Leadership Lessons from a Chicken Coop - Todd Grover
Leadership Lessons from a Chicken Coop - Todd Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • September 15, 2021

Leadership Lessons from a Chicken Coop


Do you have fond memories of growing up? I hope you do. I have a ton of them. Growing up for me was quite the adventure. However, I also have some memories that are not even close to making the fond list. One in particular is cleaning out the chicken coop on my uncle’s farm. My older brother and I started working on my uncle’s farm around the age of ten. Due to our young age, we were not assigned too many task that required a high skill level to say the least. Unfortunately, chicken coop cleaning was not on that forbidden list. On a regular basis, I would be assigned the task of cleaning that chicken coop. To say I dreaded that chore would be one of the greatest understatements of all time. However, I learned a leadership skill that would stay with me for the rest of my life.

At this point you may be wondering, especially if you were not raised in the country, what made chicken coop cleaning so despised? I can answer that question in one phrase: unbearable stench. The aroma coming from a well fermented chicken coop could turn anyone’s iron skillet stomach into scrambled eggs. I just dreaded it. Then it hit me. The only time that chicken coop was bearable was when it was clean. Sitting there and pouting did not make the stench go away, plus it simply prolonged the agony. Every pitchfork of chicken manure out the door meant being one step closer to breathing some bearable air. Difficult tasks start the process of becoming bearable when you start working and stop the complaining. Becoming angry at my uncle never made the chicken coop more aromatically pleasing. Each pitchfork out the door did.

Everyone will face their own version of a chicken coop sooner or later. If you are a leader of anything or anyone, you will face difficult task with their own peculiar stench. Solution: get to work on it. The stench will not go away by mumbling and grumbling.

I have been in some form of leadership for more than 30 years now. Every opportunity comes attached to something that is not appealing and is difficult. What I have learned is this, ignoring it or putting it off never solves the problem. As a child, I had to muster up my own strength to get it done. But as a Christian, I know I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) So, grab the right “pitchfork” for the job, and by the grace of God, start pitching towards a solution.

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What is the Standard for Good & Evil? - Josh Grover
What is the Standard for Good & Evil? - Josh Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • August 16, 2021

What is the Standard for Good & Evil? - Josh Grover


“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” Nahum 1:7


I anxiously sat in the classroom, waiting for my teacher to issue the final exam. Like many of my classmates, I had deliberately and enthusiastically prepared for this college test and had high hopes for my performance. Any grade above a 90 would provide me with an A for the exam and anything below would lend a B, C, D, or F. Like this final and the many finals I had taken in college and high school, I knew what grade I had to get if I wanted to earn the report card I sought. How could I know this? Because the school had set a standard. If you earn a 90 or above, you’ll receive an A. If you get an 89 or below, you’ll receive another grade. Grades are based on standards. Like the classroom, life is full of standards, and we see them in daily life. A speed limit sets a standard. Go above it, you risk receiving a speeding ticket or the likelihood of an accident. Your job has standards – be at work at this time and do these projects, etc. If not, you risk losing your job. At many stores, you’ll see a sign stating, “No shoes. No shirt. No service.” They’ve set a standard for whom they will and will not serve. So when it comes to moral behavior, who sets the standard for what’s good and evil and what is the standard based on? To some, the standard for moral behavior is left to each individual or society to determine. “Moral relativism” is this idea, and it’s becoming more prevalent in American culture. But does moral relativism conform to reality? Absolutely not. God is very clear on this point. Both the Old Testament (Ex 33:19; Je 2:13; Ps 19:7-11, etc.) and New Testament (Lk 18:19; Ac 10:38, 42-43, etc.) assert that God’s character and law are the standard for good and that which opposes God’s character and law are the standard for evil. Consequently, Christians must know God’s character and law and abide by them if they are to live righteously and stand against what is evil. Furthermore, any acceptance by Christians of moral relativism in the family, church, and society is deadly because it ultimately leads to apathy and indifference toward God’s law and character. In addition, if people don’t understand that God has established a universal standard for good and evil, then they will see no need to accept eternal salvation and redemption from God for not meeting His moral standard. We the Church must stand up for God’s character and live according to His righteous precepts. We must proclaim to the world that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s moral standard but they will have eternal salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

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Do Not Collect Straw - Todd Grover
Do Not Collect Straw - Todd Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • August 11, 2021

Do Not Collect Straw: It is best for your relationships.


I am sure all of you have heard the idiom, “The straw that broke the camel’s back.” This saying most likely originated with Arab speaking people long ago. However, the first recorded usage of the phrase occurred in an Australian newspaper called the Age, in 1854. The saying drew from a common occurrence in the Arab speaking part of the world regarding the carrying capacity of a camel. Not only was the camel known for its hump on its back, but also its ability to carry a substantial amount of cargo on the same. If a camel has such a large cargo capacity, how then can one little piece of straw break a camel’s back?

We all know the answer to this. If one little piece of straw is added to thousands of other pieces of straw, the camel now has a big problem. So, the key to a successful journey with a camel is knowing which piece of straw is too much. The above parable provides this wisdom for us, there is a limit to the number of adverse events and annoyances a person can tolerate at any one time. Beyond this obvious lesson taught, what is the practical application to be learned?

In anyone’s life there are things we put up with. Have you ever said to yourself, “it’s no big deal?” Every time you say that, there is a chance you just added a straw to your back. What we all must realize is one day, one more straw added to your back is going to be the cause of a totally unexpected verbal explosion on your part. Case in point. Have you ever blown up at your spouse over a totally insignificant event or action? Why? It is quite likely prior to this explosion, you had multiple scenario’s when you said to yourself, “it’s no big deal.” The last “no big deal,” was the straw that broke your back and caused your mouth to become the most recent active volcano, spewing forth toxic verbiage.

Instead of putting straws on our backs, it would seem wiser if we addressed the straws individually as they come. I can see the flailing arms of protest right now. People screaming at the screen, “we would nitpick each other to death.” “It’s just easier to shut up and put up.” Yes, until the camel’s back breaks and all the straws fly in your spouse’s face. At which time you will pick up each straw individually and wave it in your spouse’s face.

It is best, if something is bothering you about your spouse or other individual, talk about it. For the health of your marriage, family, friendship etc., talk about the things that bother you. If you do this on a regular basis, no one will be found one straw short of a broken back, or major explosion. It is best for relationships if neither one of you accumulate straws.

Next time, we will look at the scriptures admonition to be longsuffering, patient etc., and how this meshes with not becoming a laden down camel ready to explode.  

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Is Parenting Like Raising a Garden? - Part 2 - Todd Grover
Is Parenting Like Raising a Garden? - Part 2 - Todd Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • August 02, 2021

Is Parenting Like Raising a Garden? Part II - Todd Grover


I embarked on a journey this summer of raising a garden. It has not gone totally as planned, as much of life does not, but I have learned some amazing similarities between gardening and raising a family. I stated some of these lessons in my previous blog and desire to add to the learning experience here.

As mentioned in my previous blog, I failed to place my raised garden in a location that would allow for an adequate amount of sunshine. My current location has too much shade. As a result of my miscalculation, all aspects of plant growth and vegetable production have been slowed. The growth is there, but slow. On several occasions I thought to myself, just till this garden up, cut your losses, move the raised beds, and start over next year. Without fail, after entertaining these thoughts, I would see progress in the garden. Example: my seven and a half feet tomato plants (I am not exaggerating at all). First discouragement, they would not grow. I thought I planted them wrong. Next, they were infected with a fungus. Next, they grow like weeds, but no tomatoes. Next, tomatoes, but they stayed green forever and a day. People all over Facebook were proudly displaying the fruits of their labor, canned this and canned that from the floor to their ceilings, from gardens that I know were planted after mine. Finally, one glorious morning, a slightly red tomato. Then green beans. Then peppers. Then a zucchini. Lesson: keep at it and fruit (or in this case, vegetables) will come.

Has child rearing for you been less than fruitful in your eyes? You are a little embarrassed or frustrated when other parents share their bounty of child rearing with you. How they have fruit stacked from floor to ceiling in their home. Let me share this with you, stay with it. It is tempting at times to say, what is the point, there is nothing coming from my garden. Or, my garden is coming along so slowly. You know as I look back on this whole gardening experience, nothing in my garden was dead, just painfully, gut-wrenching slow. I panicked, but none of the plants did. What my plants needed was for me to keep watering them, keep wedding them, keep securing them, keep the fungus off and not till them under. My plants just needed me to keep investing in them.

The apostle Paul makes a marvelous parenting statement in Ephesians 3:13 “So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory” ESV.  Wow, is that a powerful statement. I, the apostle Paul, am suffering for you. Why? So that God can produce His glory in you. We have no idea how long Paul had been suffering, the degree of his suffering, we just know he had been suffering, so that God’s glory could be revealed in the family of God at Ephesus. This takes self-sacrifice, suffering and time. Consider how Paul said basically the same thing in Galatians 3:19. “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” KJV.  Time, self-sacrifice, personal discomfort equals, produce.

Now, you will not see my Facebook page plastered with the bounty from my garden. I barely had enough green beans to fill a bottom of a boiling pot of water. But there were green beans there. Next year, another garden will be planted making the necessary corrections learned from this year’s mistakes. I suppose next year, I will learn about more improvements that can be made. Point: do not give up on your garden, the one in your yard and the one in your home. 

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Is Raising a Garden Like Raising Kids? - Todd Grover
Is Raising a Garden Like Raising Kids? - Todd Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • July 28, 2021

Is raising a garden like raising kids? - Todd Grover


This year I attempted something totally new for me, raised gardens. Extensive planning was done, detailed research before materials were purchased, daily amount of sunlight exposure calculated for every area of my back yard to determine maximum sun exposure. Soil and fertilizer bought. Seeds purchased. Plants in hand. YouTube video’s watched on proper raised gardening procedures. Finally, the day arrived. Planting day. One week later I was telling myself, raising a garden seems a lot like raising kids. Speaking of which, I have four grown children whom I love dearly.

You may be asking what are the similarities? To be honest, there are too many to share in one blog so I will hit the highlights, and maybe there will be a part two. First of all, I was very intentional with my garden, doing everything in my power to ensure its success, produce. I find that “winging it” rarely works for anything. What type of soil, where will there be the most sunlight, etc. If I was going to attempt this, I wanted to do everything within my power to succeed. I find the same truth in parenting. Before our first child took a breath in this world, my wife and I began to plan on how we would raise our children. We would read to them every night; we would pray with them. We would go to family camps for vacations, you see what I mean. Do not misunderstand either. None of our planning interfered with each child’s individuality either. As a matter of fact, it allowed us to raise them the same within their individual personalities. A good, productive garden is not often left up to chance, and I find, either is a family. What’s your plan.

Before we get too far, let me say here, you can do all the planning in the world, but your child possesses a free will, which he will exercise. Also, without God’s amazing grace, you can do all the planning in the world to no avail. However, neither of these two realities should deter you from having a plan to raise your children.

Secondly, after the seeds where in, every day I checked for two things; growth and obstacles to growth (fungus, not enough water, weeds etc.). I made sure every day there was the appropriate amount of water for optimal growth. I made sure the weeds were pulled, not allowing these unwanted invaders a second to rob my plants of the needed nutrients for growth. I watched for diseases. As soon as I detected a produce destroyer, immediate action was taken to rid the plant of the army of microorganism invaders. If you what produce at the end of the day, you have to put in the time to ensure growth.

Parenting also requires realizing when you have errored and correcting the mistakes. In planning for my raised garden, I miscalculated how much sunlight the plants would receive. Come to find out, it was not near enough for some of the plants to reach their full potential. Solution, move the gardens eight feet to the south, which will give the plants more sunlight. If you want produce, you need adequate amount of sunlight. Do what it takes to maximize “Sunlight.” Point, realize when you have errored and make the corrections. The goal is a healthy, producing plant, not your feelings.

Might I suggest, if you are married and thinking about children and want to get a head start, plant a garden and pay attention to the lessons you learn. You may be saying, I don’t have time for that. You are about to learn lesson 1. 

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Can Liberty Enslave? - Todd Grover
Can Liberty Enslave? - Todd Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • July 10, 2021

Can Liberty Enslave?

I Corinthians 10


Watching God mold and fashion one of His children is a marvelous sight to behold. Observing the scales of the “old man” fall one by one as the “new man” takes shape brings joy unspeakable to the believer. God’s tools for molding and refining the human condition are so infinite and precise one cannot but stand in awe of our Lord. One cannot help but wonder, if this is indeed the case, why then does this spiritual transformation seem to take so long and so often hampered with setbacks? The answer to this question is long and varied. I would like to focus on one possibility: Christian liberty.

The lengthiest section on Christian liberty in your Bible is found in I Corinthians 8,9 and 10. The chapters are broken down this way. Chapter eight deals with my liberty and the impact it may have on “the weak” believer. “The weak”, is simply a designation given to a believer who registers sin regarding an action before I would, e.g., eating meat offered to idols. Chapter 9 is the Apostle Paul’s underlying philosophy of how he handles his own liberty. Paul’s “Christian Liberty” was never used to place an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ (I Corinthians 9:12). This noble endeavor will seem unattainable unless it is also accompanied with Paul’s mindset as described in I Corinthians 9:19 “I have made myself a servant of all.” Liberty causing one to become servant to all, almost unheard of these days. Which leads to chapter ten, a warning regarding your Christian liberty and spiritually failings (10:12).

The Apostle Paul does not argue for the fact that you have personal liberties in the Lord. The Apostle is more concerned with the impact these liberties may have on your spiritual condition; namely Christian liberties have the great potential of causing a spiritual fall (V.10). For definition’s sake, a Christian liberty is an action or activity that God does not provide explicit direction on. Painstaking meditation by the believer regarding the topic at hand is needed at this point. Mistakenly interpreting God’s silence on a subject as a green light, has the potential to be very detrimental, spiritually. I can be in God’s presence as Israel experienced God’s presence (VV 1-4), exercise liberty and find myself in the same predicament as they did, “with most of them God was not pleased (V.5).” Please observe carefully the admonition in verse 6, “ Now these things took place as examples that we might not desire evil as they did.”

God, knowing that there would be situations, when we would make the wrong choice in exercising our liberty, placed this very reassuring verse in this chapter. “ No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (v. 13).” What a safeguard. What if I get my “Christian Liberty” choice wrong, which were bound to eventually? God will provide a way out of it. An honest believer will confess, my exercising “Christian Liberty” has the potential to enslave me in sin. We must not turn a blind eye to what God is revealing in this passage. Therefore, we as believers may do well to focus less on the scope of our freedom and more on the impact. Let us pray for one another that we would not be enslaved in our liberty.

All bible references of from the ESV. 

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Amazing Grace - Todd Grover
Amazing Grace - Todd Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • June 28, 2021

Amazing Grace - Todd Grover


I have been an exerciser almost literally, all my life. It started when I was five and my dad started to take me with him to his karate lessons. Next, at age twelve came weightlifting, which continued until my first year of graduate school. At this point, I added long distance running to my routine. Running my first 25K, about 8 months after my first long distance run. So believe me, I have heard, “just one more, anyone can do something for 30 seconds, no pain, no gain. Come on, give me one more” more than enough throughout my life. I have always taken personal responsibility for my health, especially my heart health.

On June 15, 2021, all of that changed. I went to see the doctor for what I thought was gallbladder pain (which does need to be removed), but there was something much more serious going on. My EKG and my blood work indicated that I was having or had had a heart attack. I could not believe it. For the first time in my life, if my heart was going to make it, someone besides me would need to take action. Doing one more rep was not going to fix it. “Come on, give me one more,” was not going to help at all. Someone besides me would have to fix my heart. Which, thank the Lord, they did. I had a great team of health care professionals, who took exceptionally good care of me.

On that day, not so long ago, a question was asked of me I thought I would never be asked in my life, “where do you want to be transferred to in order to have your heart fixed?” Now, there are plenty of good health care systems to be transferred to, but I, without hesitation, choose the healthcare team I had absolute trust with my life. If my heart was going to get better, they would have to fix it. It would not be me.

After calming down a bit from all of this, this verse from the book of Ephesians hit me hard. It is Ephesians 2: 8,9. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Maybe read that one more time in the context of, you cannot fix your own heart. Just as I learned with my physical heart, we also need to learn about our spiritual heart. There is a condition that you cannot fix, someone else must. God does not wheel us into the cath lab in order for us to figure this out, but in front of a mirror. And while you are looking at yourself, He says, I can fix that.


What exactly is God fixing you may ask. We have a sin problem, and let me assure you, “give me one more” of whatever ritual, spiritual endeavor you are thinking of is not going to do the job. If your heart is going to make it, someone else will need to fix it. His name, Jesus Christ. Just as the Emergency Room Doctor asked me, “where do you want to be transferred to?”, you must ask yourself the same question about your heart. Where do you want it transferred to? Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. I am not asking you to transfer your heart to a church, to a cause, but to God through Jesus Christ His Son. You will love the care you receive from Him. When God, on His own volition chooses to fix your heart, this is what the Bible calls grace. And it is truly Amazing! 

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Who Can Deliver Me? - Josh Grover
Who Can Deliver Me? - Josh Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • June 09, 2021

Who Can Deliver Me? - Josh Grover


“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations.” II Peter 2:9a

           

           Every day sin is an option. Every situation presents two paths: do things according to God’s will as revealed through Scripture or do things according to my own will. As one of my camp directors once stated, “There are two options on the shelf – pleasing God or pleasing self.”

           Temptation comes and makes sin alluring to the Christian. It makes sin a viable option and will make it seem more rewarding and fulfilling than what God can give us. And sin seeks to weave deceit in every area of life – relationships, finances, education, religion, ministries, etc.

           So if sin has a constant presence in every area of life, is extremely deceiving, and always leads to destruction, how then can a Christian find victory? How can a Christian bear this kind of pressure? There is only one way.

           God alone delivers His people from temptation. He alone knows how to bring His children out of darkness to His light of eternal life (I Peter 2:9). If you’re a Christian, there is no temptation that Jesus can’t give you the victory over (I Corinthians 10:13). 

           The Lord knows how to deliver you from temptation and the destruction that sin brings. How does He do it? One way is to trust His Word. It’s a lamp to your feet and a light to your path so that you won’t sin against Him (in other words, you won’t give in to temptation) (Psalm 119:11, 105).

           We can’t trust ourselves to deliver us from evil. But we can completely trust God, for He knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation.

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How Do I Love More of Life - Joshua Grover
How Do I Love More of Life - Joshua Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • May 08, 2021

How Do I Love More of Life - Joshua Grover


“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile (do not deceive): Let him eschew (turn from) evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue (pursue) it.” I Peter 3:10-11

 

           How do I respond when someone offends me? What should I say if someone mocks me for my faith? How much of my joy as a Christian should be affected by such mistreatment? Peter, the author of the verses given, writes to Christians undergoing persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ, and he wants to guide them on how to respond to false accusations and unjust slander.

           First, let us notice that Peter states that we as Christians can still love our lives and see good days even when we undergo forms of persecution. Of course, we don’t naturally run toward pain and suffering that others cause us, but when it happens, we can’t assume that our lives no longer have access to joy and peace. Paul and Silas singing in the Philippian jail often encourages me in moments when people make light of my faith.

           Second, Peter comes along side us and says that if we want to love life and see good days in the midst of slander, we need to keep our tongues from evil and lips from speaking deceit. Interesting how he uses the word “refrain.” “Refrain” assumes self-control. Our tongues are powerful influences that make or break people. If we want to love our lives and see good days, we need to contain our speech, though that is much easier said than done.

           Third, Peter tells his readers to turn away from evil and do good. Seeking to nourish your life with sin is like putting a plant in a dark, dry corner with no sun or water and expecting it to grow lavishly. But doing good by desiring God wholeheartedly is to expose yourself to Him who is the “way, truth, and the life.” To have Christ is to have life to the fullest. He who loves his life will do good by seeking to love God with all of his heart, soul, and mind and his neighbor as himself.

           Finally, we must dwell on why the Christian even has access to a life worth having and days that are good. Peter says in verse 12 of this chapter that God’s eyes are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayers. We as believers are hidden in the righteousness of Christ (Colossians 3:3). We will not receive the wrath of God because Jesus took God’s wrath for us on the cross. Because we are found in Christ, God listens to our pleas and cries, our worship and praises, our petitions and yearnings when we come before His throne in prayer. When slander and injustice comes our way, we, by the self-control given by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23), must keep our tongues and pursue good, for we are hidden in the cleft of Jesus’ righteousness, goodness, and peace. Keeping our tongues and pursuing good is how we can love more of life. Jesus Christ and His righteousness is the reason why.

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Patiently Waiting - Rebecca Trull
Patiently Waiting - Rebecca Trull

Maranatha Baptist Church • April 21, 2021

Patiently Waiting – Rebecca Trull

 

Do you ever feel like you are always waiting? We pray and then spend time waiting. Sometimes God’s answer comes quickly, but other times it can take a while. It can be hard not knowing what we are called to do with our lives, waiting for God to show us his plan. It can feel like we are navigating a valley and when we look up everything seems impossibly overwhelming. 

            As a military wife I spend a lot of time in that valley. Waiting for my husband to come home for the day, waiting for him to leave for training or deployment and then waiting for him to return. Those periods of waiting can be hours, days, weeks, or even months. In 9 years of marriage, we have spent more time apart than we have actually spent together. 

           Waiting is never easy. When will we move again? Where will we go this time? What is the time frame? Sometimes we are told we have to move and only have a few weeks to prepare, or we have months but the destination changes multiple times. The military is rarely consistent but through all the chaos, we always have one constant in our life: God. I know that even though this life is hard and sometimes extremely lonely I have him, He gives me strength to keep going. He picks me up in the morning and helps me be the best mom I can be to my girls, when all I really want to do is lay in bed. When I cannot sleep at night because my brain will not shut off, I pray and feel all the worry wash away as I finally drift asleep.    

           Waiting is hard but when the feeling of being stuck in the valley is overwhelming, remember that God is setting up the next mountain peak. His plans are bigger than we understand and life without Him is a life absent of the views you find at the top of the mountain. 

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