Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Youngest Son: Jackson Tyler (J.T.)

Sorry buddy, but someone had to be last. I picked him because he would care the least about being last in a series of blog posts about my family. I have talked about my wife, Monique; my little girl, Anni; my oldest son, Karsten. Now onto my youngest son: Jackson Tyler Bergmeier.

I will never forget when he was born. I had just blown my knee out and was on crutches. But honestly, that is what made his birth so awesome. After he was born, I couldn't be busy. I had to sit around and hold my new little boy. I know it does not look like it now, but when J.T. was born, he looked exactly like his big brother, Karsten. Obviously that is not the case now. Now when I look at J.T., I feel like I am looking right into a mirror. He is the image of his dad, which is really cool. When he was younger, all he wanted was his mom. But recently, he has grown to become a daddy's guy!

As with the others in my family, here's my list of the reasons why I love this cool, young dude!

  1. He is a very gentle young man. He is very sensitive to the needs of others.
  2. He is extremely intelligent (like I said, he is just like his dad).
  3. He can bury his head playing a video game and not even know what is going on around him. Every now and then he will pick up his head and ask what was going on. I just laugh at how he can be so totally focused.
  4. His big gut belly laugh is just awesome.
  5. He loves basketball.
  6. He is very attentive when I try to teach him how to do things. He longs to be a learner.
  7. He so much wants the approval of his dad, maybe even at some points too much.
  8. He loves to have his hair buzzed short because he wants to have hair like his dads.
  9. I love to listen to him pray. This morning we were praying and he prayed for his weakness, his struggles, his issues. He didn't even concern himself with the issues of others.
  10. He loves to sleep. When he sleeps, he is totally out, which leads to sometimes doing some crazy things (like sleep walking).
  11. He is the person in his classes at school that everyone wants to be his friend. I think that is because he is so kind.
  12. Like his brother, he is very protective of his mother and sister.
  13. When he puts his mind to do something, he becomes very dedicated. He will work at something for hours by himself so that he can become good at it (like playing basketball out in the driveway by himself).
  14. If I let him, I bet he could put away an entire pizza.
  15. I could see him being a pastor someday. Once he told me that he wanted to be a pastor when he grows up or "get a real job." I am praying that someday he doesn't have a real job then!
Well, that's my guy! That's my bubba! I love him so much that sometimes it hurts!

Well, since this is the last post of my family, let me leave everyone with one of my favorite pictures of the special four! This was taken on our trip this past summer out to my graduation. We were traveling through Pittsburgh and it just happened that the Cubs were playing in town. I cannot think of someone more fortunate than me. God has really blessed me with an incredible family. I cherish them with all that is in my heart! I pray that God continually draws us closer to each other as He draws us all closer to Him individually.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Oldest Son: Karsten Lee

Okay, so over the previous weeks, I have been talking about my family. I started by telling everyone what I felt about my wife. Then last week, I shared my thoughts on my little girl, Anni. Well, this week, I want to write a little bit about my oldest son, Karsten Lee Bergmeier.

Do you remember back to the beginning of the millennium? Do you remember the uncertainty of the unknown? With all the fear and whoopla about what was going to happen on that day, our lives were definitely changed forever. That's right, Karsten is our millennium baby, born on January 1, 2000. From the moment that he was born and I saw him, he has been in my heart. Just before he was born, Phil Collins released his song, "You'll be in my heart," as part of the movie Tarzan. I remember as a young dad sitting in a chair with my little boy in my arms with that song being played and crying. He is so very special to me. But you may ask why. What is it about him now that he is grown up that I love about him so much? Let me make a short list for you! As the other lists, it is not in any particular order and is in no way a complete list.

  1. He loves to read probably even more than his dad.
  2. He is so very clever and smart, loving to play practical jokes. It always seems to happen when he takes something of  mine and hides it.
  3. I love that he likes and asks to have his hair longer. I guess it is because I was never allowed to that I want him to be able to.
  4. He is growing into a great leader. Every time I leave the family to go out of town, I talk to him about leading the house. He loves it and takes the challenge.
  5. He loves soccer and baseball the most, which are probably my two favorite sports (the picture above is him wearing a Spain jersey after we watched a world cup soccer game).
  6. He is very sensitive to his sin and correction.
  7. He has a deep sense of wanting to protect his mom.
  8. He wanted to pass out tracts about Jesus at the Kansas State Fair.
  9. Even though he is ten years old, he is not too old to sit with me on the couch to watch some sports or a good movie.
  10. He enjoys talking about the things of the Bible with me.
  11. He always wants to be around the adults (I see so much of me in his character like that).
  12. He is very competitive.
  13. He is not too old to give dad hugs or kisses.
  14. He is very wise for his age on who he spends time with. He chooses his friends well.
  15. His smile when he sees this list. He so very much wants me to affirm him and I love doing it. He will love this!

That's my boy! I can't wait to see what God has in store for him in the future. He is being molded into a young man who is kind to others. I can't believe that he is already ten, soon to turn eleven. I am brought to tears when I think we only have seven more years with him at home before college. But I know the Lord will do amazing things with him as he gives himself to Jesus with all that he has.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Morning After: Jesus-Centered Spiritual Growth

Last week, I was challenged with a question as I studied the book of Colossians: am I growing in my relationship with Jesus? It reminded me when our first son, Karsten was 14 months old. He was diagnosed as "failure to thrive." It is a condition in a young infant when they stop growing. I wonder if I would ever be diagnosed as "failure to thrive" in my spiritual life. Would you? What I see in the Scriptures is that the Christian is expected to grow. The Christian is expected to produce fruit. When the sower sows the seed of the Word of God and some falls on the soft soil, it always produces fruit. Now, not all Christians produce the same amount of fruit, for Jesus says that some bring forth fruit thirty, some sixty, and some a hundredfold (Matt 13:23). But they all produce fruit.

What I learned this past week is that "how I came to Jesus for salvation is the way in which I grow in Him." It is not that I come to Jesus with one heart attitude and then progress to the deeper attitudes that really help me grow. It is the same attitudes. The Christian life is a continuous learning and submitting to Jesus, first in salvation and later in sanctification. Let me explain.

In Colossians 2:6, Paul writes, "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in Him." It is the same attitudes that we had when we first heard about Jesus and were brought into a relationship with Him that are important if we are going to continue to grow in Him. Actually that phrase "walk in Him" could be translated "keep walking in Him." I figure you do as well, but I want to keep walking (or growing) in my relationship with Jesus. So what are some of the attitudes that are necessary to grow spiritually?

First, how about the attitude of HUMILITY?

The first words of Jesus in His first sermon have to do with the humility that it takes in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. He says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:3). To be poor means to be a complete destitute beggar. It means that if someone does not help you, you will not survive. Being a beggar is the foundation that drives me to the feet of Jesus. I know that I cannot do this salvation thing on my own. And that attitude is necessary to grow in Christ as well. I need to realize that I did not enter the kingdom on my own and I will not grow on my own. I need His help!

Second, how about the attitude of FAITH?

I say this a lot, but the attitude of faith is what is necessary in order to enter the kingdom, but it also is the heart attitude that I need in order to grow. What is it that will move me to obey Jesus when all the world around me says to seek out my own glory? It is the belief that His will for me is better, even if I can't see it. Paul wrote the same thing, that "the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God" (Gal 2:20). It is not that he believed and then moved on. All of the Christian life is one of faith.

Third, how about the attitude of JOY?

Sometimes, I think Christians are some of the saddest people I have met. That is unfortunate and makes me question the reality of their salvation. Jesus and the gospel is that precious treasure that we find in a field and the joy we have for it moves us to sell all that we have, every single possession, so we can purchase that field (Matt 13:44-46). I need to remember the cross and the forgiveness I have been shown, that will remind me of the joy I should have that will help me to obey my savior.

Fourth, how about the attitude of REPENTANCE?

I enter repenting of my sin and I need to daily repent. I grow when I repent! When I turn from my sin towards Jesus, I am taking one step in holiness to what I was created to be.

So, are you growing? If you were to take your measurement from last month or last year, would you say that you are closer to Jesus or have you become stale in your spiritual growth? I pray you keep growing and I beg of you to pray for me that I would continue to grow as well. That's the church! We need to help each other pursue Jesus with all that we have so that we can grow to become like Him! To Him be the glory.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Daughter: Annika Mae Bergmeier

Last week, I wrote a short blog about my wife. This week, I want to write some thoughts about my little girl, Anni! There is something very special about being a dad to sons. But there is something particularly special about being a dad to a little girl. Over the last couple of days, Anni has been carrying around a few of the pictures we have taken together when we have gone on our daddy dates. As we talked about those pictures, I realized she needed some daddy time. So, last night, we went on a little date.

I told her on Monday night that we would go out on a date on Tuesday night, so from the moment I got home from work last night, she was cuddling up to me asking when we were going to leave. I usually let her pick where to go for dinner and last night, she picked Freddy's Frozen Custard. After dinner, we spent some time walking through the Hutchinson Mall (which is not really that much). But we did take some time for her to go horse back riding. After this, we got our picture taken at one of those photo booths at the mall. Even though we could not figure out how to look at the camera and not the screen, it was a great time and we got some good pictures. We even had some time to get some ice cream from the DQ.

I love this little girl, who is growing up way too fast. She told me about her day at school. I asked her what she wanted to do when she grows up. She said, "I want to be a mom. Well, actually a teacher and a mom. Well, I think I want to really teach doctors and be a mom." Not sure where she got that, but I just smiled. This got me thinking, what do I love about my daughter. So here is my list, in no particular order and certainly not exhaustive:
  1. She has those big blue eyes (that are starting to turn a bit green, but that is okay) that can almost get daddy to do anything
  2. She always has a song in her heart and one on her tongue
  3. She allows me to have a secret name for her (and she has one for me)
  4. She wants to be around her daddy
  5. She loves her mom
  6. She likes to wrestle with me and her brothers
  7. She likes to talk about Jesus and pray to Him
  8. She would rather watch Scooby Doo than Dora
  9. She has the best hair, which she doesn't like to get brushed by the way
  10. She makes me laugh
  11. When she falls asleep not in her bed and I carry her to bed, she unknowingly wraps her arms around my neck very tight
  12. She says very funny things (I call them Anni-isms)
  13. She loves to get her picture taken, so I have lots of pictures of her in my office
  14. We have our song together and anytime it comes on the radio, she stops everything she is doing to be with me
  15. She is a treasured gift from God
I could keep going on and on. I love having a daughter and wouldn't trade it for anything. Having a girl softens my heart. It makes me more sensitive. It makes me more gentle. It makes me more loving of my wife. I thought it interesting that yesterday, The Resurgence posted a blog called "Daughters are a Gift from God." In that short blog, they mentioned two books. I have ordered both of them and can't wait to read them and to use them to pray for my daughter.

Do you have a daughter? What do you love about her?

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Morning After: Jesus-Centered Ministry

Do you have a philosophy of ministry? Do you have guidelines that shape and direct how you do ministry? Since I can remember being in ministry, Colossians 1:28-29 have been vitally important to me personally and ministerially. Yesterday, I was able to teach on this passage and I was once again reminded how vitally important it is to have a good base as to how ministry should be run. In keeping with my series on Colossians, I have called it a "Jesus-Centered Ministry" because Paul's goal and my goal is to have Jesus at the center of all that we do when ministering to other people. This passage is short, so I wanted to quote it in this blog:

"And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom so that we might present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power which mightily works within me."

Ministry is not just for those who have gone to Bible college or seminary. It is not something the professionals do, but it is something that every Christian is called to do. In fact, Ephesians 4:11-12 says that it is the ministry of the pastors to equip people to do their ministry. My ministry is to help others do their ministry. I never want whatever ministry I am involved in to be about me. I do not want it to be built and shaped and dependent upon my gifts or skills. I want to be a cog in the wheel, but not the wheel. For instance, I want people in our ABF to take ownership of our ABF. Mostly, I think it is biblical but also I think it is healthy. There were Six Keys we talked about yesterday in order to help us think though a biblical philosophy of ministry.

1. Preach Jesus!

Paul's message was primarily a message of Jesus Christ and His life, death, and resurrection. What better message could be upon our tongues than the message of Jesus. Sometimes I wonder if I talk about Jesus too much, but then I am reminded it is the name of Jesus that the Father has said is above any other name and "at the name of Jesus every knee will bow" (Phil 2:9-10). He is my savior. He is my deliverer. He is my reconciler. He is my God. He is my all in all. He is my hope of glory, being inside of me (Col 1:27). Therefore, in order to have a great ministry, we do not need to have great music, good food, coffee, certain clothes, nice buildings, and so on. What we need is the biblical message of Jesus Christ!

We know that message is found in the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, Jesus is seen and spoken about in a glorious way. We need to communicate Jesus-centered messages to people. What would our ministries look like if we talked about Jesus more than we talked about sports, politics, taxes, weather, school, food, or anything else? Would it make a difference in the lives of people? I think so!

2. Be Strategic!

For Paul, he proclaimed (a missionary word for preaching), admonished (give counsel in view of sin and judgment), and taught (instruction of truth) the message of Jesus. I need to find ways to communicate the truth of Jesus to the people I minister to. For some, it will be preaching, for others one-on-one conversations, for others confrontation of their sins. I need to use these different methods with all wisdom to communicate this life-giving message so that they understand their sin and the savior. I love Psalm 119:12-13 which says, "Blessed are You, O Lord; teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have told of all the ordinances of Your mouth." The student becomes the teacher. That is what I want to be. What I have learned, I communicate to others.

3. Don't Discriminate!

Paul repeats three times that his ministry was for "every man." I fear I might discriminate more than I think I do. A Jesus-centered ministry will not happen if we only talk to those who look like us, wear the clothes we wear, have the same color of skin as us, or are the same age as us. I understand there will be some people that you click with better than others, but we cannot ever be comfortable with our circle of friends.

For instance, every week in ABF, I tell our people to stand up and meet someone they do not know. There are some people who do a great job of putting themselves out there, but there are also others who are very comfortable with the same couples they always sit with. We need to go outside our comfort zones to reach every man (and woman) with this message of Jesus.

4. Have a Goal!

Paul's goal was to see them become complete in Christ. He wanted to see spiritual growth and maturity in the people he ministered to. For me to develop a goal with others, I need to know them. I need to know where they are at with their Lord. I need to know what they struggle with. I need to know in what areas they need to grow. I need to invest time and energy into their lives. Which leads to the next point.

5. Work Hard!

Paul labors for the purpose of seeing others grow to the point of spiritual maturity. To labor sounds hard, doesn't it? It sounds like it means work. I often wonder if too many pastors enter pastoral ministry because they think it is easy. And honestly, maybe it is easy for them because they do not work hard. But the same principle also applies to all Christians. Living the Christian life is hard work and helping others grow in their Christian life is hard work as well.

As I studied this, I realized that I would want Paul to say about my ministry what he said about some unknown woman  named Mary in Rome. He told the Romans to "Greet Mary, who has worked (verb form of labor) hard for you" (Rom 16:6). I want to labor hard for those in our ministry. Will you join me? Will we give up our time, our energy, our hobbies, our money so that we can help others walk with Jesus?

6. Trust God!

Paul knew in the end that it was all about God's strength. At the end of the day, if there was anything successful in his ministry, it was NOT because he was a hard worker, but because God is a gracious God. If someone were to ask the question: "Where do we see God most powerful at work?" The answer would be "Where we see people laboring intensely for Him." Am I willing to trust God to do His work? I hope so.

So, that's ministry! You in?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Morning After: Jesus-Centered Afflictions

Usually, every Monday morning, I post a short review of what I was able to teach on Sunday and what I learned from it. Since I was spending the day with my wife for her birthday on Monday, I did not get to writing that article. So today, I wanted to that opportunity. I suppose you could call this one "Three mornings after", but you understand...

On Sunday, our ABF was continuing our series through the book of Colossians, a series I have called It's All About Jesus! As I read and study this book, one thing has become very clear to me about American Christianity. Our view of Jesus and the gospel is soft and sheltered. We hardly ever suffer for the name of Jesus and when we do, it usually hinders our future gospel proclamation. My main thought from Colossians 1:24-27 was that afflictions are not meant to keep us from sharing Jesus, but should motivate gospel proclamation!

I think that in order for me to be motivated by the suffering I experience, there are a few things I need to understand. I need some perspective in my life. This is what Paul said when he rejoiced in his sufferings for the sake of others (vs. 24, 25). This is what he had when he realized that he was "filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions." Now, I know this is a highly debated statement by Paul. I do not believe that Paul meant by this that there was something lacking in the depth of the afflictions that Jesus suffered. As if there was something that Paul did or I do when I suffer that makes the atonement more applicable to my cause before a holy God.

What I do think Paul meant by this was that when he suffered afflictions for Jesus, he was extending the suffering of Jesus to those who have not heard. John Piper has really helped me understand this when he wrote:

“What is lacking in the afflictions of Christ is not that they are deficient in worth, as though they could not sufficiently cover the sins of all who believe. What is lacking is that the infinite value of Christ’s afflictions is not known and trusted in the world. These afflictions and what they mean are still hidden to most peoples. And God’s intention is that the mystery be revealed to all the nations. So the afflictions of Christ are ‘lacking’ in the sense that they are not seen and known and loved among the nations . . . God intends for the afflictions of Christ to be presented to the world through the afflictions of his people. God really means for the body of Christ, the church, to experience some of the suffering he experienced so that when we proclaim the cross as the way to life, people will see the marks of the cross in us and feel the love of the cross from us. Our calling is to make the afflictions of Christ real for people by the afflictions we experience in bringing them the message of salvation" (Filling Up The Afflictions of Christ, 22-4).
The perspective I need in suffering for Jesus is that when I endure it in a godly way, I am showing those that are persecuting me, as well as a watching world, that Jesus is worth being afflicted for. He is worth it because He was afflicted. When I say that Jesus came and suffered for the sins of people and then I am willing to suffer for that message, I am in some way a living message to a watching world. And in so doing, I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ--that others will come to know and see the afflictions of Jesus through the suffering I endure.

This puts a new perspective of suffering in my life. I know that if I were to endure suffering for Jesus, it will encourage, motivate, purify, and focus the church. It also will make the church dependent upon Jesus, driving them to pray. But it will also encourage others to share the message. This is the perspective that I need to have to endure sufferings for Jesus' sake.

I love my country. I love the fact that I have religious freedom. I really do not want to suffer or be persecuted. Do you? But there are times (probably when I am feeling really bold for Jesus) that I want the American church to endure some persecution. Some of the persecution that we hear about in Turkey, India, China, and other countries. Why? Because I think that if the church here was persecuted more, it will only go to produce more solid believers in Jesus! That is my hope, that is my prayer.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Wife: Monique Bergmeier

Okay, I wanted to take just a couple minutes this morning and tell you about my wife. Her name is Monique Bergmeier and she is going to hate this blog post. Yesterday, I spent most of the day with her in Wichita, KS, celebrating her birthday which was on Sunday, October 3rd. I will not tell you how old she is, but if you ask our kids, they think she was born in the 1700's or even maybe the 1800's. If that is true, she is holding her age very well! Anyways, spending the day with her made me think about her and what she means to me. So here goes.

I will never forget the first time I saw her. I was a new student at Moody Bible Institute and was led to a church in the western suburbs of Chicago (Grace Church of DuPage). I remember being there the week before most of the other college students were back from school. I remember visiting this church with a friend of mine, Caleb Mitchell. I also remember a young lady with really short hair singing as part of the worship team for the college ministry. She was wearing a dark navy dress with white dots (how am I doing so far). I also remember leaving and telling my friend that I was really impressed and drawn to her because of how she worshipped during the music time, or at least appeared to worship.

Well, it was just a matter of weeks and it seemed like our paths crossed every Sunday. I am not the sort of person that likes being forced into something and everytime I was at church, I felt like everyone was forcing me to date Monique (many stories about that). In response to that, I withdrew and tried to stay away from her. She was nice, but because everyone wanted us to date, I didn't want too.

The good part of the story is that eventually I saw the light. We spent three years being friends and then after I graduated Moody, I finally asked her out on a date. We were married about a year later. It has now been 12 years and each year it gets better and better. I can honestly say that our marriage is great because she is a godly woman!

Let me end with a list of the things I love about my wife. Don't read into these, they are just off the top of my  head and certainly do not encompass all there is to say about her. As well, they are not in any particular order.

  1. She is forgiving of my mistakes
  2. She now has longer hair
  3. She has an incredible heart to serve others
  4. She is the best mom that I know (my mom is a very close 2nd--probably 1a & 1b, you know what I mean)
  5. She is so very forgiving of my mistakes
  6. She laughs at all my jokes. I thought it was just to impress me when we are dating, but I sort of like it these days
  7. She has a beautiful smile
  8. She is older than I am (that just means more wisdom)
  9. She supports me in anything I want to do
  10. She sacrifices for me everyday
  11. She is musically gifted (essential for every pastor's wife)
  12. She is so very forgiving of all my mistakes
  13. She is a good cook
  14. She really takes an interest in young mothers and is eager to share with them the mistakes she has learned
  15. She is fairly organized
  16. She is willing to be shepherded and challenged in the faith
  17. She loves the sports teams I love (essential part of marriage)
  18. She gives me time with the guys or by myself
  19. She is better looking today than the day we married
  20. She is so very forgiving of all my mistakes I make all the time!
I could keep going, but you are tired of reading them now and she is completely embarrassed. I guess I love the fact that she is going to not like this blog post. She is most of all seeking the glory of her Lord Jesus and then lives to make me successful in all I do. For that, I am honored and humbled. Love you babe!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday's Random Thoughts (Oct 1, 2010)

Here are some things that I have heard about or read about the past week.

1. There is a new publishing company called Cruciform Press that has just released their first two books. I would encourage you to take a look at them. Their model is somewhat different from traditional publishers as they try to get ahead of the publishing trends. They will feature shorter books published as needed (print-on-demand) as well as making a name in the digital book & audio book markets. For those from GBC, you should know that our very own Jason Younger will be doing some of the audio books for them. They will be available on ChristianAudio. He read their second book, Wrestling with an Angel, that should be released very soon. He said he loved the book. If you are an audio book person, check it out soon!

2. The 2010 Desiring God National Conference starts today. I have never been to this conference, but this year I was really close to making the trip up to Minneapolis. Unfortunately, things did not work out. The title of the conference is THINK: The Life of the Mind & the Love of God. Well, it is too late to make it to the conference if you are not already there. But it is not too late to get John Piper's latest book that was just released by the same name. Here is a short summary of the book:

John Piper’s newest book will help Christians think about thinking. Focusing on the life of the mind helps us to know God better, love him more, and care for the world. Along with an emphasis on emotions and the experience of God, we also need to practice careful thinking about God. Piper contends that “thinking is indispensable on the path to passion for God.” So how are we to maintain a healthy balance of mind and heart, thinking and feeling? Piper urges us to think for the glory of God. He demonstrates from Scripture that glorifying God with our minds and hearts is not either-or, but both-and. Thinking carefully about God fuels passion and affections for God. Likewise, Christ-exalting emotion leads to disciplined thinking. Readers will be reminded that “the mind serves to know the truth that fuels the fires of the heart.”
3. Not sure if many of you have heard of CCEF (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation). They are one of the most trusted resources for biblical counseling that I have found. They have written many books that I have used and have been impacted by in my walk with the Lord. I have posted a very short video by Ed Welch on the issue of fear. Do you live in constant anxiety or fear? Watch the video and check out their resources for help if you do.

4. Finally, I am very happy to give away Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchividjian. Thank you for all the comments. I wish I had the resources to give a copy away to each one of you, but unfortunately that is not the case. But the winner this week is Chris Thomson. In order to claim your prize, please send me your contact information HERE! Thank you and I will get it out in the mail soon! Keep coming back as I am trying to give away some sort of resource every week.