Is is not awesome how the body works?
Simply fascinating. Utterly complex. Eternally Brilliant. Painfully broken.
For all our strengths, weaknesses and quirks along the way, it doesn't take much observation to notice when one is tired and cranky. Most easily, this is recognizable between a parent and their beloved child (said the Dad, whose own parents can pick up on the signs in their adult son).
The child simply can't avoid the obvious signs. Mom and Dad know when the kid is near a breaking point. Yet somehow, as we adult and mature, we get better at hiding our state of exhaustion. Physically, we can hold it at bay for a while. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, it's easier to contain to the casual observer. (Once again, with exception being the parent of said adult)
We disconnect. We withdrawal. We cover with smiles and pleasant greetings; not in an effort to be fake, but from a genuine desire to protect. Perhaps ourselves. Maybe those around us. Yet the inability to confide and release the internal struggle we all battle only leads to our own demise, like an untreated acid, that works its' corrosive powers on our soul. It's only a matter of time.
All too often we associate burnout in ministry with longevity.
Pastors with decades of service to the kingdom of God. Thousands of tragedies and horrific events that they have been privy to, as their congregation and community has lived through unbelievable struggle and insurmountable difficulty. Frustration. Heartbreak. Loss.
An overwhelming number of situations and circumstances that are simply to much to speculate. Of course, the longer one has been in ministry, perhaps, the better they are at keeping up the perception that all is well, rather than someone young and fresh in ministry who may be struggling.
But that doesn't mean, that those who are still in the early years of ministry through the "first half" of their service, don't find themselves battling burnout. Perhaps it's not the wearing down over time, but specific events that have quickly burnt them. It happens. And whatever the cause, the effects are hard and far-reaching. And for pastors of youth and kids, the eternal impact is perhaps even greater than... no.
Burnout in or burnt by ministry at any stage is detrimental to the efforts of positively impacting the kingdom of God.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, specifically for pastors ministering to the next generation, and have already been burnt or are experiencing burnout in some form. May God begin, even now, to work the miraculous in their hearts and minds. Pray the Holy Spirit would strengthen and comfort them and place them in conversations where they would be able to release the struggle from within. For the events that have caused or prompted this process... whatever the details and difficulties, may God do a healing and restorative work, to whatever degree is possible. Pray wisdom and discernment in the conversations and the process that follow; as life moves forward and ministry as well; that God would keep them and guard them, as they open themselves again, to be used by God.
For His glory
For the cause of Jesus Christ;
Who is able to work all things for good.
For those He loves and calls, according to His purpose.
As I continued to reflect throughout the day yesterday, on the message of greatness and servanthood and the understanding of what's involved in the process, I remembered the word, menial.
Servants do "whatever."
Whatever is required.
Whatever is necessary.
Whatever needs to be done.
Whatever is asked
Often lacking in importance.
Often lacking in glory.
Often lacking in recognition.
Often lacking in support and resources.
Seemingly never appreciated
Seemingly never good enough
Seemingly never what I would like, hope, or desire.
We all dream of greatness. Of Aspirations. Of Hope.
To be people of significance.
To be people of influence.
To be people of accomplishment.
And in the midst of all of that, life. The everyday responsibilities. The menial. The mundane. The to-do list, chore-list and next-project around the house list. Help clean-up. Help with kids homework.
Life goes on. As does ministry. And the nagging sense that there is more... that we can't seem to get to because of the "stuff" for which we must continue to work at, just in an effort to maintain.
Yet, there is honor to be found, in faithful service to the "insignificant".
It's what propels us to the possibility of being able to serve in a seemingly, more-significant way.
So, pray this #associatePastorTuesday, for those struggling in their service and role in life and in ministry. For those feeling overwhelmed by the mundane and insignificant, may God strengthen their hearts and minds afresh. For those broken and weary, from seemingly lack-luster "results" from their work and dedication, may God comfort them with the promise that His Word will not return void; that their service is not in vain. May God provide sovereignly for those frustrated by a lack of support, resources and encouragement. Pray the power and comfort of the Holy Spirit would refresh and revive their spirits... for what we feel insignificant, God places great value.
Whatever we do,
May we do as unto the Lord.
For His Glory.
Regardless of the value we ascribe the "insignificant".
I watched an incredible sermon last night; a message on Jesus' teaching on service... His reply to James and John about who would sit at His right hand and His left, come eternity.
The nuggets, hidden in Scripture. Matthew's account adds the tidbit of info often overlooked in this story. It wasn't James and John who asked this of Christ, but their mother, Salome... who just happens to be the sister of Jesus' mother Mary!
Jesus... this is Aunt Salome asking... where will your cousins sit, as rulers in Heaven?
Oh, the audacity!
Jesus, didn't miss a beat. "You don't know what you are asking." You don't know what that involves. You don't know what awaits the future of the ones who will hold such glorious positions. For what they will endure on Earth, you would not consider glorious.
The pastor talked about the propensity, however, for church leaders and pastors to get caught up in the mindset James and John held. Close to Christ. The inner circle of friends. Powerful ministry. Passion. Et cetera. Et al. Yet, how much self must one be concerned with to have your own mother inquire of Christ on your behalf, while you stand next to her in the same room?
The pastor's descriptor for such a mindset?
Isn't that a great adjective? And for a church whose pastor has this mindset, the experience can be as painful for the church as much as it is to have the physical condition! It's a good way to experience a change in ministry that is less than positive; for pride goes before the fall.
The desire to be great can be strong, for all it's worth; but if its' unable to humble itself to be the servant of all, then nothing will come of it. Not to mention, most of the time we have no idea what is in store, for those willing to serve. Nor do we have any idea what blessing we miss out on, by remaining focused on greatness rather than servanthood.
Join me, in prayer, this #seniorPastorMonday. Pray that pastors would retain, or return if necessary, a spirit of humility in service to the kingdom of God. Pray the spirit of greatness would not quench the desire of servanthood for those in ministry. May they not forget, of what God has accomplished in their lives and ministries before of who Christ is; not because of who they are. Pray a spirit of repentance, where called for... that pride would not derail, detour and destroy ministries that are currently on the verge of disaster or collapse as a result of an ingrown mindset. Pray the Holy Spirit intervene on the hearts and minds of those unable to acknowledge the fall is near; pray God's grace for those not ready for what's in store, should they not humble themselves before the Lord.
Healing for the ingrown;
From a place of humility.
Not for our greatness,
But for His glory.
A thought occurred to me yesterday afternoon, as our family worked on putting up the Christmas tree... and kids attempting to help.
Participation awards don't mean that you are an effective contributor to the event.
It is simply somewhere along the medium between showing up and another mark in the loss column. It certainly doesn't not guarantee, nor help ensure a point towards a win; let alone a mention in the record books.
This is the difference that sets teams, organizations, families, communities and churches apart.
The difference between a people who are more than conquerors and less than winners.
Everyone is on the same page moving with the same purpose.
They are there to the end.
They are there for the win.
They offer everything in support of the goal.
They work with the end in mind, while understanding the importance of offering their best for that specific moment, because they know that anything less, takes away from the process rather than enhances it.
Sadly, the lack of this mindset has cost the church greatly over the years.
And the church knows it.
Their community knows it.
Society knows it.
It's time we change it.
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, God would help the church; that our eyes would be open to where we are lax; where we are missing opportunities and where resources and people are not appropriately placed and positions for success. May God grant wisdom to church leaders and coordinators, to be wise stewards of who and what are under their purview, to discern what is available and what is required for the church to be more effective and efficient in communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ.
While the methods may change,
May the message remain.
God is Love.
Man forever changed.
As frustrating as parenting can be at times, I can't help but be grateful for God's sense of humor, that makes us for the most part, look at this time on our lives and lovingly refer to is as "the joys of parenting."
How is it, negotiations between a parent and adult take on a whole new form compared to the conference room or bull pen.
Whatever it was my 4-year old wanted, she offered hugs in exchange. Bribery works well.
And either before or after that instance, was another moment... one that nearly caused my wife to fall of the couch in laughter.
"If you don't get my cookie, I don't get you anything for Christmas!"
Oh the joyful sounds of the season. Christmas is around the corner. If you think you should get that, you had better straighten up.
If only such negotiations worked amongst adults. Yet in adulthood, circumstance and distinctions are made that make our actions, words, and attitudes seem rational and justifiable by comparison. Yet, as we teach our kids, similar things are dismissed as we try to instill in the them, the basic, bottom line of "doing the right thing".
Then of course, we live in a day and time where people keep moving the lines. We removed absolutes, and redefined morality; told God where He can and can't be discussed. Right, wrong, justified, reasonable and when I'm an adult not living at home.
No wonder living and engaging society has become a challenge. We keep our distance safe, our words few and our commentary on life politically correct.
I'm not for kumbaya, but we have lost the simplicity of childhood relationships, attitudes and actions. Be nice to all people, even when they aren't towards you. Be kind. Be loving. Be a friend.
And don't forget, offering a hug may be a strong negotiating strategy than you remember.
Pray, this #communitySaturday, for God to do the miraculous as we live in difficult and tense times. Pray for relationships that need healing and restoration; for attitudes that are out of alignment with who are; for words that don't glorify you. Pray forgiveness for the hatred and bitterness that we have allowed to enter our hearts and minds through circumstances not working out how we would desire or hope. May we not overthink Christianity with our minds, but seek Him will all of our hearts.
To love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
To love our neighbor as ourselves.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Happy post-Thanksgiving Friday! An interesting day for reflection on a couple lines of thinking.
Some of us are enjoying an extended weekend with time off work. Others, thankful for God's provision in their lives, are experiencing that provision by reporting to work this morning, for either a portion of the day or most of the day.
Yet today, many from both camps will meet each other, as it's the biggest Christmas shopping day of the year. ("Your money is about to become my money... in a week or two, when the next paycheck arrives" -kind of mentality)
Black Friday was summed up with somewhat of an irony... a meme was posted to social media yesterday, as Black Friday being the day we go and buy a bunch of stuff we don't "need" just hours after spending a day in gratitude for what we already have.
As a part of the gratitude, we are thankful for those who serve their country and community and thus, were away from family and friends on the day designated for thanks. Among them away in service, are missionaries... in service to the kingdom of God.
Meanwhile, we are quick to share our finds and bargains and "black-Friday deals" with friends and strangers alike.
The question remains, are we sharing with others, the greatest "black-Friday deal" of lifetime, when for a 3-hour period, some 2000 years ago, Christ paid the grand total of the balance due on humanity, in order that we might be redeemed?
Pray, this #missionsFriday, for those who've yet to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. During this time of gratitude, during the occasion for "special savings" this holiday season, may the believer in Christ be as excited to share about the savings available to us through the Cross. Pray the church remember not only to be consumers of the Church and of God, but contributors to the church and ministers of the Gospel. For our lives are not our own; nor are they about us, nor what we possess. May we live to exemplify and glorify the grace and the greatness of God.
Whether at work,
Or at play...
Whatever is in store this day
May we live for Christ.
In service to the kingdom of God.
Truly, there is so much to be grateful for, this Thanksgiving day.
Quite simply, that we are breathing should suffice.
As I shared in special mid-week Thanksgiving service, the other night; this has been a difficult and challenging year, spotted by a number of circumstances that could have worked out to much more worse than what they did. Only be the sovereign hand of God's grace.
My incredible family. Great friends. God's provision and protection over our lives. Indeed the list is long.
Yet, once again... as I reflected on this day of gratitude the pastoral perspective, the list took a turn.
I am thankful for the 1500+ pastors, who every month this year, chose to remain in ministry.
I am thankful for the 500+ missionaries who have stayed on the mission field this year.
I am thankful for churches that, despite difficulty and troubled times have kept their doors open.
For the salvations that have occurred as a result.
For the healings.
For the restorations.
For the break-throughs.
For wisdom and revelation
As my friend shared the other night, that God had moved upon his heart, to step into areas of ministry, that made him pause and think, "I'm not the person for that position". Yet, he and many more like him, have responded and stepped out in faith and God has honored them. New friendships have been formed, people's faith have been strengthened and visitors have been welcomed and loved by the body of Christ into the presence of God.
I thank God for granting and imparting wisdom to pastors in knowing and seeking the face of God as to who should serve with them in ministry, for their church and community.
Conversely, I thank God for the body of Christ, that steps up to serve along side pastors and give countless hours, whether they be on staff or simply answer the call of God on their lives to contribute to the church in order than ministry may happen.
For those who pray.
For those who give.
For those who contribute.
Indeed, one member of the body should never look at another, and say, "I have no need of you."
We need each other. We need Christ at the top.
Thus, pray, this #deaconThursday, that God would strengthen those who come along-side, to stand and serve with pastors. May God honor their faith and their faithfulness to the church and community, as they set aside other activities and priorities, that ministry may proceed. Pray God's protection and provision over their own homes and families and they work to help and improve the lives of others. May their faith be fortified, their hearts and encouraged and their spirits revived.
Most importantly, on this Thanksgiving Day, may we be people of gratitude.
That we would know God.
That we would love others.
For we have been blessed by His Hand
We should extend ours in return.
For the glory of God and the cause of Christ.
The more I interact with my own kids, the more I realize the importance of protecting them.
I desire them to live a full life, to enjoy life, to experience God through life, here on Earth.
As an adult, I understand life is as full of disappointment as it is excitement. Sadness and mourning as much as happiness and rejoicing. Loss as much as contentment. Lack as much as abundance.
Yet, as my friend shared this evening, I'm thankful for the naivety, of their present stage...
Life is grand, except when it's not.
It's often more troubling than it is at peace.
It's often more frustrating than it is joyful.
It's often more depressing than it is uplifting.
And this, from the outlook of the adult. How kids respond to life and circumstance are largely influenced by how adults and people in positions of influence respond to life and circumstance.
If I am calm in high-stress situations, I instill the importance of such a trait while teaching them that such a response is possible. Otherwise, I show the potential disaster of responding from emotion and fail to teach them self-control... among other things.
Pastors all the more. Adults learn what they are capable of from the leaders in their lives, whether in business, politics or religion. So, if we remain somewhat pliable from influencers in our lives, all the more for kids and youth watching how the pastors and ministry leaders respond when life comes against them.
And life does come against us all. It rains on the just and the unjust. Pastors aren't better or greater than the rest of us. They are prone to problems like the rest of us. They struggle to respond appropriately, like the rest of us. They wrestle with their faith like the rest of us. They are, after all, people like the rest of us... and more importantly, sinners like all of us.
All the more reason, as leaders in matters of faith, we should want them strong in the Lord, not only for our benefit as adults, but for the benefit of our youth.
Thanks for joining me, this #youthPastorWednesday. Pray that pastors, especially those leading our youth, would be strong in the Lord. May their faith be fortified, in spite of the challenges, difficulties and frustrations they face. May God give them discernment in their decisions, as well as in the conversations they share, as they discuss their experience and the how their faith impacted and influenced the same. Pray a hedge over their ministries, for protection over the innocence of our youth. May the enemies attacks against them be thwarted. May the principles of God's Word be instilled deep with the souls of our young people, that indeed, when they are old, they will not depart from the plans and purposes God has for their lives.
Life is not about us.
Never was, never will be.
Everything speaks to the person(s) around us.
May our lives speak truth;
Bearing witness to Jesus Christ.
For the glory of God.
Indeed, God uses the foolish things to confound the wise.
In like spirit, I think God uses the simple things to remind us of who He is when the complexities of this life would have us guessing and questioning the entirety of the process.
Situations come and go. Frustrations and distractions cause some of them to last and linger longer than we would prefer. Decisions must be made; actions must be taken. The mental taxation of it all can keep us, even rob us, of appreciating this life He has blessed us with... to the point we often fail to enjoy and at times, LIVE, as we are meant to be living it.
Instead we live by our emotions and mindset, rather than the beliefs in our heart and the courage of our convictions that accompany them. This process can happen at any stage, but I think there can be a confluence of events when people find themselves somewhere near the middle. Perhaps, by age or financial position, somewhere in between along the corporate scale... parenthood (for instance, when you feel like you are dealing with teenagers before their numerical age is remotely close to that phase).
Where are you in life?
I'm in the middle.
Whatever. Just in the middle.
See how quick that mindset can become dangerous?
Mediocrity lies in the middle. If we aren't careful, it can motivate us to propel quickly upwards or it can depress us to spiral downward, even more quickly.
Yet, it's the minor things... the 1,000 consolations of God, (if I can borrow a concept from the Kevin Sorbo movie, What If) that, if we remain alert and aware of God moving, ministering and speaking into our lives that will keep us moving forward. Whatever the pace and status of our journey, God always finds ways to interject reminders that He is with us, that He has plans and purposes for which we are to fulfill and whatever weighs on our hearts and minds, He has the resources to move on our behalf.
Pray, this #associatePastorTuesday for pastors feeling stuck in the middle. Perhaps in ministry, at home or life in general... whatever their struggle and frustration, pray God would bring comfort to their hearts and peace that surpasses understanding to their minds. For wherever they may be in their relationships, marriages and parenthood, may they be encouraged that God is working out the details. The struggles, the fights, the battles... as unpleasant and aggravating as they are, may God strengthen and gird them up; for what is meant to destroy them and take them out, even burn them out... may they resolve their commitment to God and the calling He has placed upon them to remain steadfast and firm. Despite feeling and perhaps literally being in the middle, may they be reminded it is only a season.
Faithful in service.
Steadfast in position.
Focused on the work at hand;
Laying our frustrations at His throne.
All to be used for His glory.
You know you are having a true writer's moment, when you are tempted to begin a blog post with, "I have to be honest with you...", then realize, it implies to your readers, that perhaps you haven't been up to this point. After 500+ posts, I think you'll agree, this would not be a good move.
So, just say what you mean to say.
Up until late last night, I hadn't given much thought to what today's perspective would be. Then, somehow my mind began to reflect on pastor's sermon. As we enter into Thanksgiving, he spoke about the 10 lepers and the lessons we can learn, from the one who returned with gratitude. At the close of his message, he described the difference between living in a monastery and a prison.
(and this is my paraphrase:)
In a place of solitude, the difference is attitude.
Prison is unsettling, frustrating, unfulfilling; a place of anger, pain, and discontentment.
Thoughts of thankfulness and gratefulness are far and away from the front of your mind.
Conversely, the monastery. Settled. Calm. Fulfillment. A place of peace and contentment.
Thankfulness and gratefulness are on the forefront of your mind.
We all have our times, places and moments of monastery.
More often than not, we find ourselves in life's prison.
And once again, I'm reminded... pastors are not immune to the same experiences as the rest of us. Even Thursday, at the end, as we prayed specifically for pastors who have sons and daughters who are away from God... prodigals. And yet ministry goes forward, despite the troubles and concerns at home. I simply can't fathom. Actually, I can to a degree and that alone scares me.
Pray with me, this #seniorPastorMonday, for pastors struggling in life and ministry. For whatever reason, they feel as though life's current moments are more like prison, than a monastery. Pray for the situations, whether at home or at church, that are attempting to rob their joy, steal their zeal and shred their spirit. For thoughts that are consuming their mind and conversations that are ripping their hearts, may God minister to them and strengthen them anew and afresh. May the Holy Spirit comfort them and bring them peace... beyond all reason and understanding. Pray a fresh indwelling of thankfulness and gratitude; that God would reassure them that He is working all things together for God. May their efforts in ministry not be hindered by their distractions; but that hope would rise up within them.
May praise ever be on their lips
And complaints far from their hearts.
Minds set like a flint
As they trust in God for the miraculous.
Peace, that surpasses all understanding.
"The Church loses everything, when it loses the spirit of prayer." - Pastor Jim Cymbala
We aren't known as a house of compassion, healing, restoration, teaching or fellowship. Not for great worship, great preaching, great friends and great ministry.
It is Christ, who declared his house to be known as a house of prayer.
Thus, if we lose the spirit, the desire, the wherewithal... the urgency of being people of prayer, what is left that would cause people to seek out the church? What value to we offer a society and a culture in desperate need of God if we do not experience relationship with Him through the avenue of prayer?
Pastor Cymbala says it like this:
"When you pray, God comes.
When you don't, He doesn't."
Thus, pray #effectiveSunday, that the church would indeed be people of prayer. May we hold fast to the spirit and desire to seek the face of God and witness His presence in our midst. Pray the sense of urgency never gets set aside or shuffled in favor of other things; grand and necessary as they may be. While service on Sunday may witness great attendance, pray an increase in those who gather for prayer. As my pastor always says, the church moves forward on its' knees.
May we know God,
And seek His face;
To know His will
And experience His power.
"If our houses aren't houses of love, then they can't be churches of God." - Pastor Jim Cymbala
What more really needs to be said, this #communitySaturday.
Seriously? I'm tempted to leave that as it is.
And why not?
The early church didn't have lights and sound and buildings.
Scripture doesn't even name specific individuals as the church was birthed. (Acts 11:19-21)
No personalities, no ego, no special effects.
No extra words to write, by me or anyone else.
Just Jesus. By the power of the Holy Spirit.
For all that God is, it begins and ends with His love.
Thanks for joining me this #communitySaturday. I'm watching the kids play at McDonald's Play Place, as we await power to be restored at our residence and I just looked up to see the first flurries of the season are falling. Let us pray, as people realize again, that times are changing, that for whatever problems they face, may they hear and know that Christ is the answer. As people are searching for solutions, since the problems are well known, may their hearts be prepared to receive the truth, as it is Jesus. May the church and the people of God be people who are known for our love. For it is how we are told the world will recognize those who live in Christ. May it not be by our socio-economic status, our political leanings, the brand we wear or drive or watch; not by our denomination or our stance on social and cultural issues that dominate conversations in the public square. May we exalt Christ alone, that the Holy Spirit may engage in affairs of man.
God is love.
Jesus alone saves.
I had the incredible opportunity to sit in on an event for pastors yesterday, where over 600 pastors and church leaders came together to be refreshed and receive serious amounts of knowledge from a healthy, respected, stable church leader or pastor. (And by healthy, I'm talking about spiritual, emotion and mental perspective)
As I shared on social media last night, the wisdom this Senior Pastor imparted wasn't gold...
I walked away with such a wealth of insight and profound perspectives on the church as preachers of the gospel, it's purpose as an organization and on prayer. I'm not sure there's a way for me to avoid not using some of it, as a catalyst for the next few days worth of posts.
Time flies so fast, that perhaps it was a few months ago, now as opposed to a few weeks, but we prayed one #missionsFriday on the topic of "won by one". How much of the burden could be relieved in ministry by believers reaching out and sharing the gospel? This was essentially one of many points made by the Senior Pastor that shared in the first "session". The body of Christ should be reaching places of spiritual maturity where we are duplicating ourselves and not relying soley on the church, the pastors or the missionaries to do the work for us.
It was a great reminder that the body of Christ, much like it can't get rid of other members, neither can it keep to itself. We must remain to true to Christ. We must remain true to preaching the gospel of Christ. We must remain focused on Christ as we lead others to do the same.
On this #misssionsFriday, the world doesn't need more of the church, but more of Christ! Thus pray to that end, that ego and personality, belief and doctrine, teaching and practice would stand in the way of people hearing and receiving the truth of the gospel of Christ. May we be careful to not get so caught up in doing church that we neglect the reality that we are called to be the church. Pray God would help us to relieve the burden of ministry on pastors and misionaries by reaching out to those around us as witnesses of the grace and mercy of God and the forgiveness of sins through repentance. May the truth of Gods Word be illuminated and revealed to those who have no frame of reference or concept of who God is and what Christ' life means for us today.
As we take personal initiative to expand the kingdom of God.
As we are called to do.
For the gospel is not about us,
But Christ alone; and Him crucified.
For the glory of God.
We all need it... some more than others (like those in denial of needing any in the first place!)
Everyone has days were we don't need any help; then there are those days where it is blatantly obvious that you are in over your head and there is no denying the fact... "this" is beyond you.
However, knowing we need some sort of assistance and actually stepping up to the plate and asking for it are worlds apart. This is a reality for many; hence conversations that include statements such as "I can't help you until you ask me". It's not cruel or unusual... it is a necessary realization that adds depth to the experience of having received help. Certainly, it shows our frailty, our humanity and our propensity for error and inadequacies.
Conversely, it's an opportunity for understanding, for compassion, and often, an education.
Affirmation and reaffirmation of the knowledge that others care and are "in the know" in areas we might lack provide comfort that we are not lost without hope.
All the aforementioned was my vein of thinking as I read Ephesians 3 during my lunch break yesterday. Before arriving at the awesome of verse 20, (Now, unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us...) we read Paul perspective on his purpose of ministry
Considering himself "less than the least of the saints", he offers some incredible encouragement in the verse that precede verse 20.
He prays for the church at Ephesus, that God "would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and ground in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God."
They were in need!
Strengthened by His spirit. A fresh indwelling of Christ. A greater comprehension of the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. All to overflowing with the fullness of God.
What a great word... to be capped off with all glory to God, who is able to do exceeding abundantly above our questions and thoughts.
On this #deaconThursday, would you join me in prayer for an event for pastors with the purpose to strengthen, encourage, equip and build up their inner man. Pray for these 600+ attendees, in like manner that Paul offered. May they be strengthened by God's Spirit. Pray a fresh indwelling and outpouring of Christ in their lives. May a great comprehension of the love of God through Christ resonate in their hearts and minds. For the struggles, frustrations, challenges and difficulties that are represented... may the grace and kindness of the body of Christ supersede whatever looms over their hearts and minds. May insight, revelation and perspective bring a sense of clarity and comfort. May the only sense of overwhelming that exists by days' end, be that of the love and knowledge of Christ and the fellowship of like-minded ministers of the Gospel.
May ministries be propelled to the next level, as a result of what church leadership and staff receive today.
Now, unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think,
according to the power that works in us.
Unto Him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end.
I had an unexpected light-bulb moment yesterday afternoon. Once again, as everyone has been watching reactions and responses to the new political realities and possibilities, people are reminding us...
Kids are watching.
While that reminder continues to circulate, others are asking, how did we arrive at this reality?
And the answer lies in the day-to-day interactions between adults and young people.
Clearly, in the past few decades we have taught some of the right things in the wrong way, as well as, we have simply taught the wrong things period. The possibility that we have taught the wrong things well is a little too disturbing, although perhaps, a fairly accurate assessment.
The recognition of this fact increases the importance for what we teach the next generation of kids that are watching. As educators, professors, teacher, pastors, people of prominence, of influence, with a platform and a voice to be heard, the messages we send have a lasting impact.
The impact varies, but one never knows exactly what will carry for the years to come. The insignificance is remembered for life; the important is learned many times over before its' weight finally sets in... and with it, regret for not having made the application of the important a priority, sooner.
So much to pray over... for these are tumultuous times. Adults are confused. Young people are frustrated. Kids are scared. While the answer is found only in Jesus Christ, communicating that truth through the noise of society's distractions, as legitimate as those issues may be, will require the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, pray this #youthPastorWednesday, that God would help us navigate these difficult days. Pray that pastors, teachers and parents would the clarity of insight and the truth of God's Word to answer and address the concerns of today's youth. May God help us to clear out the noise and to reach the truth, relevancy and application of lessons learned from the issues and struggles of the past. Pray that God would help those in positions to bring about positive change; pray for those who will be affected by the changes. Pray for life and healthy over the interactions between the adults and our young people... for clarity of calling, of purpose, of resources, of communication and understanding.
May God be lifted up,
As we honor Him in both word and deed.
To communicate Christ is the only answer
To a culture desperate for the truth.
Wisdom, understanding, forgiveness, compassion.
Well, if you are watching the news at all of late, (I'm still keeping mine very limited) you'll recognize we are once again bombarded with the importance of who leadership surround themselves with as well as who they "tap" to serve with them, in positions of prominence. Whether they be department heads, directors, managers, VP's, this is always a difficult and interesting process.
People place different priorities on words and deeds of the past, belief systems from "back then" versus "here and now" and whether associations from "days gone by" are still in play and relevant today.
In the midst of all of this, are the conversations that continue to take place at the present time. Goals, dreams, aspirations, fears and hopes. What are the desired accomplishments and outcomes? What is feasible and reasonable? What is impossible and can be dismissed now?
The element of this conversation that always strikes me, isn't so much the conclusion that the decision-maker comes to, resulting in "passing" on a candidate, but the candidates' own recognition that they are not the person for the opportunity in question. Perhaps they don't feel they are the right fit, the right experience or qualifications or some other "right" factor that simply isn't there. Perhaps it's just not an aspiration; their contentedness and quality of life are such, they they feel they would be doing a disservice to their family, community and self to be doing anything other than what they are doing and where as well as for whom.
We've prayed over leadership teams and their advisors, after their formation, but what transpires before they become teams? Today, let us pray over the formation itself.
Pray, this #associatePastorTuesday, for wisdom, on behalf of the decision-makers and the candidates. As conversations take place, information comes to light and conclusions are made, pray the choices of who should be placed where and when would be made clear. Pray for discernment as leadership looks, not for the best or the brightest, but for God's will... for the person or persons He has ordained to step into those opportunities for ministry and leadership and service to the church and the kingdom of God at-large. May candidates as well, remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit, knowing when and where the open door awaits that they should walk through and when the should state, this is not of God; not for me, not now.
Clarity of purpose
Throughout the vetting process.
To know who God would have where and when.
To be used by God for His glory.
Sovereignly placed, to be effective for the cause of Christ.
I got caught off guard while I wasn't paying attention yesterday morning during the worship portion of the service.
Actually, I was paying attention... I just didn't expect a light-bulb moment at the time the Holy Spirit flicked the switch within me.
I wrote yesterday's prayer before leaving for church in the morning, so the concept of my daughter's excitement being in a new store for the first time was fresh on my mind. As the band began to transition from singing "Oceans" to whatever they played next (I'm now drawing a blank), the worship pastor prayed, that indeed, we would step out on the water... not in fear, but in faith. Then he proceeded to pray, that we would step into the unknown with Christ, as an adventure... essentially, that we would be excited about the prospect of what might be in store, rather than hesitant because of our fear.
Enter the switch-flipping moment.
How often do we approach life with excitement, as a kid entering into a store they've never been in before, yet God calls us to go somewhere unknown and the apprehension and fear rise to the occasion.
You want me to do what?
You want me to go where?
Speak to whom?
Tell them what?
Do you know who they are?
What they'll do to me?
How they'll respond?
Yeah... I'm not so sure this was a good idea.
And God simply responds.
Do you not know who I am?
Do you not know where I am?
Do you think for a moment, that I would lead you, then leave you?
Should we step out without God's leading and prompting, then it's a different story and we could be in for some troubled waters. Fortunately, God specializes in troubled waters.
Pray, this #seniorPastorMonday, for senior pastors facing troubled waters. Whether they find themselves there as the result of having stepped out without God or they stepped into the unknown and the excitement has waned... may God be their strength and their guide through difficult times. May their commitment to seek the face of God and hold fast to the faith they profess remain strong. Pray God guide their steps and grant them wisdom as they navigate the storm. Pray for comfort and peace, in knowing they are not alone; may people come along side, to encourage and spur them on; that all is not lost nor has hope run off. May the power of the Holy Spirit lead them in confidence and boldness through the uncharted waters of faith into the perfect plans and purposes of Almighty God.
Deeper than our feet could ever wander,
And our faith will be made stronger,
In the presence of our Savior.
We rest in your embrace, oh God.
To be used for Your Glory and Honor.
So, yesterday my oldest attended a birthday party at the theatre in town and she had a great time. The youngest didn't want to go, so my wife ended up at the movie and the youngest and I got lost.
We went for a little drive and ended up at a store, that I'm trying to recall if I've been in before. Perhaps once, a number of years ago. It didn't take long for me to remember, what I've written about a couple of times here.
"At a certain pace, it's hard to be both effective and fast."
Just as I typed that, I remember the day, Dad told me I could no longer use the riding mower to mow the grass as my childhood home. That old Cub Cadet mower was a fun beast, except for that afternoon that Dad asked what gear I was traveling in, that made it look like it was not cutting as well as it should. To which I replied, "third".
Third was top gear.
That's how it was yesterday. I knew where my daughter was in the store and she wasn't going round so far that she was out of sight or anything, but always a few feet further along than I was.
Dad, come here. Dad, check this out. Dad, look at this!
Yes, I'm getting there. Yes, I see it, Yeah, that's cool... hang on a second!
Likewise in ministry...
Churches can grow too fast in numbers...
Churches can take on too many projects, events or ministry opportunities...
Churches can implement too many elements into a ministry before they are necessary....
And much like individuals often do, churches can simply move in ways, directions and speeds that we find our ourselves stepping out and away from where God would have us to be, go, do and move... in places where He is not ready for us to stand.
And much like my youngest...
God look over here!
Yes, but I'm not ready for you to be over there. I am not with you over there. I am here. We're doing this now.
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, that the church would recognize, hear, understand and respond to the voice of God. May we find ourselves where He would have to be and be used where He has placed us. Pray for wisdom and guidance to stay the course and has destined for us; that we may not move away from His Spirit; that we would not detour from the plans and purposes He has in store that we should accomplish. Pray the church remain focused on the ministries God has called us to and not distracted by all the other opportunities, that while legitimate, may not be where God would desire, whether just for a time and season or ever. Pray for discernment, that leaders would have the mind of Christ as they lead the people of God to make an impact in our culture for the cause of Jesus Christ.
Efficient in pace.
Effective in ministry.
Balance in the journey
For the glory of God.
Well, I'm kind of bummed.
While people are going off the walls in response to the fear of fall-out from America's President-Elect, one of my favorite fan groups on social media is being shut down Sunday night. And many are furious, frustrated and equally bummed. One administrator for the group. She's managed it for 6 years, by herself. And during this emotionally charged week of politics, people couldn't follow two-simple guidelines. I understand where people would find it challenging, since the page was about what many consider the greatest political television drama ever and one of the "rules" was no comments about real-world politics or politicians, but still... two-guidelines.
As if there wasn't enough material this week, to provide insight into how the church engages community and now this, "sadness".
You know who else had two-simple guidelines? Jesus Christ.
Boiling down the Ten Commandments to two, incredibly simple concepts.
Love God... with all heart, soul, mind and strength.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
There isn't a problem here... it's how Christ would have us to live.
Thus, the challenge is the interaction with those who don't love God, because they don't know God. They don't know how to properly love their neighbor, because they, perhaps, don't know how to properly love themselves. Furthermore, they don't know their worth, as they are valued and loved by God.
They may know they have worth or believe they are worthy and good, but short of being reconciled to God through salvation in Jesus Christ, what exists to support that worth and goodness? I hope that doesn't sound... I'm not even sure; I do know my Bible says that only God is good, so one must conclude that either man thinks he is god, based on his goodness without God or we recognize that in light of God, we fail to even come close to making a comparison.
"All have fallen short of His glory" comes to mind.
So, yes, I'm sad about the fan page closing.
Yes, I'm sad about how people have responded to the election.
But most importantly, I'm sad about how people respond to God, and to Christians who genuinely desire to see people come to Christ; but insist on wanting nothing to do with Him because they perceive Christians as less like Christ than their understanding would lead them to believe.
Indeed, the church has some work ahead. And only by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pray, this #communitySaturday, that God would heal our land. The conversations are hard and filled with emotion and tension, fear, wrong-perceptions and misunderstandings. Pray the church would seek His face and trust in Him. May God help us to speak the truth in love, even when it's difficult to receive and to hear. Pray God would bring understanding and revelation to peoples hearts and minds. May many come to a place of recognition that are value and worth are found in right-relationship with all-sovereign God. Pray the church would be able to step outside themselves and love like Christ, not as the world thinks they understand Christ, but as we follow Christ and have experienced His love in our own lives. Pray God move and intervene on the hearts and lives of us all; for those whose faith needs to be fortified, for those whose faith in God needs to be established.
Truly, the church can not do this by earthly power.
We need the Hand of God.
A sovereign move of His Spirit
To accomplish the miraculous that many know we need.
For His Glory
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
What an incredible week.
And then yesterday. Which is exactly where we are going to leave it.
For whatever reason as the afternoon rolled through and the frustration of the morning crawled away at a snail's pace, I found myself thinking about decisions.
We all make them. Good. Bad. Indifferent. Benign. Some of great importance. Others of equally great insignificance.
Of course, then there's concept I picked up from a former co-worker (and this is my paraphrase)...
a million times and you won't think twice, a thousand times will make you think again, a hundred times the call will be too close, but it only takes once and you'll rethink it all.
We don't always get it right. I, more than I care to admit to myself, let alone anyone else, rarely (or so it seems) get it right. I have my days where I don't like my decisions. I have more where I don't like others. I have many more that people don't like mine, either!
Regardless of you share floor-space with under one roof, at the end of the day, the person who must be confident in your decisions, experience their success and consequences of the same, is you. It doesn't help that the second-guessing factor in the equation can drive you to insanity if you are not careful.
Unfortunately, time-travel isn't possible, so me must proceed moving forward and prayerfully consider where re-routing my be in order in our lives. Hopefully it leads us back to God and a deeper faith in the knowledge of who He is and what He has in store for us to accomplish... even when we fail in epic proportions at a staggering expense.
Pray, this #missionsFriday, for missionaries across the globe... in their lives where they are struggling with current, past or pending decisions. May God lead, guide and direct them to what they are to say, where to go, with whom they are to interact and how they are to respond. Pray a spirit of encouragement; that they would be strengthened and lifted up as they continue to place Him first, and seek Him as their lives unfold afresh each morning. Regardless of their locale, and the people they reach out, pray a grace and an understanding over their conversations. As they interact and her peoples stories and experiences, may their be a revelation that takes place... that God's decision to send His Son Jesus Christ was outrageous and extravagant, to the point that no matter how outrageous our decisions seem, God still desires that all would be drawn unto Him.
For God is able to use all things for good
For those who love God
For those called according to His purpose.
Despite our faults; in spite of our failures.
I am unable to thwart the Hand of God.
As are you, for that matter.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.