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guest post for taterhouse

When my daughter was in the first grade (she is now 22), I decide that I should get involved in her spiritual education. So, I volunteered to be an assistant teacher in her Caravans class (a Christian scouting program). The guy who taught the class, Gavin, was amazing and really loved the kids. I really began to respect him highly and wanted to be as helpful as possible to him in these classes. A couple of times, he asked me to fill-in as teacher when he could not make it during work. I enjoyed it an discovered that I do pretty well at teaching kids.

Every year they have a award ceremony where they award the kids the various sashes, patches, and badges that they’ve earned during the year. It really is quite an event and parents even invite family members who don’t normally come to that church to share in cheering the kids on. It’s really cool.

That year, Gavin called me minutes before the ceremony to tell me that he was going to have to work late, so he needed me to stand up i front of all those people and lead the kids in the various recitals they had to do to get their awards.

The problem was that I get absolutely horror-stricken when it comes to speaking in public. I just can’t do it. I get physically sick and I actually nearly passed out that night from anxiety. Thankfully, the director of the program took pity on me and led my groups part of the ceremony for me.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Today, I get up in front of a crowd every Sunday and pour out my heart as I preach the Word of God to my closest friends. I have no fear. In fact I am pretty euphoric before the hour arrives. I am 180-degrees the opposite of what I was back then. God took a pretty unremarkable person and equipped him for His purposes. He put power where there was fear. He put strength where there was anxiety.

By His grace and power I can do what He called me to do. He will do the same for you. Go, follow his calling for your life, and lean on Him to get it done through you.

chronic.sufferer

This was written  as a guest post for [un]common, originally published at http://jonathanpearson.net/2010/09/the-chronic-sufferer/

We all prayed for Gary – a lot. Whenever a call for prayer requests was voiced, Gary was the first to respond with an issue that needed our prayers. Conversations with Gary quickly turned towards his problems, and he always had a problem. Gary was an addict, addicted to attention. People began to resent Gary. They would roll their eyes when he spoke. They tried to ignore him when he tried to enter into conversations. They began to avoid him.

As one called to shepherd, it breaks my heart to see a “Gary” because I know that there is nothing we can really do for him, because he suffers by choice. I’m not saying that he self-inflicts, but he doesn’t really want to be delivered. How do I know this? Because he has been shown the way out of many situations but chooses not to take the “out.” He chooses to suffer because that is what gets him what he really wants – attention, and lots of it. When given a chance he latches onto people like a sand-spur to shoe laces. And it hurts when trying to pluck him out.

What do we do with Gary? We are called to love Gary, but not to enable his dependency addiction. We are called to fellowship with him, but not to allow him to hinder community.

12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart… 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:12,16)

Somewhere along the way, Gary lost sight of the power of God’s grace. He has forgotten that deliverance and peace come from the “throne of Grace” – not us. We need to help Gary see that instead of craving our prayers, he should crave the presence of God himself, directly and boldly approaching the Prince of Peace. Maybe then he (and we) can finally find peace.

While no one is irredeemable, the unfortunate reality is that someone cannot be rescued if they don’t want to be. It is ultimately up to Gary to choose a victorious life instead of suffering. That does not mean that we cast Gary off, but it may mean that our only actionable recourse is to pray for him – to sincerely pray for him – to pray that he finds the “throne of Grace.”

shes.still.your.bride

This was an article written for StriveForMaturity.com, originally published here: http://striveformaturity.com/shes-still-your-bride/

I had this incredible professor in high school. He was the professor of Physics and Higher Mathematics. Dr. Hosterman was his name. Before becoming a teacher, he was an army physicist and aircraft pilot who flew observation flights during the nuclear experiments at the atolls in the pacific. He developed cancer as a result of that work. He daily struggled with intense pain, downing and chewing-up a half bottle of aspirin at a time. He was somewhat kooky and had some fascinating stories to tell. But, at the same time he was so genuine and pure of heart.

Most fascinating to me was that after over 30 years of marriage, he still called his spouse, “my bride.” He would get giggles from the girls and hoots-and-hollers from the boys as he proclaimed, “We’re still on our honeymoon,” with a sly grin and a knowing wink. He had a sweet twinkle in his eye every time he talked about her. His face lit up. His countenance would change. His cancerous body no longer in pain. He loved her so much – even still, after so many years. She was still that beautiful young woman who appeared in that doorway at the church, her father in tow, beaming in that dress. She was still his bride.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:25-33)

I love that this passage gives instruction for both how a man should love the church, and how a man should love his wife. They are connected in this passage. Paul keeps going back and forth between “the church” and “your wife”.

1 – Cherish her –  so much that you’d give your life for her. Recently, a video was released of a young man and his girlfriend at a baseball game. When a fly-ball headed toward them, the young man jumped out of the way and the ball hit his girlfriend. He should have shielded her from harm. He should have cherished her as a precious gift.

2 – Glorify her – I am saddened every time I hear a man speak poorly of his wife. “She nags too much. She is lazy. She can’t cook. She isn’t that smart.” Men, stop this. Present her blameless – without stain or wrinkle – free of blemish – perfect in your eyes. Exalt her before others. Make her the envy of other wives.

3 – Love her unequivocally – She is your flesh. She is not a housemate. She is not a maid. She is not a nanny. She is you – you are her. You are one flesh, a profound mystery.

Recently, Angel and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary. She is glorious to me. I love and cherish her more now than I ever did. And since the day we married, I have followed the example of Dr. Hosterman in seeing her as my bride. She is still that beautiful exotic jewel of a woman who said, “yes.” Angel, you are still my bride.

———-

In His grip,

Herb Halstead

she’s.still.your.bride

I’ve been accepted as a contributor to Strive for Maturity, a blog ministry dedicated to helping Christian men become better men. I’m excited about this opportunity, and look forward to the community there. My first article, “She’s Still Your Bride” was published today. I hope you stop by and read it – comment too! Here’s the link: http://striveformaturity.com/shes-still-your-bride/ and here’s an excerpt:

I had this incredible professor in high school. He was the professor of Physics and Higher Mathematics. Dr. Hosterman was his name. Before becoming a teacher, he was an army physicist and aircraft pilot who flew observation flights during the nuclear experiments at the atolls in the pacific. He developed cancer as a result of that work. He daily struggled with intense pain, downing and chewing-up a half bottle of aspirin at a time. He was somewhat kooky and had some fascinating stories to tell. But, at the same time he was so genuine and pure of heart. Most fascinating to me was… [ continue reading ]