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
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. 

Mar 25, 2014

Hobby Lobby, World Vision and Church Engagement

Another week as passed and it seems that another round of the culture war has been waged. Hobby Lobby has argued in front of the Supreme Court. World Vision has changed its moral code to include both legally married homo and hetro couples. Truth be told I could go on and on with the different battles where this has been fought. Article after article has been published shaming both the conservative and liberal and twitter has jumped on to slander those authors. 

As a believer in Jesus it is EXHAUSTING to navigate both what to believe and how to interact with a world that seems new and odd every day. 

From the church’s perspective we are given dueling paths. 

On one extreme the church is called to go lite on the sins of the modern day culture war. Its told that it would be a hypocrite if not since it has gladly welcomed in the sins of previous generations. The church is full of sinners right?!?! Shouldn’t the church be a hospital of grace? 

The opposite path seems just a treacherous though. We call sin what it is… SIN. When that happens, the church will fall out of favor with the culture, dollars will drop, numbers will dwindle. Dealing with sin makes people uncomfortable and isolated. The church of America can’t afford black eyes.  It’s already in decline. 

What to do? What to do?

God has really been working on my heart lately.

I want to keep the doors of the church open for all, but at the same time I know that where scripture speaks I cannot compromise. 

It seems that believers in Christ are forced choose one of the two roads. The middle ground has dried up. 

As I have chewed on this idea over the past few weeks I came across a section of Romans that we quote more about baptism than anything else. In just a few words it encapsulated all l had been thinking through. 

Romans 6:1-4What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 

Before knowing Christ all you know is the sins that you serve. Truth be told, in many ways, they are the demi-gods that you serve. 

Coming to Christ is an act of repentance and faith. It is an act of turning away from the sins in which you once served to a savior who loves you enough to be punished for you. It is trusting that God’s way and His power are far better than the life you once lived. 

Salvation is free to anyone who struggles with any sin. It is open to all. That said, part of trusting Christ means leaving both our sin and our way of thinking behind to embrace a new life and a new way of thinking given by God. Jesus doesn't want to make our old lives better, he wants to replace them. 

How does the church relate? It is a body of people who are unashamedly sinners, given grace and a new life so that they might embrace the things of God and leave behind the idols of a previous life. 

God desires to heal the hearts of men from the cancer of sin that we embrace. He desires to cure the sins of lying, adultery, gluttony, pride, homosexuality, abortion, murder, hatred and gossip. The list can go on and on.  That said, you cannot keep the cancer and have the cure as well. One or the other must be chosen. 

The Church is open to all men in order to lead them to a Savior that can cure them, redeem them and give them new life that is drastically different than the one that brought them death. 

Mar 17, 2014

Pleasing God Or Pleasing Man

When I was younger I was extremely shy. I was the kid in the class that most people would look straight through. My mantra was to not make waves, be friendly to everyone, but in most cases do nothing to bring attention to myself. In short I was a great follower. Many times I agreed with people just to not argue with them. Overall it worked for me. I  moved from school to school never making waves, always being a teachers favorite and simply being a face in a crowd. 

As I grew older though I learned a tough lesson. Following Jesus often meant standing away from the crowd. Following Jesus meant that I would have to make choices that showed me to be different from my friends (which can be synonymous with the crowd I hid in). 

In my life I can point to a number of times when I had to make the difficult decision of choosing to follow Jesus over following people. In these times I can remember shedding tears as I lost friends. I can remember people making fun of me for my stand (I think the modern term is bullied). All of that said, it was in those times of ostracization  that I came to know Jesus Christ in deeper way. I look at the steps of faith in my life and I have realized those steps were more often steps away from a crowd than with it. 

As I have read through scripture I have noticed a pattern in Jesus’ ministry. It is a pattern repeated over and over again throughout the gospels. First Jesus accomplishes a miracle so grand that no person could ever deny that there was something special about Jesus. After preforming the miracle, Jesus would then use that moment to teach about who he really was or about what the cost was of following Him. The pattern concludes as most of the crowd that came because of the miracle left because the teaching of Jesus was just to difficult. Only a few stayed. 

Let me give you two instances. 

  •  In the first instance Jesus had just fed 5000 people by multiplying a boys basket of fish and bread. Following this great act Jesus also walked on water. WOW! People followed Jesus. They saw a miracle and they wanted to see (and eat) more. Upon seeing the crowd Jesus began to teach that He was the bread of life. He taught that He was greater than moses. He taught that He alone gave eternal life. In hearing this the people who followed Jesus all responded “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” and they left. Jesus then looked at the small group that stayed, He asked them why they stayed and the replied “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 

  • The second instance Jesus raised a person from the dead. As the evidence of this act became more and more evident (the man who was raised ate with his friends and did the stuff all living people do) people began to not only follow Jesus, but also proclaim Him to be king. This escalated to the point where the people threw a parade for Jesus laying down their coats and placing palm branches on the ground. As the crowd grew Jesus taught about the coming cross and about God’s plan for Him on this earth. Following the pattern the people heard the difficult words of Jesus and left him, this time for a different reason. “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;  for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” Only a small minority stayed. 

I believe “modern Christianity” follows much of this same pattern. People follow Jesus for any number of reasons. If we are honest some follow Jesus because a church promises that your faith and a little seed money will make you successful. Others follow because that what you are supposed to do. Still others follow with great intentions. 

What I believe we are seeing today is much like what happened with the crowds in Jesus day. Many follow Jesus for what they can get out of God, but fall away when the teachings of Christ become difficult. 

It was very easy in a christianized America to stand in a crowd and be just another nameless face. 

Today christianized America is fading and people are faced with either standing in a crowd that is moving away from Jesus or standing firm in a small minority with Christ. 

The question that comes to the core of which direction you choose is whether you desire to please men or please God. 

Choosing to please God is not an easy stand. It will mean that you may and probably will stand in stark contrast to a culture that is moving away from Him. It will mean that you can’t hide in a crowd.

Who do you desire to please? 

+++ This blog is the first post unpacking the ideas from the March 3, 2014 blog. 

Mar 3, 2014

A Pastor Believes Homosexuality is Wrong?!?!?!

WOW! I created quite a stir last week. What caused such a stir? I mentioned on a social network that <<<GASP>>> christians should should mourn and repent because homosexuality has become socially acceptable and governmentally approved in one of the most conservative states in America. 

BREAKING  NON NEWS….. A conservative baptist pastor believes that christians should be disheartened because a sin which the Bible specifically condemns has become common place not only in america but also among those who consider themselves to be followers of Jesus Christ. 

I had friends coming out of the wood work telling me how I should recant and come back from this disastrous ledge. Its not PC! The Bible is open for interpretation! How on earth will we ever reach people if we don’t candy coat God because God’s ways just aren’t friendly to the world around us.

What I realized in this small discussion was that the church today cares more about pleasing the world than it does about pleasing God. 

As I have said before and will say again. I am a pastor. God has called me to love, lead and often direct his church. I have no authority except the Word of God. What I stand on today is His Word. I believe that it was written by Him and for the admonition of his church throughout the generations of this world. It is just as infallible today as it was when it was written. Here I stand, I can do no other. 

Here is my response to the church of America who seems to be at a crossroads in how to relate to a world that invites it into sin. 

(I am using references primarily out of the NT because I want to illustrate how the call of righteousness and holiness is not just an Old Testament call, but a New Testament call as well.) 

1. The church’s great call is to please God, not man. 
Romans 8:1-8, Galatians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 2:3-5

2. When we lead people to a god who accepts their sin we lead them to an idol that is not God. 
1 Peter 4:1-6, 1 John 5:18-21, Romans 1:21-31

3. God’s call to His people is to expose sin, not hide it. 
Ephesians 5:3-13, John 3:19-21, 1 John 3:9-10

4. God’s grace is for everyone, but repentance is necessary. 
Romans 2:1-11, 2 corinthians 5:16-21, Ephesians 2:4-10

5. We should not continue to sin so that grace may abound. 
Romans 6:1-11, Colossians 3:5-10, 1 John 3:4-10

6. Once you become a child of God you embrace the things of God, not the things of this world. 
Colossians 3:1-4, Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:17-24

7. The church cannot ever love,  embrace or even tolerate the sins which Jesus suffered for on the cross. 
Romans 6:6-14, 1 John 1:7-10, 1 Peter 1:13-21

Over the next few weeks I will unpack each of these since they are gigantic ideas in and of themselves. 

Stay Tuned. 

(If you would like to discuss this further with me, please read the texts of scripture first before commenting.)