24 Years Ago

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24 years ago today, I married my best friend.

She was then, and is today, my world.

24 years ago today, I married my best friend.

She was then, and is today, the most beautiful woman I know.

24 years ago today, I married my best friend.

She was then, and is today, patient, kind, and oh so wise.

24 years ago today, I married my best friend.

She was then, and is today, my favorite person to be around.

24 years ago today, I married my best friend.

She was then, and is today, a competitor who hates to lose.

24 years ago today, I married my best friend.

She was then, and is today, artistic, brilliant, creative, and fun.

24 years go today, I married my best friend.

And, today, I love her more than ever.

Happy Anniversary, to the love of my life. Cyndi, you have blessed me beyond measure, and I thank our God, who blessed me with you. You are a great wife, a fantastic mom, and my best friend always.

I love you!

Reflections on My Parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary

Cyndi's Pictures 748 This past weekend we celebrated my Mom and Dad’s 50th Wedding Anniversary! What a special occasion. My parents hosted an anniversary dinner with many of their closest friends and family members. One of the couples was celebrating their 50th Anniversary on the same weekend!
As part of the celebration, I was given the honor of officiating over my parents renewal of their wedding vows. They each shared vows that were perhaps even more meaningful after fifty years of marriage than when they first gave them. No marriage survives fifty years without it’s share of challenges, disappointments, hurts, and pain. But, God has given my parents so many wonderful gifts over the years. Many of those gifts celebrated with us that evening.

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One of my favorite parts of the evening was listening as each of my siblings shared some thoughts about Mom and Dad. I was so proud of each one of my brothers and my sister as they shared what our parents’ marriage meant to them.When I spoke I had a chance to share something that I shared in a sermon that I preached many years ago entitled, “What My Parents Did Right.”I didn’t get a chance to share all 24 of these with the guests, but I wanted to share the complete list with you. Hope it’s a blessing in your life today.

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What My Parents Did Right
 1.            They were the same people at home as they were in front of other people.2.            They lived what they believed.3.            They loved each other and showed affection every day.4.            They went on dates.5.            They spent time with God.6.            They communicated and demonstrated their love to us every day.

7.            They prayed with us and for us every day.

8.            They listened before they spoke.

9.            They set boundaries and stuck to them.

10.         They stayed up until we came home.

11.         They took each of their children on a date at least once a year.

12.         They knew our friends and invited their families over to our home.

13.         They made our home the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights.

14.         They didn’t sweat the small stuff.

15.         They didn’t show favoritism.

16.         They made sure we had at least one vacation a year.

17.         They loved their parents.

18.         They didn’t fight in front of us.

19.         They didn’t embarrass us.

20.         They didn’t expect us to be perfect.

21.         They made sure that our family was involved at a church that ministered to their children.

22.         They always made time to bring us to church events.

23.         They attended our games, plays, events, etc.

24.         They invited missionaries, pastors, teachers, and Christian role models into our home.

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One of my favorite shots of the night.

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I never thought I’d get a chance to say this, but, “Dad, you may kiss your bride:)”

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I had to include a picture of my family with my parents. We are so proud of them.

Exercise Your Freedom to Vote This Election Day

american-flag-2aI wrote the following blog post for the congregation of Woodbury Community Church, where it is my privilege to serve as Senior Pastor.
On Tuesday, November 6, our nation will once again engage in an election. The freedom to vote is one of the things that makes our nation unique and frankly one of the reasons that so many of us love being Americans. As your pastor, I want to encourage you to exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, November 6. You are an important part of this system that we call Democracy.I want to assure you that no matter what happens this coming Tuesday, God will remain on the throne. No election result will surprise Him. No leader who comes into authority will be there without God’s ordaining. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”Our hope as a nation has never rested upon election results; it rests in the Lord. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God revealed to the Children of Israel that the hope of a nation is Him. Healing for a nation comes when God’s people humble themselves, pray, and turn from their wicked ways. Here is the verse:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Elections are an opportunity for us to take a hard look at the direction of our country, the policies of our leaders, and issues on the ballot, and to take a look at ourselves. Election Tuesday would be a good day for us to examine ourselves before we vote – to see if there are things in our lives that we need to confess before God. Remember, biblical confession always means that we turn from our sins and to Him.

Do not waste the opportunity that God has given you to vote. Thousands of men and women have died to protect that freedom over the years. There are wonderful Christian people who will vote for Democrats and Republicans this election cycle. There are godly Christian men and women who will see issues from different perspectives. With all issues, it is important to check our perspective with God’s. If God’s perspective differs from ours, then we need to adjust our thinking. I know for some, there is a sinking feeling that you get when you walk into the voter’s booth, feeling like none of the candidates or voting issues are a good match to your faith.  When you feel that is the case, do what you would do in any such situation. Pray. Ask for God’s wisdom. And, obey His prompting.

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Woodbury Community Church draws folks from Minnesota and Wisconsin. There is no question that the most contentious issue on the Minnesota side of the border is the Marriage Amendment. There seems to be some misunderstanding about what voting “yes,” for the marriage amendment and what voting “no,” means. The marriage amendment states that, “the constitution shall be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in Minnesota.” A “no,” vote simply says that the constitution shall not be amended. Therefore marriage, in the future, could be defined by a judge or politician as something other than the union of a man and woman exclusively. Voting “yes,”  on the marriage amendment puts the definition of marriage as the union one man and one woman, (which has always existed in Minnesota) into our state constitution, so that the definition of marriage cannot be altered by a judge or politician.Elections are often times divisive. This election cycle has certainly proven that once again. My prayer is that elections won’t divide the people of God. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on the upcoming election. I would welcome any questions that you might have. I know that some of you will disagree with me. That is okay. My love for you isn’t dependent upon you sharing my viewpoint on every issue. As a pastor, my foremost job is to model what it means to love God; even when loving him leads to an unpopular viewpoint. I hope you’ll exercise your right to vote this coming Tuesday, and I thank our God for the privilege that you have given me to be your pastor.In Him,Pastor Brian

*** Addendum

Many of you have asked me to share my personal view on the issue of marriage. I don’t think that the Bible could be more clear. God is the designer of marriage. Marriage was His idea. And, marriage is defined throughout Scripture and has been throughout history as the union of one man and one woman. Marriage has always been a holy covenant, made between two individuals and God. God has never and will never recognize the union of two people of the same sex. That is why you will find my signature among the signers of the Minnesotans for Marriage pastor’s letter: http://www.minnesotaformarriage.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/PASTOR-STATEMENT_PFM-Letterhead1.pdf.

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Leith Anderson is the President of the National Association of Evangelicals and was my former boss at Wooddale Church. In 2004, Leith wrote a prophetic piece entitled, Who Defines Marriage? which I have included in two or our newsletters. I would encourage you to read the following as it relates to marriage:Who Defines Marriage?Human history in every culture has defined marriage as the enduring and intimate relationship of a man and a woman. This definition has established the primary expression of a family. True, different cultures and chapters of history have encouraged and endorsed varying expressions of marriage but nothing like those in our generation who are proposing a redefinition. From newspaper headlines to acts of civil disobedience there is a movement gaining momentum to legalize marriage as a relationship between persons of the same gender.The issues are many and complex. Christians have historically insisted that sexual relationships outside of marriage are immoral and unacceptable whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. Those who seek same gender marriage are seeking to legitimatize sexual behavior forbidden in the Bible. One of the repeated arguments is for tolerance and the granting of the same civil rights to everyone.

Without tackling the political and legal issues, let’s go to the most basic question of all – who defines marriage? As Christians, we turn to the Bible as our authority. Quoting God in Genesis 2:24 Jesus said, “Haven’t you read, that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

Changing the definition of marriage does not change what God has said marriage is to be. Just because someone faces west and calls the sun on the horizon a “sunrise” does not change what it is. A sunset is a sunset no matter what it is called.

How should we as Christians respond to those who are trying to unbiblically redefine marriage? Positively—let us lift up and live out Christian marriage in our own relationships. Prayerfully—our first and most potent resource is to ask God to defend, uphold and strengthen marriages in America. Politically—we are privileged to exercise our rights as citizens to influence our country because “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). Individual letters and phone calls are often more influential than public demonstrations although you may choose to attend a public rally. Personally—we must always exhibit the love of Jesus Christ to all others in our attitudes and behavior. Patiently—our generation is facing a long process of moral conflict, judicial disagreement and political haggling. Romans 12:12 gives wise spiritual advice that we “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

– Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals, written for the Wooddale Church community, March 2004

I Love My Wife

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I Love My Wife . . .Cyndi has been with her Mom and Dad in Colorado for the past week. She is there to help her Mom recovery from foot surgery. With each day that passes, I’m reminded more and more how much I love her and how much of a difference that she has made in my life and the life of my children. I can’t imagine what life without my precious wife would be like.She is the sunshine who brightens our home, the constant who brings order to chaos, the counselor who listens with tender ears and speaks with God-given wisdom, the culinary diva who continually creates amazing meals that rival those of any five star restaurant, the coupon queen whose extra time researching saves us hundreds of dollars a month. She is my best friend, the woman of my dreams, the sweetest person that I’ve ever met. I’m still captivated by her beauty, drawn to her presence, and in awe that she said, “Yes.”

Thank You, Lord. She is all of this, because she is first, Yours. You have done a wonderful work in her and I’m a different man today because of it.