Update on the Schopper Clan

It’s been a little too long since I’ve posted. I suppose we’ve been fairly busy. But I’m thinking it would be good to share an update about our family.

Molly’s career has really begun to take off. I couldn’t be more proud. Last year was her first time in a classroom in nearly 14 years. It was a bit of a shock for all of us. She stayed stressed, but did outstanding and the kids were all troopers. They have been through way too much change in their short life-time. I think that’s probably my biggest regret as a Dad. I really struggle with this. But life lived through the rear-view mirror isn’t much of a life . . . so, onward and upward.

Back to Molly – this year she was named as a Team Leader for her grade. So in just her second year back to teaching she has teachers reporting to her. She’s got so much more talent and leadership abilities than I ever realized. Or maybe I was just too busy to pay attention. I should have known that if you can run a house with seven people then there’s really not much you can’t do. She has always been so humble, introverted and unassuming. Now, to see her grow in new ways is really terrific. Anyways, she’s already looking towards another promotion into administration. I know she’ll do great!

This year, we decided to send the kids to school with her. So far so good. It’s a bit of a mixed blessing. It’s a lot less stress of running around for me in the mornings and afternoons. Plus, I’m sure it’s pretty cool for them to have Mom their with them. A bit of a sense of reassurance and comfort knowing she’s right upstairs, down the hall, or in Jeremy’s case – across the hall. The other side is that Molly chose to teach in a lower economic school. And in this case that means there are a lot of kids who come from rough homes and live very differently than our kids. We’re so pleased that they are around people who don’t look or live like they do. We want them to appreciate people for the content of their character. We also want them to understand just how blessed they are to have a family who loves and supports them, food to eat each day, nice clothes to wear, etc. Things that so many of their classmates don’t have. They each have a heart for people. Particularly people who aren’t as blessed as them. So each day they get to make the choice to bring the Kingdom of God alive for kids who may never otherwise see the love that Jesus has for them. We do wish some of the kids’ behavior and language wasn’t so rough. But, that too, is a great lesson for our kids.

As for me, well, I’m blessed. I could just stop writing and you would have already seen why. But I’m also serving with a really, really good church. It’s nice to work with folks who really get it. I guess “it” is just having a pretty good understanding of what being a follower of Jesus is all about. We really don’t struggle with a lot of the things that “typical” (I’m not sure exactly what that means) CofC’s struggle with. Collectively, we all seem to focus on what’s most important – loving God and loving our neighbors. Of course, nothing is perfect. We certainly have our challenges. But I’ll take those over some of the others I’ve had to face. I’m looking forward to years of continued ministry here. We’ll see how the road travels.

We also have some exciting news to share. We have started a business. Well, I have started a business. I’ve always had an interest in building websites. And I recently learned a new skill to go along with that. So now, I’ve started doing internet marketing for small businesses. That’s just a fancy way of saying that I build web sites that Google recognizes and places on the first page of search results so that customers can find them more easily. Our best success to date is helping someone generate over $75,000 worth of bids the past couple of months. It’s really neat to be a part of someone else’s dream come true! So if you’re a small business owner get in touch with me. Chances are, I can help you grow your business! And if you know any business owners please pass their names along (or give mine to them). I’d like to really grow this business as quickly as possible and could really use your help. Thank you!

I guess I should clarify that I have no intention of leaving ministry – ever. I hope to die still doing ministry. But we have some financial goals that require us to generate some additional income. Nothing fancy, just things like retirement and putting five kids through school. Plus, it’s a bit of a dream of mine to grow this business to the point where I can put my paycheck right back into the offering plate. Or maybe fund another minister on my own. That would be pretty cool. So help me out! Would love to get some more referral business going🙂

I think that about covers the Schoppers. Above all else, we’re just plugging along here in Sarasota. Incredibly blessed and learning more and more each day how to love God more passionately.

Drop us a line. It’d be nice to hear from you. Blessings!

 

Paul, Timothy and the Graduates

This morning my church family gathered together to worship and to celebrate the accomplishments of two wonderful graduates. We sang together, shared in Communion, prayed together and prayed over those two awesome kids. And even had a little time for me to do some teaching. I did my best to share a Word from the Lord that was focused on blessing our graduates. I invited everyone else to eavesdrop.

I had a couple of requests for my teaching notes – which I didn’t have. Truth is, I’m terrible for writing out notes. So instead I decided to jot down the bullet points and a couple of thoughts to go along with them.

Our text was out of 2 Timothy 3. Here it is:

10 But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. 11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. 12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.

14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.

Here’s the points I tried to make this morning (with very limited success):

  1. Live hopeful, but fully aware. Paul promised Timothy, his young apprentice, that he should plan on facing some tough times and even some persecution (v12-13). Life is tough. That’s the G version of that truth. And while a Jesus follower has EVERY reason to remain hopeful, there’s no reason to live naively. Know ahead of time that it will get tough, but you will prevail.
  2. Guard your circle closely, but make sure you have a good one. Paul spoke plainly to Timothy that he would likely encounter imposters and deceivers. Everyone who’s been around for longer than a day has probably met some these folks. If not an imposter or deceiver, certainly a jerk. Make sure you don’t allow those people into your inner circle. That’s just asking for trouble. Instead, keep people around you who think and try to live as you are.
  3. Lean into your heritage. Some of us are blessed to be raised by parents who love the Lord. And some of us are blessed to have been raised in a community of believers. Don’t take that for granted. That heritage has prepared you well for what you’re going to encounter on your journey. When it’s time, lean into and on your heritage – just like Paul encouraged Timothy to do.
  4. Cling to Jesus. Cling to Jesus like you’re hanging off a cliff and just trying to hold on. Because some days you will be. People you let into your circle will disappoint you, even break your heart. Challenges in your career will come. Your faith will waver. And you’ll feel turned upside down. When that happens, just hold on tight and know that Jesus has gone ahead of you and still walks with you.

Well, I think that’s it. It’s always flattering to have someone interested enough in your teaching to ask for it again. So, thank you. Hopefully this will be a blessing.

A Response to the Mother of a Homosexual Child

My heart breaks for people who struggle with their sexual identity. I know several homosexual Christians (and yes, I believe you can be both). And I am aware of some of their struggles as they seek to understand and reconcile who they believe themselves to be with how they read the Scriptures. Because of these relationships, I hope that I have been made more sensitive to this discussion. That is to say, more quick to love, listen and think. And much slower to judge or come to a preconceived conclusion. I think that’s why this article/blog caught my attention.

In the article (the link is at the bottom of the post), a mother of a homosexual young man responds to Beth Moore’s teaching against homosexuality.

I’m slow to the table of the discussion concerning LGBT issues. In fact, I’m not yet comfortable with the ‘B’ and ‘T’ part of that grouping. But that’s for another time. My thinking has developed in stages. I have moved from disdainful and dismissive (or ignoring), to disdainful and thinking “they” were all sick, to trying to understand but having no clue, to loving and trying to understand but still having no clue, to loving, seeking to understand and having some reasonably formed thoughts.

Did you follow that? I’m not sure I did. By the way, I say all that with no sense of pride. Simply explaining.

I do have thoughts. I didn’t say have answers that I’m confident with. That still bothers me. But I’m slow and have questions about a lot of things. So I’ll just have to live with it. But here’s six thoughts I am sure of.

1. God loves everyone equally. So I should as well.

2. No one understands the Bible as well as they think they do. And I have found that the people who are the most argumentative and dogmatic are generally the most ignorant.

3. The Bible calls homosexuality a sin. I think most people who read the Bible with as little bias as possible will agree with this. Where we differ is our exegesis and application of those texts. I happen to take those texts at face value. There are other texts/issues that I exegete differently that people will take exception with me over. I have determined to give the same grace that I hope to receive. So, I will just agree to disagree.

4. The first line in the article (please read it) implies that everyone who disagrees with a homosexual lifestyle is homophobic. That is offensive and slanderous. Again, we you accuse me of being homophobic I am deeply offended and feel disrespected. Please don’t assume that I’m homophobic. I am not.

5. Pluralism absolutely, without a doubt, aggravates me. Where has truth gone? It seems as though we have discarded truth as a relic of past times that no longer brings any bearing on our lives. If you want to be respected for your right to believe, think and live they way you choose, then afford me that same right.

6. I leave this thought for last because it generates in me a deep sense of humility. I can’t possibly understand what it’s like to live as a gay Christian. I can’t imagine what that means. Nor could I possibly understand what it’s like for a Christian parent, who may think similarly to myself, to hear for the first time and live with having a gay child. But I am a Dad. And I have given it a lot of thought. I take this as a blessing. Because it reminds me to be careful about creating walls with people with whom I disagree. So, I return to my first thought, God loves everyone – that means I should as well.

https://serendipitydodah.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/stories-that-change-the-world-15-letter-to-beth-moore/?utm_content=buffer37060&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

An Open Letter to My Kids – 10 Things I Want You to Know about Marriage

My heart is so full for each of you. My vocabulary isn’t great enough to describe my love. Nor could words adequately express the sacrifices I would gladly make for you and your brothers & sisters. And like any parents, your Mother and I want you to experience the best of all that life offers. But as Believers, our desires for you begin and end with your faith. More than any wishes for worldly successes, I long for you to madly and passionately love God.

One of the biggest factors in how closely you walk with the Lord is how closely your spouse walks with the Lord and how closely you walk together. With that in mind I wan to share a few things that I’ve slowly figured out over the years. These aren’t necessarily in any order.

  1. Do NOT let Disney define your spouse for you. There is no woman or man of your dreams. That’s not reality and it’s not biblical. God never says that there’s one special someone out there for you – Disney does. And it’s a lie. That way of thinking creates expectations for your spouse that they will never be able to live up to. You’re not perfect. And he/she won’t be either.
    You won’t always look the way you do when you’re in your 20’s. Neither will he/she. Don’t forget that. This is important. Our bodies (and body parts) have a way of getting wider, hairier and closer to the ground. So you better not marry anyone because you love how they look.
    You see, there are values and characteristics that I want you to look for. Those are the same ones that your Mother and I keep harping on you about. All the stuff we’ve told you about loving God first, putting your family second, taking care of people who can’t take care of themselves, loving everyone – even people who won’t love you back .  .  .  we want you to find someone who has those same values. And then, go and work together to figure out what values your family will have.
  2. Do NOT let Hollywood tell you what your sex life is supposed to be like. As with most everything else, movies and television are controlled by Satan – not God. So please don’t create expectations for your sex life based on what you see or read from there. It’s not healthy. In fact, I think it will lead you towards being unfulfilled in every way.
    God has written the greatest material ever on how to have a sexually fulfilling marriage. It’s called Song of Solomon. And it’s good stuff. Before you buy any books or tapes, read that first. Trust me.
    It seems like there’s a stereotype that Christians are prudes or don’t really get to enjoy sex. That’s just not true. In fact, I think Christians get to have the best sex ever. And it’s because it’s done in a covenant relationship where we give ourselves first and it’s all done in trust.
  3. Don’t ever put your kids ahead of your spouse. As you age, eventually you will see couples getting divorced after their kids are grown and out of the house. Your mother and I have seen it too often. And it scares us into being extra careful that our marriage doesn’t go down that road. I think those later-in-life divorces probably happen for different reasons. But I know one of those reasons is that couples often spend the majority of their time putting their kids ahead of their marriage. And when the kids were gone, so was their marriage. You see, marriage takes work, it’ s not a fairy tale that you can just take for granted (see #1). And if you’re spending all your time at recitals and practices and who knows what else, then you’re not spending time with your spouse (who’s supposed to be your best friend anyways).
  4. Let them watch you work through conflict together (they have to learn somewhere) but don’t ever argue in front of your children. It’s not right. It puts them in an uncomfortable position. It will create so much stress and tension for them. And if it happens a lot, they will end up blaming themselves. Don’t do that to them.
  5. Let your kids see you love on your spouse. I know you used to/still get grossed out when your Mom and I kiss and hug in front of you guys. And yes, sometimes we kind of did it as payback for driving us nuts. But it was also very important, to me especially, that you saw me loving on your Mother. You have to teach your kids what love looks like. Because if you don’t then someone else will. Do you want to take the chance on who that might be?
  6. Practice you faith together. I trust that you will be able to figure out what that looks like. But please, make this a priority and be consistent. I hope that you will pray regularly with and for your spouse. I also hope that you worship together as a family. (By the way, sometimes it’s nice to sit next to one another and hold hands. The kids don’t have to sit in between you all the time). Beyond that, we’ve raised you to think independently. That includes working out your faith and salvation with your Lord. We hope that we have given you a good example to follow. But let it just be that – an example. You and your spouse must follow where God calls you. And that will include the way you live out your faith.
  7. Forgive each other. You’ll have to do this over and over again. It’s terribly disappointing, but you will hurt one another. Hopefully as you grow, that will happen less and less. But it will happen. Say I’m sorry,  forgive and move on. Period. Don’t hold on to it. Don’t bring it up later. Nothing. Talk through the issue. Share your hurt and disappointment. Say your sorry’s and drop it. Trust me on this. Hanging on to stuff is like carrying dead weight for the rest of your life. Eventually people who do that just give out beneath the weight. And usually, their marriage gives out too.
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice, but lean on each other and figure things out together. When you leave our house and get married, that’s it. You’re gone. You sink and swim with each other. Of course, we love you and we’re always here for both of you. But let me be clear, we will let you struggle – because we love you. You’re going to hit your bumps and get some bruises. Life just has a way of doing that. Your Mother and I are doing the best we can to teach you so that you can limit those bumps and bruises. But they will come. And when they do, you lean on your spouse for support. He/she wants to be there for you. You guys will be just fine. Even though some nights you may wonder. Trust me on this one too. We’ve never cleaned up your messes for you. We won’t start once you get married. By working through things together you’re relationship will grow stronger and faster than you could ever imagine. You’re welcome! You’ll thank me when you’re older.
  9. Consistently date your spouse. We’d love to watch your kids for you! So don’t let that be an excuse. Mark a day each week on your calendar. And make that night off limits. Don’t let anything outside of a medical emergency get in the way. And please, go out on real dates. Hold hands. Flirt with each other. Do all the stuff you did when you were dating (and then some😉. You’ll be blessed in so many ways from this. It keeps your relationship fresh and vibrant. And by doing this you communicate to one another and your kids that your relationship and marriage is very important.
  10. Finally, both you and your spouse need to get a hobby. Or something that resembles a hobby. Anything that’s relaxing and gets you away from your responsibilities and routines for a while. Of course, make sure you can afford it. And that it doesn’t take up more time than you spend with each other or your children. Life is stressful. Marriage can be stressful. And trust me, raising kids is stressful. You will need time to decompress and unwind. So do that. You will be a better Dad/Mom and Husband/Wife because of it.
  11. I said I would share 1o with you. But I wanted to save the most important thing for last. So here it is. No matter what ever happens, always keep God at the center and heart of your marriage! Now, that sounds like an automatic. But it’s not. Satan is going to be fighting hard for your marriage. He knows that if he can ruin your marriage that he gets a free run at you, your spouse and your kids. Don’t let him in. You’re marriage is at the center of a huge spiritual battle. You hold on to the Lord and to one another and you’ll do great! Jesus has already won the war! Don’t ever forget that.

    There’s so much more that I’d love to say. But we’ll have to save that for another time. So I’ll close with this, your Mother and I will be praying like crazy for you, your marriage, your spouse and your children. And we always want to be part of your journey. We’re never farther than a phone call away. Remember what we’ve been telling you since we brought you home from the hospital: “Mommy loves you. Daddy loves you. But most of all, God loves you! And Jesus died for you!”

5 Ways to Jump Start Your Family Ministry

 

Family-focused ministry seems to be the new fad. I hope it’s not the latest fad, but instead a refocused approach to a more effective and more Biblical way of doing ministry. If you’ve been thinking about what this could look like or how to get it started, perhaps these five tips could help get you started.

  1. Spend as much time with your parents as you do with your kids. Get to know them as people. Who are they? What stressors are in their life? What do they dream about for their kids? Ask them how you can bless them and their marriage. What do they do for fun? These aren’t questions you can just walk up and ask. As ministers we have to earn the right to know this information. Make the investment. Pay the price. Then you can reap the dividends of being able to minister effectively.
  2. Pray for the parents in your church. Call them out by name to God. And let them know that you are praying for them. Send them a card or even a FB message. Just so they know that they, their marriage and their kids are important to you.
  3. Find ways to connect the kids to older, mature Christians. Every (honest) parent will admit that they need all they help they can get in raising their kids. And I’m pretty sure that God has spoken on community and older Christians discipling younger ones. We’re all familiar with the “One Another” passages. Older folks have the resources and desire to invest in the teens and kids of your church. Help them.
  4. Provide your parents with opportunities to serve together. Plan service projects that Mom, Dad and the kids can do together. This is fairly easy. It just takes a little planning. It’s always easier to just take the kids and do it yourself. Resist that temptation. Take the time and energy to involve the entire family.
  5. Disciple your Dads to become better disciplers of their kids. Most Dads want to have an active role in their faith formation of their kids, they just need a little more help than the Mom’s. Sometimes it just comes in the form of giving them confidence. Sometimes they need some more specific equipping from older men who have been down that road. It just may be that they need to know they are not the only one’s who feel like they’re struggling. Find out where your Dads are and connect them to the resources they need.

Leading and Loving Your Family Through Values

Family_jumpIt’s not rules that I abhor, it’s rules that make no sense and have little to no purpose or value for the people that are supposed to be following them. You may have just lost all respect for me. Sorry. But I’ll live. Some rules are just plain dumb. What’s funny is that all of the dumb rules are there because someone actually did something that created a need to spell out that rule. Here’s an example. I remember when my wife was pregnant with our first child. We read anything and everything we could get our hands on. We even read all of the generic literature you get from the doctor’s office. I will never forget this one pamphlet. It was the Do’s and Don’t’s for when you wife goes into labor. This was actually listed: don’t have sex after your water breaks. Seriously? That wouldn’t have been written if someone hadn’t tried it.

But I digress. I’ve just never had a great appreciation for rules that make no sense. This has definitely affected my parenting. My wife and I have very few “rules” for our kids. As our kids grow and mature (i.e. self-sustaining) things we call rules diminish proportionately. (From my point of view, assuming the child has the capacity to comprehend and reason to that level, if I have to make a rule then either myself as the parent has failed to teach or my child has failed to learn).

Instead, we try to be intentional about teaching values. When we talk about values, what we’re to are the foundational principles that guide how we live. Values cover and lead us in all areas of our lives. They are rooted in our identity as followers of Jesus. I am totally convicted that if I can truly embed Kingdom of God values into my children then I will have done my job as a Dad.

By leading and loving through values we feel like it does a few different things for our kids:

  1. The more I read the New Testament, especially the teachings of Jesus, the more I come to believe that he taught values more than rules. I know that in some ways this is semantics. But there are some differences. When Paul talks about the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians ch. 5, he’s talking about values, not rules.
  2. It forces them to learn to think independently and critically. Life is full of gray areas and judgment calls. It takes practice and wisdom to navigate this. If we just gave our kids a list of rules to follow then they wouldn’t be forced to think through the “why’s.” We want them to get as much practice as possible with this when they are young and the consequences of their decisions are less severe.
  3. Bottom line, you can’t have a rule for everything. But you can have values that covers everything. I would much rather my kids follow Jesus’ values instead of my rules.

Well, you’ve read this far. So while I still have your attention I’ll share the values that we try to lead and love with in our family. Hopefully this will bless you in some small way.

  • Love God, your family, everyone else and then yourself.
  • Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness. This includes you.
  • Be honest and do the right thing. No matter what it costs.
  • Do your best and let that be enough.
  • Defend and take care of people who can’t do it for themselves.
  • Focus on what’s most important.

Five Lessons I Learned from Trying to Plant a Church

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For the past three years of our lives my wife and I were either thinking strongly about, planning for or trying really hard to plant a new church. We failed. No. We didn’t just fail. We bombed.

We’re still working through all the emotions that failure elicits. (I should change the pronouns now. My wife is actually doing much better than I am. So I better just speak for myself). There are some days that I don’t think about it. But for the other six days a week the emotions range from glad it’s over, to frustration and anger, to sadness, to embarrassment, to . . . i’ll stop now. You get the point. I’m still all over the place. And I imagine that will continue for a while – particularly as we continue to clean up the messes that the whole experience caused. By that’s for another day; and counseling session😉

I hope that as I continue to process everything that I’ll be able to share some coherent thoughts about our entire experience. I’d love for our failures to become a blessing for others who hope to plant a church. A quick side note here: we NEED, NEED, NEED more people who are passionate about the Kingdom of God to step out in faith and start churches. As I was saying, I’d love to bless others by helping them to not make our mistakes and learn where things went wrong in our plans. Would you pray with me that God would bring that about?

But for now, a first small step. I was told repeatedly as we prepared to plant that the experience would expose who we really are. I think that’s true. Though it sounds a lot more dramatic than it played out for me. I’m a little older than the typical church planter. So I had already failed enough to have a decent idea about who I was. But there are a few things that I gain hold to as truths for my life that have either been revealed or affirmed. Not sure if you’re interested, but here they are. Maybe they will bless you in some way.

Experience really informs faith. I don’t think this is bad. But it is incredibly scary. Here’s the biggest way that this has shown up for me: I’m a lot less certain about HOW God works in this world. I know that He works. But my experience really has me questioning how. Whenever I hear people talk about how God did this or did that, or how he kept this from happening, I can’t help but roll my eyes. (That’s when I’m struggling with frustration). The rest of the time, I just get more confused. But I digress. The real point is that my experience during these past couple of years really helped to shape my spiritual formation. Above all, my experience is been of God’s faithfulness to me and my family. There’s A LOT more to be said about this. Maybe that will be a book one day?

I have a REALLY, REALLY great wife. I’ll shout this from the mountain tops until I run out of breath.

An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life. 

Proverbs 31:10-12. Remember how I was saying that “experience informs faith?”

This experience of church planting provided one experience after another for my wife to show me her Godliness, faith, perseverance, dedication to our marriage covenant and a whole host of another virtues.

Sometimes Satan wins battles. I kind of knew this going in. I’ve read Revelation. So I know how everything ends. But I have it admit that it was really disappointing to see Satan win small individual battles that really should never have been battles in the first place. And of course, just about any time a church plant doesn’t happen . . . chalk one up for the enemy. This leads into the next thing I learned.

What I know about God pales in comparison to what I don’t know. And I mean it’s not even close. At first this really, really bothered me. Here’s an example (probably a bad one, but): during our training we heard a lot about how God calls people into the different types of ministry that he has planned for them. Logically and emotionally that makes sense. Plus, it seems to be pretty consistent with the Bible. So here’s the confusing and scary part, I don’t remember anyone we talked to before we decided to plant telling us that this was not a good idea for us. In fact, there were some pretty neat times when it was real clear that God was calling us into this. So if that’s the case, then why did everything seem to go so wrong? That kind of fits in to other things I’ve shared. But it still leaves me not understanding what God was doing. This can be real scary. At least it has been for me. But now, because I have experienced God’s faithfulness in my life, I am able to be a little more comfortable with living in the tension of knowing and not knowing.

Trial reveals the depth of relationships. I kind of had a pretty good idea about this one. But I have been so blessed to come out of this experience with some really strong relationships that I didn’t know I had. There’s a couple of people who I knew as “friends” that I now know as dear brothers. I don’t think they will ever know how much they mean to me. And of course, very unfortunately, the opposite of this is true. After a little bit of time, I’m more able to focus on the positive. I thank God for that.

Well, there’s a few things. I don’t think this blog ended up how I envisioned when I started writing. That’s ok. I think. Maybe me writing was more for me than anything else. Thanks for listening🙂