The first time Rex Frederick walked into Life Connections there was no way I could have imagined the influence he would have on my life and the church. He had a great smile, was friendly but seemed a little cautious. He asked a few questions, talked to a few people and then left. I wasn’t sure if he would be back but he did come back, this time with Bonnie and his family and from that point on they never stopped coming. I don’t exactly remember when he made the decision to make Life Connections his home for his family, but when he did, he became a part of its very fiber.
There were lots of times he questioned me about things and I wasn’t sure why, but he seemed genuinely interested in both me and the vision I had for the church. I don’t know how many times in the early years I heard him say, “I don’t think I’ve ever met any one like you, you’re different, you look at ministry different than anyone I’ve ever met.” I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not, but over time I began to gain his confidence and he began to gain mine. His personality was both warm and quick-witted; he became someone I felt I could trust and I think he felt the same toward me. He poured himself and his wisdom into my life from his many years of experience in ministry, as a father and the leader of his family. Once Rex told me that he and Bonnie had never had a fight. I thought, you’ve got to be kidding, but over the years both Bonnie and his kids confirmed the fact that they had never fought. I remember asking him, “even when you bought the Corvette on your honeymoon or the Corvette you accidently bought online?” That kind of example intrigued and challenged me to be a better husband. As a dad, Rex would always say about his kids, “they’re not perfect, but they’re good kids,” and a big smile would come across his face. Anytime I would talk to Matt, Melissa, Heather or Katie about their dad, the same kind of smile came on their face…you knew he was a good dad and they loved him. As a young pastor with no ministerial background, Rex became my mentor, my elder and my friend. Rex saw the scripture in a different way than most and though he was an excellent speaker and minister who had preached in many pulpits, he had no desire or agenda to promote himself, it was always how can I help you make Life Connections a better place to worship. He always was asking, “what’s your vision for… or how do you see…” It was never, “this is what we did at… or I have a better idea.”
He never missed a service, bible study, prayer meeting or community event unless he was out of town and then I would always get a text apologizing and explaining why he couldn’t be at the service or event. As the church began to grow and major decisions had to be made, I would tell Mary, “I’ve got to talk to Rex.” Our relationship became one where each of us trusted the other. He trusted my vision and wanted nothing more to see an outpouring of God’s Spirit and I trusted him to run with the vision, never fearing he would loose sight of what I saw.
Over the last two months of his life I spent most of my days with Rex. His zeal for life, faith in God and belief that God was going to heal him never wavered. He may have been in pain and had doubt, but when you walked in the room his face lit up like fireworks in a night sky and the same smile I saw the first time I met him was still on his face. When you went to visit him you knew you were going to hear about one of three things; what he was going to do when he got out, something that God had gave him in prayer or David and the Giants and the new Christian music jeopardy game he had created.
The Bible talks about David’s great army and all the accomplishments that David was able to achieve in his life. There were many men who fought along side with David, but the scripture mentions that there were 37 men who were called “Mighty Men.” These men were rare, they put there plans and ideas aside and invested their talent in David’s vision and goal. Many of these men were highly educated, skilled and talented and they likely could have rallied men around themselves and built their own kingdoms, but instead they chose to be a part of something bigger. Rex Frederick was one of those Mighty Men. He was a great husband and father, he loved God with all his heart, he had great skill in the pulpit and a way of seeing the Bible like few did. He could have easily pastored a church and done a great job of reaching a community, but he chose to invest himself in others. For that I am grateful. He enhanced my life, my family and his investment in the beginning and foundation of Life Connections will forever be remembered.
Rex Frederick passed from this life on December 21, 2015. He was a minister of the gospel, executive board member at Life, husband, dad, grandfather and a great friend to me and many others.
* This blog is a part of a series called the Tribute Series, My Influencers.
Luke1:26Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth.
It was just an ordinary day. There was nothing about it that would have caused your eyebrows to rise or raise your suspicions. Mary arose that day with the same thoughts as she had the day before, goats to milk, a home to clean and a visit to the market. Her life was rather simple and not much happened in her little community…but this day it would be different. The chill was still in morning air as she began the chores. The darkness was giving way to the sun when suddenly it happened. In an instant an angel appears before her and a proclamation is made; you shall be birth to a son. A bewildered Mary tries to come to grip that her life is going to be forever changed and so too the course of the souls of man. Jesus was coming, and she had been chosen as a participant. It was an ordinary day that would change the rest of her life. How close are you to your divine moment? Not really that far, just one ordinary day. A day when your life looks uneventful, a day when the calendar is full of appointments, a day when you’re chasing another cold sales call, a day running the kids from place to place or just another day dealing with the stress of your life. In a moment it all could change. Whether it’s a burning bush, a visit to a well, a bright light and an angel; they all happened on an ordinary day when God destined to change the course of someone’s life. What if we lived looking for the miraculous instead of the mundane? What if we expected to see do something through us or to us? What if today was not just going to be an ordinary day? Keep praying, keep searching, and keep living expecting something amazing. Today could be the day when ordinary turns too extraordinary!
Psalms 1:3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
A few days ago I was setting in my office looking out my front of my window and admiring the splash of color that fall had brought; bright hews of reds, oranges and yellows. Today as I look out that same window those same trees are now barren with the rare exception of a leaf or two. The combination of sun, wind and an occasional rain shower has taken its toll; now only the strong remain. What caused some leaves to have the strength to remain attached? A little more attached to the water source, a little more wind endurance or maybe a little more sunshine. Whatever the reason, a few leaves have had a little more strength than the others and they remain. Life is much like that of a leaf. What allows some to endure the seasons of life? What allows them to remain attached to God when others seem to fall away? The formula is much the same as we see in a leaf, a little more attached to the life source, a little more intentional in their walk with God. They prayer a little more, spend a little more time in the Word of God and are just a little more faithful to His house. Those are the things that give us strength for the hard times. Be a person that remains, just do a little more!
A few months ago someone to asked me if I would write my definition of success. I began to reflect on when it came down to my last day on this earth what would make me feel like I had, as Paul said, “fought the fight and kept the faith,” that I had succeeded in life. We were on vacation and I was setting at a coffee shop in a part of the country where fame and wealth were the marks of success. It was here that I began to write about what success was to me. In the simplest of terms it is to make Heaven my home, to see my family and generations that will follow do the same, and to reach as many people as possible with the gospel of Jesus Christ that Simon Peter preached. How that occurs and how I get there I must admit, I am still a little bit unsure about; I know it involves passionate prayer, a desperation to know God, being daily filled and led by the Spirit, a willingness to obey and submit to His direction and faith that does not waver when life does not make sense. As I continued writing and reflecting the music playing in the background of the café caught my ear. It had a consistent beat, a calm melody, but no words. What caught my attention though was the flute; while everything else flowed together, the flute seemed to just meander at its own discretion, unconcerned about the rest of the instruments, the melody or the beat. In that moment, the flute reminded me of the Spirit of God, that though there are consistencies, the Spirit moves where it wants. It was then it was if God spoke to me and said, “Jon, your life must have that same flow as the music you are hearing; have a steady confidence in Me, rely on my Word, and have a desire to have a close relationship with Me every day, but all the while, be willing to be flexible with where I want to lead and direct your life.” I ended my writing that day with this definition of success for me: His Spirit, His will, His way, His time in my life every day.
The Tabernacle. To the casual observer who might see it from the outside there was nothing that defined it. It was simple, plain and to someone who might pass by, it was just a large tent. Step inside its walls and you might sense something different but with the exception of a couple of odd pieces of furniture sitting in the courtyard, again you might not be overly impressed by the surroundings. But, if somehow you could step inside the small tent inside the courtyard, everything would change. There you would see some of the most beautiful gold fixtures ever made. Examine the room more closely and to one side you would see a candlestick hand carved and covered in gold, lighting the room with the most beautiful of ambient light. Around the room you would see forks, spoons, knives, cups, staves and other ornate pieces all made of the finest wood and covered in gold used in sacrifices. Look the other direction and you would see a beautiful wood carved table covered in gold with fresh bread sitting atop. Before you, would be the heaviest and thickest purple curtains and setting before it a small altar emitting the most beautiful smells you have ever smelled. Beyond the veil was the Holiest of Holies, the place where God came down to meet with man. No place was more holy or pure; it was as close as man could get to God and to be in His presence was met with awe and the understanding that there was no greater blessing in life than to be invited to come into His presence. Move to the New Testament and Paul speaks in I Corinthians 6:19 and says,Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit who lives within you? We, our bodies, our lives have become the very place that God dwells. This honor, to have God dwell inside of us should be met with at least the same, if not more reverence than those who met with him in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. How we live, what we wear, what we bring in to our lives, where we go, what we view should all be done with the understanding that we are the Temple of God’s Spirit. Our goal should be that God’s dwelling place, His place in us, replicates that of the Old Testament. Our lives should be a place of honor, a place of awe, a place of reverence, a place where God feels welcome to live, a place that is Holy. As God said, be holy, for I am Holy.
It amazes me how important aspects of a Christian life are being eliminated or looked at with distain in many churches today. Messages on grace, mercy and love are everywhere but rarely do we hear messages on repentance, obedience or submitting ourselves to God. It isn’t that I’m against grace, mercy and love, God knows I need it and couldn’t survive without it, but what bothers me is while we preach certain concepts we are beginning to see the shunning of other concepts that are just as important. When there is a failure to call for repentance, to separation and to a higher standard of living, we do people a great disservice and we give them a lopsided view of God. Words like holiness, godliness and righteousness are often met with a roll of the eyes or a look that says, “don’t go there,” and I’m not talking about in the world but in the church. The Bible says that without holiness no man shall see God. We have relegated holiness to the back burner because in some ranks it has become legalistic and a reason to be judgmental. Charisma magazines states that the younger generation seems to look at holiness as optional at best, many don’t know what it is, have no interest in being holy and do little to purse it. What we need a renewed Biblical view of God; to see God, not just as touch feely God, but a God that we revere and are in awe of. He is holy and calls us to be Holy, to live in reverence and awe of His awesome power. When we live Holy we live pure and we live for Him, not ourselves. To often the call to live righteous is met with ridicule and even mockery, but when we fail to live right we loose our witness, our power and our testimony. One of the greatest things we can do as Christians is simply do the right thing in every moment. Do the right thing when it not convenient, do the right thing when its not popular and do the right thing when others don’t. Godliness is the last word that is being lost in the modern church. To live godly is to live like God would. Our priorities, actions, attitudes and motives should match how God would respond and live in this world. Too often we want to condone our priorities, actions, attitudes and motives instead of compare them to God. If we would line our life up with God once again there is no telling how our lives would be transformed. As we come to the end of summer and look forward to fall, let me encourage you to get back in proper alignment with god. Live holy, live righteously and live godly.
Right now everyone is hoping that winter will disappear and spring taking center stage. We’re tired of the subzero temperatures and we’re anxious for flowers to start blooming. Unfortunately there is little we can do to make seasons change. Do a “spring dance,” set out the patio furniture; even get out the spring wardrobe. While doing those things might help us mentally, until winter is ready to fade into a distant memory all we can do is anticipate a change in seasons. The good news is that we know that the change in seasons will eventually come; we must simply endure until it does.
What is true of weather seasons is also true when it comes to the seasons of life. While we might long for a certain season of our life to come to an end: a stressful situation that wearies us, a difficult person at the office or a financial situation that just seems to linger, whatever the circumstance, we are left with one choice, endure. How do we endure a season? I get my encouragement from David. Sometimes we think that David lived a life without difficulties but it’s obvious that he too dealt with difficult seasons. Think he wasn’t discouraged where he wrote, “I will bless the Lord at all times” or wasn’t overwhelmed when he said, “I cried to the Lord?” How did he survive the season? He trusted God (Proverbs 3:5) and waited. So how do we endure? We hit our knees and spend time with God, we come to church with praise in our heart even when our flesh doesn’t want to and we read God’s Word and take courage in His promises. Will it make the current season go away? No, but it will give us the strength to endure until God brings the change we are anticipating and know is inevitable because we have read His Word. Now bring on the flowers, patio furniture and cookouts, I’m ready for spring!
Is there anyone you would really like to meet? Or better yet, is there anyone you would really like to get to know? There is a great difference between knowing about someone and actually knowing the person. Someone can know a lot about a politician, artist or sports star but this much more different than actually knowing him or here. Being able to repeat every detail about Andrew Luck, his pass rating, which college he went to, his sack to touch down ratio or even the fact that he still carries a flip phone doesn’t mean that you know Andrew Luck.
Like knowing facts about your favorite politician, artist or sports star, I’m afraid many know a lot about Jesus but don’t actually know Him. There are those who profess to be Christians, but nothing about their life shows that they are. There are those who study theology, some who can quote a lot of Scripture or even debate doctrine but this is not an indication that they know Jesus. Being a member of an organization, following a set of disciplines or faithfully attending church is all fine but it does not mean that you know Jesus. In Philippians 3:10, Paul says “that I may know Him”, referring to Jesus. In the simplest terms, knowing Jesus involves seeking after Him. Not seeking favor or blessing, not seeking His miracles or power, not revival or even an answer to a problem but simply seeking to know Jesus. Knowing Him involves intimacy, relationship and a longing to be with Him. It means looking to His word to see how we can please Him. It’s being so crazy about Jesus that nothing can keep us from His house or missing an opportunity to be with Him. It means being faithful to pray because we want to know He thinks about things in our life. There’s a big difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 7: 22-23, “22. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23. And then I will declare to them ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
Like Paul, my prayer in 2015 is “That I May Know Him.” How about you? Do you know about Jesus or do you know Him? Let’s get it right in 2015!
It was a moment. A moment a woman realized she might never see again, so she seized it. She stepped out of the life of the mundane, took a risk and her life was forever changed. She had no promises that her life would be changed, her past erased, her pain removed or circumstances rearranged. She simply realized she had an opportunity to be in the presence of the God of the universe and she was going to worship Him. While others stood by, she seized the moment, worshipped God and over 2000 years later, we are still talking about her act of worship.
What causes some to seize the moment and other to shrink from it? Sometimes it’s as simple as being unaware of the moment. Caught up in the daily affairs of life, we miss the fact that we are in the midst of something magnificent. Sometimes we get focused on our situation instead of the God that is over every situation. Other times we don’t realize how special the moment is or that we may never see the opportunity again. Instead, we put a higher priority on something less important. Finally, too many times we put a higher priority on something we see as more important than being in the presence of God. That day, many people were in the room, but each had a situation, priority or a reason for why they weren’t ready to seize the moment.
As we enter into 2015, I challenge you to make this year the year you seize the moment. Seize them in your home, on the job, with your children and at church. Sometimes, the moment is an opportunity to make a memory. Another moment may be a chance to be a witness of God’s love and grace. Seize the breeze of the Spirit when in devotion, when in prayer of while listening to a worship song. Seize the moments in this church. Be the first to worship, to lift your hands or come to the altar. Pray with someone and let the Spirit operate through you. Simply put: Make His presence a priority and seize the moment!