The first time I saw this billboard the other day, I laughed. That's awesome! Yesterday, when I passed it again, I thought, man... wouldn't be nice if life worked like that?
Halo Burger has a billboard ad (including the 4 or 5 exits for nearby locations) that simply has a huge picture of a delicious hamburger and just two words (aside from the company name).
How often do we go through life and through our days, wishing, hoping and prayer that the answers we seek to the concerns and problems of this life lie in wait for our arrival. That relief is coming; that a much needed break full of rest is nearby. Perhaps, not only in bits and pieces and temporal, but fully and long-lasting.
We all come to Christ through a variety of circumstances and situations, but each of us, in whatever it looks like, come to a defining moment were we choose Christ. Some may be more dramatic than others, but a relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ is an invitation that is available to all people.
Yet, as I read that sign, I thought about those, specifically, who are having or about to experience a crisis moment with God, where fear is about to collide with faith. Whatever may be transpiring in their lives, may the have a revelation moment and choose; that Christ is the answer for their life.
Pray, this #missionsFriday, for these that have to choose Christ and through Him, eternal life. May people come to know and understand, that indeed Christ' love is available to all humanity and the forgiveness of sins for those who call on the name of the Lord. Pray revelation, that today would be the day of salvation... may many decide today, rather than wait until later down the road or at the next exit in life. May God work the miraculous for those having a crisis moment in their life and His blessing upon those who choose Him, even when circumstances aren't so dramatic.
May we not hesitate to answer;
The knocking of Christ' hand
On the door of our hearts.
For His glory.
What I'm about to share, I only relate for the purpose of highlighting an observation for the purpose of prayer. It is, by no means, a political endorsement, favoritism or any such... I'm not sure what one would call it.
However, there are pictures floating on social media, that one of our presidential candidates was wired during the debate. Yes... wired. Wearing an earpiece and what would appear to be the transmitter clipped in back, under their jacket.
We've prayed in the past regarding church leadership and advisors, so forgive the slight repetition that may exist, but in light of recent pastoral burnouts making headlines, it's good to revisit the thought...
Who has our ear?
Likewise, whose ear do we have?
Who is that our church leaders are listening to and hearing from, as they lead churches and congregations, make decisions and influence lives? Just as important, who and what are pastors and leaders influencing, as they engage community; as they preach and teach; as they advise and counsel parishioners.
Lives hang in the balance. People who are in difficult and challenging situations. People just trying to get through life. People seated in places of power and influence, whether they be political in nature or otherwise. t is so easy to caught get up living on an agenda and believing in it so much, that we use our influence to push it on others. This can be very dangerous ground, for any number of reasons... perhaps too many to discuss here.
Suffice to say, leaders need to be careful to ensure their are listening to wise counsel; Godly counsel... preferably for all leaders, but especially those in the church. Likewise, this is a time for leaders to be giving wise counsel... preferably Godly counsel, especially from those in the church.
Pray, this #deaconThursday, deacons and church leaders. In times, when the truth is becoming more difficult to distinguish and even more difficult to share at the most crucial of times and circumstances, pray for a boldness to speak the truth in love. Pray for a super-natural ability to receive the truth, as well. Pray for an undercurrent, of not just wise counsel, but Godly counsel to flow in and through all decisions and the conversations that precede them... whether it come from behind the pulpit of the pastor or the podium of the politician. Pray for a return and an increase in the desire and determination to seek the face of God.
May God have our ear, first and foremost;
That we may be His voice.
For He speaks through His Word
And uses us to speak to others.
Once again, it's amazing what songs play through your mind when the radio is off all day. And this one wasn't leaving anytime soon, yesterday. Perhaps is because of the political mess of our Presidential candidates this week, but in light of today's climate and what we are watching unfold in our leadership, whether on the political front or from behind the pulpit, I thought they words were quite appropriate... even if written in 1992.
Indeed, it is true... one can not serve two masters.
Sadly, we live in a time, where it's increasingly popular to serve the wrong one. It's acceptable to try to serve both. Meanwhile, in continues to fail. Miserably.
Church leadership, sadly, isn't immune. If wish made it so, perhaps. But for decades, we've realized and witnessed a moving away from the truth of God's Word, from the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit and a general compromise in how we approach ministry. There's so much going on... it's hard to know where to begin. Or how to continue, for that matter.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday for a fresh move of God in our churches and leadership. Pray a return for the things of God and passion for His Word in churches and congregations that have seen a departure. May there be a move of the Spirit upon leadership that has experienced compromise. Pray a hedge over congregation and youth, who are unaware (or at least not fully), of what is transpiring and unfolding when conversations are held and decisions are made.
Indeed, may we live and lead our lives for one.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Yesterday, I took the day of work and the results were amazing. Nothing in particular, happening or emergencies to handle. Just a scheduling opportunity to spend the day away from life. My friend asked what our game plan was, when I told him I was planning on taking a day off and replied, we'd either get caught up on some stuff around the residence or get lost. His advice? Get lost.
There will always be things on the home-front to take care of; when life starts handing you situations for which it's hard to gain some perspective, it's time to step back. Sunday night after church, my wife and I decided to sit on our small, lighted deck and talk...something our schedule hasn't permitted in quite a while. That was around 10pm. Next thing we knew.... wow, it's midnight? Either coming up on or shortly after, and we didn't realize we were sitting out there for two hours.
Yesterday, we didn't quite get lost so much as, we stayed local; and except for the 40 minutes or so we were at the residence prior to picking up the oldest from school, we stayed away. It's somewhat amazing, just what can transpire in 24 hours.
I feel as though I actually got two quality nights of sleep. But otherwise, not much has changed. A couple of very minor matters are off my radar screen and a couple of major issues remain unresolved. But that's okay.
God has it sorted out. And the words from two incredible sermons on Sunday are stilling ringing in my ears. The fact that you are still making it, is proof that God is with you. The fourth person in the fiery furnace of Scripture was only visible to the King, yet the three who were in the fire were the ones who emerged with a trace of evidence of ever having been anywhere near there, let alone in the midst of it, at a temperature 7x that of normal. Amazing.
Pray, this #associatePastorTuesday, for those struggling to find some peace and perspective. Pray for the situations and circumstance they face, where there's seems to be distraction and confusion; or perhaps just the unknown that never seems to end with some clarity. May the come to realize the importance of stepping back from it all for a moment, casting it at the feet of the cross and allowing for a time of refreshing and renewal whereby God can minister and remind them... He is with them, even in the fires of life where the heat factor has multiplied. May their be a protection over their hearts, minds and lives; that Christ would show Himself present and at work in their situation.
Christ on display,
No matter our trials.
Freedom in Him
For His glory.
We had a special Sunday service last night, as we had an evangelist in town, to minister for both the morning and evening time slots. Let me just say, that both services were incredibly powerful. Not only were they great sermons, but definitely God did an awesome work in many lives.
Last night, during praise and worship, as we sung about being overwhelmed by the love of God, I began to think on this thought process.
It's impossible to be overwhelmed by the affairs of life while simultaneously overwhelmed by the presence of God.
That's not to say, one is concerned about life while in the presence of God, but that in all things, there is a grace to handle this life for those living in God's presence.
Consider the analogy the evangelist game last night in his sermon, moments after praise & worship. A submarine would implode from the pressure of water, unless an internal pressure rose up against it, to prevent the implosion. Greater is He who is in me, than he that is in the world.
Furthermore, the deeper the sub goes into the water, the more external pressure. Thus, going into the spiritual depths of God will also, increase the internal pressure needed, to once again, keep the potential implosion at bay.
To not possess the internal presence of God in your life, means the external will overwhelm you.
This is true for the believer in the pew, as much as it is, for the pastor behind the pulpit, of even our beloved itinerant evangelist. Life can get overwhelming. It's natural. It happens. It's Satan's desire; that we be destroyed. Yet again, as the evangelist spoke in the morning service, the fact that you are still here, means you are making it.
Nothing happens without God's knowledge, so if God wasn't already with you and watching over you, no matter what you've already encountered in this life, the fact that you are still above ground is proof enough... God is with you and not done with you yet.
Pray, this #seniorPastorMonday, for pastors feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of life and ministry. May they experience a time of refreshing and renewal; whereby the would find themselves in the depths of the presence of God. May they not succumb to the pressure of life and the temptations placed in their way to detour, derail and destroy them. Pray a steadfastness about their lives and a protection over their hearts, minds, marriages, ministries and families. Pray a boldness to speak the truth and declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May the peace of God surpass all understanding and the presence of God to rise and exceed the pressures of life.
Greater is He who is in us...
Than he who is in the world.
For the glory of God.
This video came across the Twitter newsfeed of Bring Me 70 last night and what an incredible message. I've also admired Dr. Price' teaching and preaching; how He presents the Word and his interaction with His congregation. This classic sermon is truly powerful.
On this short, #effectiveSunday post, I would do well myself, to heed the words of Dr. Price. I should be in the Word of God more. You can not separate one from their word Abilities come and ago and require strength, time, resources and more when it comes to getting things done. So while our actions and deeds are memorable, our words are all the more. Communication is not hindered by physical ability, like some actions may be.
We are known by our words; we know God by His Word.
People can't know who we are, if we don't communicate with them who we are.
Likewise, people can't know God, if He didn't communicate with us
What makes Christianity difficult and thereby communicating the love of Christ, are those who have read the Bible and consider themselves knowing God well enough to remain wanting nothing to do with Him. They have entered a relationship with God on the premise of already having made up their mind that the relationship is flawed and failed; and it's not their doing, but that somehow God is not who He says He is. To add fuel to their fire, Christians continually drop the ball, in exemplifying and living this out in our own lives, by both our own words and deeds.
This absolutely requires revelation from God to those who have yet to confess Christ as Lord.
It certainly requires the church to call on God, that would we better display Christ as Lord.
Pray this #effectiveSunday, that God would help His people. Not that we just be better people and better humans, but that we would be display the love of Jesus Christ. Pray that God would illuminate His Word to those who read and genuinely seek to understand who God is and how He operates. Pray a desire in the church, like I will do for myself, they people would have a greater want for God and His Word and the power of prayer in their lives.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but powers of this dark age.
May the Holy Spirit empower and quicken the people of God
Effective for the cause of Jesus Christ
Efficient in reaching out to those in need of a move of God.
For His Glory.
Conversations are important and necessary to engage in, yet all too often, both sides inevitably find ways to make one seriously consider disengaging. It's disconcerting. It's somewhat frustrating. They get difficult when there are distinct differences in the experiences that people bring to the table.
The conversations become even more so when discussing spiritual or religious matters, political issues and personalities the culture and social issues at large. Any overlap of those issues...
We really do need God's help; in every area and arena of life. Conversations lead to a calling out of peoples faith and beliefs, both in humanity and in God. There has been such a push to redefine our vocabulary, that we longer know how to express the truth, observe the truth, and comment on the truth. We've dismissed morality and absolutes at that; so not only is it difficult to see and admit to truth, but it's near impossible to find the line between opinion and fact.
All is skewed and questionable. As are the motives of those who are genuinely trying to help and are seeking to understand. It can truly leave one paralyzed; not knowing what they can do, what they can say, where they can go and how they can positively affect change the problems that exist in our world, whether they be systematic problems or otherwise. It's heartbreaking on so many levels, that the strength to even work towards solutions seems agonizing, despite being necessary.
It is a spirit of confusion that has permeated this world. Satan is having a field day. God is waiting for people to turn from their wicked ways, call on the name of the Lord and be saved. In the middle, is a society crying out for change, while remaining unwilling to turn to God.
Join me in praying, for our culture and community, on this #communitySaturday. Pray God give us wisdom and discernment, compassion and understanding as we engage in conversations. May we portray the love of Christ as we discuss problems and may we seek the face of God as we work towards solutions. Pray this would be a time and season that God would draw hearts and lives towards Him; that as people seek to make sense of this life, they would find a sense of meaning and purpose in Christ. While we may never know, fully, the why and how of events and tragedies, when they occur; pray for the peace of God that surpasses all understanding fill the hearts and minds of those who turn to God. As it starts with church, would we please...
Humble ourselves and pray.
That God would heal our land.
For His glory
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I shared with my friend yesterday, the phenomenon I keep experiencing with this site. When I revamped it last May and God gave me the idea to schedule the leadership and pastoral positions with a day of the week, my specific concern was repetition and running out of ideas. So, throughout my day, I ask God...
"What would you have for the next Bring ME 70 prayer?"
Without fail, it's not long that something comes to mind or a perspective stands out, that just clicks... as if served up by an angel saying "Here you go." It literally happens all the time; in fact it really does seem like a daily occurrence. The funny part is it's not, hours later. It's moments. It's a matter of seconds. Maybe a few minutes.
Yesterday, I just had to chuckle. And ask again, why it doesn't seem that prayers in other areas of life don't get answered as quick as what God seems to hand me daily for this site. Days and weeks of prayer and thought and conversation; trying to figure out what decisions I should make regarding any number of circumstances. Even then, and may still not have a clue.
This got me thinking about how believers and how life changes after accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We are new creations in Christ, for sure. Yet as the Apostle Paul states, we daily take up our cross and follow Christ. Often there is an immediate, physical transformation that takes place in our lives... an addiction is broken or a healing of some kind takes place and those are awesome testimonies. Others, receive Christ, but then continue to struggle with life's issues as they begin their journey of faith.
Why do bad things continue to happen? Why is there still so much struggle in my life? Why aren't situations and circumstances beginning to turn around yet? These considerations serve to place an emphasis on the need of prayer for missionaries and pastors as they minister to new believers. Sometimes we get so caught up in believing how quickly God should turn things around for us, rather than simply focusing on the fact that He will turn things around for us, that we don't allow for His timing and purposes to unfold.
That can be difficult regardless of how long one has been a Christian, but especially difficult for those whose faith has not yet matured It doesn't make any one believer better than the other, by any stretch of the imagination. I am saying, though, that like any relationship, time has a way of strengthening the bond, so that when life get difficult, we are not easily torn apart New believers are especially susceptible, otherwise, there's not much point to the parable of the sower and where the seeds of faith land.
Pray with me, this #missionsFriday, for those who have recently made a decision to acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Pray a protection of their hearts and minds; that the enemy would not come and rob them of the seed of faith that has been planted; nor that the cares and struggles of life would frustrate them and choke their faith. May God work their miraculous in establishing a foundation of faith that will serve them all their days; that they would never fail to seek the face of God and desire His plan and purpose for their lives. May the church be effective in playing it's part, to strengthen and build up each other, in the most Holy faith May the lies of the enemy be thwarted and dismissed, as we call on the name of the Lord and are saved.
To grow and mature in the faith;
To be used for His glory and honor.
That all would indeed, be made new
For the cause of Jesus Christ
So, a small of handful of blog posts have come across my radar the past few days, continuing the discussion of pastors and ministry burnout, using, in particular, the resignations of prominent, mega-church in recent weeks. It's hard to fathom, on this side of the situation. It's hard to comprehend how people can work so close together in ministry and working a vision and executing a plan; fulfilling a calling... and suddenly just arrive at a place where a pastor can't continue or experiences a life event causing them to step down and away.
The commentaries on social media were diverse; many thoughts and prayers in-line with the purpose of Bring Me 70; others... lots of theories. Ego, celebrity-status, a focus on things other than the teaching of the Word, a lack of the moving and leading of the Holy Spirit in their ministries, the responsibilities that come with caring for a church rather than leading a church and the list could go on. Sadly, any number of those reasons could be valid and accurate and any combination could be served and offered as an explanation when the bottom falls out.
As I've said before, no church is perfect. However, as I considered the dynamics of church leadership, consider perhaps, this relationship between humility and transparency. Deacons and church admins are their to serve, so there should never be a "smelling of blood in the water" if you will, when we think there is a problem or something is amiss in the life of a pastor. The relationship should be one of trust and acknowledgement that if there is a problem, it can be dealt with and sorted out before one hits the exit door.
Having said that, for pastors, humilty and transparency is a direct, two-way street.
A humble pastor won't have a problem being transparent.
A transparent pastor won't have a problem remaining humble.
If one doesn't think there is a problem, then there won't be a discussion on potential problems.
If a pastor can't open up, to at least admitting there is a circumstance for which they need direction and prayer support, then everyone will assume all is well and they know where they are going and what they are doing.
I'm not saying pastors should be an open book; but on a Wednesday prayer service, when the offer is given that the congregation can come and agree in confidence with a couple of people who are available at the altar, to join in prayer regarding people may face; then a pastor avails himself to step up and take advantage of that same offer, it sends a message to the church... he or she is facing a difficult circumstance or decision just like I am. They know they need God's help, just like I do. They are asking for prayer, just like I would.
There's no expectation of perfection by the church; no projection of perfection by the pastor.
So, should the relationships be throughout the church, during the week. I don't mind a level of discernment depending on who the conversation is with, but pastors need people with whom they can have a heart-to-heart conversation about what's going on, just as much as the church does. We talk about iron, sharpening iron... who is sharpening pastors? Clearly, if they are suffering burnout, something is missing from the process.
Pray, this #deaconThursday, that God would do the miraculous in the relationships and inner-workings of church operations. For those circumstances where, perhaps, a level of transparency and humility are missing or in lack, pray that God would change hearts and minds, where perhaps there is more distrust than trust. Pray an honest conversation, for those environments that need to experience a change in this regard. Pray that pastors would feel a release; that avoiding problems is more of a failure than admitting one needs wisdom in navigating a problem. Pray for a strengthening in leadership, to rely upon God, to seek His face and to work together as a unit, as they embark to accomplish the work they have been called to fulfill.
A hedge of protection over leadership;
Not that they are immune;
Simply not left to themselves when trouble arises.
In His strength,
For His glory.
It's Monday night. Or it was less than 48 hours ago, depending on when you read this. And the kids are in bed... just, actually. And of course, now is as good a time as any for my oldest to decide to be upset about something. So after navigating my way through the crying, because it's impossible to sound coherent while wailing tears, and trying to calm her down, answer her questions and what not, she was adamant. There was a problem and it was hers. Finally, I asked, perhaps the default question of men everywhere....
What do you want me to do about it?
I'll tread lightly as I smile while typing this, but you all know what's coming next, don't you.
"I don't know."
I love my family. I love my friends. I have fun with my sarcasm at times, even when others don't. What can I say... I'm working on it. And while I wasn't trying to be dismissive or less than compassionate, at the moment, I was in Dad mode, which as a famous comedian once stated regarding parenthood, we're not interested in justice; we just want quiet!!
I love my kids, dearly, but, after a point, if you can't tell me what's wrong or what I can do to help, then, with all the love I can express, you kind of don't have anything. There's nothing I can do. I don't read minds. And bedtime on a school night isn't going to be the time we're going to sit for two hours and hash this out. (that said, it did buy her a few moments alone with mom which i used as time to pray over her younger sister and speak into her life as she tried to fall asleep)
Writing this, reminds me of a conversation I had with my parents, my freshman year of college. Too many details to go into here, but I remember similar words. I was finally ready for the conversation, I was done being stubborn; I was ready to work through this problem. And I remember Dad... trust me, we're having this conversation, but not tonight. And of course, the semester was in session, so not only were we not hashing it out that night; we weren't hashing it for the next few weeks worth of nights. That was agony. Here I was, finally ready... and I was being made to wait.
I didn't plan on this until just that last paragraph, but isn't funny, how God works in similar ways? All in His timing, His leading, His prompting... and even as believers, we experience gaps in the conversation. We're ready to talk and don't feel He is listening; He speaks and we aren't listening. There's not much lost in translation as much as there is in missing the memos from heaven entirely, at times. Or so it seems.
Needless to say, parents always see room for improvement in the lives of their kids. And occasionally, kids show their parents, they still have room for improvement as well. Amazing how life works... children can't wait to become adults, then adults all but plead for the lives to return to the days of childhood.
Adults don't always have the answers. Neither do pastors, teachers, brothers, sisters or friends... as much as we love and appreciate them all. The good ones, the best ones, the closest ones.... God help them, they try their very best; and the dearest among them pull it off more than they realize and more than we express. That said, we would do well, to continue to trust and seek the face of God first and teach our children to do the same.
So, would you agree with me in prayer, this #youthPastorWednesday? Pray for pastors struggling with the answers to the conversations they are having, both in ministry and at home. For kids and youth, having difficulty in their lives, sorting through emotions, navigating challenging circumstances and in the midst of that, perhaps already handling life with a questionable foundation and perhaps little faith or even none at all. Pray God would grant wisdom and discernment to pastors and parents, teachers and others who would speak into their lives; that they would speak life... that they would speak the love of life of Christ and the life He alone can offer. May their be a sense of hope and renewal as God makes Himself real in the lives of our youth; that faith would arise and they would seek the face of God. First and His Kingdom. May the discover the plans and the purposes He has ordained in advance.
Cut through the confusion;
Clarify the destiny.
For the glory of God;
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Some thoughts from yesterday...
Everyone knows where centered it. We can find the bulls-eye, we know when someone is the center of attention (or always has that desire); we know when someone is self-centered and correspondingly, can easily spot those who are Christ-centered. Somehow, dead-center often seems fairly obvious.
Conversely, on the edge, is also fairly easy. You know when you are getting close; we know where the boundaries are. We know when someone is on the fringe; Usually you can tell when something is amiss, to the point that breaking might be in the near future.
It's the middle that can seem like the Bermuda Triangle. Wherever everything come together. It's a sense of loss and nothingness. Seemingly no direction. Possible obscurity. Felt by children, who are neither the oldest, nor the youngest. Felt by travelers with no landmarks nearby to speak off, by the work who feels their project will not be complete anytime soon, even though they have been working for quite some time. It seems to be where everything gets stuck, oddly enough.
Of course, pastors and leaders aren't immune. Not having control of the situation, not being the decision-maker in the room, sometimes not even being a part of the discussion. These can all lead to sense of insignificance, even though you remain an integral part of an operation.
So, pray, with me this #associatePastorTuesday, for pastors feeling lost and stuck, in the middle of life, in the middle of church. Pray for a clarity, of who they are; of what they are to do; of where they are to go and the plans God would have them fulfill. Pray for a strengthening of their spirit and a renewing of their mind. Pray for a sense of focus and determination; that indeed, whatever they put their hand to would prosper. May their be a girding-up, as they go about their work and their life; a clear sense of purpose and direction to be made known. Pray the attack of confusion and discouragement; distraction and frustration would cease.
A clear focus.
A strong will.
Plans for a hope and future,
For the glory of God.
A few weeks ago, while browsing the music second of the local thrift store, I could believe what my fingers had flipped through and now, pulled of the shelf, prompting an immediate, "I"m so buying this album!" I've seen Colton Dixon in concert, so while knowing his music is powerful stuff, I had yet to purchase his music. Until now. Someone had donated his album, The Messenger. But not just any album... an unopened copy! Whoever buys a brand new CD, then donates it, thanks for the score! (Oddly enough, we've scored a few items of clothing at that same store... brand new with tags)
Overall it's an incredibly powerful album, not really a bad song to be found... which is how I like buying albums anyway. But something stood out as I listened yesterday...
In the song scars, the chorus reads that "scars remind us who we are". At one point, the phrase changes slightly to, "Your scars remind us who we are". We all go through life, battled and war-torn from situations and circumstances, challenge and difficulty, tragedy and great loss.
I shared a few days ago, a friend's dad passed from a heart attack, while in his rig. Yesterday, a friend posted, that Saturday night, his dad was rushed to the ER via ambulance, and they were unable to revive him. For these, life has left incredible scars. The days, weeks, months and perhaps, years will be difficult, as life continues without one of life's biggest supporters being present. Such events leave the mark on our lives.
However, the incredible reminder for those whose faith is in Christ, is that no matter what loss we encounter, no matter what failure we face, no matter our faults and mistakes or the difficulties that rise to defeat us; the scars that Christ suffered on our behalf remind us who we are in Him.
Our identity is in Him.
Our strength to continue each day, is found in Him.
Our reason to move forward in the face of adversity and tragedy, its' all in Him.
It doesn't make things less difficult. But there is a peace and a calm that only comes from relying on Christ. It doesn't matter why we have the scars, or who caused them, or how deep they go. God uses it all for the display of His glory, for the plans and purposes He has for every individual, whether they've yet to call on the name of the Lord or not.
Thus, pray with me, this #seniorPastorSunday, for pastors struggling to rely on Christ. Whether difficulty and tragedy are taking their toll, or regrets of failure and mistake are beating them up; pray these would like to Christ, first and foremost. While it's easy to think that would be an automatic response, they struggle as well, to maintain perspective and focus, so pray they would never fail to turn their eyes upon Jesus. May they be reminded to cast their cares and burden upon Him and may their be a peace of mind and strengthening of the heart, as God leads and guides their steps and brings illumination to their paths.
While scars remind us who we are,
May His scars remind us who we are in Christ.
For His glory and honor.
I watched a sermon a few days ago; one that was actually the launch service of the new church planted by a former pastor. In fact, this is his third (although it feels like it's number 4 for some reason) church launch since we've been in a church he has pastored.
The sermon, though, was on rest... particularly, the Israelite nation before crossing into the promised land, rested at Gilgal. It was an incredibly timed Word, as to what God accomplishes when we experience times of rest. In fact, it's amazing how much harder things are when one is not rested or does not experience times of rest.
My body was playing catch-up this weekend. I've had a nasty kink in my neck for a few days that wouldn't go away. I had three or four nights in row where I didn't feel that I slept all that well, and certainly didn't get enough. One night, while debating if I was going to put a show on Netflix while in the living room or in bed, I fell asleep on the couch! Realized this moment at 2:50 in the morning. I'm praying nobody noticed it in that morning's prayer, as it was difficult to not close my eyes as I typed. So, you can imagine... by yesterday morning, I was in no rush to get out of bed. In the afternoon, when my monster headache suggested taking a nap, I didn't argue. The body knows, and if you don't get the hint, you won't have much choice in the matter.
Needless to say, while the rest was good, I was neither effective nor efficient. However, if rest doesn't happen, one will rarely return to state of effective and efficient. We all need times of respite and retreat, so that we can go back out and engage and conquer. The enemy of our souls would like nothing more than to wear us down into oblivion. But God has plans to prosper; for a hope and a future. If we will but cast our cares upon Him and find rest in Him for our souls. Whether in the pew or behind the pulpit, may we each take that time.
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, for those in need of a great rest. For Pastors and church leaders, like what unfolded a week ago, may they not find themselves "leading on empty", nor moving forward on past successes. Pray a refreshing and a rejuvenation experience, as they come to God with their burdens and heavy hearts and lay them at the feet of Jesus. May their be deep rest; whereby God would accomplish the miraculous, as they remember some things, as perhaps God has to take away a few things, as God may need to restore some things. For whatever needs to transpire, may they return energized and empowered, ready to do the work God has called them to, as they set out to accomplish great exploits for the kingdom of God.
By the strength of His hand
For the glory of God.
An incredibly surreal moment transpired this past Thursday. And that's it felt reading the news on social media... I can't imagine the turmoil of emotions shared by this family. A friend;s father had suffered a heart attack and sadly, is no longer with us. He was a truck driver... and the news came from local law enforcement, who had discovered him in his truck.
Every once in a while, I catch myself thinking about how I would handle the loss of one or both of my parents (I have a friend, who a number of years lost both of his parents, in the same car accident) As I travel many miles for work, I often wonder how my family would handle something happening to me. Neither is recommended, by the way... you could find yourself bummed out kinda quick.
I share this event though, as Scritpure brought it to mind yesterday to keep them in prayer.
Yesterday's verse of the day, courtesy of YouVersion, was Romans 8:26.
The Holy Spirit helps in our weakness; when we don't know how to pray as we should, the Spirit himself intercedes on our behalf, with groanings that can't be uttered.
What an amazing thought.
Christ stands before God and pleads our case when we have nothing to stand on in asking for His grace and mercy.
Now, the Holy Spirit, intercedes for us as well... praying, not just as we should if we knew how, but praying with groanings that are far deeper than the depths for which we attempt dig, hoping to find words to explain and console us in the face of such tragedies. We all look to things and people and explanations for circumstances and situations that trouble us and are meant to derail and destroy us. In the end, only Christ completes. The loss, the heartbreak, the suffering, the infirmities... our strength, our rest, our peace can only be experienced to the depths we desire and beyond when we turn to the person of Jesus Christ.
What greater news to share on this #communitySaturday than that?
Pray this weekend, for this family... and for others, experiencing great loss and tragedy. May this be a time that they would seek the face of God and see the hand of God in their lives. Pray they would not retreat, but engage. For those who sruggling to find answers for questions they aren't even sure how to ask, may God bring revelation to hearts and minds; strength and resolve for those finding it difficult to carry on and move forward. Pray the peace of God would surpass all understanding.
Renewed in strength
Empowered my His might
For He is more than able
For those who call on the name of the Lord.
For whatever reason (and I have a couple of ideas why), I spent a fair amount of time yesterday, thinking about my college days... and seriously, how times have changed. I look back on those days with mixed emotions. I'm thankful for what I learned, the experiences i had and the friendships I made. On the other hand, it could have been so much more. Had I been more disciplined in my studies for the first 3.5 years as I was in my final semester; had a disastrous relationship not consumed my freshman year; had I been more intentional in pursuing a career tract...
So much to reflect on... and I know God works all thing together for good; for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. However, as the comedian, Michael Jr. explains, God's working in our lives is like a GPS. He's not chewing us out, going 'hey, you missed your turn; where are you going' and the like. He takes us where we are, as we are... "recalculating".
Sometimes the road we choose has detours. There are road closures with sections under construction (or as was the case yesterday, STILL under construction) and times when life gets bumpy, disconcerting and all-around frustrating.
I have a great appreciate for those in ministry on the college campus scene. There are so many foundational elements that are established as young people make the transition into adulthood, that if they don't "get it right" as it were, will set the course for the remainder of their lives... a course that will only get increasing difficult to change, readjust and navigate as life continues.
College is a great time of one's life. It is a crucial time in one's life. It's also a great time to draw close to God, to focus and seek His face and to allow Him to reveal Himself and His plan and purpose for one's life. Instead, it so easily get filled with others things; some of them important and necessary even. Yet so much of it, is not healthy, not beneficial, not constructive and conducive to the clarion call to which we should be prepared to receive.
So, pray with me, this #missionsFriday, for the mission field of the college campus; may this be a time that the miraculous working of God is revealed in hearts and minds. Pray for those in ministry reaching out; that God would grant them wisdom and discernment to speak into the lives of young people. May God give to them direction, in their studies and activities and more importantly, that they may watch for the calling that God desires for their lives. May God make their ways straight, their purpose clear and their foundation strong; that whether they step into the marketplace or into ministry, the work of the Lord would continue from students into adulthood, dedicated unto the Lord and determined for His good works prepared in advance.
A strong foundation...
A clear calling...
A resolute response.
For the glory of God
For the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yes... I'm still thinking about this Senior Pastor and his announcement from Sunday morning. Really? Why... It was Sunday. We prayed over him on Monday. Today is Thursday. We hear news then move on? I'm sorry you are going through that... then it's back to what we have to take care, where we have to go, what's on the schedule, what's for dinner and who's coming to dinner?
I'm still somewhat in shock and awe, that nobody saw this coming. That nobody in the inner circle didn't suggest taking some personal time, taking a vacation or a sabbatical. Was there no close friend he could confide in, nobody on the deacon board who spoke up, sensing something was off? I don't know the answers to these questions, but when the preface to the confession of "not being okay" is that the church culture is such that it's okay to "not be okay", I'm at a loss as to how one arrives at jumping to the end and declaring 'game over', rather than a 'time out'.
That said... clearly he felt a clean break was necessary. Perhaps God will use this time to wipe the slate clean and start afresh in his ministry. Which isn't necessarily a bad deal. Often in Scripture, we see a clean break. A decisive walk-away moment. Whether it was the wisest decision to be made or a clear directive from God or Christ, Himself, there are times when the line is drawn and everything forward is new. Everything is different.
It's what Christ has done for each of us. Our lives, the moment we decide to follow Christ, the line is drawn. We are given a clean slate. It doesn't always feel that way as the spiritual battle continues between flesh and spirit, but it is truth. God makes all things new. We are made new creatures in Christ. Important or obscure, prominent or unknown, whatever our place in life was before; our identity is in Christ.
God lacks nothing. We are the ones who come up short. So whatever it is, that we have need off, God stores in abundance. There should be nothing in this life that we should look at and respond, God is unable to help.
It simply requires the acknowledgement of our need and that only He can resolve where we fall short. I'm believing God will accomplish the miraculous in this church and this circumstance, as well as the pastor and his family. That said, I can only imagine the difficulty that the leadership team, operations staff and remaining pastors are battling, as they not only sort through the "what's next" of the process, but also evaluate and reflect where things went wrong. Perhaps there's some things that need to be revamped, overhauled and even, start clean.
Pray, this #deaconThursday, for church administrators, decision-makers and advisors; that first and foremost they would seek the face of God for each and every decision and challenge they face. Pray for unity in their spirit, as to what they sense the direction God would have them choose. Pray for resolution to problems and conversations where conflict and tensions run high and hot. Even in the face of confusion with a seemingly lost sense of direction; may the Holy Spirit bring a peace and clarity to their hearts and their minds. May they receive from the Lord, that which they acknowledge they are in need off and may God hear their prayers and answer with abundance, for in Him are all things made new and we are made complete.
Clean before my Lord
With no trace of wrongs left to right.
For His glory and for His service.
The extreme differences in Sunday mornings' events continue to process in my mind, as I think about pastors and ministry in general. I couldn't help but wonder... what finally gave way that this pastor recognized he was in trouble? Many comments on social were those of prayer and support and it's awesome to see people rally around that. There were comments of applaud and commendation.... that thankfully he caught it before there was a tragedy or failure and I agree.
However, I couldn't help but wonder... 14 years of ministry. Did nobody see this coming? Were there not signs that he was running thin? He said he felt like he was "leading on empty". It seems like something would have been amiss somewhere; that perhaps someone would have noticed he wasn't operating at the top of his game, as it were. Curiously, it makes one wonder how long he had felt like this, until coming to the conclusion that stepping back altogether, rather than for a season, was the best solution.
Contrast that, with the new youth pastor. I've heard it said, many times in fact, that a good indicator of a pastors tenure in ministry can be marked by two events... the success of their internship with a church and the success of their first pastoral position. Obviously, there's a lot more that goes into situations, and life happens along the way; I understand that. But certainly, if a good foundation for ministry is established by having a great internship experience and then gaining a good understanding of pastoral ministry,setting boundaries and putting in place solid disciplines in their lives, it will go a long way; regardless of what they encounter.
I understand the struggle is real, but it's necessary. Enter a friend, in the middle of these two. For about the same decade and half, give or take a few years, she's been working with at-risk youth. She posted on social media that someone suggested her taking a sabbatical. To which her reply, was... how? Even a weekend without bills and worries seems too much to ask for! To this, my heart sank. This is how it unfolds. Needing a time of respite, recognizing it and not knowing how to make it work to actually get it.
Will you join me, this #youthPastorWednesday? Pray for this pastor as well as my friend; that God would strengthen them anew and afresh. Pray God would help the find and establish balance in their lives; that ministry and the work they endeavor to accomplish would never so overwhelm them that the only break is through resignation. May God give them wisdom and discernment in their disciplines; and people who would speak encouragement and help provide tools that will be effective in their leadership. Pray God would gird them up... to bring rest and hope when needed; to bring clarity and direction when required. May they be surrounded with the support and love of body of Christ; ready to serve God in fulfilling the calling and purposes He has placed upon their lives. The next generation will be impacted greatly by the outcome.
Effective for the work of the Lord
With the stamina to endure,
No matter what comes against them to destroy them.
For His glory.
I don't think I've pulled a specific associate position to pray about prior to this morning, but a conversation over the weekend got me thinking yesterday, that perhaps I should write specifically.
I love music. I can't play anything, but I could listen all day. I remember the conversation I had with my Dad, during my teen years about why he listened to Classic Rock. My brother, a significant number of years older than I, grew up listening to the pioneer bands of Christian Rock... who laid the foundation for the mass appeal of the genre we know today, not to mention its acceptance within the church.
There's been a trend in some churches, for some worship bands to play secular music. Sometimes putting a Christian aspect on it, as it relates to the message or during offering, which I can understand to a point. Of course, some bands pull it off better than others.
The line in the conversatoin that bothered me, though, was the thinking that any music is okay to be used if it relates to that mornings' sermon. Covering Taylor Swift seems a little much and if a worship band covered a rap song, simply because it related... I'm having a hard time processing that one.
I understand the appeal for music that grabs attention though. Many a times, I've listened to sermons in my own church and either during service or upon exiting, I've thought of many great Christian bands who've recorded songs and lyrics would have been incredible tie-ins to integrate into the service. And not just newer stuff; but moreso, the stuff I grew up listening too... back in the days of opening the inserts and seeing Scripture references that the song writers used as inspiration for their music.
Perhaps that is why, even to this day, there seems to be a power and anointing when listening to those bands. The words feel relevant and timely because they were grounded in Scripture. There are many talented musicians across all genres, musically and lyrically. While putting a Christian spin on secular music is interesting to hear; one doesn't attend church to hear a Christian spin on a secular message.
The Church's message is the Gospel of Christ. It is truth. For the music that is used that would contradict that message seesms like dangerous territory to me. I can't help but wonder if it isn't more of a deterrent than it is a trendy attraction piece.
Pray, this #associatePastorTuesday, for worship leaders. May God guide and direct them, as the prepare to usher us in to the presence of God. Pray that God would use them as they lead worship... not to be the worship leader, but to be the lead worshiper. Pray for churches to find the balance, in that worship be God-focused rather performance-based. May there be an anointing upon them; a powerful compliment to the message of the Gospel that is to be brought forth for the changing of lives through the work of the Word.
As it's all about Him
Not so much, about us.
I was torn yesterday between two ideas for today' #seniorPastorMonday. And as of yet, I haven't figured out how to combine the two, so one gets tabled for another time. That said... as I browsed the newsfeed for @BringMe70's Twitter page, one item in particular caught my attention. Of course, churchleaders.com posted an article on the matter earlier today, but when I saw this news... clearly, the struggle is real and the purpose of Bring Me 70 is true.
Consider this the tale of two pastors.
Yesterday, one Senior Pastor, who, give or take a couple of weeks surpassed 24 years at the church he continues to lead. Basically starting from the ground up, the church has grown wide and in recent years, even deeper. To often we look at numbers in terms of growth, but not maturity. Crucial to their success are many factors, among the a consistent, stable vision; a strong staff; a high level of integrity and a focus on discipleship of the congregation, regardless of age. Yesterday also happened to mark their 23rd anniversary of marriage.
Along with the momentus occassion, the church announced filling the position of youth pastor... interestingly, enough, with another young man also, soon to be engaged. This church has helped launch from their congregation, 7 or 8 now, families to start or take over struggling churches; the latest as recently as last weekend. A church that recognizes they are not perfect; yet continually strives for excellence will accomplish much; especially when they understand that in itself is a delicate balance.
Consider a second Senior Pastor. After 14 years of ministry, his service looked entirely different. On the surface, their church has done incredibly well. Started in 2003, the church ministers to 7,0000+ people, through multiple services every weekend, on multiple campuses. In quite the contrast, his statement was entirely opposite.
Effective immediately, after 14 years, a senior Pastor stepped down from his leadership position of this mega-church. Quite succinctly, he informed his congration point blank:
"I'm tired. And I'm broken and I just need some rest."
My heart sank. Of course, churchleaders.com ended their article on this situation with a handful of other articles on burnout and ministry and how to get through the experience of it all, no matter how overwhelming the details may contribute to the problem. While there's a lot that can be done outside of prayer, none of it will be as effective as it could be, if it were covered in prayer.
Lots of what-ifs crossed my mind; as I tried to set aside the technical difficulties I've experienced in recent days and consider what transpired in a mega-church... that nobody was there to help this pastor work through his brokenness. To notice that he needed a break to get some rest. That nobody noticed that he was "leading on empty" to use his words.
There's a great concept, shared by the first senior Pastor and please hear my heart... i'm not advocating the "betterness" of one church over another; for obviously, taking care of pastors needs to be an integral part of any church ministry. But consider this...
The larger a church gets, the smaller a church needs to get. Pastors and congregations, staff and leadership teams need to be intentional in sharing life with each other; outside of scheduled service times, outside of office hours and outside of ministry events. To not take time build up the body of Christ and the leadership of the church with no specific agenda other than to be real and honest about life and its' struggles, then any church, larger or small, on any given Sunday could witness either extreme moment from the pulpit.
So, pray this #seniorPastorMonday, for this pastor and his family during this time. For the brokenness, and the weariness, may this be a time of healing and restoration for he and his family. May whatever priorities that fell out of balance be realigned, as they utilize this time to regroup and recharge. Pray for strength and wisdom for other pastors that are on the verge of experience the same. Pray for the congregations that are in the dark, as perhaps this church was; and pray for the church in the decisions ahead... may they be even more intentional in evaluting what led to yesterdays' announcement and work to implement processes and times that would prevent such situations in the future. Conversely, pray for pastors and churches that are doing well and strong. The devil would like nothing more than to destroy healthy churches, so pray for protection of leadership teams and congregations that are maturing. May their resolve to be intentional in their decisions regarding all aspects of ministry be fortified, as they continue to seek the face of God and live life together as they pursue and fulfill the calling God has placed upon them.
Rest for the weary;
Binding the brokenhearted;
Strength for those whose eyes are set on Him.
For His glory.
Is it not utterly amazing how life unfolds; tragedy happens, then life continues and the distractions and struggles of life seemingly overshadow the tragedy. We don't live there (or at least we shouldn't), but major events have a way of changing who we are or at least our approach and perspective to such things.
So on this #effectiveSunday, that happens to double as the 15th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11, a few thoughts on approaching life and the struggles along the way.
Whatever it is you do, it's hard to do fully, let alone well when tired. It's further difficult, to get much done when the frustration is such that it's challenging to think creativity in order to find a method that works; different from what you've been trying that has you banging your head. against a wall... literally or figuratively.
The enemy of our souls would like nothing more. Distract, detour and derail to the point that we are frustrated about our degree of lost, causing us to not think properly; possibly getting more lost and becoming more frustrated... we find ourselves in round-a-bout of understanding, that we entered not realizing that all the entry points into the circle would be immediately blocked or hindered upon our entry.
It's a vicious cycle; one of which has given our spiritual enemy a great many laugh... much to the demise and restriction of life to many who have been bound by his stronghold in their lives.
Yet, Scripture tells us Christ gives rest to the weary.
And that the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Strengthened and re-energized by God.
I know... it's can be hard to get a good nights sleep. But Dad's advice is warranted. Get some rest.
I know... it's difficult to retain His joy in our frustration. But God is also right. The cares of this life are fleeting and whatever you face; this too will pass. It may be a minor inconvenience. It may be a life-altering, perspective-changing event. God is with you always... even to the ends of the earth.
Join me, this solemn #effectiveSunday... as we remember and reflect on where we were 15 years ago, that no matter what comes against us; may we continue to keep our eyes focused on God. Pray for those who are weary, in need of rest and energy... may God watch over them and minister healing virtue to their body, soul and mind. May their be strengthening of the spirit; that people would indeed, experience and maintain the joy of the Lord. Pray strongholds be broken and people would be set free from that which has snared and entangled them. May that which was meant to detour, derail and destroy be used for the glory of God.
Victory in the end;
Despite tragedies along the way.
The Great Rescuer for all in need of saving.
We call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.