As I acknowledged to God, yesterday, once again, not having any clue for today's post, seconds later I thought if there was something that was more on the side of one's personal life that needed to be prayed over more-so than the ministry side... that it might change things up a bit.
Then, the scripture came to mind, when Paul was giving instructions to Timothy and he arrives at the place regarding church deacons. In verse 2 and verse 12, Paul states that deacons "must be faithful to his wife". In verse 4 and verse 12, he follows the wife statement with "he must manage his children (family) and household well."
This could be a short post, as I don't want to get into the whole LGBT debate that has been discussed elsewhere regarding marriage, nor do I want to focus on woman serving in ministry. No. What stuck out upon what I feel was the Holy Spirit bringing this verse to my recollection was this...
We focus so much time and energy within churches and leadership (typically pastors) giving Christianity a bad rap when there is a moral failure or break-down; yet, in less visible roles to those outside of the church, much transpires, that shouldn't with regards to deacons, admins and staff. While it's probably a big deal for the church in which situations may occur, you don't hear much talked about it in general... at least not compared to pastors.
It's not the church doesn't have enough difficulty in sharing the message and gospel of Christ in this day and age as it is; but we lose credibility to speak truth on subjects such as this when leadership; whether a pastor or a deacon, fail to protect their own family and marriage when it comes to healthy relationships outside of the home while keeping the bedroom pure.
It really is that simple.
I'll be the first to admit. I'm not perfect. Managing your household well; taking care of your kids; working to guard your heart and your mind and focus on building a strong and healthy marriage... it's work.
A Lot Of WORK!
Yet it's worth it. Incredibly worth it. For the safety of the family. For the health of the church. For the witness of the message of Jesus Christ. For the glory of God.
Pray, this #deaconThursday, for those in leadership struggling in their marriage; having difficulty in managing their household well. Pray the truth of God's Word would shed light on to their realities and that change would occur. May the power of God under-gird them, for whatever needs to change in this area of life and ministry. Whether conviction; healing; restoration... whatever the situation looks like. Pray they would seek the face of God; remembering what God has done for them; what He has promised them; what He has called them out of. May they step out of the troubling situations they find themselves and into the grace and forgiveness of God and that the miraculous would occur. Pray for the strengthening of healthy marriages and healthy homes within the body of Christ... that we may truly be a light; a beacon to the lost and dying world around us; unhindered by failure and testaments of loving God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I had to just text my brother the other day, to tell him I was thinking about it. What prompted it? The car in front of me had a local area fire department baseball cap in the rear window. No, my brother is not a fireman. He did however, in the early years of his driving and perhaps early 20's, have a police department ball cap in his rear window. Thanks to the family member who served... you are immensely loved!
However, there was a time he almost sold it. I say "almost". My brother loves messing with telemarketers... if for no other reason than to keep them on the line, so they won't bother everyone else. He's even given them notice up front of his intentions! "I'm not buying anything; but you go ahead and make your case." In one particular instance; he turned his listening ability and attentiveness to peoples needs whereby he offers practical, well-formulated solutions in return, loose on the young man on the other end of the line.
He inquired, that the telemarketer sounded like a young guy. Perhaps one who had already had his share of speeding tickets. The "kid" acknowledge that he was; and had. Even recently, if I recall. My brother proceeded to convince him, that if he had a law enforcement ball cap in the rear window, perhaps he wouldn't get so many tickets! Patrol personnel would think he was a fellow brother-in-blue or had ties to the law enforcement community and wouldn't bother pulling him over. Convinced this is what was missing in his life, the young man was pretty excited! And of course, my brother kept selling the idea this man had to have this, but couldn't because you couldn't just go to the store and buy a police dept cap. In a matter of moments, my brother had this guy hooked. What price would he have paid, were they to actually do the deal? My brother had the kid on the line for around $100... with the idea that even that price, if it prevented just 1 speeding ticket, it would pay for itself.
Just seeing that fire department hat recalled that great story. Then I realized the spiritual principle at work. That's what the enemy of our souls does to us. Young and old alike, saved or unsaved, pastor or parishioner. Satan convinces us of our need for a solution that, while creative, isn't an actual fix. The kid didn't need a baseball cap; he needed to change his behavior! Adam and Eve didn't need to be "like God"; they already had a relationship with God. Yet he sold them on the fact that the one thing God said 'no' to; was exactly what was missing from their life to make it better; complete. And in fact, it was the beginning of their demise.
There is no hope, if it is false. Nobody hopes for failure; to walk away with less than they started.
There is no love, if it is false. Nobody longs for hatred, abandonment or neglect
Too often we get sold on inanimate things and creative lines of thinking that don't address the real issue in our lives. And while the real issue can be hard to acknowledge and even harder to correct; it pails in comparison to the difficult challenge of trying to resolve it with ineffective answers and false solutions.
In such times and places, we NEED to hear and respond to truth.
So, pray this #youthPastorWednesday, that the truth of God and His Word would be revealed and extended, from both the pulpit and the believer in the seat. Pray for pastors; that they would preach the truth as well as live it; and that the church would respond in kind; doers of the truth and speaking the same to those around them. Pray for young people and the next generation; may they not be sold a bill of false goods and promises. May they witness and experience for themselves a genuine faith in the Most High God. May they serve Him and seek Him alone, all their days; standing on His promises as they watch Him work the miraculous in their lives.
By the grace of God.
For His Glory.
It didn't occur to me until later in the evening last night, that today's topic was much like an episode of my favorite television show... again. In an episode titled, Angel Maintenance, (Angel, being the codename for Air Force One) the indicator light does not turn on for wheels down, so the pilots are unsure if they are able to land. So of course, it's already been an incredibly long flight; and now they are trying to figure out ways to get help, either in the sky or near the ground, to figure out if the wheels are down.
Of course, in the meantime, staffers are having conversations, trying to figure out what would cause this in the first place; the consensus being that sometimes lights just don't work.
On the other hand... mine work. Two personal vehicles with indicator lights on the dashboard both being lit... and if that weren't enough, a work vehicle yesterday, decided to turn on it's check engine light. Which got me thinking...
Sometimes there are problems, that remain unknown until they can be checked out. The problem can be discussed and debated at length, but until someone actually digs in and starts looking around, all you can really do is guess. With all the guessing, however, you have to be prepared that it might not be what you think. You could very well be wrong about the matter. Situations and circumstances seemingly point you in one direction, based on symptoms as they become noticeable, but until you take a more thorough look...
Taking a more thorough look itself requires more work. More analysis. More conversations. More study. Problems and potential problems needed to be sorted through and it's time consuming and exhausting. It's all necessary, if you plan on things continuing to go well.
Pray, this #associatePastorTuesday, for pastors facing situations that are unclear. Where there are indicators of problems and potential problems, and they need guidance and wisdom for Heaven as to what to do and how to resolve them. Pray for discernment and understanding in the conversations that take place and information that comes to light. Pray for details to be sorted out and that nothing would be missed or overlooked in their endeavors. May their be a faithfulness in their stewardship, as they look over and care for the affairs of the church and the ministries therein. May their not be a spirit of confusion or darkness, or fear of the unknown about their lives; but confident God will show them the way the should go and light the path before them.
Wisdom to resolve.
For the glory of God.
I tried last night to recall the idea I was certain I had for this prayer post and was unable to do so. Calling upon God for help, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Meanwhile, totally unrelated I kept seeing photos and comments from two particular events, on my social media feed.
The anniversary of my pastors' parents... celebrating 60 years of marriage last week.
And the anniversary of friends of the family, from the church I grew up... celebrating 40 years of marriage.
Which got me thinking to milestones and how they can only be established to be remembered after actually having traveled the distance. God, in His Wisdom, dropped into my spirit, to read the full the chapter for the verse of the day, from yesterday, via my YouVersion bible app. The verse of the day was Hebrews 11:23, which talks about remaining steadfast on the promises God has given.
However, if you continue reading the rest of the chapter, particularly in how the Message states things, it tied right in. It asks the question to remember the early days after coming to know Christ. The early church took all kinds of abuse. And yet the verses read:
"Nothing they did bothered you; nothing set you back. So don't throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It's still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God's plan so you'll be there for the promised completion." - from Hebrews 11.
What do those in ministry; church leaders, pastors miss out on because they don't stick it out. Yes, the early days were hard. Yes, they were difficult and trying times. And so are these. However; the support, the knowledge, the faith, the strength gained along the way... it is so incredibly true. You are so much further along.
God was with you then; more-so now.
God was faithful then; more-so now.
God provided then; more-so now.
Don't let today's battles negate yesterday's victories.
Pray with me, this #seniorPastorMonday, for those pastors not so sure of themselves as they were in the early days of their ministry. Pray for those struggling to press on and press in; as today's battles wage war on what they have accomplished and achieved. Pray God would strengthen and gird them up, anew and afresh. May they not throw their lives and the ministries away, but engaging in a destructive mindset or pattern of living, but rather, hold fast to the calling of God upon their lives and the purpose for which has placed and anointed them to fulfill. May the see life through, to the finish; for the promised completion of God.
For the glory of God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I continue to be amazed at what God drops in my spirit for these prayer posts. Yesterday was a full afternoon and it wasn't until mid-evening that I realized I hadn't considered or inquired the direction for what you are about to read. Upon acknowledging I needed His help (as I do with every post) it wasn't but moments that it occurred.
We stayed in the area we were in yesterday, to attend my father-in-laws church softball games. The last game was a make-up game from a previous rain-delay and the schedule required them to play on a different field. As we were walking, my father-in-law talked with a young player about what transpired in the previous game. The young player had switched-hit. He started hitting left-handed, instead of right-handed. The acknowledgement? He was getting more hits and getting to the plate more often.
The chat didn't take but a couple moments but it was enough to be inspired. How much more, do such change-ups help in the church world? Sometimes things are effective and efficient, but not as much as they could or should occur. Other times, they are neither effective or efficient. It may take a great deal of work to figure it. It may take one simple change in the approach to the matter and suddenly you find yourself in the groove.
Whatever it is, whatever it may look like, the change may be necessary.
It may be hard to acknowledge.
It may be difficult to navigate.
It may be frustrating to figure out.
It may be exhausting to finish.
None of that however, denies the fact that it very well, could totally be worth it in the end.
Not to mention work out for the better long-term, leaving you with a single regret...
"why didn't I try this sooner?"
Pray this #effectiveSunday, for the miraculous in churches and ministries. For whatever in their operation that isn't working, whether at all or as well as it should or could; may it get sorted out. With the help and power of God, wise counsel and hard work all covered in prayer; may God grant to churches the ability to see-through to completion the work and ministry He has called them. Pray for a renewed sense of strength. Pray for an increased sense of creativity. May the changes that happen, be for the glory of God; not simple for the pleasure of man. May their efforts continue to point people to Christ and draw people closer to God.
For even in Christ's ministry;
While the miracles looked similar,
There was a change-up each time...
To meet people where they were.
For the glory of God.
This mix tape of DeGarmo & Key that I mentioned playing in my car the other day (which is still in the deck) continues to play in my head, even when I'm not in the car! For whatever reason, the song Teenage Suicide kept looping, as if the track on CD was on repeat. I know most of you have all switched to digital, but there's something about holding the case and cover in your hand while listening to great music!
As I considered today being our weekly focus on community and in light of Vacation Bible School starting on Monday, I thought how important we remember that we often how no idea what people are going through; what challenges they face; their story and why they are where you've seen them.
God, of course, has interesting ways of confirming directions in the spirit realm. Last night, as I sat on my couch watching Christian Rock concerts on YouTube and switching between Facebook & Craigslist on my phone, I read the story of a man... I don't know even know where to begin. He and his wife had lost a child at some point in their marriage. On a getaway for their 30th anniversary, they got a hotel room where they were going to meet, I think after work. She got their before him and could no longer cope with the loss of their child. He found her... OD'd on pills. He had gone down hill fast, ended up losing his job. He knows who he is and where is at in life and is okay, but he has disconnected from his kids, as if he has some 'penance' to pay (his words). He lives in obscurity. But there could be so much more to his, despite this tragedy.
Meanwhile, also from last night's browsing, someone posted a similar message on the page of a popular pastor... feeling drained and considering a way out; yet she recognizes the whisper of God in her life, so she is mustering everything within her to stand one more day, by the help and grace of God.
I'll be the first to admit, I don't understand all that transpires when someone goes through this process. I understand we all have those days of frustration and you wonder for a moment, is it worth it all. It can be a difficult question to answer, for any number of reasons. On any given day, it can nearly be impossible to answer.
There is much to live for, however. And only One, Eternal, who is worth living for.
As I close out this post; read the lyrics of this song...
I don't want to hurt nobody // it's just that I know I've had enough
there's to much pain and hatred // I think I'd rather be dead
than to live without mercy, hope or love
so don't come any closer, i really mean it // yes I know you think I've lost my mind
my gun's here and I'll use it // and this time I'm gonna really lose it
listed as a teenage suicide
I can see you out there all around me // but it's too late to talk it out this time
I don't want to shoot you // I'll do what i have to do
listed as a teenage suicide
I don't think I can take it // I give you my heart to break it
listed as a teenage suicide
it could've been me // out there in the moonlight screaming
it could've been me // in a search for everlasting meaning
but i found all the pieces // deep within the arms of Jesus
it could've been me // out there in the night oh
till Jesus changed my life // ooh changed my life
So pray with me, this #communitySaturday, for those struggling to get through the day. Perhaps is shear frustrating and disappointment; perhaps they are on the verge of trying to figure a way out and are in desperate need. As you interact with those in your circle, as VBS events take place and the church comes in contact with kids and young people navigating through unbelievable difficult, pray the Holy Spirit would bring comfort and peace to these circumstances; and words of revelation that would point them to the person of Jesus Christ. May their identity be found in Him. May their hope and trust be placed in Him. May they sense and know that Christ died for them so that they may have life; His life resident in their heart. Pray this would be a day for the miraculous... and that even with a community focus, pastors too, are not are not immune to facing this subject in their personal lives.
May lives be changed
As the pieces are found
Deep within the arms of Jesus.
Today, you are reading the 390th consecutive prayer post, since the relaunch of this site on June 1 of last year. I am blown away. The likes, the shares, the input, the traffic... I am truly humbled by what I sense God is accomplishing as we come together to #pray4pastors.
Not really feeling that God had given me direction for what you are reading by the time I got home yesterday, it wasn't very long before I was thinking of how to convince you that I really just wanted to talk about the weather. We all reach those places in life and experience such days... moments where you don't want to do anything or think about anything; you don't want to talk about anything significant or "heavy-duty". Just as their are physical demands on our bodies and you have an "I shouldn't have done that" moment; so too, does life become emotional and mentally taxing and your brain says, "please don't go there. We're not doing this right now."
By the way, the rain storm that was supposed to roll into our area Wednesday late afternoon, didn't start unloading water upon the ground until yesterday, and occasionally at that.
Which, on this #missionsFriday proves my point. You can take a moment to talk about the weather, but life and its' demands and responsibilities continue. If you've seen some of the latest "memes" being posted on social media, the answer to the question being posed is, "Yes, you do have 'adult' today."
There are brief moments where you can "check-out". Disconnect, disengage, regroup, refocus, compose yourself, gather yourself... "put your life back together" as I tell my oldest daughter when she starts having an emotional fit. Life is hard; I get that. Yet, that is why God encourages us to rely on Him; cast our burdens on Him; place our trust in Him; call out to Him in difficult places. He made a way for us not to simply survive, cope and manage this life, but to experience life to the fullest and with joy and strength from on High!
For those missionaries, waking up this morning struggling to remember and retain this perspective, we pray.
On this #missionsFriday, for those ready to check-out, perhaps even permanently, pray God would comfort and strength them today. Even the very hour you pray. Pray for a quickening in their hearts and their minds; a rekindling of the flame and renewed passion for the things of God and the work of the Gospel. For whatever the challenge and difficult place may look like, may God grant to them the ability and vision to walk through and overcome whatever lies in front of them. Pray they would not be distracted, detoured or derailed, but would continue to cast their burden upon God; seek His face alone and trust in Him anew. Pray the Holy Spirit would empower them again with a fresh anointing. Pray a shift in their attitudes, mentally-emotionally-physically; that their would be a rising up in victory; that their life is not defeated nor defined by external circumstance.
May today not be conversations of the weather,
But testimonies of victory.
For the glory of God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I talked with a man yesterday morning, who I only see on a weekly basis and when I do see him, it's only once on a given day. When I asked how things were going, all was well... minus some drama in the workplace. We all experience in; drama that is. Sometimes in the workplace, sometimes, on the home-front. And as entertaining as it can be it times, more often than not, it's frustrating
Hopefully, though, you are not the cause of it
Meanwhile, for some reason, I had the song Aliens & Strangers, performed by DeGarmo & Key playing in my mind. I do miss Dana Key's talent and passion for the kingdom of God. I think I've referenced this song before; it talks about our place in this world; that this is not our home. But lyrics discuss, how, in the church, he found that the people there were his closest friends. Travelers passing through this life, waiting for Heaven to be our home.
It's certainly a sentiment I know and understand well, for I share similar emotions with our friends from church. They are my closest friends and planet Earth is not our final destination. That said, I couldn't stop thinking about the lines "closest friends" and "drama in the workplace".
It got me thinking about church operations; deacons, admins and staff. At times, I'm sure all church offices have had their share of drama, as have churches as a whole; but in dealing with matters of eternity, church should be the last place for such antics. There should be a camaraderie. There should be a unity; a fellowship; a partnership. Working together in purpose; for the advancement of the cause of Jesus Christ. It's not about us; but about Him. And what happens when church operations become about a situation and a person rather than the church's impact to their community and the lives therein in light of eternity, is not healthy to say the least.
So, pray with me, this #deaconThursday. May their be, a unity and a partnership in church operations. Pray for a clarion vision and focus that would draw church operations closer together and closer to Christ. In the situations and circumstance they encounter; however difficult, may their be a grace and a compassion to work together in love. Pray that the drama would cease; that anything that distracts from bringing glory to God would come to an end. Pray God strengthen those who are tired; uplift those who heads hang down. May the excitement be rekindled and may the good work of advancing the Gospel continue; as friends unite to fulfill the vision...
May the whole world hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.
For the glory of God.
I gave a follow-up question to a text conversation yesterday morning... just a two-word question that could have been answered with a one-word response. Nope... sarcasm. And it wasn't one word. It was a statement. Perhaps half of a second one.
It was a frustrating morning. It was appearing that the level of frustration was going to rise. I was trying to keep myself in check. I have a pretty "healthy" level of sarcasm myself... the word healthy being stated in quotes, should clue you in, so I shouldn't be surprised someone responded with my own tendency. But upon reading the response, realizing it wasn't what I was hoping it would be, found myself asking this one simple question.
Whatever happened to 'yes'?
What's this have to do with youth and youth pastors?
Well, while the response came from neither, I do ask questions of my kids often and I am often met with answers that I am not interested in or are irrelevant to the point I'm attempting to make. And I find myself in a similar state of confusion. Why are you answering what I haven't asked? Why are you telling me things I don't want to know or don't care to hear about?
Somethings never change. God dealt with the same issues of those He tapped on the shoulder from the pages of Biblical history. He continues to deal with them in the modern church. Why the sarcasm? Why the frustration? Why are you answering questions I haven't asked? Why are you telling me this; as if I'm in the dark?
Makes one wonder if God misses the incredible moments of faith and obedience that we read in Scripture...
"Speak Lord. Your servant is listening."
(I'm trying to get the phrase to weigh in, on your spirit)
Does that not send chills down your spine? The thought of that being your first response to God, when He inquires of you? What would transpire in your life? Or mine? Or my kids, if they responded to God in that way. (I should say when, for I hope and pray they will) God knows, I've struggled to do so in my life.
Where has our "yes" to God gone?
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, most importantly, that pastors and church leaders wouldn't not lose their "yes" when God calls. Pray for a covering of grace for those who have lost it; and that there would be a point of return in their lives. Pray for youth; parents; families... for that matter, the nation... may we rediscover the power; the untapped power of lives that re-prioritize and refocus themselves when they respond to God with an affirmative and resounding YES. May their be a renewed passion for the things of God; one not afraid to rise up and stand; giving praise in all circumstances and giving glory to whom it is due... look what God has done. Pray for a strengthening and a fortification of faith, in the lives of believers, young and old, seasoned and fresh in their walk with Christ... may their be an unleashing of the power of the Holy Spirit, unseen and unheard in the spiritual realm.
Yes, to Almighty God and His plan for us.
Yes, to Jesus Christ and His place in our heart.
Yes, to the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
YES... in our hearts and minds; on our tongue.
First things first... my sincerest apologies that you weren't reading this 12 hours ago, as you should have been able to do. That said, what we'll leave the reasons for that being the case where they belong...13 hours in the past.
That said, I was thinking yesterday (and perhaps I've brought this up before or similar), but Associate seems like an interesting title for pastors. We've talked about Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor and a slew of "new" titles we've made for such positions with specific areas of focus within ministry and the church. But like the business world, we don't place a formal second-in-command title, like Vice President; Vice Chairman or the like. There's a Lead and then every one else... or so it seems at times.
And while the work of an "Associate" is important, whether in the law firm, sales or ministry, it also connotes a lot of work without a great deal of recognition. Grunts. And the work that goes along with. Sure the work and the tasks that go into can be menial and trivial and a host of other adjectives, but that doesn't negate their needing to be accomplished and fulfilled. They do (or should) play into the greater pieces of the puzzle that help form the big picture vision.
However, when all the work goes unrecognized, it's easy to slip in states that are not beneficial; for the body, mind and psyche, let alone the physical environment in which you find yourself as well as those people who are in your circle of influence.
All of us have those circles. People who speak into your life. People who you should be speaking life into. And when we get too focused on the work (regardless of its' importance; even in light of eternity) rather than the people we set out to make things better, we lose the long-term vision for what we have set out to accomplish and why.
Thus, pray this #associatePastorTuesday, that pastors would be strengthened and renewed; reminded of the fact they are important to the ministry and the work of Jesus Christ for the Kingdom of God. May the be encouraged that their accomplishments matter; that their time is valuable; their input, wisdom, experience and knowledge are priceless. Pray that the lies of the enemy would fade, as the truth is illuminated anew and afresh, of their place within the body of Christ. May God accomplish the miraculous in their lives, that whatever they put their hand to, would prosper, both within the church and outside the four walls.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
For the glory of God.
I trust you all had a wonderful Father's Day.It can be a difficult day for many, as life turns unexpectedly. My heart breaks for those whose fathers are no longer with us; I can't imagine losing mine, nor my kids losing me. And there's many other circumstances and events that unfold in peoples lives that forever change the nature things. It happens for Mother's day just as much. For single parents who fill both roles (and thereby celebrate both holidays), you are super-heroes.
Say all that to say, Fathers day didn't quite go as we had planned at our place... largely in part because of how the events of Saturday night played out. Literally. Affected, in part, because of changes in the schedule for those in ministry. It got me thinking once again, just how much of a demand gets placed on pastors and their families.
Of course, the more I thought it about, the more I heard the words of the Apostle Paul, replaying in my mind. "I became all things to all people" in order that I might win some with the Gospel. I don't read that as he compromised to fill a need, so much as there was an awareness about his life and he found ways to fill roles and meet the needs of those he came in contact with in order to impact them with the love of Christ and change eternity for the glory of God.
With each passing day, this gets increasingly difficult... as if, being quick on your feet with the ability to change gears, roles and schedules instantaneously without losing anything or missing a bit wasn't an incredible talent already. Much like, I can't fathom how single parents pull of their duties; neither for pastors, the demands of their schedules and finding balance in their lives between ministry, family, friends and personal interests.
Sadly, as we all know and thus, pray according, many of them don't. The struggle is real. The challenge is difficult. The failure rate is significant; the burnout rate continues to trend upward. While they may seem to be super-heroes, they are not super-human. For as much as we need prayer and support to get through this life; preferably one day at a time, so do they.
Thus, pray this #seniorPastorMonday, for those struggling to successful fill their pastoral roles and duties. Pray for a grace over circumstances and situations where expectations are unrealistically high. Pray for wisdom and discernment where leaders and pastors may be over-committed and over-scheduled. Pray for balance to be restore in their lives, whether with new strategies, additional help and support or simply being able to take a step back and reevaluate their portfolio of responsibilities. Pray for a strength and a stamina as they approach ministry each day; may their not be a spirit of compromise, but indeed, a compassionate willingness to meet people at their point of need as Christ showed. May God accomplish the miraculous for His glory and pastors look to Him anew and place their trust and reliance in Him alone.
To the glory of God
For the advancement of the Gospel
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
So, I have this album on a mix tape, made from when cassettes were still popular and I put it in the BOSE car stereo system (that still sounds great after 217,xxx miles of enjoyment!) on Thursday or Friday. Upon listening to the lyrics, I thought... what a great prayer for #effectiveSunday.
Forgive me, I had every intention of getting this posted before leaving for church this morning and suffice to say, it didn't quite happen. That said, at the close of service, as Pastor gave his final remarks on part 2, of a summer series titled, Summer Smarts, I knew why I hadn't made my self-imposed deadline. Speaking this #FathersDay2016 on the subject of sex and sexual purity in the lives of men and their marriages and relationships, his final remarks included the idea that we should have a hatred for sin.
As Christian artist Mylon Lefevre performed on his album Crack The Sky, we need to "love God and hate sin". In 2016, it's increasingly hard for people to understand the distinction, so reread what was said, not what you think you heard. Sin is destructive. Sexual sin is incredibly destructive. It should bother us deeply what sexual immorality does to the mind and the soul, not to mention the long term affects on the body.
There is no hatred for the sinner, nor for the unbeliever; nor for the Christian who has failed, in this area or any other matter. No hatred for the person who disagrees with us! But it shouldn't come to such as place as to be so acceptable in society as it has become.
For the church and the Christian alike, it should be very upsetting... to the soul and to the spirit.
Read the lyrics, to the song you've listened to in this #effectiveSunday #pray4pastors post:
I was raised in America and streets were safe // And the children learn to pray, learn to pray
Things have changed and it's not the same // The handle of God that we felt is gone away, gone away
Let's get upset and turn this country upside down // Let's get upset with Jesus he'll return this land around
We used to blush at vulgarity // And now we watch while the TV plays all night, plays all night
We used to stand with our backbone strong // Now the drugs turn our courage into fright, it's not right
Let's get upset and turn this country upside down // Let's get upset with Jesus he'll return this land around
If we as Christians pray the Lord will clear the way // We are examples to the rest
And if we place God first, He will heal all our hurts // And we will see our country blessed, yeah
Let's get upset and turn this country upside down // Let's get upset with Jesus he'll return this land around
Let's get upset, time to get upset, yeah // Let's get upset, let's get upset // Let's get upset, let's get upset
While I'm tempted to let the lyrics stand on it's on as a prayer, I can't quite do so. Thus...
...pray, this #effectiveSunday, especially for Fathers, in their marriages, whether single, divorced, remarried, step-families, blended families; pray for a rising up for a sexual movement towards purity; towards holiness. Pray for a renewed commitment to faithfulness and fidelity, that a standard of righteousness would rise again. May it start with the church; that God would work in hearts and lives of men to draw closer to God than ever before; leaving behind the evil desires of the heart and renewed in the mind by the washing and cleansing of the Word of God. Pray the miraculous; that the hand of God would return as we stand and rise to turn from our wicked ways and seek the face of God on our knees in prayer.
For the health of the body
For the health of the home
For the health of the nation.
For the glory of God.
I found myself in an interesting moment of frustration yesterday morning. I'm grateful for my life and incredibly blessed. Many difficult circumstances, many challenging places, much of life has happened, much of life has been failures on my part... it happens; and while it's hard, there's been times where it really shouldn't have been so much (as we talked about a few days ago).
However, in regards to this one area, I just reached that place...
"God, I have no outlet for this!"
They say desperate times call for desperate measures. Yet, even as we discussed yesterday, there's elements of life that are beyond our control. Things that we are powerless to change. Not because we don't have power, but because that are beyond our reach to impact.
There are things only God can accomplish, through the person of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
To not acknowledge that and allow God to work on those situations and/or the persons involved only leads to further frustration and agony... and even more desperate levels of desperation.
Such are the times to reach out God. When He knows that we know that it relies solely on Him; whereby we place our trust in Him and seek His face... then do we place Him in a position to do the miraculous.
Our outlet in the moment is to connect with Him; as the source for all that we need.
Pray, this #communitySaturday for the miraculous. May people reach and cry out to God in their moments of desperation; in places of difficulty and frustration. With no other place to turn and no other person to turn to, may they discover the person of Jesus Christ. Pray God will would be fulfilled, on earth as it is in Heaven. May He draw all unto Himself, and into right relationship with Him. May the church, even in times of their own desperation, live as examples committed to Christ, unwavering in their faith and standing in the gap for those who no longer have the strength to stand; after having exhausted all that is within them. Strength renewed.
For His glory.
For His honor.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Michael Jackson, in his song, Man In The Mirror, missed the spiritual truth to his lyrics. Yes, there are some things upon which man can look at in his life and change. But there is so much more. I couldn't help, as I thought about this yesterday, but to compare this song to another, The Man Inside, by Jon Gibson, on his album by the same title.
Jackson looks at the world and recognizes he needs to change how he responds. He looks in the mirror, not liking what he sees. Gibson, on the other hand, recognizes that "it's not about black white, wrong or right, but about the man inside."
Which is pretty much what Scripture tells us. Man looks at the outward; but God looks at the heart. In the face of tragedy and our desire to place blame and find fault, we are so quick to look for what's wrong; usually over things we can control; think we should be able to control; and should figure out a way to control them. However, man will never be to control anything until he relinquishes himself to the power of God through the person of Jesus Christ.
Whether he looks at the man in the mirror, or he takes a deeper look at the man inside, the heart of every person on planet earth is a mission field. Sure, certain things can be changed, beyond our appearance; but lasting change requires removing the root that brings for the undesirable in our lives. It's why we daily take up our cross to follow Christ. The burden we bear is the battle between our will and His will and for every day that one fails to confess to Christ that the burden is too great and the struggle too real, the harder it will be to come faith and right relationship with God. With every day that passes, it will become easier to look elsewhere to blame and fault others and other things for the evil we see in the world.
The reality is, a decision for Christ is the only thing that separates us. While we have our faults, we are not immune. It is the recognition that we must daily submit to Christ. For when we don't, is when we think we have control or should control. And that is not at all the truth.
Pray, this #missionsFriday, that the truth of our need for Christ, for each and every individual would be illuminated in our hearts and minds. Pray for the hearts that are themselves, still mission fields in need of hearing the Gospel of Christ. Pray for those struggling to surrender daily, their cross and the burdens they carry to God. May the seek His face; place their trust and hope in Him and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to work in them, that they may be transformed in the knowledge of God; being made new in His image. Pray for those seeking answers in light of recent tragedies... may the comfort of the Holy Spirit stand by them; may they experience the love and grace of God and in the process, may the truth of His Word be shared.
In the mirror
On the inside
Hearts changed for eternity
For the glory of God.
Life for the most part, really isn't that hard. It has it challenges, for sure. And there are difficult places at which, people find themselves, but by and large, life isn't that complicated. The hardship comes, from one's attitude, the ability to maintain disciplines, and their emotional and mental level of stability.
Life also seems hard for another reason.
In the movie, Clear & Present Danger, Harrison Ford finds himself in the position of Acting Director of Intelligence for the CIA (or maybe it's Deputy Director...can't remember now). The President has declared an unofficial war on the Mexican drug cartel, so there are covert special ops in play and Harrison Ford has been left out of the loop. Meanwhile, a co-worker "in" on the knowledge of the mission has a "get out of jail free" card; a letter from the National Security Advisor authorizing the mission. Why lay all this background?
Because towards the end, Ford's character finds out about the operation. As he finds out who's involved and they discuss the matter, Ritter (who has the letter) tells Ford's character Jack Ryan that his problem is he sees the world in black and white. Ryan responds, that it's not black and white, but rather right and wrong. As Ryan walks away back towards his office, Ritter speaks out... "the world is gray, Jack".
And sadly, this is what makes life hard. Figuring things out has become like sorting through 50 shades of gray. (intent of pun not yet determined). Faced with a decision of unsettling information that came to my attention yesterday morning, I too, had to reach out to a friend. Two possible ways of handing the situation came to mind (technically 3, if you count the choice of "do nothing") and I wasn't sure which was best. I had to seek out counsel; and not just any piece of advice. Everyone has a piece of advice (or a piece of their mind) that they could offer... it doesn't mean that it's good, right, sound or wise to follow through on it though.
So, I had to take what I heard under advisement. Correspondingly now, having made a decision regarding the matter, someone else will have to take that information, under advisement and make a decision. The bigger situations and institutions and operations become; the smaller they need to focus. Insurmountable odds are overcome by "divide & conquer". Break items down to where they are manageable, complete it; perfect it; move on to what's next. Complexity doesn't have to be as hard as we make; you just have to know how to handle it. And where to go when you need help doing so.
Pray, this #deaconThursday, for churches and leaders facing insurmountable odds. Pray for decisions and difficulties that seem challenging and overwhelming; perhaps being to much to handle. Pray for a spirit of wisdom and discernment on how matters should be approached and handled. May their be an insight and a peace to conversations that transpire and the words and attitudes that are expressed; that they would be seasoned with the grace and love of Christ, even in moments of correction and rebuke. Pray for revelation knowledge and wisdom into the hearts and minds of pastors and advisors as they manage the affairs of the church and resolve problems; may they not back down from places of difficulty and challenging decisions. May their faith arise as they place their confidence in God; who gives wisdom generously to those who ask of Him.
Discernment of the Spirit.
Strength and stability, for the glory of God.
Parenting is an interesting dynamic. Quite frankly, it some ways, I think it's God way of keeping entertained (if that were possible) You spend a lot of time teaching kids about issues and matters that you, that many of which, you have yet to master yourself.
Of late, mine has been with my oldest, discerning what's worth getting upset... which often backfires on me, because then my wife will stop in shortly thereafter and remind me; this thing you are upset over, isn't that big a deal. Yet it was for me. Just like something else was for my daughter. Life repeats, from our own; into our kids. And it's like we are managing ourselves all over again.
One comedian described it as the Mother's curse.
Another comedian calls it every parent's prayer
Whatever it's called; the seeming truth of the matter remains...
When you have kids, I hope they act the same way, that you act.
Comedian, Jeff Allen's take on what's in store for me in the coming years of parenting makes me a little leary, yet brings a smile to my face at the same time. He says that:
"I believe teenagers are God's revenge on mankind," he said. "One day God is looking down over his creation and says to himself, 'Hey, let's see how they like it to create someone in their own image who denies their existence.'"
Then he follows it up, with this spiritual insight:
"I looked through the Bible cover to cover, and it never mentions how old Satan was when he finally rejected God's authority. My guess? Sixteen."
There will always be stuff in life to get worked up about; things that will be frustrating and difficult; bothersome to the point we will feel the need to respond and perhaps take action. Parenting is one of those positions that will constantly keep in you in a mental state of figuring out what where those boundaries are and what those responses and actions should look like.
Much of life is taught without words.
As such, the moments when we do use words, becomes all the more crucial; because for whenever it doesn't line up, we can find ourselves in very troubling and disconcerting places accompanied by some challenging conversations.
So, pray with me, this #youthPastorWednesday, that just as there needs to be a consistency in parenting; that there would be a consistency in our faith, from the believer in the pew to the pastor in the pulpit. Pray for discernment as we teach by word and by example, this next generation and the matters of importance. May their be a grace and a covering for our faults and failures; when we blow it and when we blow up. Pray, that as adults, we would lead and live lives that would seek to glorify and honor God; that we would set a precedent of unwavering faith and that we would help build foundations of the same, in the lives of the young people coming behind us... growing up way too fast. God help us all, parents and pastors.
For this life is not our own.
Neither can we live it on our own.
For His glory.
I'm really now sure where this idea came from yesterday, so let's unpack it together and see what it looks like. Usually, when we think about burnout, as if one was suffering from a "stress-induced hazed", it often comes from a long-period of having done too much; over-worked and under-paid, they've had too many irons in the fire and have worn themselves done to nothing; having spent tons of effort simply trying to maintain, let alone stay ahead of the curve.
Yet, what happens to the irons in the fire that don't get tended to often enough? What happens in the kitchen, when there is not activity, for whatever is on the stove-top. Sure there are times you can step away for a moment, but cooking, like pastoring, isn't one of those things you can set it and forget it and hope it won't burn. If you aren't in there, moving things around in the pan; making sure that nothing comes out over-cooked and burnt to a crisp, then don't be surprised if that's exactly what happens.
Whatever you were making will be unrecognizable.
The aftermath, for whoever has clean-up duty, will also be unbearably frustrating.
I'm not advocating that pastors should be running all around, in a frenzied-flurry of activity, nor that the should be making drastic changes in their life on a frequent basis to keep "changing things up". Conversely, though, to sit in that position with all it entails and not have a plan of engagement; to show activity and progress; to move things around and make things work... you could easily find yourself burnt simply from sitting in one place of intensity; which ministry has always been and forever will remain.
So, once again, we discover life is about balance. One will find themselves just as ineffective from having done very little as if they had taken on way too much and couldn't manage it all. Sadly, both extremes exists in ministry, as it does in life. In trying to bring this to a close, it just occurred to me, how we often referring to the testing and trials of our faith; for even Scripture talks about us being refined by God, as by fire. Yet he moves in our lives. There is activity in our faith. We don't sit in one place; we don't battle with just one area for a pro-longed time. There are challenges at home, on the job, in the community, with family, friends and enemies. God is not trying to burn us to destroy us, but to perfect us. While it may feel as though we are being over-cooked, God's timing is perfect. He has not left the kitchen of our lives and forgotten about us.
Pray, this #associatePastorTuesday for those on the verge of burnout. Whether it be from a difficult challenge that has gone on for too long with no progress or too much activity to stay on top of and manage well, pray for strength as their day progresses. May God grant to them fresh insight and revelation as to what they should do and how they should go about it getting it done. Pray their conversations and actions would be effective; that they would seek and receive the help and assistance they need. May frustration and angst not get the better of their attitude, nor their spirit; but that they would remain focused on Christ... placing their trust in God, anew and afresh, the author and finisher of our faith. Pray they would be used of God, in greater capacity as they submit to Him; that it will all come together in the end, as the Refiner's fire purifies and perfects within them, the image of Christ... just as He works to accomplish the same in the life of every believer.
Tried and tested,
Not burnt beyond recognition,
But served ready for His purpose.
For His glory.
I hope my worship pastor doesn't mind my stealing his phrase, but as our special Sunday night worship experience came to a close last night and he was leading in prayer for the tragedy in Orlando, the words rang true upon being uttered. In both the morning service, and the special service last night, there was a recurring theme of what transpires from places of desperation.
What measures do we take?
What behavior do we exhibit?
What lengths will we travel?
What attitudes and beliefs will we communicate?
In desperate moments; in trying times that burden the soul... to who will we look and to where will we turn? In our personal lives; as a community mourns, the extraordinary unfolds before our very eyes. And depending on how one responds, we outsiders look on with understanding of the moment or with frustration of the senseless-ness and absurdity of the moment.
In this life, we are all connected. One's moment of desperation may end up creating moments of desperation for others. Consider, as we did last night, the parents of those who lost their life in Orlando... perhaps there are parents who were already struggling with their kids who were a part of that community; and now those same parents are now facing the loss of their child. What was already a desperate moment is now even more difficult to endure; hope is gone because a life is gone. Or 50 of them, with 50-something more, potentially in the balance.
Elsewhere, statistics are, that 50 or so more pastors will leave the ministry today alone. As I type this, they are waking up to moments of desperation and making decisions that will impact... their families, their churches, their congregations, their communities. Who knows what they will do or say as burnout takes over and hearers of the news that they are walking from the ministry will suddenly be faced with decisions and circumstances that will consume their time for days, weeks and months to come.
Pray with me, this #seniorPastorMonday, for pastors (and obviously, the city of Orlando) as they experience these moments of desperation. May the cry that rises be one of focus and purpose, calling solely upon the name of Jesus Christ to come and to work the miraculous, in their hearts, minds, bodies and souls. Pray the Holy Spirit would come and comfort these and bring clarity of thought and soundness of mind, even in light of tragedy and difficulty; where understanding escapes our grasp. Pray God would accomplish the miraculous for His glory, as pastors and communities of people cry out, for the healing of this land that is so desperately needed; that can not be found in any other person, ideology, philosophy or faith than in the person of Jesus Christ. May the truth of His life shed light on the circumstances and challenges we face in life here on Earth; understanding that no matter what we go through, God is with us... waiting to accomplish His purpose for those who call upon His name. In desperate moments, may that be our first and only response.
We need you, oh God.
We raise our cry to you.
We ask you would hear these prayers.
Heal this land, as we seek your face.
We turn and return, our eyes to You alone.
Well, now that the community pools is open, the most popular question for the past week has been, "can we go swimming?" Friday night for 2.5 hrs. Yesterday afternoon for another 3.5 hrs. Of course, Mom had 2 work, so I was on pool detail and we had a riot! Yesterday, though we tagged team them. My wife took them over, until it got time for her to get ready, which is when I walked over and we traded places.
This meant, I was also, again, on the hook for helping clean-up upon our return so they'd be ready for church this morning. My oldest daughter has beautiful hair. Soon to be 8 yrs old, it's always been long, which is great except when trying to handle it after a bath. This is the hair, that upon the days and weeks following her birth, people would walk up to us, whenever we were in public spaces and comment on the beauty of her hair. One such patron, even asked what product we put in used on her!! As if, we had just recently taken our newborn to the hair salon!
What occurred to me last night as I was trying to help make sure she got all the chlorine out, was that pastors need our help too. Sometimes there are things they don't know how to do or can't do quite so well, for any number of reasons, but because they are in a position of ownership, they think they have to figure it out on their own. They try, but you can tell something is amiss.
Other times, they may not realize they need assistance and so it takes an outsider willing to step up and offer their help and service; to get it done, to do it right, to make it look right. And it can be a hard proposition to make. And like I experience with my daughter, there may be a battle over the assistance. But it still needs to be done; it still needs to be figured out. Especially if we as the church, attempt to be more effective and efficient in ministry.
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, for pastors struggling in areas of church life, and leadership. For whatever reason may lie behind their not wanting or desiring or recognizing their need for help, may God bring to light, that He is strong in their weakness. May their be a grace as they ask for help and assistance, and the same grace for when people make offers to help and to aid. Pray a collaborative effort within the body of Christ; to do the work of the Lord with excellence. May the love and grace of God cover the difficult conversations and decisions; that even in spite of faults and failures, God would again, make all things work together.
For those who love Him.
For those called according to His purpose.
For His glory and the cause of Jesus Christ.
There is strength in numbers. There is strength in community. And it continues to amaze me, when people come together, with hard work, determination and passion for whatever their cause, or desired accomplish, what a group can achieve and overcome.
We see it all the time. School groups. Community groups. Cities that are undergoing revitalization. Pride for one's favorite team in sports. It is is certainly cool to watch. The stories that come forth are pretty incredible to hear as well. So with that perspective, I understand the message that I saw the other day on the marque sign of a church that I pass a couple times of week. Yet upon reading it, the contrasting spiritual truth immediately responded.
As the electric marque scrolled through a series of messages, the one that appeared as I was approaching simply stated the following:
This goes without saying, if you've read these prayer posts for anything length of time, I don't knock or call out specific denominations. I'm fairly certain, I haven't even mentioned my own church affiliation as I've referenced sermons from my own Pastor. Of course, after 375 consecutive posts, it might have slipped in, but I've been careful to remember and share that all churches, pastors and church leaders need prayer.
Now that that is out of the way, consider Scriptures response.
Paul delighted in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties with the mindset; "For when I am weak, He is strong".
God chooses the weak things of this world to shame the strong (as well as the foolish to confound the wise)
The prophet Isaiah, writes that God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Romans talks about those who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, rather than pleasing ourselves.
Paul speaks of Christ being crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God's power. Likewise, we live by the power of God.
You get the idea... and we've prayed over this before, as the trend continues to revolve around identity; of all sorts. And yet for each instance, we are all missing the mark.
None of this life is about us!!!
I received this reminder myself, yesterday, from a friend; as I expressed concern over someone's possible response to a mistake of my own doing. Feeling like I was alone in such moments (like no one else every gets corrected) my friend simply stated: we all screw up. You are thinking this is about you. It's not.
Nor is our strength in our abilities. Thankful, our identity is also not in our failures!! It's not in our group affiliation or denomination; it's not the community in which we live, nor the noble cause we take up to help someone in need.
Whatever we do, say or accomplish should be so by the power and hand of God; in His strength; in His timing; in His perfect and sovereign will that He may be lifted up and draw all men unto Himself.
Thus, pray this #communitySaturday, for the opportunity to share the difference Christ makes, as we recognize the truth of our position and abilities in light of eternity. May the community hear and understand and receive the greatness of God and what He desires to accomplish in each of us, for we have all been fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. Pray a grace and anointing over conversations and interactions; that the truth of Scripture would shed light in the dark places of life; not for the purpose of exposing our guilt, but that the need for God's forgiveness would be revealed.
Weak in ourselves.
Strong in God.
For our boast is not our own;
But for the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.