Well, I'm bummed. I heard a great statement the other day that was played on the radio, and not only can I can't remember it all, as it was a long thought, but I also can't find it online, as I only caught part of the reference of the one who said it. Thus you are getting a late post with a developing thought process.
For the past few hours I've been trying to track down these profound words, the Hallmark Channel has been playing in the background. It's sad really, that Saturday morning cartoons aren't what they used to be anymore and nothing else was worth watching, so their movie Love At First Glance is showing.
Giving up in frustration on my search, I have no idea what to write now. Not that I had much before. The long-lost profound statement was so powerful, I had nothing to add it actually. But in the movie, the main character a journalist, Ann is on a quest to learn about what makes the man who left his phone on the train so interesting. They didn't speak on the train, it was just a glance; but now she is faced with writing a Valentine's article on true love and James, a photo-journalist, has challenged her to learn about him by her contacting everyone in his contact list. As they exchange texts early on, Ann asks herself... "What is it about this man that makes me want to tell Him everything?"
Typical Hallmark, right?
Isn't amazing, that no matter what the nature of our "community" in which we live, we still have moments and times, even days and prolonged ones at the that; that we don't feel connected. We don't feel loved or appreciated or valued. We are present, yet silent. Onlooking, but not looked upon.
But then there is God. And the amazing relationship we have with Jesus Christ through the restorative effects of Calvary's Cross. Yet, sadly, even after returning to God, we still hold ourselves back. Not only from our fellow humanity, but from our eternal Father.
What if on this #communitySaturday, no matter where we are, what we do, what we've done or where we've been, we looked at the face of Jesus, with the desire and awe to want to tell Him everything?
Perhaps the shortest suggestion for a closing prayer ever left on a Bring Me 70, but as this has oddly written itself, I'm going to close with this, as we consider our loneliness in light of community and eternity, in the words of former U.N Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold:
"Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for."
I continue to stand amazed... by a society and people who wants right to be done and truth to be told and yet circumstance and conversation continue to seemingly contradict that sentiment.
The right thing fails to be done or said, then we excuse and dismiss why this dilemma exists while demanding it be corrected. We want the truth to count, yet we've dismissed and discredited the sources of the truth and furthermore, all but abandoned the concept of there being absolute truth. People desire the truth to be told, but all too often aren't ready to hear it, let alone receive it.
We hope people do the right thing while encouraging them that their feelings matter and they should act and respond accordingly.
News flash... feelings get it wrong!!
Meanwhile, society doesn't live based on truth, but based on what works.
John Macarthur was preaching on these concepts and summed up today's world quite nicely, if you'll permit my paraphrasing.
We've justified what's wrong in our lives by naming it anything other than what it is: SIN.
The double standards that now permeate our life and times are astounding. And I'll stand with the Apostle Paul on this matter... I'm there. Chief of Sinners? Well, to prove my point, I don't feel like the Chief of them, but one day, my rank as sinner won't matter; just what I've done with the identity label of sinner.
And here's the convicting point of the matter...
There is a direct correlation between the closeness of our relationship with God and our sensitivity towards sin itself.
God has nothing to do with sin. Thus, more of God will crowd out sin. His presence will continue to point out and put His finger on things and areas do not reflect Christ. Correspondingly, less of God will leave room for everything else; that is neither permissible or beneficial. Let the floodgates open that sin may enter without fear of the presence of God overflowing the property of our heart.
On this #missionsFriday, let it be said... the Christian faith is not for the faint of heart. And so, let's pray that God would move afresh on hearts and lives, both within and outside the walls of the church. For the proclaimed Christian, may their faith be truth and steadfast, as it has been said that many will stand before God and say "Lord, Lord..." and yet be turned away. For the unbeliever that wants to know the truth, pray they would be ready not only to hear it, but also receive it. Pray for a return in this world, to understand right and wrong in light of God's Word. May we not live based on feelings and successful efforts, but on the love of God and the truth of His commands. Pray this day, we be drawn ever closer to the presence of His glory and that the Holy Spirit would grant us what we have need of, as God places His finger of areas that need to be transformed, that we may greater reflect the character of Jesus Christ. May today be a great day, of repentance and salvation for the kingdom of God.
For indeed, we are all sinners
And we have all fallen short of His glory.
Yet because of the Cross
And the work of the Holy Spirit
We are new creations
Brought in to right relationship with God
Because of the blood of Jesus Christ.
On any given day, over the course of the day, I usually have opportunity to listen to a handful of sermons via radio broadcast. The cool part is, if I'm in the vicinity of the preferred radio network, I get to hear the same pastors consistently, which I'm truly enjoying. That said, one of the broadcasts, closes their program with an "ask the Pastor" segment.
Yesterday I missed pretty much the entire sermon, but their ask Pastor submission registered in my spirit as today's #deaconThursday perspective. The question was pretty straightforward, and minus specifics regarding the context of the matter, so was the answer.
"Is it possible for a Pastor to have to have too close of a friend?"
And the short answer, was of course, yes.
Keep in mind, the specific context, one is left to wonder... and it's probably best that we didn't.
Friendships are interesting. We've all, hopefully, had some incredible friendships, forever etched in our hearts and minds. Others, we may truly regret. Thus, we approach relationships with wisdom and discernment, keeping in mind one's motives and establishing healthy boundaries accordingly. Never could this framework be more important than in these troubled and trying times.
Business relationships are cut-throat; not that that is anything new. And people have all sorts of reasons for being in the good graces and inner circles of people and organizations who are trying to affect positive change in community, whether they be an influence at a spiritual, social or economical level. Pastors are even more susceptible; to be taken advantage of in any number of scenarios and relationships that may be questionable or inappropriate.
Pastors need what we all want. Strong, healthy friends that we can rely out with second guessing why we have them as friends or how long they will remain friends with us. Furthermore, he who wants friends must show himself friendly. But that's a perspective for another time.
Meanwhile, let's pray, this #deaconThursday, that God would encourage Pastors who feel or perhaps, truly don't have any good, close friends. May the Holy Spirit reassure them, that they are not forgotten nor neglected. Pray that God would bring healthy people into their lives who God use to be and become, a good friend. Pray for a spirit of unity among deacons and staff and those who work with Pastor's in the work of the ministry. May the relationship between them, be well-established, ground in love and the faith as they work for the cause of Jesus Christ. Finally, pray for Pastors who, perhaps, aren't easy to get along with, when it comes to friendship. Whatever the reasons for such an existence, may God do a work in their hearts and minds and trust Him for the transformation and release that He desires to accomplish in their lives, so that they be and have a good, close friend.
For two working together get a better return for their effort
May we engage anew,
For we need the help of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ,
Nearly as much as we need the favor of the hand of God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Seriously people. Time is flying! This is incredible. It's the end of September. I don't know about you, but my days seeming to be moving faster than I can keep track. The days are quite running together, yet it does feel as though when day it's Wednesday and in a few hours, I will blink and it will be Saturday morning. The fun in all of this, though, is the reminder, albeit a scary one at times, is that the kids are ever-growing.
Case in point... they got new shoes yesterday. There's a joy to buying new shoes that's almost on par with buying a new box of crayons. Meanwhile, the adult in me is having one of those weeks, maybe two. Perhaps I need a new pair of shoes. Or just a stroll through the coloring aisle in search of sniffing crayons.
Ministry, like being an adult, just seems to never end. Challenges. Frustrations. Problems to be averted if possible, and solved when they can't be averted. The worst, is when you miss the opportunity for aversion and then have to deal with the aftermath.
So, I'm thinking this #youthPastorWednesday about those who perhaps aren't on the verge of burnout, but enough things seem to be points of conflict and contention, frustration and aggravation that it's bothersome and disconcerting. The simple joys of fresh crayons, new shoes and a play-date just don't seem to quite be enough. A great cup of coffee goes a long way, but some days, even the entire pot seem insufficient for the task of rejuvenating our energy and perspective.
Let's pray, this last #youthPastorWednesday of September, for those pastors that experiencing days that seem to robbing their joy. Pray that God would strengthen and encourage their spirits, that the contention and frustrations of the day would be short-lived and quickly solved. Pray for wisdom as they manage their responsibilities, both at home and at church. Pray that friends would rally around them and continue to invest in them; even through the simply pleasure of a good conversation over great coffee. May they know they are loved, both by God and their congregation. May discouragement depart far from them, as they continue to move forward resolute in their calling and confident that God will bring them through as over-comers, albeit with more than a few scars and fatigue from battle.
Thank God He is not bound by time
Nor are we bound by our past.
We hold strong to the promise of tomorrow
And live today as unto the Lord.
For the glory of God our Father.
On nearly any given day, I spend a great deal of time behind the wheel. Suffice to say, there's not a lot of time available for long, miles-long walks, let alone, an unplanned, 4-mile round-trip walk. Which was pretty much where I found myself yesterday morning, in search of the fuel station two exits behind where engine coolant was sold.
Thus, the return walk wasn't nearly as fun, carrying two gallons of coolant and a water bottle; which wasn't very cold by the time I had returned to the scene of frustration. But as my hands where arguing back and forth as to which one was going to carry the water (as they both already had a gallon container), I had a moment of reality.
This is how pastors feel, about having a burden that adds even the slightest degree of difficulty to an already frustrating situation.
Please hear me on this, for it's not a complaint. I'm thankful for what I do. I'm glad I had the physical ability to handle the solution. I'm appreciative that I had funds to buy the coolant. Sure, by the time I got home, I was tired, hungry and ready to be home.
But there are people in the world who are far worse off, than this inconvenience. And there are pastors carrying greater physical, emotional and spiritual burdens, both personally and in ministry, who feel they've traveled and travailed much farther than 4 miles.
And in countries in far more difficult states of financial existence, 4 miles is a cake-walk by comparison.
On this #associatePastorTuesday, let's pray for pastors whose burdens are getting to great and bothersome to bear. Pray strength for those tired and worn out from the journey. Pray for a release from those who feel they are being passed by from those who could stop and help but do not. Many God move upon the hearts of those who see and hear them and offer their support. Pray God would help them manage the frustration and emotion of the situations and challenges in which they find themselves. May they be encouraged even this very day; to remember that God has not forgotten, nor forsaken them.
For they are His
And He will provide for all that they need.
May we be open to be used by God
To fill that need, when He moves on our hearts.
For His glory.
All afternoon, I keep thinking about the new church that we prayed over today. I'm very curious to know how their grand opening service went.
It doesn't really matter who you are and how long you've have been a "player" in a certain industry or market... stepping out and into a position where "the buck stops" with you is always a daunting and relatively unsettling feeling. Even when all goes well, perhaps even without a hitch, what awaits tomorrow. Preparations have inevitably have already created numerous challenges, some of which we thought we'd never overcome, but what if the one that sits in waiting in the coming days, weeks and months is the beginning of the end?
We know we don't live in fear and anxiety, nor confusion. We live and move and have our being in hand of an Almighty God. We stand in the assurance of our faith and hopefully, walk in the confidence of the calling God has placed upon our lives. But that doesn't neglect the reality of our humanity; that we are all prone to questioning and rethinking and wishing... both about what is already done and what is yet to be done.
Whether this is your first #seniorPastorMonday or the thousandth, the slightest or the greatest force of discouragement or doubt will attempt to derail you completely or begin placing dents in the door, in the hopes that the enemy will find a strategic opening destroy both life and ministry.
Amazingly enough, though, we have this hope. God knows the plans and purposes He has for us; for a hope and future. Combine that with His character, that He will never leave us nor forsake us; therefore, what should we fear?
Nothing. We should, can and will fear... absolutely nothing.
Pray this #seniorPastorMonday, that pastors would stand resolute in their faith; to not allow any point of entry or access whereby the enemy would attempt to infiltrate. No matter their time and tenure in ministry, leadership or family, pray for a strengthening in their mind, emotions, body, soul and spirit. May their hearts ever be inclined towards God, the work that He has for them and the responsibilities and relationship that He has granted them. Pray for renewal as they study and rejuvenation as they relax. May they be confused and anxious over nothing; but walk and lead with a confidence and clarity as they carry out the vision and dreams that God has placed within them and written upon the very foundation of their heart.
For each day is a choice
And is full of choices.
May our lives glorify God
As we seek both His face and His will.
That the world may see and know
The hand of God at work in His World.
For the cause of the Cross of Christ.
Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I am believing today is going to be a great day!
I'm smiling, because I'm thinking of the parallel's that exist, regarding a new church in my area whose grand opening service is today.
This young family comes to the area after serving in a church that started one year before the church my family attends, started.
They are starting out in the middle school building where my church held services before our moving to our own, current campus.
And aside from one letter of the alphabet, 2 of their 3 children have identical names as my pastors's two kids, which I find uncanny.
That said, as mom & I were talking yesterday, it's a pretty exciting moment to watch. And an in area such as ours already having a quite a number of churches, and some of them bringing together significant numbers of people, it just goes to show that their will always be a need to reach those who aren't being reached.
Undoubtedly, many will attend out of curiosity and maybe because things are happening within their own church that has them considering other places of worship. But I am believing that they will experience an incredible move of God in reaching those who somehow have yet engaged in being an active part of the church as of yet.
This simultaneously brings me the realization that on this #effectiveSunday, the existing churches in the area still have much to do in their communities. The work is never done; particularly when fresh faces see tremendous opportunity to step out in faith and undertake a new venture such as a church plant. But people connect and relate in all different manners and styles; thus, at the end of the day, may we all come together in worship of the King of Kings and grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, that it would indeed be a great day for the kingdom of God. May many have a genuine and powerful encounter with the Creator of the Universe, who we call Abba Father. Pray the healing power of the Cross move upon people's lives, that the Holy Spirit would strength, renew and transform hearts and minds. Pray for this new church and their mission; may they have a great day in the Lord and their impact. May God honor their step of faith and move mightily in their midst and they dedicate their lives and efforts anew and afresh for the work of the Lord.
For the work of the Gospel is never complete
And our faith never fulfilled.
As we continually renewed in the Spirit.
By the Word of God
And the word of our testimony.
That all may know He alone is God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Dr. David Jeremiah was talking about the friendship between Jonathan and David as he closed out a recent sermon series. In discussing the loyalty that existed between them, he made an incredibly profound point.
True friendships aren't built on the ruins of a lost friendship.
Inevitably it always happens on some family sitcom or movie. Some kid or teenager or even adult is ditched by their friend who by choice or circumstance become friends with someone cooler, more popular or whatever. Of course, it's always followed by the encouraging talk of a parent, teacher or trusted person that invests in them with the reminder that superficial and shallow friends aren't much of a friend.
The relationship that is built on the hopes that it will be better than the one that was just exited usually, and quickly, runs in to problems.
Jonathan and David are lesson in longevity. And respect. David didn't speak ill of Jonathan's father. And Jonathan didn't sacrifice his relationship with his father, despite how Saul treated his friend.
Not only is this seemingly lacking from today's circumstances, it's a reminder of the level of stability that true and loyal friendships bring into our lives. There is a rest and a peace in the assurance of true, meaningful, lasting friendships.
If David and Jonathan's lives aren't an incredible example of friendship, remember this...
There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Yes, even the best of brothers. Jesus Christ.
Pray this #communitySaturday that the church would be the place of friendships... of making great friends, of being great friends, of building great friends. May we be people that bring stability, love and hope to those we come in contact with and interact. Pray that we would not be superficial in our actions, attitudes and words, but genuine, loving and honest. May the body of Christ live loyal to the Cross and true to the calling God has placed upon our lives.
To be His hands and feet extended.
To a world who needs to know and have a friend
Who sticks closer than a brother.
In a world full of homes and damaged people.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I'm incredibly grateful for the work that missionaries do and what they accomplish on any given day. But things have certainly changed in recent decades. Of course, the increased levels of hostility and persecution of the church across the world is also disconcerting, albeit nothing new.
It got me thinking of a point that was made a few days ago, regarding missionaries of long ago. It also happens to be what I think is an incredible "strategy" if you will, for the advancement of the Gospel.
For many years ago, missionaries weren't sent solely with the funding of church and denominational support. They were business people who had a heart to reach the lost across the globe. Thus, they took their business into foreign lands. And by their resourcefulness and the hand of God, of course, they were able to be released of the burden of relying on the church for financial support.
Furthermore, through the establishment of business relationships, they were able to build a bridge to the heart of those they came in contact with and reach out to those yet to be reached and present them with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.
Of course, this is nothing new.
The Apostle Paul was a man of trade, engaged in the marketplace so that he too could present the Gospel. Yes, some churches helped him, as he believed should be done. But for his ministry, it was something he didn't not want to take advantage of, to the point of relying solely on church support, so that the Gospel went forward unhindered by financial constraint.
It's not a knock against today's missionaries. Times have changed, both in business and in living cost, not to mention society's general receptiveness to the Gospel. But clearly, there is power in the strategy of presenting the Gospel through the avenue of business.
It's not that more missionaries should be business people; but perhaps more business people should be involved in missions.
On this #missionsFriday, pray that by some means, there would be an increase of business people in the missions field. Pray for breakthroughs and opportunities, particularly, for nations that are close and resistant to the Gospel being spread in their society. May God change the hearts of kings and rulers as a watercourse. Pray that hearts and minds would be softened and receptive as relationships are made and bridges built, to reach the lost with the love of Jesus Christ. May God bless the efforts and resources of missionaries, as well as the churches and people of God who support them, whether in part or in full.
To reach the lost
At any cost.
A beneficial impact,
Both for today and eternity.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
I think it's possible I listened to too many sermons yesterday while the radio was on, because now I can't remember exactly whose stood out when I considered today's #deaconThursday post. So while I want to quote the pastor specifically, nor say with 100% certainty who it was, I know he was talking about forgiveness.
Let's be real for a moment and realize and remember that church leadership doesn't also get along. Just as in any organization, those in management and leadership positions have different ideas and theories that don't always blend well and thus, have the potential to become points of conflict... and significant ones at that.
Emotions run high, words get twisted, perspectives get skewed and misunderstandings ensue. And yet as the preacher closed out this portion of the broadcast, he highlighted... we shouldn't be passive in our response, nor aggressive, nor passive-aggressive, but display aggressive grace.
There's so much in the Bible that is personal and so often we try to apply these principles to how we should handle our interactions with other nations and countries and make these things work on a larger scale. And while different forces are at work and in play in those circumstances, part of me wonders, how can we consider what it looks like for a nation to overcome evil with good, when it's people, in their personal relationships can't overcome evil with God.
We desire to repay, get back, get even or tell them to get away. Bitterness and forgiveness do not live in the same house. Love covers a multitude of sins and grace absorbs wrong-doings.
God covers are shame and yet so we are so quick to point out in others what we think should shame them; as if we have our act together. Yet as much as it is with you, live at peace. It's not saying there won't be conflict and disagreement. But let's not live with a spirit of war between us as live out our lives; whether in the marketplace nor the ministry.
Thus, on this #deaconThursday, pray for churches that are in trouble, because of the struggle and conflict taking place among the leadership. As many churches have been ripped apart as a result of such events, may the Holy Spirit infuse a spirit of grace and understanding into the circumstance and conversation. Pray that calmer heads would prevail and that God would do a work in the hearts and minds of those involved. May there be a shift in the conversation, even this very day and that grace would overcome and may love win. Pray for a miraculous move of healing and restoration to follow; that while it may not transpire overnight, may the process begin.
That God would do what only He can do,
As we are faithful to live and act as He has called us to do.
That our lives would reflect Christ
Even in the times, when we'd rather not.
May we be aggressively graceful
For His glory we pray.
I had one of those days yesterday... one of which I haven't had for quite some time. Interestingly enough, it was a subject matter in which I've had passing reflections over recent weeks, thinking "what a blessing... this and that and over here, and the other thing; they've remained at bay." Various issues and problems haven't arisen or reared their ugly head, Certain experiences haven't happened.
Enter yesterday morning. Seriously?
Oddly enough, a woman was sharing her story in an interview of an incredibly traumatic and life-changing event that happened to her husband and that they as a family had to endure. And what stood out was her response and that of her husband in the day or two that followed.
We're gonna be okay.
As we've talked previously, it's not that we are okay with the situation. It's still powerful, it still affects us and throws us off; it's bothersome and uncertain and everything else. But you are okay with what happens, because you are okay with God and His sovereignty.
It's a foundational element of one's faith. It's an essential lesson of life. It matters not if you are young or old in either. It matters not if you are in the early years of ministry or a tenured pastor or seasoned leader.
Whatever today's reality presents to us, we can and will endure... not by shear will, but because of the decisive steps of faith that we took yesterday.
The daily practice and discipline of placing our trust in God and recognizing His hand, even in the smallest and most routine of circumstances are the building blocks of faith. God is faithful and proves so, in the incidentals and that which we take for granted the most.
Consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. Does not God provide for them?
Having those building blocks of faith in place when little to nothing seems to be going on, means that we have a spiritual shelter so when the storm hits, whatever form and severity it takes on, we have an active, protecting shield of faith.
Storms are still scary even from inside the house; you still hear the elements and the wind and everything else. Nobody's denying what you're facing. But faith is the reassurance; that despite whatever dose of reality your day holds and whenever it arrives, you've got this because God has you.
Pray this #youthPastorWednesday for those pastors whose realities are dealing them some heavy and fatal blows, both literal and figuratively-speaking. May God give them strength to endure and wisdom as to how to proceed. Pray their faith would stand firm and be the shield God intended and designed it operate. Pray for a tangible sense of peace, that would indeed surpass understanding. May they not pray for God has not promised, but trust in what God has already provided.
For in Him we live, move and have our being
He never leaves nor forsakes us.
There is nothing that we face that He has not already endured and overcome.
Therefore, whatever our reality, remember this...
To God be the glory; even when life is less than glorious.
I read a meme on social media last night, only to discover I was unable to find it again when I got ready to sit and type. That said, the essence of it was this.
Be careful who you listen to.
The post relayed the story of an new associate pastor who was asked to preach. After the message, a parishioner approached him and offered some critical words After everyone had left, the senior pastor offered his words of encouragement. And in that moment, a choice had to made.
Whose words would carry the most weight?
Whose words would be the focal point, as an emotional, mental and physical response was crafted?
Whose words would gain influential status as a course of action is planned and the next steps are taken?
It's easy... when our confidence is uncertain, our skills untested, our abilities unknown to listen to the discouragement because it seems to support our current reality, rather than the encouragement that points to future possibility.
Nevertheless, can I encourage you... focus on the encouragement. There's a time for criticism, especially when it's constructive and offered in a spirit of love and support. Over time, even the criticism that isn't offered with that mindset, can still be helpful if received from a mature perspective. Meanwhile, however, regardless of the present reality and the frustrations that may surround it, the encouragement is the fuel that not only propels people to continue but also motivates them to do and be greater for the future possibility that awaits that stands to become reality if they would persevere.
On this #associatePastorTuesday, pray that pastors would indeed be encouraged, receive encouragement and focus on that encouragement, regardless of the struggles of their current reality. May they not be dissuaded, discouraged or derailed, but daily walk in the knowledge and confidence of God and the calling He has placed upon them for the purpose of ministry. Pray for strength and wisdom in the coming days and weeks, for those that are facing difficult decisions and prospects. May God guide their steps and the Holy Spirit grant them discernment as to best handle, act and respond to the things that need to be dealt with now and the hopes and dreams of what awaits down the road.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear.
And He corrects those He loves.
Thus we stand assured;
If God be for us, who can be against us?
For with Him, all things are possible.
An overwhelming majority of the time, I don't have an idea for these posts days in advance. I take it a day at a time, with an open mind as to what God might reveal that would be appropriate for that specific day of emphasis. As a result, #SeniorPastorMonday is always interesting, as I try not to step in to Sunday morning's service hoping to come out with something... but as a writer, you can't control what might stand out through the course of the day that becomes an inspiration point that your mind gravitates to and begins the development process.
So, naturally, during the opening lines of yesterday's message, Pastor took a few moments to offer his gratitude and appreciation for last week's celebration of their 25 years of ministry with the church. Of course, it was hard to deny the appeal and possibility of another 25 years, should the Lord tarry. I agree. Another 25 years of their leadership, ministry and impact would be an incredible time to exist in.
Yet, as I thought about such possibilities as well as such a rich and storied history, it's hard not to consider potential outcomes and exits. I've come to the conclusion, that this is why, whatever moment you find yourself in and whatever it is that's in front of you to do, you do so with excellence, integrity and your very best effort.
*and in writing that, I'm asking myself why I stated it in such a manner; for there are way too many things with which I struggle to apply that approach in my own life... or at the very least, fall short in the execution process of living with that perspective.
However, that doesn't negate the power of that perspective. And obviously, it does possess power... I felt convicted before I was finished typing the statement! But I remember early, within the past year, that Pastor even mentioned this is his own ministry... that whatever message is next in front of him still demands his very best... in prayer, in the study of the Word, in the preparation and development of the message and in the delivery and closing of the service.
Twenty-five years is a great accomplishment, but if one lives on the success or the frustration of last week's service and message, then it's hard to remain motivated and empowered to continue... whether it's towards the goal of reaching the first of a 25 year run or the second completion of a 25 year era.
But this is the hope of the enemy and his evil forces... that pastors and church leaders would never complete such a status of longevity, stability and integrity in achieving a 25 year milestone with such an impact that another 25 year run would even be appealing.
It's a daunting prospect for many. And I don't boast on this pastor, for even they daily acknowledge it has been by the grace and blessing of God's hand. But I know they've approached their calling with excellence and integrity. They aren't and don't claim to be perfect and ministry and life have presented countless challenges. But their heart and perspective has kept them moving forward.
On this #seniorPastorMonday, pray for pastors who are struggling to keep their lives and ministries, both their successes and failures in proper perspective. Pray for those who are in the midst of failures, perhaps even tragic or of great significance; that God would grant them wisdom as they figure out how to handle the circumstances. May there be a covering, as they walk through the trial... if it's repentance or forgiveness, confession or understanding; pray that grace would abound as God brings them to an eventual place of healing. Pray for those who are perhaps feeling like an exit is necessary or are trying to figure out if and when they should exit or go elsewhere. May God surround them with counsel and guidance; not only from wise friends, leaders and mentors, but also through the process of prayer and the illumination of the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray decisions would not be rushed or hurried, but carried out in the perfect timing and plan of God's sovereign and divine hand.
For once the day is complete,
The next day awaits.
And God is not done with our lives
Until He declares.
For we are His
To be used for His plans and purposes.
Unto His glory and honor.
Judging from the pics that were posted to social media regarding the outreach event we discussed yesterday, it appears that the effects on the community were incredibly positive. I'm believing as I'm sure all who helped in the process are, that many great impacts were made, not only for eternity, but also for this life on Earth, which has greeted these people with many struggles and overwhelming frustrations.
One of the event coordinators stated that one of the goals was to hopefully help those who attended, to get assimilated into the local churches of that community. In essence... get plugged in.
This is result of the great commission... to compel people to come in. Not into a building. Not under the pulpit of a great preacher. Not into the efforts of a powerful ministry. But into a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That single event doesn't have to happen in a church. But the relationship and lifestyle that results is built and developed through engagement and fellowship with other believers in the body of Christ that is the local church.
How can a church be effective in its' ministry within the four walls of the church if the body of Christ is not effective in compelling the community to come in?
Thanks again for joining with us. On this #effectiveSunday, pray that today would be a great day for the kingdom of God. Pray for the outreach that took place in the past 24-48 hours, specifically, as this church and many more, I'm certain, has actively engaged the community to reach them with the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. Even in the early hours of this day, may people be moved to step into a community of believers who will extend their lives to reach those who need to know, hear and understand the reach that God has extended to them. Pray for a move of God towards humanity, and more importantly, a move on humanity's part towards the presence and person of God.
God help us to reach others,
As you have reached out to us.
Those who love you,
Because you loved us first.
For the cause of Jesus Christ
And the advancement of the Gospel.
I'm kinda bummed I was unable to join my church friends today in an outreach to a nearby community that has witnessed some serious decline over the past couple of decades. In more recent years it has only gotten worse.
Yet over the past few days I couldn't help but consider the power that is being displayed today, as a community of believers not only steps outside the four walls of their church, but also outside the four corners of their own community to drive to another area and make an impact.
It's a huge undertaking, but I'm believing as many are, that it will be a day of miracles, as many tangible and physical needs are met. People are experiencing an abundant outpouring of love, grace and compassion as the body of Christ steps up and steps forward to express care and concern to those in need and those less fortunate.
It's so easy for many churches and organizations, as well as individuals for that matter, to live life more concerned about personal lives, missions and goals that we neglect to seek and pursue opportunities whereby we show that others matter.
That this world is not our own, but God's.
That our lives are not ours, but His.
That we don't exist in a vacuum;
That our needs are not more important than another's
God shows His care for humanity by moving a humanity to care for others more than themselves.
While the evidence of the evil that resides within is great and often on prominent and dominant display, greater is He who is in us. We should be providing even great evidence of the goodness that we are capable of because of the work God has done in the hearts and lives of those who have submitted to His plans and purposes through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
So, pray this #communitySaturday that God would do the miraculous. Pray for today's outreach, that the compassion, love and grace of God would overwhelm those who are in need and receive the tangible touch of His hand through the people of God. Pray for connections to be made, that people would be connected to local churches and witness daily God's love and provision in their lives. May today be a day of glory and honor to God through the obedience of Christians who have been moved to compassion, to step outside their lives and make an eternal impact in the lives of strangers.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
A day that impacts eternity.
"All of our problems are theological"
This line closed out a train of thought that was shared during our Wednesday night devotional from the book of Habakkuk and as I reflected and thought about it yesterday, it really is true. All the problems and ills that we face and encounter may take on different appearances and affect various parts of our lives, but at the core of it all, we are spiritual beings. Thus what happens to us and how we respond happen in the spiritual realm.
We are witnessing firsthand, what happens when we neglect and dismiss spiritual truth.
We dismiss God in our daily lives, so all things become permissible.
Our identity is not found in Christ, so do or be or say anything one feels on any given day.
Without God and the understanding of eternity, than life has no consequences.
We are watching a free-for-all in all realms of life because we fail to tend to the most important aspect of our being. Yet when tragedy strikes, we fail to be able to understand, let alone explain it. We struggle with the evils of the world and what if anything or anyone is good and why, yet leave out the pivot point on which it all hinges.
As a result, the conversation is becoming increasingly difficult to have, yet more apparent in the need for it to happen. We need a move of God to change hearts and minds; at the very least to be open to receive. The barriers stand strong, but if we focus on the heart of the real solution to the essential problem, then everything other "problem" is put into proper perspective and understanding, which gives rise to hope. A living and active hope, whereby God can intervene.
Pray this #missionsFriday, that God would indeed change hearts and minds... to be open to hear and receive His truth. May we understand that for all the world's problems, our attempts to fix and solve them are futile in light of eternity and a relationship with God. Pray a renewed boldness to communicate Christ and to share His love and life to a world in desperate need of His grace. Pray for a move of repentance. As fast as we have witnessed a change in society, may we see a fast and quick return to the things of God.
For what good is it if we gain the world, yet lose our soul.
Our problems are theologically.
Yet if we place God where He belongs,
In our lives and in our world,
He can make things right
As we are brought into right standing with Him.
By His grace and for His glory.
Pastor Allen Wright says there are two kinds of people in the world... two kinds of people that exist in all of our lives. Dreamers and discouragers.
How to tell the difference in your own life is pretty simple. You just have to pay attention to their response when you tell them your dream. For ultimately, they will tell you they are on board with helping you get there or they'll tell you not to bother with the pursuit of your dream. Keep in mind, I'm not dismissing wise counsel and the legitimate concerns that may arise over the course of conversation regarding one's dream, but there are only two possible outcomes when it comes to dreams. Achievement. Or abandonment.
We talked a number of time when it comes to ministry, about pastors and church leaders surrounding themselves with people who will indeed be "on board" with the mission, vision and dreams of the church and what it's looking to accomplish and fulfill for the kingdom of God. But as I pondered this idea yesterday and considered some self-reflection, I couldn't help but think about how many serve and while helping someone pursue their dream, they go home frustrated and bothered for what is, and even more, what is NOT transpiring in their own dreams.
Such a struggle and inner conflict can create some real problems. It can be troubling to continue witness positive things happening in one realm of life only to return or revisit another area that feels like it is in chaos and disarray. It plays on our emotions, robs our strength and frustrates our joy. Eventually is spills over and pours out into other arenas of our lives and can really do a number, if we are not careful in how we respond.
On this #deaconThursday, pray for those who are in difficult places; dealing with inner conflict of perhaps knowing they are where they are suppose to be in ministry, but frustrated by other areas of life feeling as though they don't have a clue. May God help them, as they submit to His will and His ways and acknowledge the true and reality of their experience. Pray for the miraculous, as they cast their cares on Him. Pray for a peace, especially emotional and mentally; that God would bring clarity to the process and direction as to how they should proceed. May they continue to faithfully serve in their calling and ministry and pray for wisdom where perhaps God is preparing them for them for a change in their lives; that whether minor or major, God would do a work within them and through them that will accomplish more for the kingdom of God than they thought and dreamed possible.
For He knows the plans and purposes He has for you.
May we know them.
May we walk in them.
And when we don't understand the twists and turns,
Remain faithfully, trusting in the author and finisher of our faith.
For the glory of God.
So our youth pastor is heading up a class this fall on the very topic, of cross-generational ministry. We talked yesterday about legacy and ministry; of the next generation learning ministry from those who've led for years and decades prior. The more I've thought about this the past couple of days, it's a complex matter... the process of one generation duplicating the next generation of leaders, while the next generation of followers of Christ have any entirely different life experience in terms of building relationships.
Hence, the concept of cross-generational ministry. Leadership duplicates itself. Yet, the "market" changes. Those who follow do not duplicate themselves... they enter the picture of their own volition. So there is a significant, if not a great difference between pastors passing the baton of leadership and leaders ministering to multiple generations. There's also an incredible difference between a ministry that focus on a particular generation (seniors group versus college/career) and a service in which the pastor is preaching to three or four generations all hearing the same message.
Clearly, this issue is becoming increasingly prominent and problematic within the church. Older generations are tired and frustrated by the church for a wide variety of reasons. Subsequent generations find the church irrelevant. It doesn't fit with modern and progressive thinking and a society and culture that has publicly desired to have and speak less of God and less highly of God in the public square.
Thus the church struggles to be a powerful counter-culture in a 21st context.
We need a move of God and even more, a move of the Holy Spirit to turn the hearts of humanity back towards the heart of their Creator.
Let's pray this #youthPastorWednesday, that indeed, we would witness a modern day move of God and the Holy Spirit upon this culture. Pray that God would soften hearts and prepare the minds of many to understand and receive what has been accomplish for us through the cross of Christ. Pray for a generational call to repentance and an openness to the things of God. Pray for wisdom, as the church works to reach the disenfranchised, the disengaged and disingenuous. May we witness the miraculous as we navigate these difficult and challenging days.
For there is no barrier that God can not reach,
No barrier that the blood of Christ does not cross.
No trial that Christ has not endured,
That is beyond the reach and capacity of God to heal.
For His glory and the cause of Jesus Christ.
In all the celebration and congratulations that were being shared both in person and online, one of the pastoral staff commented that our senior Pastors had served that pulpit one year longer than their age! The best comments and moments in life are the ones that remind you of just how old you are getting and how much things are changing. Well, maybe not; but laughter sure helps with the coping of our realities.
But it was this exchange that reminded me of the power of cross-generational leadership. Pastor even alluded to this during Sunday's message. Christianity and the ministry thereof is a relay. The race and the effort only continues as people continue to enter the track and engage; to run alongside until the time comes for the most crucial moment... the successful completion of the pass.
Granted, this service wasn't a passing off of the baton, but it was a poignant moment of recognizing the power of great leadership to realize that people need to be in place for such transitions; for who knows the future, when God will move and when opportunities will arise.
We can only teach and pass on the values of our experience. And what a powerful lesson, such as this past weekend. A testament to stewardship, faithfulness, longevity and stability, of perseverance and fortitude. Learning is caught as much as it is taught and ministry is a process of duplication.
So it begs the question... what is your ministry modeling? What are pastors duplicating?
On this #associatePastorTuesday, pray that pastors would have an awareness of these questions and apply them to their lives and leadership. Pray for a strengthening of their leadership times and the investment that is being made in training, teaching and modeling of solid, Biblical leadership within the church. May God bring wisdom and help for those circumstances where changes need to be made and implemented. Pray for endurance as pastors continue to run the race and pray for those who are going through the transition of passing the baton. May these crucial moments be successful as ministry continues to go forth and may it move to the next level in the plans and purposes that God has for the church as they impact community.
For we neither labor in vain,
Nor do we work alone.
For the advancement of the Gospel
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
For the glory of God.
Yesterday's celebration of 25 years was absolutely incredible. The outpouring of love and gratitude, as well as numerous letters of congratulations from not only some top state officials, but also ministry leaders from around the country and the globe was nothing short of amazing.
It was a substantial presentation of evidence of just how rare such a tenure behind one pulpit is becoming. As a result, it was hard not to reflect on just how much of an impact that we would never know, see or understand had they gone elsewhere at any point along the way. That's not a condemnation for pastors that have a shorter tenure at one particular place; nor does it diminish their work or effectiveness in ministry. But as I was reading basketball great, Isaiah Thomas' book, he discusses his decision to leave college early to go play in the NBA.
He had accomplished much in college, but even in that situation, he acknowledged that the school would have loved to have some more championship wins had he stayed. He wasn't wrong for leaving early... it's just a reality. You can't do what you aren't there to do. Case in point... Isaiah did finish college, during the off-season of his early years in the NBA. But his mother accepted his degree, as commencement was on the same day as a play-off game.
However, you don't know always know what you are giving up, whether for staying or for going.
Pastor and his wife both acknowledged this yesterday morning. They had a very personal struggle, an incredibly close to home matter and it wasn't until year 15 or so that they came to accept... "God if this is what it is, then we're good". Four years later, God had moved on their behalf. But had they not stayed where God had placed them for ministry, the struggle may have never turned around into the beauty that exists today. And it's not like they weren't plenty of offers to go elsewhere in ministry. I'm sure there were very tempting and attractive offers.
Oddly enough, this entire process was confirmed, in a message that played on the radio yesterday afternoon that was just starting as I almost arrived home. In a very succinct moment of honesty, Joyce Meyer stated that which couldn't be more appropriate for this post...
"we need to be comfortable with not knowing."
I'm not. Most others aren't either. And for the first 15 years of ministry together, neither did a well-respected man and woman of God. Yet God in sovereignty coupled with faithful servants and yesterday was story after story of miracles, blessings and increase. And in between them all, stand countless more, untold stories of miraculous moves of God.
At the foundation of their faith; faithfulness in the face of great frustration.
Thanks again, for joining us in prayer. On this #seniorPastorMonday, pray for pastors struggling with the unknown and all the feelings and mixed emotions that come with the process of "not knowing". Pray for wisdom, for those facing the option and decision of whether they should stay or go. May they be led of the Spirit and confident in the calling of God upon their lives. Pray for strength as they wait on the Lord and continue to be faithful in service as they wait. May the struggles and frustrations of reality, whether at home or at church not discourage them or negatively impact their ability to do ministry and life together. May marriages be fortified as they rely on God, all the more as the unknown factors and outcomes of life weigh heavy on their heart. Pray they would draw ever closer together in prayer and the Word; stronger together than apart.
For a three-strand cord is not easily broken.
And strength is renewed for those who wait on the Lord.
Moving only in His timing and the counsel of the Holy.
As a testament of goodness and glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.