15 Years – Ordained to The Gospel Ministry
by Craig Houston
1 Timothy 4:12-16
12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
Tonight, as I sat in my study putting the finishing touches on my final sermon of 2012, it struck me that today was a special day. It was fifteen years ago December 29, 1997, that I was Ordained to the Gospel Ministry along with my dear friend, D.A. Roberts.
It is truly hard to believe that so much time has past since that night that changed my life forever.
My Certificate of Ordination reads…
We, the undersigned, hereby certify that upon the recommendation and request of the Bayview Baptist Church of Astoria, Oregon, which has had full and sufficient opportunity for judging his gifts, and after satisfactory examination by us in regard to his Christian experience, call to the ministry and views of Bible doctrine,
Craig Douglas Houston
Was solemnly and publicly set apart and ordained to the work of
The Gospel Ministry
By authority and order of the Bayview Baptist Church in Astoria, Oregon on the 29th day of December, 1997.
Dr. Marvin E. McKenzie
Rev. Rodney W. Hockley
Rev. Wayne L. Ward
Rev. Joel Boyce
Rev. Kevin Birdsong
Rev. Patrick F. McVey
Pastor Darrin Goodrick
Pastor T.J. Smith
Evangelist Bill Bramblett
God has given me the privilege to serve in two churches, preach over 2,000 sermons, proclaim the gospel on four continents, 5 foreign Nations, and many States in our blessed Union. I have served with hundreds of God’s choice servants here in Bremerton and St. Helens before that.
It has been a wonderful fifteen years filled with victory and defeat, love and loss, laughter and tears, and through it all the Lord has been near.
I was confident 15 years ago that God was able to do great things. Tonight I am still confident but with more perspective of life and ministry and a deeper knowledge that I am nothing and He is everything.
My wife Emily has faithfully stood by my side as well as all of our children. That night we had two little girls, Naomi and Anna, and a newborn son, Samuel. Tonight, I am thankful for them as well as the eight others that have followed: Daniel, Nathanael, Michael, Julia, Lydia, Abigail, Ezekiel and Selah.
Lastly, I will share a lesson that I learned the first time I felt the heartache of ministry:
“It hurts to love, but it hurts far worse to never know love, so go ahead and love anyway.”
Strategic Friendships for our Children
by Craig Houston
Much has been said about the importance of strategic friendships among men and women in the work of the Kingdom of God, to which I would whole heartedly agree. But what about strategic friendships for our children? How should this look? How should this play out?
In this article, I would like to take a different approach and look at the value of strategic friendships in our children’s lives, in a Biblically ordered church setting where peer culture and age segregation are not the norm.
The subject has been on my heart, so last week I sat down with my two oldest daughters, Naomi (17), and Anna (15), on separate occasions for a daddy daughter talk on the subject of friendship. I simply asked… who are your best friends? The answers they gave were both without hesitation, that their mother and one another were their best friends. This was a fact I already knew because it is both verbalized on a regular basis and demonstrated in practice daily.
My desire; however, was to get outside the walls of our home, to the other people that they considered close friends.
What happened next was a deep encouragement to my soul as a father. Both of my daughters lists of closest friends included 5 ladies ranging from as young as age 13 to two women over 50 and a few in between. I thought to myself, how wonderful that they both had godly young women whom they could treat as sisters and older women whom they could treat as mothers (1 Timothy 5:2) and receive the kind of influence that Titus 2 models for us.
I know that to some, what I have just said is weird and they may immediately think that surely my children need more friends their own age. On the contrary, I want to say how marvelous it is to be a part of a church family that allows for both young and old to grow in Christ and community together. A church where it is not abnormal to see a 17 year old praying with or visiting with a 13 year old or a fifty year old. Nor is it freakish to hear a 15 year old list off a woman who has three adult children as one of her dearest friends.
I believe that is the way God intended friendships to be. Older friends that can invest wisdom of years into the life of the younger, who in turn, are often encouraged and invigorated in their own lives because of the friendships that flourish with these younger ladies.
The reality of these kind of strategic friendships is that they are wonderful for both men and women, young and old. These friendships that flourish have also been a blessing to me as a pastor. It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to have other men of God, who are old enough to be my father, befriend me, challenge me, pray for me, and rebuke me on occasion. I also have friends that are young men, new husbands, and new fathers that desire to grow into men of God who lead well.
May God help strategic friendships to flourish in our Biblically ordered homes and churches.
Iron sharpeneth iron; So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
Found Faithful – Men’s Retreat – November 17-19, 2011
by Craig Houston
When our life in these mortal bodies comes to a close, will we as Christian men have fulfilled what God requires? Surely I am not speaking of our redemption, for there is nothing that could ever be done to merit eternal life. But what about how we have used the life that God has given? Will we be men that finish strong? Will we be men that can give a good accounting of the stewardship of our lives? When it comes down to it will we be FOUND FAITHFUL as Christians, husbands, fathers, and sons? This year, my desire is to build upon the foundation of the themes laid in these past five years “Marks of Manliness”, Band of Mighty Men”, “Kings not Pawns” and “The Call to Endure” with the capstone theme on being men who finish well. Ultimately, to be FOUND FAITHFUL!
“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be FOUND FAITHFUL.”
1 Corinthians 4:2
by Craig Houston
Reflections on 9 years pastoring Westside Baptist Church in Bremerton, Washington.
This past Sunday marked nine years since I was called to be the pastor of Westside Baptist Church. This time of year always causes me to pause and reflect on what the Lord has done through these years of my family being privileged to be in the ministry, let alone having had the opportunity to minister here at Westside.
My relationship with the church began in December of 2000, when I called to get directions from “Bro. Bill” Wambsganss to attend a pastors fellowship meeting that the church was hosting. Before the phone call ended, “Bro. Bill” had asked me if I would be willing to preach, which I gladly excepted with fear knowing that I would be preaching to several seasoned pastors. The meeting was a great blessing and something unique began to take place in my heart. I shared with my wife something along the lines of “wouldn’t it be great to pastor here one day” to which she brushed off as we were busy about the work of church planting. You need to understand that at this season in our lives we regularly traveled to churches throughout the Northwest to report as missionaries and it was not my custom to say things like that about places that I went.
About a month later “Bro. Bill” called and asked if I would come and preach for a week long 35th Anniversary Conference being held at the church. During that week, ten years ago, the Lord solidified in my heart and mind that someday I would pastor in Bremerton as he gave me a heart for the people and the city. One other thing began to happen…. this time Emily began to sense that indeed the Spirit of God seemed to be at work.
Fifty one weeks later, nine years ago this Sunday, I was affirmed by the church as the new pastor. Now to be fair, I left out a lot of details of God’s testing, trials of life, and temptations, faced during that season that God was using to prepare us for the work that would be ahead. Much of the hard times I am now thankful for, though during that season of our lives, it seemed like we were being slowly crushed for an eternity.
The past nine years have been the most wonderful years of our lives though they have not been without heart ache and tribulation. I think I can say for our entire family that we wouldn’t want to trade them for anything else. We have been privileged to see many people come to faith in Christ, follow in believers baptism, and truly grow in the grace of Christ. We have also seen Christians being helped in seeing the need to follow truly Biblical practices in relation to raising Godly families.
We have seen hundreds of people come and go due to the fact that we live in a military community (which is something you never get use to as it rips your heart out to constantly have to say goodbye). We have experienced seasons of great revival and seasons of difficulty but through it all, God has been faithful.
Most days pastoring Westside have been a little bit of heaven on earth, and on a few others it has quite honestly been an emotionally crushing experience. But everyday serving Jesus is a high and holy calling and is ALWAYS a great privilege and honor no matter what each day may bring.
The Lord has allowed me to work with great men on staff including RJ Broxton, Jason Saling, Paul Gentry, Phillip Browning, John Goetsch JR. and John Moss. All men I love and am thankful for having been privileged to labor with and pray for God’s richest blessing’s in their respective ministries.
Our family has also grown in the past nine years. We came with Naomi, Anna-Renee’, Samuel, Daniel, Nathanael, and Michael and have since seen the addition of Julia, Lydia, Abigail, and Ezekiel to our happy crew.
What the future holds for the Houston family and Westside Baptist Church, only God knows. It’s hard to believe how fast time has gone by, and we are constantly reminded that life is a vapor that appears for a little while and then is gone. I hope that my vapor will not be wasted.
Daughters of Strength
by Craig Houston
Daughters of Strength (Cornerstones)
Psalm 144:12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; and that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:
Daughters are likened unto corner stones which are not pictures of weakness! They are descriptions of STRENGTH!
Christian fathers and mothers, we must reject the image that the World has placed in our minds of Christian womanhood that is some form of abusive slavery fit only for weak minded women. It is an absolute lie that a woman who is a Godly keeper at home is weak or abused.
The Christian woman, rightly understood, is to be one who is raised to be as a cornerstone which is not an insignificant part of a building, but it is distinctly set apart as a tool for building the home or building upon. In fact, we find in Scripture, Christ referred to as the Cornerstone of the Church. This is vitally important for the church, as is the significance of a woman in the future building of a new home when she is married.
The key to a woman’s great strength is in the primary place where her strength is to be executed, which is the home.
I beg of you not to under estimate the strength that you have to impact your family and the people around you through a well ordered home and family.
Strength in the Home as a place of Hospitality 2 John; Titus 1:8; Rom 12:13; 1 Pet 4:9;
Strength in the Home as a place of Ministry and Evangelism Acts 16:11-15; 40; Mark
Strength in the Home as a place of Teaching Children Prov 1:8; Prov 31:1-9
Strength in the Home as a place of Industry and Profitability Ruth2:7,17,23; Prov 31:14-18
Sons! Psalm 144:12
by Craig Houston
Charles Spurgeon said about Ps 144:12 in the Treasury of David
12. God’s blessing works wonders for a people. “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth.” Our sons are of first importance to the state, since men take a leading part in its affairs; and what the young men are the older men will be. He desires that they may be like strong, well rooted, young trees, which promise great things. If they do not grow in their youth, when will they grow? If in their opening manhood they are dwarfed, they will never get over it. O the joys which we may have through our sons! And, on the other hand, what misery they may cause us! Plants may grow crooked, or in some other way disappoint the planter, and so may our sons. But when we see them developed in holiness, what joy we have of them!
Keven Brownfield Preaching!!!!!
by Craig Houston
Church family we have the great privilege to have Evangelist Keven Brownfield preaching this Sunday evening and all week at Family Camp. Brother Keven preached for us one Sunday last year and God used him and the message in a powerful way. I know that tomorrow and throughout the week will be no different, so come with your heart and mind ready to receive all that God has for us.
Calling All Hands on Deck!
by Craig Houston
This Thursday afternoon through Saturday afternoon until completion we need all hands on deck for the removal of the old front patio and the pouring of a new one. Please contact the church office if you can help on any or all of these days.
Together as One,
Thank You Westside!
by Craig Houston
Just a quick note to the Westside family to say thank you for being such an awesome church! As your pastor it is hard to express the joy that I felt after hearing how you showed up in force approximately 50 to attend the charter service for Lighthouse Baptist Church of Port Townsend. Having been in the same shoes as Pastor Jason Savage over 11 years ago in St.Helens, Oregon planting Riverside Baptist Church I know it was a huge encouragement. Many things are needed when planting a church, money, prayer, people, but I can say with certainty that more than anything church planters need encouragement.
The MacDonald family also shared with me how encouraged and cared for they feel after experiencing the love of the church family this past few weeks as their daughter in law was in the hospital. Mary passed away on Friday night after a very difficult season in the hospital. Dr. Green and the nursing team worked tirelessly to save her but ultimately God had other plans. Please continue to pray for and support Jason as he has suffered the loss of his wife. For those able to make it the memorial service is being held at 1 PM on Friday March 12, 2010 at the church.
Pray for Haiti!
by Craig Houston
In the last few days I have been seeking to find out how we can best help the people of Haiti following the 7.0 earthquake last week. Thousands of people have perished with untold numbers of people still unaccounted for. There are also now thousands of new orphans added to an already huge population of parentless children in this very impoverished nation. Food, water, clothing and shelter are in very short supply.
What can we do?
Pray for the people of Haiti!
Give to the church, so that together we can help with the needs of the people of Haiti in a substantial way through a trusted source on the ground already!
Possibly Go! I am currently working to find out if there is a way that we can send a small team of people to go and help care for children that are being moved to Orphanages located outside of the epicenter of the quake. These Orphanages are in desperate need of funds, as well as volunteers to care for the large influx of children. Maybe God would have you prepare to go for a week or two to help minister the grace of God to children who have just lost everything.
The people of Haiti need one thing more than any other and that is the Hope of Jesus Christ!
Sunday!!! Back in the Pulpit
by Craig Houston
Just a quick post to say I am so excited to be back in the pulpit preaching on Sunday!
Though we didn’t get to go to Bend, Oregon as originally planned (hopefully a little later) we did get to visit family for a few days in Astoria. We spent most of our time at home accomplishing several household cleaning projects, organizing bedrooms, the living room, kitchen and even cleaning out the basement. We are now on a first name basis at Goodwill and the dump!
I was also able to get my study almost totally back in order thanks to Anton’s help these past couple of weeks. My floor has been repainted, around 2000 books that have been in boxes since being cataloged in a software program back in June are finally back on the shelves. (Thanks to Dan Savage who was able to lend a hand with data entry before he got his new job.) I am looking forward to a new productivity as it has been hard at times to focus with my study in boxes.
In my spare time Anton and I also launched my new website SoundPulpit.com which will host a blog along with an archive of all of my preaching searchable by date, text, series, service and topic. It is up and running but will require a lot of work getting all of my sermons loaded up. When it’s finished I hope it will be a great resource to the saints whom I have the privilege to serve and the two or three people who may read this.
2010 Ten years after Y2K and some of you still have rice left!
by Craig Houston
Can you believe that it has been ten years since the Y2K scare? It is truly amazing how fast the time goes by. James 4:14 says … For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.
So here it is already January 3rd, 2010 and I am still trying to figure out if we are supposed to say Twenty Ten or Two Thousand Ten. I guess in the end it really does not matter, but a lot about the new year and the new decade ahead does matter. My prayer for 2010 is that personally and as a church body we will desire to do all to the Glory of God, to make more of Jesus Christ, seek to focus more on others and less on ourselves.
If thinking about the year ahead or even the decade ahead causes you to be filled fear, may I share a couple of verses that my wife Emily and I have been meditating on as of late, recognizing what a huge impact they have made on our lives this past decade.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.
We are so prone to want to lean on our own understanding and only trust God with some of our ways, but God desires us to trust Him in ALL of our ways and when we do He will direct our paths in a far greater way than we ever could in our own understanding and planning.
May the Lord richly bless you in the year 2010 and the decade to follow if the Lord wills.
P.S. Please give the rice away!
Larry Chappell Cancer Surgery Today
by Craig Houston
Please pray as Larry Chappell is in surgery today in L.A. to remove cancer from his body. This surgery is vital and we must pray for God’s miracle working power to intervene on Larry’s behalf.
James 5:16 …the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Pray for Larry Chappell
by Craig Houston
Dear Westside Family,
I want to ask each one of you to pray for one of my friends in the ministry named Larry Chappell. I first met Larry in 1998 when I attended the Spiritual Leadership Conference in Lancaster, California where his father Paul Chappell is the Pastor. He was just about 14 at the time and was very involved in the ministry with his father. Today Larry is married to Ashley and serves as an Assistant Pastor at Lancaster Baptist Church.
Larry recently had an emergency surgery in which a cancerous tumor was found. He is now scheduled for a second surgery on Monday, December 28, 2009 in L.A. Please join me in prayer for Larry to be healed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the great physician. Also please pray for the peace of God to be upon he, Ashley and the entire Chappell family.
Fathers Man Up Part III
by Craig Houston
Fathers Bring Up vs. 4
In the first post under the title of “Fathers Man Up”, we looked at the importance of fathers taking responsibility for raising their sons and daughters in the ways of the Lord. In the second post, I wrote about how the scripture admonishes us as fathers to not provoke our children unto wrath.
In this third post, I want to look at the rest of the admonition found in Ephesians 6:4. God’s call for fathers is to be proactive in your efforts to bring your children up in the ways of the Lord. This is no small “weekend investment”, as many fathers may think, but will require you to invest your life into your children which will produce great returns.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go and when there are old they will not depart from it.
First, God has called upon us to nurture our sons and daughters.
The dictionary defines nurture as 1. to care for a young thing: to give tender care and protection to a child, a young animal, or a plant helping it grow and develop. 2. Encourage to flourish to encourage somebody or something to grow develop, thrive and to be successful. 3. To keep a feeling in the mind for a long time.
Every child whether a boy or girl needs and longs for a nurturing relationship with their father. They want to flourish in life and yet they just don’t know how on their own. They need tender care and protection to grow into men and women who honor God and succeed in life. The Bible gives several specific areas that will help us nurture our children so that they may thrive.
Nurturing your children begins with family discipleship. Please understand I am not simply speaking of daily family devotions, though that must play a vital role in the process. Family discipleship is truly a way of life in which God’s will is desired in all that you say and do in the home, at work, and in the community. What you teach your son in the wood shop and on the soccer field. In all things God must be at the center. His Word must guide everything that you do. Deut 6:1-9 gives this picture of loving God first and living for God when you rise up, when you walk in the way and when you lie down. The point is that nurturing your children is not a 30 minute a night program. It takes all of life to train them up in the ways of the Lord. (This is where many parents have falsely claimed Proverbs 22:6 expecting God to keep His promise that their wayward children will return to Christ because of the fact they brought them to church when they were young. The problem with this is the verse says they needed to be trained up in the ways of the Lord and it is speaking about all of life not just Sunday.)
You also need to nurture in your children a deep love for the Word of God. This is not done simply by telling them over and over that the Bible is God’s Word, but rather by living it out before them and showing them how it answers life’s greatest questions. If you don’t love the Word of God and seek to obey what it teaches, than neither will your children. On the other hand, if you love the Word and live by the Word it will change their lives. Deut 11:18-19, 2 Tim 3:14-17
One of the greatest needs of our children’s lives is for you to give them your Heart and seek to win theirs. Mal 4:6; Prov 23:26. This will only take place through a genuine investment into your sons’ and daughter’s lives which will require both quality and quantity time as well as genuine emotional investment. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO BE AFFECTIONATE WITH YOUR CHILDREN!!!! You may not have experienced much affection from your own father but that is no excuse for holding back from your children what you know they desperately desire. Hugging, snuggling and just feeling safe in daddy’s arms are vitally important to your children. (This includes your daughters when they start becoming young women and you begin feeling a little bit uncomfortable. This is the time in life when they need Dad to step up, not to step back in the area of counsel, affection and protection.)
FATHERS NURTURE YOUR CHILDREN!!!!