It is both good and important to keep our eyes on the horizon; to have the goal in mind and the vision of how to get there. Indeed, I'd say it is in our nature to do so, for even Proverbs reminds us, that man makes plans in His heart, but the Lord directs His steps.
As such, then, there is a reason for God's focus illuminating our steps and lighting our path, rather than the whole of what lies before us. God is concerned with journey; with the process. Everything has a divine purpose.
There is no waste with God, but plenty of recycling with the events and circumstances of our lives.
The power of His lighting our current position and what lies immediately before and around us, is that we would know specifically where to next as we follow His leading and prompting.
Many years ago, Petra released the song Minefield, and it talks about how life is just that, that the enemy has laid traps and "mines" literally throughout our lives, in order that he may ruin, destroy and kill. Yet if we are so focused on the end result that we miss where we are today and what God has for us now, how we will know where the mines are?
Scripture talks many times of stumbling blocks; how to avoid them yourselves, as well as how not to be one for those around you. Yet like the mines, if the path that awaits your next step is not lit, how will you what to avoid? How will you know what not to become. How will you be aware of that which you could caution others in their lives? Quite simply... you can't.
So, on this #deaconThursday, pray for our church leaders. May God continue to be the light and lamp in their lives; that they would miss the mines that would utterly change their life. Pray that would not stumble, nor cause others to do the same. Pray they would not be frustrated with not being able to see farther ahead or having better understanding of their circumstances. May they continue to trust God for where they are today, how God is working today and that He still holds tomorrow... knowing full well in advance, of all that we have need of to live in Godliness.
A light to our feet
A lamp to our path,
That our steps would be directed of God.
In spite of the plans we make in our hearts.
May we ever stay close to hear His voice
And follow His leading and prompting.
For His glory.
John MacArthur has a series titled Walking In Wisdom, and it happens to be the current series being broadcast, that you can listen to from his website, gty.org.
But something truly profound was explained as I listened to the sermon that played yesterday, and it was John's explanation of the phrase and specifically, the difference between the Greek and Hebrew meaning.
We've talked and prayed on numerous occasions on the topic of wisdom, both possessing it and the application that follows from utilizing it. Whether for the pastor or their advisors, wisdom is crucial.
While MacArthur points out that we have all that we need in Christ, which is profound in it's own right, as we so often think that God withholds from us upon salvation, it's was nearly as eye-opening as this.
To the Greeks, walking in wisdom is an intellectual exercise. It's thought, theory, experience and mental understanding.
To the Hebrews, though... this is very cool. To walk in wisdom is to align with divine life principles.
Isn't that amazing. MacArthur further explains that Proverbs 2 could very well be the commentary for Ephesians 5:15.
Meanwhile, Proverbs 2 is practically a detailed blueprint on how to do just that.
Walk. Circumspectly. In Wisdom. In alignment with divine principles, for the duration of life.
So, let's pray, this #deaconThursday, that church leadership would not only possess knowledge, understanding and wisdom of the intellectual kind; but that they would daily align and re-align when and where necessary, to the divine life principles of the Word of God. Pray they would not try to live life by their own strength, insight or perspective. May they be led of the Spirit, in every arena, in every circumstance, in every conversation, decision and outcome.
Not as the world understands wisdom,
But as God has granted unto them
Through the power of Christ at work in their lives.
For the glory of God.
I'm continually amazed at how God aligns' these posts and they are later followed up by conversations, sermons or interviews in the days that follow (or the next day) that go hand in glove with a particular theme or thought process.
Take for instance, Tuesday's post.
The simple concept that every one of us, with every single thing that we have either accomplished or set out to accomplish began with a starting part where we were neither strong in our ability nor did we have a clue in our understanding.
This was followed up yesterday, by a sermon by Pastor J.D. Greear, who opened his message from Titus with the story of his coaching his kids' little league soccer team. Quite the humorous tale, he points out that it's not much of a game nor is there much to coach. So for all the fun and humor of watching kids play soccer that are barely in grade school, there are really only three objectives for the team.
As I listened to these three points and his explanation, I couldn't help but consider, as a nod to the importance of the basic building blocks of any great organization, that it's sometimes necessary to revisit them. And for churches that are in the process of being planted and leadership teams being established, these points are crucial.
They are also my prayer, not only for the church, but for my family.
1) Go in the right direction.
2) Don't walk off the field while the game is on
3) There is such a thing as positions... there is a point to game, a beauty to the game, plus, you might actually win.
Pretty basic, right? Yet, incredibly profound. Churches split, because people go in opposite directions. Churches die because people walk away before the buzzer. Churches fail because people don't operate at their appointed spots. For indeed, there is a point to the game that makes sense when people are where they are supposed to be. There is a beauty to the game, when it's played as it was intended. And who knows what outcome awaits, but if everyone plays their position, they might actually win!
So, on this #deaconThursday, pray for churches and leadership teams, especially for those churches that are being planted or currently in the very early and formative stages. Pray for an establishment and re-establishment of making sure everyone knows the direction of play. Pray for stamina, endurance and perseverance; that by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God, people would stay on the field. Furthermore, pray that people would play their positions. May they not abandon their post or try to play where they are not equipped or anointed to do so. Pray they would not leave areas open and vulnerable where the enemy may strike and gain an advantage in the spiritual realm.
For the betterment of the body of Christ.
For the testament of the blessing of the church.
For the glory of God
And the advancement of the Gospel of Christ.
What a week this has been. And while I'm incredibly grateful for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us, including the major miracle that God has orchestrated in the past seven days in the life of my family, I can't help put look at the troubling times of society.
We reflect on this day of thanksgiving for how God has blessed this nation and the men and women who led the early stages and built a country to which many across the globe still aspire to be a part of, despite our flaws and failures.
Yet I can't help but wonder, as there is much confusion among the younger generation of men and now the reckoning of the alleged wrong-doings and injustices of the older generation of men. We've always had flaws, imperfections, stupid mistakes and grave decisions.
Decisions that affected their own lives, the lives of their family, the lives of other families, the lives of nations, their relationship with God and the promises He had had given them. Yet God still used them. Their lives weren't without consequence, nor did the society of the day banish them to the deep recesses of obscurity.
In spite of epic proportions of tragedy, stupidity and sin, the patriarchs of the Bible were and are still revered, respected and learned from even to this day.
Thus, on this Thanksgiving #deaconThurday, I ask you this...where are today's Patriarchs?
The movement to "rise up" seems to have a relentless mission to "tear down".
We have failed to recognize (or remember) that it is God who raises leaders, establishes government and places those leaders in positions of authority. And while many have corrupted and disgraced their positions, today's society has not only removed God from being able to deal with such people, but we've gone so far as to convict them in the court of public opinion long before any discussion of legitimate legal proceedings have been pursued.
We have removed the power of grace while people plead for tolerance and understanding.
Confusion clouds clarity for generations until one day, we stand counting our blessings while wondering how we've arrived at this moment.
On this #deaconThursday, we do indeed give thanks to Almighty God for His many blessings and abundant provision. And pray this day for our leadership, both in culture and the church. Pray for leaders who carry out their duty with integrity, honesty and clarity. May there be a respect for what God has created and who he has created for the masculine and feminine sides were not meant to be at war, but to be empowered as they work together... to provide strength where there is weakness, to offer grace where there is failure, to inspire in the face of hopelessness.
May we not rise up in order to tear down,
But to bring others with us as we advance.
Confident in the calling and purpose God has given.
Clear in our identity as found in Jesus Christ.
Not that we would be men and women of perfection,
But of the righteousness of God
For His glory and honor.
Happy Thanksgiving. God blessing and favor upon your lives, homes, and communities.
I'm letting you know now, I'm developing this thought process as I type and literally have no idea, where God will take this. I simply know what stood out to me, as I read from Numbers 20 yesterday afternoon.
It's the passing of Aaron, for the disobedience of he and his brother Moses, regarding God's instruction of speaking to the rock after Israel's complaining of the wilderness. Of course, Moses still has a few more years, before his passing, as he too, obviously is not allowed to enter the Promised Land, for the same point of disobedience.
So often we look at the failures and fall-outs of church leadership and think it's all on the Pastors. But it's not. Aaron's story reminds us that advisors and counselors to the leadership are just as much held accountable.
Miriam's death, Aaron's death and ultimately Moses' death was a signal to Israel. God was and remains serious about His instructions and the follow-through, thereof.
I read an interesting blog post that explains this passage. Among the things that it points out, was Moses couldn't lead them into the land, as a representation of the Law. Miriam couldn't, as a representation of the prophets. And Aaron could not do so either, as the priest. Furthermore, the ceremony at the end of that passage, where the priesthood is transferred from Aaron to Eleazar, shows us that our relationship with God is not dependent upon the person. The office of the priest is higher than the flawed person who holds it.
Thus, it really is a pretty incredible concept that Jesus Christ is our High Priest, as well as the fulfillment of the Law.
That said... flawed people remain leading the people of God. And we too, are often as discontented and difficult as the Nation was for Moses and Aaron.
And on that note... let's pray this #deaconThursday for our flawed leadership. Pray that they would be men and woman who would not only hear from the Lord, but do and be as He directs and speaks into their lives. Pray that God would help them to seek and give wise counsel, rather than be persuaded by a frustrated and discontented people. Pray for a healthy respect and understanding of the office of authority that God has established, even when the people who hold the office miss the mark, even on a grand scale.
That we would not only hear the voice of God,
But follow it as well.
Our relationship with God forever strengthened.
For the plans and purposes of God.
Yesterday morning, I managed to catch part of a political talk show and as the host prepared to play a clip regarding the recent tragedy in NYC, (our thoughts and prayers go out to those families and friends impacted in that community and city-at-large), I thought, how important of a perspective to keep in mind, not only for any leadership role, but especially church leadership.
The show host introduced the clip by offering their personal opinion on the matter and it was simply that the man speaking in the audio clip said too much. Of course, the audio clip was shocking and I as I listened, I couldn't help but talk to the radio! Why are you sharing that? Wow, that's a little much. And the guy kept going.
Suddenly, I was in awe. Not only did I not want to know that information, but the guy stated it for public, and worse, global consumption. Seriously?
I understand. For the longest time society kept some pretty horrendous existences behind closed doors, both in private and public life, whether at home, church or business. So, I get, for certain circumstances the need and desire for "transparency". I utilize the quotes though, because so much more has changed in our culture, especially when it comes to misunderstandings and the power of offense, that certain situations, details and plans are better kept to those who directly involved.
Not everybody needs to know everything. Not everybody can be trusted with everything.
The world is getting smaller. News travels faster. And things get out of control and out of context faster than the 0-60 time of your favorite exotic sports car.
Thus, of all organizations, if anyone should have a proper understanding followed by a wise and balanced approach between a leadership that is transparent and one that is discerning, it should be the church. But in reality... the church still struggles, both at the local and global level.
And on that note, let's pray to that end on this #deaconThursday. May God impart supernatural wisdom and discernment to the leadership of the church. Pray for a keen understanding and respect for the time and place regarding the dissemination of information. Pray for a humble spirit and a desire for wise counsel as they navigate the power of today's communication tools and how words and deeds are received and perceived in these difficult, 21st century days. May church leadership possess and continue to advance with a spirit of unity to the situations and circumstances they face and the people that are involved in them. Pray the spirit of offense would be far from us; that God would heal and restore such instances where trust has been broken and betrayed.
For we are not perfect,
But daily being transformed.
God help us navigate the process
To live, lead and serve with integrity.
For the glory and honor of God.
John MacArthur is currently broadcasting his series on the study of the Bible and interpretation of it. And while it's emphasis could very much apply to pastors specifically and the preaching of the Word, I received it differently as I listened.
For when it comes to church staff and leadership, as they have their hands on the pulse of the congregation and to some degree the community, MacArthur's insight and wisdom on the matter was struck me as profound, yet simple. It was also relevant, as in recent years, culture has become obsessed with definitions and the redefining of things; whether to fit their narrative or support their agenda or belief or whatever.
Sadly, this is nothing new, even in the church. For longer than anyone cares to admit, church history is replete with both leadership and congregation approaching situations and circumstance with meanings and applications of Scripture that span the range of "not quite accurate" to severely taken out of context to "that's not what that means at all."
MacArthur asks this question, which I thought drove the point home nicely.
"Once you say something in the Bible is an allegory, that is, it is only a symbol of reality, you have just made it impossible to know what that reality is. Because if that reality can not be discerned through the normal understanding of language, how can it be discerned?"
I saw all that to say, that much of the trouble of preaching, teaching, counsel and wisdom within the church that leads to bigger problems than what is first posed, stems from the misunderstanding and misapplication of the Word of God.
Thus, and again, I'm standing first in line, we would do well to be become better students of God's Word. For in our relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, it is how His character, will and purpose is revealed. If we don't know it, we miss it and thus, miss out.
On this #deaconThursday, pray that both church leaders and parishioners would be greater students of the Word, both hearers and doers. May God help us to better understand the context of the Scriptures on their merit, as well as the impact it makes as we apply it to the context of today. Pray that church leaders would continue to seek the face of God, especially as they lead and advise. Pray for strength to pursue our understanding; that the Holy Spirit would illuminate hearts and minds as the Word is made alive to us, for indeed it is a living and active Word. May we handle with care, for indeed it is a two-edged sword.
For Thy Word is truth
In a world changing at speeds
For which we can't keep track,
May we hold tightly to God
Through the revelation of His love letter to all humanity.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
"It takes determination to remain different." - Chuck Swindoll
Daily, almost by the hour, society and the modern day culture continues to decline. It seems like every other headline is more unbelievable and mind-dropping than the one that appeared in our social media newsfeed just a few minutes ago. Meanwhile, the push against the church continues, even to the point where certain groups want to find a course of action to influence what is preached from the pulpit.
Yet, the church is a team, as much as the family is a team, as is the marriage itself. So if the goal or the enemy seeks to gain any ground, the starting point is pick off the leader or any of the higher-ups. If it's not the husband can't be defeated, the wife becomes the target. Same for the family... if not dad, then mom. If not the parents, the kids. The senior pastor. No luck? Someone else on the team. A deacon. The enemy is full of weapons and while it can be argued that he is very methodical in his approach, there area at times, that he is simply shooting as many arrows as he can in hopes that there will be such a sense of overwhelming bombardment that he'll take whatever access point he can to infiltrate and destroy from within.
The headlines are getting ridiculous. It's hard not to miss that society's tension is indeed a spiritual battle. Sadly, the victories the church is experiencing nobody ever hears about and the defeats are praised and heralded, is if to be used as an argument or indictment against us. Of course, in the middle is compromise... on the message and the theology and the doctrine. It's another access point. One more that we don't need, nor do we have the time to engage by creating it.
Pray this #deaconThursday, that God would strengthen the leadership team of the church. Pray that God would give them wisdom and discernment as they navigate these interesting and befuddling times. May the renew and fortify their resolve to the ministry. To love God. To love people. To preach the Word. To speak truth. Pray for a hedge of protection over marriages and relationships; that the leadership of the church would stand united in their efforts to impact their community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Dare to be different.
Determine to be different.
For the glory of God
For the love of humanity
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.
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.
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.
I think it's possible I listened to too many sermons yesterday while the radio was on, because now I can't remember exactly whose stood out when I considered today's #deaconThursday post. So while I want to quote the pastor specifically, nor say with 100% certainty who it was, I know he was talking about forgiveness.
Let's be real for a moment and realize and remember that church leadership doesn't also get along. Just as in any organization, those in management and leadership positions have different ideas and theories that don't always blend well and thus, have the potential to become points of conflict... and significant ones at that.
Emotions run high, words get twisted, perspectives get skewed and misunderstandings ensue. And yet as the preacher closed out this portion of the broadcast, he highlighted... we shouldn't be passive in our response, nor aggressive, nor passive-aggressive, but display aggressive grace.
There's so much in the Bible that is personal and so often we try to apply these principles to how we should handle our interactions with other nations and countries and make these things work on a larger scale. And while different forces are at work and in play in those circumstances, part of me wonders, how can we consider what it looks like for a nation to overcome evil with good, when it's people, in their personal relationships can't overcome evil with God.
We desire to repay, get back, get even or tell them to get away. Bitterness and forgiveness do not live in the same house. Love covers a multitude of sins and grace absorbs wrong-doings.
God covers are shame and yet so we are so quick to point out in others what we think should shame them; as if we have our act together. Yet as much as it is with you, live at peace. It's not saying there won't be conflict and disagreement. But let's not live with a spirit of war between us as live out our lives; whether in the marketplace nor the ministry.
Thus, on this #deaconThursday, pray for churches that are in trouble, because of the struggle and conflict taking place among the leadership. As many churches have been ripped apart as a result of such events, may the Holy Spirit infuse a spirit of grace and understanding into the circumstance and conversation. Pray that calmer heads would prevail and that God would do a work in the hearts and minds of those involved. May there be a shift in the conversation, even this very day and that grace would overcome and may love win. Pray for a miraculous move of healing and restoration to follow; that while it may not transpire overnight, may the process begin.
That God would do what only He can do,
As we are faithful to live and act as He has called us to do.
That our lives would reflect Christ
Even in the times, when we'd rather not.
May we be aggressively graceful
For His glory we pray.
Pastor Allen Wright says there are two kinds of people in the world... two kinds of people that exist in all of our lives. Dreamers and discouragers.
How to tell the difference in your own life is pretty simple. You just have to pay attention to their response when you tell them your dream. For ultimately, they will tell you they are on board with helping you get there or they'll tell you not to bother with the pursuit of your dream. Keep in mind, I'm not dismissing wise counsel and the legitimate concerns that may arise over the course of conversation regarding one's dream, but there are only two possible outcomes when it comes to dreams. Achievement. Or abandonment.
We talked a number of time when it comes to ministry, about pastors and church leaders surrounding themselves with people who will indeed be "on board" with the mission, vision and dreams of the church and what it's looking to accomplish and fulfill for the kingdom of God. But as I pondered this idea yesterday and considered some self-reflection, I couldn't help but think about how many serve and while helping someone pursue their dream, they go home frustrated and bothered for what is, and even more, what is NOT transpiring in their own dreams.
Such a struggle and inner conflict can create some real problems. It can be troubling to continue witness positive things happening in one realm of life only to return or revisit another area that feels like it is in chaos and disarray. It plays on our emotions, robs our strength and frustrates our joy. Eventually is spills over and pours out into other arenas of our lives and can really do a number, if we are not careful in how we respond.
On this #deaconThursday, pray for those who are in difficult places; dealing with inner conflict of perhaps knowing they are where they are suppose to be in ministry, but frustrated by other areas of life feeling as though they don't have a clue. May God help them, as they submit to His will and His ways and acknowledge the true and reality of their experience. Pray for the miraculous, as they cast their cares on Him. Pray for a peace, especially emotional and mentally; that God would bring clarity to the process and direction as to how they should proceed. May they continue to faithfully serve in their calling and ministry and pray for wisdom where perhaps God is preparing them for them for a change in their lives; that whether minor or major, God would do a work within them and through them that will accomplish more for the kingdom of God than they thought and dreamed possible.
For He knows the plans and purposes He has for you.
May we know them.
May we walk in them.
And when we don't understand the twists and turns,
Remain faithfully, trusting in the author and finisher of our faith.
For the glory of God.
I really had nothing for this post, until I was getting ready for church last night. It was at that moment, that I recalled not having replied to a comment made on social media regarding one of the political "hot topics" being discussed the past few days.
The reply that some await is my answer to the question, "what is my constructive alternative?"
Many issues are complex; a variety of factors coming together with numerous challenges and multiple layers of difficulty in need of sorting and filtering. There is no "simple" answer and of course, people are proposing blanket solutions, which rarely go over well and are ineffective to address specific nuances.
I know what the individual is looking for a helpful solution not yet proposed. My hesitancy to answer lies in that one, my opinion doesn't matter, as I'm not "in the room" of decision makers who will consider this a viable solution (even though I've heard it brought up by two others, since the time I thought of it). Furthermore, incredibly complex issues like this, usually require some deconstruction, with solutions offered specific to those issues rather than the "blanket covers all" approach.
All of that of course, sets up this #deaconThursday. Ministry can be amazingly difficult at times, and the complexities and intricacies overlap to the point that blanket decisions as useless as they are in politics. So the ideas that one might term "constructive alternative" will probably require some deconstruction of the issue or issues and working towards specific and viable solutions for very specific problems.
Among the many character traits of a leader, the short list includes that of a problem solver. Anyone can create a problem. Most everyone can spot a problem; the best among us can do so before everyone else. Figuring how to solve problems, though... if the leadership team is inept or ineffective in this process, then a ministry will forever be in trouble and a constant state of struggle.
On this #deaconThursday, pray for church leadership. May they people who can not only observe a problem but can also work through the process of discussing, analyzing and navigating the process towards solutions. Pray for wisdom, insight and creativity as they work towards this end. May ministry efforts not be hindered because of a lack of focus or ability to fix problems. Pray for discernment; that the church would not be a place for people to purposefully cause or create problems. Pray that God would divinely place the right people to be "in the room" for such a time as this, to bring and take the church to the place and level that would bring glory to God and advance the Gospel to the local community and the global society.
That the church would be a place of healing
Despite being made off broken people.
May we not continue breaking on purpose
But correct and repair life and commmunity
As we are transformed By the Spirit of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Every once in a while, I'm "inspired" to switch things up from time to time when it comes to writing these posts. If you haven't picked up on that yet, well... I'm not sure what to tell ya. Visit the archives!
Well, today is an "every once..." kind of day. And it's courtesy of a sermon series on David, of which the final sermon aired yesterday morning. Since I wasn't sure what yet was in store for this post, the commentary that was offered on David's final days in this sermon really stood out.
We know David's heart and his desire to build the temple for God and God said, "no". Someone else will do it; you will not. So as David hands over the keys of the kingdom to his son Solomon, what does he also hand him?
And an advisory board.
Followed by one simple instruction. Go build God's temple.
We've prayed for deacons specifically when there is a change in leadership within the church. But look at the testament of David's insight in this story as a leader. He ensures that his successor not only has everything he needs, but he has everything in place.
It's the difference between handing someone a list of what they'll need and handing them the keys to the warehouse where everything is stored, waiting to be built. Furthermore, what a testament to the men that David selected for Solomon. Imagine the conversations David had with them, as he explained to them that he was setting Solomon up for nothing less than incredible success. The honor and the respect that they display to King David in his final days; that they will carry out David's wishes... who wouldn't want them at the executive table of counsel.
Now comes the hard part of switching up perspectives... how to pray?
On this #deaconThursday, pray that pastors would have divine wisdom when it comes to selecting deacons, advisors and staff. May they possess and instill a vision that will outlast their tenure at the helm. Pray for those that are selected; may there be a trust and respect; an honor and understanding of who they should be and how they should carry out their responsibilities. Pray for a spirit of unity; of teamwork... that they would work with a commitment to excellent for the purpose of eternal success. May God's favor rest upon them as a tip of honor to the pastoral leadership.
People with a heart after God
That despite in our mistakes,
God grants the desires of our hearts,
When in alignment with His will.
For His glory.
"'Now, I can handle this on my own.' Welcome to the world of anxiety.” - Allister Begg.
We're seeing every day the effects of a society that is moving ever farther away from God. And yet every time, for every circumstance that we think we can handle things on our own, we open the door for stress, pressure and worry.
It's no wonder that we can find no rest for bodies and peace for our hearts and minds.
Why do we continue to be afraid of the unknown, when God tells us so often to not be afraid?
Why do we trust in ourselves, when He instructs us to place our trust in hope?
Why do we hope in the efforts and promises of another, instead of the one who promised to never leave or forsake?
Every time we fail to seek the face of God, we open the door to anxiety. And anxiety exists in a world of chaos all it's own; capable of doing a number on one's heart and mind that they would rather not experience.
Of course, it doesn't help that we are living in a day and age where life is becoming more outrageous, more unbelievable, more incredible... more of the signs and times, that last night had me seriously asking how much longer a holy and just God will stand and take a society spitting in His face.
It brought me back once again, of wondering not just who are leaders are and what they are doing, but their advisors and what is the leadership being told by those whom they seek for counsel. While the writing may be on the wall, it remains that incredible discernment is needed to respond appropriately and rightly in the context of our faith in God.
The unknown is fearful enough... to not seek the face of God in handling it; why refuse to take advantage of His love, grace and direction when He offers it with open arms and no prerequisites?
So, let's pray this #deaconThursday, that church staff and leadership would not succumb to a spirit of fear and the pressures of anxiety. May they remain steadfast in their faith as they continue to place their trust in God and seek His face. Pray they continue, undeterred in the work and calling God has placed upon their lives; that they would remain faithfully under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. May God grant them wisdom, as He has promised to provide for those who ask of Him and exercise discernment in these increasingly challenging and confusing times.
For we have nothing to fear
For the power of God is at work
For those who trust in the Lord.
For the glory of God.
It's sometimes hard to know when it's time for a break. It can seemingly feel like there is never a good time for a break; whether it be a sabbatical, a vacation, an extended weekend getaway or a simply a night away to do something fun and enjoyable.
The world is in various states of chaos (again) and many tensions run high, to say nothing of our personal lives and the struggles we face on a daily basis that affect us the most.
But it's important to know your limits as well as to recognize the breaking point of those working with you. While people might disagree with the timing, for indeed people will always find something to disagree about, burnout happens in part because we fail to recognize when it's time to get away in the name of fun.
For sure, it can be just another balancing act, between being to serious and being to relaxed, but it's needs to be found and maintained if we have any intention of being effective and successful over the course of time.
So once again, on this short and sweet #deaconThursday, pray for church leadership. May the recognize and take advantage of opportunities to have fun. May the church not be so spiritual, that nobody enjoys their company, for indeed Christianity is a basis of relationships. May advisors and administrators have an awareness and a sense for burnout, and when an intervention needs to occur. Pray for the efffectiveness of the church to proceed unhindered, because processes and people are in place who know and understand balance and are able to discern when things are not working in such a state.
For we work by the power of God
Created for His purposes
To enjoy the life He has blessed us with,
Even as we live submitted to Him
For His glory.
Wednesdays make for an incredibly long day in my schedule, but it's offset by the fact that I'm in an area whose radio station I greatly enjoy. During their morning show yesterday, the host and hostess of the program chatted with a pastor, who had just come back from a one-month Sabbatical, that his church had blessed them with, as an act of appreciation. Very early in their chat, the host asked how long it took until he could actually enjoy the time away.
The pastor's response blew me away. I don't know why... maybe, because I didn't see it coming. But in a matter of seconds, it made sense.
He and the family didn't travel and get away for their Sabbatical, until they were two weeks in!
Spiritual adrenaline, they called it. Much like in any sport or activity where the energy is high for an extended period of time... the game is over, but the juices are still pumping. Your body is still in the "play to win" mode. It took this pastor two weeks to disengage to the point he could actually step into vacation mode and enjoy some R & R with his family.
As they chatted, the host shared his understanding of this phenomenon. And the opening statement to his expressing this sentiment... I didn't understand this until I served as a deacon.
They were talking about pastors being able to get away and how this often depends on the size of the church and the infrastructure of its operations. It's inline with what we've discussed and prayed many times. Smaller churches doesn't equate with less things to take care of, but it often equates to having less people to assist in the completion. And like many other arenas of life, this can certainly be a situation that is hard to fully comprehend until you've been on the inside.
Yet, even those on the "inside" may still not know fully what is going on. The emphasis of using Judas to prove my point has nothing to do with his betrayal, except to say, none of the disciples suspected him to the be the betrayer. Eleven men on the inside had no clue that Judas had sold his soul.
All the more reason, the "inner circle" of leadership within church ministry should be the strongest "life group" of the church.
So, on this #deaconThursday, let's pray for the strengthening of relationships in church leadership. May they be a refreshing and renewal of friendships between pastors, deacons and staff. Pray for a release, for those churches that are experience tense and difficult situations among their leadership. Pray for clarity and wisdom as they negotiate conversations and decisions. May their be a heightened sense of discernment among deacons and administrators, to recognize when pastors are in trouble, having difficulty and on the verge of burnout. May they know what to do, what to say, how to pray and how to help in tangible ways that are appropriate and necessary for the health and needs of the church.
A super-natural understanding,
For even those "in the know" don't always know.
May God grant wisdom generously
To those who know to ask for it.
For the glory of God
For the health of the body of Christ.
Is it not amazing, just how wrong we can get our lives when it comes to matters of faith and the application thereof to daily challenges and circumstances.
Like it actually depends upon us, more than it really does in the eyes of God. And so we push and drive ourselves into oblivion and frustration trying to do and make "it" work. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand the sentiment behind the "pray like it depends on God; work like it depends on you philosophy." But conversely, in a sermon that aired yesterday, given by Pastor Allen Wright, he offered these three words of wisdom.
Don't try harder.
Even typing it, it seems to defy logic. Yet there are times and places when the most basic truth stands as the most profound.
Can we let God be God?
Can we let Him do what He will?
Can we trust Him to see it through to the end that we can not see?
Can we stand in His faithfulness when we are not faithful?
Sorry, you don't struggle with this. I should go back and type those four questions with the words, "Can I..."
I don't want to try harder. Indeed, more often that not, it leads to more frustration, more difficulty, more stress... more things that I don't need. That aren't beneficial. That aren't helpful. Just more tired. More "on edge". More of the man I wish I were not. One desperately in need to see God move on my behalf. And you need Him to do the same for you.
Deacons, church admins, staffers... trust in God. Let Him complete the good work that He has begun in you. He'll show you where and when He needs you. But if you're getting tired and burnt, perhaps something is amiss.
Pray this #deaconThursday, that rest would be found in Christ. May God forgive those who have tried to hard and perhaps missed the mark and plan God has because we've tried to force things rather than allowing God time to work. Pray for rejuvenation and strengthening as people find peace and comfort in the presence of God. May they stand in confidence as they place their trust in Him anew and may the resist the temptation to revert back to old efforts and strategies as though God isn't at work. Pray a renewed commitment of faith, to walk in His promises, stand in His righteousness, trust in His timing and testify of His goodness and faithfulness.
For the hand of God is sovereign
While the whole body of man is dust.
And our lives, but a moment of breath.
While God, is the breath of Life.
Let us live as though we are His,
For His glory and honor.
I heard a powerful sermon yesterday morning regarding Judas and his place in the inner circle of Christ' ministry. It's utterly amazing, just how many chances Jesus gave Judas; knowing from the beginning and dropping hints of what was in Judas' heart. With every instance, you can almost hear the hope in Jesus voice that Judas would come forth and come clean.
Yet even as they sat at the Last Supper, John is sits at Christ' side; leaning in towards His bosom. Judas sits on the other side of Christ... leaning away. He was present with Christ; but not "with" Christ. They both knew Judas' heart, yet Jesus even at dinner, continued to extend the invitation to Judas.
What a phenomenon... to be a part of Jesus ministry and yet follow through with your betrayal of Him, even turning down opportunities to accept grace before actually committing the act. Clearly, God knew Judas' heart.
At one point, early in the message, the pastor mentions where Judas' mind was focused. It was on self and not the Cross.
Which got me thinking... about how many are involved in various levels of ministry within the church; even to the point of staff and deacon's (pastor's inner circle) and yet while with them, are not truly "with" them. There is some other, often selfish reason for their involvement.
They are cross in thinking rather than Cross-thinking.
It's an easy enough trap to fall into, but nevertheless, an incredibly dangerous one... especially for someone like Judas' who refused the grace and forgiveness of Christ at numerous points in time.
On this #deaconThursday, let's pray for those in church leadership. May their motives and reasons for being involved indeed be, that they are truly Cross-minded. Pray selfish gain, greed and the like would be far from their hearts and minds. Pray that they, along with their pastors, work towards the plans and purposes God has called them to with an eternal perspective and the advancement of the Gospel. May their remain a sensitivity not only towards the things of God, but towards God Himself; and the power of the Holy Spirit to continue to move and draw them closer to His presence and grace. May that not pass over the opportunity to stand clean before Christ.
Committed to the cause of Christ,
Thoughts of betrayal far from theirs hearts and minds.
Ready to extend grace and receive grace in the midst of failure;
That God would accomplish the miraculous in all circumstances.
For His glory alone.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.