All posts by jkeithcrouch68

I am just a regular guy that is blessed with a wonderful bride & two beautiful daughters. I am also a grandfather to John Patton Noel. I am a 27 year employee at UPS as a supervisor along with having the honor of serving as pastor of Belmor Baptist Church, near Madison, AL, for the past 15years. I hope to use this platform to help those read think a little harder about life, be encouraged from God's word and just maybe take a little something away that just might make a difference in your life.

More Team Concepts: A Look at Leadership

I guess, as you will see, I still have this thing about The Team rolling around in my head.  In last week’s blog, I just shared some general observations about being on and part of a team.  In this post and over the next couple weeks, I wanted to get a little more specific about what make a successful team.

John Maxwell said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership” in his great book on leadership, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership“.  His statement is true whether it is in a church, the board room of a great corporate entity, an office setting, or athletic teams.  Leaders of any of these teams must have a “the buck stops here” mentality toward the performance  of the team they attempting to lead.  You the leader must OWN the results of your team.  In fact whether you have that attitude or not, people will still evaluate your skills as a leader based on your results.  So of course the question becomes, what makes a good leader of people?  How can you get closer to achieving results that would cause your TEAM to be successful?  Here are just a few of my observations from own experiences of being a leader and working under the leadership of others:

  •  Good leaders surround themselves with good people.  You will only be as successful as the people you surround yourself with as you attempt to lead others.
  • Good leaders learn the art of delegation.  Delegation means you trust those in your circle of leadership.  Without this element, success will be a fleeting pursuit.  Good leaders don’t attempt to do it all, but rather just make sure things get done.
  • Good leaders will always surround themselves with people smarter than they are in certain areas.  You don’t have to know it all and be the smartest guy/gal in the room, but to be successful, you just need to be smart enough to harness the intelligence of other people.  Once this is done the only thing left is to back up and allow them to do their thing!
  • Good leaders understand every team member is important and has a role to play in the success of the team.
  • Good leaders enjoy planning for success and then watching others enjoy the results of success.
  • Good leaders seek input from others on the team.  Buy-in from others will usually result when the leadership at least ask the opinions of other leaders/participants on the team.  By the way, as a leader never be afraid to say yes to another person’s idea on the team no matter what place they hold on the team.
  • This last one is obvious.  A good leader will always have followers.  If perceive yourself to be a leader, but yet no one is following there are on of two things wrong.  #1 You just are not a leader at this point in your life  #2 You may not be fostering a spirit of “it’s about the Team”, but rather giving the perception, “It’s about me”.  People will not follow ME leaders!

Rejoice!

Keith

It’s All About the Team

As I sit here this morning waiting to head out the door for a day of softball with Olivia’s travel squad, I am watching College Gameday on ESPN.  I have been watching the various segments on the players, coaches and the teams.  I am about to go help coach a softball team made up of teenage girls.  I will keep this blog entry short and sweet, but I just wanted to share a few things concerning the team concept that I have learned over these many years of playing, coaching and just watching a lot of sports teams.

#1.  As parents ALWAYS teach your kids that the team should ALWAYS rise above the individual.

#2.  Instill a in your young people an attitude of confidence, yet humbleness.

#3.  As players and coaches insist on sportsmanship and class on the part of the team.

#4.  Remember teams win and teams lose – sure a mistake on the part of an individual may turn a game, but there should always be the question asked:  What could we have done as a team to overcome the mistake or have done previous to the mistake to make it a non-issue.

#5.  Create a culture where your team EXPECTS to win.  In our politically correct culture today we seem to start at an early age to teach that team sports are just about having fun and everyone being happy, but the reality in that it is always MORE FUN to win!  Train to be winners!  Practice to be winners!  Just expect to win and when you don’t learn from it, but don’t dwell on the loss.

#6.  Instill in your team a culture where they pick each other up when someone is in a slump.  I promise even the very best go through slumps.  Babe Ruth for decades was the homer champ, but he also was the leader in strikeouts –  he saw a slump or two!

#7.  This is for parents with kids on the team:  Do your kid a favor and don’t be a “helicopter parent”.  Don’t hover at the dugout during the game.  Don’t coach from the other side of the fence (especially if it contradicts what the coach is trying to accomplish).  You chose to allow your child to play on the team and for those coaches, so let them play and let the coaches coach.  If you want to coach, by all means put you a team together and coach.  Be your kid’s cheerleader, their biggest cheerleader!  Should you offer constructive criticism if warranted?  Yes, but remember they probably already know what they messed up and probably don’t really feel like rehashing it.

#8.  Encourage your kids to participate in some type of team oriented venture.  Whether it is softball, baseball, football or it may be the debate team, scholars bowl or band….they all teach the concept that life is about others and that no matter what we must learn to deal with other people of varying personalities.

Life is much more fun when we live it with others.  We have others to celebrate life victories with and also to get through sorrows.

Rejoice,

Keith

Is Community a Thing of the Past?

I have thought a good bit this week about what it means to have a spirit of community.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines community as “a unified body of individuals“.    As I think about my life in this community that I have resided in for these 47 years that God has graciously allowed me to live, I am reminded of a few things that are usually brought to the surface in the midst of sorrow and loss.  Why is it that a community seems to bind itself together in the midst of times of sorrow and loss?  As I share just a few thoughts from this week, I hope I can answer this question and remind us that we should feel blessed if we are part of a real community.

First, the thing that I notice is that we live in a world today that really overlooks the importance of community.  People do not know their neighbors.   People are satisfied not to invest in their communities through volunteer work, through not finding a house of worship during the week in which to gather as a community, through not encouraging their kids to involve themselves in something that promotes teamwork (teams whether they are athletic, science club, band, etc all promote a sense of community) and just taking the road of “I’ll just keep to myself”.   Secondly, the reason for these things is because in many places we live in a world that promotes the attitude of “life is about me”.  I have told our church many times that the best way to describe the life and ministry of Jesus Christ it would be one word – “OTHERS”!  Life really is about others! It is about your family, your friends and yes, your community.  However, aside from these negative thoughts, I have been reminded this week that all hope is not lost!

I was able to attend a funeral service this week that celebrated the life of Coach Jimmy Drake.  You see Coach Drake epitomized community.  He was a man who loved the Lord, he loved His family and invested a great majority of his life in the lives of kids and his community.  He lived a life that was about “others”.  He left a legacy of being a community man.   In turn, our little community of East Limestone turned out in great numbers to show respect toward him and to show support to a great family because that is what a local community (that is truly a community) does for one another.  Also, as I have read stories from 9/11 on this 14th anniversary of 9/11, I was reminded of how our nation came together as a BIG community.  In the days that followed this attack on our nation from an evil enemy, no one was really interested in which lives mattered because all lives mattered.   No one was really interested in what race you were or where you lived.  No one really was interested in political parties because we had a common enemy that was intent on destroying our way of life.   People prayed together, people wept together, people worshiped together…..we as a nation became a community.

I am so thankful that I can still say that I live in a real community that takes care of one another and is always there when there is a real or perceived need in another’s life.   I pray that our nation will once again become a BIG COMMUNITY and set aside all these things that many seem intent on using to divide us.   I guess as I close this edition of my blog, I’ll leave you with this thought:  If you really want to be a community, we must be able to be described in one word – “OTHERS”.

Rejoice,

Keith

The Church: A Crisis of Identification

As I think about and look at the different approaches that churches take to be relevant in our culture, I am struck by the fact that many churches in the day we live in have quickly become engrossed and too interested in the pursuit of being relevant to the culture and less interested in being an oasis from the culture.  My fear is that far too many pastors and church leaders have determined that in name of “nickels & noses”, we must become more and more like the world we live in today.  We have churches today that shy away from dealing with sin because it might offend.  We have confused offending with pointing out the reality that man/woman is flesh and unfortunately every single one of us have an issue with sin in our life.  I think the mistake that churches make in dealing with sin, is that they are closed to the thought of ministering to those struggling with those sins and have deemed them much more damning to the soul than your run of mill lying, gossiping, lust, coveting, idolatry (yes this is one most of us struggle with in some form in our lives), holding a grudge, etc.  Believe it or not these sins are listed in the same lists of what we deem as the “big sins”!  In other places of worship, we have decided that if we spend too much time preaching people won’t attend.  We must give them a celebratory time of worship and invite the pastor to give a little talk.  The Apostle Paul gave young Timothy a simple instruction, “PREACH THE WORD”.  Still in other churches the precious time that pastors have to share the Word of God with people, is wasted on expounding on the exploits of the week where politics are concerned.  God’s time he grants us to preach the precious Word, should not be wasted getting our digs in on the various politicians that may be in the news.   The previous items are just a few things that just come to mind as I write this blog.  So what is the answer, church?

Well, lets just look at the the church from scripture and the ministry of Christ and let them be our guide.  First, while we must love people and be tolerant, we also should be honest in our handling of scripture where sin is concerned and not just the sin that is the main course in the news.  We must be willing to deal with the supposed “little sins” as well as the “big ones”.  Deal with them honestly and straight forward, but yet with compassion just as Jesus dealt with every sinner he dealt with on a personal level(i.e woman caught in adultery {John 8}, Zaccheus {Luke 19}, the woman at the well {John 4}).  He never winked at sin and said it was ok, but yet he was interested in lifting people out of the situation they found themselves in at the moment.  Where the preaching of the Word is concerned, there is no more important part of worship than the expounding on the word of God with passion.  After all, the Apostle Paul tells us that God’s Word is “…power unto salvation.”  Yes, worship through song is important and sets the tone for the worship service.  Music in worship ministers to my soul and spirit.  It offers encouragement and may even bring conviction concerning the deep, abiding love of Christ, but even still the preaching of the Word must be given it’s due diligence.  Finally, as a minister of the word of God, my Lord called me to this place of service in His church not to tell funny jokes, get on a political soap box or just try to give a “talk” that won’t be too lengthy, but rather He called me to simply preach the word.  I guess to quote someone much wiser, my job as a pastor is to simply be “one beggar telling another beggar how to get a piece of bread”.  Bottomline church:  deliver the Word, love people unconditionally, minister to the poor, love each other and lift up Jesus.

Rejoice!

Keith

Fall, Pigskin and Passion

Well, Fall is right around the corner. With Fall, comes the advent of football and with football, passions ignite in a way that is quite frankly a little over the top at times. I want to freely admit, I am a football fan (although watching my daughter playing softball in the Fall trumps football any day for me). I like all kinds of football and I am a huge fan of the University of Alabama. I love watching high school, college and NFL football – it’s football for crying out loud!

I do wonder though if sometimes, we do not let the passion over our beloved teams override what seems like good sense. Now don’t get me wrong, I love good-natured fun when it comes to messing with fans of other teams. I even laugh at the things that are aimed at my own team, however, I think this is where the passion can become, quite frankly, stupid. People just need to get a sense of humor and learn to laugh a little, but the fact of the matter is I’ve heard of families splitting, people leaving a church, friendships broken and people even stating that they hate another fan of another team simply because they like an opposing team. Imagine for a moment, what would happen if we were ignited with the same passion that we have for the pigskin. How would your world be different? How would your family be different? How would your marriage be different? How would your church and it’s passion for the gospel be different if we had as much passion for those that need to hear of the love for Christ has for them as we do our team of choice?

As I close, please ponder those last questions. Ask yourself if you have a misplaced level of passion. Please understand, I am not advocating that people should just give up watching and following their favorite team. I will watch football in between travel softball tournaments myself! I will continue to say Roll Tide! I want them to win another National Championship! But if they don’t, you know what? The world will not end, life will go on, etc. I leave you with a quote from  Rick Burgess (The Rick and Bubba Show): “Football is a great sport, but it makes a terrible god”.

Rejoice,

Keith

Fall, Pigskin and Passion

Well, Fall is right around the corner.   With Fall, comes the advent of football and with football, passions ignite in a way that is quite frankly a little over the top at times.  I want to freely admit, I am a football fan (although watching my daughter playing softball in the Fall trumps football any day for me).  I like all kinds of football and I am a huge fan of the University of Alabama.   I love watching  high school, college and NFL football – it’s football for crying out loud!

I do wonder though if sometimes, we do not let the passion over our beloved teams override what seems like good sense.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love good-natured fun when it comes to messing with fans of other teams.  I even laugh at the things that are aimed at my own team, however, I think this is where the passion can become, quite frankly, stupid.  People just need to get a sense of humor and learn to laugh a little, but the fact of the matter is I’ve heard of families splitting, people leaving a church, friendships broken and people even stating that they hate another fan of another team simply because they like an opposing team.    Imagine  for a moment, what would happen if we were ignited with the same passion that we have for the pigskin.  How would your world be different?  How would your family be different?  How would your marriage be different?  How would your church and it’s passion for the gospel be different if we had as much passion for those that need to hear of the love for Christ has for them as we do our team of choice?

As I close, please ponder those last questions.  Ask yourself if you have a misplaced level of passion.   Please understand, I am not advocating that people should just give up watching and following their favorite team.  I will watch football in between travel softball tournaments myself!  I will continue to say Roll Tide!  I want them to win another National Championship!  But if they don’t, you know what?   The world will not end, life will go on, etc.  Remember to quote Rick Burgess (The Rick and Bubba Show):  “Football is a great sport, but it makes a terrible god”.

Rejoice,

Keith

Religion, Legalism, Bad Parenting and Anna Duggar

Some may wonder where I am going with this blog post because I mentioned Anna Duggar instead of Josh Duggar in the title, but the fact of the matter is that Anna and her children are the ones getting lost in the shuffle with all the upheaval concerning Josh.  I have read differing post concerning this situation that have varied from he is scum to those that make excuses for his behavior concerning the molestation of his sisters and now his unfaithfulness to his wife.  As a dad with two daughters, my heart breaks for Anna Duggar because she is caught in a trap with her four kids that has been created by her parents and fostered by a religious view of Christianity that is legalism run amuck and a religious system that treats women as if they have two purposes in life:  Have children and obey the husband no matter what the circumstance.  Well, here is my take as a dad first and as a pastor.

As we continually hear in the news about Josh Duggar and his sad, but yet dark exploits, I believe his wife Anna is the one getting lost in the fray of the circus that has become the Duggar clan.   In the heartbreaking case of Anna Duggar, there are a lot of contributing factors.  I think the demeaning of women under the disguise of christianity, deciding that turning wives into baby factories because it is somehow the biblically proper way top structure the family, legalism because of the bondage that this brand of “christianity” supports and the complete failure of Anna Duggar’s parents to prepare their daughter for a real world that does exist outside their small-minded view of the way things really are outside their religious compounds are all things that contribute to the sad case of Anna Duggar.  As a dad, because frankly I was called to be a husband and a dad before I was called to be a pastor, Anna was not treated as a precious gift from God by her father.  A religious system that teaches and insists that it’s young women remain largely uneducated and not allowed to make decisions without approval from there husband is really no better than the religious system our country is at war with in the sands of the Middle East.  As a dad, my goals for my daughters are to be exactly what God designed them to be and for them to strive to reach whatever goal they set for themselves.  I want my daughters to be able to excel apart from and without taking a backseat to any man.  The bible declares in the book of Genesis that the wife was designed to be a helpmate not a slave or indentured servant to the husband.  It means that she is a partner, an equal partner in this business called marriage.  The sad thing about the whole situation with Josh Duggar is not the fact that he is a sex offender and an adulterer (those things have been well established), but is Anna Duggar who is trapped because her parents decided that since she was a young lady, education was not a premium along with job training was not necessary and all this I’m sure is their mindset because of some erroneous  interpretation of scripture.  I could not watch “19 Kids and Counting” because what I saw under the disguise of authentic christianity was a father/husband who really did not care much for his wife or her health because having 19 children is not the best thing for the human body.  I also saw a dad that through a misguided interpretation of scripture basically cut off his family from the real world.  Anna Duggar is a product of this mindset and it is sad that now, even with the family defending Josh’s molestation, she see’s no way out of this situation.  First, let us look at it from a scriptural standpoint.  If we examine the scriptures closely, we see that the word of God teaches that in the eyes of God male and female are created equal.  We also see that Christ placed a premium on being faithful in marriage.  While I think divorce is a disease that is eating away at the very foundation of our families and in turn our nation, as a pastor I am not blind that scripture does permit divorce in cases of adultery and desertion of the other spouse.  In addition if we use common sense and no the sense of a Pharisee, I believe Jesus would never instruct a woman to stay with a husband that had molested children in addition to cheating on his wife via the internet.

In closing, dad’s let me encourage you in a couple of areas where your daughters are concerned:

  1.  Model a loving partnership with their mother
  2. Give them a role model to pursue in a husband
  3. Encourage and push your daughters to be well educated and pursue academic excellence
  4. Instill in your daughter that while there are definite differences in the sexes, but this does not and should not hinder them in pursuing their life goals.
  5. Make sure you DO NOT place any higher restrictions on your daughter or wife than scripture does.  The grace of the New Testament is a freeing grace for men and women.
  6. Make sure your daughters have the life skills to survive in a world with or without a man.
  7. Finally outside of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ make sure your daughter knows her worth is not measured in the world’s standard of beauty or what some modern day, religious pharisee says she must or must not do, but rather is measured in the light that she is a child of the Most High God!

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made….” – Psalm 139:14

Rejoice,

Keith

This poor girl, Anna Duggar, was left uneducated and left to the mercy of a religious system that says she MUST be subservient

25 Years of Marriage: A Few Observations From a Quarter Century of Marriage

As I write this, my bride and I are on our way to New Orleans and ultimately on a cruise to celebrate 25 years of marriage.  We have had a blast together our first 25 years and look forward to begin our journey toward 50 years beginning the 17th.  As I share with people that we are coming up on 25 years of marriage the thing that saddens me is that so many people act shocked that a marriage can last that long.  The latest statistics tell us that 52% of marriages end in divorce today.   As we examine the many reasons that our families and kids are in crisis mode today, it is real simple – it is the rate of failure of marriages.  I understand there are instances where divorce may be justified.  The scriptures even give a couple of examples such as adultery on the part of one of the spouses or abandonment by one of the spouses.  Of course, I would never expect a woman to stay in an abusive relationship even though I know there those out there under the cloak of the church that will tell these women they are biblically wrong (I will deal with legalism within the church on another occasion).

If you will allow me, I want to share some personal observations about how to have a happy 25th anniversary by sharing some of the things that I believe are a must in having a successful marriage.

  1.  Make God a priority in your life…Worship as a family.  I am a huge believer in husband and wives attending church together.
  2. Make your relationship with each other the priority within the family unit….yes even above your relationship with your kids.  Rest  assured if you love your spouse properly, your kids will feel loved.
  3. Make a point of spending time together, without kids.  DATE your wife guys!!  Keep it simple!.  One of mine and Kim’s favorite things to do together is to simply go somewhere like Waffle House to eat and just talk.
  4. Understand that there will be bumps in the road on the marriage journey.  Navigate those bumps together.    Tips for navigating those bumps:  1) Listen to each other  2) Learn to say I’m sorry, even if you don’t want to say it 3) Pray about it. 4)  Once the issue is over leave it in the past.
  5. Be prepared to deal with some turmoil.  When you take vows of marriage, we do say “in sickness and in health”; for richer or poorer;…..”  All these areas can be some of the most challenging in a marriage.  When sickness invades the life of a spouse, the other needs to be their biggest cheerleader, sounding board or shoulder to cry on.  Remember our illnesses, I believe are a result of us living in a fallen creation and Satan will use them to bring discouragement (See the book of Job) to our marriages.  DO NOT ALLOW HIM TO HAVE VICTORY!!
  6. Laugh, have fun and just in general have a sense of humor about each other and just life in general.

7.   Live everyday with a goal of fostering an atmosphere of joy and happiness in your home and within your relationship.

Finally, as a I close I want to say to my Bride, Kim, that I love you more now than I did the evening we exchanged our vows on August 17, 1990 at First Baptist, Athens, AL.  You are my hero and I am truly blessed to have you as my wife, my best friend, my partner in parenting two beautiful daughters.  Our 25 year journey has been a rich blessing and I can’t wait to celebrate our 50th year together!

Rejoice,

Keith

In the Words of Job

“Man, who is born of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil” – Job 14:1.  These words of the Old Testament poster child of tragedy and turmoil are so true.  Job lost his children, his wealth and his standing among his friends.  I have gone back and looked at various news headlines just from the North Alabama area and everyday this week has been filled with turmoil that have directly impacted families and these are just local headlines.  There have been young people that have drowned, people senselessly murdered, elderly people wandering away from home due to suffering the ravages of dementia and tragic accidents that have taken people’s lives.  This last example hits very close to home for the young people in our church.  Wednesday evening a young lady tragically lost her life in an automobile accident that was part of our church youth ministry.

I observed last night as our teenagers gathered together to go visit the mom and grandmother of the young lady and it struck me that for many of these young people they had never experienced the death of friend their own age and one was part of their tight knit group.  I wanted to just share a few things I observed.  First, I observed a group of young people that were broken-hearted and grieving for a friend.  Secondly, I observed some that embraced each other as a way of bringing comfort to one another.  Thirdly, I observed some laughing about different things that Shae had said or done.  Fourth, I observed them loving on and encouraging the family that is grieving something that is just not the natural order of things.  When I think of all these observations, I am struck that these young people were the very hands and feet of Jesus yesterday.  Jesus grieved.  He grieved the death of His friend Lazarus.  The bible simply says, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).  Jesus embraced/loved on others.  His disciples, lepers, children and just sinners in general.  The bible says that Jesus is a friend of sinners.  Jesus gathered and enjoyed/laughed/had a good time with friends and family.  Case in point, the wedding at Cana in John 2.  Wedding parties at that time were joyous, festive events and Jesus was right there in the middle of it.  Jesus also loved and cared for others, even those that were not necessarily close friends.

Finally, as I close this weeks blog, I want to say that what I saw yesterday gives me hope in the future.  Many times our young people, especially teenagers are given a bad rap, but I saw something much different yesterday.  I saw a group of teenagers that become the hands and feet of Jesus.  They were not only wonderful ambassadors for our church family, but more importantly, they were ambassadors for Jesus in their “Jerusalem”.  I am very proud to be their pastor and left yesterday feeling pretty good about the future.  Yes, as the death of this young lady reminded us, “Man who is born of woman is short-lived and full of turmoil”, however we are given encouragement from Jesus Christ.  Jesus during the final hours of His earthly ministry, as He faced the cross, knew His disciples were fearful and anxious about what was going on during those moments.  He gave them and us these words of encouragement when he said, “In this world, you will have tribulation, but have courage, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Be Blessed!,

Keith

A World Gone Mad

As we watch or listen to the news, we realize very quickly that the world we live in today is in some trouble.  It seems that each time we observe the news of the day it is filled with violence, acts of immorality, politicians that are promising to deliver us from whatever is causing us problems and the list could go on and on.  So what are we to think and how are we to respond?  First of all if we believe the Bible and what it says, we must understand that as time marches on, as the world grows older day by day things will get a little worse ( II Timothy 3:1-5).  Jesus even said that as time marches on the days would grow more evil.  So are we to just give up, shrug our shoulders and say “Oh well the world is what it is”?  I think one of the reasons the world is spiraling out of control today is that we (believers) decided some time ago to just shrug our shoulders instead of being that voice of reason crying out in the wilderness.  So what are we to do?  Well, you ask so I feel obliged to give my opinion in reference to the question.  1)  We must stand, unashamed,  for righteousness  2) We must understand that regardless of what popular culture tells churches and christians, we have the right in the arena of public opinion concerning moral and even political issues of the day 3)  We must dare to be different in our view 4)  We should be passionate about the things that Jesus was passionate about in His earthly ministry (1. A love for all people  2. A passion for loving the perceived unlovable 3. A passion to minister to the poor  4.  A passion for social justice  5. A passion to challenge sin, yet love sinners).  I guess as I close this weeks thoughts, my final encouragement to you the readers would be to live a life of joy, don’t always be a negative voice, don’t give up on trying to make a difference and live life that shows the world around you Jesus.

Have A Blessed Week

Keith