So, first things first. Today marks the completion of eleven, yes 11!! consecutive months of daily prayers. I want to give all the Bring ME 70 readers and followers a huge thank you for joining me in this mission to prevent pastoral burnout. Though the impact may still be in infancy stage, I'm believing it's making a difference we may not know until eternity. So, for all the likes, shares and "retweets", Thank You!
To commemorate, I think you are reading another first today. The idea for this #communitySaturday came this past Tuesday. I don't recall ever having a prayer focus that far in advance. The day before is par for the course, 9 times out of 10. Every once in a while, 2 days advance. It's never been 4 days. That said, here we go... want to know what happened this past Tuesday?
I drove by a church, whose marquee sign by the road, stated the following along the bottom of the sign:
A Friendly, Bible-Based Ministry.
Excuse me while I share my moment of sarcasm... shouldn't that be obvious?
Sadly, I understand the need for a church to clarify the position. It's a tragedy that church life has come to this... that peoples' experience with the church has been difficult, frustrating and disappointing often enough, that the statement is not a flashing or moving message that one in every 3 or 4 cars, happens to see... no, it was engraved into the bottom of the sign (probably on both sides) for every single driver that passes may read it.
So, curiosity follows the sarcasm bit.
1) Who stays in a church that isn't friendly?
2) Who sits in a ministry that isn't Biblical?
While, I could take guesses, I'm not sure I want to. I would think though, that a church that isn't friendly, probably isn't growing. In fact, a church that isn't friendly, is eventually, most likely shrinking.
As for the second point... just as tragic, is the fact that many are probably sitting and remaining in a ministry that is NOT Bible-based or Biblically-centered. Why? Because in the last days people will listen to what their itching hears want to hear.
I'm not calling out false-prophets and specific ministries and everything else along that bunny trail, so don't read what I'm not typing.
I am simply stating, as I've experienced in my own life, that the truth is hard to hear. It's hard to accept. And it can be difficult to stay engaged in the conversation to the point where application can be made to your life and a solution can offered for things to change. Yet, as my Pastor always says, "whenever you read the Word of God, it reads you"
How does the church, the body of Christ... the people of God... who do you do ministry without Scripture? How can it be called ministry without Scripture? How do you share the love of God and not come across as friendly? As inviting? As caring and engaged in the person in front of you?
It's Saturday morning, so the cartoons are on right? Who would believe Oscar the Grouch had gotten saved, if he remained a grouch?? (there is a song about that by the way... Steven Curtis Chapman, I think... cartoons getting saved)
The bottom line is this... if churches don't show themselves friendly, how will they grow and develop healthy relationships with those we are called to minister to and show the love of God? Furthermore, how will the church share they love of God, if they don't preach the "whole counsel of God" and make practical application that leads the body of Christ to... how do I say... look more like Christ? It should be obvious what happens when that isn't the case. We shouldn't be surprised at what happens, when that isn't the case. We should pray it won't be the case.
On this #communitySaturday, pray that indeed, the church would show themselves friendly, to the world. Not to be trampled on, offensive or disingenuous, but just friendly. To show compassion. To share empathy. To allow the Holy Spirit to work on the hearts and lives of those in difficult places and allow the truth of God's word, rather than man's opinion or interpretation to reveal God's live and purpose for those who have yet come to experience a relationship with Jesus Christ. Pray for ministry to become bible-centered where it is not; for it to remain bible-centered where it is. May the body of Christ grow in the strength and knowledge of God; that as they experience His love and grace, they will go out and extend the same to a lost and dying world desperate for meaning and purpose and redemption beyond themselves. Pray the power of God to transcend the issues, the distractions and the agendas that would keep us from the knowing God; from fulfilling the plans and purposes we been created and destined to accomplish before the foundations of the earth were laid.
Friends are a gift from God. So is His Word.
What better place than to experience both of them, together.
This is the church. This is community.
His life changes ours. For eternity. For those who let Him in.
For the glory of God. For the cause of Jesus Christ.
"Dear Optimist and Pessimist...
While you guys were arguing whether the glass was half full or half empty... I drank it.
I love this analogy. Perhaps because it challenges me... as the adage goes, the biggest regrets in life come from the risks you DON'T take. Even the word itself is unpredictable.
Calculated, well-planned, well-advised, well-researched... and decisions maker have still come out on the wrong side.
Meanwhile, least-likely, least-feasible, whatever was being considered was itself, not designed, planned, or executed well, let alone the process of whether someone should take a chance on the opportunity... and wonders never cease. Success. To some degree, at least.
We approach risk differently. What's more, we take certain risks for different reasons.
Purely, for living in the moment.
To remain in someone's good graces.
In the name of efficiency and productivity.
Because of the challenge.
Because of greed, pride and the like.
Persuaded by someone's argument to do so.
Or reasons that are harder to explain. The compelling in one's heart for humanity... like public service. And the calling of God upon one's life... as in ministry
We all seen and heard the stories... and thanks to YouTube watched the videos, of those who quickly threw whatever caution they had to the wind. Meanwhile, those on the mission of field, professing faith in God and a relationship with Jesus Christ, at a time, perhaps an unprecedented one, where people have be so apprehensive to Christianity or any form of "organized religion"... they are committed to the biggest risk one could ever take, each and every day.
The only thing that trumps laying down your life for a friend and laying down your life for your country, is to lay down your life for God. Not just any cause; but for the person of Jesus Christ. Just as He experienced on behalf of humanity.
For all the faults and failures of humanity, that we are so quick to commit and criticize... for all the problems we create; where did we get nerve, the wherewithal; the gravitas to think that we could redeem us from ourselves?
Some risks are worthy of the laughter that comes from YouTube. The risks that matter most, though... those taken in light of eternity; for the cause of Jesus Christ; for the reward of heaven that far outweighs the "15 minutes of fame" afforded to us by some brilliant technology... which, come to think off it, involved quite a few people taking risks.
On this #missionsFriday, pray for missionaries; may they be strengthened... in heart, mind, body and soul in the risks they have taken and live out daily for the cause of Jesus Christ. May the challenges and frustrations not overtake them, frustrate them or burn them out; but in all things, continue to trust and seek the face of God for all of their needs. Pray God give them favor, with the people they serve, with leaders and authorities under which they suffer for the Gospel. May they rest assured... that while they have regrets; their eternal reward is secure for having stepped out in faith and obedience to spread the message of redemption through the cross of Jesus Christ... the risk is worth it all.
For the glory of God... whose 15 minutes of fame never ends. Thankfully, as it's pretty incredible to watch this thing called Life.
Growing up on 2.5 acres, we had tons of room to play. Riding bikes. Playing football. Practicing our short game, with a couple of golf irons. Of course there was tons of room for work too! Mom had a huge garden in the backyard that always needed looked after. It was fun... except for the ancient drain "system" that came down the hill next to us and flooded the backyard when we had a hard rain.
My brother used to mow the yard with a push mower!! Are you crazy? We have the riding mower? Yeah, but this way I get the exercise. Little did I know, after he moved out, I picked up the practice... 4-4.5 hrs with a push mower. Before that though, I remember using the rider. And I wanted to go fast! So, 3rd gear, here we go.
Needless to say, Dad came out scratching his head. Why does the grass not look cut? Were you just riding around? Nope...mowed in 3rd gear. That's not mowing son, that's joy-riding! (okay, that last line wasn't his actual response... let's just say he wasn't thrilled about my attempt at efficiency... which was barely an attempt, since it really didn't cut much!)
Which is something that's been on my mind a great deal of late.
You can only go so fast until there's damage.
You can only process so much until something gets missed.
You can only handle so many responsibilities until it becomes apparent that one or more isn't doing so well.
All this to say, I remember how much my parents used to do when I was a kid. Full-time jobs. Helping out at our school. Coaching. At church the list got really long. The boys club, Sunday School, youth group, sound board, women's ministries president, board member, organist for worship team, usher... trying to think if I missed anything. Plus, dad didn't have just a regular full-time gig. He dedicated a good portion of his years to public service; putting his life on the front lines of the community every day.
If life is a balancing act, then life for those in ministry is more akin to a high-wire act. With all the same elements to keep in proper perspective and balance. It gets dicey. Fast. It's not a matter of church people being better or more important because of all that's going on. Life is a balance for everyone who has ever tried to figure out one situation while engaged in another task of some kind. What does make the difference for the church, is the impact that will be made for eternity. That is the drive. The focus. The motivation. When those duties fall out of balance and don't get replenished and receive proper care... burnout. For some it's public. For others very private. And heart-breaking in both instances.
It's for this we pray... which before we do, having friends at my church now who serve the public on the front lines, to these two guys and to my dad, as well as his dad who served the same profession... THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE!
And on this #deaconThursday, thanks for your service, church leaders, deacons, admin and staff; those who come along to support and implement the vision God has placed on the hearts of your pastors for the impact you making on your communities, in your counties, across the state and throughout the nations. Pray for a strengthening and quickening... mentally, physically, relation-ally, spiritually... may the be girded up by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray a protection of their lives, their homes and families; as the struggle to find balance in the various roles they play is hard. Pray for wisdom in the decisions they face, discernment for the priorities they place; passion for the things they've said YES to; freedom for the times they have to say NO. In all things, pray they continue to place and seek first the Kingdom of God; remember that while they need to be diligent in their responsibilities, ultimately, the cares of the world will fade and only which is done for eternity will remain.
For the glory of God. For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Kids are hilarious. Truly. An absolute riot and a joy. Especially when you aren't frustrated with them after you've had to tell them for the 4th, 5th and 10th time to do something or simply settle down. Such moments aside, worth every smile.
Mine are adamant to remind me, especially when I call them by a nickname rather than their given name or I round up their age to the next birthday.... "That's not my name!!! I'm..." Conversely, something to the effect of, "Dad, I'm not that old; I'm only..."
It got me thinking... the human tendency to project our attitudes and behaviors upon God, as Almighty Father; Abba... Daddy. Which He is, all the aforementioned.
Yet, does He look at us...
What part of what I said didn't you hear?
What part of what I asked of you didn't you comprehend?
What part of my instructions were unclear?
What part of my answer has you confused?
and my personal favorite...
What part of NO didn't you understand? The N or the O?
A complex simplicity exists in the realm of faith. We are to have faith... like the trust of a child.
Yet, as we grow in God, as we walk with the Lord; there is a maturing process of our understanding of kingdom principles and workings of God's economy. The eternal purpose for which we live out in this earthly life.
We trust and seek God daily. Yet the world is full of smart, capable people. They are wise and competent. And living the life of faith. And it's so easy to step into our own and neglect seeking God. Which is usually about the time we have a conversation with God. Reminding Him of who we think we are. And Him bringing us back to reality. Of who we are in Him.
Like kids, who don't want what's good for them, neither do humans. We think we do, based on what the world has to offer; but that is 2nd, 3rd and 4th rate compared to the glories of heaven and the sovereign will of God as it unfolds here on earth. If only we knew what we were passing up by forcing to live life our way, as opposed to God's.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, in a day when childhood isn't nearly as simple, nor stable as what it used to be... in a time when parenthood isn't as straightforward as it used to be... as these things conspire to bring new challenges to the church and faith; may their be a drawing of hearts back to God. Pray a sensitivity of young people towards the things of God. Pray for pastors, to properly instill and encourage the faith and spiritual lives of the kids they minister too. Pray, as they grow in their relationship with Christ, they will retain the child-like faith, that simply trusts as all kids do... Daddy can do it. Daddy has it. Daddy will fix it. Daddy will take care of it. Daddy knows the answer. Daddy will always love me.
Abba, Father God. Of which all the aforementioned "Daddy"statements are true.
May we all respond as my youngest does multiple times a day... "I miss you Daddy".
Children of God. Mature in their faith. Simple in their trust. For His glory and honor.
Have you ever had someone ask you to do something, but left it entirely up to you as to how to get it done?
Part of it's exciting You have ideas, you figure something out, it looks like it's coming together.
Then at some stage, the person comes to check on the progress of the task. You know what's coming, right? The opening line to what is probably about to change your mood.
"Why don't you..."
If it happens in your marriage, it's about to throw a monkey-wrench in your Saturday.
If it happens on the job, the wrench could last a little longer.
You've been given a directive without directions.
Well, technically, there were directions. Or ideas for directions... they just came later. After you started without them. And the directions somehow, usually aren't clear as they should be. As my pastor who updated his social media status last night discovered. Two graduate degrees from seminary, yet the instructions to the toy grocery stand for his kid to play with has now earned the title of "greatest academic challenge".
Interestingly enough, this is how life feels many times with God. He has something for us to do, yet sometimes, not much illumination other than the first step in front of us. Sometimes, not even that. Hence the famous last words...
"Step out in faith."
Then, after a time where we feel like Israel wondering in the desert again, God says..."you know, if you did...." Thanks God. Where was that when started this thing?
Life seems to have a fogged over or frosted windshield as we travel, while the rear-view mirror is clear crystal. If only they were switched. Foresight should be 20/20 and hindsight frosted over. There's less regret when it's harder to see it, making it harder to remember.
But for all that, God has a plan. He can be trusted. And while it may only be one step at time, He will direct our steps and illuminate our paths. As frustrating as it may seem at times. He is faithful.
Pray, this #associatePastorTuesday, for pastors struggling with the directives and the directions (or lack thereof) that they may be facing or experiencing today. May their faith be strengthened; their commitment to seek God first renewed. Pray the frustration of the moment would subside; that their would be a calming of their spirit as they refocus their efforts to wait on God for what is next, in whatever decisions need to be made in circumstances they find themselves. Pray for a clarion call... this is the way of the Lord. May the windshield be cleared; the path made straight; a new-found confidence in God and His promises.
He who is faithful, who began a good work in you, is faithful to complete it.
May your regrets along the way be few.
For the glory of God.
While hanging out with some friends last night from church, for a few moments, we took the opportunity to discuss the mornings' service and sermon. We all agreed, it was a great, powerful service and an excellent message. One friend commented on the delivery of the Word, "Pastor was on fire!", as a metaphor to the athlete who is making incredible plays all throughout their time in the game. Unstoppable.
The kind of moments that are better experienced in person.
Another friend, noted, that upon hearing the title of the message, wondered "OK, how in depth is this going to get?", as we've all heard or maybe sat in a service where the message was more mentally taxing than it should have been, depending on the setting and people. Later in the conversation, a comment was made, showing appreciation for the direction pastor took during the message, when he stated that he could go in a particular direction topically, but that wasn't the focus he was trying to communicate as he explained this passage of Scripture.
The reason for this prayer post... a comment made on how challenging it can be, in choosing sermon topics, in a day and age when it's all too easy for people to get upset and offended when they hear the Word of God or a pastor or spiritual leader tries to present a Biblical truth and apply it to everyday living
The Word of God is powerful,
The Word of God will not return void.
The Word of God will not pass away.
The Word of God is sharper than a two-edge sword; able to divide bone and marrow
When I hear that last analogy, I think of a surgical tool, used by the doctor to separate the infected area from the healthy; the damaged tissue from the normal; the disease from the clean... the dead cells from the living.
From a God a who is good, patient, loving and just, it seems foolish just how quickly and frequently we dismiss what God desires to reveal to us about who He is and what He has in store for our lives, for any number of reasons... none of which, will ultimately stand one day in eternity ad be found valid in the presence of God as we try to justify our response to what God speaks and reveals through Scripture and the preaching thereof.
As I once told someone recently, just because you didn't like what I had to say, doesn't make my point untrue.
Interestingly enough, I've not liked many a things told to me, and yet, depending on the person and the matter, their points contained truth(s) that I had to face and figure out how to respond. I think it's the same with pastors, as well as God.
We may not like what is presented to us... it doesn't mean there's not an application to made to our lives that will bring about a healthy benefit as a result.
So... pray with me, this #seniorPastorMonday, that in these ever-changing all-too fast times in society, that Pastors would be strengthened and encouraged in their ministry; to preach the whole counsel of God. Pray for wisdom and tact to deliver the Word of God with a love and passion to see people come into deeper relationship with God through Christ; not beat them over the head, using the Bible to bring on human guilt. Pray for discernment, as they study to prepare sermons and devotionals, that there would be a fresh anointing for each service; not relying on the impact of the previous. May their be a boldness in their ministry, to trust the work of the Holy Spirit to move on the hearts and minds of those who hear... not to respond with offense and frustration; but to be drawn, to the goodness and patience of God, understanding He is both love and just.
May the truth go forth. Indeed, may God's Word not return void, but accomplish in full what it was sent out to accomplish, in the hearts and minds of those God desperately desires to seek; to save; to know... through what Christ did on the cross. The ability for us to know God.
Dreaming has it's time.
Vision serves to give purpose.
Planning is a necessity.
Strategy is worthy of discussion and consideration.
Prayer should be a priority. Conversations occur and rightfully so.
Yet, ultimately, it's for nothing if you don't eventually get up, go out and do.
Dreaming alone doesn't do it. Having the vision may be a good starting point, but it will accomplish little without execution. Nothing gets built without plans And no battles are won without having an idea of what is going on in the field upon which you will soon face your opponent.
Prayer... well, look what we're doing daily. And whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish, whether you need to implore some people to help you or just hold you accountable, eventually you'll end up talking to someone about what you are doing, need to do or have already done.
In the end though, none of it matters nor is it worth the time to engage in, if you don't simply act and move towards "getting things done".
Procrastination, excuses and their other band of brothers that cause us to stall out or sometimes not even turn over can all check themselves at the door. They will do every thing except lead you, your organization and your church towards greater effectiveness and efficiency.
I know it's a battle. All too well. Trust me... I sitting here, thinking I would do well to re-read this for my own well-being after I'm done writing it. Somebody want to hold me accountable to doing so?
On this #effectiveSunday, pray for the church... the body of Christ as a whole and individuals, such as myself... may we be people of action, in what God has anointed us, called us, destined us to accomplish here on earth for His purpose in Heaven. May distractions, frustrations, and the issues of life not detour and distract us from taking steps towards our fulfilling our dreams, casting our visions, having conversations, implementing plans and navigating our way to completion. Pray the body of Christ be strengthened and moved to a greater life of prayer, for this life is not about us, but about what God desires for us and what He has planned and purposed for our lives. May we focus on Him anew and afresh, this day. May we make much of Christ.
Faith. In Action.
Prayer. In Action.
Love. In Action.
Speak truth. In Action.
For the glory of God. For the cause of Jesus Christ. God's speed as you go. In Him. In Faith. In Prayer. In deed.
We all have our moments.
Moments in time... where life, stress, frustration, realizations of an immediate reality hit hard and fast
In that moment (and more like it), you lose it. Not for long. But the initial outpouring of your frustration is made apparent. Possibly seen. More likely, at least heard.
Not long after that; for the Christian; for one actively trying to live a life that brings glory and honor to God and desires to grown in their faith... you realize your display was less than attractive. Particularly for those perhaps on the fence regarding Christians, Christianity in general and the legitimacy of one's faith in God.
It doesn't matter if they know you or not; know you're Christian or not. If they know anything of it and you displayed something different, then they don't really have much to base their understanding.
Your displayed reaction to a situation being less than attractive is a minor realization.
The major one, when it sets in....
You may have ruined your witness regarding your faith and your relationship with Jesus Christ
For the truth hidden in the cliche, "You may be the only Bible people read" or "They only Jesus people meet", than what did your human reaction to a frustrating circumstance just show?
Not your faith; but someone no different than one without faith in God.
So whatever was in your life that attracted people to the possibility of their own relationship with Christ... well, the curiosity just might be gone.
And should you never get it back? Should you never get a second chance to get it back? Never get the opportunity to explain it, if that's possible? I don't know.
Sorry for the heavy perspective. This post practically wrote itself in a matter of minutes.
That said... if we do only get one chance to display our faith? God is not willing that any should perish, but as Christians something about our life has to be counter-culture to the world. In fact, not just something... I dare say nearly all, if not, indeed, everything. Counter-Culture. Not better than the world. Simply set-apart for God. Inviting those around us to join what will one day be the experience of the glory of God on the other side of eternity.
On this #communitySaturday, will you pray with me... first and foremost for the grace and forgiveness of God upon our lives, for such moments when frustration gets the better of our attitudes, words and actions. While we know we aren't perfect people, we should be endeavoring to become more like Christ, as He works in our hearts and lives. Pray the witness of the body of Christ be not ruined. Pray for an increased awareness of self-control, as well as the rest of the fruits of the Spirit to be resident in our lives; that we may truly live counter-culture; in a way that generates a curiosity about our lives whereby we may point those questioning to the person of Jesus Christ.
Lord, we need your help.
Lord, I need your help.
That the world would see more of you than they do of me.
For your glory and honor. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray these things.
Burnout happens. And it happens for many reasons. Or at least, many things that we give credit for having caused it.
Consider, though, if I may simplify it down to just one principle.
The fire burns out when it ceases to be fed.
When it is no longer supplied with resources to keep it going, it will go out... in time, naturally enough.
We can get burnt out, because we don't have friends who encourage and support us consistently in our endeavors.
--- So take the time to hang out with friends; get supplied with that resource.
We can get burnt out, because of a lack in our spiritual life.
--- So take the time to get replenished by the Word of God and spend time in prayer. As well as the body of Christ.
We can get burnt out, by not taking care of our physical health.
--- So take care of what you eat, drink, sleep and exercise.
We can get burnt out, by emotion and mental exhaustion.
--- So take time to get away, disconnect and recharge your heart, mind and soul.
We can get burnt out in our marriage, when life invades.
--- So take the time to reconnect and make this relationship a priority.
And for all the other "things" one uses to explain why they have "nothing left"...
The resources, tools and materials are available to keep you going. And yes, it might be some more work that you may be struggling to find the energy to get it done. But the one who fails to get up and "work the fire", will eventually no longer have a fire to enjoy. Not to mention, there will no longer be a fire to keep them warm
Burn out can leave you in the cold, unless you act in time to save the fire.
Pray, this #missions Friday, for missionaries and pastors struggling... whose fire is on the verge of going out. Pray the Holy Spirit would help them, comfort them and strengthen them to continue the good work they are doing. May there be an "energization", to get up again, and fan the flame... to speak like into the circumstances where the fire is dying out. May the find the time, people and resources whereby they can feed the fire; in relationships, in their emotions, in their minds and bodies. Pray for a quickening of the Spirit... to fight off those things in this life that were meant to detour, derail and destroy us. For greater is He who is within me (you and I), than he who is in the world.
Victorious. By the power of God.
Life. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fan the flame... for the glory of God
Who knows all we need before we ask or think... Who is able to supply all our needs according to His riches and glory.
Nobody likes waiting. Nobody. Not for anything.
The line going into the parking lot of a store having its huge anniversary sale.
Waiting for your kids to get whatever stuff they think they "need" before walking out the door.
The traffic stop with highway patrol.
Customer service phone call for your internet service provider (or the actual time lost waiting for their technician)
How many other industries have you been given an expected 4-7 hour window for service that will be completed that day. Car repair perhaps, but as a matter of complexity, that's understandable. At any rate...
Some things just can't be rushed. I reflected on this yesterday, considering the opening for a youth pastor that now exists at our church. Incidentally, we prayed last night, that indeed, this would not be a decision that would be rushed, but in God's perfect time, the right person at the right time, perfectly suited for the position... as Pastor stated, filling a ministry position is slightly different from filling one at a Fortune list company. There's a thing... a calling element in the equation to consider. Prayerfully at that.
Interestingly enough the past couple of nights I've been watching clips on YouTube of my favorite TV show (postponing starting the series over on Netflix) They go through a similar process. A heart attack means someone needs to step in as Chief of Staff. Once that person has done so, a new vacancy exists. They go through the process to quickly fill the position. Until someone comes along and says, "No... you don't want to rush this".
Let's make this work; we can change some things; I'll help you. In the meantime, let's conduct a real search, not this hurried hack-job, let's throw someone in there. They won't last and you'll have wasted a ton of time and energy and be right back where you started.
It happens all to often in life. We can get in a hurry to make a decision just because we can't take it anymore and make a bad call. A job change. A major purchase (ie. house or a vehicle) We can make a rush call on a relationship that can really turn one's life upside down in short-order. And for those who place their faith in God; even though, one can miss and get a head and step out in ways and means that God never intended.
All because we couldn't take it any longer. We couldn't wait any more.
Yet, that's exactly what He desires.
Waiting is not inactivity. It's faithful handling what's in front of you until God says, now go here and do this. We just have to be ready for Him, for when that might happen. And be ready if it doesn't happen on our timeline. For it rarely does.
HIS. PERFECT. TIMING.
Perhaps the only thing, truly worth the wait.
Pray, this #deaconThursday, that none of us, especially church leaders and pastors would rush decisions; particularly when it comes to matters of ministry, where the consequences could impact eternity. Pray for a discerning spirit, for such instances as staffing and pastoral/leadership positions within the church... may it not just be a matter of opinion of who the best person is, but as our church prayed, that there would be a calling; for such a time as this. May there be a reliance and a greater trust in the timing of God and a good measure of faithfulness in the meantime. May we not be found inactive as we wait on God; but wise in our awareness of how God is moving and a sensitivity to His leading, through the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Pray... that the only call we rush to make is upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we seek Him first; then allow Him to bring the rest; whatever we have need of it. To be used for His glory. For the cause of Jesus Christ.
It's easy, once you're an adult, to forget the struggles of childhood. The major stuff you remember. The day to day frustrations of grow up, not so much. But when you are living in the moment, the seem like a big deal.
This was true the other night, as my oldest daughter was frustrated. Mostly because of play-time during recess. You know how kids can behave.
This got me thinking of my grade school days and as I reread this blog post from January 2014, I didn't want to grab the whole thing (which you can read here: How I Survived The Bullies) but my closing thoughts seemed good reminders, as surviving in school is so much more challenging now than during my time. My heart goes out to these young people.
So here it is... why I believe I came out better in the long run after dealing with school bullies.
Because someone dared to speak up, speak the truth and follow-through on their actions.
My parents and brother remain among the biggest believers in me. They feel for me when life gets rough, pray over me and offer me encouragement and advice.
I have remained involved in church, throughout college and adulthood. I know who I am in Christ and that God values who I am and that He has a plan and purpose for my life. To this day, my closest friends and second families have come from churches I have attended over the years, and even when I’ve changed churches, those relationships still exist.
The bullying passed. I learned valuable, life lessons of discernment and to this day, I carefully consider my level of interaction with friends and acquaintances and who is trusted with what info. The Bible calls it “guard your heart.” It is a skill worth perfecting, because a damaged heart will cause more damage until it’s repaired.
Repairing of the heart does happen. With time. Through love. By examination. The orange story was embarrassing. Now, it’s pretty hilarious. Being told God loves you and has a purpose for life outweighs any worthless words of a person who hasn’t been told or experienced God’s love and purpose themselves. In fact, that’s probably how you should respond. Examining those situations will help you understand yourself and others and the cause behind it. Come to think of it, it was through examination, that my response was never a physical altercation. Sure, I threw out some responses that caused more static and I realized I probably should have stayed quiet. Especially when talking with Dad and he would ask me why I didn’t stay quiet. He and I have even shared moments, years later and thought, maybe just once I should have defended myself physically. But somewhere in there, not doing so, really was taking the high road.
I love my family. I love my friends. I love my wife and kids. And while I’ve had plenty of life moments of “why isn’t this working out like I want it”, this remains… life will move forward.
You can engage, make the most of it and live life to the fullest.
You can sit static and let yesterday repeat itself.
One decision is significantly more healthy for you than the other.
So there it is. A support system that speaks life and blessing, not death and cursing. The relevancy of the body of Christ. The healing power of God; through among other things, the passage of time. And the process of an active faith in God; believing that no matter what life looks like at times, He has a plan. He is faithful. He is trustworthy.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday...that pastors may have wisdom... so much wisdom, in the investment they make in the lives of young people, coming from difficult living environments and challenging schoolyards. May they effectively combat the destructive messages with the Word of God; plans for a hope and future. May this generation come to know that God has a destiny for their lives. As they share life together, may God give pastors encouraging words and positive affirmation; that while times like these are difficult; they are not permanent. Nor are they wasted. May this generation come to know the love of God during such challenges; developing a faith that lasts a lifetime and leaves a legacy for others to follow. May their identity and the truth of who kids are be found in Christ, not in an experience they've had or had happen to them. Pray that lives would be impacted for eternity, not because of what someone said or did that was mean, cruel and childish; but because God extends love, grace and forgiveness to each of us.
May kids lives be changed; as what was meant to destroy them, God uses to propel them... to destinies not yet realized; only anticipated. For the glory of God. For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I got to thinking yesterday, about the closing of Sunday's service... as we commissioned a youth pastor transitioning, to take the head role of a church in need of new leadership and fresh vision. Mentor-ship.
Pastors and staff transition just like any other industry, yet when there is a move of advancement, the previous position becomes a launch pad; a stepping stone; a season of preparation for "what's next". It's not the current position hasn't been important, necessary, critical or real. It has been all of the aforementioned things. And even those experiences are helpful when there is simply a lateral move to another similar position as was held before.
Above all of that, though; the lessons, the trials, the conversations, the "ah-ha" moments, the experience as a whole... all of it turns to knowledge, wisdom and insight that one soon discovers, still pales in comparison to what they feel they should have once in the new role of exponentially more responsibility.
The parting youth pastor mentioned it in his sermon.
"When I came here, I thought I was a good leader. Today, I am leaving a good pastor."
And the mark of a good leader who also happens to be a good pastor? Multiplication.
By the grace and favor of God, this is the forth time our church has helped launch an associate or youth pastor as they have sought and taken on a senior pastor role. Interestingly, none of them in thriving churches. All of them being in need revitalization and one being a church plant, starting in a church building on the verge of closing its' doors as they were down to only 5 attendees. That church plant was in a brand new facility in less than 3 years.
It's not a boast on our church, although it is an incredible honor. It is a boast on the Lord. As we prayed yesterday, that stewardship is more than just money... it's taking care of what has been entrusted to you. As a Senior Pastor entrusted to lead, build and develop the skills and abilities of the pastors who sit under their leadership, this is a form of stewardship.
And the very definition of mentor-ship.
A pastor who stewards his staff and pastors well, will inevitably find themselves in these moments.
Launching. Propelling. Forwarding. Then bringing in the person God directs them to fill the pastoral position now open and the process starts all over. Again.
Launch. Staff. Repeat.
On this #associatePastorTuesday, pray over this incredibly daunting process... of mentoring. Of stewardship. Of leadership. Of multiplying successes and best practices. Pray for wisdom... so much wisdom, beyond the years of senior pastors who are making the investment; beyond the years of associates who are gleaning. The struggle of ministry is real. May the lessons learned prove valuable; the experiences priceless; the trials strengthening; the "ah-ha" moments as turning points. Pray for healthy relationships and teamwork among pastors; may there be a unity of purpose, a camaraderie of spirit, a bond of friendship. Pray for the miraculous, as pastors cast vision; establish strategy; fill critical positions, implement plans and engage community.
All glory and honor to God, as good leaders become good pastors; create strong, healthy and vibrant churches, that change communities for eternity. For the cause of Jesus Christ. For the advancement of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.
As we've prayed in recent weeks, on a couple of occasions, my youth pastor friend preached yesterday morning, his last Sunday before officially starting his new role as Senior Pastor.
Both in his message, as well as the altar time that followed as the church surrounded he and his wife in prayer, so much of life is about stewardship. Is the church; followers of Jesus Christ, living in such a manner that "makes much of Christ".
Often focused on the topic of finances, the church rarely discusses stewardship in light of the areas of life which have been entrusted to our care.
Our jobs. Whatever you do, work as unto the Lord.
Our kids. Children are an inheritance from the Lord.
Our neighbors. As you have done unto the least of these, you've done unto me.
Our ministry...make the most of every opportunity, for the days are evil.
As I stated the other day and have many times before, God does not waste. We go through circumstances for a reason. We endure challenging difficulties, often feeling as though we have been left in the dark. For a season, we may lack wisdom. For a time, there may be confusion. But whatever it is and for however long it lasts, there is a plan. There is a purpose.
As we grow in faith, as we learn more about the character of God, as we become more like Christ... it becomes increasingly apparent that our lives on earth are a partnership with God. He is at work in our lives in order that we may do His work, as we live life in ways that direct a lost and dying world back to the person of Jesus Christ.
For He is not will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Thus, it is imperative, that there be an authentic faith resident in our lives, made apparent to the world, that is properly aligned with the Word of God in order that their may be a drawing towards God rather than further pushing people away.
Pray, this #seniorPastorMonday, that pastors and parishioners alike, would indeed walk in faith in wisdom, for indeed the days are increasingly evil. May we remember the importance to make the most of every opportunity to make much of Christ. Pray for the conduct of the church; that faith would arise, that faith would mature in ways that bring greater glory to God. May a world and a culture desperately in need of God be drawn to Him through the word of our testimony; through the simplicity of the Gospel; through the redemptive work of Calvary. Pray God guard our hearts and minds; that our focus remain on who you are and what you have for us to accomplish, rather than caught up in self and matters of vanity. Help us be better stewards, with the knowledge, love, testimony, time and talent that you have entrusted to us... to be used by you in greater dimensions than ever before.
For the glory of God. For the cause of Jesus Christ. Be glorified in our lives, for You alone are worthy.
Let me say this, first and foremost...
I can't thank each and every one of you enough, for storming heaven and continuing to do so, for my friend Stephanie and her family during this battle with cancer for her life. I am humbled by the number of visits, likes and shares as well as the compliments, for writing the sentiments we all share. It was clearly God, as tons more people have much closer relationships and friendships with her than I. That said, it was a banner day for the website and I can only hope that for as many read Bring Me 70 on Saturday for a friend in need, just as many and more will join in storming heaven as Pastors fight against burnout... a fight in which many lives also hang in the balance.
However, in the midst of such difficult circumstance, life continues to move; even when more pressing and eternal matters weigh on our minds and sadness encroaches our hearts. As such, I pretty much went all day not knowing... yes, again... what was in store for #effectiveSunday.
Then, later in the evening, as I pondered how much had been accomplished at our place in the prior 24 hours, as my wife and I finally got around to getting some items checked off the list that we had, quite frankly, been procrastinating about, I came to this simple, yet somehow profound realization. Not new... more like an "interesting how that works" moment, knowing in the back of my mind, there's also no other way for it to work. So what's the realization, already?
You can't be efficient at anything that you don't start.
You won't know how effective you are at anything that you don't finish.
Measurements require movement and incomplete measurements don't really do much good at shining light on a picture that has yet to be finalized.
... it is worthwhile to take a good look at the things one wishes to accomplish.
... it is worthwhile to establish some groundwork as to how you will proceed
... it is worthwhile to identify the goal-line.
... it is worthwhile to count the cost and weigh the risks
... it is worthwhile, before starting out, to determine your commitment level.
Commitment is practically a binary word. Partially-committed sounds like an oxymoron!
As I pointed out last night on a social media conversation, God wasn't partially-committed in His plan to send His Son, in order to bring humanity back into right relationship with Him. Nor, did Christ accept the suggestion to call in the angels to pull Him off the Cross. Both God and Christ were committed to the end.
Consider Jesus ministry:
Start to finish in just three years? Efficient
Forever changing the world? Effective
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, that the church and it's leadership would commit to prayer, what God has in store for them and the vision and plan He has for them to accomplish. Pray for sound, Biblical, responsible groundwork to be laid as game-plans and expectations are formulated and cast. Pray for big goal-lines; that stretch one's faith; that rely soley on God, may His will be revealed. Pray the church heed the wisdom of counting costs and considering risks. May their resolve be strong, as their faith is fortified... that God doesn't give more than we can hanlle; that He does equip those He calls, not based on what they bring to the table but what God can accomplish through those whose are remain fixed on Him. The author and finisher of our faith desires that we not only start that which He has planned for our lives, but more importantly, that we finish strong.
For the glory of God. For the cause of Jesus Christ. For the joy and the reward to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant".
When it comes to social media, at least the one particular platform that I frequent the most when I am online, I know most everyone in real life. I preface that for a reason... the person I am about to share with you, is one of the few who I do not know in real life.
While I am blessed and grateful to have watched her life from afar the past few years, she is the focus of today's #communitySaturday prayer.
A successful entrepreneur, Stephanie is a master at her craft. A personality, that from every comment I've read on her page, exudes a passion for life and a love for people; two things, no doubt the by-product of her devoted faith in God and a close walk with the person of Jesus Christ. From what I have witnessed, her husband, also an all-around great guy.
Then... her grade-school aged daughter. This kid... like I said, sometimes it's amazing what you can pick up from a distance... this young girl, is a class-act kid. A child of promise has been incredibly gifted. I have no doubt she will accomplish great things in her life; making an impact in the world, not because of who she is, but because of how God is already using her to be a blessing and an inspiration at such a young age. Much, exactly like her mother... who announced, the day after her birthday this week, the ugly truth.
After having already beat one battle with cancer, round 2 is proving to have come back with a vengeance. Sadly and much to the heart-break of everyone she knows in real life and the tons of people like me she doesn't, the doctors have predicted 9-12 months remaining, of life on earth as we know.
I've watched the past few weeks, what are thousands of comments of love and support and prayers. And while there's no way in my busy schedule to read them all, it has to be overwhelming for this dear friend. The ones that stood out... I don't know you, but I will pray for you.
People... community coming together, as those that do know her are flooding her social media page and creating specific prayer pages on social media, for people to lift this situation and her family to the Lord in prayer.... believing for the miraculous. And her story is being seen and read by those who don't know her, who have compassion. People of faith storming the throne-room of heaven, praying God's will; praying for the miraculous healing in this mortal body; praying for the strength and comfort of the Holy Spirit to this family.
With thousands of comments, I can't imagine that mixed in, there are not people who don't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; yet believe in prayer or are willing to pray intervention and healing in Stephanie's body. Community... those of faith in God and those who have yet to come to faith; both offering prayers and support for this child of God; anointed to impact and influence the lives of thousands.
On this #communitySaturday, would you join me and thousands more, in lifting up in prayer, Stephanie and her family. May God's will be accomplished in this latest prognosis. Pray for healing in her body, whether she experiences it here on earth or a heaven-bound eternity. Pray for strength and comfort for this young family; for the legacy she has built; for what God desires to accomplish during this time... may it be one that causes many to do some introspection of their own lives; perhaps the witness of her life will prompt others to seek God and what it means to live life as a follower of Jesus Christ. May this time be used to bring glory and honor to God; wherever she goes; whoever she comes in contact with; whatever conversations transpire, either online or in real life... whether it's 12 months or 12 more years or a full life; clearly God is not quite done with Stephanie just yet. For however long she still has air in her lungs, may her time not be wasted; as God is not One of waste; but uses every last detail... what the enemy of our souls tries to use to destroy us, God uses for good, to accomplish His plan and purpose in our lives.
And though it's often sad circumstances that bring us together, pray that community, regardless of faith, would join in force together more than we use our energies to battle against each other. For none of us are our own. Christ desires that all of us would experience what Stephanie has... an abundant live full of joy and purpose; not because of anything she is or does, but because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for her; through His death and resurrection.... as the church just celebrated a couple weeks ago.
On behalf of Stephanie, thanks in advance for your prayers.
For the glory of God. For the cause of Jesus Christ. Made victorious in all things, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Death, nor the prospect of it... nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Thanks be unto God; now and forevermore.
ps... you can join in prayer here on social media: @prayersforstephanie
I heard this week, that my missionary friend to South Africa (who finally returned, just after Easter) is getting settled nicely and moving forward in this great work. He had contacted the church to thank us , once again, for the love and support he had received during his time back home and the healing process following the loss of his wife last May.
It struck me yesterday morning... not that I didn't know this or expect it already, just how much of an adjustment this will be for my friend. His life partner is with the Lord and while we rejoice in that, still the pain and struggle is real.
Meanwhile, though, new opportunities await, as he had actually been turning down chances to do more ministry because of the health concerns and limitations of his wife during her remaining time on the field.
Re-entry into an environment after you've been off the scene for a while has it challenges.
Similarly, I learned a few weeks ago of a friend, who a while back had experienced a failure in life while in ministry. The details aren't important, especially since I don't have any specifics to mention if I wanted to; but what is important is the healing and restoration process that this individual and their family have gone through with the assistance and direction of church officials and the support of the body of Christ (many of whom, as I said, probably weren't aware of this process until it's completion) Be that as it may... they too, when the time comes, will experience the joys and the struggles of re-entry.
It's an interesting dynamic when you think about it. We hear and see about how rough and challenging this process is when astronauts return from space... that looks to be like a fun ride! Yet life, is different. Sure it's exciting, for new opportunities and challenges, it can be a thrilling adventure. But if we aren't careful, we can be attacked.
Unrealistic expectations of what we can and will accomplish this time compared to the last. Feelings of regret and frustration that things aren't like they were before and if only different decisions were made or certain events hadn't happened. It's like you've been on the outside of your own life... perhaps like a solider on the battlefield. Removed from what and who they know; they come back to a life that has progressed in their absence with the memories of an environment they wish they could forget. An incredibly difficult re-entry process from many.
But God's grace is sufficient. Necessary. Critical.
On this #missionsFriday, pray for these... missionaries and pastors (as well as those who serve the armed forces, if you'll permit me to add them in, which you will because I just did :-) who are re-entering the mission field and the ministry, as well as life in general. Indeed, pray for the grace of God to be resident in their lives as they find their place and purpose under a new set of circumstances, with a different perspective, and a fresh understanding of who God is and what He has planned for their lives. Pray for the struggle of re-entry.... may regret and frustration and second guesses be laid at the foot of the cross, as these remain focused on Christ. May they commit their ways and plans to the Lord; may their steps be directed of the Lord; their paths made straight and illuminated. Pray against a spirit of confusion and anxiety; but may their confidence rest in their Lord; the strength of their faith fortified; the call made overwhelmingly clear... this. This is the way I have for you.
Last night, a friend after church reminded me... walk in confidence. I had to laugh inside, for to my knowledge, he's not following Bring Me 70. Or if he is, he hasn't mentioned it. The conversation, though brief, was the result of a day that went downhill from the beginning... just hours after I posted yesterday's prayer, about placing our confidence in God.
True to his character, the enemy of our souls arose to test my resolve on this matter. And proceeded throughout the day.
Meanwhile, in my efforts to not get too frustrated with myself, I was reminded of the words of the Chief of Staff, from my favorite political-drama television show. During an event a problem occurs, one that was entirely avoidable. The event of all things, a prayer breakfast. In his frustration with the staff, on the simplicity of a breakfast and how someone creates a problem by the time it's over, Leo makes this classic statement:
"The year is one week old. The legislative session hasn't begun and we can't put a forkful of waffles in our mouth without coughing up the ball." - Leo McGarry, The West Wing
It's one thing to have a problem on your hands when there are so many other things going on.
It's another thing to have a problem on your hands, singular in nature, that in very short time, begins to take over... to the point that it consumes your day. Your thoughts. Your emotions. Your outlook. Taken far enough, you'll change your attitude. Let that go unchecked for a prolonged period of time, and you just might discover that your belief system has been altered.
It's an easy enough trap to fall into. Especially after a couple more troubling and stressful days like these, which haven't been split-heading stressful, so much as they have been "I don't believe it" preventable.
So... the solution? Well, how about the advice of my dear friend. We all make mistakes. You just have to remember that whatever we do, we don't do it to remain in the good graces of the employer. We do it out off love and appreciation to the Lord.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters," - Colossians 3.23
While the problems, whether they be the result of someone else' doing, or by our own hands, they don't spell the end of the world. The whole world, nor your world. The response of same may make it seem the end is near, but God is not caught be surprise. EVER.
Pray, this #deaconThursday, for the problems and challenges facing church leaders and administrators. Pray the stress and anxiety that comes from figuring out solutions will not gain a foothold, in anyone's life, nor their mind. Even in ministry, may there be the daily reminder that the work they do is for the Lord. Pray the stress and frustration would not take control, over their mind or their attitude. Where grace abounds, there, may GOD much more abound.
May we continue, once again, to walk in the confidence of God. He holds the whole world in His hands. He holds your world in His hands. Regardless of who is to be blamed, He is worthy to be praised... even when we do cough up the ball.
So, Monday was... let's just say I dropped the ball while at work. It was totally my mistake. It made me look bad. And the company for that matter. And as I dealt with my own frustration while not yet knowing the full reaction from the bosses, I wrote yesterday's prayer post on grace, when we really should be hauled out to the woodshed for a "come to Jesus meeting"
As yesterday progressed, I began thinking just how much, God loves and is willing to fight our battles for us. Even when it's our mistakes. Not only that, but as we go through life... to not have Christ be a daily part of that. What can you rely on if not One who would give His only Son just for a relationship with humanity?
The app on my phone showed yesterday's quote of the day from Socrates:
"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."
Compare that, to the Apostle Paul, in writing his first letter to the Corinthians:
"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
He goes on to write that his message and preaching was not done with wise and persuasive words. It was a demonstration of the Spirit's power. The reason? So that one's faith would not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power.
Such is how I found myself, considering the potential aftermath of my mistake(s). Having been in this position before, I do not boast in my own strength, for clearly I miss the mark. And to my frustration, will inevitably do so again. So I have nothing, but to trust God. For truly, I can not rely on my own.
Interestingly enough, I have so many moments, where privately, I think I know what I'm doing, that I am doing things right, taking care of business, trying to learn how to do life better and occasionally making "progress". Then, I stand in the room publicly and the temptation to compare encroaches.
And I realize... I don't have a clue.
Jesus Christ is not a crutch. He is the friend standing beside you every step of your life, should anything come against you. And like any friend, the less you want Him to be a part of the picture, the further back He'll stand. He hasn't left you. But if He whispers to you and you have pushed Him away... the chances of you hearing Him? He hasn't remained silence. You are simply out of earshot! Why. That's the relationship all of us have a choice in making regarding faith in God.
My confidence is in Him. Daily. The past is behind me, why regret it? Tomorrow hasn't arrived, why be anxious?
Thus, as I started Tuesday afresh, relied on God, trusted Him for just that day that was in front me.... it worked out.
Sure, I had to have a woodshed conversation with the boss. But inserted into the conversation was the miraculous hand of God's provision... in an envelope with a bonus check. And a "yesterday notwithstanding" opening line. God's grace in the midst of failure. What better lesson to instill in those yet to enter adulthood? It's who are you in relationship to God that matters. Not how you see yourself. Not how the world sees you. Not what you do. Where you go. What you say. Not even how you identify.
There is simply this.... knowing you nothing. And knowing you know Christ.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, for kids and teens... may there be a prompting in their spirit to seek the truth, not relative to their situation or what culture is pushing on them; but a drawing to a Heavenly Father, full of grace and truth. May they experience a love that is unconditional. Pray for the supernatural, that past all the physical, mental and psychological changes we and society try to affect; that their would be a change of heart, for the things of God. May their be a shift in focus... not on our failure rate or success factor, but the simple act of seeking God first. May they not navigate this life alone, swayed by media, convinced by politics or coerced by agendas; but that early on, they would develop a steadfast faith in God; for His plans and purpose to be carried out in the lives of those who love Him and are called to His purpose. May they know it's not our identity, intellect or instinct whereby we are known, but that one day all that will matter is the existence and extent of a relationship with Jesus Christ. Pray for God's forgiveness and mercy on the church as a whole and a society that has lost this most critical element of what we call the Christian faith.
For the glory of God. We rely on You and You alone. Daily. For everything.
I feel way to young to be saying the phrase "back in my day", but be that as it may, there used to be an expression of being "hauled out to the woodshed" for your punishment, discipline or correction for whatever brilliantly stupid thing you had done that had caused trouble or difficulty.
As I thought about the events that transpired during my morning yesterday, I knew I had had my brilliantly stupid moment... hopefully not to be repeated for quite a while. I don't know about the rest of you, but I get very anxious, when it comes to having an idea of what reactions I might be facing, while never fully knowing what those reactions might entail.
All this... for stuff that will be forgotten in short time. Probably not in a couple of months (sadly). Perhaps even longer than that. But eventually it will fade. In the meantime, the frustration and disappointment of moments in time that have gone awry create stress, tension and difficult conversations as details and solutions to problems get sorted out.
We experience them in life with others. We experience them in life with God.
Yet, somehow, God's are so much easier in the long run. Why? Because of His grace. His mercies are new every morning. Yours and mine... not so much. Not that new... and surely not that often. It's almost like you'd rather be in trouble with your Heavenly Father more than anyone else, because you know His love is never-ending. Plus, you have the benefit of know, that no matter what, He will in fact work out all things for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
We simply need to remain steadfast in trusting and standing on such promises from God. And pray for the interactions with man, that God will intervene and work the miraculous.
Pray, this #associatePastorTuesday, for pastors and leaders experiencing woodshed moments. May they experience the grace of God in new and meaningful ways, regardless of the circumstance. May God give them wisdom and direction in the difficult circumstances they face with people. Pray for a covering, as the plans and purposes of God are carried out, even when things don't look, feel or seem as though God can make something beautiful from it. May their strength and trust in Him be fortified in greater dimensions, from this day moving forward.
For the glory of God. His love for us, too great to leave us the way we are.
There were a couple of moments throughout Sunday, that I thought I might have a direction or two for #seniorPastorMonday. Then something showed up in my social media news-feed.
A church, in a town I just spent a couple hours in on Saturday, held its' last Sunday service. On Tuesday, their doors will close. Not because they aren't paying bills. Not because there is no pastor. No... the reason... they are not growing.
It's a very small, yet very tight-knit community church. In a community where people either attend much larger churches or don't attend at all. Yet, they all like the church being there. As if that wasn't enough of a sadness element to the story...
...the church was about to witness its' 100th year in existence!! After 99 years of ministry... closed.
I had no idea of this until yesterday, so I'm not sure to chalk this up to something along the lines of the prophetic, but you can read the #deaconThursday prayer post here, titled The Higher-Ups.
Such is the case here. The governing body for this particular denomination is unsatisfied that for the past number of years, perhaps as many as 10-15, if I recall reading correctly, that they have held steady under 35 church members and 20-40 in attendance on a regular basis. Those numbers aside, the church is operational. Current on financial responsibilities. They've made greater efforts to reach the community with the current pastor than any other pastor the church has had in recent history. And for those who are there, they are learning and growing in their faith and living and supporting each other manage and battle the joys and struggles of life.
Even writing this... just thinking about it is heart-breaking. It's causing me to not know how to proceed in bring this prayer post to a close. Hang on...
Okay, I'm back.
It's cause for prayer on many levels. It's one thing, and hard enough, when someone willingly goes in search of a new church. It's hard enough when a pastor takes on a new ministry or church from a call of God to move elsewhere. It's devastating enough when a pastor has to find or figure out something else from burnout or a life failure.
Parishioners will be checking out nearby churches out of force. The pastor and staff will be unemployed, out of force.
And since the church does sit on some prime property in the area and apparently has been approached by other churches interested in keeping it for church use, the big concern is the destruction of this edifice for commercial or residential use. The church has been on this property since the 60's. On the surface, one can't help but wonder what has transpired and the motivation behind it.
Pray, this #seniorPastorMonday, for this church body and the pastor. May God grant to them wisdom and discernment, where their next place is, within the Christian community and ministry. Pray that God be glorified in the outcomes that follow this decision; whether the closure is God's will or not, may this be an opportunity for healthy Christians to find a greater level of trust in Him who is able to make ALL THINGS work TOGETHER for GOOD, for those who LOVE HIM and ARE CALLED according to HIS PURPOSE. Pray against a spirit of bitterness and resentment... that no one would allow this as an opportunity for the devil to get a foothold and negate the good work that has been done. Pray for wisdom for the governing body as they proceed in this process. Finally, pray for other churches, facing similar circumstances. For the pastors struggling to keep churches afloat. For the congregations in difficult communities. For any hindrance in the churches abilities to be effective, reach the lost and strengthen the body of Christ... may the greatness of a difficulty prompt an even greater level that God can and will accomplish the miraculous, in ways, by means that can not be explained by human logic.
Truth in the Lord. In all your ways, lean not on your own understanding; but seek His face, and He will direct your paths.
May that be the decision of every Christian-at-large, and every person affected by the closure of this church. For the glory of God.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.