leave my temporary office shaking my head and desiring more of a connection. One stat that really shook me to the core involved the fathers of deaf children. Less than one percent of fathers who have deaf children are engaged with their child to help them grow spiritually, emotionally, or mentally. Not good.

So, as I reflect on last week, I have fond memories, and I look forward to my continued connection with this organization. My heart is filled…but it is also broken. Jesus loves everyone…even those who can’t hear.

Take a look at the video above and catch the passion for why this ministry began. Go to their website and donate!

-Landon DeCrastos

5 Lessons From Recess

recess“Red rover, red rover send Stacy right over!” You remember that game don’t you? Two lines of children would face one another and when your name is called, your job is to run at full speed and attempt to break through the human chain that opposed you. Some would timidly trot only to be captured…others would use this opportunity to take out some aggression. These are the types of things we did at recess as children.

Recess was an incredible time. Next to lunch, it was my personal favorite period of time during school. If we grew up with this as a common occurrence we can close our eyes and remember times when we made terrible decisions, and also lifelong  friendships in the midst of a kickball game or on the “time out wall” when we pushed Emily Stevens down the curly slide and she had to be a stinkin’ little tattle tail and rat us out…umm…hypothetically.

As I was reflecting on my experiences during this unstructured time of play, I realized that there were lessons I learned from the playground that can translate into my spiritual life. It may be a stretch, but sometimes it is fun to see how things like this can link our thoughts to wisdom.

There are 5 lessons I think we can take from recess

1. Tetherball is important– The game of tetherball can be a lesson in the way we handle our pain. The point of tetherball is to hit the ball and draw it closer to the center pole. Your opponent’s purpose is to drive the ball farther away from the pole in the opposite direction and oppose your progress. Each day we are tested in the same way. Life abuses us, sends us through trials, and we walk through suffering unwillingly. If we are not careful, we can walk through these struggles and, if not looked at redemptively, they can oppose our growth and draw us further from the center focus…God. God does not want any pain to be wasted. We can use these instances to draw closer to Him.

2. Bullys are everywhere– Whether it be in the work place, in the grocery store, or the bank we know that bullys still exist. We encounter people on a regular basis who seem to desire the worst for us and our well being. Our first impulse may be to put them in their place or get angry, but often we do not see below the surface. Many times the people who are this way are dealing with such deep pain. Pray for them…they need an encounter with God. They are not your enemy.

3. People will chase you– I noticed that, when people chased you at recess, that meant they really like you. Personally, I was a fan of being chased by girls even though I didn’t admit it. Obviously our main goal in life is not to be liked by all, but we must ask ourselves what type of influence we are to others. What kind of life are you living that deserves to be influential? Hopefully it is one that is chasing after Christ.

4. The point is to get sweaty– As kids we knew what recess was really about. Teachers wanted to get us sweaty so we would “get the wiggles out” for the rest of the school day. It was smart because we were more productive in the second half. Many of us limit our Christian experience to reading, and silent reflection. These are absolutely essential, but there is also more to it. When we get closer to God we realize that there must be a point in which we bring action and service to our faith. “Getting sweaty” is the point of a life that draws us closer to Him. We are being formed in His image to be a light to the dark world.

5. Red rover, red rover– Remember this game? I think we can learn something from it. God wants us to live our lives with purpose and focus. With His resourcing we can break through to freedom. The enemy will try to prevent us from growing and being a part of God’s mission, but He has plans for us. Plans that can give us hope and a future…we just need to close our eyes, put our heads down, and run towards Him.

This is just what I have reflected on…it is no comprehesive exposition of scripture, nor is it meant to be used in a university setting. All I know is that God wants us to learn things through every experience we encounter.

Know you are loved. Know you have a purpose.

-Landon DeCrastos

6 Things Pastors Are Tired of Hearing

clergyYou may not know this, but if you go to a church, or are “shopping around” for one that fits you there are some things that you may not know about what the pastor is actually thinking. Pastors put on a great front and try to paint on a fake smile, but deep down inside we are cringing at what you just said to us. Don’t get me wrong, we know your heart and know you have the best intentions behind what you are saying to us, but quite frankly, sometimes we also have a bad day and want to throw a tantrum. We are not allowed to though, because we are pastors, and our angel wings are at the cleaners getting polished for the potluck next week. If I am to be brutally honest, some phrases we hear from our parishioners sound like a broken record. I may be out of bounds, and presumptuous by thinking I can speak for all pastors, but I know I can safely speak for many.

Here are 6 things we are tired of hearing…

1. Pastor, it’s not about the numbers… – You know what?!? It is about the numbers. It is all about the numbers. Think about this…as a pastor, a man or woman dedicates their whole life to service for one purpose; spreading the Gospel among as many people as possible. We have sacrificed time, energy, money, and friends to boldly go into whatever mission field God has called us to go and impact as many as we can. So, when people take this lightly, it really stings. As pastors, we get tired of hearing this, because many honestly don’t even think about church until Saturday evening. Do us a favor, and help us spread the message God has called us to…

2. Children are the church of tomorrow- False. Just because they are not good tithers, doesn’t mean they can’t impact the kingdom like anyone else. Children are the church of right now, and should be incorporated into every part of the church body that their abilities can handle.

3. A few people have said…–  No…they didn’t. You and Mrs. Jones don’t count when presenting me with that phrase. You are lovely contributors to the kingdom, but Mrs. Jones complains about everything, and if anyone else really said anything about this I will give you $1000. Send around a petition and we will talk. Love you by the way…

4. The church down the road…– Let me stop you right there… First, there is only one Church, and just because that congregation is growing rapidly doesn’t mean they are sinning or “watering down the word”. It could actually be that they are experiencing a revival that God has brought. Second, they are our brothers and sisters. It is our job to help them grow…WHAT?!?! Yes…you hear me right. We are not their competition. We are their support and extended family. Now, put on your big boy pants and pray for them. Love you by the way…

5. Remember when...- It is sometimes a lot of fun to reminisce about things from the past. We only get tired of hearing this when it stands in the way of reaching more people. Remember, what brought us here will not necessarily get us there…I can admit, though, that it is easy to sometimes “throw the baby out with the bath water” and overlook the fact that there are some things we used to do that may work now.

6. I’m only human– Ok…excellent. Now you can sin all you want. Whew… NOPE. The fact is, you are not only human. If you know Christ, and desire to grow in Him, within you dwells a divine substance. The Christian life takes work, and thank God for the grace of correction.

Brothers and sisters…please understand my heart in these writings. It is not an attempt to shame anyone, but a light-hearted look on things that I think we really need to ponder. Let us be thoughtful in the words we speak and Biblical in the thoughts we think. Love you by the way…

-Landon DeCrastos

What Does God See?

What does God see when He looks down at me?

Does He view my attempts at prosperity?

Does He notice when I try to set myself free?

or insult Him with my “praise”.

When I enter His house with a scowl on my face…

When I hope others will be put in their place…

When I simply reject His unfailing grace…

and it all results in malaise.

Does He see the condition of my hurting heart?

Does He desire, for me, a brand new start?

Do I have a purpose; do I have a part?

is living this life something that pays?

While I do not pretend to know His thoughts

It is easy to connect the dots

my stomach tends to turn in in knots

when attempting to navigate this maze

He loves us; it is easy to see

He showed us through a death on a tree

Christ’s life can set us free

and save us from this phase

So give your life to the one who cares

ignore the scowls, the words, the stares

leave a legacy for your heirs

and surrender the rest of your days.

-Landon DeCrastos



Carry On and Trust

giving handsDisclaimer: The following blog post is not meant to shame others or boast, but when God brings about a miracle it is usually for the purpose of encouraging others.

Money, for some reason, is a hard subject to talk about…especially in a church setting as a pastor. When pastors talk about finances many automatically assume they are doing so for the purpose of increasing revenue for the church. In the same vein, it is hard to talk about giving because people may start to make personal comparisons and feel ashamed about their own giving history…perhaps the money is extremely tight and God has not dealt with you in this area. That’s okay…but…brothers and sisters, I urge you to not overlook the purity of what I am saying and thus miss the point. We are not talking about a salvation issue here. So, are we good? Okay, good. Here we go.

At the beginning of this month, my wife and I had “the talk”. You have been there at some point. This talk was one that centered around finances. The outcome was meager for us to say the least. My wife had added up the bills and the projected income and we were going to be behind. We realized that, if we did not buy groceries this month, we would still be “in the red”. It was a nauseating feeling…to know there was nothing we could do short of selling a kidney on the black market to break even. The most frustrating thing about this is the fact that we are really wise with what we spend. We are not extravagant spenders and our lifestyle is very simple. Where was God? This was an honest question that we had, and that anyone would natually have in this situation.

We began to brainstorm about ways we could cut back in order to make it. Next month was going to be better, we knew that, so if we could do something to get ahead that would be very helpful. As we tossed around ideas we thought maybe we could cut back on our weekly giving at church. I mean…God has only asked us to give 10 percent, so maybe he would understand if we adjusted our giving to make that our new goal. In the midst of this conversation, God reminded me of similar situations in the past in which He worked out these kind of details. I remembered being a newly married youth pastor and spending more on gas than I was making at my first church assignment. I remember the time when we gave what we had to help a friend and a random check came in the mail from a reimbursement we were not expecting. So, we had a history with God in these scenerios. A long history.

Cutting down on giving made sense, but it also made me think. I couldn’t imagine that God would be sitting on His throne saying, “Okay, you really need to stop giving as much…I can’t keep up.” So, we decided to carry on, and simply trust. It was so hard to do. Even though I preach about it regularly. I suppose I am a normal hypocrite like everyone else in that regard.

We had such a peace about the coming month. Our minds shifted from asking “where is God?” to “I can’t wait to see what He will do.” The result was amazing. We saw blessing after blessing. Reimbursement checks we were not expecting, savings on things we didn’t account for, and a generous gift from a sister church that we did not know was coming. All of these things, together, added up to a month of abundance…and by abundance, I mean paying all the bills with a little bit left to get ahead for next month. We attributed it to allowing God to work in our thought process.

Odds are you have stories like this…and odds are you frequently forget about them like I do.

I tell this story simply to say this… God wants to show off. Let Him do so.

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos

A Lesson from the Park

My son became really frustrated with me this evening. It didn’t last for very long, but I could sense that he was upset. He is three years old so this kind of thing happens every day, but this time made me think a little more than other times. You have experienced the same scenerio when you were a child. A bully on the playground triggered the incident.

Today, I decided to take my son to our favorite park. It is fun to watch him let loose and play in an unstructured situation. This time was a little different. At one point in time, he wanted to climb to the highest level of the playground and slide down his favorite curly slide. Normally, I would help him get up there and watch him slide down…this time I didn’t let him go up there. This made him upset because he really wanted to play. I told him he needs to go on another slide for now. You can imagine that conversation did not go well. I pulled him aside and gave him an explanation about why I was preventing him from climbing to the top….There was a bully only feet away from us. He understood and calmed down.

As we were playing in other areas of this park, I had observed this child (maybe 5 or 6) kicking and pushing other kids down the various pieces of equipment. In fact, there was one time when my son was going down one of the slides and he was briefly pushed by the same child. This rubbed me the wrong way…and it also upset some other children.

I wanted to keep him from getting hurt and learning terrible behavior, so I simply waited until the child left and let him continue to play as he wanted. When this bully exited the park I allowed him to explore the full extent of the play equipment.

We experience similar situations daily. God tells us no, or wait, or do something else, and we start to throw a tantrum because we want what we desire and we want it now. God, in His awesome sovereignty, may have set up boundaries in our lives temporarily to steer us away from danger or to guard our hearts. But, sometimes we want to keep barreling through and collect regrets like they are rare coins. As we learn to trust God more we learn to thank Him for unanswered prayers as much as ones fulfilled.

Trust God today. Trust Him in the waiting and in the activity.

-Landon DeCrastos


cross clipartToday is Good Friday. This is the day we remember what Christ did for us in the powerful act of dying on a Roman cross. This cross is a torture device that the Christian Church has decided to adopt as a symbol of who we are and with whom we are associated. I have often been curious about why we have chosen such a symbol. How many subcultures wear guillotines, brass knuckles, or a small electric chairs on chains around their necks? None. Then why a cross?

Scripture tells us that the concept of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are saved it is the power of God. So, what does this really mean? At first glance,  the cross is an odd object to mount in churches, but when we really think about it we realize that the message of the cross is not about what this symbol represents, but what it lacks…

To understand this, we have to look at what happened on this day almost 2000 years ago.

Jesus was the life of the party. He fulfilled every prophecy to prove He was/ is the Messiah. The miracles, the preaching, and the interaction He had with the “least of these” seemed to point to the savior the world was looking for. Then, this man who was revered and followed by so many, disappointed them all when He failed to do what He was supposed to do; lead a rebellion. This was what this Jewish messiah was supposed to do, right? Frustration grew. They needed to get rid of this guy, and restart their search for the one who would come to save them. They were under great oppression by the government, and they just wanted to be free.

Freedom. Really, they had no idea what that meant. When that word rolled off their lips, thoughts of liberty in all action came to mind. Freedom for this people group meant that they wanted to enjoy God’s blessing while also living a life that completely rejected Him. Little did they know that this Jewish carpenter would turn out to be exactly who He claimed to be…

So, the message of the cross is not about how much power this pile of lumber contains, but what it lacks; a body.

Jesus, the king of the universe, died. He actually stopped living. It was painful and terrible. He didn’t stay dead though. This is why we celebrate this season. In a few days, people are going to discover an empty cross and an empty grave. Nothing has gone according to plan.

These things are empty, and somehow this idea can fill our emptiness.

…to be continued

-Landon DeCrastos