Thanks so much for joining us, for another #missionsFriday. I still can't believe how fast time is flying. Tomorrow marks the 23 consecutive month of posting these daily prayers and I'm grateful for those of you who are supporting your pastors and ministries through prayer.
I was greatly encouraged by yesterday's "verse of the day". The New American Standard states Hebrews 6:10 with these words:
"For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints."
Isn't that a great verse? For every once in a while, when we all have those days where we wonder if our lives are truly making an impact... not only to the unsaved around us, but also to encourage and uplift the fellow believers with whom we share life; God remembers our efforts in strengthening His kingdom.
Of course, there are many more who have served and minister much more than I.
And on this #missionsFriday, I felt led, to put a different twist... praying specifically for evangelists, apostles and prophets.
The men and women who hold these positions within the church to bring incredible insight and wisdom; strengthening and ministering to the body of Christ. Yes, their efforts reached the lost as well, but they also call us to greater understanding and deeper faith in our walk with God as we are transformed by the power of Christ at work in our lives. These are invaluable offices; gifts really that God has blessed us with the opportunity to hear, engage and receive from Him. And they need our support just as much, prayerfully and otherwise.
So, let us pray this #missionsFriday, for evangelists, apostles and prophets... for the unique circumstances and challenges they face for their ministries. May they be strengthened and encouraged even this hour. May God provide and protect, in their travels, in the time away from family, that God would be their source, for all they have need of each and every day. Pray for opportunities and doors to be open; that God would direct their paths and where He would desire to place them for such a time as this. May the church be challenged and changed anew, as these speak into and over the body of Christ; proclaiming the good news and the greatness of God... to greater depths and higher heights in our faith in Him.
For the glory of God.
For the advancement of the cause of Jesus Christ.
Isn't life great?
We don't always know in advance, (more often than not, actually) what the day has in store; what will happen, where things will go and the time and space that will need to be allocated to manage and handle it all. So you try to forecast and predict as best you can.
Then things change. And you find out, all to quickly, that not everything will fit. There simply isn't enough room, nor time. And so changes have to been made. Things have to be re-arranged.
It's not a fun process, granted. It requires extra thought. Extra planning. Perhaps even extra input and help from others, as the complexities can mount fast.
Likewise, as it happens in external circumstances, so too, does it happen internally, in our hearts, minds and desires. While we can try to force issues and make it work on our own, often it's best if we submit ourselves to God and ask for His help and guidance in where things need to go.
Out of balance and out of alignment... and we have to find our way back to Him, as David Zaffiro just started singing. (such a cool song!)
So, will you pray with me this #deaconThursday? Pray for deacons and admins, struggling with circumstances and situations, the complexities of which are quickly becoming overwhelming matters. May God give them wisdom and guidance; bring direction and clarity where rearrangements need to be made. Whether in their plans or in their lives, may there be a continued willingness for the Spirit of God to place His finger on matters that are out of balance and alignment with where God would have them to be and what He has for them to accomplish. May their efforts not be hindered by the process, but the perfecting work of Christ would propel them to greater impact for the kingdom of God.
Balance... in the right place at the right time.
For our lives.
For our homes.
For our families
For our ministries.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
I traveled a new stretch of road this morning... perhaps not technically new. Thinking about it for a moment, there's a chance I've been on it once or twice at most in the past two and half years. So, it certainly felt new. I was already driving through a pretty high-end community, but to see some of the properties for the first time... simply incredible. Not every single one mind you; I was slowly getting away from the busyness and into a more rural area, but still close enough to justify some executive-style homes.
This is nothing new... I daily drive by such properties and communities. Many of them have that incredible "wow" factor that makes you want to live there. Then reality sets in and you wonder, if I could afford it, would I really want to spend it all on one property? Wouldn't I rather have a modest place AND a vacation get-away? Or a modest home and a huge barn for my dream car collection? (keep in mind, everyone else' typical "dream" garage looks very different from mine)
All of this got me thinking...
Sure, most of these high-end homes are just as incredible to step into as they are to drive by, but what if they aren't?
Scripture was so far ahead of it's time, wasn't?
Man looks at the outside appearance, but God looks at the heart. Likewise, it's easy to get caught up in these exclusive neighborhoods, wondering how everyone on the highway can afford these lift-kit luxury trucks that probably never leave payment and think that because fit and finish looks perfect, that behind closed doors, life is equally grand.
Sadly, this is far from true; not only for a good number of the general population, but also a significant percentage of those in ministry. Not all of them granted, I understand that. But I get that life is hard. The struggle is real. The kids are watching, hearing and learning... and you consider the strength of your faith in light of the battles of life and wonder how this all plays out.
Family is watching. So are friends. So is the church. And as we pray for pastors of youth and kids, so is the next generation of believers.
May our faith and it's prominence in our lives not be just a powerful statement of appearance, but a life-long statement of substance; that while the challenges we face in life are great, we serve a God who is greater than anything that comes to seek and destroy our lives.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, for those pastors struggling in life, whether at home or ministry, where things just aren't going as well as what appearances would suggest. For those who feel they don't have a friend to confide in or seek for help, may God place people in their lives who will encourage and lift them up. Whatever the challenges they face and matters of the heart with which they are having difficulty, may God grant them wisdom and discernment as to the direction they should take and the decisions that should be made. Pray for the miraculous to occur in their marriages and homes; in the relationships with their kids as well as their ministry. May the youth that sit under their leadership witness and understand a true and genuine faith, that in spite of life's difficulties, their faith remains strong in Him who has sovereign placed them... for just a time as this.
May we not live a life of showmanship
But of substance.
Not known for our accumulation
But for our contribution.
Not only to the community in which we live
But the cause of Christ for which we serve.
For the glory of God and the witness of the Cross.
We all seek to have people in our lives who are understanding. And yet the adage is true; it is harder to seek to understand before being understood. We all want to go first; rarely do we desire to go second.
Understanding is an interesting concept. Things may not necessarily make sense, but understanding implies that when something is explained, we can see how certain conclusions or places of decisions were arrived... even if we haven't experienced it first hand.
Depending on your role in life, sometimes understanding is easier to come by than others. For as a famous comedian once said regarding parenting; we aren't interested in justice. We want quiet!
I think though, the some of the most powerful places of understanding take place in marriage. While you are two people, with your own interests and friends and responsibilities, you are, at the same time, living a single life of togetherness. Conflict and tension is inevitable as there is a process of two things being made into a single unit.
Perhaps more than any other person in the world, people desire to be understood by their spouse. And at times, the desire to understand first, is greater than one's own desire to be understood.
This has always been my concern, when I've thought about the life of ministry. The demands and responsibilities of life are great on their own and we don't always understand the decisions our spouses make. (pick any topic here that fits)
Yet when ministry demands are added to the mix, there's a whole other element of priorities and responsibilities that are added to the equation If a marriage doesn't already have a solid foundation of communication skills when it comes to matters of understanding, then ministry has the incredible opportunity to become a source of tension and frustration than one of blessing, love and compassion. For one will go give of themselves for the cause of Christ while the other stands tempted to despise the cause for the problems it creates.
All marriages have rough places. Ministry is no different.
Romantic relationships aren't always as beautifully written as the Hallmark channel.
(which as wonderful as they are, is probably for the best)
If marriage is to function as a team and present as a united front, how much more for marriages in ministry, as they work to advance the cause of Christ together?
So, let's pray together, this #associatePastorTuesday, for pastors whose marriages are in trouble; perhaps weighed down from the very responsibilities and demands of ministry. May God quicken their hearts and minds and strengthen their resolve; to remain committed and work out their differences. Pray the Holy Spirit continue to move and work within us; that the desire to understand those around us, especially spouses, would be greater than our own desire to be understood. Pray that peace, love and compassion would start at home... even when the kids aren't quiet and the desire for justice among them is lost. May the impact of ministry not be hindered by our own flesh standing in the way... though the situations and priorities are important, may God help those who are having difficulty finding balance; in their marriage and their ministry and whatever may get caught and suspended in the overlap. Pray the grace of God would cover it all.
For He knows where we are.
And He knows what He has called us to do.
He works in the lives of those around us
As much as He does our own.
So we pray and trust Him to accomplish the miraculous;
Starting with our own self.
For His glory and the cause of Christ.
We had a good laugh yesterday online.
The fiancee of our youth pastor led worship during the morning service... he joked on social media that a pretty young lady on stage distracted him; he had to worship with his eyes closed! The purpose behind it however, is pretty awesome.
Our previous youth pastor took a senior position out of state this past summer. And over the weekend, our worship pastor took the weekend to invest in that churches worship team.
I always find it an incredible opportunity when pastors are able to invest in the ministries of other churches and other pastors. It truly is a great dynamic. For encouragement. For learning. For support. Plus, the added benefit that pastors are needed and valued beyond just the four walls of their own church and the people to whom they minister.
However, it remain, as always, a difficult balance.
Finding the time in and of itself, to invest in other pastors and ministries can be challenging.
Furthermore, there are, at times, legitimate distractions. Sadly, they do come in all forms and a variety of people.
For the enemy would love nothing more than to hinder and prevent pastors from making investments in other ministries by distracting them from their own. It doesn't take much... and it often starts innocently enough, where it might be manageable. But given the time, like anything else, and it could lead to trouble... disastrous trouble.
Thus, we pray, this #seniorPastorMonday, for pastors who are struggling in their schedules. For those that are distracted, whether legitimately or innocently, pray God would strengthen them and redirect their focus... on Him, and their ministries and families. May they not be overwhelmed by pressure and frustration, but rely on the power and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit as they move forward in what they have been called to pursue. Pray also, for opportunities to invest into other ministries; that they may share their wealth and insight into other pastors and staff. May there by a unity of purpose... a synergy, as Pastor calls it; that the work of the kingdom might advance to even greater impacts.
Focused on purpose.
Ready to invest.
For the glory of God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
The History Channel has been running quite a few re-runs of the incredibly popular show, American Pickers. I absolutely love this show. Mike and Frank, the proprietors of Antique Archaeology are priceless. The show is quite entertaining and incredibly informative.
As I considered this post, it dawned on me what makes their business work. A number of factors are obviously involved, but from a perspective of effective and efficient, knowledge is key.
They've been at this game a long time, so their expertise quite extensive. The wealth of knowledge they possess, is not only mind-boggling, but they use ever bit of it to do their job well... in terms of both effectiveness and efficiency.
Granted, they have items here and there where the lose a few bucks, but the remain overwhelmingly consistent in the ability to turn a profit as they dig for rusty treasures buried in people's garages and barns.
For the times and things they don't know what they are looking at, they know who to call or who they need to find to be able to employ help... which gives them even more information, to use on the next pick. It truly is an art and an amazing process to watch. Of course, their friendship is hilarious as well.
All of this got me thinking about matters of faith. How much more effective and efficient could the church and Christians be if we were more informed and knowledgeable about our faith, about Scripture, about other religions in order to be well-versed in arguments against Christianity... the list goes on.
Furthermore, even in my own life; what are the things I know more and spend more time on that is causing me to "be behind" in faith matters and my relationship with God? Well, the list exists and we'll leave it at that. Perhaps there's a list for you? I'm sure we will sit by someone shortly in service, that if they were honest with themselves, they have such a list.
So, pray this #effectiveSunday, that we would present our lists before the throne of grace. May God help us to grow in our faith, in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. Pray that we would not be hindered nor set-back, by other matters, topics and interests that have taken priority over our faith and the things of God. May we be challenged to be more effective and efficient in our Christianity. May the strength of God quicken us as the Holy Spirit works in our lives anew and afresh; as we are transformed and renewed to reflect the person of Jesus Christ to a greater degree.
For the glory of God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
As we seek Him first
And His kindgom.
For the past handful of Saturdays, we have focused on how the church engages community. Most Saturdays, actually. Yet as I continued to reflect on the online conversation from earlier this week, prompted by the article I mentioned in yesterdays' post, I began thinking about the internals of the church.
How do we engage with fellow believers?
People have left the church because of how they were treated.
Sometimes going to another.
Sometimes never to return.
We've had conversations with those who outside the church who have vowed as a result, to never set foot in a church. They have forever been turned off to Christianity. Then they witness how Christians treat and communicate with each other, and they are further convinced they made the right decision.
While they may not be "hard-hearted" as a result, Christians have certainly not helped in their having an open mind and an open heart towards the things of God and the people of God.
So, the interaction among Christians, has at times, been detrimental to the church itself and the community the church is attempting to reach. This is problematic, no?
I understand people have their disagreements.
I understand people have their fall-outs.
We won't always agree with the decisions of church leaders anymore than people don't always agree with the decisions of their bosses nor the demands of their clients.
Yet, we are called to be unified in purpose.
Furthermore, we are called to glorify God with our lives, in both word and deed... regardless of who stands in front of us (hard as the conversation may be).
So, will you join me once again?
On this #communitySaturday, will you pray that God will help us as we interact with each other. May God grant us discernment as to how we handle disagreements and problems within the church. Pray for those who have been affected in the past... may God bring healing and restoration to their hearts and minds; for the hurt and damage that has been caused, whether it's been 1 year or 10; pray for the miraculous to occur. Pray for understanding; that we would be people that would seek a spirit of unity. May the efforts of the church and Christianity as a whole not be hindered by those assert their rights, opinions and priorities above the grace and will of God. May we submit ourselves anew to the work God desires to do in us and through us.
By the power of the Holy Spirit
In order to reach the world with the Gospel.
For the cause of Christ
And the glory of God.
We are desire a relationship. More importantly, we all desire healthy relationships. Be it romantic in nature, or a friendship, familial or work-related, nobody wakes up and says the equivalent of 'today, I want to be dismissed, ignored, disrespected and disgraced, abused or neglected'.
We long for love, grace and forgiveness. We seek acceptance. We desire a confidant. And we know that a healthy relationship is one that will make us a better person, for who wants to hang out with someone who makes them worse off than when they met?
Enter Jesus Christ.
And we question his existence. We reject the truth He speaks. We deny our sinful state in light of His sacrifice. And point to others whose relationship was "unhealthy" as cause for your staying away. It's logic that's on par with the reasons people offer to not get married or not work professionally with friends and family.
Yet, relationship with God through Jesus Christ is direct. Yes, the body of Christ is interwoven, but it's hard to speak objectively on the health of someone else' relationship from one's own unhealthiness.
As I considered these things yesterday, I came home last night and later read a post on social media, about Christianity being the American Taliban.
Here's the difference.
Christ and those who suffer persecution for His sake did and do so in the hopes that others may have life eternal.
I don't wish ill-will on those who disagree with the Gospel... for it speaks daily to Christians, who struggle with the truth it presents, for it brings illumination to things in our life that we now must confront. There is working through it with the help of Christ. There is turning away sad, as the rich young ruler, who did not like what Christ presented.
One response desires health. The other, desires the status quo.
The love of Christ demands a response... not by force or bullying; He will wait for one. But one day everyone will give one.
So, pray this #misssionsFriday, that today would be a day of response, to the truth and love of Christ. Pray for those who've yet to hear the Good News of Christ; that their response to the invitation of eternal life would be one of health and that a solid foundation of faith would be laid, drawing them ever closer to the presence and power of God in their lives. As the truth of God continues to confront things in our lives that are out of alignment, may the church continue to seek His face and respond from a position of health. May offense and rejection not gain a foothold, but that we would continue to allow Christ to work in our lives; that we may greater reflect His image to a world desperately lost... and in need of a healthy relationship with the One true Savior.
Not my will,
But thine be done.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ
Whose blood was shed that we might have life and life eternal.
It's interesting to reflect and consider career tracks and job decisions... how do people end up where they are; how do they choose where they go, what they should do, which position should they accept. Some people have the coolest and most interesting gigs.
Then, there's the rest of us! Overwhelmed. Frustrated. Stressed. Some combination of over-worked and under-paid... or paid well, but still too much hassle for the money. But all of it got me thinking...
Does anyone say "I wanna work in the church offices when I grow up?" Sure there's a need for great office staff and administrators and others who work to keep the church operational; just as much as any organization needs qualified people to keep things running smooth.
Hopefully people are stepping in and filling these positions because they do love their church and the people of God and want to make a difference utilizing their skills and resources for the ministry. But it's just as easy to see how someone could do the job simply because there is an opening and they need the work... which very well could have an element of truth to the reality of the matter.
As I considered this perspective yesterday while behind the wheel, I zoomed out the screen of my GPS. Sadly, life doesn't work like this. We rarely, if ever, see the complete picture of where God is leading us, from beginning to end. Turn-by-turn directions... what are those for the life of faith?
Indeed, the Lord does direct our steps; His Word a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Which means we usually have very little notice of any turns or changes on the road that lies ahead. To those around us, this is the automotive equivalent of braking and making the turn, flipping on the turn signal as we begin cranking the steering wheel... "Oh, we're going this way, I guess!"
Knowing what God has in store for you; figuring out where you are supposed to be and trying to decipher how to bring your reality into alignment with God's plan is difficult. Certainly, it's a struggle, especially when it feels that there are pieces missing... as if a couple of turns weren't included on the GPS. Or perhaps they were a little vague. "Turn on unnamed road in 0.2 miles."
And we apologize to those around us for the abrupt change. But it reinforces our need for God's help. It establishes our need to seek Him first and trust Him with all our heart. Though we may want to back down and jump off, the journey is worth it, for those who stay the course.
Pray, this #deaconThursday for church staff struggling in the positions they hold. For those, whose heart perhaps in not in their work, would God strengthen and encourage them. Pray reassurance that God has a plan for their lives and a kingdom-purpose for their skills. May God grant them guidance and wisdom, as to whether they are or aren't where God desires for their lives. Pray for peace in their spirits where there is unrest. Calm where there is fear. Patience where there is anxiety. Pray a faithfulness for each of us, as we wait on God; trusting in Him anew and seeking His face. May we do well what is in front of us to do now while we await the "this is what's next".
Standing on the promises of God
Trusting in His timing.
For His thoughts and ways are higher than ours.
May we rely on His truth
To illuminate our reality.
For His glory and service, we pray.
In talking with a wood-smith yesterday, we got to discussing what causes custom pieces to separate, crack or split. His first response... change in environment. Specifically, temperature.
Dramatic changes. Major shifts. Little to zero adjustment period.
Sometimes, certain changes cause damage; even to the point useless beyond repair.
In a word: environment.
Such is life. Major, unexpected changes cause shock to our systems. Health. Finances. Emotions.
In adulthood, it's problematic to say the least.
In childhood, it's traumatic... to say the least.
Even from a foundation of faith as well as a position in ministry, life can catch us off guard.
The stresses and changes cause scars and dents; cracks and splits to the very fabric of our being.
Some may be "easy" fixes.
Others may require some serious investment and work.
The most significant may require the hands of a master craftsman.
Thankfully, for the soul and spirit of humanity, there is Christ.
Carpenter by trade.
Savior from birth.
While Satan has purposed from the beginning to destroy humanity at the earliest possible time, Jesus Christ was planned from the beginning to redeem humanity.
While in the moment this might be hard to remember, for those in place their trust in God and those whose vocation is the advance of His kingdom, it should be at the forefront of our minds. No matter what comes against, no matter what may cause damage; by the power of God we are not beyond repair.
So, pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, for those pastors feeling overwhelmed by the stress and struggle of life. For the situations and circumstances that have caused cracks and splits in the very fabric of their being, whether by their own decision or affected by others, may the spirit of God would strengthen and renew their hearts and minds. May the not be overtaken by frustration or depression, anxiety nor fear; but that hope would arise and stand within them. May they be assured and even reassured, of the plans and purposes for which they have been called and instill the same, in the lives of the young people to which they minister.
For what the devil planned for evil,
May God use for good.
To those who love Him.
Called according to His purpose.
In service to the kingdom of God.
For His glory and the cause of Jesus Christ.
The carpenter of our lives; Savior of our souls.
I woke up this morning and realized in between snooze-button hits, that I could just as easily written this post for Thursday, when we pray for church staff and administrators. While it's possible it may be well-suited and quite applicable, I think it denies the truth that even pastors make mistakes in their job responsibilities which need to be dealt with, just as the rest of us encounter.
Regardless of which side of the desk you sit on, disciplinary action is never a pleasant experience. It doesn't matter if it is a stern warning or correction or a formal ding for the record books. It is quite a simply, a disconcerting event; emotionally frustrating and mentally taxing... in a word, stressful.
We know the ones you hear about usually don't end well... and that's fine. Most people don't hear about the bumps and bruises of the everyday "bad days" at work, when this and that problem arise and someone bears the burden. But are these conversations just as difficult and challenging as the everyday office desk or job-site? Probably.
Perhaps even more-so, as both parties have an understanding of grace and compassion; patience and discernment... looking at the matter through the eyes of faith and perspective of stewardship. It's not that the secular boss doesn't possess these traits, but if they aren't a Christian, the conversation could and probably does look and sound very different from what we might assume goes on between a senior and associate pastor, or the like.
Needless to say, having been on the receiving end of this conversation in the secular marketplace before, I have a slight understanding of how much more discernment it must take to have to deal with similar matters when it comes to ministry. To that end, we should pray (as I hit the snooze button one too many times).
So, let's pray this #associatePastorTuesday, that indeed, God would grant wisdom and discernment, for the times of difficulty when job and ministry responsibilities need to be discussed and corrected. Pray for a spirit of understanding, of grace and compassion. May there not be a fear to have the hard conversation and the difficult decision; but to confront problems in light of the truth and with a spirit of love. May God help each of us, as we work as unto the Lord and not just ministry-related things that are God's work. Pray a greater understanding of the stewardship of our talents and gifting as we approach our work and their responsibilities; that even in this, we would reflect and point others to Christ.
That whatsoever your hands find to do,
Do so as unto the Lord.
For we are His workmanship.
Clay in the Potter's hands.
For the glory of God.
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
One of the young ladies (a H.S. Senior) from our youth group at church, sang during yesterday's offering. She did a cover of First, as performed by Lauren Daigle. An incredibly powerful song, her performance was phenomenal.
Yet I found myself being reminded once again, the struggle we all face in our faith with going to God and doing so first.
Before our needs, before our cares... are we really giving Him our heart and our praise?
Are we doing so first?
It remains, all to easy to let frustration dominate when things go south. We respond from our emotions as we rise to confront the matter, rather than in prayer as we fall to our knees.
Pastor said it well yesterday, as we discussed Jesus time in the garden of Gethsemane, leading to his betrayal.
"Prayer should be a first response, not a last resort."
However, it seems that one of two things happens. We respond in prayer when it's only the worst of circumstances. We seek him when things have gotten the most difficult.
I know, it's easy to think Pastor's have their spiritual life "so in order" or that anyone who has been a Christian should have their faith "down" by now.
Still, it's a daily sacrifice. To bring our heart to Him before submitting our needs; to raise our arms in worship before we cast our cares. To seek His face before seeking direction. We come to Him for what we need from Him rather than simply for who He is (and by we, I'll stand first to confess).
Pray, this #seniorPastorMonday, that indeed, we would be ever aware to respond to life in prayer. Not only may we be quick to bring our needs and cares, but even quicker to present our hearts and hands in worship, seeking only Him, rather than to simply receive from Him. May we not wait until the final hour, but in the first seconds. Though the struggle is real, pray the strength of God would work and revive our hearts and minds; drawing us ever closer to His presence.
First... in our response,
In our worship,
In our requests.
Seeking the face of God;
Lifting up the name of Christ.
To Him who sits on the throne
Be blessing, glory, honor and power,
Forever and ever, amen.
Familiarity and experience is good to have and plenty valuable. But nothing was ever lost through the effort and time to double-check. Even a gut-check partially through a task or operation can be a warning signal.
To ignore it, to dismiss it... sometimes the reliance on what we know (or what we think we know), is the very thing that gets us into trouble.
It doesn't take much. We think we are doing well, doing things right, making good time. Then reality sets in. A question is asked. A statement is made.
The light-bulb goes off and you aren't anywhere in the ballpark.
Frustration. Stress. Anxiety. You are far from effective and even father from efficient.
Yet, God's grace is sufficient.
No matter your place or responsibility in life, such moments happen to the best of us (and the worst among us). Ministry operations are just as prone. And just as problematic.
So, pray this #effectiveSunday, for those ministries and circumstances where major course corrections are having to be made. May God grant wisdom and discernment to know what changes need to be made and how best to go about them. Pray for strength, for the the extra effort, resources and time that will be required as a result. May, despite our failures and mistakes, God would use such moments for His glory; that when we lack understanding and perspective, God is working the miraculous. May lessons be learned and faith strengthened, as we continue to press forward and persevere towards the plans and purposes God has ordained for our lives.
Mistakes are opportunities for the miraculous
Reminders that without Him
We can and are nothing.
But by the grace of God,
We live and move and have our being.
For His glory.
I was ready for this week to be over, almost from the start of it. Like many others, I'm sure I wasn't alone in this sentiment. Wherever you were, Friday was a gorgeous sunrise. Then, it felt like it started going downhill and well... let's just say my frustration could have been prevented. By none other than myself.
My feeling of a manic Monday having merged with a Friday the 13th... okay, that might be a slight over-exaggeration. Yet, thanks to the encouragement and support of a few close friends and the nagging reminder that I simply had to make the best of my stupidity while attempting not to worry and the day eventually came to an end. A long time later, albeit, but indeed, today is a new day.
I love that God uses ALL things for His glory.
I am amazed that He would desire to use my stupidity.
I am humbled that He would desire to use me at all, quite honestly.
I wish the frequency of my mistakes didn't seem quite so close together.
With God, all things are possible.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God.
Yet, part of me wonders... how would I live with myself, without faith?
My life isn't that hard, certainly not as hard I seemingly make it out to be at times. Yet I am aware of what I struggle with, both in life matters and in my faith and I don't know how I would live with myself without the perspective and understanding that there is a God who loves me for who I am; takes me as I am and calls me to be more through the power of Christ at work within me.
Knowing this... why would I choose my rights, over His righteousness?
The truth of the matter is this... a "know-it-all" attitude creates difficulty for those around it.
For the Bible is replete with the lives of those God used... the somebodies who thought they were a "nobody". Conversely, even God has a hard time working with somebody who thinks they are a "know-it-all".
Our lives are nothing in and of themselves. However, as our lives are submitted to God and the work of Jesus Christ, it creates the opportunity for His story to be told through us.
Our story becomes a "plot twist" moment for His Story. There is no hope in my experience unless after all is said and done, there is a "but God" moment, whereby His grace and glory points the hearer to Christ.
"This is possible for your life, as much as it is possible for mine. And who am I, but a flawed and broken man?"
On this #communitySaturday, may we find ourselves with opportunities to share the life of Christ by what He has worked in our own lives. Despite our faults and failures, even our incredibly stupid moments; may hope combat the spirit of depression. For we are his workmanship. Pray a spirit of humility about the lives of believers, for we are neither right nor great in our own standing, but stand as rags in light of His righteousness and greatness only describes our need for a Savior. Pray for a spirit of compassion, as we hear the stories and struggles of those whose lives and weeks have been far frustrating than our own; but never forget to offer the hope of Christ... that He may work the miraculous in their life as we have experienced for ourselves.
His life told through ours.
Our failures and imperfections in His hands
Become opportunities for His forgiveness and grace.
Clay in the potters hands.
That all might hear of the goodness of God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, I had two ideas bouncing around the back of my head, for Friday and Saturday's post. I couldn't decide what day they might be best suited, as they could have gone either way. Yesterday, I lost them both. I prayed God would bring them to my remembrance... I think Saturday's concept came back, but what to do for what you are reading now?
Then last night, when I finally got home, at one point someone posted a previous "word of the day" on social media. And by previous, it was a day from last April!
Palliate: to relieve or lessen without curing.
While we know and understand there are many situations and circumstances for which there are no "cures" and our best efforts to little to relieve or lessen the agony, pain, sadness or frustration of life, my first thought was God's passion for our souls.
Even our faith at times can't comprehend the how and why of God's working in our lives. But in light of the eternal path of our soul, how wonderful is it that God does not attempt to relieve our sinful state without a "cure".
He didn't put forth a best effort, "that's as good as it's going to be; I did what I could; You can't tell from a distance" when He confronted the sinful state of man.
He provided an answer. A solution. A spiritual "cure".
When it came down to His love for us, He did not palliate a viable option to help our suffering.
He sent His Son.
On this #missionsFriday, there is no relief for the sins of our soul but through the "cure" of the cross of Christ. It this day and age where every message is louder than this, in the end of eternity, none matters more.
Pray, this #missionsFriday, that even as missionaries face difficulties in their own loves and they struggle to help others in their time of difficulty, may the message of the cross rise above. May the power of God transcend our present, yet temporal pain and frustration; that whether we recognize for the first time or remember once again... just how miraculous is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For missionaries that are tired and weary, may God renew their hearts, minds and spirits; empowering them from heaven. While their "best efforts" may not be enough, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the love and grace of God is indeed, more than enough. In fact, is exactly, what is needed.
Regardless of who we are;
Where we find ourselves
And the state in which we exist.
Jesus Christ is the only true relief.
By the grace of God, may many experience the power of salvation
Even to those at the ends of the earth, perhaps at the end of their rope.
For where sin created a problem,
God made a promise.
Can I go on record and state what we all know is true, yet, can't seem to fathom just how true is this reality... time is FLYING!!
I wanted to start this post with a reference to a previous post and either time is cruising or age is catching up... I can't remember if what I wanted to reference was last week or 4 weeks ago. It's going to drive me nuts. So... "recently", we talked on a #deaconThursday about how deacons and church personnel are the face of the church in many respects, sometimes more than a pastor. Office staff and admins are on the other of end of one's call for help. A deacon's influence and position can be strategic in a church's community relations. Together they look for opportunities to take church to the community as well as bring the community to church.
This often happens, at the expense of their own personal lives and needs; just as it does for pastors and other ministry leadership positions.
Case in point... friends of mine from a previous church. He has served on the board. She is a church admin. Their son and his wife are coming up on 5 years of marriage in a few months. Late last week, via social media, she updated the situation on her daughter-in-law's pregnancy. 24 weeks in and she was in the hospital; doctors attempting to delay a premature delivery.
However things worked out, come this past Sunday, this little guy was born via C-section.
A whopping one and half pounds.
And while I'd love you tell you this trooper is in good shape, sadly, my friends' meme says it all.
Jesus replied, "You don't understand what I'm doing now, but someday you will."
No words were spoken and four days later, my heart still breaks just thinking about their circumstance; but I can't get over the fact that for 12 hours on Sunday, God had a purpose for that baby boy being born. In his 12 hours on this earth, he made in impact on peoples' lives and in their faith; in their perspective to living and how they approach each and every day that will never be forgotten.
12 hours was all it took.
Ranks right up with 12 disciples to change the world... that's all it took.
I can't fathom this loss. On a number of occasions in recent years, I've wondered what would happen if I tragically lost my wife, or one or both of my daughters... heaven forbid all at the same time. I've cried just thinking about it.
Actually living it boggles my mind. Indeed, it now boggles their lives.
Yet, time marches on. Though the healing process will take time, other needs, other issues will arise and garner their attention. Ministry issues and opportunities to minister will need tending and in the sovereignty of God, this piece of their lives will be used for His glory in the advancement of the kingdom of Heaven.
For the moment, it's an "in-your-face" life changing event. As time continues to fly, the experience will become a part of the story that God uses to transform the lives of those who hear it. Which requires first, hearing other's stories. It's not easy now, for sure. It may never be. It probably won't be for a while. For that and more, there is grace. And the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
On this #deaconThursday, would you join me in prayer; using the specific loss of this family as inspiration to pray over those in ministry who set their own struggles and losses aside to help others. Pray God would give rest to their weariness and comfort to their mourning. Pray His peace for their unrest; calm in the midst of the storm. Pray for healing, both physical and emotional in this time of unfathomable pain. May the body of Christ surround them with love and support as we are called to do; to intercede and stand in the gap... bringing those in need to the throne of grace.
Beauty from ashes.
Joy from mourning.
Provision for our loss.
Protection and strength in exchange for vulnerability and weakness.
Trusting in God, despite what we don't understand.
Our lives for His purpose and His glory.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I should have known, as I seriously considered that God might be using the "verse of the day" as a basis for this post, that some element of it would appear in my life quickly.
-- For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
Right in the middle is where I found myself, in case your curious. Strife and confusion. But nothing my headphones and The Healing Rock radio station, courtesy of The Healing Stream Media Network couldn't help relieve and buoy my spirits.
Interestingly enough, James says, envy. It's close relative jealousy, involves the thought that one was more rightly deserving. Envy involves the want or coveting of something that has simply been awarded or achieved by another. Whether I deserve it is a mute point... I'm simply discontent that you have it or obtained it.
Perhaps strife is a bit strong for my experience. I don't know that it qualifies as vigorous and bitter conflict (probably not, actually) but to consider the mixing of envy and bitter conflict and the problems that follow are both obvious and unpredictable.
We have seemingly perfected the art of comparison and yet, it controls us to the point of creating stress and tension... confusion ultimately, and getting it sorted out is never easy.
Kids do this well. Comparison comes naturally. And quickly. If not handled properly, it sets them up for a life of continued discontentment... such that bitterness will set in and create conflicts quick enough to make one's head spin. I'm amazed at how often I am faced with my own discontentment in light of where others are in life. I'm not sure if it was any easier before social media, but Facebook certainly has not helped this epidemic.
Sadly, it does and has crept into the church and the very fabric of ministry. As much as organizations boast of increased sales, gained market share and improved customer or employee retention, so to churches... talk of increased attendance, explosive youth groups and amazing vacation bible school programs.
What a dangerous message to send to the next generation of adults, that we have not only figured out how to handle (or mishandle, rather) discontent in our home, but that we've allowed it to present itself within the church. Conflict ensues, confusion results and now the enemy has access to destroy, as the opening has been created for other evils to enter.
Well... now we know how to pray! On this #youthPastorWednesday, pray a spirit of contentment; in who were are people, and as believers... as the children of God. May we live by example and put behind us envy (and jealousy, for that matter). Though we will face difficulty and conflict in our lives, may the Holy Spirit help us, that it would not create bitterness within us, whereby dominating both word and deed; action and reaction. Pray a constant reminder that our identity is in Christ and we are His. May we do well, to teach and instill the same, both in our homes, and our youth and children's ministries. Pray a consistency among the people of God, that while we are not perfect, we do call on God and rely on Him to help us live a life pleasing to Him, displaying the love of Christ to a world being destroyed by the evil within.
May we overcome evil with God.
By the power of God
And the love of Jesus Christ at work in our hearts.
Content, not because of our self,
But who we are in Christ.
For the glory of God.
It is good that iron sharpens iron. It is a direct relationship; a true 1:1 comparison. Inspired from a devotional I read yesterday, it got me thinking... of course, about ministry.
We often hear of "big picture" conferences and gatherings designed for a defined group, but I couldn't help but wonder, if there aren't times where they should be more specific. Case in point, it's great for pastors to get together and encourage one another and learn from each other, but as we break up the week and pray for specific positions within the church, is it not wise for worship pastors to meet, share and learn from other worship pastors? Associate pastors have issues and challenges that differ from senior/lead pastors. Likewise children's and youth pastors have an entirely different perspective, regarding their target audience of ministry.
I'm not saying there's not overlap, that these pastors can't learn from others who hold different responsibilities elsewhere in ministry; but at the same time, a dad struggling with his teenager is more likely to seek help from another dad with a teen than one with a toddler. A specific iron needs to be sharpened. A specific iron is required.
The same is true for business. It's a great opportunity for managers and CEO's to learn from each other and those times are necessary and appropriate. But you'd have to agree, the conversation looks entirely different if the room were exclusively CEO's or exclusively a group of specific managers, like sales or HR.
On this #associatePastorTuesday, can we pray, that opportunities for connections would be opened? Pray that conversations and discussions would take place, whereby pastors would be sharpened, both in their ministry life and their personal life. May relationships be formed, that would give way to mentoring, encouragement and wisdom, as specific ministries are able to speak into similar ministries. Pray the challenges and difficulties they face would be opportunities for life to be spoken; that health and wholeness would result. Pray that any spirit of loneliness, abandonment or fatigue would be laid at the cross, as hearts and minds are renewed and strengthened, by the sharpening of iron.
A spirit of unity
And solidarity of purpose
For those advancing the work of the God's kingdom
Through the office of "pastor"
For the glory of God.
My pastor's birthday was yesterday. For the past couple of weeks, he had been taking opportunity to share his birthday wish. While a couple of people showed up with his favorite kind of pie, (which I'm certain made his day), his wish wasn't necessarily a selfish one, as much as it was his love for the people of God.
Daylight savings time messes with all of our clocks, literally and physically, and so his birthday wish, was that Sunday morning would be a full house, despite the time change. For reasons, outside of the time change, we were late to church...and thus, quietly slipped in the back; the very back to be exact, as it appeared there wasn't much room anywhere else.
Indeed, Pastor got his wish. The house of God was "full" (to the tune of a good 80-90%).
It can be argued that not all prayers get answered; or they do, and it's often not how we would hope or desire; a "wish" if you will. But this simply story got me thinking yesterday of just how many pastors struggle with their congregations.
For perhaps many more pastors than we realized, church leadership seemingly has an uphill battle on it's hands at every turn and decision. Volunteers for ministry opportunity, funds for a special project or outreach, support to help people in need... or something as simply as increasing attendance to any given service...
All of these circumstances create stress and frustration in the life of a pastor, for it affects their ability to accomplish the two-fold reason for ministry: to shepherd the people of God and to impact their community with the Gospel. Yet, if at every turn, they feel as though they are pulling teeth, the work of the kingdom of God becomes a source of exhaustion rather than a source of joy; a place of tension rather than a place of peace.
Granted, spiritual battle is hard, but the battle is against the enemy of our souls, not an internal battle with other believers. Yet for many a pastor, this is their reality. Daily. Sadly.
So, will you join me, this #seniorPastorMonday. Pray for pastors weary from the battle(s) within their own congregations. May God strengthen and raise them up, above the frustration and difficulty. Pray for a fresh perspective and a rejuvenation in their heart and mind. Pray an easing of their burden and a breakthrough in the blockages within their church; that ministry and support would be unhindered. May God grant the desires of their hearts, to these pastors who are jealous for the lives within their community; that a new found freedom and release would occur in the spirit-realm.
May the kingdom of God advance
As the battle from within decreases
And the efforts of the church turn to the ministry
And advancement of the cause of Christ.
For the glory of God.
PS: the cool part, was pastors' friend from his childhood neighborhood visited the church; and gave his live to Christ at the close of service!
I had an epiphany last night, as I considered what God had in store for today's post. As I reflected on a somewhat quiet day at home (battling a headache and my wife being under the weather), I realized the inspiration my kids provided. For as they played, the day was not nearly as quiet as I had hoped.
On this #effectiveSunday, I'll be the first to admit... how much do I miss, not so much because God isn't speaking, but because I'm not listening. Every parent knows this struggle. Anyone who watches kids for longer than 5 minutes, quickly discovers this.
It's easy to get caught up in activities and games, shenanigans and foolery... messing around and having fun. It's what kids do.
Yet, as adults, we have our moments. Some days, not so many; other days, many more.
At some point, we catch ourselves with a sobering sense of reality... while we were caught up in whatever activity we were engaged it, did we miss what God said? Did we miss what He asked of us? Did we miss what He spoke over us? Did we miss His direction or declaration?
Is God frustrated? Has He called on someone else, because of our distraction?
Questions that only can be answered on an individual basis... in our quiet time with God. But answering them will bring insight into our effectiveness as the body of Christ.
Shall we pray, this #effectiveSunday, that God would help us to be aware of His Word and it's influence in our lives. May we be careful in the situations and circumstances we find ourselves, to keep our ears attuned to the voice of the Spirit; that we would not be so caught in the moment that we hear God speak. Though we have a child-like faith, may we have a mature mind, understanding the will of God, not only for our personal lives, but also for the church-at-large.
May the family of God
Function as a family.
Not full of strife and sickness,
But health and wholeness, love and discipline
Not fighting against each other, but working together
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.