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We want to answer marriage questions on Facebook Live!

Katie and I started using Facebook Live to answer marriage questions sent to us. Here are two sessions:

We’re striving for one live session each Thursday night at 7PM PST. After we finish, I upload each video to our Marriage God’s Way YouTube channel. Please subscribe to make sure you don’t miss any videos!

marriage-gods-way-author-scott-lapierre - answer marriage questionsI have to say this is much more in Katie’s comfort zone than mine. I like to plan things out in detail. By the time I preach a sermon, I like to have invested a lot of time polishing it. I wouldn’t mind the videos so much if they weren’t live. The inability to start over is particularly nerve-wracking, but this is the only way to participate with us. People can post thoughts, questions, contributions, etc in the comments section while we’re recording.

Below are the three most recent videos we’ve done. I’ll provide a brief explanation of each, so you can decide which to watch.

Marriage Tips from Marriage God’s Way 

Katie and I shared two tips from my book:

  1. Wives, embrace your husband’s leadership style, from Chapter Fourteen.
  2. Husbands, you get the wife you prepare for yourself, from Chapter Nine. Ephesians 5:26-27 says Christ “sanctifies and cleanses the church…that He might present her to Himself a glorious [bride]”. Christ gets the church He prepares for Himself, and since this is a marriage passage it contains the same application for husbands with their wives.

Continue reading We want to answer marriage questions on Facebook Live!

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A Special Weekend Away

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After Doug Connell received our associate pastor position, but before he and his family moved to Woodland, his wife Jessica had the idea for the four of us to meet for breakfast together each week to pray, discuss how things were going, keep our friendship strong, etc. That sounded like a great idea, so we committed to it. We’re approaching their one-year anniversary at WCC and we haven’t met like that…at all. It’s not that we haven’t wanted to or didn’t think it was important, it’s just that twelve children between our families (including two babies), home-schooling, the number of church activities, having others over, etc. it ended up taking a backseat to these other activities and obligations. But last weekend we finally made it a priority!

We (the four of us, plus our babies Chloe and Luke) left Sunday after church for a beach house in Gearhart, OR and we returned Tuesday afternoon. Some wonderful people watched our kids allowing us to accomplish the three purposes we had:

  1. Discuss the past year.
  2. Plan for the future.
  3. Strengthen our relationships with each other. Pastor Doug and I are able to spend quite a bit of time together, and Katie and Jess have been able to spend quite a bit of time together, but I haven’t spent that much time with Jess and Pastor Doug hasn’t spent that much time with Katie…say nothing about the four of us spending time together.

Overall the trip was really fantastic. To give you an idea how much we enjoyed just being able to talk together in the middle of the first night a skunk sprayed the house. The smell was so bad I couldn’t fall back asleep, and the next day every room was filled with the smell. We had to put up with the stench the entire following day AND WE STILL DIDN’T LEAVE THE HOUSE! I don’t want to brag, but THAT is commitment! If our congregation ever wonders about the love “the entire pastoral staff” and our wives have for them, they can picture us sitting in the living room together, continuing to talk and pray even though we could barely breathe! I’m kidding…sort of :).

During each meal we took turns “sharing our stories”, which was nothing more than explaining our lives in detail, especially those parts we thought the others should know to be best familiar with us. Other times we prayed, read articles we wanted to discuss, and just talked…and talked. There were some very, very emotional, vulnerable times. At different points each of us cried sharing some of our most intimate memories, fears and feelings. It was a truly special time that exceeded what I hoped or expected. Although I felt like we were already close prior to the trip, we left even closer with a much better understanding of each other, and most importantly we left better able to serve the Lord and serve our wonderful congregation.

2 scott & doug walking

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How I Develop a Sermon – Part VI: Going over my notes with my wife

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Parts I, II, III, IV and V discussed steps one through six…

  1. First, I read over the passage a number of times.
  2. Second, I copy the verses to Word with spaces between them for the notes I’ll add.
  3. Third, I begin looking at commentaries.
  4. Fourth, I determine the number of verses to cover.
  5. Fifth, I add lessons.
  6. Sixth, I begin “shaving” down my notes.
  7. The seventh step is, I go over my sermon with my wife…

This actually takes place two or sometimes three times per week, about two-to-three hours each time. My parents usually come over to watch the kids, but sometimes Katie’s brother Boyd or sister Molly (who moved to the area) help; it really is a family affair! We normally do this Thursday morning, and then I make changes the rest of Thursday and Friday, before going over it again on Saturday. If a third time is required (because perhaps it was a little rougher than expected on Thursday), we’ll try at some point on Friday. Going over my sermon with Katie serves a number of beneficial purposes…

I mentioned in Part III that my “notes” are a manuscript of what I want to say. Because we don’t speak the way we write (usually our writing is more formal), when I go over my sermon with Katie it allows me to change my notes from the way I write to the way I want to speak from the pulpit. I’ll add visual cues and arrange the information in such a way that it’s easier to preach: bullets, capitals, ellipses, spaces between lines or thoughts, etc.

One of the difficulties associated with preaching is it involves presenting information I’ve studied, become familiar with, etc. and as I explain it I’ll believe I’m doing so in a clear, understandable way…but maybe I’m not! One of the blessings of going over my sermon with Katie is she’s able to say, “Ummm…that doesn’t make sense.” Maybe I’ll say, “Okay, this is what I was trying to say” and she’ll say, “Well that’s not what it sounded like you said. What you just said is what you should say instead.”

Also, Katie might have verses or thoughts that she’ll share with me. The funny thing is when we start my sermon I’ll say, “I’m X hundred words over a reasonable length” and Katie will say, “Oh, I’ll help you with that” implying she’ll ruthlessly tell me parts of my notes that can be taken out – which she does – but she usually offsets that by the verses, stories, ideas, etc. she thinks I should add.

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How I Develop a Sermon – Part V: Steps 5 & 6

????Parts I, II, III and IV discussed steps one through five…

  1. First, I read over the passage a number of times.
  2. Second, I copy the verses to Word with spaces between them for the notes I’ll add.
  3. Third, I begin looking at commentaries.
  4. Fourth, I determine the number of verses to cover.
  5. Fifth, I add lessons, which I began discussing last week…

One of my weaknesses when I started preaching was my sermons were largely teaching with a lot of technical information, but little application. Katie has really helped me in this area as a result of our different preferences. I could listen to a sermon with little-to-no application and if the verses are clearly explained I’ll enjoy it, but Katie will be bored: “How is that going to help me be a better mother or wife?” And if a sermon is filled with application, but contains little exposition, she’ll be thrilled and I’ll be disappointed: “He read over those verses and hardly explained them?!?!”

This led to some interesting conversations between us when we first started going over my sermons together. At times I would consider the application from verses to be obvious to the congregation asking Katie, “Don’t you think everyone will take away that application from the explanation?” Katie would say, “No, you need to make it clear. Spell it out for us.” Over time I put more application in my sermons, trying to provide a balance with exposition/teaching. I want to make sure people have a thorough understanding of the verses, while also receiving application for their lives.

Sixth, I begin “shaving” down my notes. I’m almost always hundreds of words over a reasonable length for my sermons. This requires cutting out parts of my sermon: a painful, but beneficial process because it forces me to make every word count. There are times at the very end of my sermon when I’m looking back-and-forth between paragraphs struggling with what to remove or keep.

Here’s a quote by Mark Twain that really sums up what it feels like: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one.” He meant – and it’s what everyone has experienced when they’ve had  to be careful with their words – it takes more time and focus when we’re limited by space; when we have to be concise.

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Our 2014 trip to CA (and Katie’s b-day)

Our 2014 trip to CA

I have to be a little more specific regarding which trip I’m referring to, since I have blog posts on our September 2013 trip to our hometown of Fall River Mills, CA, as well as Parts I and II of our December 2011 trip to Lemoore, CA.

Katie and I had a wonderful time. We visited many of our old friends as well as our previous church, Grace Baptist. We missed all of our Woodland friends and our church family – especially when looking at the pictures of the Harvest Party, but we really enjoyed the time of rest.

We arrived on Tuesday, October 21st in the evening and returned on Tuesday the 28th. We’re stayed with our wonderful friends Dave and Naida, whom we stayed with for our 2011 trip as well (here are previous posts I’ve written about them). We met in 2005 when we attended Calvary Chapel. They visited WCC in June of 2012 and shared during Sunday School, and they’re planning on visiting again in a few months.

Prior to arriving, Dave and Naida asked if we wanted them to fill our schedule with meetings and visits, but we told them we’d be happy relaxing at their house spending time with each other and with them. They’re the kind of friends we can talk with for hours, and even when we haven’t seen each other for years it feels like no time has passed between us. Plus, one of the main purposes of the trip was rest and relaxation…although we still stayed pretty busy…

Like I said, we arrived on Tuesday evening. We spent the evening with Dave and Naida, unpacked, then went to bed.

Wednesday, Dave invited me to meet with him and one of the young men he’s been discipling. In the evening Dave and Naida’s daughter Danielle and husband Charlie (two of our good friends when we were in Lemoore) came over for dinner and spent the evening with us.

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Thursday, Dave invited me to meet with him and an atheist he’s been witnessing to each week. Our previous pastor, Joe Gruchacz (I began my ministry under him at Grace Baptist as a part-time youth pastor and then full-time associate pastor), scheduled a “Marriage Toolbox” in the evening, which he invited me to lead. It worked out wonderfully since I was able to use the material from our Marriage & Family Series at WCC. I asked Katie to look through my sermons and find the lessons she thought would make good “tools” for people to take with them.

We spent most of Friday relaxing at Dave and Naida’s, and in the afternoon we went to Pastor Joe’s house and spent the evening with him and his wife Janet. They took us to the Cheesecake Factory in Fresno, then we went back to their house and prayed together.

10325242_765315453504460_1857955430012611486_nSaturday, Katie and Naida attended a bridal shower and Dave and I spent the afternoon together. In the evening Dave and Naida put on an Open House for our friends from the area to come and hear about our ministry at WCC.

1801309_765881770114495_920414317427170050_oSunday I preached at Grace Baptist, again using material from the Marriage & Family Series…and again I asked Katie to choose the lessons she thought would be most valuable to everyone. After service, we went out to lunch with a small group of friends.

10623752_765881893447816_5623008548092812676_oThen Sunday afternoon and evening we visited our good friends Steve and Sylvia McCartha, who have really suffered since acquiring Lyme Disease, including not being able to leave their home at times because of Sylvia’s low white blood cell count.

Monday we had a really special morning with Dave and Naida. We spent hours after breakfast talking, and I feel like the Lord really guided and blessed our conversation. Then for our last day Katie and I spent our time together, going out to lunch and walking around the mall. In the evening we had dinner with Dave and Naida and our friends Barry and Pam came over too.

Tuesday morning we got up, had breakfast and headed to the airport. Katie’s father Rick picked us up at the airport, as he was staying at our house with Rhea, Ricky and Charis. My parents were visiting a timeshare and they’d taken Johnny with them. They said they were returning on Thursday, so while we were glad to be back and see our other kids, we were sad about not seeing Johnny (or my parents) for a few more days.

This also happened to be Katie’s birthday, and her sister Molly invited us over to their house in the evening. Molly and her husband DJ purchased a place right next to the church when they moved here a few months ago. Katie knew Molly was making her a cake for her birthday, but my parents surprised us by coming home from their timeshare early with Johnny. It ended up being a wonderful ending to a wonderful week.

photo 1Overall, I’m thankful for my parents and Katie’s parents watching the kids most of the time we were gone (a few other families watched the kids a couple nights and we’re thankful for them too), and I’m especially thankful for Dave and Naida’s hospitality and the love they showed us while we were with them. It was great to see old friends and our previous church, but whenever we’re away it makes us recognize what a gift we have in WCC as well.

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What do I have to complain about?

What do I have to complain aboutHere’s the conversation between Katie and I one month ago when I told her I wanted to go back to the gym:

  • Katie: “You’re going to hurt yourself again.”
  • Me: “No, I’m not. I’m going to do things differently this time.”
  • Katie: “You say that every time.”
  • Me: “Yeah, but this time will be different.”
  • Katie: “You say that every time too.”

I went back to the gym one month ago, and this past Wednesday I hurt my lower back so badly I could barely make it out of the gym. If the pain hadn’t subsided some by the evening I would’ve had to cancel the first night of our home fellowship. By the time I work up Thursday morning I couldn’t get out of bed, which is where I spent the whole day (and most of Friday). Katie was wonderful as you’d imagine, taking great care of me and – most graciously – not reminding me of how right she was and how wrong I was. I joked with her throughout the day saying things like:

  • “Why didn’t you tell me you thought I’d hurt myself again?”
  • “If you would’ve warned me this wouldn’t have happened.”
  • “I’m only in this situation because it’s so important to you to have a husband that works out” (something Katie couldn’t care less about).

The truth is I was feeling sorry for myself on Thursday. I had four messages to prepare/review this week, and trying to study and type on my back was difficult. While I wouldn’t compare my “trial” to the trials others have gone through or are going through, there were still some lessons I tried to learn, because I believe the Bible is clear that every trial is meant to be a time of learning:

  1. First, it happened to be September 11th. What right did I really have to complain about anything compared to what some people were going through as they remembered the past?
  2. Second, good health – including the lack of pain and just being able to get out of bed, move around and wrestle with my boys is a blessing I take for granted. Ricky and Johnny try to “fight” with me every day and I felt like the elderly person in Ecclesiastes 12:5 afraid of everything whenever they came near me.
  3. Third, Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” There’s wisdom associated with valuing our days and when you experience what feels like a completely wasted day, it makes you thankful for days you can be productive and spend your time profitably.
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The Gospel changes lives

I grew up in the mountains of northern California and some of my parents’ closest friends were Pete and Susie Lorenzen. We would go to their house and the adults would party while us kids ran around pretty unaware of what our parents were doing. When I was a teenager my best friend was JP Cochran. After high school he got into drugs and was arrested. Now let’s fast-forward twenty years…

  • Pete is the pastor of Little Country Church in our hometown, where he serves with Susie.
  • When JP was in jail, he started reading the Bible, was saved, met an inmate who happened to be the guy his wife cheated on him with…and JP invited him to the study he was attending. Now JP is married, has kids, and his family attends Pete’s church. When I married Katie I asked JP to be my Best Man.
  • Regarding my parents and me, obviously being the pastor of WCC with my dad being one of the deacons isn’t what we would’ve imagined twenty years ago.

When we were in California a few weeks ago, Pete had me preach in his church, and JP was there. I thought of how much has changed with all of us over these years. Katie wrote something about that evening that I copied down and wanted to share: “Special night tonight. I am in my hometown where Scott and I grew up, but neither of us were Christians. Now he’s preaching here and it was wonderful. My God is a God who changes lives! I am no longer that girl, and my husband is no longer that boy. We are new creations in Christ and I am forever thankful for the new life in Him that we share together.” The point is the Gospel changes lives; I have so much confidence in it because I’m familiar with lives that it’s changed, including obviously my own.
Some weeks ago a man passed out in front of my office with pills all over the ground and and a half-empty bottle of vodka.

Man passed out in front of office.
NOTE: I would not have posted this picture if the man was recognizable.

What he wanted was food, money, a place to sleep (he ended up being taken to a hospital in an ambulance), but what he needed was the Gospel (which I was able to share with him). Only the Gospel could change his life and prevent him from waking up countless more times on the edge of overdosing, or worse, not waking up at all. During Sunday’s sermon I talked about the spiritual liberty we can experience from our sins, and it’s a liberty that’s really only available from the Gospel. Nothing else changes lives or saves people temporarily and eternally.

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Katie's thoughts on the Ladies' Retreat…

Each week I write a letter to the church on the back of the bulletin. Then I take those letters and make them into a post for my blog. Yesterday my beautiful wife wrote the bulletin letter about her time at the Ladies’ Retreat earlier in the week. Here it is…

I just returned from our annual WCC Ladies’ Beach Retreat and it was such a blessing. I have never had so many sweet sisters in Christ surrounding me in my walk with the Lord before. While we were there the theme was Biblical Conflict Resolution. For the first bible study we discussed different personality types and how the body of Christ consists of different people, but we’re all called to live at peace with one another. Paul said, Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ (1 Cor 12:12). In the second bible study we discussed tips for resolving conflict biblically. Here are four of them:

  1. Think on Christ: He said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). People often don’t know they are offending us, so we should give them grace like Christ gives us grace.
  2. Learn to receive correction: Anyone who loves learning accepts correction, but a person who hates being corrected is stupid (Pro 12:1). Need I say more? 🙂
  3. Overlook offenses: It is his glory to overlook an offense (Pro 19:11). In other words, it’s for our own good to “get over it”. Be more like Teflon and less like Velcro.
  4. Talk to the person, not about the person: This might be one of the hardest to live out, but the bible is VERY clear: If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over (Matt 18:15). If the problem is big enough to talk about the person then it’s big enough to talk to the person.

Then we finished with verses on dealing with difficult people. That was the most enjoyable study for me, being the most practical of the whole retreat in my opinion.

The third study consisted of a series of Christian quotes about conflict. One of my favorites was: “Don’t equate peacemaking with peace-achieving. A peacemaker longs for peace, and works for peace, and sacrifices for peace. But the attainment of peace may not come.” Romans 12:18 is very important at this point: If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. That is the goal of a peacemaker: “Don’t let the rupture in the relationship be your fault.” Conflict is everywhere; it is inevitable. The question is, will we deal with it from a biblical standpoint or from a worldly one?

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Our trip to our hometown

Katie and the kids headed down to our hometown of Fall River Mills (located in the mountains of northern California) on Tuesday, August  27th to stay with her father and stepmom, and I flew down to join them last Sunday evening, September 1st. Then we all drove back together this past Friday the 6th. Katie’s sister Molly came out from Connecticut with her husband DJ and their kids too. My father-in-law Rick owns Maher Farms where he grows wild rice and mint on hundreds of acres of land. I took the kids on lots of 4-wheeler rides each day around the fields. There’s a pond behind the house and Rick cleaned out most of the algae (but there was still enough for the kids to throw at each other and have allergy fights since they can’t pronounce algae), brought in an excavator, tons of sand and built a beach with a fire pit. It was the highlight for the kids each night, sitting around it having S’mores. Rick and Kathleen also got kayaks so we were able to take the kids on rides each day.

Another great part of the trip was connecting with Pete and Susie Lorenzen. They were good friends of my parents when I was growing up, and my brother and I used to play with their kids. Pete and Susie became Christians twenty years ago, and then six years ago they started a Calvary Chapel in town. Whenever we’re in the area Pete invites me to preach at his church, and this time was even more enjoyable because my brother-in-law DJ did the music before I gave the message. My best friend in high school, JP, got into using and selling drugs after high school, was arrested, became a Christian in jail, and turned his life around. Now he’s married and has a family, and seven years ago I was happy to have him as the Best Man in my wedding. He still lives in Fall River and attends Pete’s Church.

Something else interesting about this trip is I usually try to spend the weeks prior to messages thinking about the upcoming verses. We’re in Luke 4 where Jesus heads back to His hometown and preaches…sort of like I did. The people basically respond like, “We remember this Guy…why’s He up there saying all this stuff?” Sort of like I could imagine people responding when they see me preaching since I wasn’t a Christian growing up. So it was enjoyable to be able to contrast the parallels between Jesus’ experience in His hometown of Nazareth while I was in my hometown of Fall River Mills.

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Lessons from Katie and the kids gone

When Katie and the kids left for our hometown of Fall River Mills, California this past week it was a lot harder than I thought. I’ll be flying out of Portland tonight (September 1st) to go see them and I can’t wait; this is the longest I’ve been away from them…which I know isn’t very long…which brings up what I’d like to discuss. Them being gone has made me think about a few things…

First, it’s helped me see that I’m pretty blessed by the availability I have to my family. When I say goodbye to them in the morning, I don’t say goodbye like most fathers do (for 9 hours or more); I say goodbye for an hour or two until they surprise me at the office or I walk home to see them. I can have most meals with them. If Katie’s having a rough time at home she’ll have me come home and help (i.e. spank one of the boys). Katie sends me coffee, smoothies, and love notes daily. Almost all the church’s activities involve my family. Whenever I go on visitations I bring my kids…sometimes even when I shouldn’t (like Linda Sprague’s retirement party: I knew something was wrong when I walked in and didn’t see any other kids, and it got worse when someone said, “I think your son just took a bite out of that cookie and put it back on the tray.”).

Second, I’ve been thinking about the reality of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:32, 33 that married people have to be concerned about their spouses, but unmarried people can really focus on the Lord. With Katie and the kids gone I was sort of like an unmarried guy again, able to get a ton of work done. It made me hope the unmarried people appreciate all they can do for the Lord during their seasons of singleness. When they get married, and especially when they have children, these other obligations will take priority.

Third, I’ve been thinking about how valuable my wife is to me as a pastor. I didn’t consider how much she helps me…until she’s not here to help me. I bounce ideas off Katie and talk to her about almost everything. Whenever I teach she always gives me feedback. She reads every one of my bulletin letters ahead of time (including this one, which involved a recommendation to remove two paragraphs that were “over the top.” I don’t know what that means, but I took them out anyway). I always go over my sermons with her (sometimes a couple times), but this week I wasn’t able to, and it really bothered me and this week we went over it late Saturday night. Proverbs 18:22 He who find a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord and that’s definitely been the case for me.