In a moment of jest with God, early yesterday afternoon, I once again suddenly realized I had no ideas for this post. (Fresh content, served daily @ Bring Me 70!!)
As if playing, poker, I realized my fate and folded. "I got nothing, God. What do you got?"
Suddenly, I was reminded of the Friday night poker game, from an episode of my favorite political drama. Staffers enjoying some down time after work, discussing a situation and one staffers' "faith in humanity". The other players have all folded during this hand, it's come to two staffers.
As they close out this particular discussion, the one shows his cards.
"I've got ace high flush. Give me your money."
To which, the other staffer replies:
"I've got tens full of queens. Give me yours."
Then, my light-bulb moment. Forecasting. Even your certainty is uncertain.
As we've prayed a couple of times the past few weeks, regarding pastors, in transition, it's official... a pastor friend is moving "up" if you will... from leading youth, to leading a church, as senior pastor. I'm excited for him and the family and know they will do well. In reality, he has his work cut out for him.
The church currently runs 120 or so in attendance. A strong base to start from. Many small churches would love to see 120.
The challenge... the 900 seat sanctuary. Forecasting.
I have no idea the backstory of this church. ZERO. ZILCH. NADA. That said, I see two possible scenarios (and both could be wrong, for all I know!)
1) They at one time, thought they could or were growing at a rate to need that much capacity and never got there.
2) They came pretty close, until something transpired; and the 120 is the remnant that remains, or perhaps with some growth mixed in.
How do you account and plan for such things? Corporate is different. People by and large, make decisions driven by brand loyalty. Gas. Groceries. Clothing. Cars. Anyone on their 6th iPhone?
Planning for church growth, though? Number of new salvations; growth from personal invitations, growth from events in the community; job changes, growth in the community itself...plus, people leave for various reasons; people switch churches, depending on life changes or ministry changes... 120 to 900 or vice versa, however and whatever occurred is a huge swing!
Again, perhaps I'm wrong and something else happened. But in this day and age when people are more faithful to their brand than the church, you can't help but wonder what is going on.
Who recommends a great church? Where are the great churches? We stand in long lines for the newest dining experience, latest movie release and the next big thing on stage. Not that those aren't fun and great and have their place, but in light of eternity, the only reason a church building should be empty is if its' congregation is on the streets, compelling others to come in!
For Christ to come and offer life and life more abundantly, how it must destroy His spirit, to see churches on the verge of closing shop and pastors exhausted to the point of turning in the keys to the building.
The forecast may be bleak today, but the promise for tomorrow is bright. So we pray...
On this #deaconThursday, for churches facing the challenges of church operations, keeping the doors open, reaching the community, strengthening the faith of it's congregation and so much more... God grant to them discernment and wisdom as they continue to plan and pray for direction, in fulfilling the calling in the communities where they serve. May God strengthen the collaborative efforts of pastors, staff, volunteers and church boards, to reflect the power of God in their midst; that they would indeed compel the community to seek God for themselves.
Expand the tent-stakes, for the harvest is ready. May the gatherers be many...
For the cause of Jesus Christ; the glory of God and the edification of the church-at-large.
No matter where you find yourself in life, you are never done learning. NEVER!
I went to college, where we often talked about the concept of being a 'life-long learner". I loved and looked forward to the process. Nowadays, I'm not so sure... I keep feeling as though I'm going through the same lessons over and over again, like I'm missing something and having to take a mulligan on the last test.
I feel there's so many things that I have to learn, that I'd like to learn, that it's a little dis-heartening to think about. Then I think about the people in my life and in various circles. Two incredibly brilliant men, whom I admire, have both acknowledged, that on numerous occasions, they have stepped "into the room" and felt as though they were at the bottom. People, who you listen to their conversations and experience, and you just know... beyond doubt, they are on a whole other level. And there's many more friends, who know so much more. My Dad and I have had this conversation many times... "how do you know all this stuff?"
Some of it is a matter of interests and the variety thereof. Some of it is motivation. Then there's this aspect, that I posted on one of my other blogs (Less Is More...More Or Less). Titled, The Classroom of Awareness:
There is as much to be learned simply from watching the mistakes and faults of those around you as there is learned through instruction and study. It requires an awareness of who you are now and a decision about who you will and won’t become moving forward.
That's really the starting point. Knowing who you are; finding out if you don't know already. What will help you grow and develop, intellectually, emotionally, relationally and spiritually? Be on watch for moments in time where an exchange can or will occur, that will move you one step closer to where you want to be and who you want to become.
For the parent or pastor still in this process themselves, things get dicey quick. I texted a buddy tonight, that I felt like I was stuck in a "when Dad gets his act together, we'll start listening to him" zone. I know I'm not alone, but in the moment, it's frustrating. Fortunately God's grace is sufficient. And after a deep breath, another teachable moment to share with the kids. Hopefully they'll catch on quick... if for no other reason than to avoid some of the frustrations I've experienced.
On this #youthPastorWednesday, pray for Gods' help! To come quickly, in helping pastors and parents alike, figure out how to best handle teachable moments. May God give us the words and insight to effectively communicate with them, lessons that will stick with them for a life-time. Pray for kids and youth, that they would, for all their days, seek and inquire of the Lord, for the situations and challenges they will face on every front; in every aspect of life. Pray for the supernatural in their lives, as well as a grace, for when they make mistakes or experience failure. May they get up, rise up and try again.
God is always with us; having never given up on us... no matter how many attempts it takes to learn. May they grow to be life-long learners of many things, starting with God and His Word.
In His Name, we ask these things. We give You the glory in advance; none of us as grandchildren, but children... of the Most High God.
Leave it to God, in His sense of humor to provide confirmation, that I am facing something in my life, up close and personal, at this particular stage, for the very first time. I wasn't thinking about it, when I came up with the title, either. Hours later, the irony switch flipped.
I found out over the weekend, that friends of mine had taken on a new role at another church a while back. While the one spouse had been involved in worship ministry in the past, now she was leading worship.
A whole new world.
To this day, I love how our Worship Pastor describes this role. There are worship leaders and there are lead worshipers.
It's a great and powerful perspective... especially when you find yourself in unfamiliar territory. One focuses on who you are, the other, on what you do. One focuses on your position to man; the other on your position to God.
The more I thought about this, yesterday afternoon (as I pondered another potential situation, that also would be a first), I thought about how often God called forth men and women, totally unprepared to do in full, what God had asked of them. Save this... their heart was willing. Sure they had doubts. And questions. And hesitant moments. But, in the end, obedience won. They dug deep, did what God asked and God use them to advance His kingdom. In the process, their is much to be learned from the lives' mistakes to their life's faith.
So you and I must do the same. For unfamiliar territory. For unknown outcomes. For unseen paths that await us, as we move forward with God. It may be our first time, but for God, He is a seasoned professional. We can trust Him, for His help, guidance, support, correction and love.
Pray with me, this #associatePastorTuesday, for those pastors finding themselves in unfamiliar territory and situations... facing challenges, difficulties and opportunities for the first time. Pray for wisdom to make the right decisions. Pray for understanding, that they would know what you desire to accomplish. Pray for strength, that they would not give up in frustration. Pray for favor, that God would prepare their steps and place the right people at the right time as to work the miraculous.
May God have His way in our lives as we acknowledge our reliance upon Him. Whether we be experienced or rookies, God also has something more. Something new. For His glory; accomplished through willing hearts.
Over the past few weeks, we've prayed a few times for associate pastors who were considering the transition to senior or lead pastor, within a church hierarchy. Most recently, I did have a real life situation that prompted this being a focus of prayer for the Bring Me 70 community.
Now, knowing that this transition is taking place, a detail in the story prompts this aspect of our prayer focus today. When my friends stepped in to candidate for this Senior Pastor position, the church overwhelming responded in favor of them. And I immediately recalled what our Senior Pastor shared when he announced this process was taking place... advice that he was passing along, having heard it many years before, that was given to his father, as a young pastor:
When you candidate for a church, you'll know very quickly, a sense of the Spirit, as to whether it's the place God would have you to be or whether you should wait for what's next. And just that quick... here was a favorable response to my friend, in overwhelming support.
It just goes to show, the importance, of how much both a pastoral candidate and a seeking church need to be in prayer and Godly counsel as to who God would have placed in positions of ministerial leadership and pastoral office.
What if the church was so desperate, they just picked the 1st person that came into the picture. What if they were so tired of waiting, they settled on less than what God had for them? This isn't case with my friend, but what if they were so ready for a change, they took a church that was not a good fit. What if impatience got the best of them and the rushed the decision?
Disaster for both parties. A ministry ruined. A church crushed. A witness in the community blotched. A family uprooted and relocated, unnecessarily. A congregation neglected and left feeling abandoned because those in charge made some bad calls and plays.
Plus... let's face the reality of life for a moment. A transition in church leadership as a pastor moves to what God has planned for them, means the church they depart now faces that same transition process! Corporations go through the same thing, but somehow hiring and firing in ministry feels like human resources on spiritual steroids. At least it would to me. Such decisions would keep me up at night, long hours and days after I had drenched and doused them in prayer.
Perhaps I'm hitting too close to home as you read this. But life is real. So is ministry. And just like the secular marketplace makes decisions that are best for the company and sometimes people get hurt; so to, churches face similar challenges. What's best for the church, the protection of congregation, the integrity of the faith... and yes, the soul of the individual. It's all the more reason to pray regarding this element of church life. Which we're starting now.
Pray, this #seniorPastorMonday, for churches that are some place of transition, be it with pastors, deacons or positions of staff members. Pray for divine wisdom and revelation, that pastors are placed in right churches, congregations and communities... not because one is better in nature or in the offer, but because it's God's will and perfect plan, that they be placed where they are for such a time as this. Pray for direction in the management of the human resources element of church life; for wisdom in handling situations that need to be dealt with, while still expressing, the compassion and love of Christ throughout the conversation. May churches know the decision God would have them to make for their ministry, as much as the pastor would know the will of God is for their calling. Pray for a peace that surpasses all understanding; regardless of the outcome... even when there is no understanding to be found.
May God be glorified.... even in the most difficult of decisions and the most agonizing of processes.
It's Easter Sunday!
Jesus is alive. The Man whom you seek is not here, but He has risen. And returned to heaven to prepare a place for those who accept Him as the Lord & Savior of their soul.
Christ did, once and for all, what until that point, was done "regularly". A sacrifice. There had to be a death to pay for the wages of sin.
What's incredible about the cross and the resurrection is that because Christ paid the price for sin, it makes salvation a gift.
You receive a gift. That means someone else has already paid for it. And from the generosity of their heart, they offer it freely; as opposed to a note attached, requesting reimbursement. Nor, unlike some gifts, does it come with a disclaimer of "having an understanding" as if it were a gentleman's agreement.
It is UN-conditional. There is nothing of value from a finite individual that would satisfy an infinite God. Perhaps in His sovereignty God knew that fallen man would interfere. God is not willing that any should perish... so the only way to do guarantee that nothing stood in the way, was to keep salvation simple and free.
Jesus set an unconditional precedent in His interaction with humanity during His time on earth.
Love. Forgiveness. Acceptance. Not for what is external and known. But for what is internal. And known only by God.
Sadly, the church, over time, has placed conditions. To be "a part"... actions, behaviors, attitudes, words, socioeconomic position, status....the superficial, the external. The church, has at times, overlooked the soul of humanity. The only part that matters in the end; that God cares about the most.
How can a church be effective if it fails to see people as God sees them? Broken. Damaged. On the verge of certain death. In need of spiritual rescue. In need of restoration into who He created them to be... in His image.
What a better thing to pray on this Easter, #effectiveSunday, that the church would show the love of Christ for humanity as He did, through the cross and resurrection; UN-conditionally. May God forgive the times, we as the church have dishonored Him, when we have looked down at others, visitors... perhaps said or did or passed by, as though they didn't belong... help us, God. May the church remember, Jesus left the throne room of heaven to taken on sin. From the prince, to the pauper and the pastors of them both, none of us belong. Pray this Easter Sunday, many come to experience the forgiveness of God, His love for their life and redemption through Christ's sacrifice.
May the body of Christ exhibit Christ in ways that bring honor to Christ. For the cause of Christ.
Too much? No. One can never have too much of Christ. Happy Easter and God Bless, as you celebrate His life!
It's Easter weekend, and churches are in a frenzy of events geared toward community and telling the world what Christ accomplished for all of humanity over 2000 years ago and why it matters today. In a couple hours, kids will be scrambling for more candy than they know what to do with, hidden in Easter egg-shaped and sized containers. Tomorrow, the celebration of a risen Savior. And at our church, it kicked off last night, with an intimate gathering of friends and neighbors, for a great time of fellowship and a Christian comedian... for laughter does good like medicine.
We had an absolute riot.
I got to thinking last night, as we left... after my wife and I talked with a friend for quite a while about a matter in our own lives, followed by my touching base with another friend "real quick", just before getting behind the wheel, that there's a difference between the world's sense of community and the church. It's not that one is better, for I know many unsaved people who are, for what it's worth, great people... would give the shirt of their back, help where they can and support you, even when others didn't. And even in church, sadly not every one is like that. I get it.
So, as a disclaimer, I'm incredibly blessed to be a part of a strong, healthy church, that while not perfect, probably doesn't a number of "issues" that other churches face. I'm sure it's by design, and there's a number of reasons for it, which are worth exploring later... but here's my point.
The community of churches-at-large, care about people to the depth of one's soul.
Yes, they want me to be healthy, but to carry out an eternal purpose. They want me to succeed, but with the intention of using God's blessing to bless others. They want me to have a strong marriage and a healthy family, not just for the sake of my sanity and a retreat in the number of gray hairs; but that we may make an eternal impact in the lives of those we come in contact with on a daily basis. They want what's best for me, not because I'm the greatest guy they've ever met, but because they know that we are designed and created with destiny. Furthermore, they serve to remind me that for all the trouble we face on our earth, this is not our final destination.
This world and all that is in it, is temporary. So what good is the purpose of doing anything, if it doesn't remain after ever last life has passed over into eternity, unless their is something incredibly awaiting in eternity?
What awaits us, is God the Father! What awaits us, is the Son of God. The One whose life we celebrate this weekend, in what He accomplished on our behalf that we may have an eternity worth living for, rather than living with an impending doom. The difference in community is the difference for eternity.
So, pray with me this #communitySaturday, that it would be a day, that as these two communities interact, through kids hunting for eggs and other events, that the world would discover that there is an eternal purpose for life on earth. May peoples' eyes be opened to see and hearts to receive, that an eternal destination of hope & love is available to them through Christ' death and resurrection... that doom and despair is not inevitable. May the community of Christ effectively demonstrate His love this weekend, to those in need of love that lasts beyond our faults and failures. For love that is super-natural. Unconditional. Eternal.
May the community of the unsaved experience Christ in ways beyond what humanity can accomplish on its' own, through the expression of care and concern from the community of the church.
For the glory of God. For the cause of Jesus Christ. For God is not dead. He is surely alive. May many see for themselves.
On this Good Friday, follow this train of thought with me, for just a moment.
An online dictionary defines "suicide mission" as is:
"(of an action) undertaken or (of a person) undertaking an action in the knowledge that it will result in the death of the person performing it in order that maximum damage may be inflicted on an enemy "
In the war against the soul of man, by Satan, through the avenue of sin, I have but one person up to the task.
We've seen it in the movies. We've heard the real life stories. Perhaps you are reading this, and you have lived it.
The HERO. The one who steps up and does what needs to be done, when no one else is willing; when no one else is available; when no one else can inflict as much damage as another potential person. Accomplishing the impossible, through the supernatural, Christ did what no other person could. Plus, because it's a spiritual war, not a physical one, there's the whole qualification aspect, to be able to pull this off.
There was only one, perfect person who could accomplish the task of making the gift of salvation available to all of humanity that would stand the test of time.
What remains about this whole deal, is that salvation through Christ on the cross was not in response to Satan, as if it were a contingency plan or something. No. This was The Plan. From the foundation of the universe, was this... the ultimate suicide mission. Of course, like any epic mission, the element of surprise, for the enemy was Christ' resurrection. You don't believe in someone accomplishing the impossible unless they live to tell about it or there is evidence that the mission was successful. On Easter weekend, we are reminded, that in this war, both are true.
Mission: Accomplished. Survivor: One. Rescued: Whoever chooses to call on and believe in the name of the Lord.
Pray with me, this #missionsFriday, that Easter 2016 would be a time of many, coming to faith in Jesus Christ. May the gift of love and redemption, made available to us through this heaven-bound mission, be realized. That Christ defeated the power of sin over man through death on the Cross. Pray people would understand the victory that is available to them, because the Son of God accepted certain death, in order for fallen man to have an open invitation for eternal life. His love poured out; giving of Himself, taking our place, to accomplish the miraculous; the supernatural; the impossible.
All because God SO LOVED THE WORLD.
Tuesday night, while catching up on social media, I came across a post from a pastor, about resources that were available from district level of their church affiliation for new church plants. In the comments that followed, an interesting conversation about church planting versus church revitalization. The pros and cons were though-provoking... the money that goes into a church plant that may or may not last to the 5-year mark, while churches needing "makeovers" have been there for decades. Plus, there's the whole, how many churches can a particular denomination or affiliation need in a given area?
On the flip-side; depending on the structure of the church as an organization, the chain of command may or may not be able to direct people to specific churches or areas. Ministry is a calling. I understand, how dicey things can become when there is overlap in an area between two churches of the same affiliation. That said, who really wants to be the person to tell a pastor that they are "wrong" about the area God has called them to, based on there already being a particular church for that community? Granted, they just might be wrong. Who knows. But the amount of prayer and time with God that had better occurred before having such a conversation ought to amount to a staggering number.
Say all that to say, depending on the organizational structure of a denomination, fellowship or affiliation, some incredibly complex procedures and decisions can result in some tense and frustrating moments. While I haven't been "in the room", I can only imagine the discussions. On second thought, maybe I don't want to do that.
The truth is, each church has it's own culture. And aesthetically-appealing structures may help people feel welcome, but ultimately, it's the culture that keeps them coming back. As I told my girls last night; they were telling me how much they had fun in their class, then they asked about mine. Service was great, then I got to talk with a few friends. I love my church friends.
Church can get complicated. Fast. For all the decisions a church has to make, plus the long-term effects that hang in the balance combined with the input, direction and desires from higher-ups in the organization... now we've got ourselves a show (to quote a line from my favorite television political dramas)
On this #deaconThursday, pray for churches and their governing bodies at district, regional and national levels... for the decisions and challenges they face that affect their community as well as their organizations. Pray wisdom and discernment would lead the discussion; may God's will and Him glorified remain at the center of their plans. May the temptation to compare be kept at bay; that pastors and decisions makers would focus on remaining true to their own calling and understanding their culture and using their strengthens for the glory of God. Pray for those churches, being planted and revitalized... may God breathe afresh into those communities, that many would come to faith in Christ and that the faith of many would be strengthened and encouraged to make a greater impact for the advancement of the Gospel.
For all the quirks within every family unit, I'm glad to be apart of the family of God. For churches young and old, standing strong or learning to walk... if your doors are still open, God is not done with you.
The acronym is an extension from a moment of quick thinking in handling my oldest child the other night. Having worked herself into an emotional frenzy for not liking what she was told, I couldn't get her to calm down. Nor could she catch her breath to do it on her own. Hopefully we will have long had this under control, well before she hits the teen years, but for now, it's still a work in progress. However, these moments raise my frustration level and... well, gotta love parenthood. What do I do? The joy of being the adult... actually have to do the adult, mature, responsible thing, no matter how hard it may be in the heat of the moment.
What gets me, is how fast the emotions turn. It's like a switch! Could you locate it again? RED LIGHT! As quickly as you started, you need to turn it back off. You have to stop. You have to get control. As I continued trying to figure out how to get my message through to her, that she wasn't hearing, I walked across the room, grabbed a pen and paper (which turned out to be the back of the phone bill) and wrote the following:
ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS STOP. (caps not for emphasis, it's just how I actually write on paper)
Having taken a deep breath or two as I walked back across the room, I sat next to her and read it. Then had her recite it with me. After a few rounds, I replaced the "YOU" with "I".
ALL I HAVE TO DO IS STOP.
A few more recitations, then I inserted her name after the "I". Moments later, it had gotten through. Light switch found!! (for now)
I've since decided the phrase needs to be a family motto for our household. As shared in Tuesday's prayer post, situations and tensions, peoples' actions and responses can change so quickly, it will make your head spin. By the time mine stops spinning, there's a couple of new gray hairs that have joined the coup d'etat on my face. But before getting bent out of shape, frustrated, angry and flying off emotional handles, how much better would things turn out if we took a deep breath, and...
Stop. Think. Decide. Act.
Compose yourself. Give yourself a few minutes to assess what's going on. Figure out some appropriate options and make the decision based upon on what is best, all things considered. Then move forward accordingly.
It's advice I'd be better off following more often. It's something I want to instill in my kids. It probably help provide some reinforcement to my marriage, for no matter how strong marriage is, reinforcement is a good idea. And kids will be kids. Parents around the globe experience breakdowns such as this in their kids. As do pastors, in their own families. They also see the aftermath of kids, whose parents haven't handled parenting duties well. They see the aftermath of kids who haven't been taught self-control, in their words, actions and behaviors; physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.
So as much as I covet your prayers, I covet your prayers for pastors. Struggling to raise their own kids, while noticing daily reminders in the lives of others; how important their job is at home, to do well. In the meantime, they can only do so much for the kids in their ministry; as they watch their lives unfold, perhaps not having Godly principles instilled in them at home, let alone reinforced.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday... for this generation of young people; being shorted on so many levels, missing the stability of a Godly marriage in the home, lacking a Biblical foundation of principled-living, denied the truth of a God who created them, loves them and has a plan and a purpose for their lives... that they have a destiny beyond the tecnhology they hold in their hand that didn't even exist on the day of their birth, perhaps! Pray for pastors, struggling in the raising of their own kids... perhaps at a loss of what to do and say that will change the lives of those kids in their ministry who are facing troubling and difficult situations; circumstances that are robbing of them of their childhood, forcing them to grow up and take on life much sooner than expected. Pray God would bring supernatural wisdom and direction and healing, as we learn to control and compose our life; that we may act and respond in ways that would glorify Christ and not self.
May we seek His face, in all things. It's so easy to do, when we remind ourselves, that no matter what we are going through...
ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS STOP.
"Time is ticking away. Tick, tick, ticking away."
Words sung by the popular Christian rap band, DC Talk, in their early years, and obviously, still very true many years later. It keeps a steady, even pace, yet seems to go by faster, all the more... like it is building up speed.
This felt especially true yesterday morning, as I stopped at a customer site, where they had moved buildings.... literally, right next door. I asked when they made the move, suggesting it had been 3 or 4 months. The guy replied... September.
But more important than the all too quickly passage of time, is how quickly life and situations can change. In an instant. Faster than my Keurig filled my coffee cup. Information that can change a decision. A response, whether emotional or intellectual that changes the nature and dynamic of the conversation. It's these "drop of a hat" moments, that can catch one off guard, and cause things to elevate in ways that we never intended.
It may not be an out of control moment, but certainly one that you could reflect on and think, that really wasn't necessary. There isn't or wasn't a valid reason the situation should have played out like that. Yet in the moment, everyone has the potential to act and react in ways that do not line up with intentions. Like the article I read the other day, on a Pastor who gave theoretically advice, should he one day find himself discussing a moral topic with his child. It happens to be a topic, many people, including Pastor have had to actually have with their kid. The sole comment at the time I read the piece, was to the effect of... should you find yourself actually having to have this conversation, let us know if you handle it how you've written about here.
A healthy reminder, that for all of us, life can get just a little too real... way too fast. And for as much as the everyday Christian needs God's guidance and direction in such circumstances, how more for Pastors and those in ministry.
Pray, this #associatePastorTuesday, for pastors and the situations they face, like we all do, when life and conversations change quickly, in ways we didn't expect. Pray for their actions and words, whether they are first or in response, that they would have the wisdom and discernment to not make matters worse. Pray for a calmness of spirit and a peace about their demeanor... that God is at work in all of our lives, even when it gets hard and difficult. May their be a grace and love that transpires... that brings about healing and guidance to challenging circumstances, rather than more harm and frustration.
For all of us are called to reflect Christ as we follow Him. And while we all fall short, His grace is sufficient.
May we operate in that grace, daily. No matter how fast to goes by. For the glory of God, we pray.
It occurred to me, late yesterday evening (kids bedtime, give or take a few minutes) just how potentially difficult of a time, the week leading up to Easter can be for some pastors. Yes, it's absolutely a time to reflect on the powerful sacrifice of the Christ on the cross and the miraculous redemption available through His resurrection. I heard it explained in yesterday mornings' service, that the 3 hours of darkness was Christ, taking the sin upon the world. Everything went dark, because God, Father of Light, has nothing to do with darkness, hence Christ feeling forsaken... for indeed, the 3 hours was the transaction of salvation. Christ was not a sinner... He became sin. What an incredible analogy.
Yet leading up to that... we see the frailty and failure of men, who lost the courage of their conviction when the pressure got to be too much. All the disciples scattered. Judas sold his soul. So much was his angst with self, that he took his life. Peter, who three times expressed his love for Christ, later "walked back his words", as he denied Christ three times. Even after all he accomplished for the kingdom of God through his ministry, so much was his frustration with himself, he considered himself not worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord. So his request to be crucified: inverted, was granted.
No matter the accomplishments, accolades, and impact of a pastor, there can and often is, a very personal, very internal battle in the spirit... for all the situations, conversations and relationships that they wish would have turned out differently. That was perhaps in their control, to respond more appropriately. To commit to greater amounts of prayer and counsel before making a decision. To follow and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit more frequently, but instead, dismissed them with justifiable reasons... perhaps even valid ones, at that.
Remembering what Christ did for us is great. Necessary. Beneficial. Empowering.
Remembering what we've done that prompted a need for Christ to do what He did... frustrating, agonizing, disappointing, emotionally-crushing, mentally-taxing, spiritually-damaging.
We certainly don't have our act so together, that we could prevent ourselves from needing Christ in the first place. Ultimately sin is sin; only humanity assigns degrees, as if it matters. It's binary.
But Judas' and Peters' failures somehow seem worse than the other disciples' failure of simply being nowhere to be found. In the end, they all left... for a season. For whatever reason. But they came back. Redemption offered. Grace empowered. And they did more for the kingdom after Christ, than they did while they were with Him.
Pray, this #seniorPastorMonday, for pastors struggling with their faults and failures; whether in ministry or personally, as we enter this Passion week. Pray they be strengthened and encouraged, that God is not done with them yet. May they sense and know, that no matter what the situations are, that they should have handled differently, that God is able to heal and restore and refresh their minds and spirits. Pray for guidance and healing for such situations... for the miraculous to occur in their lives, relationships and ministries. May the transaction of redemption be made real in their lives... that forgiveness is available for all, extended to all and Christ is hopeful, that all would accept... His love, grace, healing and redemption. No matter what the degrees of sin may be, that we have assigned. Christ took it all upon Himself, that nothing may separate us from the love of God.
New creations in Christ. No longer known by our faults... now known as Forgiven.
For the glory of God and the cause of Jesus Christ.
With all the books, resources and websites on how to be more effective and efficient, one would think becoming and implementing the characteristics would be relatively easy. Maybe it's just me, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
For the individual, it can be challenging.
For the family... frustrating.
For an organization... daunting.
And for a church... divisive.
For reasons I don't fully understand, people seem to stay with employers and businesses that they may disagree with when it comes to policy and practice issues more than they stay with a church they disagree with. No organization or church, or family unity, for that matter, is perfect. Yet somehow, people part ways with the church easier and quicker than a company.
That said, it also seems easier for companies to implement best practices as they work towards becoming more effective and efficient. Buy-in for the corporate mission, excitement about the potential incentive or reward for having reached this accomplishment, loyalty to the brand or the people... whatever it is, you would think so same reasons for which most stay with companies as they change (and as easy as companies make it look), people would stick with churches as they go through a similar process.
Best practices and procedures are great, but in the end, what the thing(s) that will make an individual, family, and organizations more effective and efficient will be just a little bit different for them all. And figuring it out takes much... effort, patience, planning, 2nd, 3rd and 4th attempts, communication, grace for when you miss the mark, forgiveness for when others miss the mark and more. All things that are easier said than done, right? Right.
Yet, none of that should detour any of us, wherever we find ourselves, from making the investment of going through this process and seeing it through to the desired results. Plus, it's a never-ending process, so understanding that there will be a few more changes to go through as time goes on will help.
Again... there's enough out there that makes it look and seem easy. Yet that's not the case. And for the church, eternity weighs in the balance. For those outside the church who may never be reached by not going through this process. For those inside the church that may walk away, depending on how a church handles going through this process.
It's cause for prayer.
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, for churches and the body of Christ, in their own lives, that are struggling to become more effective and efficient... whether it be to become all God has in store for us or to make a greater impact for the kingdom of God, may God help in the process of figuring out, specifically what works best for each situation. Pray that there would be a grace, as people go through this process, for when they are frustrated with themselves, for when they are upset with others. Pray for a unity of spirit and open communication as people work through the process... may they come out stronger, better and greater for the glory of God and the cause of Jesus Christ. May we be careful not to waste our time, talent and resources; but commit them to the Lord... to make the most of what has been entrusted to us. For His plans and purposes.
Effective. Efficient. As God is, for He wastes nothing. It is ALL used for His glory. He alone, makes it work out just that way.
There's very few people that, on a consistent basis at a personal level, can cause you to "lose it", to the point that you feel horrible in regards to your walk with Christ. Young kids whose attitudes and behaviors would suggest they are out-of-control teens, rather than elementary age. Out-of-control teenagers, who you fear will one day get a rude wake-up call by the world, for which they desperately need but have no idea how badly it will set them straight. And God help us, should it not be enough to set them straight.
There's the irritating co-worker, an adjective that describes their best days on the job. Perhaps it's a boss who is dead-set on making your life (or that of the company or division) miserable to no end for any number of reasons. That sounds like a lot of people as a group, but on an individual basis, it's not that many. And I dare say, most people don't have one of each, all at the same time, although it probably happens all-too often for a season.
So who is there anyone left? Yes, there is one more group. Traffic.
I heard the story of a mom, teaching her kid about traffic lights.
Red means stop. Yellow means slow; caution. And green means...
And before she could finish, the child interrupts.
Green means "GO! #*(^&*@)!$ (character count not representative of actual word) Humor that hits too close to home?
I love driving, and Friday was one of those days, where I had my fair share of "what in the world were you thinking" moments with other drivers. The "Darwin Award" goes to the SUV driver, who from the left lane of the thru-lanes where they are building new overpasses, cut off the semi truck in front of me, to catch the off-ramp to the freeway interchange at the last minute. It was so last minute, that at what I can only imagine had to be 80mph or more, came within a couple feet, at best, of the crash barrier. If that weren't enough, to avoid hitting that, because of the rate of speed, the driver ended up cutting off a full-size truck already exiting the ramp. There wasn't much room left there either.
I about had a heart-attack. All of that to say, we talk about sharing our faith while living in the real world. We talk about responding in love and truth to those we disagree with on various topics. Then there are times when peoples actions and statements cause us to respond in ways that do not reflect well on our faith. I know. I have responded in those ways. I have been the cause of those responses as well, sadly enough.
It may not seem like much as to how we engage the community unless you are prone to hand gestures while driving, but how we respond to something as short-term and trivial, (right up to the point of an accident) as driving shows just how quick irritations can lead to rash statements and judgements. We don't know these people, yet somehow on the road, we think otherwise.
In the end, though, peoples' behaviors behind the wheel show just how selfish we can be. And our reactions show just how important it is that our opinion be heard concerning a person, over God's. None of that changes just one important fact.
We are all still sinners in need of a Savior.
Pray, this #communitySaturday, for God's grace and forgiveness as we consider and reflect upon our attitudes towards the world and the statements we make regarding their behaviors. May God help us, be slow to speak, slow to become angry, slow to make rash judgements and render opinions based on minutes, perhaps mere seconds of observations from a distance. However brief the encounter, may the body of Christ exemplify the character of Christ, for the glory of God. In hopes that one by one, we would win some, for the cause of Jesus Christ and the advancement of the Gospel.
Drawn to Christ. Driven to Love. In all we say. In all we do. Everywhere we go.
For some reason (as if life was all coincidence) I couldn't get another great Petra song out of my head. From their Back To The Street albums. The song... Fool's Gold.
Perhaps it was on my mind, as I pondered yesterdays post, on the eternal price and how we need to simply stay focused on doing our best, as unto the Lord... for who knows what will weigh in the balance as we stand before God.
Some say this life I live is only foolishness // No waiting pot of gold in the faith that I possess
But the treasures of this life will slowly turn to dust // And this fool will find his gold in the Savior that I trust
Fool's gold // It's waiting in a crown
Fool's gold // In a city coming down
I'll leave the gold I can't afford for // For the higher prize I'm pressing toward
I'll preach the "foolish" cross of Christ and wait for my reward //
The wisdom of the cross is easy to receive // But only foolishness to them that don't believe
They may say that I'm a fool for the cross that I proclaim // But the gold that I must seek won't be found in earthly things
When the crowns of gold are laid before His feet // Then the worthy Lamb of God is a treasure we will keep
Some may call me foolish, some may call me odd // But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man than a fool in the eyes of God
The message of Christ has stood up to the scrutiny of criticism over the they entirety of it's existence. Yet the message remains life-changing for the hearer today as much as it did for those who first read their copy. The power of salvation is an experience that can not be understood until it takes place for the individual first hand. God is not willing that any should perish, but all books, testimonies and sermon remain are powerless to affect change on one's heart until God moves in their circumstances to bring them to a place where they are ready to receive. To that end, the Holy Spirit also, must shed light on those things that are contrary to the person of Jesus Christ.
Sure, the "preaching of the gospel" sounds foolish on spec, but then again, since we are guaranteed both a certain and untimely (to us) death, I'd rather be considered foolish in the eyes of man, that eyes of God.
Thus, pray this #missionsFriday, for missionaries as the preach the foolishness of the gospel. Pray for ears ready to hear and hearts ready to receive. Pray people would not wait to encounter Christ on their deathbed, but come to faith in God in time to experience the transforming power of the cross and an opportunity to store up for themselves, treasures in heaven. May we not seek the things of earth, that quickly fade, pass and return to states of dust and decay, but follow Christ whole-heartedly and serve the Lord our God passionately. Strengthen the hands of missionaries, quicken their hearts, renew their minds, God.
Earthly vessels working for an eternal return on our investment. For the glory of God. By His grace.
Advancing the cause of Jesus Christ, confounding the wisdom of man with the foolishness of Heaven.
For the one minute I turned on the radio in my work vehicle this afternoon to see if I could catch a traffic report and it didn't happen. Got the weather instead, then back to the greatest hits. And as tempted as I was to keep the song on that they were playing, as it was a great classic 80's song, I shut the radio back off.
Of course, once again, moments earlier, still not having a topic for the next prayer post, the phrase "greatest hits" struck me. Particularly, in regards to the glorious day we will stand before God and receive our rewards! It got me thinking about what will in fact count. Will it be equal and fair, like the political commentary here on earth would promote? Will they be laid out according to their place of priority in regards to eternal importance? Questions only a finite mind would ask. The faith of a child says, who cares.....rewards are rewards, man!! What needs to be done to get rewards?!!
Apply this finite thinking to ministry for a moment. Someone responds to a call for salvation after a Sunday morning service... that's got to be a big reward right? Incredibly, eternally important? Absolutely. What about the people who come clean up the mess left by youth group or kids classes from a Wednesday night service? The person putting the bulletins together, or answering phones. The person who volunteers to go pick up lunch for a church or ministry meeting that has gone over schedule and won't be ending any time soon?
As in music, so I think it will be in heaven. There will be the "greatest hits", the obvious moments here on earth, that are recognizable as counting towards a heavenly reward. Likewise, I think there will be some "deep cuts" rewards... moments, that like songs, made an incredible mark, for a select few, but by and large were forgotten about as a matter of popularity.
Interestingly enough, our latest Wednesday night prayer devotional was on legacy. The first half was shared last week, by our Lead Pastor. The second half, by his wife, last night. At the close, she shared of a text she had gotten from a friend and among the comments, thankfulness for what she picked up on from a godly family... that didn't do anything obvious that would prompt a "thank you", but the little things added up to make an incredible mark on the life of this friend. That is the result of a life well-lived. Not having lived a perfect life, but working to bring glory to God through whatever moments in your life you can, in hopes that somewhere along the way it will make a positive impact for the kingdom of God and the cause of Jesus Christ.
So, we pray this #deaconThursday, that whatever deacons, admins and church staff find to do (as well as Pastors, obviously) that they would do so with the intention and motivation to bring glory and honor to God. May they not get bogged down in the mundane or doing a task "just to get it done", but that their would be an excellence factor. That God cares about what we care about, not because it's important, but because there would be an effort on our part, that whatever "it" is, there is an accompanying desire for God to be glorified in the process. May our work give way to show an active faith to those around us; that we are not perfect people, just people willing to be used by a perfect God. Unconditionally loving. Persistently patient. Compassionately merciful.
It's who God is. It's who He would desire us to become in greater capacity.
More like Him. Not for the rewards, but for His glory. And the advancement of the cause of Jesus Christ
I've been very careful (and prayed for God's help regarding this specifically) to avoid being overtly repetitious when it comes to these daily prayers posts. Yet at the end of the day, there are countless situations and challenges that we continually bring before the Lord in prayer until we see something happen, until there's an answer, a movement, a sense of direction.
So it is, during times and potential times of transition. What brings this topic to the forefront again, was the couple of posts I read yesterday when we prayed for Associate Pastors' wide-range of responsibilities, for which some of them actually come with a title of "pastor". Found on one of the sites, was the notion (often suggested or perceived) was that after a few years as an associate, that there should be a natural move, progression and seeking of "moving up" to senior... of leading an entire church, rather than overseeing an area of responsibility.
Yet, as the church, as an organization, changes and roles of associates become more specific in nature, using their talents and giftings that allow senior/lead pastors to focus on preaching and the study of the Word, then perhaps its not a good idea for turn-over in associate positions to occur so frequently.
We see this in the marketplace all the time. People change jobs for a variety of reasons, but the points of decision get challenging. Do you change things up because you are almost at a breaking point? Do you change if you can't figure out how to make things better that are within your control? How much time to you give to that process, before you move on? How do you know when is the best time to depart? How do you know which is the best opportunity to move toward? What factors carry the most weight in making the decision?
These are things I've had to ponder on numerous occasions. I have friends in and outside of ministry asking the same questions. They take time to discuss. Time to pray. Time to consider. And most importantly, time to seek the face of God, for His will and what He would have waiting for those who trust in Him. If it's true for the believer, why would we put an expectation on pastors as to when and where and why they should change things up in their ministry?
Let God Lead!!
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, that God would indeed, take the lead in guiding and directing pastors, in their place of ministry, in their areas of responsibility... in the timing, of when He says "stay where you are planted" and when He begins preparing for "transplant" and the words, "go over there". May there be a peace and renewed trust as we seek His face for guidance and direction in the conversations of such decisions. May there be a faithfulnesss until the work is complete. While the move is both sad and exciting, may there be a renewed sense of vigor and vitality of "what's next" in the plans and purposes of God;, by His Sovereign Hand.
May God go before us to prepare the way. May God continue to water us, while we stay.
Used for His glory. Wherever we are. Wherever He would take us.
There's a great exchange in my favorite political-drama television show, where the Chief of Staff bought a pen as a graduation gift for the President's daughter upon her completing college. The senior staff as well as the Chief's assistant all asked the same question:
"Does it do other things?"
"No. It's just a really, good pen" replies the CoS.
Associate Pastor seems to be an elusive term... a catch-all perhaps in aiding wherever they can to the senior/lead/head pastor. Or depending on the church who only has 1 pastor to begin with, the title given to the"second in line" if you will.
A quick search on pastoral titles gave opportunity to read some interesting comments. Things like, why can't they just pastor? Denominations uses titles differently. What's with all the specialties? Is Worship Pastor someone simply getting paid to do what the Song Leader, back in the day, did for free? And so many more. Some light-hearted with a dose of sarcasm. Others... bothered, that perhaps all the titles are taking away from actually doing the work of the pastor.
Senior/Lead Pastor - traditionally, the original Pastor
Executive Pastor - handling church operational responsibilities
Community Pastor - handling congregational responsibilities such as small groups and/or community relations
Outreach Pastor - handling of evangelism opportunities and events
Teaching Pastor - handling of things like adult ed classes, discipleship, perhaps small groups
Campus Pastor - for multi-site churches
Of course, there is' Children's, Youth, College, Worship - self-explanatory
And who knows' what follows... after that, it probably could get somewhat narrowly focused as to responsibilities, whereby someone could question whether it "qualifies" as a Pastoral role.
To all that, as we pray for Pastors facing burnout, perhaps times have truly changed in the church world... that there is too much going on in the world and society for one sole man or woman to "handle" all the responsibilities of the church, do so effectively, while accurately and effectively preaching the Word of God.
That being the case, wisdom and discernment is all the more needed and required to be covered in prayer. As as I quoted John Maxwell yesterday; "the right person in the right place = progression; the right people in the right places = multiplication"
Pray, this #associatePastorTuesday, for those Pastors struggling in their responsibilities, to effectively manage and handle the tasks and challenges they face. For the Associate who has become a "catch-all" pray for creativity and strength as they search for ways to gain traction and get help in finding solutions that will help them become more effective. For those overseeing very specific responsibilities, may they do that "one thing" (it's never literally just one) with excellence. Pray for wisdom and discernment for senior pastors and churches figuring out what works best for their congregation and community as to roles and responsibilities and the accompanying titles that should be filled.
May the work of the Lord, not be hindered by titles. May the body of Christ recognize the gifts and abilities of its' members and utilitze them accordingly... to do well, the building up of the church to impact the World for the cause of Jesus Christ.
On more than one occasion in the past couple months, usually regarding associate pastors, we 've prayed for associates looking to move up the pastoral ladder, tracking opportunities for what's next in their ministerial career. Yet like any other advancement, it comes from having a solid foundation of faith and a skill set that builds confidence that they can reasonable do the job. Of course, for ministry purposes, it helps greatly that theirs an anointing and calling to another place or rise in ministry.
It's been said by many, that a mark of great leadership is the ability to reproduce more leaders. It was a reminder yesterday morning. It's one thing to reproduce another leader. Its entirely another to establish a track record and develop a pattern of multiplying leaders. If Jesus thought it important to mention the return on investment of two people working together on something, how much greater the return to have multiple leaders taking responsibility over larger areas of work, to accomplish that much more for their efforts.
It helps, that for the aspiring leader, there should be a desire to accomplish much and a willingness to go out and make it happen, in spite of the unknown outcomes. Consider these words from leadership guru, John Maxwell....
"Potential leaders come to you to offer help more often than you go to them to give guidance."
Ministry is, in fact, a team effort. There is no getting around it. A well-cast vision. A well-thought out plan. A whole-hearted passion. A long-lasting commitment. A willingness to change something that might not be working. An ability to recognize who should be handing what and the time and place they should do so. If such elements are the building blocks to the success of an organization set on building the greatest widget known to mankind; how much more needed when dealing with souls of humanity in light of eternity?!
John Maxwell explains it this way:
The Wrong Person in the Wrong Place = Regression.
The Wrong Person in the Right Place = Frustration.
The Right Person in the Wrong Place = Confusion.
The Right Person in the Right Place = Progression.
The Right People in the Right Places = Multiplication.
Pray, this #seniorPastorMonday, for pastors as they work to invest in the lives of the leaders and potential leaders within their ministry. Pray for a strength and wisdom to what to impart that will bring knowledge, understanding and growth to the health and success of the receiver. Pray for those pastors struggling to discern and know how they should go about mentoring and developing upcoming leadership within their ministry... that they do recognize and place the right people in right positions. May those aspiring to lead, be people that desire to help before or rather than guidance is given. May pastors not burn out from regression and frustration. May future leaders not stall out because of confusion. God help in the placement of pastors and church leaders; that churches would witness progression and multiplication.
May the future generations of the church continue to build on the firm foundation of faith already laid, by men & women who remained close to God and properly invested in people.
For your glory. For the advancement of the cause of Jesus Christ.
Think with me for a moment, just how quickly you are misunderstood, or misunderstand another person, while talking with someone... wait for it... face to face.
Almost hard to comprehend, when it seems every time you connect with someone in real life and close the conversation touch base with me later, it's through technology. Facebook me or I.M. me. Do you have Skype? Message me on Twitter or accept my invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Or my favorite. we don't even ask people for their phone number any more with the intention of "when's a good time to call".
No... not even close. Just send me a text.
Seriously? First off all, you can't multi-task and text at the same time (even if you can text one-handed.) Unlike talking on the phone... which is why, eventually the entire for market switched to cordless! And cellular, "wireless".
If something can get "lost in translation" from one's mouth to the others' ears, how much more difficult on social media?
Extend this train of thought to yesterday's post on church and community.
Perhaps no two groups are more "at odds" than people who follow Christ and those who follow "no man" at all or someone other than Christ.
There are many groups of differing sides of a conversation that do every thing they can to understand each other, yet at the end of the day, simply agree to disagree and go on with their life, elsewhere with their business and far away from any reminders of the matter, should it come to that point.
Not so for Christians. Every group has people that, taken as a snap-shot, don't reflect well on the rest of the group, and ultimately for the believer, it's a reflection on Christ. So it's perceived the whole group is "bad", even though it's just more evidence of man's need for Christ. Our hearts tend towards self, even after salvation, which is why sanctification (becoming more like Christ) is a daily process. We must daily deny self.
But to the unbeliever... we are off-base, out-of-touch, evil, hateful, close-minded, intolerant...and the list is... far too long.
Talk about misunderstood.
No matter where you are in your relationship with God, you recognize you can't live life without Him.
No matter where you go in this world, you should recognize all the more, as you interact with those who still need Him, that sharing your faith and communicating effectively who Christ is and why He is needed in our lives now more than ever, is something you cannot do on your own strength and understanding.
Nothing gets by God without His knowledge or allowance. So whatever challenges the believer faces in their interaction with an unbelieving world, remember, God is aware of the struggle. He is actively at work in your life. He's allowing them to make their response, whatever it may be; however pleasantly dismissive, morally objectionable or surprising open to the possibility of Christ it may be. Just don't rely on your abilities.
Communicating the message of Jesus Christ requires the power of God to be active in the life of the believer, if the believer has any hope of rescuing the souls within their circle of influence from a Christ-less eternity.
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, in days where people are so easily misunderstood, words so quickly taken out of context and body language removed from the story altogether (thanks to on-line instead of in-person), pray a spirit of grace as communications take place; whether about faith or "just life". May the church realize and remember, how one talks about non-eternal subjects affects their credibility when they have opportunity to share Christ. Pray for those quick to dismiss Christians statements and opinions on any subject, based on experiences gone wrong in the past, either from previous Christians, previous churches or life circumstances that have "closed their hearts and minds" to God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Pray a fresh anointing upon the church for the times that lie ahead. Pray for this world, all too quick to point out the lies of others, but deny an absolute truth and the absolute, unconditional love of God.
Trust in God. Rely on Him. Call on Him. That this world would return to Him.
The next breath of ever person starts and ends on God's schedule.
Yesterday, for the life of me, I couldn't stop singing Petra's song, Not Of This World, from their album by the same title. Later in the afternoon, I remembered DeGarmo & Key wrote a song on this exact theme, Aliens & Strangers.
From DeGarmo & Key, it's the realization, of a difference in life, before and after Christ. For Christians, earth is not our home. "They're pilgrims just passing through; Heroes from their homeland". And a Sunday morning, the songwriter, realizes as he looks around, "My closest friends are aliens and strangers, travelers here, living with danger."
"We are pilgrims in a strange land // We are so far from our homeland
With each passing day it seems so clear // This world will never want us here
We're not welcome in this world of wrong // We are foreigners who don't belong
(chorus) We are strangers, we are aliens // We are not of this world
We are envoys, we must tarry // With this message we must carry
There's so much to do before we leave // With so many more who may believe
Our mission here can never fail // And the gates of hell will not prevail"
[Then they close with this....]
"Jesus told us men would hate us // But we must be of good cheer
He has overcome this world of darkness // Soon we will depart from here"
Somehow, as both songs kept playing in my head, like a CD stuck on "repeat one track", I remembered Jesus words. Don't be surprised, when the world reviles you and says all manner of evil against you. It's not you they hate. It's me.
Well, if it's us they hate, but it's because of Jesus, that people have a problem with Christians. (although sadly, some Christians have given people reason to dislike the person on their merit, not just Christ')
There will be disagreements, tension and frustration between the body of Christ and those who have yet to accept Christ. It's Light against Darkness. It's the truth of Heaven against the lies of the Hell. It's God's Word against Satan's interpretation. He has no new material!! Remember his first words, when he tempted Adam & Eve? It was NOT his own thoughts... it was "did God really say that?" He offered nothing of his own, except seeds of doubt.
The doubt has given way to an enormous expansion of other feelings and emotions people use to express their wanting to do nothing with Christ, the believer and the changes that occur in a life that says "YES" to Jesus Christ. But that should not keep us from genuinely sharing the love of the message of the cross... for the changes that come after saying "YES" are worth leaving behind the world of darkness... even before our departure.
Pray, this #communitySaturday, may the body of Christ be encouraged, as we are reminded, we are indeed, not of this world... that Christ is returning and we need to stay focused and prepared for that truth. Pray, as we engage community, that we would not give opportunity for people to have 'one more reason' to reject Christ, but that God would prepare hearts and minds to hear the truth of God's Word and the love of Jesus Christ... even when it makes them uncomfortable, afraid and doubtful.
In a world so desperately in need of Christ... pray for the miraculous in this troubled world.
If Jesus could continue to express love, grace and mercy in spite of the hatred He was subject to, then by the power of the Holy Spirit, we too must endure, keeping our eyes focused on Him... even for a short while longer. Eternity awaits all of us.
His LOVE defeats ALL hatred. It is not by our strength of will, but by the power of the Cross.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.