As I reflected on yesterday's post, it occurred to me just how much of that existed with the disciples.
Thomas doubted. He was there. He witnessed. He was engaged. Yet despite all of that, he needed help with his unbelief. How must he have felt in his heart and mind?
Peter. Trying to be what God had for him, yet his mouth and his anger were problematic. And worse, he denies in front of the group that he won't deny Christ, yet when none of his friends are around, he responds in the manner that his ego resisted.
And then there's the tragedy of Judas. All that time spent with Christ and he yet he apparently didn't believe in Jesus' power to forgive such a betrayal. Did he not know what God's plan was for his life? One life to the crowds. A similar one to his friends. Yet under the cloak of darkness, he hands his master over to those looking for a reason and an opportunity to destroy the threat they considered to be Jesus Christ. And he knew. He knew the decision to make to correct that decision, yet couldn't bring himself to do so.
By now, you're wondering where's the connection with pastors who work with kids and youth?
It's a young person who calls Peter out. Aren't you...? Don't you...? I know... I've seen...
When we don't think they're paying attention, they prove they know more than we give them credit for regarding their insight, wisdom and perception. It's enough to make one want to be a better adult, parent, teacher, mentor and pastor. Yet pastors have their troubles. And even in ministry, tragedies and troubles occur, as much as we'd prefer they didn't, let alone think about them and have to deal with them.
Where there are inconsistencies, there are messes.
Pray this #youthPastorWednesday, that pastors would lead their ministries by living consistent lives, especially in front of today's youth as they need the truth in a world full of lies and confusion. Pray for situations and circumstances that exist, but shouldn't. Pray for correction, healing, forgiveness and restoration in matters and relationships that unhealthy and problematic. Pray for today's young people... may God protect them by His strong right hand. May the learn to live and walk with a clarity and confidence of the truth of God, His Word and His purpose for their lives.
For God does not waste our experience,
Nor our pain and tears.
Clean from the mess
Beauty from the ashes.
Living with an intentional focus,
For the glory of God
I had an interesting line of thought yesterday... one that wouldn't go away. It's the concept that in this world, we live at some point in the day, one of five lives.
1) The life/person we project or display in public
2) The life we live at home
3) The life we live alone
The next two lives are where things get interesting.
Number 4 is our reality... a culmination of our experiences, emotions and attitudes that exist somewhere along the spectrum of the previous three defined states of existence.
Number 5 is the life God has planned and purposed; ordained for us to exist.
The journey of life is never easy. And it doesn't help when these lives don't line up. One's public life fails to align with the home. The home life is inconsistent with alone time. Reality is filled with joy and sorrow, good decisions and horrible regrets; longings, desires and wishes in various states of fulfillment and satisfaction or lack thereof. Thus we find ourselves trying to live them out, while having to live with ourselves at the end of the day... and every moment leading up to it.
We live with decisions, some we'd rather forget. Bad choices, wrong thoughts, misspoken words... it's no wonder life seems filled with frustration, confusion and a general sense of angst and agony.
Then, for the believer, is what God has in store for us. But for the everyday Christian or the everyday pastor, when anything is amiss with God's plan... well, whatever is inconsistent with our lives on their own merit could be even further from God's purpose than if we were living a consistent reality without God.
I'm not trying to be all negative; for certainly, many have seen, witnessed and lived incredible lives that have been true and honest, in public, private and alone while fulfilling God calling and plan for their lives. Of course the difference between those two states of existence are astoundingly noticeable and notable.
And on that note, let's pray this #associatePastorTuesday. For the struggle of these realities and difficulty in navigating them affects us and all and pastors are not immune. May God reveal those areas of life that are not only inconsistent on their own, but are also amiss with the will and plan of God. Pray for clarity as to how we can correct and how to pray that the Holy Spirit would bring about change and correction to us. Pray for healing for the decisions, frustrations and regrets that seek to haunt, destroy and annoy the days and nights as we progress and strive to fulfill all that God has for us. Pray for strength to persevere in the face of challenging conversations and confessions as the Holy Spirit pinpoints the unfinished areas and arenas of hearts and minds; attitudes and behaviors.
For the work of God is never done
His plan never complete.
But He is faithful to us,
Despite our flaws and faults.
May our realities be opportunities
To display the grace and glory of God.
We've talked on numerous occasions on the topic of legacy and impact and the teaching and training of the next generation of pastors that senior and lead pastors engage in when it come to church longevity and it's leadership. And yet part of what brought this back to the forefront as an article I read yesterday morning regarding a well-known megachurch and the succession plan as the pastor plans to step down next year.
If you've read this site for anything length of time, you know I intentionally try to avoid names and places of specific churches and this one in particular; perhaps you've read the same article or could figure it out without much effort. I mention this, though as the article outlines that the succession plan of this particular church and the solution they've arrived at is unheard of to date.
Without getting into the specifics, what's really cool and interesting about their solution is how they are moving to a team approach to church leadership. As I read the article, I could see the understanding and wisdom behind it. The founder of the church will be leaving incredibly large shoes. It's near impossible to consider one person stepping into it's existence.
I could see the benefit of this unique solution; in terms of the balance that it brings to those involved in church leadership; their areas of focus, their lives outside of ministry. It was hard to not think that their solution was fairly brilliant in terms of preventing burnout. However, not only does it remain a ministry, but in this case, it's a mega-church, so the potential for burnout remains at high odds.
That said, long-term church leadership and church existence itself benefits greatly from the vision and foresight to look for the best possible solutions that ensure such an environment. Obviously for this church, whether their unique decision works as planned or not remains to be seen for the next few years at least. But they seem confident and on paper, it's an interesting approach.
So how do we pray this #seniorPastorMonday? Well, first and foremost, for continued wisdom and insight as church leadership moves forward in ministry and in particular, what's the plan for who steps to the pulpit after the current administration. While the end results may be a ways off, pray for the vision of what steps can be taken now so that when the time comes, the church and its' leadership will be exactly where God desires to place them. May burnout be far from their door as they work to implement and live a healthy, balanced life, both at home and at church, with the congregation and with the community. Pray God would continue to use their experience and encounters to advance the kingdom of God, both for spiritual growth and spiritual depth of calling, understanding and purpose.
Life long ministry
Full of stories
Mark by grace
Compelled by love
Empowered by the Holy Spirit
Advancing the cause of Jesus Christ
For the glory of God the Father.
For the past few months, my mind has been wondering in a number of different directions. For those who know me well, that's nothing new. Except for certain things it hinders the process of life and progress. Over a prolonged period of time, is the essential equivalent of stalling out.
Even as I was getting ready for church this morning, I had a few ideas of what to write, but again, nothing really stood out as an obvious direction of what God wanted. This is where we stand in the way. Sometimes knowingly, others unknowingly; but we can miss what God has for us.
In ministry, in our living of daily life, in our faith, in our conversations and interactions; here's my question for the day (and perhaps it's more for me than for you)
What is God unable to accomplish because we are holding out and perhaps unwittingly holding up the process through our indecision?
It hardly makes for an effective and efficient approach to anything that we say or do.
And don't miss the point that I'm overlooking. Some decisions do take time and thought, much prayer and many conversations. But I speak from experience and my friends can attest... it can be over-done. And then some.
Pray this #effectiveSunday, that God would help those facing similar circumstances. May God grant clarity to those having difficulty in the decisions and problems they face. Pray wisdom and discernment to fill their hearts and minds; not to be consumed with whether they see the end of the field, but to see their next steps down the field. Pray for the confidence and peace of the Holy Spirit as they walk in the calling and purpose God has called and ordained them to fulfill.
May we live and move
By the strength and power
Of the Sovereign Hand of God.
For His glory and honor.
Community is an amazing phenomenon. It's possible to be present and even plugged in, without feeling energized and empowered. This is seemingly normal and the stories of such an existence are abundant.
Yet such instances detract from the power of community. In fact, if you consider the analogy from the perspective of real life, being "plugged in" while not doing anything is actually a drain on the system. From the television to the toaster, the transfer of energy is still drawn, even if the unit is not on and functioning according to it's abilities and purpose.
So to, the power of the church community and it's engagement with the rest of world is affected when those within the church are drawing power, but not using it for the purpose for which they were created.
Yes, it is a balancing act, for there are seasons of rest at different times for different reasons, but by and large, the power of the church to impact it's community lies in the church using its power for which it was purposed and created.
On this #communitySaturday, pray that God would help to be plugged in; at the right places and times, in order that we might be best used for the purposes for which God created us. Pray for a strengthening of the church community, that we would be empowered and equipped to be a greater impact in the region in which they reside. May God grant wisdom and direction for churches struggling and those in the community feeling as they are being a drain rather than being used. Pray for the miraculous in such circumstances and situations.
May we live as God intended.
Fulfilling His calling and purpose
As He designed for us to be and do.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I heard an update earlier this week on the interest of missions which is incredibly awesome news. There is a denomination that has a missions program geared towards preparing those who want to come along side and assist missionaries in their efforts. From what I understand they offer the classes twice a year and the fall session is FULL! Like very full; can't possibly add on one more person, even as a personal favor to someone with a little bit of clout.
What a great problem to have!
Missions has always been hard work and will always and forever continue to be full of challenge, difficulty and frustration, but also what an incredible eternal reward. What an impact and a blessing to know that help is on the way; and not just for a handful of missionaries, but for many.
For if we believe in the power of one to make a difference, what will happen when two join together? Does not Scripture tells us they get a greater return for the efforts? The return on their investment multiplies exponentially. Consider it the process of eternal compound interest.
And let's pray, this #missionsFriday, that God would do a great work for those going through the process of preparing for the missions field. Whether they are going as a missionary or to come along side and help, may God accomplish the miraculous through their combined efforts. May hearts, minds, souls and bodies being strengthened as they labor together for the kingdom of God. Pray for the continued obedience of those who are called; for ministry is an absolute reliance upon God for all living and sustainability. Pray they would be encouraged and empowered as they are equipped. May they witness the greatest return on a personal investment of time, resources, abilities and prayer that has ever been know.
For the angels in heaven rejoice
When even one's name is added to the Book of Life.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps you've heard this phrase before, but it was new to me when I heard this morning. It was the concept of deacons as "caretakers of the soul." In simple terms, in breaking down the terminology of the church, consider evangelist as the preachers and deacons or elders as pastors.
So the distinguishing factor comes down to who is delivering the Word and who is taking care of the hearer of the Word. Quite simply and frankly, when one person is handling both responsibilities, it's a recipe for trouble. To shed some like on this perspective, it's similar to the relationship between doctors and nurses. Someone needs to bring clarity and correction to the problem and someone needs to prepare and follow-up on the care and well-being of the patient.
The one who both delivers the Word and cares for what happens after... it's double-duty. It will burn them out twice as fast and cut their effectiveness in half. Those aren't scientifically-backed numbers, but you know first hand what those numbers are for your life when you try to maintain being over-extended for prolonged periods of time. I know what happens to me and it's not good, nor healthy.
Furthermore, though such duties can and do take their toll on those who serve as deacons. As taking care of people's physical and emotional and mental needs are stressful and draining, so too is meeting their spiritual needs, especially as it so often ties into and relates with every other realm and arena of one's life. That said, as all things in this life and these bodies will fade away, only our soul remains. Thus, I ask, could there be a more important role in the Christian faith than "caretaker of the soul"?
Pray this #deaconThursday, that God would strength and encourage these caretakers, who serve the church in these roles, whether their title formally be one of deacon or pastor. May God grant them fresh wisdom and revelation as they converse with people and speak into the health of their lives. Pray for churches where the Preachers are struggling to deliver the Word because there is not enough to help in the care of the congregation, whatever the reasons for such a circumstance. Pray they would be empowered to press on in their responsibilities, as they faithfully serve even in the face of tiredness, frustration and stress.
Peace as they persevere
Faith in the face of frustration
Clarity amidst the confusion.
One step at a time, as we walk this life.
For the glory of God.
Full of choices.
Full of decisions.
Full of joy.
Full of sorrow.
And stress. And anxiety. Worry. Points of concern. Points of contention. Moments of frustration and agony. Time filled with awe and wonder and much more time spent simply wondering.
Yet, through it all. God never changes. He is Sovereign. He is an ever-present help. Yet in the midst of this life, we find ourselves trying to understand and attempting to make sense of the what, why, how and where things will go and proceed to work out... both in the short term and for the long haul.
It truly is amazing what kids go through. And worse, what we put them through. But so much of life is filtered from what we can handle to what they can handle. And no matter how long one has been a believer, we keep coming to God, hoping to get full understanding and information of what is happening or what is in store.
But know... He gives us what we need to know; what we can handle. That's the sovereign nature.
It's hard as an adult. Even harder as a parent. Harder still as a pastor.
Thus, we look to, rely and place our trust in God.
Not only for our lives; but also on behalf of our kids... for they too will one day need to have the strength and fortitude in their relationship with Christ that we all work towards daily.
Let's pray, this #youthPastorWednesday for youth and children's pastors that are struggling in their own lives and with matters of faith in their walk with God. Pray that God would give them wisdom as they navigate the circumstances and situations that they face. May God help them as they relate to the young people they minister to; that God would give them the words and perspective to build up and encourage the faith of today's youth. Pray that no matter our understanding of the day; that we would continue to trust in the sovereign Hand of God. May we daily rejoice in the knowledge and beauty that God does not waste a single experience for His glory and good.
For God is a good Father,
Who has good things in store for His children.
A plan and purpose.
A destiny and a calling.
For His glory.
By His grace.
With His love.
Daily, as we walk this life
So yesterday morning, I'm listening to the Moody Radio Network and Pastor Collin Smith is preaching and he's talking about grace, among other things. He makes a very profound statement, a reminder really, as we deal with the people around us and that's to remember this one simple fact:
We are all merely dust.
The next thing I know, he's talking about pastors and how they too, at times, get frustrated with their congregations and in particular, about how they too aren't always at the place or places that pastors wish, hope or think they should exist. I about fell out of my chair, as we just prayed and discussed that point yesterday! He proceeded to make his point, that it would help in the lives of pastors that they remember as well, that the people who occupy the seats that make up the congregation... they are just dust as well.
On this #associatePastorTuesday however, can I add to the next logical statement on this matter? As pastors battle burnout, partly due to the grace that is sometimes hard to extend to the body of believers, pastors would do well to remember they too are merely dust. One is always hardest on themselves and it's difficult to forgive and allow for grace to permeate our being, even if we have seemingly have an easier time granting grace to those around us.
Nobody can do everything all the time.
Nobody can do everything the very best all the time.
For without the breath of God, we are merely dust.
Pray this #associatePastorTuesday for pastors that are frustrated with their congregations... for an number of reasons and probably more valid than anyone cares to know or admit. Pray that God would grant them the ability and strength, to not only extend grace to the body of Christ, but also themselves as pastors and leaders within the kingdom of God. May God grant to them wisdom on how to best handle the points of contention and circumstances of concern within the church. Pray for discernment as they move forward and the fortitude to not look back.
While we remember that we are mere dust,
May we also remember the breath of God resides within us.
To do and be the people and church He has called us to be.
From both the pew and pulpit.
For the glory of God.
One can only do so much in spreading their message. Eventually, if falls on the hearers to spread the message to places and people where the originator can not go. Consider the power of social media. Posts don't viral because the creator of the content blasted social media; but that the content caught on those who saw and heard responded and shared. Over. And over. And over again. And when it came back around to them a second time, they took time to share it afresh.
Impact is rarely known. At least outside the analytic power of Google. Yet Christ knew the power of the shared story and recounting of events. So to, do Pastors, as they preach and equip the congregation to advance; not because they can do it all... they need the help of those who hear.
More than anything great online that you could share... more than I could hope that the traffic for this site would explode, these are days and times in which the message of Christ needs to go forth more than any other message.
Yet I know how badly I fall short.
And I can only imagine the frustration of pastors who know their congregation also falls short.
Thus, not knowing the impact they are making; not seeing or hearing of lives being changed... leads to days filled with questions that most often begin with...
"Am I making a difference for the kingdom of God?"
Pray this #seniorPastorMonday, that God would strengthen and encourage those pastors struggling with the feelings and frustrations that perhaps they aren't making the impact they hoped, dreamed or believed they would regarding ministry. May they continue to be faithful in their service to God and devotion to the body of Christ even in the "not-knowning". Pray the church would strengthen their resolve to share the message of Jesus Christ; that while may never know the viral impact of our testimony, may the church witness many coming to Christ because of our willingness to share as if we were online. Pray God would help us all; as I for one need it.
To the ends of the earth.
Literally and digitally.
The Gospel was meant to be shared,
Not only from the pulpit,
But lived out from the pew.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
So I felt a little convicted this morning, as I was getting ready for church. Something got me thinking about the power of planning versus doing the actually work, when it comes to matters of effectiveness and efficiency.
I like President Lincoln's take on this matter.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
There are times when the power of effectiveness is found in saying or doing nothing. And while the list of such times are short, I'm not expounding on them hear... partly for time constraints, oddly enough.
Efficiency however, is a matter of stewardship.
*entering the refining power of the conviction of the Holy Spirit we discussed the other day
If we are wasting our time, resources, and abilities; what will get done? And what will hear?
Surely not, "well done, my good and faithful..."
Pray this #effectiveSunday, that God would help us in every realm to be better stewards. Of all that He has granted to us to do, be and accomplish, may we honor Him with our lives as we live, move and have our being in His presence, power and grace. Pray for the continued work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and our ministries. Pray for wisdom to know when to do all we can and when there is power in waiting and silence.
For this life is not our own.
Nor can we live it without Almighty God.
Though we try, we will fail.
For He is the Creator and Sustainer of all.
Let's praise and honor Him today.
Moody Radio Network was doing their fall fundraising campaign during this past week and they had a segment where the talked with car guy, Barry Meguiar. Full of life and energy, they were talking about evangelism and the Christian's interaction with the world.
He was talking about how much we over-complicate the conversation, at times. More often than not, we come across as more outspoken about the problems within society and the sins of others, rather than simply taking the opportunity to share our experience with Jesus Christ.
It's all relational.
We don't hesitate to share our experience and interaction with incredible or horrible service at a place of business; the review of an online purchase or product; the recommendation of a contractor; the latest big screen flick (or flop)... the list goes on.
Yet, we're all, myself included, a little to quick to think twice about relaying a story or experience of faith, testimony or trial from our everyday life or one that we heard from someone at church. Society is nothing but conversation after conversation and having conversations about "having the conversation", but it seems the body of Christ is not directing it, let alone, influencing it. I know that's not entirely true, but it feels that way most of the time.
As Christ interjected Himself into humanity, so must we interject Him into our interaction with humanity.
Pray, this #communitySaturday that the hesitance to share Christ would be lifted. As culture shares their experience over things that will pass away, may we share the transformation that will never pass away. May the body of Christ indeed, be relational and intentional in the conversations we carry on with those around; whether they be frequent or infrequent. May God grant us opportunities to impact our world and may we not be afraid to step through the door and speak when He opens it.
For the glory of God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
"It's the knowledge of sin that is the beginning of Gospel grace." - James MacDonald
James has been preaching a powerful sermon on the Holy Spirit that is currently being broadcast, and this statement is so simple yet empowered with truth. So often we try to make things happen when the conversation turns to matters of faith.
But there's two important things to remember...
It is not ours to convince.
It is not ours to convict.
Yet, as we've discussed a few ties in recent months, society's determination to label and relabel the issues and problems of the day seem to hinder the evangelistic process. How can God do what He needs to do, if we don't understand the condition of our lives as He sees them?
This disconnect leads to many problems... both for the unbeliever who continues to live without a relationship with God, as well as for the believer, when we prevent the Holy Spirit from working in us to greater reflect the character and person of Jesus Christ.
We should have an awareness and sensitivity of the refining power of the Holy Spirit as much as we pray people would have an awareness and sensitivity to the redemptive power of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Thus, on this #missionsFriday, let us pray to that end. Pray for an openness to receive the Gospel as well as open doors to share the same. Pray the continued work of the Holy Spirit, to work both in refining the believer and convicting the unbeliever. May we continue to place our trust in God, rely on Him for all that we have need, seek His face and live out His will for our lives. Pray the truth of His Word would continue to impact, lead and direct all who hear and read it.
Indeed, may we be better readers.
By the power of the Holy Spirit
By the grace of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I'll be the first to admit, I don't have it all together. Nobody does. I recognize that. Yet, the human condition is very real. It is also, very broken.
No matter which avenue of life you find yourself and what perception you have towards others, we all make comparisons at some point. And it's easy to look at those in places of prominence from a vantage point that is nowhere near a level of prominence and notice the mind wondering and wandering. Some handle the differences between their place and the place of another with frustration and self-pity. Others respond to this relationship with criticism. What's interesting about the human condition is a circumstance can exist, either in reality or in the mind, while the other party is unaware and unsuspecting. It happens every day. At home. At work. At church.
Speaking of unaware... I heard of a story recently in which a retired ministry struggled with depression for a year, back when he was a senior pastor. It was news to me. Yet my first thought was (and I may never know the answer) did the deacon board know? I would hope so, in order that they may pray and be the support during that time to help see the pastor through, but in today's world, who knows how churches are handling such matters. With the high rate of burnout, they may not be doing as well as we hope.
So, it's quite possible this #deaconThursday for an individual within church leadership, or the entire board, to be left in the dark. I understand how it happens, as we all have certain pieces of information which aren't shared with certain kids on the block. It's not a matter of secrecy, so much as it's more often a matter of trust and a reflection on the nature and quality of a relationship.
That said, church leadership continues to need our prayers and support, as they continually step up to pray and support those in need within the church and community.
Let's pray this #deaconThursday, that God would give them wisdom as they lead our churches and congregations, even in the face of relationships that perhaps are... more work than they should be at times. Pray for strength and trust as they work for the advancement of the ministry. For the relationships that may be strained, broken or damaged, may God do a healing and restorative work in the hearts and lives of both deacons and pastors. Pray also for those within the church; specifically for those who feel as outsiders looking in and perhaps struggling to find their place within the church and it's ministries. May God do a work within them as well and bring a clarity and a purpose to both their perception and their reality.
For we labor together
For the cause of Christ.
May the church advance
Unhindered, nor dismayed.
But with purpose and focus
For the glory of God.
I don't know that anybody "likes" to talk about money when it comes ministry. However, there's no denying... we live in the real world with real dollars and real lives.
Yet, the culmination of these three dynamics makes for exciting radio, for those who listen to the Dave Ramsey show. If you missed yesterday's broadcast, a young couple, from Utah traveled to Ramsey's HQ in Tennessee to do their "debt-free" scream. The wife in her late 20's, the husband, 30, if I recall and their one year old daughter. And at the end of the call, Dave expounded on his reasoning, about how people change the financial aspect of their lives, it changes their family tree.
This couple had paid off $150,000 in less than two years, most of it being their home. Yes, they took a huge increase in income, based on the completion of an advanced medical degree, but still.
"There's no reason to make this kind of money and be financially burdened"
So, after the call, Dave does the math.
Average house payment of $2000. 40 years to retirement. Invested at a 12% annual return, you're talking $23 million and change. And if Dave is 90% wrong on the equation, that's still 2-3 million in the bank! Keep in mind, that's with zero change in income, no other retirement strategy, no 401k with employer match or anything.
Is it not God who gives the ability to produce wealth? Even the Good Samaritan was a man of some means. Who foots the medical bill in advance of the care for a stranger with a promise to pay any outstanding balance upon their return from a business trip?
Yet, many within the church are bound. Many more in ministry are likewise, bound. And the pressures and responsibilities bind our hands to give generously and our feet to travel one mile, let alone the second.
I get how hard it is. It's a daily choice. People in every walk of life within the congregation are struggling as are every level of pastor. And it's especially difficult for those pastors just starting out in ministry, like those finding their first pastorates working with kids and youth. What an incredible story to be able to share, as they prepare to discuss the realities of life with young people, how they are debt free and the difference it makes as to how they approach both life and ministry.
If you don't think there is power in this analogy, then consider this couple's daughter. She'll be 40 and her parents, 70. They will be taken care of and set, in their final years... perhaps full of life, with no excuse to say no, to what God might call them to do. Likewise, she will have a 40-year foundation of, making sound, wise financial decisions... with an incredible launch point as God prospers and blesses her parents. It's literally astounding to consider, even as I type this. And I can only pray the same for those in ministry who consider this a dream. It doesn't have to be that way.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, that they would be inspired to live in freedom, in every realm, but especially financially. Pray God would give them creativity and discipline in their stewardship. May God honor the sacrifices they make, both for the long-term goals of their lives and for their ministry. Pray God would accomplish the miraculous, in this very real struggle and balance of life. May ministry and life not be hindered because of financial constraints.
That our indebtedness would exist
Only in relation to the Cross of Christ.
May we live in freedom and abundance
And give as Christ gave;
In extravagance and obedience.
For the glory of God and His grace alone.
I spent an hour and 15 minutes on the phone with tech support last night. Surprisingly enough, even though I knew it had been a long phone call, I didn't realize the minutes had racked up that much by the time we had ended the call.
Of course, it wasn't until a few moments later, that I considered a similar time commitment that takes place daily in the life of a pastor. Whether a senior pastor of a small church who has his hands on the pulse of nearly every aspect of ministry or a larger church with multiple associates who are helping to carry the load, it doesn't take but a handful of people over the course of office hours and even after hours, asking for an hour of Pastor's time until a big chunk of the day has disappeared.
No doubt, an overwhelming majority or nearly most are significant, legitimate issues and situations that need to be dealt with or that people need help in navigating; whether it relate to church matters or congregation matters. At least we hope their days aren't flooded with seemingly insignificant problems. But inevitably, even those arise and make it to the top without explanation.
Be that as it may, every life counts. Everyone's time is valuable. Yet organizing one's day and sticking to one's calendar is daunting for all of us, especially when the amount of help is accounted for in relationship to the amount and depth of responsibilities. Add to the equation, family, normal life, emergency circumstances and ministry obligations that may exist outside of the church and it's a full schedule. I stand amazed at how they pull it off; I have enough trouble with my schedule.
Then again, the burnout rate in ministry is ridiculous. And I stand heart-broken, for the many that don't handle scheduling and responsibilities well, both of life and ministry.
On that note, let's pray this #seniorPastorMonday for those overwhelmed by the scheduling and balancing of schedules, life and ministry. Pray that God would bring calm to their lives in the place of the anxiety and worry that may be consuming their minds and spirits. Pray for a clarity of sight and vision; to know how to be plan their day and organize their responsibilities. May God bring a balance to every part of their being and every relationship in their life. Pray for those who would come alongside to speak into their life, to help carry the load and give insight and strategy as to what improvements could be made and how to implement them. May God quicken and strengthen every fiber of their being, even this day, as they commit themselves afresh and rely on Him anew, to fulfill His plans and purposes in their lives.
With no regards of yesterday
And no fear of tomorrow.
Wholly focused on what God has for them today.
For each day has enough trouble of its' own.
And we walk with God
In the confidence of Christ
And the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now and forevermore.
We read the notification yesterday, thanks to the power of social media, that the Pastor who married my wife and I went to the hospital, as we was experiencing incredible back pain. It's turns out there is a bone spur hitting the nerve. They finally came in this morning and said they are going to try a few other things first and that surgery is now a last resort.
However, as last night came to a close and this morning kicked off, I remained in the dark regarding this post. Then God dropped in heart, how many Pastors are getting ready to deliver the Word while in all kinds of pain. My heart goes out to our beloved Pastors, who story of life and ministry over their tenure would boggle most minds as to what they have endured and struggled; as many other Pastors have equally, unbelievable stories of tragedy, loss, pain, agony and frustration.
I don't know how much of what we encounter in life as a "Satan approaching God regarding Job" moment or it's the trial by fire hand of God, but whatever the cause and reasoning behind such matters, I know that it is all the under the watchful Sovereign eye of God.
I know Satan takes advantage of every opportunity to reach in to a place of struggle and frustration and extract from it whatever strength of faith and resolve may reside in the heart of the believer.
I'm just curious...
Does Satan stand in God's throne room asking permission to intervene in our lives more often than we stand in the throne room asking God to intervene on our behalf?
On this #effectiveSunday, pray today for Pastors and my friends, especially, who find themselves in places of pain and agony; whether physcially, emotionally or spiritually. May God gird them up and strengthen them anew and afresh by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray today that indeed, Jesus would make intercession for us, to the Father. Pray for a quickening and fortification of the resolve of faith within the lives of the believers; that we stand strong against the attacks of the enemy, whatever their source of origin. May the efforts and works of ministry that take place today accomplish much for the kingdom of God; not because of a man on the pulpit or the worship on stage or anyone helping in a classroom; but because God inhabits the praises of His people and is found in the midst of where two or three gather in His name.
For there is a higher place to go
Where God beckons us
That we may know Him more.
And He who has begun this work,
Won't let us go.
For once we were weak
But now we are strong.
For the glory of God.
Well, I'm bummed. I heard a great statement the other day that was played on the radio, and not only can I can't remember it all, as it was a long thought, but I also can't find it online, as I only caught part of the reference of the one who said it. Thus you are getting a late post with a developing thought process.
For the past few hours I've been trying to track down these profound words, the Hallmark Channel has been playing in the background. It's sad really, that Saturday morning cartoons aren't what they used to be anymore and nothing else was worth watching, so their movie Love At First Glance is showing.
Giving up in frustration on my search, I have no idea what to write now. Not that I had much before. The long-lost profound statement was so powerful, I had nothing to add it actually. But in the movie, the main character a journalist, Ann is on a quest to learn about what makes the man who left his phone on the train so interesting. They didn't speak on the train, it was just a glance; but now she is faced with writing a Valentine's article on true love and James, a photo-journalist, has challenged her to learn about him by her contacting everyone in his contact list. As they exchange texts early on, Ann asks herself... "What is it about this man that makes me want to tell Him everything?"
Typical Hallmark, right?
Isn't amazing, that no matter what the nature of our "community" in which we live, we still have moments and times, even days and prolonged ones at the that; that we don't feel connected. We don't feel loved or appreciated or valued. We are present, yet silent. Onlooking, but not looked upon.
But then there is God. And the amazing relationship we have with Jesus Christ through the restorative effects of Calvary's Cross. Yet, sadly, even after returning to God, we still hold ourselves back. Not only from our fellow humanity, but from our eternal Father.
What if on this #communitySaturday, no matter where we are, what we do, what we've done or where we've been, we looked at the face of Jesus, with the desire and awe to want to tell Him everything?
Perhaps the shortest suggestion for a closing prayer ever left on a Bring Me 70, but as this has oddly written itself, I'm going to close with this, as we consider our loneliness in light of community and eternity, in the words of former U.N Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold:
"Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for."
I continue to stand amazed... by a society and people who wants right to be done and truth to be told and yet circumstance and conversation continue to seemingly contradict that sentiment.
The right thing fails to be done or said, then we excuse and dismiss why this dilemma exists while demanding it be corrected. We want the truth to count, yet we've dismissed and discredited the sources of the truth and furthermore, all but abandoned the concept of there being absolute truth. People desire the truth to be told, but all too often aren't ready to hear it, let alone receive it.
We hope people do the right thing while encouraging them that their feelings matter and they should act and respond accordingly.
News flash... feelings get it wrong!!
Meanwhile, society doesn't live based on truth, but based on what works.
John Macarthur was preaching on these concepts and summed up today's world quite nicely, if you'll permit my paraphrasing.
We've justified what's wrong in our lives by naming it anything other than what it is: SIN.
The double standards that now permeate our life and times are astounding. And I'll stand with the Apostle Paul on this matter... I'm there. Chief of Sinners? Well, to prove my point, I don't feel like the Chief of them, but one day, my rank as sinner won't matter; just what I've done with the identity label of sinner.
And here's the convicting point of the matter...
There is a direct correlation between the closeness of our relationship with God and our sensitivity towards sin itself.
God has nothing to do with sin. Thus, more of God will crowd out sin. His presence will continue to point out and put His finger on things and areas do not reflect Christ. Correspondingly, less of God will leave room for everything else; that is neither permissible or beneficial. Let the floodgates open that sin may enter without fear of the presence of God overflowing the property of our heart.
On this #missionsFriday, let it be said... the Christian faith is not for the faint of heart. And so, let's pray that God would move afresh on hearts and lives, both within and outside the walls of the church. For the proclaimed Christian, may their faith be truth and steadfast, as it has been said that many will stand before God and say "Lord, Lord..." and yet be turned away. For the unbeliever that wants to know the truth, pray they would be ready not only to hear it, but also receive it. Pray for a return in this world, to understand right and wrong in light of God's Word. May we not live based on feelings and successful efforts, but on the love of God and the truth of His commands. Pray this day, we be drawn ever closer to the presence of His glory and that the Holy Spirit would grant us what we have need of, as God places His finger of areas that need to be transformed, that we may greater reflect the character of Jesus Christ. May today be a great day, of repentance and salvation for the kingdom of God.
For indeed, we are all sinners
And we have all fallen short of His glory.
Yet because of the Cross
And the work of the Holy Spirit
We are new creations
Brought in to right relationship with God
Because of the blood of Jesus Christ.
On any given day, over the course of the day, I usually have opportunity to listen to a handful of sermons via radio broadcast. The cool part is, if I'm in the vicinity of the preferred radio network, I get to hear the same pastors consistently, which I'm truly enjoying. That said, one of the broadcasts, closes their program with an "ask the Pastor" segment.
Yesterday I missed pretty much the entire sermon, but their ask Pastor submission registered in my spirit as today's #deaconThursday perspective. The question was pretty straightforward, and minus specifics regarding the context of the matter, so was the answer.
"Is it possible for a Pastor to have to have too close of a friend?"
And the short answer, was of course, yes.
Keep in mind, the specific context, one is left to wonder... and it's probably best that we didn't.
Friendships are interesting. We've all, hopefully, had some incredible friendships, forever etched in our hearts and minds. Others, we may truly regret. Thus, we approach relationships with wisdom and discernment, keeping in mind one's motives and establishing healthy boundaries accordingly. Never could this framework be more important than in these troubled and trying times.
Business relationships are cut-throat; not that that is anything new. And people have all sorts of reasons for being in the good graces and inner circles of people and organizations who are trying to affect positive change in community, whether they be an influence at a spiritual, social or economical level. Pastors are even more susceptible; to be taken advantage of in any number of scenarios and relationships that may be questionable or inappropriate.
Pastors need what we all want. Strong, healthy friends that we can rely out with second guessing why we have them as friends or how long they will remain friends with us. Furthermore, he who wants friends must show himself friendly. But that's a perspective for another time.
Meanwhile, let's pray, this #deaconThursday, that God would encourage Pastors who feel or perhaps, truly don't have any good, close friends. May the Holy Spirit reassure them, that they are not forgotten nor neglected. Pray that God would bring healthy people into their lives who God use to be and become, a good friend. Pray for a spirit of unity among deacons and staff and those who work with Pastor's in the work of the ministry. May the relationship between them, be well-established, ground in love and the faith as they work for the cause of Jesus Christ. Finally, pray for Pastors who, perhaps, aren't easy to get along with, when it comes to friendship. Whatever the reasons for such an existence, may God do a work in their hearts and minds and trust Him for the transformation and release that He desires to accomplish in their lives, so that they be and have a good, close friend.
For two working together get a better return for their effort
May we engage anew,
For we need the help of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ,
Nearly as much as we need the favor of the hand of God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.