This is going to drive me nuts now, all morning trying to remember who relayed this story yesterday on the radio, but oh well.
The Christian faith has been persecuted since before the days the Apostle Paul's Damascan Road conversion; by the man himself. While the church is witnessing phenomenal growth in recent years, particularly outside the Western Hemisphere (and specifically the States) they are also witnessing incredible persecution. Talk has been on the rise that the USA is closer than ever to such a reality, as increasing, God is becoming "taboo" in the public and political arena. The opinions and voices wanting nothing to do with Biblical influence seem to be getting ever louder.
Yet, the story was shared yesterday while I was channel surfing the radio, of a home pastor and his wife, ministering in Bangkok. The pastor wasn't home at the time, so the police took his wife in for questioning and continued, so far as beat and torture her. The one relaying the story mentions, that as the home pastor shared this experience, he didn't finish the story of what happened with his wife; leaving it open as if she seemingly entered eternity, either from the sustained injuries or the alternative.
But what had happened... she stood in the place of her husband. They had come looking for him and the wife had told the authorities that she, herself, as was the pastor.
Around the world, these are the challenges and futures facing many missionaries, whose cultures, societies and governments are against Christianity, the things of God and the power of the Gospel to change the hearts and minds of a nation.
And yet, daily, we witness just how great, every nation is need of the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ.
So... will you join me once again, this #missionsFriday? Pray for missionaries around the world, that God would strengthen and protect them as they proclaim the Gospel. For those who are in places of extreme hostility, may God continue to grant them courage and boldness as they stand firm in their faith and the knowledge of Christ. May many come to Christ through their efforts and perseverance. May the Holy Spirit empower them; that they would not be overcome with a spirit of fear or discouragement, but that they would witness the miraculous transformation of lives as the truth of Christ is revealed to those around them. Pray God would move on the hearts of kings and governing authorities; that the walls would come down and many would enter into the presence of God.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood
But powers and principalities of this dark age.
For the glory of God
And the advancement of the Gospel of Christ.
Peace be with you.
While discussing life with a friend yesterday, he mentioned something very profound. It's the perspective that if you feel as though you are in the wilderness, then perhaps God is building an awareness regarding details. For what is there in the wilderness on which to focus?
It's a similar awareness that shepherds have while tending sheep. A keen sense of awareness of the details of their surroundings. One of the preachers that I try to catch on the radio, has been going through the 7 "I AM" statements of Christ, from the book of John. Jesus moves from being the Shepherd, to being the Good Shepherd. He expounded on the point that Christ makes, that when trouble comes; when the wolf readies for an attack, the hired hands will take off. Yet the shepherd, takes ownership and stands his ground.
And I considered how often that happens within church operations. Such in these positions aren't leading the church, but they are hired to support the church. Much like in any organization or company, they aren't invested, financially or emotional into the success of has been built as the person who has built it, and poured their heart, life and soul into the process.
Thus when trouble comes; when things aren't going right or well... they may soon be out the door. Who will help protect and guard against the attack? Those who do will be few in number.
So, let's pray, this #deaconThursday for church operations and staff. May they be encouraged to stand firm and strong, when things get difficult within the ministry. Pray God would strengthen their resolve to the work of the Lord and the ministry. May God grant them clarity and insight, especially for those who feel as though they are in wilderness places. Pray for perspective and the ability to focus on better handling the details of life. May they be victorious against the attacks of the enemy.
For the advancement of the cause of Christ.
For the glory of God.
I had to chuckle yesterday morning, with the thoughts of the post on "Stingers" fresh on my mind, as I came across a radio interview with Cindi McMenamin discussing her latest book, Drama Free. The interview was well-packed with insight and wisdom as they discussed in greater detail the premise of the book, in living a life free from drama and guarding against it as much as possible and then appropriately managing what does happen to enter your circle of life.
It reaffirmed a lesson my parents had the hardest time instilling within me and now I'm attempting to do the same in family. And it's not that I was stubborn in learning this lesson; it's just my character and the state of my spirit in terms of how I live and numerous past experiences...
You can't make people like you while simultaneously being true to yourself.
You don't go out of your way to make enemies. But people are who they are. As life is lived out daily, in every arena and realm of life, we show our ourselves and we show our faith. And as we are true to ourselves, conflict is sure to arise. Between friends. Between spouses. Between parent and child. Between pastor and parishioner. On the job. In the home. At the church.
Life may be a stage, but it is live. There are no dress rehearsals. As much as wishing made it so.
Which I guess, is all the more reason to get it right. And that doesn't happen on the first try. But we learn. We grow. We trust. We pray. We seek the face of God.
On this #youthPastorWednesday, pray for pastors working with kids and youth. At a time when the world is chaotic, truth is relative and identity is fluid, pray they would help to instill the priority of a faith in God that will stand the trials and difficulties of life. May the help build an understanding of the things of God; that they would be true to who God created them to be and find their identity in Christ. For pastors that are facing such battles in their own lives, may God do a healing work in their lives. Pray for wisdom and strength; that they would find the peace and clarity that would draw them closer to God and take their lives and ministry to the next level.
That they would live a life in the fullness of Christ;
Under the anointing of God;
By the power of the Holy Spirit;
For the advancement of the Gospel of Christ.
We've been doing some rearranging of materials behind the building at work over the past day or two. More than once, we uncovered a wasp's nest. Talk about not wanting to be disturbed. They were promptly dealt with so we could continue our work, but it got me thinking...
How many people in our lives are like that?
They are okay if you don't mess with them. Don't disturb them. Don't do anything to get riled up. Let them go about their business and you'll be fine. Such personalities can make for an interesting, to say the least, relationship. However, encounters such as these in ministry can be... less than pleasant.
Ministry has enough challenges to navigate and problems to solve without being worried or concerned as to when you might unexpectedly get blind-sided. I know not everyone gets along, regardless of organization. I know you can't control peoples' actions, or reactions for that matter; but there are enough hindrances and obstacles to overcome in ministry, simply for the fact that the Gospel, when applied to life is disruptive by nature. Disruptive environments demand navigating with caution, wisdom and courage.
Let's pray this #associatePastorTuesday, for pastors facing especially difficult environments. May God grant them wisdom and discernment as they deal with people, both within and outside of the church walls. May God guide their conversations and give them insight as they relate and share the truth of the matter. Pray God would encourage and strengthen them, as they pastor and minister, for indeed, the Gospel disrupts lives, mindsets and human nature. May grace abound, as people come together, each in the process of being conformed to the image of Christ, whether leading ministry or sitting under one's ministry.
That the church would reflect Christ and His character
That the love of God would abide in us
And go forth from our spirits.
May our lives speak of the impact of the Gospel
For the cause of Christ.
From our spirits, as we interact
The human mind really is a piece of work. A beautiful one, created in the image of God, but at times a frustrating one, none the less.
As I considered the decision making process, I couldn't help but consider, once again, the challenges and processes that pastors go through. Way too many decisions are made, that we could readily admit we make harder than they actually are and spend more time attempting to make or figure out the right decision than is actually warranted.
For the major stuff, calling the strategy of making a decision seems and feels like an understatement. As I consider this process on a personal level, the prospect of adding decisions regarding ministry, church operations, staff, outreach opportunities and spiritual leadership... it's no wonder pastors are burning out, disconnecting from family, falling out in ministry. Their spirits are crushed, hearts are broken, minds exhausted... it's a dangerously vulnerable place in which to find one's self, In fact, if you'll permit the play on words, its more like the last place people find one's true self; and more like the place the get lost.
About as good a place as any to turn to God.
Let's pray, this #seniorPastorMonday, for pastors that are lost or on the verge of getting lost; overwhelmed by the weight and pressure of the decisions they face. May God strengthen their spirits and encourage their hearts. Pray for wisdom and guidance; that God would bring clarity to their minds and understanding and purpose of the decisions that need to be made regard the circumstances they face. Whether they are facing trouble on the home front or the church front, may God surround them with friends and encouragers who will help them navigate these times and conversations. May they know they are loved and valued, despite the overwhelming issues of life that are out to defeat them.
That they would rise above,
By the power of God
And the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Focused. Determined. Renewed.
For the calling God has placed upon them.
We discussed a number of times, particularly on #effectiveSunday on the costs of ministry. And while we know and understand it and don't always like to so much to participate in it, as summer arrives and we have plans, everyone reconsiders where they might be willing to make sacrifices.
Ministry takes money.
It's not that God needs it. It's that He needs us... to step in and engage in His plan. And the reality is that economics apply, even for organizations that aren't in "it" for the profitability of a proposal.
At a time when ministries cost increase with all the summer activities and of course, everyone is on their way out for the own summer fun, this can be a real and true struggle for churches. When resources are tight and help is low, the prospect of being both effective and efficient can feel severely hampered, whether actual or perceived.
Yet, as I've recently learned, sometimes you can't always look at just the money issue and make a decision based off that factor alone; no matter how important or sizable the amount may be. The investment in people, in relationships, in community and family far-outweighs whatever "hurt" is felt by the missing green-backs.
Effectiveness is the result of investment, financial, relational and more.
Let's pray, this #effectiveSunday, that church would not lose hope. May the be revitalized and renewed, in their efforts to continue to make the investment in community and family, even if the prospect of finances and resources are low. Pray God miraculously move on their behalf and sovereignly provide for all that they have need. Pray for strength and wisdom, as they navigate decisions and make plans. May they not based them in fear, but trust that God will will accomplish His plans and purposes as people are faithful to the work of the Lord and the ministry of the church.
Effective through investment
For the treasures of Earth are temporal
But the treasures of Heaven are eternal.
For the glory of God
And the advancement of the Gospel of Christ.
I watched a thread on social media in the past 24 hours or so and I couldn't even keep up with all the comments and back and forth as people responded to the post itself and everyone else' comments, opinions, sarcasm and theology. What an incredible conversation. As always happens in these debates, the original poster even got called out and into question, on a number of levels.
Ultimately, though this was the acknowledged realization of this man whom I greatly respect and I have to agree with him.
The post, even if done in error, served to "expose an angry and vindictive spirit in the church... one that must be confessed if we are ever to reach the world for Jesus"
I've posted in the past, who the world is seemingly coming to the place to the truth of Mylon LeFevre's song from decades ago; that if we are going to witness the Gospel of Christ, the world will be won by one.
Social media posts aren't changing the minds. Nor are they allowing the Holy Spirit to change hearts. People are seemingly wanting less and less to do with church, while recognizing that something is missing from life. We are more sensitive to offense than we are sensitive to the truth. We recognize and respond more quickly and passionately to the offense than we do the truth. Whether inside or outside the church, being "called out" has, or remains becoming taboo.
And yet, that's what Christ does. Call out. He calls out for relationship. He calls out for discipleship. He calls out that He may change the hearts and lives of His Created. And yet we all stand resistant.
Welcome to the sinful nature of man, that wages war in all of us against the things of God.
Pray, this #communitySaturday, that God would help us remain faithful to the truth of God and love of Jesus Christ. May the spirit of offense not hinder or derail the message of the Gospel nor our commitment to declaring such to the world. Pray that the church would live lives that would declare and speak to the change that Christ has made within us, before we ever utter a word. Pray that God would begin to move on hearts and minds to receive the truth of His Word and the power of the cross of Christ. May the church ever be mindful that it's the Holy Spirit that convicts and the Christian who simply shares. Pray the church would engage, in both love and in truth.
Now, more than ever...
May we know God
And desire others to know the same.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I was slightly encouraged, maybe a little more than that, by a portion of a sermon I caught yesterday as I was channel surfing through the radio. The pastor was talking about the faith of Moses, as God directed him to go.
I want you to go.
Don't worry about. Just start walking.
Any particular direction?
I'll let you know, as you go.
No seriously... what's the destination?
No, seriously... just go.
Can't we map this out first?
I have the map. I'll tell you what's up, as you go.
This is our conversation with God. How it wasn't Moses' conversation, is a mystery.
And yet, so often, it's how God continues to work in our lives. We look at decisions based on how things will look in five years. We make them based on what's gone wrong in life over the past five years. We make decisions based on the factors we know weighed against the factors we don't know. Meanwhile, I see God simply breathing. Waiting. For us to simply start moving, so that He can direct our feet and illuminate our path.
Thus, like Moses, I admire missionaries and their hearth. For surely, they have or are tempted to have the conversation that we would have had if we were in Moses' sandals. But they continue to go and step out and move, even as God directs, one step at a time.
So, pray, this #missionsFriday, that God would strengthen the faith of missionaries. May the continue to move in obedience, under the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the direction of God. Pray for wisdom in the decisions that they do face and need to make and may they not get caught up in the knowing versus unknown debate, whereby the miss the opportunity God has for their lives and ministries. May they continue to walk in faith as God leads and moves. Pray for discernment as they seek the face and will of God; to hear His voice and understand His heart in a greater dimension than every before.
That we would hear and respond,
Rather than hesitate and debate.
Moving in faith as God moves upon our hearts.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
I listened to a great sermon yesterday on Barnabas, son of encouragement. And of course, tied into the story is the disagreement that he has with Paul, on their missionary journey. Barnabas wants to extend grace to John Mark, who couldn't handle the first trip and Paul says, no, to the thought of John Mark accompanying them on the second trip. Such was their "sharp disagreement", that they parted ways.
However, their second trip turned into a split trip; essentially doubling their efforts and their reach, as Barnabas and Mark went one way and Paul connected with Silas, and when another way.
Then, later in the day, the local Christian talk show host spent the final 90 minutes of his 4 hour show, having "disagreement day", allowing callers to say, I agree with you for the most part, except..."
Disagreements can be tricky and difficult conversations to navigate, especially in ministry. Yet as the radio personality stated, they help to define and refine our arguments and points of view. They increase our understanding and hopefully lead us that much closer to the truth. They do have their place, in the process of "iron sharpening iron".
Conflict serves us well, if we handle it properly. There my be times where agreeing to disagree is an acceptable outcome. There will be other times, where that is not enough and a parting of ways is in order. Whatever the circumstances, wisdom and discernment levels are high as is the need to retain them. And even in the break-aways, God has plans and purposes to accomplish His will through our efforts, such that the conflict may be the only way that God's will is carried out.
Thus, on this #deaconThursday, let's pray for churches struggling to navigate conflict and disagreements. May grace and understanding abound and cover the conversations. Pray for wisdom as they work through differences. May God accomplish the miraculous, even in times of parting ways. May such outcomes not give way to bitterness and anger. Pray for churches that have been damaged and destroyed by sharp disagreements. May they experience a healing and restoration in their community and be empowered to greater pursue God and His purposes for their church.
That even disagreements would not hinder
The process and work of the Holy Spirit
And communication of the Gospel of Christ.
For the glory of God.
A pastor friend of mine and his wife have a had a few rough days of late. Life, as it hits all of us, with a few extra plot twists, untimely as they are only compounds the complexities of their already full plate, both on the home front and on the ministry front.
She posted on social media the other day as they were discussing the latest turn of events, that "hindsight is 50/50"
Obviously, life has turned things around more than few times. Yet somehow, when I wasn't paying attention, I realized it's not the hindsight that is 50/50 (that's still 20/20). It is, however, the prospect that is 50/50.
Granted, there are times when the prospect is clear and sufficient; when there is a level of assurance in the direction one should take and the decision one should make. For much, if not most of the rest of the time, the outlook of what we should do certainly feels like a 50/50 call. I would dare so most pastors would agree, the odds wouldn't weigh so heavily if we were talking about insignificant matters and decisions that bear no weight on the impact of our calling, purpose, ministry and ultimately, eternity. But alas, we struggle with these odds with the most serious of life's decisions and ministries' direction.
Yet, God still reigns supreme in the business of placement. For where we are to be, and what we are to do... for His plans that we are to fulfill and the purposes to which we have been called; the sovereignty of God moves about, waiting to see if our free will takes advantage of the opportunity to align itself with the will of God.
Thanks again for joining me. Let's pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, that God would help pastors, as they seek His face in the decisions and challenges that lay before them. May God grant to them wisdom and discernment, especially when the prospect doesn't seem so assuring and 50/50 odds are best case scenario as to the decision and direction to choose. Pray for those that are recovering from having made bad decisions, even regretable ones... and perhaps even those, that may not qualify as regret, but continue to nag at the back of the mind causing one to wish they had done differently. May God give peace to those who are distraught and grace to those struggling in the current process in which they find themselves. Pray God would move on their behalf and show them where and when they should go... that they would be an even greater force for the cause of Jesus Christ.
Planned by God.
Placed by God.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit.
To point the world to Christ.
For the glory of God.
I caught part of an interview on the radio yesterday where the guest was describing a major problem happening in a major metropolitan city. His solution, was pretty much applying a concept that had already worked in another problem that had faced the city a few years ago and worked out quite well. So, we was pretty much asking, why can't we do that regarding this matter?
As he continued the discussion, and some of the challenges and difficulties that he is encountering in the conversations he is having, he essentially summed it up like this (and I'm paraphrasing)
The problem, is pretty simple for those willing to see it. And here is a workable solution, if we can get people on board. It's the deep rooted problem of who's responsible for the problem, and who should take the lead on fixing the problem and what policies stand in the way of fixing it.
It didn't take long for me to think about how true this is for churches... that burnout occurs because various pastors recognize problems and present reasonable solutions and yet can't seem to make any progress in correcting the situation because of underlying roots and systemic dysfunction from within the church.
In fact, that was exactly this guests' point. Eventually, not gaining ground on this problem, he admitted will cause him to lose hope in the city and those in the region that are contributing to this problem... for indeed, it is negating much of the incredible progress that they are making elsewhere.
So, on this #associatePastorTuesday, will you agree with me in prayer? Pray against a spirit of discouragement and despair for those situations where pastors are having difficulty correcting problems and situations because of the roots that have entangled people. May God do a healing work in hearts and lives and whatever strongholds have occurred that stand in the way of a healthy and functioning church body. Pray for wisdom and discernment as they navigate these conversations, and work to implement solutions towards the problems they face.
That God would accomplish the miraculous
As we allow Him to work through
The negative things that have taken root.
Stronger and whole
For the glory of God.
Just a few quick thoughts on this post-Father's Day Monday.
I got to thinking yesterday afternoon about Senior Pastors and others in ministry, who maybe don't have the best relationship with their own dads. One in particular comes to mind, whose relationship with his father was nearly non-existent, until after we had started attending the church... and this was after he had been in ministry for 10+ years. Plus, so many times, pastors do play a fatherly role... not only in how they handle the affairs of the church, but also figuratively, perhaps to individuals or kids who are in fatherless situations or unhealthy fatherly-relations with their earthly dad.
The bottom is line is this, and it works for so many other arenas of life...
It's hard to be or fill a healthy role in someone's life, when one's own role is in a difficult or stressful place in life. It's hard to offer strength, from a place of weakness, or help from a place more desperate than the person you planned to help.
Yet, Father God remains able and willing to help, even the Pastors who perhaps had or have a difficulty time with Father's Day, whether in the past or just yesterday.
So, will you pray with me? On this #seniorPastorMonday, pray God would do a fresh work, as father to those pastors struggling in their own relationships, in their homes and in speaking into the lives of church families. May God grant wisdom and grace where needed. Pray the Holy Spirit would strengthen and quicken them to continue the good work that was begun in them. May they not quick or falter in frustration, but press on towards what God desires to accomplish in their lives. May they not grow weary in well-doing, even this day.
To live, love and be
As Christ has set the example for us.
For God gives good gives to His children
That we would know we are loved.
And extend that to our world.
For the glory of God.
First and foremost, Happy Father's Day to all Dad's. To the great ones. To the ones who know and understand their is still time to become great. You are needed. You are necessary. You are valued. You are loved.
And if no one is telling you that or sharing such a sentiment, know that your Heavenly Father loves you, values you and cares for you... such that He sacrificed His Son to take your place for consequence of sin. Talk about what doing what is necessary even at an uncomfortable cost.
While hardly a comparison, an unexpected car repair is never fun.Wednesday night, as my daughter's and I pulled into church, I left the wheels cranked. Upon leaving service, I noticed... yep, don't think we can put getting tires of any longer kiddos. So, yesterday morning... new treads! And thank God for the blessing. They didn't cost nearly what the should have; God hooked a brother up!
What a difference! What was I thinking putting that off for so long? Well, besides not wanting to ruin the budget?
Actor Ron Silverman, played political consultant Bruno Gionelli, on The West Wing. After helping the administration win re-election, senior staff offers their thanks. At one point, he simply replies, "It helps when you cook with the right food."
On this #effectiveSunday, how important is it that we cook with the right food? So pray this Father's Day, that we do well to work with the right tools, resources and people. May we effectively communicate the truth to those around us and care for those in need and in difficult places. Pray for breakthrough, in families and homes that need to know the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of God at work in their lives. May we be ever aware, of the changes that need to be made and how and where to go about making them; that God would guide or steps and direct us in the way we should go.
As we lead our churches.
As we lead our homes.
As we impact our children
As we change our communities.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
The local, Christian radio station is the metro area does #payitforwardFriday. It's been incredible to listen the past few weeks of what they have accomplished, as individuals have called in, facing incredible dire and even crisis situations. And throughout the morning, the host plays clips from phone calls of those in the community who are moved with compassion to respond.
How can we send them some money.
I don't have much, but others helped me in a similar situation a while back, and I want to do the same today.
We own a company; how do we get in touch them and possible offer them a job.
The radio station partnered with a local charity, and gave a good, really nice, used vehicle... to a couple who has made incredible sacrifices as they fulfill their calling and ministry. The station shared their story and handed over the keys as a part of yesterday's program.
It got me thinking this morning, about the time a man at church asked how we were doing. We were in very hard place and I think my hesitation pretty much answered his question. He followed it up, by asking if we had food in the house. That was a Sunday after church. That Sunday night when we walked in to service, I was handed a stack. I'm not sure who he talked to, but we handed... cards with cash and gift cards for groceries and fuel. Quite a few. It was an amazing blessing and we made it stretch as far as we could.
Along with that, though, I was reminded of Jesus' words. Which is easier. To forgive this man his sins or to tell him 'rise up and walk'? But so that you'll know I have the authority and power...
What a powerful way to engage, this #communitySaturday, than to offer something tangible to someone, whether in obvious need or not, that might help relieve some of the stress, pressure and worry in their life. It probably won't be a car, or hundreds or thousands of dollars. But nothing says I don't care about you and your situation like the one standing next to them and doing nothing to help or bless.
Pray, this #communitySaturday, we would have a greater awareness of the needs and circumstances that surround us daily. May we not be so about our own lives and problems that we neglect our neighbors; for we are not blessed for the sake of hoarding, but for sharing. May we get passed the mindset that our $5 will do little, for Christ accomplish the miraculous even through meager resources. Pray that today will be a day that many are impacted with the message of Christ, because the church offered a cup of cold water, in whatever form they could and felt led of the Holy Spirit to offer.
That all may know we are His
By our love.
We don't have to change the whole world.
But we must start with the one where we live.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
The radio DJ asked a profound question while on the air yesterday afternoon.
"What if the interruption is the assignment?"
And after thinking about it, and how I spend my two plus hours sitting on the freeway while it was shut down due to an accident, I realized a confession was in order. I hadn't taken advantage of what God was wanting to accomplish, or what He might want to accomplish in that time. I had gone through the interchange, from one expressway to another and my mind was in 100 different directions... or so it seemed.
I could feel the stress. I could tell I was bothered. I was struggling to try and figure out these matters were going to be taken care of and how I would fair in the end. 10 minutes later, traffic was at a stand-still. And rather than use the time to allow God to change my heart and perspective; and releasing the cares and burdens in order that He might remind me He holds it all in His hands, I continued to think through things... tried to distract myself so I wouldn't be so bothered.
Something within me wasn't allowing my spirit to stop like traffic had and say, "Okay God... while we have this block of time, let's sort as much of this out as we can."
How often does similar situations arise in ministry? The assignment of the Gospel is the focus right? Yet in these pockets and blocks of crisis moments; are we stepping up to the plate and allowing God to accomplish what He will in the interruption and asking what He would desire to have us accomplish as well? Or are we simply bothered and frustrated that the interruption exists is adding to the stress and problem(s) of the day?
On this #missionsFriday, let us pray... that in all things, whether the day "goes our way" or seemingly falls apart, may we give thanks in all things and all circumstances. Pray a renewed spirit within missionaries, that would view even the interruptions as opportunities for God to perform some incredible moments of ministry. May they not be detoured and derailed when life comes to a halt; when plans change and the route changes course. May the problems and cares of the world not take such a prominent place in our hearts and minds, that as valid as they may be; may we not miss what God would desire to accomplish in the interruptions.
Giving thanks in spite of our circustances
Despite our feelings.
Trusting in the sovereignty of God
Seeking His face
Allowing Him to move in and through us
As He sees fit.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Isn't it amazing how perspective works? To a parent or other adult watching their child struggle as the "little things" in their environment can cause some serious levels of frustration and fear and your attempts to comfort and reassure them that all will be okay don't always work... at least not at first and not with the level of success that we hope to achieve.
Then you consider your own plight as an adult, dealing with seemingly more significant issues. Fear arises. Anxiety creeps in. Nervousness throws the fastball of the unknown towards the bulls-eye target marked on your face. And the mind firmly depresses the accelerator pedal of possibilities while you hope the floor of your spirit doesn't not give out from the pressure.
Meanwhile, God sits there as the pit crew boss of your life and simply asks a poignant and incredibly reasonable question.
What in the world are you doing?
In the grand scheme of life, as big as this matter looks in the moment, this is so not the end of the world, and certainly not the end of yours.
Yet it's so easy to do. Whether our experience in life is limited or extensive and whether the same is true of our faith and walk with God through Jesus Christ, on any given day and any given circumstance we can find ourselves in this state of frustrated anxiety while seeking and hoping for a clear solution that results in peace and stability.
You've done it. I did it yesterday. Kids do it daily. And pastors probably more often than you know about.
So, on this #youthPastorWednesday, pray for pastors. Pray that a spirit of fear would not be so quick to rise up against them. May a spirit anxiety and worry not detour nor debilitate them. Pray for strength and determination, that those things which the enemy has designed to ultimately destroy their lives would be defeated, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the power of God. May the faith stand firm and waver not. Pray God would give pastors of youth and kids ministry wisdom and guidance; to help instill and reinforce firm foundations of faith, that no matter what they face in this life and where their place or status in life may stand when trials come against them, that those young people will indeed stand strong, laying hold of the power of God.
For greater is He who is in us,
Than He that is in the world.
For we are His workmanship.
And He has not given us a spirit of fear,
But of peace, love and sound mind.
For the glory of God.
We've all had our moments.
We all want to be "in the know". We think we deserve to be; we ought to be; we secretly hope that we will be... whether the outcome of the situation impacts us directly or we're just wanting to know how things will turn out in the aftermath, we spend a lot of time in analysis and conversation rather than simply waiting for events to unfold.
Commentary and critics abound...
... about an investigation on the national-political scene
... about the member make-up of our favorite rock band and any changes that may occur
... about the "personal" reasons an athlete withdraws from an event
We simply can't seem to avoid the temptation to "weigh in" on a matter. Or at least inquire as to what's going on. Even innocently enough... "what's going on with x, y, or z co-worker?"
Within the church body, this can be even more frustrating and detrimental than any other arena of life.
Rumors and gossip have the greatest potential to become the millstones that will weigh down and defeat a congregation when enough people decide it's more important to "weigh in" rather than "wait & see" the outcome for itself.
I understand; it's frustrating at times to be looking at seems through the front window. But there's just way too much going on to allow the unknown to stress us out until there is an outcome to be dealt with and worked through. Sometimes you just have to truth the one who is "in the room".
So will you pray with me? On this #deaconThursday, pray for those "in the room"; may God grant them wisdom and direction in the decisions they face and work through the challenges of negotiating the when, where, why and how and with whom they should go. May churches ride themselves of the rumor mills and gossip trains; that the body of Christ would be a community of discernment; of understanding and of principle. Pray for churches that are in turmoil and trouble; where opinions abound and the commentary and critics seem endless... may a clarity come over those circumstances, as well as a peace to people's hearts and minds. May they not spiral out of control in confusion, but be controlled by the Spirit into a clear path of healing and restoration for the plans and purposes God has in store for them.
May God be "in the room".
Not that he would bless our decisions,
But that He would direct our steps
And illuminate our paths.
To bring us out of trouble..
To keep us out in the first place.
For His glory and honor.
It's simply astounding how tolerance, or the lack thereof, has become the sociopolitical buzzword of the day. And on a smaller scale, in more contained units there are policies and procedures, boundaries if you will, where words, actions and attitudes are not tolerated.
We don't engage in and let go for hours on end, the misbehavior and vocalization of a kids attitude towards a parent or sibling. Management doesn't tolerate telling off the boss. Marriages don't tolerate a whole bunch of inappropriate behavior and attitudes; at least healthy marriages don't, or shouldn't. Government doesn't tolerate the breaking of federal regulation from corporations and businesses. The IRS doesn't tolerate not paying taxes.
But then we get to the bigger picture of society and culture. And the boundary lines are blurred and erased. Which is problematic enough in it's own right, until it begins to infiltrate the church. And the Christian faith, which has some pretty clearly defined boundaries, from both the Old and New Testaments and well, welcome to 2017. Perhaps at the core of the demise of many churches and of course, a primary reason for the undertaking of #pray4pastors.
As deacons and admins have a unique pulse on the heart of the church by not being in a pastoral position, so to do Associate Pastors as they directly oversee specific ministries within the church.
Now, don't read what I'm not typing. I'm all for love and grace, forgiveness and mercy. I understand not all change is immediate. I get that past experiences, relationships, family dynamics and childhood memories all contribute to the battles and struggles someone may be working through; particularly as they navigate their faith in God through Jesus Christ.
But true love speaks truth surrounded in a spirit of love.
Consider Christ. He didn't mince words. Nor was He mean or malicious about it. But not everyone responded as He would have hoped. Christ knew the heart of the rich young ruler and what stood in his way of eternal life. And he went away sad, because He couldn't handle Christ' response. People aren't always going to like the advice, counsel and wisdom that is spoken into their lives, whether from the pulpit or the pastor's office. But boundaries are for our protection and they establish opportunities for true freedom. For them to not exist and not have reminders that they exist by those who love and care for us is a dangerous place to live.
May we not be intolerant of the truth.
On that note, shall we pray? This #associatePastorTuesday, may we be about speaking the truth into peoples' lives, for we are not responsible for someone's response, nor can we control it. Pray God would grant wisdom and discernment, to help those in need work out their faith in God, despite the framework they may be navigating. May God super-naturally intervene within the body of Christ, to keep the spirit of offense at bay. Pray communication both within the church and towards the community not be filled with malice or personal intent or agendas. May the body of Christ seek to be a people that pleases God and encourages those around us to strengthen their relationship with God as well.
For eternity hangs in the balance
And the truth can wait no longer,
No matter how unpopular and problematic
It may be for the one who hears.
Lives forever changed,
By the truth that is the Word of God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I got to thinking late last night about what transpired early Sunday morning.
Maybe it's nothing, but I couldn't help but consider how the smallest of things, especially if unexpected can through us off our game. Depending the day it happens, just adds to the frustration of the experience. Granted, I wasn't happy about having to miss church, but had it happened this morning, causing me to miss work... well, that wouldn't have gone over well either.
Last minute changes can really mess with organization, whether in the marketplace or in the ministry. And as usually happens, I couldn't help but consider, once again, the situations and circumstances that seem to seek and arise in the lives of pastors and their families that would attempt to detour, detract and derail their ministry.
It may be a series of small, insignificant events that seem to culminate in the creation of havoc; it may be a major event that puts one on the brink of burnout. Regardless of how life adds up, the bottom line is that it does add up. And the only question that matters is will one's faith and trust in God remain at the forefront of the equation.
Well, on this #seniorPastorMonday, let us pray. Pray for strength, that regardless of what occurs in the lives of pastors, may they not falter in keeping their faith first. May Christ, is greater in us, than he who is in the world, accomplish the miraculous, as pastors daily reaffirm their reliance upon Almighty God. May whatever rises up against them fall and bow the power of God at work in their lives. Pray that the Holy Spirit would be their comfort in uncertain times. May they stand firm and stand tall by the power of God.
Faithful and unrelenting
In their commitment to God and the ministry.
May God work the miraculous,
Even this very day and hour.
For the glory of God.
I had a friend speak into my life yesterday regarding a matter that our family has been dealing with and quite frankly, I didn't see it coming. The conversation was not lengthy nor eloquent. It wasn't filled with lofty solutions or complex strategies.
It was however, a handful of things.
It was timely.
It was true
It was stated in love.
Ir was real.
It was covered in prayer.
It was, effective and efficient.
As I've learned even in the past 8 hours this morning, God knows what's going on in our lives when we don't. He is with us in our pain and suffering. He is with us in the confusion. And as I laid in bed, trying to figure out what physically had risen up within body and woken me up at 5am, at one point my youngest daughter kept coming in to check on me... with hugs and kisses and I love you, Daddy. At one point, I asked if she would pray for me.
"God, help Daddy feel better."
Moments ago, she came up behind me and hugged my neck.
"Thanks for praying for me, kiddo. God answered your prayer."
We don't know always know what we are facing, but it's amazing how much more effective and efficient the solutions are when we know what to take hold of and surrender at the Cross of Christ. It too, is a great reminder that when we don't know what we are up against, God knows what is needed and is ready, willing and able to hear and answer prayer. Even those of a little child.
So... my sincerest apologies that this is getting posted after many of today's morning services, but will you join me once again? For your churches and families alike; may God grant them wisdom and revelation in the situations and circumstance that have them confused, frustrated and bothersome. Whatever the solutions, pray God would grant grace as they move forward. May the sovereign plan of God be fulfilled as we walk in the paths He has prepared for us and in the truth that He has made apparent in our lives. Pray we would be reminded to approach the throne of grace with humilty; acknowledging that all things come from the hand of God, or at least pass through the hand of God. There is nothing He is not aware of, nor able to meet in the lives of those who call on Him and seek His face.
Whether the problem be crystal clear
Or cloudy as mud...
It is all for the glory of God.
For even the mud was a tool
To restore one's sight.
Effective and efficient,
Despite our lack of understanding.
For the advancement of the cause of Christ.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.