Monday, December 27, 2010

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

"If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants." Sir Isaac Newton

Just yesterday my family and I began a journey across the country to begin a new chapter of our lives in Raleigh, NC as we begin pastoring a wonderful church family at Raleigh Christian Community Church(

Much of our trip on I-40 is actually the old Route 66 made famous in our country's early car years. As I drove I reflected on the truth that most of I-40 was pioneered by men that first had a vision for Route 66. There were those that even laid the ground work for Route 66 in our nation's earlier history that were willing to have the heart to "Go West." I-40 (the present interstate) is the fruit of the vision, courage, endurance and tenacity of men that came before.

The church I now pastor was pioneered and led by such kind of men: Pastors Robert Spradley and Jim Kelly.

Any good that might come from my leadership as Pastor of RCC will come from Christ in me and the fact that as Sir Isaac Newton stated, "I stand on the shoulders of giants" such as these men that have come before me.

I wonder in your life have you taken the time to reflect on those that have come before you to sow seed that you now enjoy as harvest?

To God Be the Glory,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blind Spots: Believe Me, You Have One

In driver's education one of the first things that you're taught is that there are "blind spots" around your vehicle based on where your particular side and rear view mirrors are. To over come this obstacle we are instructed to actually take a hard look around us to make sure the way we intend to go is clear. Failure to do so can and often does cause a wreck hurting you and others around you.

People have blind spots too. These are areas in our own life where we do not see our actions and ways of doing things correctly. Most people don't know their blind spots. That's why they're called blind spots. As with driving, not taking the hard look at areas in our life that are weak can cause at best ineffectiveness and at worse destruction. I can tell you one of my blind spots: becoming distracted in one on one conversations. The reason I have the privilege of knowing this blind spot is because someone was kind of enough to point it out to me a few years ago. Let's say I'm out on the church patio having a conversation with someone I do care about as hundreds of people walk around us. While trying to tune into what is being said to me I can find myself distracted seeing all of the people I need to touch base with: people I've been concerned about, people that have been trying to get a hold of me, etc. Someone kindly pointed out to me, "Nathan, I feel like when I try and talk to you that you're distracted." While this was hard to hear (Most blind spots are difficult to hear) it was incredibly helpful because I didn't realize that I was making this person feel this way. With that input I was able to make corrections and do some things differently to work on this area.

We need people in our lives that we've given permission to point out areas of concern. When is the last time you've asked someone, "Is there an area of my personality that you think might be annoying or bothersome?" "What am I missing?" "What area in my leadership do you see as a weakness or could be sharpened?". While these questions are painful to ask, the pay off of knowing the answers to these questions is HUGE.

Prov 27:6
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

It's time to do more than check your mirrors. It's time to take the hard look.

Go On Ask,


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Famous Last Words....

Let's continue on the theme of funerals. Shall we? I thought I might give you a brief peak behind the curtain of these services that a pastor provides. I did my first funeral when I was 19. It's hard to believe it's been that long, but in that time it seems I've seen everything from the comedic to the inspirational. I've actually entertained the idea of writing a book on these experiences because they are just that good! That is for another blog however.

When I receive a request to do some one's funeral or memorial service I make it a point to meet with the family so that I am able to help them in putting the service together. This meeting with the family is also crucial if I did not know the person that has died. I want to get know the person I will be eulogizing. I usually just bring a pen and a journal and ask the family to just begin to share. I say, "I'd like to just be a fly on the wall as you remember him or her through stories and descriptive words." Can I tell you that these meetings are either vastly moving or grotesquely shallow. When being summed up by those closest to you they can only share what they've experienced. (Side note: People do have a tendency to deify the person after they've past wanting to only remember the best about the person.)

Here are two contrasting lists of descriptions of family members of their loved ones:

Unbending integrity                                          He could really eat
Invested in others                                             Had a great golf swing
Very generous with his time and money            Made a lot of money
He loved God with all his heart                         He really loved his boat
He put his family first                                        He cussed like a sailor but he was so funny

One of the most heart breaking things I have to do as a pastor is listen to a family share about their loved one and continually tell me as they share, "you don't have to put that in there."

My question to you faithful reader is what do you want to be said about you at your funeral? Once you've answered that question I'd ask this: Are you living in such a way now that people would say those things.

Live with your last day in mind and you should be fine.

Tick Tock,


Monday, October 18, 2010

Why a Part of Me Loves Funerals

There is a strange part of me that loves to do funerals as a pastor. Before you dismiss me as insane, hear me out. While funerals are painful and difficult, I have found hope and comfort in knowing that those that attend funerals are dumbstruck with their own mortality. When people are faced with their mortality they for a moment put their life on pause and will consider what really matters in life if a pastor is intentional about posing the right questions. While the rest of a person's lifestyle might seek to push God away, their heart is tender in that moment when grieving a loss of someone they love. This coupled with the realization that they themselves are not invincible many times can allow their heart to be receptive to the gospel and what awaits them in eternity.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lesson Learned

Go to fullsize imageI learned a brutal lesson this morning as I sat in a Starbucks lounge chair. I was meeting over coffee or in my case Hot Chocolate with a great guy that I've been mentoring. It had been several months since we had been able to meet and there was a lot to catch up on. As we talked he shared with me some pretty big decisions that he had made and I found myself somewhat offended that he would not have come to me and asked for my input. As he continued to share I realized that he had withdrawn from the mentor relationship because he thought I was too busy for him and yet I had perceived his lack of contact with me as being a lack of follow through on his part. He wanted an older brother relationship that sought after him and I wanted a mentee that knew the ball was in his court and not mine.

This was a break down in communicating expectations. A few lessons I learned:

1. You cannot assume that people know what your expectations are of them in a relationship. People can't your mind.
2. You cannot assume to know what others expectations are of you in a relationship. You can't read their mind.
3. Talk openly about expectations early on in the relationship.
4. When in doubt, ask.
5. If someone fails your expectations have a loving and grace filled conversation with them. Resist the urge to withdrawal, isolate and bail on the relationship.

Always Learning,


Monday, October 4, 2010

Keeping Your Pastor Healthy: Part 3

One of the great ways you can lovingly help your pastor is making yourself available to serve in any area that is needed. If you're just waiting to be asked for help you might miss out on a crucial time when you could have really contributed to a needy situation. I don't know how many times I've been in a situation as a pastor when I needed another pair of hands for a task, someone that had some time to run an errand for me, a class that I needed someone to step in and lead for a time.

There will always be a need because the needs in pastoral ministry always outweigh a church staff's time and resources. Instead of waiting for your pastor to ask you for help, why not be proactive and ask how you can meet a need.

We Need You,


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Keeping Your Pastor Healthy: Part 2

Warning: Doing the following will actually in the long run be a blessing to you.

Heb 13:17

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

This has to be one of the most unpreached verses in scripture right along with the topic of gluttony. The average pastor does not want to come across as lording his authority over God's people. Submission to authority and obeying leaders isn't exactly popular in our current post modern age. This lack of teaching has allowed a generation to flourish in the church that doesn't really see a need for leadership. We must point them to scripture.

Scripture seems to make several things clear in this one verse:

1. You can obey and submit to your pastors knowing that God will surely hold them accountable for their leadership. A pastor truly called to lead, feels the weight of "watching over your souls." In my experience God  has given me a supernatural love for the people I lead. This isn't a heavy burdensome affliction but one that feels like a deep sobering responsibility.

Note: I'm not talking about checking your brain at the church door and following leadership blindly. Everything should be filtered through the word of God.

2. The writer of Hebrews notes that walking in obedience and submission allows your pastoral leadership to do their work with "joy" and "not with grief." The author states that to not obey and submit makes it hell for your leaders and this in the long run is "not profitable to you." You do the math.

Jesus Christ is the chief shepherd and He has called pastors as under shepherds to lead His church. They are a gift to the church and should be treated as such.

The question then is do you make leadership a joy or a pain for your pastor? How do you treat them? In public and in private conversations? Are you constantly causing debate and strife?

Give a gift of obedience and submission this October,


Friday, October 1, 2010

Keeping Your Pastor Healty Part 1

With October being pastor appreciation month I thought I could turn the influence of my powerhouse of a blog :) toward church families  and write about how they can be caring for and feeding their pastors. I know full well that there will be some that will see this as self-serving knowing that I am a pastor. I don't mind being misunderstood, people misunderstood Jesus all the time. Most pastors won't teach on this topic for this exact reason, they think people will think they have an alterior motive. But not teaching a Godly principle because you may be misunderstood is cowardly. This robs the church of actually knowing what they should and could be doing to properly honor and care for their pastors.

One of the greatest things you can do for your pastor is pray for him and his family.  I'm not talking about throwing him into your twenty second prayer at dinner. I'm talking about setting aside time in your prayer and devotional time on a regular basis to pray for him. Pray for your pastor as a family. This is a great way to model to your children the importance of praying for those in leadership. As with most things in life we can come to a place of taking things we value for granted, our pastors being one of them. Realize, that Satan has a special affinity for picking off church leaders. The military does not have officers wear their rank on their helmets in combat for a reason. They know that if the enemy knows who is leading they will be the first soldiers targeted. If Satan can take out church leadership in some way, he can begin to wreak havoc in a church family.

Pray for your pastor's spiritual health. Pray that God would continue to cultivate his soul. Pray that God would give him wisdom for the countless decisions that must be made and people he must counsel. Pray that God would guard and deepen his marriage. Pray that God would help him as a father to pastor his home well. Pray that God would provide every need: physical, emotional and financial. Every pastor covets the prayers of his flock.

Why not stop and pray for your pastor right now,


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

When Life Seems Unfair....

My tantrums really don't look that much different than a child's. When something in ministry, in a relationship or just life in general doesn't go the way I want I can easily fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself and complaining about the circumstances that have befalling me. If I were to look at my pride in the face I would find that arrogance fuels my adult tantrums. It is arrogance because I am inevtiably saying, "I don't deserve what is happening to me."   I was reminded of this in my recent reading of Humility: True Greatness, by C.J. Mahaney.

 Mahaney writes that "Any affliction or circumstance we endure here on earth pales in comparison to what we truly deserve." I was challenged by this to remember that the next time I feel the temptation to feel I don't deserve something that I must pause to reflect on what I DO deserve.

Overwelmed by Grace,


P.S. I've enclosed a link to this book to the left in this post. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

No More Christian Nice Guy

Are you a nice person? Would others consider you nice? I continue to see people that confuse the whole of Christian living as being nice. There is NO commandment in scripture to be nice. As Christians we are to walk in love, integrity, service and humility, But we are never told we must be nice.

Nice [nahys] -adjective : 1. pleasing, agreeable; delightful. 2. amiably pleasant

I grew up being told to be "nice" my entire childhood. This left me at times not being who God had me to be as well as just caving under any external pressure I might have run into. In Paul Coughlin's book, No More Christian Nice Guy, I was reminded that we are not called to be "agreeable" all the time. He also the damage that "niceness" causes to relationships, families and the Christian Church. Jesus Christ himself came to not be "nice" but to bring change. Scripture says that the Christian faith is an offence to unbelievers. If it's not...some thing's wrong. You are not called to make everyone happy, to never disagree with someone or be politically correct. Now for those of you that can't read nuance, let me also say that you're not called by Jesus to be a jerk! That is not what this is about. It's about living out the Christian faith in a authentic fashion without being a pansy in the process. I highly recommend this book!

Not Nice,


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Whole Gospel....

My son's preschool class was asked today what Easter was all about. Landon told the class that we have Easter because "Jesus came back alive." While I was thrilled that He knew why we celebrate Easter, I was sad to hear he was the only one.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is nothing but awe inspiring.  Yet in many pulpits across the world the resurrection is rarely ever preached on. There is great emphasis on Christ's death on the cross as well there should be. BUT, The resurrection is NO LESS important than the cross. Without Christ's resurrection from the dead the cross would have just been vain torture. It is by Christ's death AND resurrection that we have life.

1 Peter 1:3-5

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Bottom line: Christ's resurrection shouldn't just be a yearly topic that's celebrated. It is the bedrock of our Christian faith and should be preached and shared as such!

I will rise because He did,


You've Got Time.....

To say yes to something, is to say no to something else. This statement is true for every area of our life. All of us on earth have the same amount of time to work with. No or poor....young or old....have more hours in the day than someone else. I share this because it seems there is a myth believed by most people: "I don't have enough time."

Most of the time this statement is made by people who are talking about something they need to do they haven't done or something they "wish" they could but feel like they can't because of the lack of time.

The fact is you DO have time. It's just you use your time on other things. Think about what you do with your discrectionary time (time you get to decide what you want to do). Any time you spend: on facebook, watching your shows on television, surfing the net, reading, going to concerts/sporting events, hanging out with friends or family, reading this blog :), etc, is time that could be spent for that thing.

Saying yes to these things is to say no to something else you're always talking about not having time for.

Bottomline: There are two choices, either start saying yes to things that are really a priorty to you or stop complaining about not having enough time to do them.

Tick Tock,


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is My Compass Working?

You are not alone if you've ever felt directionless. I've met so many people recently that are searching for their purpose in life. They desperately desire to know what they're supposed to do with their life. Their compass is spinning and out of the sheer overwhelming sense of lostness they resort to a mundane, trite, surface type of lifestyle.

If that's you, don't waste this part of the journey. If you're a believer in Christ then God desires to grow you as you first seek Him and THEN direction. If you are not a follwer of Christ, anything you seek to do with your future will be in vain. Give your life to Jesus Christ.

Bottomline: Don't fixate so much on the destination that you miss out on the journey.

Your Journey awaits,


Monday, March 29, 2010


Last night I had the oppurtunity to sit down with two college students seperately and hear each of their individual struggles in feeling defined either by their past mistakes or the environment they grew up in. It's a trap that many of us have fallen into or are walking in now: allowing the external to define the internal. There is no doubt that the mistakes we make and the consequences we face impact our life story. The same is certainly true for the environment we grew up in. This most certainly influences who we are today. We must realize however that once we come to faith in Christ we are redefined. Our sin is no longer counted against us and God begins to be our Heavenly Father because we are a new creation:

2 Cor 5:17

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ,he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Bottom line: If you are a "new creation" you are not longer obligated to the baggage of the old.

Enjoy The New Car Smell,


Sunday, March 28, 2010

When it All Hits the Fan.......

What if the worst thing that has ever happend to you didn't have to be a waste? What if the next time things in your life hit the fan and your life seems to be unraveling at the seams that you could actually have joy in the midst of it? These "what if's" don't have to just be speculation for your life. Scripture says this can be reality:

James 1:2-4

2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James is saying that we can view our trials in this life with joy because in and through them Jesus will produce in us "endurance" to take on the next challenge. That endurance will then produce spiritual maturity! That means: Family tragedy = not wasted , Past abuse = not wasted, Maligned for your faith = not wasted, Cancer = not wasted, relationship strain = not wasted, financial harship = not get the idea.

Bottom Line: The path to maturity runs through trial. Obstacles in this life don't have to be a waste. Rather they can be one of the tools that make you into the man or woman of God that He longs for you to be.

Believe it,


Saturday, January 9, 2010

One Life to Live.....

This morning my son came into my bedroom and asked, "Dad, why does God give cats nine lives but us only one?". After explaining to my son that "9 lives" was more about getting out of some bad spots in life, I told him that we need to make sure that we live our lives every day being our very best. "If we only get one life that means every day matters" I told him.

Are you living that way? Do you live your life in a intentional way with heaven in mind or just haphazardly go from day to day with only self gain in mind?

We are headed for eternity at a speed that is staggering. The Bible states that we shouldn't focus on gaining "treasures" on earth.

Matt 6:19-21

19 " Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

It begs the question then, where is our heart? Do we long for heaven or do we long for further comfort here?

Bottom Line:

We do only get one life here. No do overs. Let's make today a day of storing up treasures in heaven rather than putting more in our closet that's ultimately not going to last.

Only Promised today,


Friday, January 8, 2010

Receiving Critism....

Every now and then I get a blunt reminder that not everyone is part of the Nathan Rouse fan club of life. For someone like me who has in the past looked for validation externally, it can be hard to hear, read, and see that not everyone likes me. I sometimes really wish I was that person that could care less what so and so thinks and just keep moving forward, but for me it's not that easy. It's even harder if you're putting yourself out there in the area of leading, teaching, writing, etc. Whether it's people that just misunderstand you, whole heartily disagree with your positions or just don't like you, I believe there are some principles that can help us when receiving criticism.

Don't get defensive: Set your pride and ego aside and genuinely hear what the person has to say. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Don't always feel you have to respond right then. I sometimes take notes (if I can) so I slow myself down and process what they've said later.

Ask yourself "Is there ANY truth to what's been shared?": I believe we can learn from anyone, even if the criticism is not shared in the most mature or kindest fashion.

DO make adjustments if needed: If out of the criticism you see something valuable that needs to be adjusted in yourself or leadership...DO IT! Don't allow your ego to keep you from learning and growing.

Move Forward: Many people when running into criticism allow it to paralyze their lives, plans and leadership. If you feel what you're doing is biblical and you've prayed, sought wise counsel, and feel this is the best course then stand firm and move forward. Don't water down your message or plans out of fear of upsetting others when you know it's the best course of action.

Value the Relationship: Our immediate reaction to someone being critical is to want to withdrawal from that person by either avoiding them or just not talking as much to them. While we cannot control their actions we can control ours. Make it a point to continue to reach out to them even if they might not receive it. The apostle Paul said for us to "live in peace with one another." We should make every effort to do so!

Go Grow,


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Thirst for Mentorship....

Over the last several years that I have worked with young adults a recurring theme seems to resound in my conversations with this wonderful generation. "I need someone I can learn about life from." "I'd like someone that would meet with me and show me how to grow in all parts of my life: spiritually, in my career, my relationships." "I need a mentor."

I'm not at all surprised by the clamoring call for mentors spilling out of these hearts and minds. This generation is coming from broken and bruised families at a rate we can't even begin to imagine. To former generations this generation seems outwardly aloof and unscathed by divorce, abuse and parental uninvolvement. Inwardly however, they are angry, hurting and wanting to know and be known by anyone they can have genuine connection with.

When they say they want a mentor they're not talking just about someone to just disciple them spiritually. In a lot of ways they are looking for a life coach, needing direction for every area of their life: career, romantic and platonic relationships, conflict management....etc. I would say reparenting is needed, but I'm finding for many of them parenting wasn't provided.

I cannot overstate the need here. The Church and society as a whole will be dramatically shaped by this generation in the coming years. Without this need for mentorship being addressed we will be left with a generation that fills in all the empty blanks with all the wrong answers. The church should and must rise to the occasion in being a lighthouse of relational mentorship to the Millennial generation if we are to see them be everything God desires them to be.

To young adults I would say your generation in turn needs to begin to seek out Christian mentors instead of waiting for someone or an organization to provide them. Maturity is becoming self-aware of your needs and the needs of others and responding appropriately. Pray, seek God, watch the lives of others you respect and approach them about being that mentor in your life.

Go Grow,