Oct 14, 2014

Houston, Is It Time to Panic?

Today my news feed blew up as my hometown of Houston in many ways declared war on many prominent churches. If you are late to the party, the city of Houston subpoenaed sermons and private correspondence of local churches that recently went head to head with the city over the issue of transgender citizens. In full disclosure, I am a suburban pastor who is not affected by this overstep of the government, but I do have a front row seat as one of the listed churches is just a stone’s throw from my house.

Living in Houston is very different than living in much of the Bible Belt. In Northern Texas and Oklahoma, much of Christianity is assumed into the common culture. It is not so here. Where Oklahoma is the Jerusalem of the Bible Belt, Houston is its Corinth. We are the port city that embraces cultures and lifestyles from around the world. The decisions of the mayor’s office were not a shock to us. I think all Houstonian pastors have seen the slow march of toleration that will eventually criminalize the church.    

All of that said, it is not time to panic. We should not be surprised. I think for the first time in several generations God may be working to wake up His church. On this day I am not pessimistic. I am realistic that this may be the beginning of a longer road of persecution for us. I am not frightened. On this day the churches of Houston have the same hope that they have always had and that is in God who is greater than any government, cause, or people.

Much may change in the coming years in America, but I guarantee what matters will not.

1. God sits on His throne leading His people to their final redemption.

2. No nation will ever carry out a plan that God did not know and that He will not use for His glory.

3. The genuine churches in America will continue to serve God no matter what it costs them.

4. The word of God will be preached regardless of the consequences.

5. No matter what man may do, God will prevail.

Persecution is not new to the living church. In fact, God’s hand is most clearly seen when the world around us seems the darkest. 

As the church was born in the first century persecution followed right behind.  The first church subpoena was delivered by Saul.  Scripture says that Saul “was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” How did the church respond? Scripture says “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”

Today is not a day of despair for the church. It is a day of hope. American believers have lived gospel complacent lives for long enough. Through this persecution the church will arise, Jesus Christ will be proclaimed, and the hand of God will move in this city.

Sacrificing My Self Righteousness

I love rules. I do. I am a believer that the world would work SO MUCH better if everyone just followed the rules, or at least my rules. 

I am the type of person who when he sees a lane closing on the highway gets over as soon as possible… and then gripes at every car that passes me. 

I am the type of person who wants to make sure everything is fair, always without exception. 

I love rules. 

As I have pastored and live among christians who are in many ways rule followers I have noticed a trend among us. We often become so driven towards the rules that we forget that we are the people of grace. As believers we become so passionate about following God that we forget that everything we have is given by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 

Why is this important?

God, who created the rules, gave us a gift when we not only failed at the ruled but also rejected the rules all together. He died so we can have life. 

We are the ones driving full speed knowing that our lane will end. It is Jesus who sits at the front of the line sacrificially giving up his spot for us. 

Why is this important? 

As believers we are called to live for God while at the same time, offering grace and sacrificing ourselves for those that don’t. 

Sacrifice is not easy nor is it fun, but the heart of Christianity is found is this God honoring task.

How can you sacrifice yourself this week? 

Oct 13, 2014

Monday Motivation: Sacrificing Yourself

Recently I have been thinking of how to use this platform to best edify and grow the body at Memorial Baptist Church. Every Monday I am going to attempt to post a vlog (video blog) encouraging you and challenging you from the previous day's sermon.

Yesterday we talked about what it means to sacrifice yourself. 

Sacrificing Yourself from Wes Faulk on Vimeo.

How have you sacrificed yourself this week?

Aug 25, 2014

A HUGE Change In Church This Sunday

Have you ever had one of those “aha” moments? You know, the one where you figure something out that you should have known all along. 

About 6 months ago I had my aha moment. I was sitting with the staff of our church thinking and planning for the future when it hit me that a child could go 13 years in our church without ever hearing the preaching of God’s word. Can I repeat that for you… 13 YEARS! 

Our church has incredible ministries for kids. I am confident that as kids go to our Sunday school, AWANAs and Children’s Church they are taught scripture and discipled to know the great stories as well as the gospel. It just seems wrong that these kids had no exposure to what I believe is the heartbeat of the church. 

This Sunday we are going to try something new at our church. We are going to invite all of our kids from kindergarten on up to join us, not just in worship, but also to stay to hear the word of God taught. 

This bold step will be a sacrifice all the way around. For the parents in our church, they will have to help their kids to listen and understand what is preached. For many in our church who are past their parenting days, they will realize that there are a whole lot of wiggling and squirming bodies  with us. We are taking this bold step because the future of our children’s faith matters that much. 

These “Family Sundays” are going to happen once  a quarter. As a church we want to celebrate these children and nurture their faith so that they are prepared to become the next deacons, ministers and leaders of our church. 

For Christ, children were always around when He taught. Many times they were not still, were not quiet and did not act like small adults. Kids in Jesus’ day acted just like they do today, loud wiggly and noisy. 

On one occasion the adults grew tired of the kids. They told the kids to go away so that Jesus could focus on what really mattered: adults. Jesus simple responded “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

 This week MBC friends, take an extra moment and love the kids who worship with us. Encourage their parents who bring them and celebrate that we are body who has multiple generations worshiping together. 

Join this week for our first Family Sunday. 

Jul 7, 2014

Why we go ALL THE WAY to Florida...

It has become a running joke for those who know Jenn and me well. When we vacation, we like to go eastward around the gulf to the "happiest place on earth."  When the Faulks head out away from Pasadena, we do it intentionally. 

As a pastor, I have strived to live as open and available as possible. My cellphone is printed in our weekly bulletin, I am gladly willing to drop most anything to be with the people of our church, and I strive to be available 24/7 to the church. Most of the year, I run at full steam. I love being the pastor of my church. That said 2-3 times a year I run out of juice and am just empty. 

I have learned in my emptiness that I cannot stay in Pasadena. There is always a sermon, always a phone call, a meeting, an email, and a need that I feel compelled to meet. Hard wired, I am a people pleaser, and I have learned that I can't turn that part of me off. 

As a pastor, we leave the city and state intentionally. Why? Because these vacations force me to take a break. They force me to give 100% of my energy to my family. My wife takes my phone, locks it away, and frees me to relax. 

We go far away, most times to Florida, for a very simple reason.... so that this pastor can unplug.

As I sit here in this hotel room working on a blog (yes I catch the irony), I would gladly covet a few things. I covet your prayers that God might free me from the stress and burnout that I walk with. I request that you might help me by allowing me to unplug. MBC has increasingly able men and women who can do ministry far better than me. 

I am so thankful for my church and the gift it has been to myself and family. I am grateful for a church that loves me enough to allow me to go and invest in rest and my family. I can't wait to see you, but this week I am gladly going to enjoy just doing nothing.

May 30, 2014

Is Your Church a Poser?

John 15:19
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

When I was younger there were few things that mattered to me as much as popularity. In junior high, I wore oversized football jerseys, baggy jeans, and Reebok pumps in order to fit in with the in crowd. In my early high school days I wore what my dad called construction boots and Tommy Hilfiger shirts to strut my stuff. I have since realized what I was. I was a poser. I attempted to dress up to look like others to fit in with others. 

--- I am so glad Facebook was not around in my teenage years ---

In recent days the church has begun wading through an identity crisis. With the rise and acceptance of many things that Scripture calls sin, the church has had to ask the question of how it will minister and love those who live contrary to God's word.

It seems that the church has been forced to either reject or embrace a culture that in most ways is completely contrary to Scripture. 

Honestly, I would never have dreamt that we would live in a time when people would wrestle with which restrooms transgender people use. 

As the people of God our first instinct is to completely reject those who sin differently than us. Scripture is clear that God hates sin and that His wrath is poured out on all who embrace their sin and turn away from God and His holy call. 

Then we remember that God is love and swing the opposite direction. 

Not wanting to be lumped in with the Westboro protestors (I refuse to call them a church and refuse to call them Baptists), we decide to only think of God's love and grace. We think the best way to win sinners is to accept sinners as they are. We change to make church more comfortable for sinners. 

We as the church become posers. 

As churches we feel if we embrace both sinner and sin we are more able to love and minister to them. We feel if we cloak ourselves in the clothes of the world we might be most effective in relating to and reaching the world. 

Let me be clear, both the rejection of sinners and acceptance of sin are contrary to Scripture.  The church does not exist to hate people, and it does not exist to be a poser. 

God's call for the world is that they might turn from their sin and return to Him. God's call for every man is not only to embrace his love but also to embrace his call. 

God does not want His church to look like the world. He desires for His church to both model and call the world to the abundant life that He gives that is rooted in His word. 

We are called to be different. We should show the world a love only God can give. We should call people to holiness. We should never hide, nor be ashamed of the righteous call of God. 

God wants us to be transformational. 

May 1, 2014

God Wants Me to Be the Pastor of....

Pride is a dangerous animal. So in envy. 

Every year I have the amazing opportunity to retreat away from the daily grind of pastoral ministry to attend a conference. I am always so thankful to my church who gives me this ability to recharge my batteries and glean wisdom from wise church leaders. 

Photo Courtesy of bradlomenick.com
The past few years I have gone to a conference called Catalyst. Its the “cool pastors” conference. Here there is always an abundance of skinny jeans, faux hawks and apple products. For me, it feels much like I’m the dorky kid walking back though the halls of High School. Ok, Ok a bit melodramatic. 

At Catalyst I get to hear some of the best leaders, pastors and thinkers who have affected the church world. Throughout the three day event you are presented with the great information, encouragement and ideas to take home. You get to hear from the who’s who of christian leaders on what the sure fire, essential keys to making sure your church can be successful without any problems whatsoever. Even with this surety, I have learned there is always a danger with conferences. Pride and Envy. 

A few years ago I learned this. I was pastoring a small baptist church of under 100 people (which according statistics makes it an average church). I remember sitting in the conference hearing idea after idea on how to grow and bring life to my church. I envied the speakers on stage. I thought, surely God doesn’t want to waste me on a church of just 100 people, surely he wants me to take this church which has been averaging 90 people for 70 years and make it a 1000+ member church. My heart wasn’t to pastor the church God had called me to, it was to pastor the keynote speakers church. As a pastor I fell to my sin, pride and envy. 

God has grown me since that moment. Thank Goodness. Since that moment I have come to love and find contentment with the church he has called me to. I realized before ever showing up that God’s call for Memorial Baptist Church of Pasadena is not to become a carbon copy of another church. God’s call for Memorial Baptist Church is to be Memorial Baptist Church. I have also realized that God’s call for me is not to become anyone of the speakers on stage, but instead to be Wesley Faulk. 

Tomorrow I get to come home to a church I love. I get to come home to a family of faith I cannot wait to worship with. God has been good to me in showing me that I will find life and contentment in serving faithfully where he has sent me, not envious of where he has not.