I had the opportunity to watch a sermon last night, by Pastor Brady Boyd, author of Addicted to Busy, in which he preached on this topic at James River Assembly of God, in Springfield, Mo.
He spoke on the example Christ gave us, regarding Sabbath and what was accomplished in His ministry after times of getting alone to pray.
In a society driven to produce faster, better, more long-term results without error, it's hard to be convinced that we can afford to take a break and get away...let alone, entirely disconnect for a time.
Do you want to know how serious this is?
Earlier this year, Mar 4, 2015 to be exact, the Wall Street Journal posted in their blog, that Americans forfeit $52.4 BILLION EVERY YEAR because they won't take time off. The post goes on to share research of the cost to companies for the day they have to start paying out that accumulated vacation time, also a staggering number.
The cost when ministry is involved? Well, before burning out, there's emotional detriment to the family from a lack of personal time. Spiritual deterioration as sermons aren't as well-thought and relevant as needed. Church operations suffer from leadership that doesn't have an effective handle on what is transpiring within the congregation nor the church-at-large.
And downhill life goes. Loss or lack of friends. Family starts falling. Diminished time in the Word. Depleted time in prayer.
Stress moves in. Worry takes over. Burnout knocks at the door.
This #seniorPastorMonday, pray Pastors will recognize the importance of "unplugging". Pray they will be reminded of the importance of Sabbath, of rest. Pray they will not be afraid to step away from the busyness, that they people and the work will wait as they recharge spiritually, emotionally, mentally, socially & physically. Pray they will trust God afresh; relying on Him rather than self, to accomplish the work they have been called. May they not be afraid to call for help. May the not be afraid to reach out to those around them, acknowledging they can't do ministry on their own.
Find rest. Work hard. Have fun. For the glory of God. For the cause of Jesus Christ. Following His example of life and of ministry... disconnecting from all that called for His attention in order that He could call on the Father.
Filled and Renewed. Then poured out for God. Repeatedly.
I encourage you all, to check out the story of Stephanie McCabe, who happens to be the daughter of Dan McCabe, a member of The Daniel Band, from the 80's era of Christian Rock.
#AllOverTheEarth is a global prayer movement, utilizing social media in hopes that the power of prayer and the potential for the miraculous will be witnessed to a greater degree than every before.
People are posting stickers all over the globe with statements of prayer that people are making public, believing God will accomplish great things in the lives of their family and friends, churches and communities, and to all the aforementioned-at-large.
Like Bring Me 70, simple moments in time with God are resulting in thinking outside the box; to harness the power of social media to call people to pray, for serious issues in this life that require serious people with incredible faith. The church has joined Stephanie in this mission. Funds raised are in turn, helping the church.
This is the body of Christ. This is the power of prayer.
Thanks in advance for your support, both now and in the future.
On this #effectiveSunday, pray for the mission of #AllOverTheEarth, that people would grow in their prayer life, believing for the miraculous and the boldness to state it publicly. Pray for the positive influence through the potential of social media, not for the mundane and frustrations of life, but for healing and restoration, salvation and deliverance, transformation of hearts and minds in lives of people in obscure locations to bustling mega-cities. Pray that the church itself, would return corporately, to being a people known to pray.
An individual. A family. A church. A community. A country. A world.
Returning to God. Through the power of prayer. By the message of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Lives changed. Won by One.
Thanksgiving has passed. Christmas is next. And the church is to be a light, set on a hill
The aftermath of Thanksgiving that people experience...
The anxiety of Christmas that puts people on edge...
The next few weeks will be full of opportunity for the church to share the real reason for the season.
At a time when people are moved by their experiences, whether extremely traumatic or incredibly generous, what greater chance than to share the life of Jesus Christ, a life of extreme trauma and incredible acts of generosity, culminating in the ultimate act of love and sacrifice (the cross).
If that weren't enough, the finishing touch...victory over death and His return to Heaven.
A season of negative memories for many people.
A season of generous blessings for others.
A season of life made available through the gift of Jesus Christ, available to all.
On this #communitySaturday, pray that as the church engages community, God would grant the words for those whose holidays are marked by traumatic and negative life events. Pray for opportunities for God to move supernaturally on the hearts and lives of those who have closed their hearts and minds to the possibility that God loves them and has a plan for their lives. Pray for a continued sense of awareness among the church; that we would follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit in offering grace and truth to those whose lives have never experienced either.
Grace and truth leads to health and life. Guilt and lies lead to sickness and death. May the transforming work of Jesus Christ accomplish the miraculous in many lives, this holiday season...and the weeks in between. For the glory of God we pray.
So how was your day of celebration? Of feasting? With family. With friends. Enjoying freedom. Sharing freedom. Thanking those who sacrificed for our freedom. It was a great day. It's a great life.
For the believer and follower of Jesus Christ, salvation is our ultimate & eternal freedom. After all, what is freedom on earth only to experience exile after earth?
Jesus said it another way...
what does a man profit if he gains the whole world, yet loses his soul in hell?
Well, he doesn't. Neither will he experience freedom on earth while his soul is caught in the battle of eternity, as sinful nature makes its appeal. There's no telling the paths of life one will go down with sin at work in their life, nor the people that will be impacted and influenced along the way.
But for the one who confesses sin and acknowledges Christ experiences life with a plan and a purpose for good. The struggle remains in life, but a one can not be controlled by sin and surrendered to Christ together.
Christ restores what sin destroys.
On this #missionsFriday, pray for missionaries as they work around the globe, to share the message and power of Jesus Christ with those who have not experienced the freedom of eternal life. Pray for the realization that life on earth is meaningless if the assurance of where we spend eternity is unsecured. Pray the chains of sin and its destructive nature will be broken and the captive heart will be made free as people confess their sin and surrender to Christ.
The freedom of eternal life. No longer bound by sinful nature of life on earth. With the promises of God, may we live out the plan and purpose He has for us, making a positive impact as we live our life for His glory, a story of the love and mercy of the cross of Jesus Christ.
**NOTE: I wrote the title before I found this pic. #destined
There is so much to be thankful and grateful for on this Thanksgiving Day.
In this great nation of the United States:
We give thanks for the love and the grace of God and the transforming power of salvation through Christ's sacrifice on the cross.
We give thanks for those who have served in military and public service, in defense of our country and community. They have sacrificed their lives and time away from doing life together, as my friend celebrates this day with his "other family", the fire department in the city he serves.
And on this #deaconThursday, we give thanks for Pastors, Missionaries and church staff, who all make great sacrifices for the Kingdom of God and the cause of Jesus Christ. They give so much of their time, their talent and the treasure to invest in lives of those in their community.
Critical attitudes come naturally, but humility and awareness give light that there is more to life than one's self. And on this day, we give pause to thank those who have given and continue to give of their lives in order that we may enjoy, all the more, the one that we live.
On this #deaconThursday, pray for those who have and continue to serve this nation and our community through service to God and to Country. May God strengthen and protect each and every one. Pray for the families and friends affected by their service and those who have lost family and friends by that service; may the Holy Spirit comfort them and encourage them anew and afresh, as many mourn while we give thanks. Pray this Thanksgiving Day, that many come to faith in Jesus Christ, recognizing that ultimately, the life we live is because of His life, that He gave when He took our place on a cross meant for us.
"Do as I say, not as I do."
Famous last words by every parent. Ever.
It occurs to me, that the statement bears truth for two reasons.
1) There are some things which are actually justifiable for adults...perhaps not right, but still, adulthood/parenthood takes trump.
2) The older we get, the more we realize there are issues and disciplines that we wish we had recognized the importance of their place in life much earlier in our lives. Whether habits to implement, life skills to perfect or attitudes and behaviors to disengage from, the list can get quite lengthy upon further reflection.
Friends from college were commenting on social media that our college days felt as though they were only 5 yrs ago. It's been much longer. And I read the comments, thinking... no, college was a while ago. I'm nowhere close to feeling "like it was just yesterday." Too much life has happened. I feel as though I have felt the passing of every year. Full of prayer, frustration and promise.
Prayer must never cease. The frustration eventually fades. The promise remains.
His grace is sufficient... for our kids as they learn. For adults, concerned over what they haven't learned.
Every generation hopes they don't screw up the one they are raising. And the ones being raised promise they will do better yet. Parenting will never be perfected. Not as long as the teenagers remain a force to be reckoned with. But even then, there's prayer and promise to help manage the frustration.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, for pastors and parents alike, praying and believing for God to accomplish the miraculous in and through this generation of young people. For the world they are inheriting, for the world they are watching unfold before their eyes... pray they develop an unshakable faith and an unrelenting grip of the promises of God. Pray for a focus which keeps at the forefront, the character of God more than the works of God. Pray for grace... for pastors and parents with the struggles they pray their kids avoid. May it not rob their joy or consume their life, as they trust God to intervene on their behalf.
Generations, upon generations gaining ground for the glory of God and the cause of Jesus Christ. Not because of the evolving/learning process of humanity, but by the transforming power of the work of God in the lives. Starting with me.
How true are these words?
Resolving matters can be a daunting task to those who don't revel in problem solving... especially where people are involved.
It also doesn't help where and problems seem to compound themselves, building upon previous instances, whether they be 50 minutes ago or 50 hourse.
And in our attempts to make things right, it's entirely possible to make things worse. Such instances are usually accompanied by the words: "You're not helping!"
It can often feel as though problems are trending, as if they were a Twitter or Facebook phenomena. You're barely past one problem spot and bam! Another moment requires your attention. It's as if, there's no break. No reprieve. No "can't something go right for five minutes" period. And in the midst of all this, you hope and pray that your "making things right" actually comes to fruition while you attempt to avoid hearing "you're not helping", lest you come to the point that things might unfold worse than what you anticipate.
For the Christian and those in ministry, it's just one more way the enemy uses to throw you off your game, that you are not nearly to close to God as you think, carrying out His will as you hoped or secure in your faith as you believed.
Pray this #associatePastorTuesday, for greater insight as to how best solve the problems they face, whether personal or vocational. Pray for discernment and insight as to how they can effectively help in situations and circumstance where the mind can fast forward to "worst case scenarios". May they be reminded, that the enemy has already be defeated, and for every remembrance He brings up against us is opportunity to recognize again, we are God's. Satan has reminders of his own that he hates to hear brought to the forefront. Pray for pastors, that they never forget who is who, in this life.
One, victorious over-comer.
One, defeated foe.
For the glory of God. To whom who makes all things work together for GOOD for those who LOVE God and are CALLED according to His purpose. Help us make the best out of the difficult, the challenging, the problematic and the worst that we face.
I can't believe it almost Thanksgiving again! And the joys and busyness of December are quickly racing up on us.
While I am looking forward to some incredible food (that I should probably start making room for starting tomorrow), I know many people dread the stress, tension and uncomfortableness that comes with the holiday season.
With good reason, often enough. Personality clashes, unresolved matters whether real or perceived and the downright drama, that for those whose lives are already full, have no room for hearing, let alone having to deal with, whether it happens once a year or once an hour.
Then there are Pastors. Not immune to personality clashes, probably both kinds of unresolved matters and perhaps more drama than we could care to hear about it.
If that weren't enough...they hear about all the drama we go through this time of year, in addition to everything else we encounter. Don't forget, church ministry and operations continue. A world, also not immune to personality clashes, unresolved issues and drama.
On this #seniorPastorMonday, pray for the strength and courage to press on and stay the course. Pray for wisdom in navigating the clashes, matters and drama. Pray for guidance as they help those in need work through the tension and trauma for situations they would rather avoid and forget, rather than face and repair them. And for those Pastors who have similar situations in their lives, outside the church, may God work the miraculous in revealing the truth of the matters at hand, and leading them in the best course of action.
For each of us and the families, friends and homes that are represented, may we experience new found freedom in Christ, as we cast our cares, Holiday and otherwise, on Him. For His glory. For our healing. Through the power of Jesus Christ. With the comfort of the Holy Spirit
If only life were exactly this easy!!
We got bombarded with snow yesterday. Non-stop, all-day, open the windows of heaven, snowfall. And in the evening hour, our lot had still not been plowed. Not even once.
What are they waiting for? This is ridiculous!!
It would have been great had it been done sooner, but I imagine they waited until a time where there efforts would be and show the most effective use of tools to move the snow.
Too soon and nobody would be able to notice they had even done anything (which maybe they did when I wasn't there, in which case, point proven). Efficient, but not really effective.
Too late and the work would be much harder and take longer to complete.
Effective, but not the most efficient
So it goes with the ministry and outreach of the church. If the people aren't ready for whats taking place in ministry, the results could be dismal at best. Not effective. Conversely, if the people are so ready and the church or ministry seems to have a lag or "dragging" trait, they may not wait for whats going on, the work that will be required moving forward will increase... significantly. Not efficient.
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, that churches and ministry will have and use discernment in their timing of ministries, services and outreaches. Pray for a greater sensitivity to the heart and will of God for their purpose, of what God has called them to accomplish. May they remain true to their mission, utilizing time, resources and people wisely as the perform the work of the church. Pray the church and its' people are quick to respond when God calls "NOW". May, neither the people nor the ministry have a lag, neither will they be in a rush. May the work effectively and efficiently, even while there is "wait" to moving forward.
I've been blessed with some incredible friends, especially in recent years. People who believe in us. People who understand our struggles. People who have dealt with similar circumstances in their lives, that we are encountering with ours.
While it's great to have friends who can relate, listen and offer advice and support, it's even greater to have friends, who in the middle of a conversation via text, send "we'll be praying for you guys".
Perhaps, its God reciprocating... as for the past number of weeks, and I've spent considerably more time in prayer through the course of my day, God continues to bring people and their needs and situations to my remembrance, in praying over their family, finances, careers and businesses and healing. And I've walked away in amazement, getting updates that things are going well, people are doing better and business is better than ever.
Its nothing I've done or said as if I'm someone more worthy and worthwhile than the next. I am not.
But prayer, as a practice, costs little to nothing in the big picture.
Yet the power of effectual and fervent prayer cannot be priced with a tag.
Its with similar hope, I look forward to whats in store in my life, for as much as I've heard the reports that followed my sharing "I'm praying for you", I can't help but wonder what God will work, knowing someone stands in the gap of heaven and prays for me.
Imagine what's being accomplished as you pray for your friends. As your friends pray for you.
As we come together, daily, to pray for pastors, churches, missionaries and community.
This #communitySaturday, PRAY! Pray for your families. For your friends. For your neighbors. Co-workers. Bosses. People you are upset with. People you don't speak with. People upset and avoid talking with you. For those you can't stand. For those you can't stand without. For favor. For healing. For blessing. For strength in marriage. Forgiveness of past wrongs. Forgiveness of current frustrations. Grace for mistakes. Grace for moments of stupidity. Grace and forgiveness for actions, attitudes and speech, the result of anger that arose to get the better of us for a moment.
May God work the miraculous, for His glory. In your life. In your friends. In your community. In our nation. God, would you heal our land and touch your world. By the power of the Holy Spirit and the blood of Jesus Christ.
Thursday was not the greatest of days. Well, it was in ways that weren't work-related. One drop would have been enough. But there were a couple more. Then there was mine...not a contribution I wanted to make.
As I drove back, I prayed what God might have for the #missionsFriday post. Still reflecting on the frustrations of the day and my recently discovered contribution to the mess, I wondered...
do mistakes happen on the mission field?
It'd be foolish to think they didn't, as missionaries and their teams are just as human as you and I. But what do they look like?
Logistical errors and delays in distribution of resources? Miscommunications with the people-groups they are attempting to reach? Scheduling issues when missionaries are doing itinerary and raising funds? The list might be longer than you think!
It's easy to think the work they do comes naturally because of the very nature and concept of missions.
Be that as it may be, the struggle is real. The burden they carry for the lost and the hurting is great. The passion they have for the people-groups they reach out is incredible. And the potential for burn-out in the ministry is just as great as it is for pastors.
My mistake bothered me for quite some time after I realized what happened. The boss wasn't exactly thrilled on the phone. It'll probably come up first thing in the morning. And while it matters, it's not an eternal matter. Missions... it's foundation is eternal. How much more frustrating the mistakes missionaries deal with, live with and have to move forward in spite of, compared to what you and I face in business.
How much more, should grace abound regarding mistakes on the mission field!
Pray, this #missionsFriday, for the missteps and mistakes on the mission field. May they pursue to do the work of the Kingdom with excellence at all times. Pray a spirit of grace about their lives, to cope and to cover the mistakes in ministry that may occur along the way. Pray for strategies and processes to be instituted, to help keep the frequency of mistakes at bay. Pray against the potential for burnout; for strength in the midst of the struggle; for help in carrying their great burden.
This world and all that is in it, will one day pass away, as will the mistakes that go with it. But for eternity, God uses all of it for His glory. May His grace cover the negative impact of our mistakes upon the message of Christ. May all realize just how short we fall in light of the goodness and greatness of God. Pray we draw ever closer to God, as we continue to live and learn.
For His Glory... because it's His Story. Our lives, pointing others to His.
I feel God dropped in my spirit last night, a slightly different take on this #deaconThursday prayer focus. In past weeks, we've have prayed for deacons, admin and staff to rediscover the value of their work and ministry, for discernment in the decisions they make and the impact of their front-line engagement with the community.
We all wish, hope, pray and long to believe that deacon boards and pastors get along wonderfully and offer incredible support to each others efforts in their respective areas of ministry. Yet sadly, we have all experienced first-hand, moments and occasions where that is not the case.
You would think, the prayer focus would be on praying for them as they deal with these issues. The twist? What if they are, or are perceived to be the issue? How is conflict handled among leadership, not just leadership v. staff? How are matters handled when moral failures arise? Theological differences? Operational and ministerial decisions that are detrimental to the church itself, it's congregation and the community they serve?
Settling matters and disagreements are difficult enough when you like each other and appreciate each other and the responsibilities each one carries. I'm not sure how want to imagine what happens when life and ministry has taken it's toll and the likability and appreciation factors are no longer in place. Devastation comes to mind. I imagine this is an area over which churches split. Tragically. Repercussions extend to people who were once strong in the faith, now desiring little to nothing to do with church. And those in need of church, now second-guessing themselves... unsure if it's "worth it". It is, but after this, it'll be an uphill battle.
Pray, this #deaconThursday, for churches in trouble, because of problems with board members, admins and staff. Pray for healing and reconciliation in these matters, to as much extent as possible. Pray for discernment and understanding as conversations transpire. Pray for wisdom, for Pastors, as they try to navigate situations where administrative problems overtake their schedule and hinder ministry efforts. Pray that the spirit of hostility, mistrust and suspicion will cease. Pray that while the outcomes may be less than desirable, may all parties go away, understanding still, that what the enemy planned for ruin and harm, God will use all circumstance for His good purposes.
Disagreements resolved. Dissension dismissed. Positioning of power and assertion ceased. Emotions and thoughts subsided.
May cool heads prevail as waters of dissent are navigated. May the church remain, standing strong, even in uncertain and tumultuous times. For the glory of God and His higher purposes.
Peace and unity within the body of Christ; for His name sake.
Something occurred to me this morning, as I thought about today's prayer focus.
There are no lessons needed for destruction.
If it's possible, to offer lessons in mess-making, than I should start a company and hire my 3-yr old as a trainer.
Negativity, sarcasm, a "down" attitude...kids can learn that simply by watching.
The ability to build, though, while someone can usually pick up a good number of skills from watching, is by and large, taught.
Someone has to take the time, to engage and invest in showing the learner, the process, the logic, the approach, the tools, the materials, the "how", problem-solving and vision and strength required to see the project through to completion.
In an incredibly tumultuous time in our world, we need to encourage by word and example, the need and power for faith in God.
It is the only thing that will remain after their time on earth is complete. It forever changes life after death, not to mention what they will accomplish and encounter during the life on earth.
This #youthPastorWednesday, pray for the building and the building up of faith in the lives of kids and youth. May the learn the tools and the processes to grow in their knowledge of God and their daily relationship with Him. May the witness the strength, courage and stamina to withstand the elements of life as people around them continue to trust and seek the face of God. Pray they grow to live lives that build, rather than destroy. May the life who acknowledges their Maker never by a mess, although there will be plenty of mess they may have to endure. Pray they will experience life, complete and abundant through the grace and love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
A people that build. For the glory of God. Raise them up and use them, for the plans and purposes you have ordained.
Full of excitement. Full of disappointment. Full of victory. Full of defeat.
Full of advancing. Full of retreating. Full of plans and revisions.
Smiles, laughter, hugs and tears. Serious solemness. Deflating drama.
We all live our own; we all have our own and occasionally, situations intersect.
You can relate because you've experienced it first hand. Maybe you can't relate because you have no frame of personal reference. Whether you are a first-hand witness or a third-hand account, as we go through life as we watch life unfold for those around us, we experience varying levels of concern.
And every once in a while, the power of God transcends it all and transplants your thoughts into "what would you do if it were happening to you". You may not recognize Him as the source of the process, but there's really no other reason for one to set aside their own life to show compassion and concern for another except for the latter 6 of the 10 Commandments being summarized to "love your neighbor as yourself".
The depth of one's concern makes all the difference. What you say. What you do. How you engage in conversation. How you encourage and show support.
Where there is little concern, one will notice. Where there is great concern, one will be moved.
Lives are rarely changed by lip service. Lives are always changed by acts of love and showings of support.
On this #associatePastorTuesday, pray that in all the busyness of pastors and ministry, that their concern for the lives in the church and community would be great; that through the power of God, people would be moved by the love and support they receive. Pray for strength, that as they give of themselves in ministry, that God will redeem and replenish their spirits for the love and support needed in their own families, friends and homes. May people realize the love of God through Jesus Christ, as the church works as God's hand extended, to meet the needs of those struggling to live life. May hearts and minds be changed for eternity as people willingly set their own life aside, to show concern for their neighbor...that regardless of their ability to relate, love and support would dominate their words and deeds; never giving simple lip service a chance to do injustice.
For the glory of God. Who so loved the world, that He gave His only Son...
and the world noticed that people were moved.
While preaching yesterday on God's temple, using the story of Christ kicking the money-changers out of the temple as his primary text, Pastor made this observation when it comes to how we communicate in all manner of circumstances:
-Speaking the truth without love, is brutality.
-Speaking from love, but without truth, is hypocrisy.
-Speaking the truth in love, is maturity
I know we've prayed on similar subjects before, but once again, as reality has checked our spirits again in recent days, the world needs people who recognize the truth of the circumstance and with pure motives and a clean heart can speak what needs to be said with confidence and authority, as well as understanding and love.
Without such a balance, the repercussion and retaliation from those who hear is criticism at best and, well, just about anything could be worse. While the world may take it's time recognizing that God and His Word are TRUTH, the church must not waiver. It's not rules and regulations. It's not old testament versus new testament. It's not about God contradicting Himself. It's not even about Christians who have failed to accurately represent Christ as they live in a fallen world full of broken hearts convinced that they are "good" people.
Christ's death and resurrection, whereby He conquered Hell provides us opportunity for Heaven. Without Him, our destination upon death was guaranteed. With Him, we have a choice to make. And with that choice, allowing Him to work in us, to live a life different from what we would on our own. Truth. Love. Truth in His love & love in His truth! Now more than ever, we need to continue to pray this message moves forward from the church today. The full gospel of Christ. For if parts are missed, skipped and overlooked, we risk the world perceiving God far from accurate... as a brutal, hypocrite. Yet look at Christ' ministry... everywhere He went, people "stood in amazement at His teaching".
As we pray this #seniorPastorMonday, pray the truth of the love of Christ would continue to permeate hearts and minds. May people come to know and understand Christ died not for a relationship of rules, but one of love. Love that would dare not leave us as the mess in which He finds us. Pray pastors would not live in fear or anxiety or concern to speak anything less than the truth in love and to preach the same, from the pulpit...the Full Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Christ, being Truth, wouldn't die for a lie. He wouldn't take the place of someone He didn't think wasn't of value. He wouldn't leave Heaven's splendor if you weren't worth rescuing from Hell. Pray we don't diminish His sacrifice by ignoring His gift.
God do the miraculous, in hearts & lives today. Your Truth. In Love. Our Eternity. Changed...in one decision. For Christ.
The problem with prayer and specifically, praying for a person or a people to return to God, is that one does not know to what measure circumstances and situations will have to occur in order for the return to take place. Like rescuing someone from disaster, the intervention may still involve some damage
It's almost foolish to think we could and would pray for God to work in someone's life and change their heart without some struggle and difficulty. That there wouldn't be some resistance. Like trying to get someone's attention. The longer they ignore your attempts, the louder and stronger you work to get them to take notice.
It does, in fact, take God working the miraculous, which often involves a spirit of brokenness, in order to bring people to the place where they acknowledge their need for Him and that it comes from a spirit of love, not spite, revenge or judgement.
Imagine the quandary of God's sovereignty. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is able to take what was meant to destroy us and use it for His good. He has plans and purposes to prosper, not to harm. He stands at the door of your heart and knocks; meaning He's not busting in, but as a gentleman, waiting patiently for you to respond to Him. Having said all of that, He sent His Son to rescue the lost and the dying, spiritually. Nothing happens in this world without His ordinance or His permission. For even Satan couldn't rise against Job without speaking with God regarding Him.
So what will it take for people and nations of all kinds to return to God? I don't know. That said, I don't exactly want to wait until we are on the brink of disaster to discover to what extents God will go to rescue us before we cross the line of eternity.
If there is a decision today that can be made that would guard against an "unknown" risk factor, why would one wait?
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, that decisions to return to God would be made today! Pray that many would understanding that it is indeed possible to miss out on eternity by waiting too long to acknowledge and accept Christ as Lord & Savior. May the love of God be made real, that regardless of the situations people find themselves in this morning, that He still loves them, has a plan for their lives and desires relationship with them. Pray the saving grace of Christ on the cross be made apparent. Pray that the knowledge of man, past experiences and characterizations who people THINK God is, are set aside for the TRUTH of who God is. May this be a day, that many come one step closer to the fulfillment of the promise that one day, every knee will acknowledge JESUS IS LORD!!
For the glory of God and the cause of Jesus Christ. May many return HOME to God, before eternity calls their number.
The past two Wednesday nights, our devotionals have been on the life of King David, and the process of "Becoming". What's incredible about this process, is that, in the beginning, when Samuel goes to pick the one who would come to be Israel's greatest King, David's father doesn't even think to bring him in from the fields for consideration Samuel is left asking, "Is this everyone?" Israel's next king was an afterthought, summed up with, "Well, there is David".
Being led of the Spirit always involves a call and a response.
Thursday night, in the matter of 2 minutes, I had a brief chat with a man I greatly respect and admire. Upon leaving and for the 5 minute ride home that followed, I sense I was getting a spiritual tap to the back of my head. As if God was saying, "I gave you a specific response and you didn't give it to him." Like King David telling Nathan he wants to build the temple. The prophet Nathan gives one answer and in the night, God says, that was the wrong response...and Nathan goes back in the morning and says, "about last night..." Granted my response Thursday night wasn't wrong, but it wasn't the specific response I felt led to share. So, Friday morning, I had to make a phone call...along with the phrase, "About last night..."
Is this everyone? Well there is David.
Similarly, when I shared Friday morning what I was supposed to, I was met with, "Why didn't you tell me last night?"
And while I had a number of reasons, none of them stood up to anything, in light of I didn't follow-through on the prompting.
Pray, this #communitySaturday, that as the church engages community, we will follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Pray for proper discernment, that these opportunities will not be used to share our own thoughts and ideas, but that there will be a true sense that God has a specific message for a specific time and a specific person. Pray for the process of what God is trying to accomplish in lives as we go through the process that David did, from being forgotten in the fields to elevated among the elite, feared and famed throughout Israel and the surrounding nations. May we remember that God has good things in store for His children, plans and purpose to prosper, not to harm and that He does in fact use ALL things for good, for those who are CALLED according to His purpose. Pray we RESPOND correctly and timely.
Prompted by the Holy Spirit. For the glory of God. His purpose fulfilled in our lives, in spite of our moments of failure, whether they be one or many.
"A different world cannot be built by indifferent people." - Dr. Peter Marshall
No matter your place in life, difference can be made and be effective by each and every one of us.
Interestingly enough, Dr. Marshall also stated that
"Small deeds done are better than great seeds planned."
The miracle of missions is that it requires one to care. How will you do, if you don't go? How will you go, if you are not first compelled to move on the basis that, by the grace and the power of God, you could help change lives for eternity?
So much of missions is planned, organized and strategic. And all of it is great, helpful and in this day and age, almost required. Even still, people who care enough to step out and do, faithfully, in the minutia of tasks and activities, will discover, I belief, some incredible rewards await them in heaven. May they never forget or neglect, the power of humble beginnings and continued, faithful, humble service for the cause of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.
This #missionsFriday, pray for the strength and stamina to continue in faithful service. Pray for those starting out, that God would provide as they prepare to enter the field. Pray for divine appointment and placement of people, resources and finances to help prepare the way and advance the work of missions; that God would move on their behalf, granting them favor with governments and communities. May they experience the miraculous in a greater dimension.
May great plans not overshadow faithful service, performed by special people committed to building a better world through the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To the glory of God the Father.
It's awesome when churches are doing well. I love hearing about churches that operate debt free. There's incredible impact that is made by long-term pastorates and a stable pastoral staff. Healthy churches make positive changes in the communities they serve. Their effective ministry becomes a go-to recommended resource for those in need and unaware of where to go for help.
Longevity and stability breed greater opportunity for broader influence.
Comparatively, unhealthy churches, with relatively higher staff & pastorate/pastoral turnover, burdened by either debt or low financial income or a combination of the two...struggle to serve their communities effectively.
Turnover rates affect the churches ability to offer stable, effective ministries. Outreaches hindered by financial concerns suffer, either through low-turnout, lack of volunteers or lack of resources to maximize their potential.
It is what it is and I know the struggle is real. There's no condemnation if you are or know of a church in such situations; it's just heart-breaking hearing about them and knowing they exist.
And we have a society with an increasing desire for community and sense of belonging while at the same time wanting nothing to do with the church.
For every church in ruin, for whatever the reasons, there are a small group of individuals, committed and praying things would be different. Stability. Finances. Community. Ministry. Influence. In their neighborhood. For their friends. For their families.
On this #deaconThursday, pray for church operations in ruins. 1500 pastors a month leaving ministry is wreaking havoc and the daily evidence to support it is mounting. They are done, and while its understandable, it's also, largely preventable. Pray for strategies and process to be implemented that will help curb this exodus of pastors and staff. Pray for the miraculous regarding the financial outlook of struggling churches. That debt would be eliminated. That attendance would rise. Pray for a national return to God. For the health of our communities. To reach the lost, the broken, the poor, the suffering & the dying.
Pray for life. Pray for health. In our pastors. In our churches. Mental. Emotional. Physical. Psychological. Financial.
As the pastorate goes, so goes the church. As the church goes, so does the community. As goes....the nation.
I experienced a Dr. Seuss moment of fatherhood two nights ago. Getting ready to put the girls to bed, I uttered the following, in unscripted, unrehearsed honor to the great children's writer...
"Go, pick up your barbies and put them away. Not on your table, not on the floor, not in a big pile right by the door".
I'm reminded of a comedian, who tells the story of the listening ability of his children (or lack thereof), yet, when the grandparents came over and Grandpa no sooner stepped in with the announcement, "Now let's if Grandpa has any money for these wonderful children", they heard that and responded.
Similarly, so do we as Christians, respond to what sounds awesome, fun and befits our interests and desires. Not so much for the "feels like work" tasks, "do I have to" moments of dread and "it's not my mess" responsibilities. The more I realize I don't have it all together, the more I sense the profound, simplistic truth of the Apostle Paul, "follow me as I follow Christ".
As we lead our families, as we lead ministries, as we lead lives honorable to God hoping the world will take notice of the hope that is within us, I'm praying my kids don't remember all the times I've failed in life; but rather remember how I encountered some missteps attempting to follow Gods' lead through Victory road and by His grace, kept pursuit of Him who was leading me.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, that there will be a level of continuity between what kids witness in the home and what they see during church services. Pray for the conversations that will take place in both home and church when there are seemingly gap(s) in the living out of faith. Pray for wisdom, for when Pastors are called to address the concerns of their kids. Pray for the integrity of today's youth and kids Pastors, that they remain devoted to pursuing God and fulfilling the call of ministry on their lives. Pray God answers favorable, the prayers they pray regarding the youth they serve and the situations in which they live.
Miracles. Direction. Focus. Clarity. Continuity of faith. Handed from one generation to the next. Witnessed. Exemplified.
Deemed worthy of pursuing Him. May our kids follow in the paths of good and righteous steps. For the glory of God.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.