When Pain is the Answer

We are hard-wired to avoid pain. From the half second after we’ve touched a hot oven as a child, we live a life doing everything we can do to keep physical and emotional pain at a distance. The problem is, sometimes pain is the answer.

Pain is the great smelling salt of life when it comes to bringing us back to our senses. It snaps us out of the cruise control comas we tend to live in. Whether its physical or emotional, that blood on your lip can truly be a wake up call to center back on what we really matters:

back to depending on the Lord instead of yourself

back to relationships being the priority

back to being proactive rather than reactive.

The pain is coming; will you let it speak?

A Gift For You: The Crimson Thread

Hello Friends!

The day is finally here. I’m thrilled to announce the release of my new book, The Crimson Thread. As my faithful readers I wanted to reach out to you first. This new book is a collection of twelve sermons that came together over the course of this past year while working on a larger project called The Story Lectionary in my doctoral program. As you read these stories that come alive from both the Old and New Testament, you’ll be encouraged as you’re reminded of the work that Jesus has done and longs to do in your life. Along with each message comes creatively designed memes that can be used as great take away’s from each sermon.

As a gift to you, my readers, I’m giving away a 20% discount coupon code that can be applied only in the next 48 hours when purchased securely on my new online bookstore. Here it is!

Coupon Code: Crimson20

You can purchase the book here -> The Crimson Thread

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share this post with friends and family you think might be interested in this book!


Why You Can’t Give Up Today

For the last two months I’ve been teaching my oldest son the piano. It’s been a great way for he and I to connect as father and son. While he’s enjoyed learning, I sometimes wonder if I might be getting even more out of it than he is.

Case in point: Last night during one of our lessons, I noticed Ethan was becoming frustrated and stressed upon reaching a certain measure of music that was proving problematic. He couldn’t seem to get through this portion of the music without messing up. Yet, all the while, keeping time in the background, the metronome clicked back and forth: click, click, click, click, click, click. It marched on not knowing or caring if he’d hit all the right notes or not. Finally, Ethan slumped forward in defeat as if to say, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I’m done.’

Turning off the metronome, I said, “You are focused. You are showing up. You are bringing your best. As in the rest of life, don’t let your set backs become permanent. Let’s get back up and start playing again.”

He did and he conquered that troublesome measure.

Time is much like that metronome. It marches on regardless if we’re hitting all the right notes or not. It can be tempting when facing the waves of frustration to kick our bench back and walk away. But, remember…we’ve all been given the opportunity and the gift to play our life’s music. Isn’t resiliency the key; to keep coming back and facing the music as we find it?

Don’t allow your set backs to become permanent road blocks.

Even now, the Maestro Jesus is at your side: teaching, directing, and encouraging you, “Play on!”

Are Your Facebook Posts Killing Your Credibility?

As I took the stand to testify I could feel my heart begin to race. While it was merely a custody hearing, I felt like I had been  dropped in to an episode of Law and Order as the bailiff swore me in.


The attorney that had requested that I come before the court asked me a few brief questions that brought out my pastoral knowledge pertinent to the hearing. When she was finished, the judge turned to the other side of the room. There, tapping a pencil, wasn’t a lawyer, but the father of the children in question; representing himself. He immediately went on the attack; firing question after question, seeking to discredit my testimony by discrediting me. In the end, the judge saw through his tactics and it was he that lost all credibility.

Attacking someone’s credibility as a witness is a long time known strategy for courtroom attorneys because when someone loses credibility, they stop being listened to.

Have you lost your credibility?

Who can deny that the toxicity levels on Facebook have gone through the roof in the last two years? Every day there’s a new #hashtag trending telling us what we’re to be angry about today. Political articles and memes from the left and right decimate our feeds as they’re shared and re-shared; not for the sake of putting ideas out there, but for putting people in their place. But, here’s the truth:

We lose credibility when we never disagree with our own political party or leadership. No one is right all the time.

We lose credibility when we can never acknowledge someone else’s valid point from the opposite end of the ideological spectrum.

We lose credibility when we lump people we disagree with behind the worst representative of their movement.

We must remember that people believe what they believe for a reason. Do we care enough to take the time to understand their reasoning? Mocking and berating them via the latest article or meme isn’t changing anyone’s mind. So, why add to the noise?

Lastly, If you’re a follower of Jesus, we lose credibility when we say we’ve been changed by the love of Jesus, but then that love is not displayed in our posts. We gave up our right to be condescending jerks when we knelt at the cross. Yes, let’s embrace free speech, but let it be free speech bathed in love.

Why Being a Sheep is a Good Thing

There’s some sort of temporary brain damage that takes place in your teenage years.  As hormones race through your body, you find yourself fixed in the center of your own galaxy that most certainly revolves around you. You also have no idea what it takes for a parent to deal with you, or have a clue to as how absolutely clueless you are.

Can I get a witness?

At some point in your early twenties you emerge from this adolescent coma, only to realize that your parents weren’t complete idiots after all and that they had more wisdom than you gave them credit for. It’s humbling.

Sheep on pasture

That same humility is going to be needed if we’re going to be able to recognize and follow the good shepherd. Let’s hear from Jesus himself.

John 10:1–18 (ESV)

10 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Jesus aptly calls himself “The Good Shepherd”; contrasting himself with the thief and robber.  The Shepherd comes in at the designed point of entry. This is his pen and these are his sheep. It’s not breaking and entering when it’s your house.

A thief has to find a corrupt way in. He has no key. The shepherd on the other hand has authoritative access from the father (the gatekeeper). When Jesus shows up in our lives he doesn’t need to kick down the door. He knows the way in; he has the key to our hearts.

Jesus doesn’t just have access; he has the authentic voice we’ve been waiting for.

I use to spend my summers on my grandpa’s farm. He raised cattle and I’d join him each day as his “hired hand.” I was amazed as I watched him lean out of his beat up blue Ford truck and call in the cattle from the field when it was feeding time yelling, “HiiiiiOOOO Cattle!” and they’d come running.

Finally, after watching this day after day I asked my grandfather, if I could try it. I began to wave my cowboy hat and yell “HiiiiiOOOO Cattle!” in my high pitched grade school voice only to watch the cattle barely acknowledge my existence; then go back to chewing their grass. They knew his voice and his alone.

Jesus eludes to religious robbers that try to lure the sheep away with religious sounding truths, but the sheep recognize the authentic voice of the shepherd when they hear it. Just like the voice of my grandfather to those cattle. To the sheep, the shepherd’s voice is the sound of food, safety, and life!

Time and time again it’s referenced in scripture that many that heard Jesus speak recognized that they were hearing something different than they’d heard from other religious leaders. Jesus spoke with a love and authority they hadn’t experienced. That’s because up to this point they’d been dealt with harshly by these “hired hands” that “laid burdens on them.”

Jesus doesn’t stop there. He not only has authority and authenticity; he sees himself as accountable for the sheep. Jesus makes the case that he alone can be trusted unlike the others. It’s with him alone that they’ve walked through the valley of the shadow of death.

The hired hand has no skin in the game, he’s simply out for himself. The shepherd has a vested life interest in his flock. So much so that he lays down his life for them unlike the hired hands that cut and run when danger strikes. Jesus became the lamb of God that took away the sins of the world by way of the cross so that He might be our good chief shepherd!

Until we see ourselves as sheep, we’ll never realize our need for a shepherd.

Everyone talks about the importance of good leadership, but no one wants to talk about followership.

The term follower has gotten a bad rap in our nation. In a country that prides itself on independence, making it on your own, pulling yourself up by your boot straps, the idea of being a follower is seen as beneath us.

In fact, I tell my kids every morning, “Be a leader.”

Yet, I’ve come to realize that until my sons first become great followers of Jesus, sheep being led by the good shepherd; they’ll never know how to lead other sheep toward Jesus.

Humility is the first step toward life changing followership.

Before we lead we must learn to follow.

The good shepherd stands at the door and waits. Will we turn and follow or go back to eating our grass?

A Plea to Fellow Pastors

There’s a dividing line that’s making it’s way into the American Church. A line that will bring sharp distinction between nominal Christians (Christians in name only) and authentic followers of Jesus.

This line in the sand will also separate churches between ones that merely build crowds and those that focus on building armies. By God’s grace and much grieving, I’ve been on a journey of reconstructing my view of ministry and how we view success. I first wrote about it here in my open resignation letter.

For years my focus was on building a crowd for Christ. I mean, didn’t crowds follow Jesus? Wasn’t Jesus the master crowd builder? But, upon closer inspection of scripture we find that Jesus could take or leave the crowds. Besides, they came and went based on the fickleness of their emotions and agendas.

No, Jesus was slowly and methodically building an army for His kingdom.

Crowds are built in a moment, armies are built over time.

Crowds come to consume, armies comes to serve.

Crowds leave after the show, armies stand fast waiting for orders.

For me, gut wrenching turmoil set in when I realized the fallacy of crowd building in the church. Years of trying to get “crowds” to take the next steps of growth proved as challenging as trying to hold on to water. Unending frustration would set in as people came and went looking for the next show time.

This made me realize that the fault wasn’t solely on the congregation. The church cannot hope to build an army when all their leaders hope for is a crowd. I’ve experienced both and I can tell you there’s no contest, I’ll take an army every time.

Two Take Away Truths

 Deeper commitment will always trump numbers alone.             Fact: Many that call themselves Christians are not committed to a/their local church family. Once after a crowd walked away from Jesus because they felt he asked too much, he looked to his twelve disciples and said, “Will you leave too?” They stayed; and changed the world. Keep investing, training, and growing the army that’s committed to Christ and his mission.

Pastors must unhitch their egos from Sunday numbers. Swallowing this statement is like trying to swallow razor blades because it’s that relevant to me. When numbers are down or up we must ask the painful question, Am I upset because many are missing out on being ministered to or because of how it reflects on me? Jesus’ identity wasn’t found in the latest crowd size; He was committed to the mission.

Let the crowds come and go. Let’s build an army together.

10 Pastors That Impacted My Life

In honor of pastor appreciation month I felt compelled to share with you ten pastors (in chronological order) that have impacted my life and what I learned from them. Here goes:

Ron Lyles: I got saved after Dr. Lyles shared the gospel during my first VBS. I watched him always give dedicated attention to each person that wanted to talk to him every Sunday after service. He made time for anyone and everyone.

Bobbie Miller: Bobbie served me and my family countless times through difficult hardships. He was the first to cultivate in me a passion for singing. Watching Bobbie showed me that a pastor could serve people with a smile even in the most troubling situations.

David Scott: David, invited me in to ministry even if he didn’t know it. He invited me to join him every Tuesday night when I was in High School to go and visit families that had visited our church. He gave me an incredible amount of one on one time, but more than that it was the first time I got a chance to “do ministry”.

Kile Bateman: Kile, has the illustrious honor of being the first to ask me to preach. It was the summer after I graduated High School on an inner-city missions trip in D.C..  I don’t know what he saw in me, but that night God unleashed a calling on my life that set me on life long course in ministry.

Jim McNabb: I interned with Pastor Jim during one of my summer breaks in college. He taught me some hard lessons that a young, immature, arrogant, bible college student needed to learn and he did it with firmness wrapped in grace and mercy. So grateful for the wisdom he poured in to me.

Gaylan Claunch: Dr. Claunch was not only one of my pastors in college he was also one of my college profs. I remember coming into the sanctuary one Wednsday evening when he was all alone weeping in the altars praying. The presence of God was palpable and it moved me deeply. I vowed to be a praying pastor and not just one that merely talked about it.

Kent Anderson: Kent, was the first pastor to take a chance on me and hire me after I graduated college and I do mean he took a chance! I’ll save that for another story, but suffice it to say he invited me to come partner with him in ministry when many would have moved on down the road. I learned from Kent that a sense of humor is a prerequisite to survive the ministry!

Jim Cornwall: I worked under Dr. Cornwall for over 5 years. I watched him deal with very difficult situations with amazing patience and grace. He always told me when it came to people leaving the church, “Don’t worry about it when people leave, many times they’ll live long enough to learn to love you again.”

Robert Hogan: I watched Pastor Hogan from a distance bounce back from amazing adversity in ministry. What might have driven many pastors to spin out in their ministries, drove him to come back even stronger. He was a walking billboard that resiliance and tenacity should be in every pastor’s tool box.

Dan Steffen: Dan is one of my closest friends and mentors. His insight, friendship and like passion for ministry has been steroids for my growth as a pastor. I learned from Dan that vulnerablity isn’t a weakness, but a strength when it comes to leading people. I’m better because he’s in my life.

I’m so grateful for these and my many other friends in ministry that have made an investment in my life. Any good I might accomplish in this life should be credited to their account.

What about you? What pastor has impacted your life in a significant way? Feel free to share here.

Don’t Miss Out On This Opportunity


What a fantastic day we had yesterday as we kicked off Non-Stop. Thank you so much for all those that took the time to go and download the free book on Amazon! Over 570 people have downloaded the free Kindle eBook version of the book.

As of right now the book sits on the Free Best Seller’s List at #1 in Christian Living > Personal Growth

Screenshot (14)


There’s only ten hours left for the eBook to be free on Amazon and I don’t want you to miss it!

If you missed yesterday’s initial launch it’s not to late to get in on the fun!


  1. Download the book here if you haven’t already.
  2. Give the book an honest review. I can’t stress this enough. This helps with how much Amazon promotes a book.
  3. Share this post or one similar with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, or by email:  Only a few hours left to download the book #NonStopTheBook while it’s still free: http://amzn.com/B015QA13OK

I’ve been receiving some encouraging notes from people that have already been helped by the book. That’s an answer to prayer! I’m praying that will be the case for everyone that gets a hold of it.

Thanks again for making this launch a success!

Get the Free eBook of Non-Stop to Celebrate Launch Week!


The day has finally arrived. My book Non-Stop has officially launched!  To celebrate I’m giving the eBook version away for free for the first few days and as one of my readers I’d love you to have one. Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement along the way!

What’s Next?

If you want to get the book and help spread the word, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Pick up a free copy. You can download it here.
  2. Tell your friends. Here’s a message you can post to Twitter, Facebook, or wherever: Grab a FREE copy of @NathanRouse ’ s new eBook #NonStopTheBook — for a limited time only! http://amzn.com/B015QA13OK
  3. Leave a review. Or you can email me with your thoughts. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

Don’t own a Kindle? No problem. You can download one of the free Kindle apps for your web browser, desktop computer, or any mobile device you have. I’ve read lots of books on my phone, so let me know if you have any questions. Or you can get a paperback copy here.

Thanks again for joining me for this special launch week! AND please consider sharing this with your friends and family.


Are You Blind to These Gifts?

There is no doubt I’m the most “unhandy” guy on the planet. Wives, if your husband is handy around the house and great with DIY projects, count yourself doubly blessed and thank the Lord above. My wife does not count herself among you. She knows I’m drastically limited in my handy man skills.

I’ve always been amazed at those that could seem to fix anything or craft something of beauty with their bare hands. It’s a gift I just don’t have. Yet, it’s a joy to watch others that have such a gift shine.

Are you able to do that? Can you enjoy someone else’s talent or gift without envy?

Most of us can easily do this when it comes to the arts: theater, music, art, etc. We can admire talent that’s meant to be enjoyed without any problem.

However, we can tend to overlook the talents and gifts of those closest to us out of familiarity. We overlook and in doing so take for granted those gifts that are shining in our face day after day. This robs us of being able to appreciate the wide spectrum giftedness in the family, friends, and strangers around us.

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul tells us that “creation declares the glory of God”. Mankind’s talents and gifts fall into this category. They point to the ultimate glory of the Gift Giver.

Our gratitude toward God and others will rise to the brim if we’ll look with fresh eyes on the God-given talents and gifts of those around us. As you thank God for those glimpses of his creativity, take a moment and point out to those around you how much you appreciate their God-given gift. In doing so you give God glory and bring encouragement.

As Christ followers let’s be the quickest to acknowledge and point out the handy work of God in others. That alone is a gift.