I Corinthians 15 is a pretty cool chapter, but as I considered what God had in store for this post, I couldn't shake the encouragement that verse 58 offers.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable; always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
In the preceding verses, if I can boil it down, Paul essentially says that what Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection is possible because of who He is. If we are dead because of Adam, then we are alive because of Christ. However, without His death and resurrection, we have nothing. There is no witness, no testimony... no gospel to preach whereby man can be saved.
Paul goes on to explain many more spiritual truths, making the comparison between the physical and spiritual man before arrives to this place of encouragement, but he understands well, the power of the gospel as it transformed his life, from one known as a prosecutor of the faith to a protector of the faith.
Our victory in life is made possible the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The enemy would love for nothing less, than cracks in the armor of our faith; areas of weakness in our life, whereby he can distract us and use our frustrations and concerns against us to take us of course. Even to the point, that Paul witnesses in his day; that some were not preaching the full gospel (which is much of his explanation in this chapter) But whether the challenge of ministry lies in our understanding of the gospel or life has skewed our perspective of what God has and desires to accomplish in and through our lives, Paul's encouragement stands.
These are days in which pastors and parishioners alike must be steadfast; unmovable. The truth of Christ and the power of God is alive and at work in our midst and though the days may feel as such or attacked as such, the gospel of the kingdom of God, is not a vanity exercise, nor the labor with which we pursue it.
Join me, this #associatePastorTuesday; that pastors would be encouraged, to remain steadfast and unmovable. May God strengthen the weak and the weary among us; that Christ would be made alive in their body, mind, soul and spirit. Anew and afresh, may the be revitalized in their efforts to preach the Gospel and make Christ known. Pray the distractions and disruptions of life would not throw them of course; but they would continue the race, fighting the good fight of faith.
Steadfast and unmovable.
Not by the naysayers in life,
Nor the disruptions of it.
Preaching the full gospel
And the whole counsel of God.
In a world of darkness
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
For all the times that Christians look at life, look at their faith and consider just how often we wish God would reveal things to us... like we are having a hard time figuring out the mystery. Then there are those moments where it's pretty hard to miss.
Take this timeline, since about 9:30 or so, Saturday night.
The kids and my wife all have been hit and miss with the weather the past few days, so everyone is tired and just attempting to plow through. It's been frustrating and a little on edge. In talking with my wife that night, I simply shared my frustration... life just gets hard. And I mentioned our schedules and the importance of praying together.
I point out the last four words, as come Sunday morning, both kids still don't sound too great... so I'm flying solo to church. Pastor gets up and preaches a stand-alone sermon, titled Marriage Matters. (funny, God)
So, we all know divorce is high. Somewhere between 1 in 2 and 1 in 3 marriages, end in D.
For those that attend church regularly, the odds drop... considerably. 1 in 155.
For those that attend church regularly, AND Pray Together regularly... how's this? 1 in 1155
Well, if that didn't put an exclamation point on things. Then fast forward a few hours. Taking the oldest to urgent care, to get her ear looked at. Two guys in a front of us, one with two young kids.
The first pharmacy across town is closed, so we head back to the 24 joint. Of course, there's one on both corner... I pick the one I frequent more often anyway. The guy with the two kids is also there.
In a moment of discussing life, and my frustration with sick kids and how this week may go, God drops a bomb on my parade. The man shares that he's getting a divorce. After 16 years, it's "going down fast". And here, essentially, I was complaining. Not anymore. My broken heart sank.
In the back of my mind, I can hear pastor. My wife and make it a priority to pray together every morning before we go our ways and on Mondays we have an extended time of prayer, sometimes as much as an hour to an hour and half, for our families, the church and your families.
Reducing the risk... the odds are favorable when prayer is involved. Not so much, when left out of the picture.
So there you have it. This #seniorPastorMonday, will you join me in prayer over marriages. For this stranger, pray God would strengthen him during this time and that God would sovereignly intervene for he and his family. Pray for pastors, that the demands of ministry would not take priority over their marriage and their home. May God place protection of their relationships and their children, than in spite of difficulty and challenge, they would resolve to come together and commit to prayer and seeking the face of God together. Pray God would accomplish the miraculous in the lives as the approach the throne of grace, as one. For those pastors whose marriages and home life is in trouble, may God grant them strength and wisdom; bringing healing and restoration as they work through the troubles they face. What Satan meant to destroy, may God work in them and through them to bring about good, for His glory and honor.
That God would fortify those whose hearts are set on Him;
Strengthen those who have committed their lives to ministry.
Though life is hard, may it not overtake and consume us.
That we would arise victorious;
As the hand of God, leads and directs in the plans He has ordained.
For His glory and the cause of Christ.
So, I had an epiphany this morning, as I was getting ready for church (and now watching the clock to leave for the same!) Courtesy of the timing of God, the Healing Stream Media Network's "The Healing Rock" radio station and David Zaffiro, singing "Find My Way."
I love this song, particularly because of the piano work, but as it played, I considered the story of the Prodigal. Upon realizing the error of his ways, he knew what to do to correct it. He knew where to go to correct it. He knew how to get their; he knew the posture to take and the words to say, whereby he might plead his case, as he acknowledge his mistake in life and submitted his request for forgiveness.
Aren't we the same way?
We know what's wrong.
We know what we should be doing, saying, completing.
We know how to respond.
We know to whom we should turn.
We know what we must confess.
We do, in fact, know where God is and how to get to Him.
Yet, all to often, we sit far too long in the mess in which we've created (and perhaps others have contributed to making for us). The "ah-ha" moment comes at different times for all of us, but thankfully, like the prodigal's father, neither does our Heavenly Father move or leave. He is the same God, in the same place, as He was when we failed as humans, and took off... in search of what was ultimately, worse than what we apart of from the beginning.
On this #effectiveSunday, will you pray with me, today is an epiphany day? Pray the realization of many; that whereve we find ourselves, may we find our way closer to God our Father. We cannot be effective in what we know and do and where we go unless we pick ourselves up. May today be a day of movement and progress; not a pulling away by our desires, but a drawing to the presence of God by the move of the Holy Spirit. Pray we would not be hindered in our efforts, nor delayed in our journey; but directed by the power of God.
Find our way;
That we may know His way
For our lives and our families.
Our churches and communities.
Led by the Spirit.
To be in right relationship with the Father.
For His glory.
For a while now, there has been an effort, perhaps in a simple act of making everyone feel valued, the concept that everyone has a story to tell.
Each of us has a life; of experiences and events, of trials and tragedy, joy and suffering and the opportunity for us to learn and share together is great. Yet in increasingly difficult times, of political correctness gone severely wrong, of commentary and mixed emotions as conversations mixed opinion and fact and neither side being able to accurately discern which is what... the sharing of one's faith and the truth of Christ can feel at times like the last thing one wants engage themselves.
We all look at each other as though the one in front of us has blinders on; deceived by their experience and faith or lack of either (perhaps even both!)
Yet, on this #communitySaturday, consider the words of Titus. who offers the history of Christianity in it's previous life...
From chapter 3, verse 7:
"For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another." He goes on to talk how we were changed, after the "kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared... according to His mercy He saved us".
This alone also describes just how much work the Holy Spirit has to work in our own lives as we work our faith, "in a 21st context" as the phrase is often heard around my church. However, it also describes the perspective we as Christians should keep in the forefront of our mind, as we converse with those around us who have yet come to faith in God through Jesus Christ.
It's so easy to get caught up in our live and "our story" that we forget, that once we have accepted Christ, the narrative changes to His story... what He has accomplished in our lives and how He has and will use what we were before Christ to bring glory to God and use it for to further His eternal and perfect plans and purposes. How amazing is His grace, indeed.
Pray, this #communitySaturday, that those who believe in God "might be careful to maintain good works" (Titus 3:8). May we remember the work Christ has done in our lives and recognize as we engage, the love God has for those around us. God grant us wisdom, that we would not live as we once did, nor would we be remembered for how we once lived. May the story we share with a world who desperately needs Christ, be His story of the change He has made in our hearts and minds. Pray discernment in navigating difficult conversations; that we would engage in ways that are good and profitable for the kingdom, rather than unprofitable and vain, as Titus describes. May the plans of the Deceiver be foiled; that eyes and minds would be opened to hear and hearts prepared to receive the Word, as we speak Truth and reflect Christ, rather than project self.
His Story made alive,
Because we placed our story second.
That Christ would be lifted up
As we submit ourselves to Him
Anew and afresh,
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
Over the past few weeks, we've looked at the concept of grace. We've talked about failure. The theme that runs throughout this site, is burnout and all that comes with it; so naturally, there's a understanding of stress and expectations and keeping perspective.
As I reflected on this yesterday, I stood (technically, sat) amazed, that salvation is not a "once and gone" opportunity. Yes, we are constantly being made anew; being conformed to the image of Christ as our life and faith progress.
Certainly, when one hears the Word of the Lord, it'd be awesome if there was always an immediate response, as "today is the day of salvation". Yet often, for many, it's not. So there is a continual prompting, as God continues to knock on the door of people's hearts.
He cannot promise to never leave us nor forsake us, then not be on the other side of the door when one decides to respond to the call of salvation through Jesus Christ.
God either is, our ever present help in time of need, or He comes and goes as He pleases, and may not be found when we call on Him.
Thankfully, this #missionsFriday, that is not the case for me. Nor, is it the case for you. Pray with me, this would not be the case for others. May today be a day that many, call upon the name of the Lord and are saved. Pray God would accomplish the miraculous, as people respond and open the door of their hearts and minds to the person of Jesus Christ. May the cares and concerns, the frustrations and failures of life not stand in the way of His transforming power. Pray today would be a day to bear witness, once again, of the goodness and greatness of our God.
Indeed, may today be the day of salvation,
As people hear the Word of the Lord.
As they call upon Him and are saved.
A day of increase
For those counted as "whosoevers".
For the glory of God.
It seems like I've been typing this an quite more frequently of late... that life is hard and the battle is real. And it is.
In fact, there are days, we all have them, that you just don't want to get out of bed (as evidenced, I'm watching the clock and typing fast, before the "run out the door to work" moment). We look at the situations taking place; those that seemingly have no end in sight and the corresponding conversations that are equivalent with beating a dead horse and wonder... is there ever a break?
Will the storm ever pass?
Will things ever "die down"? Even a little?
Could I catch a moment or two to breath?
To gain perspective?
To step back and consider... even, reconsider?
Reprieve? Anyone? Please?
And five more minutes of sleep, if there's any to spare.
And we all have difficulty. It's hard not to compare; my battles are worthless and pale in comparison to the reality that many of you are waking up to this morning. And yet, you are asking the same aforementioned questions. (and inserting your own favorite phrases) Yet, God is in it all and with you, through it all.
I hadn't planned this, but during our last night's mid-week service, Pastor discussed Job. And asked at the closing, do we have an "others" faith. From Hebrews 11;35 and the few that follow. We all look at the hero's of faith for who their lives and challenges worked out incredible. Verse 35, tells of the others, for whom it worked out without the happy movie ending. Tortured, beaten, persecuted and more. Yet, they were recognized for their faith and perseverance, not knowing how life would turn out for them.
As we face these difficult times together, can I relay what Pastor asked us?
Do you love God for what He does for you? Or do you just love God?
No matter what we encounter, nor what the outcome, may burnout not prevail.
Thanks for joining me, this #deaconThursday, as we pray for a steadfast faith. May we resist the temptation and the suggestion to curse God, when life gets hard and beyond our understanding. Pray for a steadfast faith that stands in the face of trial and potential slaying. Pray our hope and trust in Him would prevail; that those struggling would not give up the fight. May faith arise. For those need a break in the battle, pray the Holy Spirit would quicken body, mind, soul and spirit. Pray once again, strength for the weary and encouragement for the broken-hearted.
Though we be surrounded on all sides
May we remember God stands on our side.
Through the fire and the flame,
Never leaving or forsaking.
May our love for Him and our trust in Him prevail.
For no other reason than He is God... and we are not.
For His glory and the cause of Christ.
Proverbs 24:16 says that a just man, though he falls seven times will rise again.
How often we are reminded of many truths!
Falling isn't failure. The failure come when we refuse to rise.
Is it possible the seven times reference is similar to Christ's when asked how many times we should forgive? It's not about keeping score, nor keeping record, but learning from our mistakes, no matter the severity or the stupidity of them (hard as they may be when they happen; frustrating as the aftermath that follows)
Though we may be known for our mistakes and mishaps for a season, life continues to reveal that the intersection of action and reaction is constant. What's more, our reactions are often more telling of what's in our hearts and minds that the actions that stand on their own merit.
For as long as we live in fallen world and deal with a fallen, sinful nature, the struggle will continue to be real (more real, than we care to admit to live in at times, granted). People will do us wrong. We do wrong by other people. Accidents occur. Mistakes are made. Some will be life-changing disturbances. Others, simply "bang your head on the desk" stupid frustrations.
The wicked are brought down by their calamity; but for the believer, our hope and identity stand with Christ. We have neither to live in our failure, nor or fallen state. By His strength and His grace, we persevere and press on in the faith we profess, difficult as it may be on the days that are worse than the others. Yet our lives speak to the future and to the generations of leaders and followers who come behind us. God help us to do well by them.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, that the church and its' pastors, would lead lives that continue to rise. Though disappointments and mistakes about, may we not be known by out flaws, but by the witness of God's working all things together for good. Pray the testimony would go forth; that God does not leave us in our fallen and broken condition; that the lessons we learn are not in vain; yet useful for the kingdom of God. May we be people of perseverance, in the face of adversity and difficulty; rising to the challenges of life; even to the point of refusing to rise. Pray the Spirit of God would strengthen us in our weakness, for even we no longer feel like getting up, may we find the wherewithal do so for the edification of the body of Christ and the glory of God.
Fallen no more,
Made alive in Christ.
Made anew in His plans and purposes.
Using our lives for His glory
For in our weakness, He is strong.
May our focus rest upon God, rather than ourselves.
Placing our trust according, for the cause of Christ.
Grace truly is an amazing thing.
How in the world, we could ever expect to give it or receive it without acknowledging that it exists as a gift from Almighty God remains a mystery.
Of course, we all know life is hard and the days are rough.
We have our days where we look to receive and probably don't.
We have our days where we are asked to give it and would rather not.
Justification often stands in the way of both. Often skewed by our own perspectives, we make the most interesting arguments and reasons as to why and who is worth this gift.
In reality, none of us are worthy to receive it.
Likewise, none of us are in a position to grant it either.
Indeed grace is a gift. Having received it from God makes it that much easier to give to our fellow man. At least it should. Yet, sadly, whether within the church or outside of it, we often hesitate to extend it. For when we do, it is simply another opportunity to reflect and exemplify our Lord and Savior. Granted we must use wisdom and discernment at times, that we may truly understand and handle the circumstances we face; but more often than not, grace should flow more often than it probably does.
It's a struggle for us all. It's a struggle for our leaders. And in the context of that relationship alone, grace is a difficult process often made more complex by the expectations created by faith.
So, pray, this #associatePastorTuesday. Whether in need of receipt or expected to grant, pray for pastors in difficult places where grace is needed. Whether at home or at church, may God grant to them wisdom and discernment as they walk through the conversation and decision process. Pray for understanding, that they would know the when, where and how to respond to the people and circumstances they face. May our first thought be to exemplify and glorify Christ, in all that we say or do; even when we are inclined to assert our rights or stand our defense.
May we extend grace
When it is undeserved,
Even as we have received grace
That we did not deserve.
That the world may see Christ
Reflected through imperfect lives.
Amazing grace, indeed.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
As we prayed yesterday, as a congregation during the morning service, the term "insulation" was brought to our attention. For whatever reason, it truly stood out.
Life happens to all of us. It rains on the just and the unjust. We all expect trials and tribulations, but as a pastor-friend of mine shared on social media the other day, things just seem to be especially difficult and challenging.
We trust in God to provide and move on our behalf when the enemy comes against us. Yet in moments of intense pressure and increased attack, we truly need a miracle.
We need God's protection. We need His strength. We need His comfort.
We need a reprieve. Insulation. Distance from the war.
It's hard to find, because life continues.
It's hard to keep perspective because the demands and decisions that require us to engage and remain involved. Yet in our spirit, there is no other option except to call down Heaven, to stand in the gap on our behalf, in order that we may continue to stand firm in our faith, for the glory of God and the witness of Christ.
In that spirit, would you join me, in standing in the gap this #seniorPastorMonday? Pray for pastors facing increased stress and challenge, as my friend and his family are encountering on a personal level. May they be encouraged by the hand of God, as He brings comfort and a level of insulation from the battles of life. Pray for renewing of the mind and a strengthening of their spirit; may there be a revival in their resolve to face and overcome the struggles of life.
May God work the miraculous
For those doing the work of the Lord.
Strength for today.
Hope for tomorrow.
Encouragement for others.
To testify to the goodness and greatness of God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
We all have those days where we just don't know.
Don't know if we can keep going.
Don't know if we can keep working.
Don't know if we can keep focused.
Don't know if we have enough energy.
Don't know if we have enough wisdom.
Don't know if we have the wherewithal to "doitall".
You understand life doesn't stop for you, nor around you. There's plenty to do and say and yet you simply want to not think about it. Some of it. Most of it. Maybe all of it.
Can certain worries and concerns be surgically removed from your purview?
Can frustrations and tensions be released and returned back to their rightful place; far and away from our mind and spirit?
I wish I had better answers. Or perhaps more explainable answers. But I don't.
Yes. The answer is yes, to all the above.
But not on your own.
Not by sight, but by faith.
Not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.
We all have battles. We all have scars. We all have wounds and damages and while we could share our life stories and war stories and shake our heads in disbelief and our fists in anger to what has happened to us that has combined with the stupidity we've done that has created a toxic mental and heart issue, the truth is God stands with us. The Lord helps us in our weakness and intercedes on our behalf with groanings that can't be uttered. The Holy Spirit grants to us, wisdom and comfort. There is a covering of grace, made available to those who trust in God and look to Him.
I know the struggle is real. And that of many is much more than mine, we were to "share & tell". But God takes us, each where we are, if we would but press in to His presence, and press on through this life.
It may take all you have and then some, but the only way to continue to be effective starts by the simple act of continue. It is hard, I know... why do you think this post title is simply the tally since this site's relaunch back on June 1 of 2015? Because sometimes, all you can do is acknowledge where you are and ask again for God's hand of help.
Pray, this #effectiveSunday; God's strength on His people, to press in and seek His face. May many be encouraged, to press on and not quit. May we not give up on the faith which we profess, nor the hopes and plans God has ordained in advance for us to accomplish. Pray the church would be a place, where the damaged are made whole, the broken are repaired; the hurt are comforted and the weary are strengthened. For as much as God never fails or leaves us, may we not be so quick to check out on our faith when times get hard. Furthermore, may not be so quick to try to trump each other with who has the harder life or the more difficult struggle. God stands ready for those who will call on Him; but it does require that we call and not remain in ourselves.
Rest for the weary.
Strength for the weak.
Hope for the despair.
Healing for the sick.
Protection for the afraid.
Whatever you need;
Look to I AM.
For the glory of God.
ps: picture was discovered after writing this. Decided on the post title before writing, which is rare.
God has a sense of humor. You are going to be okay. He is closer than you know.
Well... whatever happened to what I felt God gave me for this post yesterday, eventually disappeared. I had it; then I lost it... and couldn't remember. So; I'm left developing an idea that I had the other day (which rarely happens; that I have an idea for two different days worth of posts at the same time)
The other day, I considered the possibility of the church was established from the beginning, as a different concept; a different format. Like AA.
SA. Sinners: Admitted.
When you think about it, it's really not that far of a stretch. The church is community. And it's fairly simply. Observe.
"Hello. My name is Peter. I am a sinner."
Culture often questions the church; and doubts it even more. It's easy to understand how it happens. People in the church aren't any closer to being, doing, or living perfect than anyone outside the church. Christians are all in different places in their journey with God and non-Christians have and project many expectations of how the church should live; often not missing an opportunity to comment when the people of God miss the mark or end up on the unpopular side of the conversation.
So, as the church engages and related with community, may be we reminded we are all working from the same baseline: Sinner.
The only difference, is whether we come to a place of recognition; that we have a spiritual problem that requires the help of a higher power, Almighty God and that a transformation change needs to occur, through salvation in Jesus Christ.
I love what comedian Jeff Allen says (and it's it worth repeating)
"The truth is, Christianity is the only religion that would have me."
Admission of a problem is never easy. Whether it is a habit problem, a discipline problem, an attitude problem or a relational issue, confession is difficult. Yet, if anything worth having is worth working for; then confession is desperately needed; even in the face of brutal honesty.
For as we discussed yesterday; A good parent loves too much to leave a child in an unhealthy state.
On this weekend #communitySaturday, will you join me in praying that the people of God would be people of confession. May the lines of communication be open; that Christians are not perfect and our need for a Savior is just as necessary as those we converse with who've yet to come to Christ. Though life is hard and situations and circumstance abound with challenge and difficulty, may the people of God continue to reflect Christ and testify to the grace, goodness and glory of God. When we don't know what to say, what to do or where to turn, may our reaction and response be one that trusts God and calls on His name.
Saved by grace.
Through the power of confession.
Loved by God.
Made new in Christ.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit.
To be the people and children of God.
To a world desperately in need of saving.
There's an advertising slogan being used in the foster/adoption that says, "You don't have to be perfect, to be a perfect parent". While that's true and it's a cool slogan, it's hard to remember that such a state is okay.
My parents aren't perfect. Neither are (or were) yours. Nor am I one, for certain.
Yet as I reflected yesterday on the character of God, it amazes me how so many are convinced and moved to believe that a relationship with God through the person of Christ, is not for them.
He calls us his children; he calls us to a child-like faith to trust in Him, yet He treats us with the utmost respect.
He is not a God of brute force in His desire to commune with us...
... He stands at the door and knocks at the heart of humanity. He is not busting it down. He waits patiently, with the occasional reminder that He is as close as the mention of His name.
He has nothing but love and compassion, for His Creation...
... for I formed you in your mother's womb, Scripture tells us.
He is not a vindictive or revengeful God, that He responds in kind with the same attitude He is treated...
... for He knows the thoughts He has for you, plans for a hope and a future.
As I stated recently, it's a great tragedy that Gandhi allowed the flaws and imperfections of Christians to stand in the way of a personal relationship with God. Likewise, many look at the world today and allow people and circumstance to stand in the way and respond with a "what's up with that" and "why would I want anything to do with a God like that?"
Yet, unless there is a relationship that frames our perspective, then things never really quite make sense when looking at it from the outside. Yet, like the Father of the prodigal son, nothing is standing in the way from being able to run to God our Father, with a broken-hearted response. A broken and contrite heart, the Bible states.
Why would we allow our own flaws and imperfections to stand in the way of a relationship with Almighty God; the only perfect Parent?
So, pray this #missionsFriday, that today would be a celebration within the kingdom of God; that many prodigals would return to the arms of the Father. May many answer the knock of God that patiently awaits on the other side of their hearts' door. Pray the eye-scales would fall as the revelation of God is made known; His character, His presence. May the lives of the believer reflect that transforming power of Christ at work in our hearts and minds; that God does not look at our problems, attitudes and flaws and say, I want nothing to do with you. Pray the love and truth of God would arise and stand above the noise... that a relationship with God is beyond anything we can compare on earth; and the reward far outweighs our perceived risk.
Sinners, saved by grace.
Once lost, but not found.
Loved from the foundation of the Earth
Loved for all eternity.
By the only perfect Parent.
May lives be made whole
In the only relationship that transcends time and space.
For the advancement of the cause of Christ.
The human mind... the human body; the structures and the tools we create to accomplish projects and tasks; all of it is pretty incredible.
It amazes me just how much we can take on, provided we keep things in balance. Conversely, it's equally amazing just how quickly stuff can go wrong when not kept in balance.
It's good to be challenged; to test the limits of accomplishment... to be stretched as a process of growth and maturity. There are times for such a process. However, as we load our lives and our lists, if tasks and goals, people and projects are not properly placed as we take them on, we will, perhaps too quickly, begin to see the effects.
Things may begin to fall off; we will notice going weary in a particular area or arena of life. Eventually the shifting and moving about will affect what surrounds us, at which time, the recipe for disaster is spelled.
Be careful, then, how you fill your life and spend your time, for being out of balance is problematic enough. Over-loading one's life without giving thought to balance leads to certain demise and potential destruction.
Pray, this #deaconThursday, for church leaders whose lives are out of balance. Whether they are over-loaded or simply failed to properly place the things and people of their life, may God grant them wisdom as the proceed and sort through the mess. May God help them recover, for those who are burnt out and worn down. Pray strength for the weak and rest for the weary. Pray God would help those who struggle with taking on too much, to establish healthy boundaries... understanding what they are capable of; understanding, more importantly, what God would have in store for them to accomplish. May God grant discernment in knowing the when and the who of what should be met with a "yes" and a "no" response. May we understand the affects of our productivity and our effectiveness when we are over-loaded and out of balance.
That we would be people of health.
Operating in health.
Serving effectively, the kingdom of God.
For His glory and the Gospel.
Can I just confess...
Some days, I'm really not liking what's coming forth in these #pray4pastors posts. It's not that I think they are bad (although, I'm certain there are days that some posts read better or hit harder than others and from your perspective, you may notice a difference in quality.)
I am speaking specifically about some of these hit hard. I understand that. Sometimes the realization comes as I'm developing a thought-proccess that I sense God has highlighted; other times it comes as I'm writing.
There are times when it feels as though I'm giving myself the proverbial, spiritual whack to the back of my head (a la NCIS' Gibbs) more than we encouraging and praying for pastors.
I know a few weeks ago, perhaps even on a Wednesday, we talked about children being an inheritance from the Lord and letting that direct how we parent. For whatever reason, I got into that line of thinking again yesterday and if you'll permit me the analogous stretch; it applies to the church as well.
If the body of believers are referred to as the children of God, then how we interact with each other as a church-community should also reflect that fact are an inheritance. What happens to me affects you and vice-versa, as we are each a part of the kindgom of God. What's more it should affect how we are directed by church leaders and pastors, as they shepherd us. Are they not stewards of the lives and souls that have been entrusted to their ministry?
Yet they too, are a part of the same inheritance; the same kingdom. What does it say about the body of Christ that neglects to care for and uplift their leadership... whether in notes of encouragement, engaging in conversation, or praying daily as called to through this site?
Of course as we do, so, let us not forgot... the next generation is watching. They are learning. And as I was reminded even just the other day by my own child... they will use what we do and say to justify the behavior they display in their own life. If that's true at the family level, how much more, will that influence what happens at the congregational level?
So... join me in prayer, once again?
On this #youthPastorWednesday, pray God's divine help. By the day and by the hour, may we be people led by the Spirit, in our relationships. Whether with family or friends, within an organization or in a church setting, would God grant us the strength and wisdom to reflect and display Christ as we interact, encourage and challenge each other. Pray, we would spur one another towards love; that we would not provoke anger, neither in our brothers and sisters-in-Christ, nor or children. Pray pastors would effectively lead us in our walks with God and His purposes of our lives. Conversely, pray the church would do better to minister and uplift those God has placed over us. May we neither deny nor neglect the importance pastors play in our lives; that the balance in how they steward the body of Christ is just as great as how the body cares for its' leaders.
For our identity is in Christ.
We are new creatures
Called according to His purpose.
We are His children,
On display to world, desperately in need of a Savior.
May we engage that truth
And witness the transformation of many lives,
As souls step into eternity.
For the glory of God and the cause of Jesus Christ.
None of us know, the day nor the hour we will be called home; into eternity with Christ. (or God forbid, without Him). Or destiny is before us; our untimely departure unknown to all, but a sovereign God with a perfect plan who uses all things for His glory, even after we have left this earth.
Without fail, towards the end of the year, social media in particular, gets flooded with comments after some amazing people have left this life; people of great accomplishments, people of legendary fame; people relatively unknown, except for the small circles in which they impacted greatly the lives of those around them. "This year can end any day now" is a sentiment shared by many.
Then the New Year starts, and one wonders... really? This is how we are starting?
Last week, our church held the funeral of the most incredible lady of faith, as she finally went home, after a 4-yr battle with cancer. Her faith and steadfast trust in God was remarkable and her smile lit up the treatment ward, as she dressed for each day; like her reality didn't affect her attitude. My heart breaks for my friends, in the loss of their mother.
Then the city of Detroit, lost a man of great impact... pizza magnate and Red Wing's owner, Mike Ilitch. Fans, friends and family... the outpouring of love that has gone forth for the love and appreciate of a man who did so much for his community and beyond, as a business icon, simply can't be ignored.
Finally, in the past few days, Christian music pioneer, Larry Norman, too, passed into eternity. Another great; who left an indelible mark on those around him, not to mention the hundreds of thousands, who came to Christ through his ministry and music and even more, whose faith was encouraged by his talent and his words.
All that to say; and this isn't a projection of the demographic make up of church leadership; but loosing people of influence and those in our daily circles of involvement is never easy... whether they be family, friends or business. As I considered the Earth's loss of these people, I couldn't help but consider all the others, whose lives are being mourned, even this hour. People of influence. People of faith. People of prominence or relative obscurity. Friends. Leaders. Mentors.
As those in church leadership begin to step away from ministry due to age and health concerns, whether they are senior pastors or not, I couldn't help but wonder the value and contribution that has been gained over the years, and what will be lost when they go. For those associates and friends who will fill their places, God help them, as we pray He will for the friends of the aforementioned.
Pray, for these families, friends and congregations. May God grant them strength and comfort during this time of loss. Pray that as we reflect, it would cause us to celebrate the time we shared with them on this earth and what God accomplished in and through their lives. May their testimonies speak the truth, of the goodness and greatness of the love of Jesus Christ among us. Pray for those who remain; to tell their stories; to apply what we've learned from them and continue their legacies. May we impact our communities and our worlds, whether local or global to greater degrees than they, as we have been inspired that this world is not about us, but God. Pray we recognize our place and the plans He has for us... to do good works for the cause of Christ.
May Heaven be our home
As we are just aliens and strangers.
Travelers here... simply passing through.
Bringing glory to God
Leading others to Christ.
For the advancement of the kingdom of God.
In the movie, The American President, Michael Douglas plays the role of a widowed President who falls in love with a lobbyist. A classic 90's romantic comedy, the opening scene is of President Shepherd walking through the White House portico, from the residence to the Oval Office, which is personal aide by his side. It's Monday morning and the previous night, he had given a speech. In an impromptu move, he skips an entire section. Enter, the personal aide's comment, that the speechwriter would like to talk to him before the day begins.
In the quick and brilliant writing that is Aaron Sorkin, President Shepherd replies,
"Well, it wouldn't be Monday morning if Lewis wasn't concerned about something I did Sunday night."
Of course, when Lewis sees the President, his first words are his frustration about dumping an entire paragraph. The President simply quips in reply, "And Monday morning it is."
Isn't church, much the same way?
We know how much disagreement can arise between staff and leadership, in any organization, but we are foolish to think it doesn't happen in churches. And not just from the staff. Congregations are often quick to speak on matters and areas of concern or question; whether regarding decisions or conversations, ministry or direction; a sermon... or any other of the 100's of situations that arise in any given week.
Leadership requires thick skin and a church will quickly find itself in trouble if the pastor is a "push-over." It's not matters of any degree of difficulty shouldn't be handle with care and compassion, but if decisions are always being made by the shifting directions of some people's frustrations, then eventually everyone will be frustrated with the leader who can't or won't cast vision and stand by the courage of his or her convictions; let alone the decisions they make.
All the more reason, to #pray4pastors.
On, this #seniorPastorMonday the 13th, pray for pastors in the decisions they face, both at home and in ministry. For those in challenging positions, where wisdom is lacking, pray a super-natural indwelling of the Holy Spirit to bring illumination to their hearts and minds. May they ask of God, who gives generously. Pray for those within the church, and staff, who are having difficulty expression areas of concern with tact and gracce. May their be a wisdom on their part as well, to know when to speak up and how; that God would grant discernment as to the process of trusting versus questioning leadership. Pray emotions would not dominate these times, but that God would be glorified, as the church reflects Christ at all times and moves forward in the plans and purposes God has ordained from them to accomplish.
May clear direction
Lead to sound decisions.
That the people of God would move in unity.
That the work of ministry may go forth.
In confidence. With competence.
For the glory of God.
And as is later stated in the movie, "politics is perception"
We don't like to think of the things and obstacles that stand in our way of accomplishing the task at hand. Whether we have set it before us, or someone else has placed it on our list; we all look at the mission, should we choose to accept it, and figure out a game-plan and strategy to "get it done".
To not expect or prepare for obstacles along the way would be foolish; like not preparing for the storm when building a house.
However, it's frustrating when the obstacle to a person or organization comes in the form or a person or group.
A parent dealing with the adamant attitude of a teenager... or the defiant voice of a child who thinks they are closer to their teen years than they actually are; a manager struggling to deal with the naysayers on the team; perhaps the team member whose boss won't listen to the voice of reasonable suggestion... whatever the situation, figuring out how to navigate the relationships that come into play with the task-at-hand can create and quickly become seemingly insurmountable obstacles to one's ability to be effective and efficient.
Over time, it affects the entire organization... or business... or church.
Thus, will you join me, as I offer my thanks once again for #praying4pastors. Pray, this #effectiveSunday, that God would grant to His people and church leadership, grace and wisdom in dealing with difficult people and tense relationships. May the Holy Spirit impart wisdom as places of understanding are sought; that people and teams would come to mutual and equitable agreements. Pray that emotions and feelings would not run the table, but the Word of God would guide their steps and prayer direct their conversation. May disagreements be worked out; that discernment would prevail as concerns are brought forth, addressed and solved.
Pray God would go before us, to show us the way.
May His presence go with us as we move forward.
For if God is not in it, then we should not desire it.
As we move forward, to advance the kingdom of God.
For His glory and honor; in the power of His name.
I've quoted this line from comedian Brad Stine before, yet once again it stood out... in particular, the second portion of the statement.
"The truth offends. That's it's job. It's how you know you don't have it."
The second half of the statement, relates perfectly this #communitySaturday.
Brad continues this monologue, in that, as Christian, we must not "maliciously offend."
The truth always disrupts.
It will be uncomfortable.
It will be unsettling.
The conversation will be difficult.
Speaking the truth usually is.
There's really nothing that can be done about what the truth is.
The only thing we have control over regarding it, is whether we speak it and how we react when we hear. Thus, there's not much one can do when it offends. The only way it doesn't offend is if it is not spoken (which usually makes matters worse, the longer time passes before it is spoken)
Thus, as Christians, what we must be carefully with, is over-stepping the innate power of offense with the insertion of malice.
Do Christians have their moments? Sure... as does everybody.
But the truth is to be spoken in love. Not in malice. In fact, is this where it splits? Is it possible to maliciously offend and still speak the truth? Certainly you can't be loving and malicious at the same time.
For the time and culture in which we live, the church and people of God, truly need and must seek the favor and grace of God. Political tensions, social expectations, psychological understandings, emotional baggage... all attempts to stand in the way of the super-natural power of the truth, that if not accompanied by the love of Christ and the revelation of God's Word will accomplish little.
How we need's help, this hour, this day and throughout this year.
Pray, this #communitySaturday, that God would help us... in this increasingly difficult climate, to speak the truth in love. Pray a boldness to speak the truth, for it seems the alternative to not offending someone is to simply remain quiet. May God grant to us understanding understanding, to cut through the obstacles that stand in the way of the revelation of God. Pray malice, anger, spite and vindictive spirits would not be found among the people of God. In a time where the assertion of rights are at the forefront, may we be people who would submit ourselves anew to Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
That we would glorify God.
That we would reflect Christ.
That truth would reside with us.
God help us be effective communicators
Locally to the communities in which we live
Globally to the world in which we share life.
For the advancement of the cause of Christ.
Peace be with you all.
It is my hope and prayer, that all is well with you.
It is my hope and prayer, that this website and the prayers being offered up in response, on behalf of pastors, church leaders and missionaries are making a difference. I truly want to see churches make a greater impact in their local communities and if possible, see the change come some Sunday, as more commit to Christ and engage in the kingdom of God.
That said, during the course of my mind wondering yesterday, I recognized a pattern... and maybe it's just me (if so, it wouldn't be the first time.)
The more you think about spiritual matters, the more you realize just how much work you have in front of you spiritually.
If you don't think that's true; keep reading the Bible. God always finds an area to touch on and reveal, where, perhaps we aren't entirely wrong, but we could certainly be more like Christ; or least reflect Christ to a greater degree.
So, this is #misssionsFriday... what are you saying?
Yes, missions is primarily about reaching out with the salvation message of the Gospel; however, they do a disservice, if they fail to teach the other side of the it... the process of sanctification.
For once we've accepted the love of Christ and His gift of eternal life, why would it stop at that?
This is a covenant relationship. We see correlation of marriage, of Christ to the church.
The two become one.
They give of themselves to each other; fully and sacrificially.
And over time, they operate as one and are recognized as one. Christ is resides in the body of believers and the believer reflects the person and image of Christ.
But if we only reach out and offer salvation, we short-change the lost.
Pray, this #missionsFriday, that God would help missionaries, in their outreach and their message. May they do well (as I'm sure they do), to not short-change those they reach by not preaching the whole Gospel of Christ. As Bryan Duncan is singing "Inside Out" (as I write this), may many experience a total transformation in their lives. Inside out. Upside down. (and most definitely) Right side up. Pray God would accomplish the miracle of revival in the lives of many, as His people reach out and offer a hand of compassion, not just for the physical need but the condition of the soul.
May this be a day that many would come to Christ.
May this be a day that many more would reflect Christ.
For we all works in process in God's garage.
Various stages of tear-down, rebuilding and restoring.
To be used for His glory
To be a witness of His transforming power
As we give ourselves to Him, as He did for us.
For the advancement of the Gospel of Christ.
I mentioned yesterday, the "aha" moment, in dealing with the attitude of my oldest daughter the other night and the seemingly instant "drop" in my spirit, that it wasn't her, but the enemy trying to set a course in her life that was unhealthy, at the very least and disastrous, at it's worst.
Then, yesterday's verse of the day resonated.
... for the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
That moment with my daughter was not anything great or magical on my part. It was however, an answer to prayer as we've continued to lift her up before the Lord; asking and seeking wisdom as parents and praying God's hand upon their lives and his purposes fulfilled in and through them as the progress.
Likewise, as Pastor shared last night, that his pastor encouraged him when he took over what was left a remnant of a church many years ago. His Dad spoke into his life during the early years of rebuilding, that if they did the "right" things now, it would establish them for greater things later.
"What goes up fast, comes down fast". (thanks Pastor, I'm borrowing this)
Whether raising a family or raising up a church; indeed, may today be a fresh and new start, for the Word of God to speak and direct our lives and to allow us to speak and direct that which crosses our paths.
So, pray, this #deaconThursday, may God's Word remain at the forefront of our lives. Pray for wisdom and discernment in our churches and homes; that as the face of God is sought, He would reveal and illuminate His will, plans and purposes that we should walk and carry-out. May that which was meant to derail, detour and destroy be cast aside; as the church presses on towards the prize of the high calling. Pray an awareness of the spirit; to move beyond the natural and operate by the power and prompting of the Holy Spirit.
That those who know their God
Would do great exploits.
Wisdom beyond our years and abilities.
For the advancement of the kingdom of God
And to His honor and glory.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.