Tuesday, September 30, 2014

on leaving and starting...

for the last four and half years jani and i have been involved with a local body here in canton, oh called lovecanton. in that time we had been given the opportunity to be leaders of a missional community that we started thus giving us a position of leadership in the church.

years ago, shortly before jani and i were married, i finally submitted to the fact that God had put a call on my life as a shepherd of His sheep, a pastor in the truest sense of the word. this realization led me to journey to bangalore, india for 8 months for ministry training in which every thing i held dear was separated from me (including my new fiance) and i was stripped down to nothing in the midst of a culture that was the furthest thing from what i had grown to find comfort in. it was here that i entered into a broken place in which God could then build a firm foundation upon. those months in india were so very necessary despite the extreme difficulty i faced.

after arriving back home and getting married, jani and i happened upon lovecanton and a leadership who were quick to identify our potential and invest in us. through the years we have come to grow with this young church as we have sought together to truly show this city and its inhabitants the love of Christ. many of the friendships that we have made have been of the kind that will last a lifetime and we are so very fortunate for this amazing community of believers and fellow co-workers in Christ.

during our time in lovecanton i continued attempting to limit my pastoral calling with the idea that i was essentially pastoring a small community (a village) within the structure of lovecanton, and i didnt want all the responsibility of a head pastor anyway. i think God allowed me to continue in this framework to help train me up so i could more readily embrace the real calling He had on my life. over the last year or so jani and i had been feeling led to start something new in Canton. something that Canton was missing. a place that didnt fit into the confines of another ministry, but needed its own space and vision independent of another church. with the help of several others, we will be planting a church hopefully by the end of the year.

lovecanton has changed our lives. the community we have been able to be apart of has been the life and encouragement we needed to really blossom into the people we are today. we love people. that is what is at the heart of what we will be starting. we did not leave lovecanton out of bitterness or unhappiness, but we were called out and hope to continue partnering with lovecanton and many other area churches however we can.

for those from lovecanton who have been in community with us, i hope and pray that as we step out in faith to do this crazy thing that takes me way out of my comfort zone that you will support us or at least understand that this is beyond us. we would have loved to share publicly our vision and be commissioned by you but unfortunately it didnt work out that way. know that we did not want it to seem as though we snuck out the backdoor of lovecanton, trying to leave everyone behind quietly and start with something else. our hearts were very much the opposite. we want to stay in community with those who would still appreciate our friendship. this is not the end of something, but the beginning...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

evangelism: a better way

i remember trying to figure out the proper ways of evangelism throughout my teenage years. if you grew up in an actively Christian home you know what im talking about: there was the constantly trying to bring up God in most every conversation, there was the plethora of christian tshirts you could would wear with abandon (in regular rotation of course), door-to-door evangelism was always an option, standing downtown holding signs warning of judgment seemed a very practical way to voluntarily be bold and really take a stand while at the same time earning a few extra crowns in the afterlife for suffering via persecution.

i think to some extent many of us tend to still have a negative taste in our mouths when it comes to evangelism because we think of the way it was done 20 years ago. through the years i have realized that we put a lot more on ourselves then we ever needed to when it comes to spreading the gospel.

the first thing we need to realize is that it is not our job to convict the world or judge the world. it is the Holy Spirit's job to convict the world of sin (john 16:7-9) and it's Jesus who will judge the world (2 timothy 4:1). so what's our job? to help bring Heaven to earth which we can now do because of the cross. we effectively help redeem God's creation when we partner with the Holy Spirit and learn to love others as God loves others. its easy to spout off a bunch of verses from the old testamant arguing where God destroyed the wicked, etc. but this is not the God of the new covenant portrayed through the love of Christ. there is now a better way to evangelize, love others.

the only way we can love well is by receiving that love from the Father and essentially allowing that love to spill over onto everyone we encounter. our job is not to scare people into salvation but to love them into right relationship with God, all the while aware of the fact that they are not some project to fix, but a person created in the image God and thus worthy of love.

"18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and [i]He has [j]committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." -2 Corinthians 5:18-21

we are called to actively be a part of the ministry of reconciliation. the Holy Spirit prepares the hearts. the Holy Spirit leads the conversations. we are to simply respond in obedience to what the Holy Spirit is leading us to do or say. He is called the counselor for a reason. its time we stopped stepping out in our own plans and agendas for the lost and instead, simply respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"freely you received, freely give." - matt. 10:8b

as a christian led by the Holy Spirit, i am often compelled/led to share what i have been given to others. this  should only be expected as we grow into a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit. this is based upon a spiritual principle where we receive more only as we give away what we have already received.

the trials that you struggle through only to grow you into being more Christlike is not just for you, its for others. the revelation that blew your mind yesterday is not just for you, its for others.

the truths that we allow to be imparted into us by all things heavenly are not intended simply for consumption and thus growing more and more spiritually obese, but are for the kingdom. and the kingdom is at its very nature, outward focused. speaking these truths is not something we should feel obligated to do, forcing them into conversation so that they end up presented as contrived or phony, but should flow out of us as the Holy Spirit opens those doors into the conversations we participate in. nor should we only give in order to receive. the motivation behind our giving/imparting is everything. we are compelled by the Spirit to give out of a deeper love relationship we have with the Triune God.


lately i have been doing a lot of giving and not as much receiving and without knowing it, i fell into this place of relying more on myself to get things done rather than sharing that burden with Christ. this resulted in a lifestyle where i was constantly striving to get all the things done i committed to, a precarious balancing act where physical/mental exhaustion were commonplace and stress reigned.

"then Jesus said, 'come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. take my yoke upon you. let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. for my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light'." matt. 11:28-30

a yoke is typically shared by two oxen. while meditating on this i began picturing Christ and i working together but Him carrying the majority of the load. He takes my load upon Himself and calls it His yoke. i can find rest while i work in His will because im no longer doing it all on my own. i am no longer striving, i have reached a place of abiding in Christ.

sometimes life sneaks up on us and we get caught up in busyness and relying on self, we are only human after all. thank God for bringing us to the end of our rope when we reach this point and in our despair we realize the huge logs in our eyes.

it may not seem like it, but its grace at work.

its just another day living a life in the Spirit.

Monday, October 31, 2011

my wife: the hero

meet perrin jon hershberger:

october 25, 2011 at 8:45pm, my son was born into this world at 10lbs 12oz. he came after 30 hours of labor (including 6 hours of pushing). i know that were we to have gone to a hospital instead of having our birth at home, my wife would have had to succumb to major surgery via Cesarian despite our desire to have a natural birth, but my wife never even let that option enter her mind, even after pushing for hours and having seemingly no progress she continued on. after all of her energy was spent and then some, she pushed again...

perrin's birthing story was a beautiful thing to a part of. think about that, he has his own story. and we were a part of it. we can tell him everything because we were an active part of everything. we played a 4 hour birthing mix that i had previously put together full of music by jesus culture, hillsong, bon iver, active child, the national, sigur ros, etc. and the holy spirit was so very present in that place. we prayed, cried, laughed, shared stories, and brought perrin into a world of peace rather than one of chaos which tends to pervade hospital births. we birthed him at home where he's used to the bacteria that we are used to as opposed to the unsanitary facilities of a hospital filled with sick people. we were able to have whoever we wanted to have there at the birth and directly after the birth. perrin was placed directly into the arms of jani and immediately his crying ceased. he began becoming aware of his peaceful surroundings and these people who loved him with all their hearts. his crossed-eyes eventually became uncrossed as he stared up at me with full awareness and health.

throughout our planning of this home birth i came across people who thought we were doing the wrong thing though we knew we heard from the Lord pertaining to our chosen course of action. i encountered Christians who claimed that God put doctors there for a reason and it was essentially ignorance to pursue a birth at home. honestly people, when are we going to start responding to situations from a foundation of faith rather than out of fear? though i believe there is a need for doctors in our society, i also believe that birthing has been happening since the beginning without doctors, and most the rest of the world still use midwives as the main facilitators of birth. most doctors have never even seen a full natural birth and i believe that most of the complications that arise in births are due to the protocol doctors are expected to follow to make money for the hospital as well as to minimize liability. they are trained to react rather than to let nature take its natural course. if the birth is not going as fast as the doctor thinks it should, he'll speed it up causing the intense pain that would be gradually experienced over an extended period of time to be experienced all at once. once the woman feels that overwhelming pain its easier for her to agree to the use of drugs, no matter what the plan had been ahead of time.

the medical establishment is a money driven industry. it revolves around the convenience of the doctors rather than what the parents would like in a birthing experience. the father is oftentimes pushed away rather than allowed to be an active part of the labor process. its said that 85% of births can be done at home, 95% in a birthing center, but only 5% really need doctoral care in a hospital. the rest of the world maintains this belief, how is it that we have allowed ourselves to be so manipulated and indoctrinated by the medical establishment here in america? we tend to close ourselves off to truth by believing what has always been popular belief. we research everything before we purchase them except for birthing options. we have allowed fear to rule us rather than having faith that God created a woman's body to naturally adjust to the birthing process.

i do believe that home births should not be planned without a midwife and that a backup plan should be established in those rare cases where medical care is needed. though the pushing process was long and hard, vitals were checked for both jani and perrin throughout the birth and were continually found strong.

in convincing women that they are incapable of birthing without drugs or surgery, i believe society has greatly diminished the strength and capability of women. though it was the hardest thing jani had ever done, she would not have had perrin any other way. the experience was spiritual and personal. brenda, our midwife, hand wrote perrin a 4 page letter all about his birthing story with advice and encouragement for his life. try to find that in a hospital birth!

my hope is that our birthing story could inspire other women to feel capable of natural birth and that there really are options. i admire and appreciate the strength of my wife so much more after experiencing and sharing in the birth of our son. if my small wife can naturally birth our 10lb 12oz baby after pushing for 6 hours without tearing more than a little nick, so can yours.

for more pictures of Perrin Jon and his introduction to the world check out:
for more information on natural and homebirths watch "the business of being born" (can be streamed on netflix) or read "gentle birth options" by barbara harper, r.n.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

in light of all things new...

after 9 months of getting used to the gradual changes in my wife's body, its crazy to think that any day now a small life, a part of us, will finally be experienced. it seems almost like its not really going to happen, that perrin won't actually come. when we met with our midwife a couple weeks ago, to her surprise, he was so much lower than she expected him to be that she was able to be pretty confident in saying that he would most likely come earlier than the due date. so we've been living our lives with an air of expectation. every small prelabor sign would cause us to get our hopes up, only to be disappointed later. we are now 2 days from the due date and there are yet more prelabor signs but it seems like he won't really come. and then for a brief moment in time it hits me how close i am to having that little life in my hands, how my entire life is going to change, how ready i am for that change.

i've been processing through this concept of stewardship, of how God never created man with the intention of allowing him ownership of anything in this world, but rather to steward what is His. my job, my wife, my possessions, my money, my son, none of them are mine, they're God's. and though i've been living my life as of late in an air of expectation for the birth of my first born son, i submit to the fact that he is not mine but God's. and with that understanding comes an ability to walk in a greater faith in my God and what He allows for me to experience. i trust Him to do what's best. perrin is God's. he will come when its time for him to come. as much as i remind myself of that, its still hard to be patient.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

the implanted word

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you. 
- James 1:19-21

It is the word of God that saves us. John 1 explains that the Word is a person: Jesus Christ. As we allow the Holy Spirit to impart the Word to us and we practice the truth it conveys, the Word becomes who we are. The implantation of the Word cannot help but be expressed through us as it is experienced in us. In other words, as we grow in grace and in our Christian faith, growth should also be seen in the way we interact and respond to all of life’s situations. Always being flexible to change our belief systems as the Word brings new revelation constitutes the biblical view of what our Christian lives should look like. We must seek righteousness and revelation through the imparted Word, all the while understanding that we are secure as God’s children and cannot earn what we already have.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

this spiritual battle

does weather ever have an effect on your outlook on life?

there was a day last week in which this rang too true with me. dark, dreary, overcast - the bleak nature of the weather seemed to parallel my attitude and it progressed as the day wore on. though God was faithful and blessed me continually throughout the course of the day, it was hard to dwell on that. where joy should have been, a battle raged for depression, hopelessness, and complacency to reign.

it was all too obvious to me that this was a spiritual assault on my mind and i could only imagine where i would have been if that awareness had not been at the forefront of my thoughts. but just that knowledge of the battle would not have been enough to combat the spiritual forces at work to bring me down.

some of the thoughts running through my head had to do with what seems like an increasing number of people that i have gotten close to moving out of state. dwelling on that seemed to fuel the fire for all kinds of selfish and ludicrous questions that i knew were against everything i stood for:

-whats the point of investing in people if they're just going to leave?
-wouldnt life would be a lot easier if i just went to church and kept my christianity to myself?
-how about i just avoid getting too close to people? people tend to bring drama and i have enough issues to deal with on my own without having to deal with other people's problems.

and of course ive been realizing how demanding the investment into people is as ive begun stepping out into ministry. praise God i dont allow myself to solely process things internally as much i used to. ive gradually learned that the most effective way for me to process is verbally or through writing, so my wife and my friend joe had the unpleasant task of listening to me unload all this junk on them. as i spoke i realized how absurd it all was and how im not meant to bear the weight of everything on my shoulders but rather allow God to carry it for me.

sharing with them reminded me why i am willing to do what i do. why i invest in others. we cant do this alone. i cannot solely base my life around my relationship with Christ and exclude the rest of His body. we need to pour into each other. if Christ physically moves someone away, we trust that He knows whats best for His body and will continue the work that He has started in all people involved. its His body, not mine. i am called to love it, help it grow into a healthy maturity, as the body in turn helps me do the same. its a symbiotic relationship with the Holy Spirit as the lifeblood and Christ as the Head. 

ultimately, i believe the essence of the enemy's strategy against us is to divide and conquer. separate us from the rest of the body, and we cease to be a united front against those forces of darkness. in light of that its no wonder why Jesus prays for unity within His body so often throughout john 17. 

its just as crucial to be aware of the battlefield that exists within the confines of your mind. thoughts can become poisoned and infectious in no time. allow the Holy spirit to purify your thoughts by taking dominion of your physical mind. this christian life we are called to live goes far beyond simply a mental belief system, let it penetrate your heart. i believe the gift of the Holy Spirit as well as the community that we are called to have within Christ's body are the key to this. we can only accomplish this together, of one mind and heart with God. we cant afford to be rogue vigilantes.

  • what are you doing to unite the body?
  • do you tend to have an awareness of the spiritual realm around you?
  • have you submitted completely to the Holy Spirit and allowed Him to move past your head, to impact your heart?