...prayer only works when you actually do it.
I've had a number of people in the past few weeks that God has brought to mind to pray over their lives. I have to tell you... the look on their faces, for the few of them that I've seen in person, asked how things were going and tell them I was praying for them, has been meaningful.
To know and hear that one is being prayed for without them coming to you specifically with situations and requests of "I need prayer", is powerful and meaningful.
Then today happened. A close family member has been blessed with a great career. It blows my mind how God has worked in his life. Over the past few days, I felt lead to pray for creativity in generating new business. When I asked him how things were going because I had been praying for him, he comes back with their having found some good 4th quarter opportunities, despite things slowing down, effectively, industry-wide. WOW!
How cool... so you're getting some nuggets. That's awesome. To which, he essentially replies, a couple are more than just nuggets. Now, that stuff has probably been in the works before I started praying. Maybe it wasn't. I may never know and there's a list on your prayer focus that you may never know either. However, you don't know what's not happening through one's lack of prayer, just as much.
Prayer works. I can't help but wonder what's happening in the lives of those that come to mind as I go through my day. It made my day, hearing the report of my family. And thanks to all of you making October 2015 the highest traffic month of Bring Me 70, since it's inception, I can't wait to hear of what God is accomplishing in pastors, churches and ministries as a result of these daily calls to prayer. I may not know this side of eternity, but that just makes heaven all the more worth the wait. Thank You.
Pray, this #communitySaturday, for a greater desire to pray. For family. For friends. For pastors and churches. For politicians and communities. May we have a heart to hear and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, as people and situations are brought to our remembrance; for situations unknown, yet God places a sense of urgency. Pray an awareness about our lives, that we would know how to pray; not for the sake of being "in the know" or having an "inside scoop" on a situation, but for the purpose being able to pray specifically, earnestly. An effectual, fervent prayer that avails much.
For the glory of God. For the betterment of community. Regardless of the outcome, post-prayer, what God does in the person who prays, the focus of the prayer; the perspective and lessons obtained...prayer allows God to work as He sees fit. To work the miraculous in our lives, according to His sovereign plan and divine purpose.
It never ceases to amaze me, how God uses a life-altering event, whether through trauma, disaster or moral failure to accomplish His purpose, as the resulting testimony reaches people who might have never heard the power of God and the grace of the Cross at work in the lives and affairs of man.
People in my own life, who when I think about what they have gone through and how God has worked the miraculous; people in the lives of my friends whose stories are mind-boggling at the start; yet heart-warming in the end.
One such story is that of Hal Donaldson, Founder of Convoy of Hope. There are many organizations outside the church doing great work for the cause of Christ and the advancement of the Kingdom. While we must guard that such organizations don't take the place of the local church, those who understand their purpose and place in coming along-side to aid in the mission of the church-at-large can have and in fact, do have, incredible, eternal impact.
Donaldson's parents were in a head-on collision when he and his siblings were young. Dad was killed, mom incapacitated for quite a while. Neighbors took them in that night, launching the sense that one day, having been in a place of incredible need, they would one day, help meet the incredible needs of others.
Disaster relief, feeding programs, helping churches in rural communities in America and more... Convoy of Hope is just one of many incredible, "along-side the church" organizations meeting incredible needs. After 20 yrs, in 48 states, 113 countries and phenomenal amounts of food, resources and finances, Convoy is, indeed, missions-minded. Partnering with churches to extend their reach, beyond what they could accomplish on their own. www.convoyofhope.org
Pray, this #missionsFriday, for organizations, such as Convoy and others, fulfilling a need within the body of Christ that extends the reach of the local church. Pray that through meeting physical needs, the doors will open to meeting spiritual, emotional and financial needs as well. Pray for creativity and wisdom as to how organizations can increase their impact, such as Convoy's partnering with rural churches (244 out of 250 of the consistently-ranked , poorest counties in America are rural). Pray for wisdom and guidance in their allocation and use of resources and finances; that they would be efficient, yet effective, maximizing their potential without minimizing the quality of their service.
Nobody thirsts for dirty, contaminated, nasty-tasting water, even if it is cold. Pure, refreshing, renewing, energizing water...for the body, mind and soul. Given in the name of Jesus Christ. The ice-breaker to sharing how God used one's life-altering event on earth to reach others experiencing the same, in order that the end result is a life-altering decision for eternity.
For His glory. In the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Thank you, for life-redeeming, life-sustaining, ever-lasting Water.
Something clicked as I stood during the worship portion of last nights' service. Listening to the music come through the speakers, I though to myself, this is world-class.
I'll write this cautiously, as I know there's been great debate in church trends of late... creating environments to "compete" with other venues and events that have little to nothing to do with spiritual matters this side of eternity
That said, here are some things to consider...keeping in mind, not all churches are revamping their sanctuaries to follow whats trending...
1) If a church changes its environment to "compete" instead of creating a place that will usher in the presence of God, they shouldn't change.
2) The environment of Heaven, in which we will experience the glory of God, is head & shoulders above anything man can design here on earth. Remember, while earth talks about "the gold standard", gold in heaven, is a baseline. The streets are paved with it.
3) Colossians 3:23. The Message Bible writes it in this manner:
Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.
Churches can and should minister with excellence. Preachers should deliver the Word of God with excellence. Worship expands a range of elements, from standing in awe of God, to dancing before the Lord as David did, but whatever the experience, do it with excellence. But in all of these things, be careful that the method does not overshadow the message, of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God, to stand in the gap of sinful man, a perfect sacrifice, lived with excellence, setting an example for all to follow.
Pray, this #deaconThursday, that regardless of the environment, ministry will be done with excellence. Pray that communities and their people will be served, as though it was indeed, a "world-class" moment. Pray, that while the methods of church services may change, the truth of God's Word and the application to our lives will be paramount. Pray that the Body of Christ will carry out the mission of Heaven, will excellence; bringing glory and honor to the One who gave His very best for all eternal benefit. May we not waste our second-chance at eternity on second-rate living a life meant to glorify God and lift up the name of Jesus Christ.
For the glory of God. Humble servants for the cause of Christ. Reaching the lost for eternity...with heaven-class excellence.
So this is triple word meaning day.
1) As a dad, I am rarely right.(often trumped by my wife and 2 daughters) My dad, a great man, is usually more right than I, although I'm pretty sure that's the voice of experience more than his masculine state or marital status (still often trumped by mom, even though she was the one outnumbered in our house). Our Father God, Creator of all things, always right. And while we may not always be right, we should strive to do right. By God. By man. By our own self.
2) I thank God for the framers of the U.S. Constitution. Rights have their time and place, but spiritually speaking, we need to take a step back, or 5-10, when staking our right to be right puts us wrong with God. That bears repeating.
Be very careful, that your right to be right doesn't place you wrong with God.
3) God stands strong, firm and consistent. He remains true to His self. To His very nature. He is never out of alignment, out of place, out of sync, with His plans and the execution thereof. Whatever God does, He must remain true to His character
This is what makes living out one's faith so challenging; the very essence of the struggle over man's soul, is the battle for his rights (regardless they be right or wrong) or submitting to the sovereign authority of Almighty God who knitted you together in your mothers' womb. Puts a whole new spin on "honor your father and mother" just thinking about that, doesn't it?
Do you desire to be right?
Do you desire to demand your right?
Do you desire to submit in order to be in right standing with God?
The first may occur on occasion. The second may have legal precedence. The third impacts eternity.
I'll be the first to acknowledge, I need help raising my kids. Would I rather them hear about my being right; having rights or being right with God? My answer determines what kind of adults society will deal with. Are they going to be a lost cause to the culture, or declaring the cause of Christ to a culture who has lost their way?
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, for this generation of young people that kids and youth pastors are watching live life. In this "right to be right about my rights" mentality, pray for wisdom and guidance as they work to bring clarity and truth to a generation focused on following self rather than Christ. Pray for strength and renewal for those tired of the superficial drama that comes from "all about me" attitudes. Pray a spirit of compassion as pastors work through the emotional, psychological and spiritual barriers as they bring the truth of a loving, sovereign God who desires right standing with Him. Relationship with God through the price paid by Christ's sacrifice of self.
If any one being, was in a position to demand His "right to be right about His rights", it is Jesus Christ. Yet, even the Son of God, chose wisely, to be in right standing with Father God. A decision that impacted eternity for all of mankind, for all of eternity.
For the glory of God. For the cause of Christ. One Father. Right in His Righteousness. Desirous of right standing with Him.
In an ever changing, fast-paced society, its easy to continue looking at major decisions and what's next opportunities with anticipation of how things could be better when compared to the frustrations and concerns of our present position.
It's why they call it "climbing ladders." Should anyone stop moving, everyone coming behind who is also trying to make progress gets stalled by the one who decided not to continue, at least for the time being.
That said, there's incredible value and merit to staying put. There's a great piece of advice in the movie Facing The Giants, where a seasoned Christian man encourages the football coach, facing potential firing, that God is not done with the coach... that until God moves him, the coach is to grow where he is planted.
It's certainly a balancing act, as one should guard against complacency, yet, I surmise that stability fosters greater growth at a faster pace, than "constantly" changing environments. The key to success here, is to continually seek the face of God of what He desires to accomplish in and through one's life and purpose from their current position.
We always think we have to be "somewhere else" in life for God to accomplish His work, while He says, where I have placed you works for what I have in mind... keep moving and it won't. Said every parent to every kid ever...."STOP MOVING!!"
Sometimes, I think God just folds His hands, looks at man and says, "I'll wait. I'm not going anywhere." And we play the typical prodigal... having to find out our way is wrong, before we realize how great it was with what God had going on.
So...pray, this #associatePastorTuesday, for those "consume" by what's next in their ministry, their family, their finances. Pray that they continue to seek God and how He plans to use, grow and develop them in their current position. Pray they not be distracted or tempted to move where God is not leading or directing, simply because their is an appeal of some nature, that looks better than the challenge or difficulties that are wearing them down. Pray they remain true to the plans and purposes for which God has called them; trusting that by staying planted where they have been placed, that God will honor their faithfulness and obedience in ways they don't expect. Finally, pray, that should they be facing a time where a transplant is on the table, they will again, seek and trust God and whatever weighs in the decision process, they will follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the fulfillment of God's will and not just the "greener" aspects of what's next.
LIFE... for those planted by Living Waters. Divinely placed and positioned by the hand of God. For His glory. By His grace.
The sovereign Hand of Providence at work in our lives; where stability fosters growth leading to greater effectiveness for the cause of Christ, we pray.
An interesting and profoundly true statement was made during yesterday mornings' worship service. Its' that you will "run out of words" in your attempts to describe God. Consider the futility of one who is in a word, finite describing one who is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-present, all-powerful, unbound by both time and space... in a word, infinite.
Of course, with my seemingly, growing perspective to see life through the scope of pastors and ministry, I heard the phrase "run out of words" and knew it was as just an accurate description, albeit negative, about what transpires when a pastor burns out.
For the burnt-out pastor and others in ministry, by the very nature of burnout, they have in fact, run out of words. They feel they have nothing left to give or to say, that it's not working or improving lives. Perhaps they've run out of words, because they are struggling to rely on God for what He has for their life and the lives of their church.
Whatever their take on the matter and however it has come to be, when there is no longer the power of God in the words from the pulpit, wisdom in the words during counseling, or compassion in the words during loss or suffering, the body of Christ and the community suffer. Those who walk in for the first time, will sense something "not quite right" if they can't pinpoint it. Regulars and members, will certainly notice something is amiss.
Maybe not right away, but long before one runs out of words, the words they use make less of an impact. They become so obscure that nobody knows what's being preached on; perhaps the delivery won't be up to par or the words simply fail to land on the hearts and minds of the listeners in a way that elicits a response.
God is not one for empty promises; He does not call people to deliver an empty message.
We pray for you, this #seniorPastorMonday, may God place in your heart, the words necessary to prompt you to keep going and not quit. You are of great value to your church, your community and the kingdom of Heaven. Pray that God strengthens and encourages Senior Pastors to draw closer to Him, with greater confession, great conviction, and greater courage; to call out to Him; to trust and rely on Him anew and afresh. May the sustaining power of all-mighty God refresh and revive pastors this day, daily from this moment forward. Pray the message of Christ be not delayed as Paul experienced during his travels, but that the Holy Spirit would go before pastors, paying the way to take their church and the ministry to new levels.
We need you to keep going. And for the times you can't, stand firm. Let God refuel you, lest you run out fuel.... and words.
We all have the moments where you wonder how you can be good in one area of life, things are going well, the pieces are coming together nicely and fitting! (which is important, in it's own right)
Then there's areas of your life, where it's not. Whether it feels like it to you personally, or appears that way to others, there's simply that one piece, that one area, that one discipline, that if you "got it" it would launch you to the next level of putting the puzzle together.
Figuring out what the "piece" was occurred yesterday. And of course, writing the concept that one piece, could be keeping you from putting other pieces together... a light-bulb moment. And it's not even time for church yet!
If it's true in my life, it's probably true in yours. At for that matter, your family. Your friends. Your business. Your community. And the reason for Bring Me 70... your church. What areas of operations, ministry and disciplines are amiss in coming together that prevent the church from "firing on all cylinders", things, people or methods that hinder them from being the most effective and most efficient in moving forward with the vision of their ministry they are attempting to fulfill?
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, for wisdom as churches consider, reflect and talk-through areas of operation and methods where pieces of ministry don't seem to be matching up, for any number of reasons. Pray for guidance in whatever counsel is sought out, that advice and the decisions that result would come into alignment with the will of God, the truth of His word and consist with the vision and plan for ministry God has placed upon them. Pray for a spirit of grace and of patience, as changes of implementation may or may not happen as quickly as hoped or desired and the struggle to improve does not create set-backs in their ability to move with more effective and more efficient ministry.
For the glory of God. For the cause of Jesus Christ. For the sake of us all, in our desire to live better lives for Him and those around us. In His name, we pray.
Two guys working in the dark. Three friends holding a handful of smartphones with the flashlight app on each of them. One friend capturing the moment...on his phone, of course. Another friend stands in the background, watching in appreciation, the body of Christ coming out to help her with an issue on her property. Welcome to "doing life together".
While we had a great time for the two or so hours we were there, we had a good few moments where the comedy came so easily, it didn't feel like work.
Reminds of me of the advice, if you enjoy what you do, you'll never work a day in your life.
The same is true for helping friends, family and even strangers in their time of need, whether its one of life-threatening seriousness or the mundane, can't do it by myself task. Either way... if you truly enjoy helping out when someone puts forth a request, then it's really no big deal to respond. But to the friend in need, appreciation extends from the depths of the heart.
Healthy friendships foster healthy lives. Strained friendships foster broken lives. Maybe not to the point where a person can't function properly, but someone will sustain damage to their heart, mind and perspective where it will affect future interaction with people, whether in social settings or professional. You'll feel burned and reluctance and bitterness will keep you at bay from being a blessing or receiving one, should you be the one in need.
Amazing how God works...I'm typing this, as Phil Keaggy's video on YouTube, "Worship and Song In Guitar Artistry" is playing. He's closing out the performance at Wheaton College, with a song from The Salvation Army Band, singing the lyrics, "heart to God, hand to man".
This is friendship. This is community. This is the body of Christ. Love God. Love your neighbor. Show yourself friendly.
Be the kind of friend that others will wish they had. Be the kind of friend others will be inspired to be by your example.
Pray this #communitySaturday, for healthy friendships to dominate our culture and society. Pray for broken people to be made whole through the power and blood of Jesus Christ, for while hurt people hurt people, those who have been healed and restored offer healing. Pray those who have been shown grace will show grace. Pray that in this "woe is me" mentality, people will use discernment with their friends, as not to spur them towards regret and retreat from for being friend, both now and in the future. Pray God is glorified through people coming together, sharing life, sharing truth, sharing a cup of cold water with those in need, happy to help, able to do so, willing to be a friend, grateful to have a friend, all accompanied by the words, "be blessed in Jesus' name" for whereas we have received from Him, I now give to you.
Love, compassion, forgiveness, hope, healing, restoration. For the glory of God. For the sake of our friends. Community.
Hard at work. Even at dark. The Light of the world, with the help of some apps from our smartphones.
God doesn't issue plans that don't work.
God doesn't reveal strategies that are ineffective
God doesn't lay out a purpose for which there is not an eternal need.
There is #nowasteinheaven
White God heals the broken, God does not create broken. His plans are complete, not lacking in detail. His strategies can not be outdone by the enemy. His purposes last beyond our finite time on earth. It's challenging to remember these truths in everyday living. One would think it'd be easier when in ministry. A piece of cake (or pie, depending on your preference) if on the mission field.
But I dare say, even missionaries have their days, wondering if plans are working. Considering if the strategies are effective. Knowing the final result, salvation, fulfills an eternal need; but the purpose of what all transpires leading up to salvation... some of that could be questionable at times. None of us know what tomorrow has in store, which is why we are reminded to be careful of saying "tomorrow, we go here and there and do this and that, conduct business, buy....and more". The making of plans is fine, but if it is not God's will...
This is the difference between complete in Him and broken of self versus broken from Him and complete in self.
The war of the wills. One is infinite. One is complete. Flawless. Perfect. Sovereign. Eternal. The other... human.
God does not create broken, but He would be foolish to pass over the value of our brokenness that He can use and utilize for His glory. A testament of His grace. An example of His handiwork. A result of His love. An effective, eternal, Masterpiece.
On this #missionsFriday, we pray for you, missionaries... remain confident in God, whose plans work. Rest in His effective strategies. Walk forward knowing His purposes are eternal. Pray that missionaries will know, understand and follow God's will for the regions and the people they serve. Whatever their past, whatever their experience, whatever their failure, pray that find and remain broken of self, but complete in Him, lest they serve the mission field and the kingdom of Heaven in vain.
"God does not waste pain... nor mistakes."
- Rhonda Trask, Lead Pastor, Brighton Assembly of God
The amazing character trait of God's sovereignty is found in the simple truth that He has no plan B. Like any good Father, you want your kid to make the right decision, but knowing their nature, you plan for what you know they will choose.
Nehemiah, in preparation to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem reminds God of the promise He made to Moses regarding the promised land, including "even if you are exiled", meaning God knew the outcome should the nation of Israel continue on the trajectory of their decision making. And they did continue and paid for it. And when the time came, God was ready and Nehemiah's purpose comes to the forefront.
We've been talking the past number of weeks about decision making in day-to-day church operations. The stuff that may or may not get noticed when everyone shows up on Sunday morning. The activities, events and ministries that are prayed, planned and implemented consume great time and effort, long before they are announced. And along the way, conversations that transpire from past experiences, struggles, problem areas, bad decisions, mistakes and the resulting aftermath that still hurts when highlighted.
HEAVEN HAS NO TRASH RECEPTACLE!
THE BOOK OF LIFE HAS NO 'FILE 13' SECTION.
THERE IS NO STORAGE CLOSET OF LIVES THAT NEVER WORKED RIGHT OR GOT THEIR ACT TOGETHER.
THERE EXISTS NO WALL OF SHAME FOR THE MOMENTS WE REGRET.
NO LIFE IS DISCARDED ON HEAVEN'S FLOOR AWAITING AN ANGEL CHILD TO SWEEP UP THE UNDESIRABLE.
HEAVENS' STREETS HAVE NO SWEEPERS!!
(capitalized for those who read the opening quote and thought you were an exception!)
As for you deacons, admins and staff...
We pray this #deaconThursday for your lives... while congregations and visitors may scratch their heads and "what were you thinking" comments, we pray for wisdom, guidance and discernment in the decisions and situations you face; not for the purpose of everyone agreeing with or liking you or the outcome, but that your church operations would be in alignment with God's Word, His Will and the mission and vision He has for the community in which He has placed you. We pray God's grace on your lives... past mistakes, bad decisions, the aftermath, the fallout, the regret of the act and the consequence... may grace abound with the blood of Christ that covers a multitude of sins and the stuff that stands in the way of a stronger, closer, healthier relationship with God. We pray encouragement...
God has not overlooked you, neglected you, forgotten about you or turned from you.
He has not discarded you, tossed you or thrown you away. He does not play trash can basketball with His creation.
May you be reminded today...you are loved, needed, respected and appreciated.
Sunday would look vastly different without your work Monday-Friday.
Listening ears is a "game" we started playing with our daughters, to figure out a way to capture their attention in hopes that they pay attention long enough to hear and understand what we wanted from them.
Needless to say, it still gets played daily. However, unlike real games, where if played long enough, you actually get better, this continues and seemingly takes more effort with every passing day.
I keep having moments back to my childhood, whether I don't remember what I did wrong and the times I got in trouble, at least in my pre-teen years. or...I'm not sure. Whatever happened from me to them, these girls are a trip.
Then I consider God... in His genuine, loving, compassionate nature, looks at His creation and in a moment of Fatherhood, experiences the smile that accompanies the "face-palm". It truly sheds light on how we should respond to our earthly children. It does in fact, shed great light on how we should respond to our Heavenly Father.
Despite our moments of failure, the frustration we cause, the fear that encroaches to affect future decisions and behavior... all of this on top of the times we forget or neglect to "turn-on" our spiritual listening ears, God remains constant and patient as He waits for our attention to be fully turned to what He has for us and what He wants to speak into our lives and reveal into our hearts and minds.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, that the difficulty and frustration that comes from kids and teens who've turned off their ears will not weigh so heavy as to prompt burnout. Pray a grace and understanding that's often hard to remember... life happens in seasons. Pray in this high-speed, hi-def graphics, digital theater surround sound, instant access culture, that the human spirit does not loss its ability to wait on God, to be a peace with the silence of His presence and to be ready and expectant to hear His still small voice. Pray pastors and parents alike, learn from what they are trying to instill in the kids they are raising and reaching for Christ... the importance of spiritual ears, ready to hear what the spirit is saying to the church, that is the body and the Bride of Christ. The sweet nothings that accompany love and affection, from God, are everything we need to sustain us and keep us, guide and direct us, prompt us and warn us, of the plans and purposes ordained in advance for us to accomplish for His glory.
Let him who has ears, hear. Daily. If he will, but keep them turned on and attuned to the things of God. To the Word of God. To the voice of God. To the prompting and leading of the Holy Spirit. For the cause of Christ.
Who wouldn't and doesn't expect a return on their time, their treasure or their talent?
Effective product design, hard-earned money and the life of one who is capable of so much more if only one would take the time to make a contribution in them.
It matters not what will remain here on earth with our name on it after we are gone. That said, giving is the currency of heaven. What is done in this life as an act of love on behalf of Jesus Christ counts as a transaction in heavens' registry.
The difficulty is that, while that's true, it is difficult at best and excruciating at worst to watch someone in their faith experience constant frustration in this life as though prayers and efforts are landing seriously short. However, much like Wall Street, to witness long-term gain, you have to stay in the market.
On this #associatePastorTuesday, pray that all pastors and associates in particular, will trust God anew and afresh, finding the courage and the staying power to remain in the marketplace of ministry. Pray they will see tangible, life-changing moments that will alter peoples' destinies for eternity. Pray for breakout and breakthrough for those issues that have held people captive whereby they have struggled to experience life with a positive outlook, having the joy of the Lord at the very root of their being. Pray pastors will witness the yielding of much fruit in the lives of those they minister, recognizing that through their sacrifice and willingness to serve, God is utilizing the message of the Cross to change their communities, in order that none would perish, but all would come to repentance.
For the glory of God. Through the power of the blood of Jesus Christ. With the help of the Holy Spirit. An incredible, eternal reward awaits. An earthly investment. A heavenly return. An eternity changed. One life at a time...and we've none to spare!
My friend made a great point during our small group gathering last night while discussing Sunday mornings' service.
As we discussed competing and contending gods (from the story of the rich, young ruler), she mentioned how even self-reliance can be a competing, contending god in our life. Competency on the job, effective management of her team, ability to produce results and create viable solutions to challenging problems... it can be done and she proves it daily.
Yet, taking the time each morning to pray and confess her need to rely on God for whatever she may face throughout the day (something I've been challenged do this past week as well) and it's amazing how easier and less stressful her day unfolds.
As she's sharing, the words of my pastor mentioning his 23 years of ministry at the same church began ringing in my ears. If it's easy to rely on our abilities and competencies in corporate America, how much more would it be to do the same in ministry. To say the right things, advise the right things, quote Scripture, preach the right things... even on this site, I pray, it's God through me and not simply my perspective from years of church and thousands of services. Granted, the insight helps, just as much as my friends' experience in her field, but I can't rely on that any more than she. Likewise, neither can men and women in the pulpit.
In the words of Abraham Lincoln, "you can fool some people all of the time, and all people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all of the time." In school, on the job, at the home or from the pulpit, self-reliance eventually wears off and runs down. Only God, never fails and always sustains.
Pray this #seniorPastorMonday, a fresh understanding of our daily need to confess our reliance on God. Pray persons from all walks of life and especially those in ministry will acknowledge how much more God can accomplish when we seek and ask for His help, strength and guidance rather than relying on our own experience, energy and knowledge. Pray that God will do the miraculous, as exponentially more is accomplished fort the kingdom of Heaven on any given day that what we could do for God on our in a month or even a year. May we allow God to work and have His way through open surrender to Him rather than pushing through the days problems on our own merit.
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." - Eph. 3:20-21
Social media is an interesting dynamic. Rival college football teams played each other Saturday night. And whatever caused a bad-turnover in the last 10 seconds of the game, caused the team that was ahead by 2 points to lose. And the reactions to both the win and the loss depending on who you were rooting for...well, it appears to have gotten ugly. Fast.
Last I knew, it was still a game.
Conversely, social media was elsewhere singing the praises of a band's latest album, whose ministry over the decades has reached for eternity, people who would never think of setting foot in church; or returning if they had once been burned, for that matter.
Disclaimer: there are bands and musicians with talent who don't use it to make an eternal impact for the glory of God, as much as there are players, who may not be the most talented on the team who do use their talent for God. So this isn't a music v sports "one-up man-ship" post.
But watching the dichotomy unfold last night, it became apparent why church needs to be effective and efficient. I know people are passionate about sports, but when it takes precedent over what's being accomplished for the kingdom of God by those believing their gifts and abilities will be used for His glory and prompt a turning or returning of the heart towards God, then one should be concerned.
It's why churches dread summers when kids sports schedule begin taking up Sunday mornings. It's why Pastors struggle on whether to make changes to Sunday night services. It's why Youth Pastors invest so much into getting teens to events and Childrens' Pastors pray their regular kids aren't the only ones attending Vacation Bible School. And it's problems like these that take their toll in the steps leading to pastoral burnout.
Life may be fun and games and I love partaking in both, but the line of demarcation between life and eternity is deadly serious.
Pray today will in fact, be an #effectiveSunday. Pray the reactions to conversations and sermons will lead to positive changes in peoples' lives, both for their time on earth and their time in eternity. Pray the seriousness of eternity is made apparent, through the truth of Gods' Word, not to decide out of fear, but out of faith; genuinely knowing and understanding Christ came to draw us towards Him, not force Himself upon us. It's the difference between relationship and well... God is a gentleman.
It's the difference between standing at the door and knocking versus knocking the door down.
Pray this culture comes to understand Christ came to care for the heart of man, not crush him.
For the love of God. For His Glory. Life has it's games. Life itself, not so much. Eternity demands a decision, not a chance.
Well, if this pic doesn't describe the nature and character of God...you remember the praise song from a number of years ago; "I stand, I stand, in awe of you?"
In this day and culture of human achievement, feats of great strength and mental ability and the focus on self-awareness, we're quickly arriving at a place where mankind thinks we are the end all, be all.
Whatever problems and social ills we face, if we provide more education, offer more money and write more legislation, we can fix it. Especially if we make it free by leveraging "other peoples' money". Whatever ideologies haven't worked in the past, didn't have the brilliant minds of today. This is dangerous ground, whereby we should tread very lightly, if we dare tread at all.
Scripture tells of a woman who had a bleeding issue. Twelve years. Twelve years and all her money. And the doctors had no solution. Money didn't fix the problem. Of course, we should keep in mind, they weren't exactly doctors as we know modern medicine today. Be that as it may... the experts of her day couldn't do everything people expected and hoped for any more than todays' "experts" are able.
Experts, education, money and legislation under the guise of "legal reform" won't solve what our society and culture in this nation and abroad need. Where the experts are falling short, God stands tall. If only we didn't go through all our money on other "solutions" before reaching out to Him to save us, to heal us, to deliver us from the suffering we face day after day.
May God help us this #communitySaturday, as we reach out to those around us, desperate for solutions to problems which money and experts have been unable to correct. Pray for relationships, marriages, addictions and diseases of all kinds for which all manner of help has been sought except the face of God. May there be a shift in our society that returns and looks to God rather than the self-acknowledged greatness of man. Pray for a fresh move of the miraculous in the hearts and lives of man, that they would experience the incredible grace and goodness of God, that the to would be left breathless in His wake, standing in awe, of a Holy God.
By the grace of God. For the glory of God. Live changed forever. For eternity. Won by One.
We have prayed over the past few Fridays regarding the idea that we are all missionaries and our immediate world is a mission field.
However, if there are times when one does not reflect Christ to those who know they are Christians, then is it any more troubling if the mission field witnesses something that does not reflect Christ in the life the missionary?
It shouldn't, as we talked about pedestals the other day. Yet it doesn't change perception and preconceived notions that missionaries don't have their struggles and battles, whereby they are being refined to reflect Christ, as much as any other Christian.
We are all children of God, who become earthly parents, who have earthly children. Our roles change, yet the lessons we must learn from the other role that we once held still apply. Like I told my daughter last night, you need to change "this" in your life as much as I need to change "that" in my life. So you work on yours and I'll work on mine.
Similarly, we are all missionaries with a mission field, whether its' across the globe or across the yard. And yet, each of us is a mission field to the missionary, Christ. The one who left His home to travel across the universe to reach a people group desperately in need of hearing His message.
It's been said God does not have grandchildren. Every person on earth has the opportunity for a direct, one-on-one relationship Him, through His Son, Jesus Christ. And regardless of our position on earth, and the height of whatever, if any, pedestal someone might place us on; we are all in need of being refined to reflect Christ.
Pray, this #missionaryFriday, that God continue to the refining process, in all of us, whether missionaries in the field through vocation or missionaries on the block we live. Pray for a spirit of humility, that we hold our position on this earth and whatever "perks" come with, loosely... for we cannot take it with us, neither can we place it in higher esteem than Christ. May grace abound as we endure the refining process of Christ; knowing full well it's for the glory of God and the sovereignty of His plan.
May we be forever grateful that God did not look at the mission field of His creation and decide against reaching out to us that we may come into right relationship with Him
Pastor delivered a great devotional last night, from Daniel. In chapter 3, appears three "last famous words."
BUT EVEN IF...
As soon as I he said it,I knew they were going to make an impact. This is the latest a daily prayer has ever been posted, so let me take a moment that I didn't realize how relevant this phrase was for me until mid-morning.
We've prayed much the past couple #deaconThursdays, regarding decision making and strategies and backup plans. At the end of all of those things, is in fact the phrase... but even if.
Your morning doesn't go according to schedule, someone expresses their take on the matter, both are a tad frustrated and you walk away rethinking, reevaluating, reworking and ultimately rewriting a game-plan. How do we get, do and be better at "this?
If you don't, it all goes down hill...faster. And the wreckage and the carnage will be less than something people will want to witness, let alone be apart of putting whatever remains back together.
Thus...a reason to pray,
This #deaconThursday, pray for situations and circumstances were church pastors and decision makers are at the end... a decision, a situation, a problem for which a solution is nowhere close to being implemented. Pray for a proper perspective, to continue to trust God for the outcome, for His will to be accomplished. Pray that at the end of it all, when facing the unknown, their will be a peace that surpasses all understanding when the following words are uttered... BUT EVEN IF.
For the glory of God. Solutions to problems that are committed to Him, whereby we are relieved of the burden and the worry.
There's a great debate of late, about our best life now versus eternity and what we face here on earth and why. Yet at the same time, when Jesus taught the disciples to pray, it included, "let your (God's) will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
So while we deal with the fallout of the fall of man through sin, thanks to grace and salvation, we can still experience God and what He has for us on earth, even if it is perhaps a fraction of what an expose in a day in heaven would reveal.
That said, after teaching on prayer, Christ says, if you who are evil can give good gifts to your kids, how much more!!! is your Heavenly Father able to give.
My youngest daughter, all of 3 and thinking there should be a zero that follows behind it, has the greatest laugh in the world. Tickle the collarbone and its uncontrollable. No matter my day, that smile, that laugh, changes...everything. How much more, does God want for His children...uncontrollable joy...both those who are adults here on earth and the kids we will one day wish would never grow up. (if you haven't started wishing already)
For pastors of kids and teens, may the smile and laugh of those young people travel miles of sustainability for those who minister to them, as pastors and parents team together, to help prepare them to make an impact here on earth that will accomplish what the angels in heaven pray comes to fruition.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, the smiles on the faces of those kids, will indeed remind them of the impact they are making on the future of the community, the nation and the world. Pray that every conversation will encourage a closer relationship with God and greater fellowship with each other. Pray for wisdom and guidance as the minister to kids and teens who are facing difficult circumstances, designed by the enemy of their souls to discourage, detour, displace and ultimately destroy their lives. May the power of the Holy Spirit rest upon these ministries, that divine appointments and timely words aptly spoken will prove to this generation of young people, the reality of the loving and forgiving God, the truth of His Word and power of the cross of His Son, Jesus Christ.
For the glory of God. For the next generation. For the unforeseen, yet fast approaching future.
Our days may be numbered, but for as long as we have breath, we are not down for the count.
God's will on earth, as it is in heaven. In the name above ALL names, both now and forevermore.
Have you ever had those moments where plans have been made, schedules agreed to,who does what upon arrival,then there's delays.Out of your control, you find yourself trying to make the best of it, perhaps hiding your frustration from those with you, but in your spirit, you're really frustrated.
Upon your exit, you realized there was something under your control that was missed. Granted other elements kept the moment from going through anyways, but it you were prepared, at least you know full well that you had done everything you needed to do in order to move forward.
I was frustrated. Because I thought it was the other party that should have had it together. Turns out, it was I who had dropped the ball in my own right. This made it worse, because I felt like I had wasted all that time.
On this #associatePastorTuesday, pray that pastors would find themselves ready for whatever lies in front of them. May there exist, a level of enthusiasm, knowing they're are on a journey to give back to the community. Pray for an awareness...not only on the status of the church, but in alignment with God's word having left nothing behind. May moments of frustration and self-doubt not get the better of people, but that they would be opportunities to recognize and communicate God's grace, that supersedes our own feelings and points others to a God that is still under control. May they realize, that in Christ, they have all that they need to accomplish all that God has ordained for them in advance.
All things for a reason. Ready for what God has in store for us. For the glory of God. For the cause of Christ.
We had the incredible opportunity to hear Evangelist Jason Stidham preach both our Sunday morning and Sunday evening services over the weekend. I encourage you to look up his ministry @ www.jasonstidham.com.
In the midst of a powerful, challenging and anointed message was a great dose of humor and a touch of reality that hits a little close to home.
"It humors me that people call us for marital problems" -Jason Stidham
(as if marriages of those in ministry didn't have their own set of "issues")
The dose of reality? For the few times that I wondered if I was to be a pastor, especially when the thought crossed my mind, post-wedding... I've thought, with some of the arguments we get into, there's no way I could do church ministry...especially if it happens shortly before or after church.
The follow-up to Stidham's one-liner was made during the evening service.
"Your Pastor is not perfect. You are not perfect. Which makes you a perfect match." - Jason Stidham
What an incredible challenge. To invest in your ministry. Your family. Your marriage. Your community. Then to be there for 10's and 100's of other people when problems arise in their career, family, marriage and more. How incredibly naive of us to think they don't have problems. God help us for the conversations we have when gossip and rumors arise regarding possible problems.
Pastors need our prayers and support, if for few other reasons than they are able to offer valuable insight, proper perspective and Biblical advice when we actually do seek their advice. Then again, as was one of the main points of the morning service; why don't we just go to God first, with the perspective, if anyone can do something about anything, it's God.
That said, on this #seniorPastorMonday, pray for the marriages of Pastors, and those in ministry. Pray that they would remain complete and healthy. Pray that ministry would not overshadow and overtake their responsibilities on the home-front. Pray that love and respect would dominate their home and the strength of the marriage would be honest and genuine to all who witness it. Pray that together, their ministry would be more effective than if they operated apart. May the advice they give when they are ask, not be from a position of higher ground, greater skill or simply better than, but a true testament of commitment, hard work, sacrifice, deference for each other and love. May it be clear to all, that their marriage is not strong because they are perfect, but because God is at the center of their lives as individuals as well as central to their marriage.
For the glory of God. For the betterment of the church. For the strength of the community.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.