As we're closing out the praise and worship set yesterday morning, the pastor's wife was praying over those who had stepped forward to the altar as people agreed in prayer for those needing healing and a move of God, in their lives. In her prayer, she mentioned the lady, who begged of Jesus, with the faith and belief that even the dogs get the crumbs, from the Masters' table.
I'm not sure why that stood out just then, but it did.
All too often, we expect incredible thing from God. Huge responses. Powerful moves of the Spirit. Overwhelming miracles in our midst. That's great. We should. It's possible. Yet, by comparison, in the vastness and depths of Heaven, such descriptions are accurate, even in our asking with faith for the crumbs of heaven.
Not too mention, the crumbs are often the best part. What's left behind of your favoirite brownies or cake; what's left of the pudding in the big, glass bowl. Wonderful moments.
This was all turned around, as Pastor preached and called the church, to a Daniel fast (no meats or sweets). An interesting turn of events, as Jesus taught that some miracles only happen through prayer and fasting.
The crumbs of heaven are incredible.
Getting the full meal, may require more from us.
Thus, pray, this #seniorPastorMonday; that pastors would have the discernment in their lives and prayers with God. May they know what they have need of; how to prayer and when God is calling them deeper. Pray for a strength and a perseverance, as they seek the face of God and knock on Heaven's door. May their be a renewed passion for the things of God in their lives and ministry; that they may lead the church to do the same; and witness the miraculous.
Whether there be crumbs
Or a feast...
All that God has for us;
Even our daily bread...
It is sufficient to meet our needs.
For His glory.
Well, I'm on cloud #9 this morning! Actually, since yesterday afternoon.
I've been writing on a borrowed mini-laptop for the past number of weeks, and, today when I finally had a few minutes to catch up on how readership and website traffic went this past month, the numbers were down. A combination of feeling limited on being able to publish the website as I'm accustomed to and getting the word out, through social media. Of course, my schedule of late hasn't helped much either.
That said... the part to fix my laptop arrived in the mail and Dad was gracious enough to let me interrupt his afternoon, in getting the new fan installed. On the upside, I got to see the end of our state's college rivals football game, which our families' preferred team won! Plus, I brought the grandkids with me, which always puts a smile on their faces.
Upon getting back home, I can't believe how much easier this machine is running! One simple, part... brand-new, factory replacement. $20, thanks to free shipping on eBay. How appropriate then, to be reflecting on the increased effectiveness and efficiency on the eve of the day we pray over those elements for the church. Originally, it was suggested perhaps my machine had picked up a virus or some such, potentially disastrous mess. Thankfully, it was "just" this.
Consider, though, some areas in your church, where a simple fix changes the performance of the work and mission of the local body of Christ in your community. So often, we think it might cost big money to pull off an event or conduct an outreach or get out the message, when in reality, that may not be the case. It may take a second opinion or a 3rd set of eyes to look into things, but it very well could make the difference. Estimates are just that... creatives solutions are available for those willing to look for them.
Of course, it's comforting to know that if it's important to us, then it's important to God. For what Father looks at his kid struggling and frustrated and says, "Sorry, what you're going through doesn't bother or concern me. You're on your own."
Pray with me, this #effectiveSunday, that first and foremost, people in and outside the church would be reminded that God cares for every struggle, frustration and difficulty that we endure. Whether through the fault of someone else, our own or for the simple opportunity for God to be glorified. May the church have a renewed sense to commit our plans to the Lord. May we seek His face for challenges we encounter; that He would grant to us solutions, creatively and provide the means to implement them. Pray God would empower the body of Christ, through the moving of the Holy Spirit to accomplish great exploits for the kingdom of God; in dimensions and depths yet experienced by the modern day church. We need God now, more than ever before.
For we are not overwhelmed;
But encouraged in all things.
For God is with us; and for us...
That we might walk in the Destiny
He has ordained for us in advance.
Yesterday, while on my lunch break, I was approached by a stranger to help look up some information... an assumption he made by my playing on my phone. He politely interrupted and ask if I could help him figure out how to get where he needed to go.
He offered to compensate me for my time and trouble and of course, I told him not to worry about it.
Of course, in my mind, I was thinking: "You rode here on a bicycle. You're asking me to look up information regarding public transportation, so can get to your desired destination, some 15-20 miles away. Meanwhile, in a few hours, I'll be leaving work and getting into the much more comfortable drivers' seat of my personal vehicle and headed home in search of more comfortable clothes to wear. There's no way you're giving me a couple of bucks for this favor!"
Of course, it was a small thing and perhaps "nothing" to think about, but what was the alternative? Saying No?
There's a scene from my oft-referenced show, where the youngest daughter was abducted and lived to tell her story. In trying to explain the experience, she stumbled to share about the help she has received in the aftermath. So it sounds like this... "the help is... you know, helping". To this, the person she is talking to quips in reply; "The help's helped".
Great! That what's it's supposed to do. It's what we need it to do. It's what we want it to do. Otherwise, what is the point?
Plus, consider this...
It would have removed the opportunity for me to hear the words "God bless you" as you prepared to leave.
It would have removed the opportunity for me to shake his hand, look at him with sincerity and offer the same sentiment.
How fitting, it times in with our conversation at the beginning of the week, of being a good neighbor. What do we miss because it happens to cost very little in terms of our time, treasure and talent? The help may in fact be simple, easy and not much of a sacrifice. However, that's not to say their won't be occasion where the help with complex, hard and costly. But it doesn't mean we should say No. For who knows the opportunities and the blessing that will result, elsewhere in our lives.
As a church, may we not dismiss the opportunity to be the help someone needs; regardless of how dire and difficult their situation may exist. It may be a major undertaking or a minor inconvenience to us, but it's meaningful and important to them.
Pray this #communitySaturday, that would not miss or overlook the opportunity to be "the help" that someone has need of in their life. May we not be concerned with the cost or inconvenience, but recognize the time to be a witness of the grace and love of God. Pray for strength and understanding, to accomplish and fulfill what they have need of, as much as within our power and ability. May such opportunities pave the way for conversations and revelation of the care and concern God has for our lives; that He loves us and has plans and purposes whereby He would be glorified.
May we be helpful help,
To those who ask;
To those in need;
To those in trouble.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
It goes with out saying, that life is full of situations and circumstances. It is full of experiences and is, an experience unto itself. Filled with joy and sadness, smiles and tears, overwhelming peace and unbearable grief; this roller-coaster effect can cause serious states of confusion, frustration and indirection
Knowing what to do, or at least, what to do next becomes elusive.
For a brief couple of moments yesterday, I reflected on the concept of the rhema Word... the revealed Word of God, The revealed Word of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit is an incredible gift... as if Scripture in itself amazing already.
God still speaks today... we simply have so much that clouds and stands in the way, that it is difficult to hear, spiritually, what He has for us.
Thus, I considered this in light of missions. For those missionaries having difficulty in communicating; in getting the message of Christ through to those people groups they are attempting to reach... perhaps the revealed Word of God needs to be displayed; present and active in their efforts so that breakthrough might occur and many would come to Christ.
Would you join me in praying to that end?
On this #missionsFriday, pray that God would indeed reveal Himself, to those who've yet to receive Christ. Pray a breakthrough in their midst; confusion would cease and distractions would fade. May the eyes-scales be removed, as people come to understand who Christ is; what He accomplished for their lives and what it means to live and walk in right-standing with God... not because of our rights or right-doing, but because of who Christ is and what He settled on the Cross.
May today be a banner day, for the Kingdom of God.
A Rhema Word; as God meets us where we are.
May we leave and live forever changed.
For His glory
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
Yesterday afternoon, through to early this morning, I had a few different ideas for today's post. Oddly enough, nothing settled in my spirit, until I logged in and got ready to type... as if being prepared to start typing was the first step in actually doing so.
Here's your Thursday green stamp bonus:
You can't start moving forward until you first arrive at the starting point.
Looking at my a blank canvas, my mind recalled one of the scenes from my favorite political drama. The set-up to this conversation is awesome, but we come to the point where the chief of staff is attempting to hire a lawyer for the counsel's offce, who is a member of the political party opposite of the administration. In the final attempts to convince the lawyer, the chief of staff final says, "the President likes smart people who disagree with him."
The next episode, that same lawyer is asked by her boss, the head counsel, why she is there. In response, she's asks if it is so difficult to believe that someone would set aside their political blinders and say "what can I do?" Comically, the head counsel says in a drawn-out, dramatic fashion, "Yessss".
I laughing just playing that scene in my head.
I know... you've got other things to do and other blogs to read. You have to go work soon... and so do I for that matter; so what's the point.
It's easy to surround yourself with like-minded people. Close friends, advisors, counselors... people who will have your backs (a line the head counsel uses on the new lawyer, by the way, in his attempts to understand why she would join the team). The challenge comes in bringing on board, the critics; those with a different perspective, experience and outlook.. people whose first reaction and first response will be different on many levels and for many reasons. But good comes from such conversations.
I'm drawing a blank on the administration or the general who drew up plans and strategies to win the war; yet his first "hey, what do you think about this" was to his critics; those who sharply disagreed with him on nearly everything. They would point out weaknesses, causing a "back to the drawing board" moment. Such conversations led to better strategies and winning battle plans.
It's great to have advisors who are on board; who catch and support the vision cast by pastors, for ministry and opportunities, both inside the church and outside the four walls of the church. Equally necessary, I submit, are having people around you who can be useful to point out weaknesses and areas of concern that need reevaluation and reconsideration, in order that improvements and advancements can be made. It's a difficult balance, granted; but perhaps more needed than we care to admit.
So, pray with me, this #deaconThursday, that church leadership would be a great conversation. Pray for grand vision and casting, for goals and dreams for ministry that would achieve incredible results for the kingdom of God. Pray God grant wisdom and discern; that pastors and advisors would move forward with unity and singularity of purpose. May their be a level of grace and understanding as they walk through disagreements and work through differences; that while everything may not be resolved to everyone's desired outcomes or liking's, ministry efforts would not be hindered or halted. Pray for a covering of clarity over these boards and administrations; that confusion would not run wild; that personal agendas would not stand in the way; nor personalities dominate the conversation. In all matters, may their be an understanding of service and submission and to respond appropriately as the ministry advances.
May God be glorified
As we acknowledge Him in all our ways
Commit all our plans unto Him
Trusting that He will continue to lead and guide us in all Truth.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
If a follow up to Monday's prayer post wasn't planned for yesterday, then this certainly came out of nowhere... well, not quite nowhere, so much as it came like so many other posts; just seconds after acknowledging I had no idea what God had in mind. It really is kind of exciting to see what He brings forward to my attention. I hope it's as powerful to read about, as much as it is for me to watch it occur with such frequency. I can't explain it. I'm also still wondering why it happens so often for this project and not the rest of my life.
So, on that note, with yesterday's questions of what is going on in the church culture and what attitudes, habits or experiences might contribute to how Jesus shared the reactions of the priest and Levite in the Good Samaritan parable, I quickly came to the absolute necessity for healthy pastorates.
With the recent arrivals of two young men having come on staff, I couldn't help but place them in our analysis of this parable. What they experience, whether in a church internship setting or a staff position at a para-church organization or coming on board with a local church body, either leading and overseeing a ministry or actually joining the team in a pastoral role... their early years are crucial. Their involvement as a player, behind the scenes if you will, of the daily operations and decisions within church leadership and how things happen and why from an organizational standpoint, will set the course for everything they do moving forward.
Thus, when they step into a church, whose leadership is not healthy, or the organization inefficient, or ministries lacking in effectiveness; relationships within the congregation are strained and the reputation with the community is negative... these are challenging enough. What's the new kid on the block supposed to do? How are they to respond? How is their course charted and how will they be expected to maximize their experience to set them on path to establishing and fulfilling a successful ministry, whereby God would accomplish the miraculous through their obedience and service? How will they remain committed when times of trials arrive?
As one would expect the days of an unhealthy church to be numbered in terms of feasible longevity, so too is the length of service to the kingdom of God to those working through the ranks, if you will, of church leadership that are attempting to build on broken or cracked foundations from their early years of ministry.
Clearly, they need our prayer!
Pray this #youthPastorWednesday, for those just starting their ministries... whether they recently joined the staff of a church or organization, as pastor or otherwise; for those in their early years service; pray God would place them and use them from the onset. For those in places of difficulty, instability and questionable health, spiritual, emotional and mentally, may God use them as He sees fit. May their be a transformation and restoration that takes place, in those ministries where God simply needs to show up and revamp for His glory. May those preparing for ministry and in the process of their studies... may their be a clarion call for what God has in store for them and where He would have them to go and to do in carrying out their destiny for the kingdom of God. May God guard the hearts and minds of those leading our youth and children... that this next generation would witness in their pastors (often not much older themselves) a love and passion for the things of God, a desire to serve Him wholeheartedly, no matter the trial or difficulty and to fulfilling God's calling for their lives, even when it looks and moves contrary to our personal ideals.
For we are never too old,
To grow and mature in God.
In the power of His Word.
In the plans He has that await
For us to follow Him.
For His glory.
I hadn't planned on doing a "part II", if you will to yesterday's prayer regarding the Good Samaritan... that was why I included the Levites, as temple ministers under the leadership of the priests, in their response (or lack of one, as it were). Yet the more I thought about it, I couldn't help but wonder...
The temple minister had the same response response as the priest. I know it's just a story, but the whole point of the parables, is the element that their exists a "parallel" truth, if you will. So, I wonder...
Was their something gone wrong in the temple (church) culture that prompted both the priest and minister to pass over this man? (And not only that, went out of their way to avoid them!)
Was their something in the leadership style of the priest, that influenced those underneath him... perhaps, setting an example (albeit a wrong one) that the affairs of the temple were more important than the cares of the people?
Did they both share an attitude, that now that they were in leadership, they expected the actually work of offering care to be carried out by the parishioners and those in the fellowship that they were leading?
While this was a dangerous road, it was often traveled. The understanding (and perhaps assumed) is that these incidents happened with some sort of frequency. Who else had the "passed by on the other side?"
These are hard questions, I know. But what has changed?
Are churches not more busy than ever?
Do ministries and meetings not take even more time and planning?
Are we not more concerned with teaching the church how to be the church, rather than just stepping out and doing what God has for us?
Do pastors not use their influence to delegate many items and circumstances for someone else to solve or call for others to offer assistance?
As you consider these questions, keep modern day temple ministers, in your prayers, this #associatePastorTuesday. Pray that schedules and plans would not stand in the way of recognizing the needs and dire circumstances that surround us. Pray that church and its' leadership would be people of action, not just of vision... to not just see problems, but to resolve them. May the caring of those in need to be left to others, whether they be individuals or organizations, but that the church would be first responders. May associates and others in church leadership have the insight and boldness to speak, when Senior Pastors and head priests or executive leadership steps away or moves in directions that are out of alignment with Scripture. In this day and time, when it's easy to lose our influence and impact with the world, under the guise of popularity and political correctness, among many other circumstances, may the church remain true to what it is.
The body of Christ.
Representative of the person of Jesus.
To be used by God
In ways that would prompt a lost and dying world
To understand who He is and come into right relationship with Him.
Over these things, we pray.
Some friends of ours, who used to be on staff at the church where I met my wife, run an incredible ministry here, in our home state,; helping kids that are aging out of the foster care program. They were are guests yesterday morning at church and preached an incredible sermon on the Good Samaritan.
As you've often read or figured out, something usually stands out for from Sunday's service that ends up being a catalyst for #seniorPastorMonday's focus and today is no different.
The Good Samaritan is of course, a moving story of the outcast of society who was compelled to take care of the guy who had been beaten, robbed and left for dead. The part that hit my yesterday, early in the message, is how the church failed to do what was expected of them. The priest and the Levite. The priest and the temple minister, essentially.
In modern terms, the pastor and another church leader, (insert label here)
Now, these guys saw the man, yet crossed over and avoided him. I hope that doesn't happen in today's leadership, but it probably does. More likely, that church leadership, especially Senior Pastors have so much going on, that they themselves don't follow the prompting to make an impact where there is a need right in front of them.
Granted... they can't fix everything. Yes, I understand the church should be doing more to impact it's community. And more, they should be equipping their people to do more as well. But that doesn't give Pastors a pass on seeing a need first hand ignoring it.
What precedent does that send, to those in need, but reinforce that the people who should care and be bothered, don't and aren't.
Pray with me, this #seniorPastorMonday (albeit, a bit hard to swallow) for those pastors, perhaps to busy and to influence, that they are missing opportunities to minister first hand to those in need. Whether inside or outside the church, pray they would respond with compassion, to the issues and situations God is placing them in to make an impact for the kingdom of God. May God help, where priorities, attitudes and habits need to be re-calibrated... that the church may reflect the image of Christ.
From the pulpit to the pew.
Wherever we go;
Whomever we see.
For the glory of God.
For whatever reason, I woke up this morning, in all honesty, trying to remember what was on my mind that I was going to write about this morning, before running out the door for church (which we are doing momentarily). As it my mind raced to remember, I thought about a couple of friends, who have been posting pictures on social media of late, regarding some of the theater productions they have been involved in.
Of course, as we scrambled to get kids cleaned up (their desire to do so in the morning, like Dad does), I thought about the famous last words before entering on stage...
How important, in the efforts of the church to be effective and efficient. The resources are necessary, the finances critical, the game-plan essential... and when it's time to walk, everyone needs to be in the place they need to be.
It's not enough to have the right people on the bus, as your organization begins to travel in a particular direction; but the next level of effectiveness is to have the right people in the right seat on the bus... to take full advantage of their capabilities and maximize everyone's contribution to the team.
Thus, on this #effectiveSunday, pray for churches struggling... with resources, finances and people; not just the right people, but in the right places. As if waiting in the wings, may God help clarify vision and direction and opportunities for ministry. May He strengthen the weary and encourage the discouraged. Pray many would come along side to help carry the load; that the game-plan of ministry may be successful for the cause of Jesus Christ.
Not as the world defines success,
But that many would come to the saving grace
Of the cross of Jesus Christ.
For the glory of God our Father.
No matter what your community, it really should be that hard to get along with each other.
Sure, we have our differences of beliefs and opinions and perspectives on any number of subjects, but as I've told my oldest daughter as she has dealt with kids at school (like we all did), there's no reason for somebody to be a jerk on purpose.
Obviously, not everybody is going to be your friend, let alone your best friend... there's probably not enough time in the day to have them as a decent acquaintance. We all have our buttons and things people do that "set us of"... whether it be on the job between co-workers and our management, sibling rivalries or marital conflicts or, wait for it... political discourse on social media. Yeah, you didn't see that one coming, did you?
I get that we all make mistakes. We've all made incredibly simple and stupid mistakes at that, for which we have had to take a "reaming out" of some kind for having done or said stupid. I understand. I've been there.
Yet, there's no reason to berate on the job.
There's no reason to be "through the roof" as a parent or spouse.
There's no point in going out of our way to make it known we can't stand the thought or sight of someone.
There's a time to be upset, as a parent, spouse, employee or boss, sibling or friend, pastor or parishioner. But there should be a grace and understanding as we work through matter, especially for the believer.
There's a time for outrage and frustration as we encounter incredible difficulty in life and circumstances that are overwhelming to consider, let alone actually navigate... yet again, with God's help and the mind of Christ, if we put that first, we can walk through the fire.
It's not easy, but it's necessary.
As we engage community, as there is overlap into the world in which we live life, from the basis and courage of our convictions and faith in Jesus Christ, it all reflects upon Him.
And I fail miserably... daily.
Pray with me, this #communitySaturday, that God would help us, as the body of Christ, to reflect Christ in these difficult days and the days to come. May the world see that we live real lives with real problems, with real emotions and real trials, managing the same real struggles and trying to navigate the same, making real decisions that have real rewards and consequences... all in a way that brings glory and honor to God. While I don't expect them to have understanding and compassion when we miss the mark, may such give opportunity to share God's love and grace for us from His perspective; that He does not berate and throw us aside. Pray His desire that none should perish, but all have eternal life as well as abundant life, be made known to a world in great denial of their desperate need for a Savior.
Living for Christ doesn't make us perfect.
It proves we are flawed and in need for being made new in His likeness
For the cause of Jesus Christ
For the glory of God the Father.
During our Wednesday night prayer services at church, we've been in a series regarding inner peace, walking through the portions of prayer that make up the Lord's Prayer, and how to get there. This past service was on the prayer of protection and how God looks after us and the role we play, particularly as it relates to "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
It was a moving and enlightening devotional, that the end of which, allowed for a time of prayer and reflection to identify what the enemy of our souls uses against us to entice us and distract us, in an effort to thwart and throw off what God would have for our lives.
What really keeps us from stepping out an into all that God as for our lives? Whether it be mine, or yours; the pastors' or one's parents, coworkers or kids, spouse or best friend... what are the elements that conspire together to become the x-factor that stands in our way of being able to trust God that He will watch over us and take care of us in whatever circumstance we find ourselves encountering difficulty and frustration.
Is it time to confess that the x-factor is bigger than our faith?
Yesterday, as I continued to reflect on this, I was reminded of Coach Taylor, from the movie Facing The Giants. The morning of the biggest of game of his life, as he recognizes the miracle that God has worked in his life and in his football team, he essentially confesses to his wife... what if all this that has happened doesn't result in how we think it should or look like we want?
To this, his wife Brooke responds...
"Sounds like your fear is about to collide with your faith?"
In light of #msisionsFriday, what is the x-factor that keep people from having faith in God; from acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and that His death on the Cross was His love for humanity, that we might have opportunity to be in right relationship with God? What are the obstacles and excuses for why someone wouldn't or doesn't make a decision to place their hope and trust in God regarding His plans and purposes for our lives? When fear collides with faith, should fear happen to win... what a tragedy.
Would you join me, this #missionsFriday? Pray for those whose fear, and other x-factors are standing in the way of them accepting Christ's invitation for eternal life. May faith win out, as God seeks to work His miraculous and sovereign plan in the hearts and lives of those who are His. Pray the barriers and obstacles would fall and fade away; that God's love for us is everlasting and unchanging. Pray, also, for the believer... struggling in their faith, as life overtakes and bombards. May their be a break-through in their lives; that faith would overtake their x-factor, as they too, place their trust in the hands of Almighty God, rather than the unknown that they spend so much time and energy attempting to figure out in hopes of "it all" making sense. Pray our frailty would not stand in the way of God's strength being displayed on this earth, through the lives of those whose hearts are set on Him.
May we focus on the x-factor of God,
Rather than the x-factor of our surroundings.
For with man, it won't happen,
But with God, all things are possible.
For His glory and the cause of Jesus Christ.
An interesting occurrence yesterday morning, resulted in my spending a great deal of the afternoon thinking about pace-setting. When you consider the concept for a moment, there are really only three options in the matter.
You are setting the pace.
You are keeping the pace.
You are lagging the pace.
It is fairly obvious and usually, fairly easy to measure, who is keeping the pace, which more often than not, makes it even more obvious to notice who is lagging behind by comparison.
I'm all for goals and drive, ambition and hustle. A "can-do anything" attitude is a relatively healthy thing, most of the time. Where it becomes difficult, is when it moves into our approach, because it starts open doors to take risks and chances that may not be in one's best interest, whether it only be once or repeatedly, for the long-term.
Pace-setting becomes difficult, because if you are doing the wrong thing to achieve or accomplish that pace, then the only way people will be expected to keep up with it, is to do the same wrong things.
But now, an expectation has been set. There's a precedent. And it's unhealthy. The bar has been set that can't be reached unless, whoever follows, carries out the same actions as the pace-setter. Doing it the right way won't be good enough, because you won't be keeping pace so much as, you'll appear to be lagging.
Intentionally or not, a place of difficulty has been created and eventually, a decision will need to be made or a realization will need to be understood that will result in either the pace or the expectation of the pace will need to be adjusted.
Such as it is for organizations, of any kind and churches are exempt. Going about processes, plans and activities the wrong way continually set patterns that will be difficult to break and overcome long-term. Thus, it's imperative to work to do things the right way, consistently, from the onset to be effective in whatever it is an organization is looking to achieve.
So, join me this #deaconThursday, as we lift up deacons, advisors, and church administrators; that they will be careful to utilize the right tools and processes, systems and resources as they set out in their ministry endeavors. Pray for wisdom and insight to be faithful to the calling God has placed upon them, and anointed them to fulfill in the communities they serve. May they be unified and diligent; working in ways that are effective and efficient; setting and achieving goals and dreams... casting vision and working towards that end. Pray God would illuminate their paths and make their way straight as they commit their work unto the Lord; that they would accomplish the incredible, not from having cut corners, but by having been empowered by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Setting the pace
For the work of the kingdom of God
In ways and means that bring glory and honor to Him
For the advancement of the cause of Christ.
I"m not exactly sure what prompted this yesterday, as I was thinking about the levels to which we will go to protect our kids. A confluence of thoughts seemingly entered in rapid fire succession...
... the number of times my youngest has told me "you're the best daddy ever" over the past few weeks
... the number of times they've made me smile or laugh
... the number of times they've frustrated me, by not listening or disobeying
... how I'd respond if something tragic happened to one or both of them
... how my friends who have lost a child, either hours or days after birth, or at an incredibly young age...
And I'm sure there's a few more. It was a weird few moments, for certain. Sure, there's the obvious, care and concern of the physical safety, that we take into consideration as we work to protect our kids. But then there's the wisdom, understanding and discernment that comes, to help us protect them emotional, mentally and spiritually. Sometimes, even the littlest things become factors... like reading the news article of a terrible accident yesterday, of a semi-truck whose load came loose and entered the cab of the truck, while on the highway. The driver is okay, but you wouldn't know that to look at the pics. And last night, I'm turning the phone away, as my youngest comes over and asks "whachya looking at?" Nothing that you need to see, sweetie.
Such is life for the believer, as God does the same for us. It amazes me, His daily hand of protection upon our lives. Sure, tragedy occcurs and we encounter the unthinkable and even, the unfathomable, but the grace and peace of God is with us in the midst of it all... even when we are too troubled to realize it or remember it. On the flip side, I'm always taken aback by my own stupidity. Seriously, God? That had to happen? You allowed that to happen? I know He's using it all for His glory and there are teaching moments and times of revelation, that perhaps are nothing more than keeping us in the mindset that we must rely on Him; but nevertheless, that doesn't mean I'm not shaking my head attempting to understand at times, and coming up short.
Life is hard. Not so much at times, but certainly, more than it should be at other times. And, I know sooner typed that last sentence, and TobyMac just started on Pandora.
"Some days life feels perfect // Other days, it just ain't workin."
You're not kidding, Toby!!
On this #youthPastorWednesday, I speak life to youth and kids pastors. For the times and circumstances, for which there is great tragedy and loss, and while they turn to God, there seems to be little comfort and or, little understanding. Pray God would strengthen and gird them up, anew and afresh. May their be a fresh revelation and a fresh outpouring in their lives, that God would accomplish the miraculous; whether the situation is the result of our own humanity and stupidity or circumstances beyond our control, for which God will display His glory. Pray for wisdom and discernment, as they minister to youth and teens... to lead them into the presence of God; to help build foundations of faith where young people will walk with God, no matter what He takes them through, as His plans and purpose are revealed in their lives... working all things together for good.
For His love never fails.
Though there's pain for the night,
Joy comes in the morning.
For the glory of God.
Technology is pretty incredible, when you think about it.
It is amazing what it helps us accomplish.
Even more amazing, it what it helps us avoid.
In the process, it creates some a level of creative excuses that all to often can go unchecked.
Missed call because phone was still on vibrate. It never rang... it went straight to voicemail. I didn't know I had a voicemail until hours later. I was in a building with poor reception; I didn't get your text until I left, hours later.
Then there's this...
A guy quit his job Monday morning. No big deal; happens all the time, right? Well, it threw a kink in the schedule for a few hours. Fortunately, it worked out and I met up with owner sooner than expected; instead of the guy I was waiting on. When I found out he had quit and that was the reason he was a no-show, the next part I didn't see coming. He quit, via text message. Yes, you read that correct.
Here's the part of the story that made me chuckle... Tuesday night, the guy returns my call. He didn't know it was me that was waiting for him Monday morning.
Schedules, deadlines, responsibilities; places to go, people to talk to and things to accomplish. Yet how often, we miss the message God has for us because of all the static of life that interferes and interrupts. If it happens for you and I, how much more for pastors and church leaders!
Pray, on this #associatePastorTuesday (for the hours remaining, my apologies) for the struggles and distractions of life that confront and attempt to stand in the way of hearing the voice of God. Pray for those pastors having difficulty staying focused and grounded in prayer, in the Word and in the high calling which God has placed upon them. May their not be overcome with fear, anxiety, worry or angst, but trust anew and afresh where, when and why God has positioned them where they are and what they are to accomplish.
For it is not about us
But fulfilling the plans and purposes He has called us
And anointed us to complete.
For His glory and honor, we pray.
Well, I think it's official. I'm getting older.
For those that no me in real life, you're probably chuckling, because you very well might have a few years on me, so I still have a ways to go... and that's fine. I just said I'm getting older, not old. (haha!) It's Monday morning... just had to make sure you were awake.
So why the realization? Like I didn't know this was happening? No, I did. Of course, social media helped; as yesterday it pulled up a photograph memory from 7 years ago... "wow, look at that. My gotee has no gray hair!" But secondly, for the past few weeks, my body has been having a weird reaction throughout the days.
And I've yet to figure out it. It's coming and going. Daily. Waking up and it's hardly an issue. Going to bed, and it's like "what in the world??" It's really getting frustrating. And I can already hear Dad response when he reads this. Love ya, Dad.
So, last night got me thinking... about diagnosis.
Pastors struggling in ministry, trying to figure out things out; perhaps on the edge of burnout. Going through the very same progress. Irritated throughout the day, but when they can actually relax and get their mind to calm down and de-stress, everything settles down. They feel okay. They look okay. Everything might be okay. Then the day starts. Stress starts kicking back in; mind starts ramping up; and we're back to trying to understand situations and figure out problems.
By the days end, perhaps they too are standing the mirror.
"What in the world is going on?"
Burnout is irrespective of tenure, by the way. Sure, the pastor of 25 years may have an easier time justify their state, but that doesn't dismiss the younger pastor, perhaps of only 5 years who's had a really rough time getting off the ground and wondering how can continue.
The struggle is real. And it's frustrating.
Pray with me, this #seniorPastorMonday, for pastors trying to figure this out. Pray they never stop seeking the face of God; that He would bring insight and revelation to the direction He would have them take and the decisions they should make. Pray the Holy Spirit would comfort them and bring a peace and calm to their hearts and minds. May they not be overcome by a spirit of anxiety and worry, depression or fear. May there be a quiet confidence and strength in knowing God; trusting His ways and believing for the miraculous, as He works His plans and purposes in their lives and ministries.
Whatever the diagnosis,
God is with you.
He knows; He cares
He is willing and able.
Keep the faith, my friend!
Being effective and efficient comes at a cost.
Life, truly can be and seem like a math problem.
Decisions are weighed by opportunities, available resources, people's schedules and the balance of one's bank account. What's most effective may not be the most efficient. What's the most efficient usually gives up even more in effectiveness. Pursuing both often comes at a greater cost... one that could be hard to justify depending on the final factor... bank accounts balances.
And just when you think you have it figured out... the brake shop installing the brake kit for your car calls and tells you the pads and rotors are the wrong size. Excellent! And of course, the shipper isn't open on the weekends, so now I'm stuck waiting until tomorrow to sort this out.
So much for being efficient... that plan backfired. And effectiveness waits a few more days as well.
These are difficult moments... frustrating enough as an individual. More-so as an organization.
Sorting and navigating the process is taxing; requiring prayer, determination and strength from On High.
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, for churches and leadership for the decisions and challenges they face. May today be a day of effectiveness for the cause of Jesus Christ. Pray God would help churches to make wise decisions as they steward their resources, of time, talent and treasure. May the moments of frustration, when circumstances don't appear to be working as well as they should or matters take a turn for re-evaluation; pray a grace and a covering as God gives direction and strength to move forward. Pray the church would not rely on their own strength, or that of it's people or position; but empowered by the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Stewards for the cause of Christ
Effective and efficient for the glory of God.
Communication is hard work. Opinions get in the way of facts. Experiences trump observations and objective perspectives. Beliefs get misunderstand in the process. Beliefs also make the conversation more challenging because nobody likes to hear the possibility that theirs are wrong, but when there's a conflict of beliefs, somehow a resolution or at least an agreement should be made.
This is why, for so many years, the advice was given, particularly with friends and family, don't discuss religion or politics.
The conversations get even more difficult when society and culture start redefining words. I'm not sure who's involved in making those decisions; but clearly times are changing... and have been for a while.
This is why I am thankful for God and His Word.
He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.
This world will pass away, but the Word of God stands forever.
To acknowledge there is wrong in the world, is to admit there is the existence of right, in this world.
To acknowledge a lie, is to admit there must be truth.
There is truth.
There is Truth.
It is a wonderful experience, to have friends who knows the Truth of God and His Word. Then, to have the friendship exist on such a level, that they have the ability and will exercise it, to speak truth into your life out of their love and concern for you is incredibly powerful.
So many people don't have such friendships. Or they don't understand the love and concern people have for them is an extension of one's faith in God and their desire for God to be revealed and made known.
I'm grateful for the clarity that I receive in my life, not only through the power of God's Word, but also through the clarity that comes from great friends who care for me enough to tell me the truth. Even when it hurts, and as comedian Brad Stine, says, even when it offends. For that is the job of truth. As Stine explains, it proves we don't have it.
Pray, this #communitySaturday for those who have yet to experience the revelation of God and the Truth of His Word. May the church have the boldness to speak the truth, even when it's uncomfortable. May their be a grace as we speak into the lives of those around us, not with malicious intent, but out of love and concern for people's lives to experience relationship with Almighty God. Pray against a spirit of confusion and frustration; where the enemy of our souls would attempt to twist, distort and pervert the truth; that would cause people to be more comfortable in their sin than in the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
May God's Truth
Bring bring clarity to our lives.
For His glory
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
Everybody has expectations. We have expectations that we place upon ourselves and many more, that are placed on us by others. Sometimes, we are given the courtesy of hearing what's expected in advance. However, more often than not, we hear what was expected of us after the fact...
It usually begins with the phrase, "I thought you..."
In a flash thought last night, I questioned how missionaries are received by the people groups they set out to reach for the kingdom of God. Surely, upon their arrival there are many questions. What are you doing here? Why have you come? What do you hope to accomplish. They may be welcome and well-received, which is awesome, but no doubt, there is resistance along the way.
I can't imagine, the handling of such expectations and sorting and navigating their way through it, is an easy process. Not by any stretch of the imagination. In addition, they are walking into people groups, who may not know what to expect at all, But then, again, may not simply know how to express their expectations... let alone offer them in advance.
For certain, the missionaries have expectations placed upon themselves and of what they hope to accomplish, as well as those of the people and churches who support them... these to, all look different as reality unfolds during the tenure of their ministry.
It's an interesting reflection and one, that most definitely needs to be covered in prayer.
Pray this #missionsFriday, for missionaries and the communities that they are reaching out to with the Gospel of Christ. May God grant to them wisdom and discernment as they engage in conversations and through programs. Pray God would work the miraculous, regardless of whatever expectations may exist and whoever may hold them. May missionaries not be worried about how it all works or looks, but that God would use their willingness and obedience to serve for His glory and His purposes. Pray for breakthroughs, in the lives of those they minister to; that there would be a supernatural move of the Holy Spirit. May the recognize the power of God at work in their hearts and minds; that the truth and love of God, through His Word confound all expectations.
For it is not about ourselves,
But for this glory of God
As He works in our lives
And through our lives
To accomplish His purposes
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I've had some interesting conversations the past few days, regarding well... life, frankly. It truly is amazing, how God works events and reveals who we are in light of who He is, and how He desires for us to live a life that honors in Him, in all that we say and do.
As comedian, Brad Stine says, "the truth always offends; that's it's job."
That said, I had an epiphany yesterday. No matter what the circumstances are and the actions of others as they respond to ours; the attitudes and responses that continue as the conversation unfolds and the justifications that follow... it's easy to split hairs to explain the differences and discern (or attempt to discern) our understanding of situations. And the epiphany was this...
"It's entirely possible to be wrong in your right-ness and right, in your wrong-ness"
Which immediately reminded my of one of the epic quotes from my favorite political drama on television...
"Just be wrong. Just stand there in your wrongness and be wrong and get used to it."
Of course, this line is delivered in response, to someone else trying to continue their point by saying "However..." It's quickly met, with "No. No however...just be wrong..."
Why all this? Because life is hard. To understand. To figure out. To make sense of things. Parts of it are easy. Other parts should be easier. Often it is and we simply drop the ball. Or perhaps it's just me.
But in the end, we are not perfect. We fail. Consistently. On an epic scale. Of massive proportions. On both human and intellectual levels. And since we are all human and we all are capable of miserably missing the mark (and often do) my heart goes out to church leaders as they endeavor to accomplish the purpose and calling God has placed on them to live and impact their community for Christ.
It's hard to understand how God uses it all, but He does. And we are all better of as result. As Brad Stine says, "I don't want a God I can understand." For in essence, if God can only do what is within our level of understanding, then we are all in for a world of hurt. So, it is just as well, that God is God and we are not. All the more reason to call on Him and seek His face.
Pray, this #deaconThursday, that such desire would be the focus of church leaders, deacons, administrators and staff. For the decisions they face today and the circumstances they find themselves in... whatever it likes like, right or wrong, as they sort out and navigate their way through situations; pray God's guidance and direction in the hearts and minds. May their conversations be filled with the truth, even when it offends and places us in uncomfortable positions. Pray for a strength and a help from on high, to respond appropriately to correction and heed advice when given to us. May it be weighed with the truth and revelation of God's Word, in that it would draw us closer to Him; to be made more like the reflection of Christ.
Grace in failure.
Strength in the lesson.
Success in the process.
For the glory of God
For the fulfillment of His calling.
First of all, let me say this...
You are reading the 500th post, to pray for our pastors and church leaders, since I relaunched this project on June 1, 2015. I don't know that I even considered or counted out, when such milestones would occur... I simply knew God kept tugging on my heart, saying, "you can't have a page on that site, called daily prayers, then NOT write a prayer every day."
It's mind-blowing to me still, but I thank you for joining with me and liking, sharing and re-tweeting posts along the way.
So with that PSA issued...
I've shared before and firmly believe, one is never done learning. Never. And after a conversation yesterday, I got to thinking...
Self-discipline is better than discipline from authority.
It's almost comical to me, the timing of this concept, although I'm not going in details as to why. But seriously. Consider how much things would be different or how much less stress would exist in our lives, if we took the time to do what we know to do, did them right, followed our gut instinct and perhaps, most importantly, followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit, as to how we might handle situations before they became "situations".
We are all subject to authority of some kind and how much better with the people in those places, would we be, if there were less things for them to engage in conversation with the opening remarks of "we need to do something about this...", if only we took care of matters before they escalate.
This can be a hard lesson, for kids and youth, as well as adults. We all make mistakes, we all drop the ball. People will always find something they don't agree and perhaps speak out; that one particular item or action is problematic. We may not what that is, but we can certainly take care to avoid potential problems by being more self-disciplined in the management of our own lives and the responsibilities which are under our purview.
As a Father, I continually hear the words of my Dad ringing in my ear... learn the lessons now, rather than later, like I did. It pains me to still be learning and dealing with some of the things I am at this juncture in my life, so I find myself hoping and praying the same for my kids... learn this earlier than I.
I pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, for the pastors and teachers, influences and mentors that will speak into the lives of today's youth and young people; both yours and mine. Pray with me that they will help us to establish and build foundations of self-discipline; not they will never be reprimanded, but that they would lead lives that would bring glory and honor to God. Pray for Godly principles and the Word of God to guide and direct them as they grow and make decisions. Pray that pastors and people of influence would help us, as parents, to lead by example. Pray for a grace and a covering over our lives, for when we drop that example... may they be profound moments of teaching and instruction for the grace of God to transpire; that we may know and better understand the purpose God has for us as He works ALL things together, for our good.
That we may be more like Christ;
Relying less on ourselves.
For the glory and honor of God.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.