So I know I've written on prior occasion about pastors coming up short with keeping things fresh from the pulpit; perhaps finding themselves empty-handed with what God might be trying to work in their ministry and in the church... and it's an easy enough position to find oneself in. Not even intentional; except for the hard truth that even indecision is a decision.
Church is certainly a participatory event; as each person's walk with Christ is a participatory relationship. And I get that everyone is going to be a different place and time in their spiritual journey in terms of their closeness and understanding of God.
The amazing thing about God is that He is infinite. When man attempts to think, say and do on his own, he will run out, for the finite is by definition limiting. Thus, church runs the risk of becoming routine, stale and boring. That may or may not be the fault of the leadership; it may or may not be the fault of the parishioner. Certainly, the possibility exists that it's a combination of the two.
Is the church losing it's effectiveness to be the church, as Christ intended?
Is it looking and performing more like man's desires rather than God's will?
Whatever the answers are, it is beyond the man or woman of God who is not fresh and revived daily in the presence of God.
So, pray this #seniorPastorMonday, that pastors would indeed be strengthened and encouraged in their time with God. Pray for wisdom for those facing difficult decisions and perhaps realizing some hard truths of what is transpiring in their congregations. Pray for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit, that would start at the pastoral/leadership level; a wind that permeate throughout the church that would remove the sense of rote and routine. May their be a greater sense of involvement at all levels of ministry; for our communion and time with God and the body of Christ should neither be boring nor predictable.
May the power of God
Draw us daily.
Deeper into His presence
And the understanding of His will
As we carry out His calling on our lives.
For the glory of God.
Much like finances, the sooner you know and understand what is going, the sooner you can begin working on solutions, goals and investments.
I know this seems like quite the revelation, but while getting ready for church this morning, my favorite classic Christian rock internet station was playing the song Shadows, by Resurrection Band, dealing with the subject of suicide. Then it was followed up two years later, when DeGarmo & Key recorded Teenage Suicide.
How many issues of our day is the church at the forefront of dealing with?
In 1979, Resurrection Band released their album, Rainbow's End which included the track, Afrikaans; which was the first anti-apartheid song to be released by an American rock band. For reference, secular artist Peter Gabriel released "Biko" a year later.
Thus many people and organizations are effective and efficient in their efforts to impact the world at large as well as their local community, but those at the forefront of solving or working towards solutions are to be commended. Whether working to fix problems such as over-crowded foster care system or combating human trafficking, the church should not take second place in dealing with societies ills. Especially since they all stem from the evil within the heart of man.
On this #effectiveSunday, pray that churches would indeed be on the cutting edge of impacting society in positive ways making real differences with kingdom goals. May we not shy away from the troubles and challenges we face, but work to engage others in changing hearts and minds. Pray that the church would have favor as they move in these areas; that obstacles would be few and overcome well when they arise. Pray that we would do life together and that our reputation of love would go before us... not in allowing anything and everything to occur, but revealing and reflecting the truth of God and the character of Christ.
To be His hands and feet
To the desperate among us.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
The more time I spend on social media, the more I understand why people take breaks from the forum and perhaps disengage altogether. Don't get me wrong, there some incredibly epic material online. Powerfully, profound perspectives. Hilarious moments of laughter that does good like medicine. And tons of sad and sobering stories that remind us of how precious life is, laced with stories that continue to tell us that politicians will be politicians to the bitter end.
Yet the more I read, the more I'm convinced, everything changes when we engage face to face. There's something about social media that empowers to people to speak on a level that they wouldn't engage in real life; certainly not to strangers passing them by on the street. But 30 seconds on somebodies profile page tells "all" and the assumptions are made and the attitudes step up to prove one's point that the other side is dead wrong.
Arguments of tolerance and love can't even be presented as in a tolerant and lovingly manner!
It's as about effective as my raising my voice instructing my kid to not raise their voice to me. I will get called immediately by that child. They know better. As do I.
How do you speak on love with a tone of hatred?
How do you speak on compassion with a tone of anger?
How do you speak about understanding while resorting to name-calling
How can one show they are open-minded as they simultaneously attempt to shut-down others?
None of these are possible. Certainly not very easily when face to face.
Crossing of boundaries and blurring of the lines results in open doors of interpretation. And some things are not meant to be open to interpretation. There are absolutes. If we take seriously the parents' instruction on clean rooms, homework, curfew and chores then how can we look at God's instruction and surmise that what's in Scripture isn't what He meant? Will He not bring greater discipline and correction than the most loving and intentional parent?
On this #communitySaturday, may God help us as we engage the world around us; whether online or in line; Facebook or face to face, pray our conversations with be laced and graced with love and truth. May we be people of understanding, capable of declaringly unabashedly, the truth regarding the fallen state of humanity and the redemptive plan of God. God help us to live authentic lives with no compromise. May God break through the damage and the brokenness; the verbiage and the vitriol that society is expressing towards Christianity and those who follow Christ and reveal His perfect love that casts out all fear.
That would be His light
In a world quickly going dark.
Salt, to a world in need of preservation
One by one, face to face;
That they would see Christ in us
And through every fiber of our word and deed.
For God so loved the world.
"Do you want to know what God delights in?
The same thing every Father does.
Providing and protecting His children." - John McArthur
I happened to catch most of his sermon last night on the way home as he continued a sermon series on anxiety and worry. Prior to this statement though, he was talking about the relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ; whereas man-derived religion is problematic because any conception and concoction of a deity other than God is flawed, as man is flawed. Thus, aside from the common grace of God that falls on both the just and the unjust, McArthur makes the point that the unsaved bears the full weight of survival.
Without the saving grace of the knowledge of Jesus Christ all that remains is the best effort of humanity and the hopes of a catching a false god having a good day.
Keeping that mind, the obstacles that stand in the way as missionaries move forward in declaring the truth of the Gospel are simply astounding. The cultural and social battles that lay in wait to confront today's believers are... well, among other things, seemingly increasing daily. Like the number of believers that were added to the church in the early days of Acts... only in opposition to the Gospel rather than changed by it.
We often, and mistakenly so, place pedals under those in ministry... as if they are taking on a mission that the "everyday" Christian can't complete. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Missionaries are taking on the same challenges, albeit in a different land and a few other items at the forefront... such as language. Thankfully though, we are not existing simply for survival. Our Heavenly Father stands on our behalf; to provide and protect His children and stands ready to receive others into adoption, as they hear and accept the message of the Gospel of Christ.
Pray, this #missionsFriday, for missionaries who themselves are struggling in their personal lives with their relationship with Father God. May they be strengthened and encouraged in the protection and provision that He delights. For the cultural and social challenges that stand before the Gospel may the truth of His Word cut to the quick, as the Holy Spirit brings revelation to hearts and minds. May many come to the understanding that the Father always desires relationship with His children, even when the children want nothing to do with the Father. May the saving grace of the knowledge of Christ transcend the lives of the unsaved; breaking through every notion that has resulted from the fallen state of humanity and bringing people to the redemptive state made available through the Cross.
Loved by God.
An incredible Father
To a world full of messed-up kids.
Saved by grace independent of a broken humanity.
For the advancement of the Gospel of Christ.
I heard a powerful sermon yesterday morning regarding Judas and his place in the inner circle of Christ' ministry. It's utterly amazing, just how many chances Jesus gave Judas; knowing from the beginning and dropping hints of what was in Judas' heart. With every instance, you can almost hear the hope in Jesus voice that Judas would come forth and come clean.
Yet even as they sat at the Last Supper, John is sits at Christ' side; leaning in towards His bosom. Judas sits on the other side of Christ... leaning away. He was present with Christ; but not "with" Christ. They both knew Judas' heart, yet Jesus even at dinner, continued to extend the invitation to Judas.
What a phenomenon... to be a part of Jesus ministry and yet follow through with your betrayal of Him, even turning down opportunities to accept grace before actually committing the act. Clearly, God knew Judas' heart.
At one point, early in the message, the pastor mentions where Judas' mind was focused. It was on self and not the Cross.
Which got me thinking... about how many are involved in various levels of ministry within the church; even to the point of staff and deacon's (pastor's inner circle) and yet while with them, are not truly "with" them. There is some other, often selfish reason for their involvement.
They are cross in thinking rather than Cross-thinking.
It's an easy enough trap to fall into, but nevertheless, an incredibly dangerous one... especially for someone like Judas' who refused the grace and forgiveness of Christ at numerous points in time.
On this #deaconThursday, let's pray for those in church leadership. May their motives and reasons for being involved indeed be, that they are truly Cross-minded. Pray selfish gain, greed and the like would be far from their hearts and minds. Pray that they, along with their pastors, work towards the plans and purposes God has called them to with an eternal perspective and the advancement of the Gospel. May their remain a sensitivity not only towards the things of God, but towards God Himself; and the power of the Holy Spirit to continue to move and draw them closer to His presence and grace. May that not pass over the opportunity to stand clean before Christ.
Committed to the cause of Christ,
Thoughts of betrayal far from theirs hearts and minds.
Ready to extend grace and receive grace in the midst of failure;
That God would accomplish the miraculous in all circumstances.
For His glory alone.
There's two indicators that summer has arrived at church.
-Vacation Bible School.
-Youth group missions trips.
Our team left Sunday for a week-long endeavor one of the largest cities in the nation and I read another youth group left this week one of the largest cities in my home state. As I thought about the power of missions trips (and it applies to missionaries, as well), it truly is a front-line experience in sharing the love of Christ, not only by word, but also in action.
Of course this point was driven home, when our youth pastor posted to social media about serving at a soup kitchen and it took him back to a time in his life when God used a homeless man to minister to him at a critical time in his life and faith.
These are the places where lives are impacted for Christ. Those on the receiving end experience the love of God by those who love God. To those going to serve, it's a time to witness the miraculous. As a result, it is a time of change for all involved.
For the youth, it's a time when many experience a very personal call into ministry or a clarity into what God would have them do with their lives while impacting the kingdom of God.
For youth pastors, it's a time when their group moves to the next level. Kids are drawn closer to the presence and power of God at work in their lives. There's a revitalization that occurs in the lives of the pastors as they are renewed and refreshed... exhausted physically, yes. But empowered and quickened; remembering perhaps why they went into youth ministry in the first place and ready to take those kids higher, deeper, closer and farther in their personal journey of faith in Christ.
On this missions-minded #youthPastorWednesday, pray for the kids and youth of today's church; that this summer of events and in particular, missions trips, would be a time of clarity as they engage in taking the Gospel to those in need. Pray that their lives would be changed, as many discover the calling, anointing and purpose that God has placed within them. Pray for the pastors and leaders of these trips; may God strengthen them for all the work and time that they have invested. May it be a time of many miracles of all kinds; as people are healed and restored and hearts and minds prepared to receive the love of God and the salvation made available through the cross of Christ.
A powerful time of ministry
From those simply willing to engage
In being the hands and feet of Christ
To a lost and hurting world in need.
To the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Friends of mine from church are pregnant, expecting their second child, another daughter. Two weeks ago, they had to do surgery on the baby, as fluid was building up in the lungs. Last week, when they went in for the checkup, they discovered the fluid has built up again, this time on the other side. So, today, they go back to do the exact same surgery, a second time.
Nothing like repeating situations, conversations and lessons. #saideveryparenteverywhere
In fact, one has to wonder if God doesn't wonder the same thing about us. Lessons, trials, difficulties... all for His glory, yet like the Israelites; the wandering in the desert was unnecessary. In fact, having to do it twice was just... it's like rooting for your favorite team struggling to get through the game or the season and in the playoffs. "Come on, guys! Get it together!"
The little things add up; but when the big things hit, blood pressures go up, as do stress and tension levels. But show should our faith and trust; that God is working His plan. It truly is a balanced effort of trusting and searching. Indeed there are times for understanding and corrective action and then there's the man born blind. Not for nothing, but solely for the glory of God.
Hence, no matter what we go through and endure; as hard as it may be, as frustrating, tragic or exhaustive, standing strong in the faith is paramount.
Burnout may encroach anywhere, but our faith should fortify all.
Thanks for joining this #associatePastorTuesday, as we pray for pastors and those in difficult and trying times; perhaps for the first as they experience a complicated pregnancy unlike their first child; or the pastor who finds themselves again in a place of unexpected transition in ministry. No matter what the challenge or difficulty, may the grace of God continue to transcend understanding and emotions and reflect Christ to a world who needs to know that an omniscient, omnipotent, Sovereign God is in control. May discouragement and burnout be kept at bay, as faith stands firm and reminds Satan, moment by moment if necessary, that He is defeated foe.
No matter how many times life repeats itself.
Grace in the midst His plan.
Trust when understanding escapes.
For His glory
And the advancement of the knowledge of Christ.
Pastor closed his sermon yesterday with an incredible element of wisdom, a duel-pronged piece actually.
It basically goes like this.
If a pastor loves his congregation, he will tell them the truth.
If a congregation knows they are loved, they will be able to receive the truth.
Ir got me thinking of some of the outrageous statements that have been made over the years; some of them seemingly not very Scriptural; at least at face value. At other times; they may have sounded right, but they were very off-track. So, I couldn't help but wonder... what happens in the pastor's mind when such statements come forth. Do they think they are telling the truth and are simply missing the mark? Has their personality gotten bigger than the pulpit? Are they reaching for something that shouldn't? Is there truly a breakdown somewhere in the pastor's relationship with those in the pew; that either he doesn't love them as they should or they don't feel loved to receive it?
Conversely, there have been plenty of accounts where the truth has been spoken, and even then, it wasn't well-received by certain people and where are they in life and relationship to God? Your guess is as good as mine.
Love is to be shown as much as it is to be expressed in order to be effective.
So, let's pray, this #seniorPastorMonday, that indeed, pastors would be seekers, lovers and speakers of the truth. Pray for healthy relationships with congregations; they would know they are loved and be able to receive the truth, even when it moves people out of comfort zones and brings conviction. May people not be so quick to run away from the truth, but that they would experience the freedom God intended when it is spoken. Pray for circustances and situations where there needs to be healing and perhaps restoration; where the truth was not spoken in love and damage occurred. May the Holy Spirit do a healing work in the hearts and minds of those affected.
May the family of God
Be known for the love the share
And the truth we speak.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
I'm all for making things last as long as possible; of not having to spend the money on it in it's "brand new" state, if I can avoid doing so. Conversely, it can also lead to putting things off that perhaps shouldn't be... which leads to a delicate balancing act. At some point, you run the risk of it costing more because you prolonged taking care of the matter when you should have.
Depending on the nature of the situation, things may be even worse than anticipated, because now you are at the level where a professional is needed; an expert in the subject matter. A person to handle the problem that has now moved well passed your ability to "make it work in the meantime".
I think we've all been guilty of this at some point in our lives.
So have organizations for that matter.
And churches... well, they certainly aren't immune to this, either.
The stories would probably astound all of us, of those pastors and churches who have paid handsomely, in what financial guru Dave Ramsey calls "stupid tax".
I get that it's a fine line to walk at times, between doable and necessary, urgent and important, affordable and risky. We desire to be both effective in our efforts, yet efficient with our stewardship. Wisdom is required and it's what we pray for each and every day.
On this #effectiveSunday, let us ask of God, who gives generously; that churches and leadership would have the wisdom to know the specifics of the challenges and difficulties they face should be handled. May we not operate in our own strength, but place our trust in God anew and afresh; that He would lead and guide our steps and discussions along the way. May we not rely on our understanding, but seek His face and pray that He would grant us discernment for the direction we should travel. Pray the blessing of God over our efforts as we commit our ways and plans to Him.
That He would be glorified
Even when we miss the mark
And the cost is greater than intended.
Despite our faults and failures,
May we live in His grace
And display His love.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
A day in which the post revolves around the concept and understanding of the church and how we relate and impact the world around us.
(at this point, I was just interrupted by the doorbell from our county's Democrat group, asking if I had any issues I wanted to discuss. After declining, I realized I should have taken them up on the offer!
Serious timing. That was funny)
What's not funny was my level of disgust in the past day or two.
There are so many disturbing stores in the news these days, and the situations and circumstances that are actually passing as "newsworthy" is simply mind-blowing. At the top are these two pieces.
First, a situation from April 2016 somehow made it back into a social media newsfeed, when a "prominent" musician (quotes, for the purpose of noting that I don't follow this genre, so I'm making an assumption of their influence) told a Christian Governor that she deserved to be gang-raped. There's much that I could say in response, but it wouldn't accomplish much. All I have is what I've told my kids...
There will always be people who won't like you; but don't give them a reason by being a jerk on purpose.
Worse, was late this past week, a pastor stated publicly that it was heresy to pray for the President. Seriously? Who we pray for is (or can be) considered heresy? Again...
To both the secular musician and to the church pastor; to the Governor and the President and everyone else on Earth and to those of you reading this guys perspective...
There will always be who won't like you.
Don't give them a reason for doing so by being a jerk a purpose.
What happened to pray for your enemies?
Pray for those who persecute?
Pray for those who revile you?
Who hate you, because they hated me?
As Timothy encouraged us; that all supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings and for ALL that are in authority.
That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
Obviously, this musician isn't in the know on this matter. But certainly, the Governor does. And I would dare say they are responding in prayer accordingly in their time with God. Even more-so, how does a pastor qualify praying for the authority of a nation as heresy? If that's true, then Timothy certainly has some explaining to do regarding his exhortation; which is what he calls it in the opening words of that verse!
Wherever you are; whatever your plans for the day... conversations, fellowship, gatherings and activities, clearly its effectiveness in displaying Christ is severely hindered if we are not people of prayer... for all people in all matters and walks of life.
Let's do that, shall we? On this #communitySaturday, pray for the President and kings and presidents of our nations; that God would use them to accomplish His purposes as He has placed them, respectively for such a time as this. For those in other positions of authority, may God do a work in their lives and may they come to the knowledge of His saving grace. Pray to for pastors, that they would lead their congregations to greater reflect the love of Christ rather than engage in divisive exchanges. While disagreements will inevitably exist, may God give us wisdom with our words and attitudes; that it would not be about agendas or rights, but of truth and righteousness according to the divine design and hand of Almighty God.
May our lands be healed
As God's people remain in prayer
For the battle is not carnal
But spiritual in nature.
Thus, may we be filled with Spirit
To fulfill the calling of God
For such a time as this.
For His glory.
All across the globe, the church is witness some pretty incredible levels of persecution of late. The stories, some of which I heard this past week are simply astonishing. Of course, in western civilization and specifically in America, the religious element of society is coming under increasing cultural and political pressure to give way to the thinking and behavioral leanings of those without Christ. It's probably nothing new, except thanks to social media, the statements seem to dominate the sentiment that non-Christians are telling Christian to be or act more Christian.
It's an interesting dilemma, as you know people want to experience genuine love and plain truth, but there is such an attitude of hostility against the things of God and the Judeo-Christian values that it is hard to know how to relate and share the gospel.
Elsewhere, though, like the Middle East, there is a great movement being made towards God, particularly as people witness how Christians are responding to persecution. Even to the point of death, they are rejoicing in what God is accomplishing and displaying a peace beyond explanation. Such acts are resonating in people's spirits and the stories that I heard this past week on the matter are simply mind-blowing.
There are utterly interesting days in which we live. There is a greater drawing towards God by some. And an equally or greater resistance against God by others. Clearly, we are stepping ever closer to a spiritual showdown; a battle of good versus evil for all eternity.
And all the more reason to pray over the advancement of Gospel.
On this #missionsFriday, pray for those under intense levels of persecution, even to the point of death. May God work the miraculous in their lives and ministries as they testify and evangelize the Gospel of Christ and the love of God. Pray for strength and endurance as they run the race of faith set before them. May they not fail or falter; but remain in you, no matter what resistance or persecution they face. Pray for the church, where political and social agendas are confronting the church in attempt to discredit and destroy their influence and existence in the public square. Pray for a move of God on our behalf; that the love of God in our lives would compel people's hearts to set aside agendas and come to understand the eternal plan and purpose God has for all of humanity.
Running with endurance
The race set before.
Persevering in light of persecution.
For the advancement of the cause of Christ
For the glory of God.
In totally un-related to ministry news, O.J. Simpson will sit in front of the parole board today, awaiting if he will be let out early, after serving 9 years of a 33-year sentence. A local Christian talk show host was talking on air, how it would be hard for the parole board to pass the opportunity to have him continue his time. Was it justice catching up with him, for not having served after the criminal trial? Perhaps.
But it brings up the topic of restoration.
A friend posted Romans 4:7 yesterday, which talks about the joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven and whose sins are put out of sight. Upon reading it, I replied that it's amazing, that the verse gives definition to the concept of confession. For it is only sin that is confessed that God puts out of sight. Otherwise, unconfessed sin has a way of coming to the forefront of our lives and calling us out.
Consider David with Bathsheba and Uriah. Plenty of opportunities to come clean, yet it doesn't hit him until the prophet Nathan tells him a story. David is outraged, until he has his light-bulb moment.
We often hear what happens to church leaders, especially ones of prominence, who find themselves in places of trouble. And yet, as I stood in service last night, it's not like deacons and other church staff people aren't prone to behaviors and situations which could land them in trouble. With the church, denomination, congregation, family or community. Morally, ethically, financially... the situations are endless. There are usually systems in place to help pastors that are in trouble in such circumstances... but for staff and deacons; their positions and offices could just very well be closed for good. And what are the options for healing and restoration and stepping back into the position (or a similar one to what they held)? Well, I don't know that they are all that frequent. Of course, they are rarely heard of, so perhaps they are quite frequent. The aftermath and the gap that is created by their departure can be just as disruptive as it is when a pastor is involved.
Let's pray, this #deaconThursday, for those church leaders and operations personnel that are in places of difficulty and perhaps dealing with an unconfessed sin of a problematic and damaging nature. May God do a work in their lives that would bring healing and restoration as they look to Him and go through the process of forgiveness and redemption; whatever that may look like. Pray for the churches and ministries that are affected from these circumstances. May God give them wisdom and clarity as they move forward. Pray that families and churches would not have to pay the price that Israel witnessed in King David's life following the revelation by Nathan. Pray that church leadership would be quick to bring to light unconfessed sin to the throne of grace, with the expediency and sincerity that pastors wish the congregation members would express in their lives.
Made clean through confession.
By the power of God
And the washing of His Word
Through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
For the glory of God.
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
I must confess, I'm having difficulty deciding on how to start this post. Mostly because I have two trains of thought that I'm trying to figure out how to bring together... I know they will, I'm simply trying to discern if it matters where I start. The challenges of being a writer... which, when you think about it, is much like any other interest, project or undertaking; having a plan.
Friends of mine, just finished building their home and thanks to the advent of social media, it looks beautiful judging by the pics that have been posted throughout the build process. As I considered what is involved in such a build, I couldn't help but consider how well it timed with our earlier (and past, for that matter) discussions on foundations, in particular, yesterday's on having cracks. So important then, is the need for inspections... multiple inspections for the duration of the build. And rightfully so.
If the plan is not correctly laid out from the beginning, changes after the fact can present quite the challenge. And often more than one. Of course, the longer one continues with an ill-laid plan, the more corrections, changes and potential tear-down and rebuilding may exist in one's future.
On a similar vein of thought, my youngest child is starting to pick up on some of the reactions and responses as the older sibling. Which is making for "fun" conversations. Obviously, the quotes are for sarcasm, as we quickly recognize that it's not permissible with the oldest child and we are working on correcting that, so certainly, it is intolerable with the younger child. So, as is the case for most of the stage of parenting, like building a home, we are keeping a close on to make sure things are going according to plan and working hard to pay attention when things might be off course, prompting correction and change. Do we always get it quick and right and corrected? No. No parent does. But it takes work.
So too in ministry. Having a plan. Implementing a strategy. And building lives of faith and community within the body of Christ. Faith is as much an organized process as building a home or raising a child (although the child doesn't exactly come with blueprints) Once again, ever so present on the forefront of my mind, however, is the challenge of pastors, in building and keeping their own families on course, as well as their ministries and those who sit under their leadership.
On this #youthPastorWednesday, pray for pastors that in the initial stages of building their ministries, and particular, youth groups. Pray that God would give them wisdom, in their early years of ministry, to develop healthy habits and disciplines as well as relationships. Pray that God would help them design and implement ministry plans and establish foundational elements that will set them up for success. May they find and surround themselves with people who will come alongside and work with them, support them and mentor them in the process. Pray protection over their lives, not just physically, but spiritually, emotionally and mentally. May they not be detoured, derailed and destroyed; not in their early days of ministry nor any point and time throughout their tenure. Pray the power of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit be ever present and ever at work, in the lives, homes and ministries.
Built and established by God.
For His glory.
By His grace.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
In a sermon that was broadcast yesterday morning on the radio, Dr. Tony Evans was talking about the foundation of families. He relayed a story about the time there was a crack in the wall at his home. The plaster was repaired and painted, but a few weeks later it reappeared. He had it fixed by the same guy, but again, another 4-6 weeks later, the cracks reappeared.
When he decided to have a different guy look at the work, that man informed him, that he couldn't help Evans. The problem was not a crack in the wall. It was a shifting foundation.
While I understand, Evan subject matter was on the family (and there's certainly a point to pray, as we have before regarding the foundation of faith at home), my first reaction was the foundation of the church. In particular, consider this an extension of yesterday's post; as we are witnessing senior Pastors shift on some major culture issues of our day.
Associate pastors, much like deacons and church staff, should be able look both ways, within the church, as far as their ability to recognize cracks in the church. They have incredibly close interaction with senior/lead pastors that they should know when their foundation is shifting; likewise, as they may well have a better pulse of what is transpiring with people under their ministry, they should be able to recognize when the foundation of the congregation is starting to crack.
If nobody is watching for such circumstances and conditions; then how can proper and timely repairs be made before the church encounters extensive and expensive damage; perhaps even to the point of existing beyond repair. (At which point, there isn't much existence left... at least, not a healthy one)
So, will you join me once again? On this #associatePastorTuesday, pray these pastors would have the vision and spiritual insight to recognize when cracks are beginning to appear; and to discern when they are the result of a foundational issue. Pray for wisdom as they handle such circumstances; that they would declare the truth and have a super-natural understanding of what is transpiring. May God lead them by the anointing of the Holy Spirit to properly resolve these matters, whether they exist with the leadership or the congregation. Pray for help and strength, in the conversations they will have and the solutions and resources that need to be utilized.
That our foundations will be strong;
That the church and people of God
Will stand unwavering.
Confident in the calling.
Assured in their faith.
True to their purpose.
For the glory of God.
As I've continued to watch some prominent church leaders come under scrutiny for their stance and interpretation on some of the major issues currently facing our culture, it's becoming blatantly clear... many Christians and churches are struggling. And that's putting it mildly.
The Word of God changes lives. It divides bone and marrow. It is profitable for teaching and reproof. From beginning to the end, it is the Gospel of redemption from the throne of God; replete with accounts from humanity of those whom God had an incredible plan for every man, woman and child and the outcomes of both those who were fully submitted to Him and those who were fully resistance to Him.
Yet here we stand 2000 years later and the church faces problems that are on par with those in the early church, Meanwhile the leaders who are attempting to bring the revelation of the truth of God's Word to the matter are the ones being dismissed as lacking the understanding of Scripture and missing the leading of the Holy Spirit.
When the church and it's leadership more quickly applies the Bible to fit their lives rather than submit their lives in alignment to the Bible, we are on shaky ground indeed. In comparison, such was the life of Moses in His relationship with God that he found himself standing on holy ground. Yet even his decisions and mistakes kept him from stepping into the promise land.
Talk about a prime example of a leader who can make an incredible impact for the kingdom of God and yet severely miss the mark because of his own decisions in light of God had planned and instructed for his life and leadership. And much like the nation of Israel during the wilderness, so too, are many churches wandering and surviving; one day at a time with much conflict among them.
On this #seniorPastorMonday, would you join me in praying for fresh outpouring of God's Spirit upon pastors. May God do a new work in their hearts and minds and reveal to them where they are in relation to God and His Word. Pray for the congregations that are struggling and in trouble, seemingly being led in the wrong direction. May their be a turning point in their lives, faith and understanding... of who God is, what He says and what He has planned for their churches and communities. Pray the church would not lose its influence to impact culture because we have caved to the outside pressures of culture rather than speak the truth in love to them. May God do a healing and restorative work in the leadership of the church.
That many would know,
God loves them so.
Because the truth was declared,
Rather than life catered to comfort.
For the Word of God is life
To those who would give heed.
For the glory of God.
For all my life, I've been partial to the number 7. As I've grown though, it's held more and more significance and meaning, especially when seen in duplicate. There is a group on social media that people are always posting to with sightings of 77 or 777, as an honor to the Christian Rock band, the 77's. (last minute edit after it's all been written; "oh the irony of finding 777 on a license plate!")
As we communicated a few days ago about a perspective that sees far ahead, I too, back in May of 2015 didn't think much about what kind of milestones I would mark as I carried out this commitment to write daily thoughts regarding the need to #pray4pastors. Yet the date calculation website tells me that starting from 6/1/2015 thru to and including today's post, that there are now 777 consecutive posts.
So, I'm smiling as I write this... boasting in the Lord for His helping me as I told Him I knew I would need it. Meanwhile, I can't help but consider... how many other things would be vastly improved in my life had I spend the last 777 days doing them. Health and fitness, finances, generosity, in my relationships, in my home and so much more.
So, needless to say, I found it more than a little profound as my wife and I sat last night watching The Christmas Cure, a movie that is part of the Hallmark channel's Christmas in July programming. A young doctor returns home, as her father is retiring from his small-town clinic and she is confronted with accepting a big promotion at the hospital she works at on the other side of the country versus staying home and continuing the work of her dad's clinic. At one point, in talking with her mom, the following concept is presented (and forgive me, now I can't remember exactly how the mom stated it)
It's possible that we can spend all our time doing what we are supposed to be doing and yet miss the "thing" that we were meant to do.
Like this series of hours wasn't already reflective for me when I discovered yesterday morning that today was going to be 777 day and now hearing the profoundness of how we can live and do well and yet not be doing well at the same time. The meaning. The purpose. The calling. The anointing. The blessing. It can really throw off one's ability to be effective and efficient. It's not that those elements aren't present, for indeed they are. But they operate at a different level between doing what you are supposed to do and what you are meant to do.
The clarity that comes with knowing and understanding the meaning and purpose behind what you do is what makes the difference.
So, let's pray as ministry goes forth on this #effectiveSunday. May the things that are supposed to get done be done well, but more importantly, pray for a clarity and purpose for the ministry that is accomplished today. Pray for the conversations that people will engage in as they communicate and share life. Pray over the worship sessions; that the presence of God will move afresh in the hearts and lives of those present. May the word of God as His Word is presented, bring about revelation to people's hearts and minds. Pray for clarity where is fog; confidence where there is doubt, peace where there is chaos and hope where there is despair. May an opportunity not be missed to share and communicate the love of God with every person of all ages as they enter the house of God this day.
Effective for the kingdom of God
As we live as we were meant to live.
For His plans and purposes.
May He be glorified in all we say and do.
And grace for when we miss the mark.
All for the cause of Jesus Christ.
No community is ever perfect... at least not once past the picturesque appearance. No geographic community. No organized community. No church or cause. And at it's most basic unit, neither is a family community, ever perfect.
Yet, as we look around us, at our world, whether locally or at-large, we quickly see that the problems and chasms that exist on a large scale also exist to some degree behind closed doors. So effectively engaging community can be a challenge in our neighborhoods and outside the four walls of our local church because engaging with each other at home can present just as many challenges.
Communication. Expression. Openness. Honesty. Discernment. Responsibility. Identity.
Whenever any of the above elements are non-existent, twisted, out of balance or misguided, then there are strong odds that life will be a tense, stressful struggle.
We've seen too much of it already. Throughout our world. Throughout our nation. In our home states. In our home towns. In our local church. Yet all of those things are built as the result of what happens behind our own front doors and what enters or escapes the back door when we aren't keenly aware and alert.
I'll be the first to admit, I could do better. Could you? Could the church? Could our governing authorities? Yes, yes, and yes! And I for one will need the grace and strength of God and the help of the Holy Spirit.
On this #communitySaturday, let's pray that indeed, God would help us, even as we lead our families in the basic structure of community. May God grant to us strength and grace to lead and by the power of the Holy Spirit, may we do it well. Pray that we would do better in our communications and responsibilities. Pray that each of us would have, hold and live our identities in Christ. May God grant to us discernment, as we engage in our relationships with those in our homes and the communities at large, with which we are apart throughout the week. Pray that we would be effective in representing the character of Christ and the love of God in all we say and do, regardless of who is in the room and a part of the conversation.
For before that was community
There was family.
Dwelling in the presence of God
Where He desires all man would live.
For His glory and honor, we pray.
It usually helps when telling a story, that the plot twist is a key element. Wouldn't you agree? Otherwise you've built up the intro and you have the moral of it all, but what happened to the transition?
Well, I missed that part as it was shared yesterday via radio. That said, though... I remember the closing statement of the story as it was told.
"I didn't have the perspective to see that far ahead."
As the pastor preached, he relay Paul's perspective on his ministry... he did everything with eternity in mind. He was counting the cost. He was forsaking it all. He was keeping his eye on the price.
His perspective was eternally-focused.
Yet, for all of life, both personally, profession or ministerial, it's hard to keep a long-term perspective. And in fact, my wife and I just chatted as I was sitting to type this, that "what if we had done something different" regarding last nights decision compared to a related decision from two years ago.
To this I had one reply... can't focus on that now. I don't want to think about how much more gray hair I would be sporting had I spent more time thinking and rethinking any number of decisions I've made in the past 12-13 years; even longer, come to think of it.
In fact, I think about such matters more than I need to and I really try not to do so even that much! That said, the same is true in ministry. And perhaps, to a greater extent missions. It goes without saying that both eternity-minded and focused. But decisions, strategies, conversations, time management, ministry-life balance... all of these elements have their own levels of desires and regrets and second guesses.
If the everyday issues of life can through us off our game even momentarily in the life of the everyday Christian, then once again, it begs the question; how much more for the those whose vocation is full-time ministry?
Thanks again for joining me. On this #missionsFriday, pray that missionaries would indeed keep the long-term perspective of eternity in mind. Even the cost of life, as Paul laid out so eloquently, that to be absent here is to be present with God... may the fears of persecution, retribution and opposition towards the Gospel not lay a foothold, much less a stronghold in their hearts and minds. Pray for a spirit of confidence as they move forward in the calling of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon their lives; may a spirit of regret and doubt be far-removed from their mind's eye and memory. Pray a fresh move of God in the efforts; a fresh wind in their words and a countenance of joy over their lives.
That whatever they do
May it be done as unto the Lord.
In word and deed,
For the honor and glory of God
For the advancement of the Gospel
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
Let it be so.
It's been driving me nuts since about midday, yesterday afternoon... that I can't remember whose sermon was playing on the radio when this statement was made.
"Sometimes, the most spiritual thing you can do is get a good night's rest."
He went on to talk about how we are dispensable. So often and easily we think that we are not; that we have to do it all or it won't get done. Like nobody else would pick up the pieces if we weren't already struggling to maintain an oversized load that our frame was not meant to carry.
Fast forward to last night, at the close of Pastor's devotional on wisdom. He compares Samson, who did not heed the words of his mother and father, to that of Moses in the conversation with his Father-in-law, Jethro. Having the benefit of perspective from a few more years experience, he says Moses struggling to judge the people and offers his advice.
"You'll burnout out if you keep this up. Why don't you do this instead?" Fortunately for Moses, he heeded the advice, but more importantly, he unburdened himself from a load that was too much. He chose people who were capable of helping to handle it and freed himself to focus on those matters where his strength could be exercised, rather than his life exhausted.
In like spirit, pray this #deaconThursday for those in church operations who need a good rest. May God rejuvenate and refresh them; body, mind, soul and spirit. Pray God would break up the unhealthy pressure and drive that is taking them down the road to burnout. May the Holy Spirit bring winds of refreshing and perspective; with new ways of thinking and handling matters that will help manage the load. Pray for people to come along side and help carry the load as well; capable, that others may be more effective and efficiently utilized.
For many hands make the work light.
That the work would not be a burden that leads to burnout
But that we would labor together in Christ, joyfully with honor.
For the glory of God
For the advancement of the Gospel.
So, I was watching Everybody Loves Raymond last night for a few minutes, partly because nothing else was on. The episode where Deborah runs for school governance board President was playing, and Ray wasn't happy about such a prospect because it meant he would be home at night with the kids, more often than not. And that scared the crap out of him.
For friends that know me in real life, let's just say I understand his dilemma. Being at home nights with my kids doesn't scare me, but as Dads, it gets pretty frustrating at times when they want nothing but Mommy and she isn't home or won't be for a while.
Poor Ray, actually goes as far as to vote against her, to make sure she doesn't win the school board election. She loses... by a whopping 6 votes.
And it brings me back to what I've always wondered about pastors. How they juggle ministry and family. Even for youth pastors. They often have kids of their own (and for this reason, it might also explain why youth pastors are so often young couples without kids). How easy it must it be, to have a struggle that exists, with the argument being made that someone spends more time investing in other people's kids than their own?
Probably, a little too much, if we were honest.
So, let's pray this #youthPastorWednesday. Pray for pastors, but in youth and children's ministry, but others; whose homes and marriages are struggling or even in trouble, because of the demands that take them away from personal family time. May their be a covering a grace and understanding. May God grant wisdom and direction, if indeed changes need to be made, to establish boundaries and recreate time-frames that restore this necessary balance to life. Pray for healing in marriages, where this has been a problem that has perhaps brought them to the brink of burnout and the suffering of severe consequences. May God help them, even this day and hour.
That the ministry of the church
Would not overtake or dominate
The responsibilities of leading the home
In the things of God.
For His glory.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.