While channel surfing the radio this morning during the morning hours today, I caught part of a message that I thought was pretty powerful. (Yes... I'm behind on you having the full day to pray. I'm working on it)
I don't know about you, but I've had many a time where I've been frustrated with my life, in some area or another, and it seems as the battles and frustrations are on repeat. Faith seems like a constant battle between what you know in your heart versus what you think with your mind.
The heart may mess with your emotions, but your mind will lie to you regarding the truth.
As a result, we battle in ways that God never intended. But His grace is sufficient. As such, the game-changer of the message is this:
"God never tires of coming to your defense."
Isn't that a great reminder?
For what believer and church leader hasn't reached certain levels of frustration with themselves regarding a particular aspect or arena of their live, that even they can't believe they are still struggling with and bringing before the cross of Christ.
It's like we get tired of confessing, as if it weren't accomplishing anything good at all!
Yet, I think God has the same conversation with us, that I described yesterday having with my daughter.
"I will win this conversation".
As much as we reinforce our love, care and support for those in our lives, so too, is Christ constant in His pursuit of our hearts. His grace unending, His love unfailing, His forgiveness unrelenting, His plan, never undone.
So, no matter how many times it takes, we continually present ourselves before the thrown of grace and acknowledge, we can not life this live according to God's divine plan, without the help of His divine hand.
Let's pray, this #deaconThursday, that God would be those in church leadership who are struggling with seemingly, repeating battles. May God give them strength to overcome and wisdom to know how to overcome. Pray they would not grow discouraged, nor their hearts grow faint; but that they would continually rely on God and the power of the Holy Spirit. May they pursue the victory that God has granted for them with the relentless passion that God demonstrates daily for all humanity.
For we overcome by the blood of the Lamb
And the word of our testimony.
May today be a day of declaration.
Of a victorious life.
For the glory of God.
As I reflected on Wednesday's post regarding today's youth, I got to thinking about how we are called to prayer for our leaders. Not only within the space of the church and ministry, but also in the arena of civics and government.
How quickly, do we seemingly forgot, that we are called to be people of prayer?
Not only to those that are nice to us, but our enemies as well.
Not only for our friends, but for the strangers.
Not for the leadership we appreciate, but for those who we, maybe don't appreciate so much.
Not for those with whom we are in complete agreement, but with those whom we vehemently disagree!
To say nothing of those who despise and revile us and speak all manner of evil against us...
One generation leads the next and the both of the power to influence each other. They have both of lesson to learn from each other and the both bring a perspective that the other side may not understand.
Within the church and the culture alike, the difficulties that exist as leaders try to lead exists for many reasons, but largely in part because we don't approach each other having spent sufficient time in prayer over them before hand.
On this #deaconThursday, by all means, pray for the leadership of the church. Indeed, pray that they would have wisdom and discernment; understanding and compassion. Pray that they would speak the truth as well as be seekers of the truth. But most important, pray that they would men and women of prayer, themselves. May they lead with conviction and love, having spent time in the presence of God and allowing Him to direct how they lead; their lives, their homes, their career, their ministry, their church and the world.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
The sermon that aired yesterday from Grace To You ministries was pretty powerful, as usual. In the message, John McArthur retells the story of a university that was interested in him taking the helm. In discussing the future, the school shared with him how they wanted to integrate and synchronize Scripture with the wisdom of man.
Anyone see what John saw?
John shares his response, that on this matter he was a separatist. There is not nor can there be an integration between the truth of God and the understanding of man. The signs are obvious... at least the words are.
My ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts, declares the Lord.
What authority does the Word of God hold if it is polluted with the words of man? What good is a foundation built on relativity? Is that not the same as building on shifting sand?
Humanity is overrun with opinions which are quickly discounted and dismissed so we all search for truth. Meanwhile, no one of late seems to be able to handle the truth, and so we dilute it. But it's in the dilution that it loses both it's power and it's effectiveness.
As a result, we wonder why the issues and struggles of our life and times remain the same! Do we not notice the broken pattern of our culture and society? We believe in God, but deny His existence. We want answers, but deny any absolutes. We believe we are good, but rate evil on the sliding scale of comparison with our neighbor.
This is the day of decline. McArthur says the day the church fails to be antithetical, is the day it dies.
Our lives are in contrast and contradiction against the purity and sovereignty of God. There will be conflict and disagreement between the carnal and spiritual. This is the working out of our salvation. Man cannot be changed by human effort, understanding or wisdom. It must be transformed and renewed by the Word of God and the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. What need for the church exists in this world, if the church elevates the perspective of man in coordination with the declaration of God? Welcome to spiritual warfare.
Not only can there be "only one", but there is only One!
The gravity of eternity lies in the finality of God's Word. If that were not so because of the influence of our finite understanding, then eternity is compromised and the church is useless.
So... on that heavy note; let's pray this #deaconThurday, that church leadership would stand and remain firmly planted in the Word of God. May they keep the doctrine of Scripture clean and pure. Pray that as church leadership makes decisions regarding ministry, may the keep the perspective that humanity is to be made like Christ, rather than Christ to "fit" in with the culture. Pray the focus of ministry would remain grounded in the finality of eternity. May the decisions of the church be made as a result of prayer and the sovereign direction of God's Hand, rather than the conventional wisdom of people's flawed and finite perspective.
May we hear from Heaven
To know what He has in store.
That we would call on His name alone,
Rather than our own opinion and intuition.
Useful for the Kingdom.
Uncompromised on the Earth.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Here we are. In days where fear drives us farther than our faith. Feelings outweigh facts. Logic and reason are traded for opinions and agendas. And lies are justified when the truth is too difficult, harsh or offensive.
So when the time comes to surround ourselves with trusted advisors and people of influence, how careful must we be in whom we seek out and present as possibilities for the role?
Such were the thoughts that arose when I asked God what He might have for #deaconThursday.
Of course, this perspective comes on the heels of two churches that over the weekend went through the process of selecting new deacons/board members, as openings existed. And, of course, many, many more churches did the same... if not this weekend, then recently or in the near future.
Regardless, the reality remains. In the world of knowledge and understanding, experience and wisdom, God and His Word often come secondary or last to our own ideas, perspectives and minds eye.
I'll be the first to admit... I fall into this all too often. Why? Let me count the ways... and the reasons. But time does not permit. If I, a nobody is distracted to the point of seeking God secondly, how much more, how much harder, how much more often, how greater will the battle be, to distract, derail and frustrate those who are chosen to come along side and aid the conducting of the ministries?
Pray this #deaconThursday, that God would help those who like me, find themselves battling to seek God first. Maybe not often, maybe not over trivial things, but pray they would not break the habit and discipline of looking to God and His Word. May they not rely on their own understanding, especially in church matters and challenges. Pray the lines of communication to heaven would be open to direction as much as communication lines should be open with the team as they work towards solutions.
May the miraculous happen
As we set aside our thoughts and ways
For His whose are higher than ours.
For the glory of God
In humble service.
Clarity of vision.
Confidence of faith.
It's becoming increasingly apparent that facts no longer hold the advantage over feelings. Passion overpowers logic. The power to dismiss overshadows the power to understand. If the discourse isn't civil, then what is the point?
The values and principles we once held close and dear have been cast aside.
Mutual respect was a given.
Common courtesy was the norm.
Faith was a foundation.
Understanding was a priority.
Truth was critical.
Such qualities are rare in our daily interactions. Until life shakes us to the quick; to our very core.
Then, when we want life to matter, we can't find the character traits in the lives of those around us that reassured us that life did matter; let alone just our life. Then we look to our leaders and wonder why they don't have a plan that will bring about the desired results.
It's a complicated mess that started when we simply began to veer off course. Correction that is not made quickly when it is easy takes forever when when we realize just how much harder it has gotten, while we blindly thought we'd be okay. Clearly, things are not okay.
On this #deaconThursday, pray for the leadership. Pray for clarity of vision and confidence of faith. May they be people of understanding, not driven by fear and outrage, but with purpose and principle. Pray love would be the undercurrent of the conversation; that understanding would mark the discourse and resolution would bring healing. Pray the power of God would direct the steps in the attempts to get back on course. Pray a return to the things of God and the priority of seeking the face of God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ
His purpose. His priorities.
Our lives for His glory.
I'm realizing that I am becoming increasingly nervous... perhaps that's too strong a word. Increasingly unsettled.
My level of unsettledness seems to be rising every time leadership is placed under greater scrutiny and criticism. And I'm guilty of what I am about to explain.
Leadership has, is and will always remain a target for extreme criticism and great scrutiny. However, with each passing day, it becomes more and more obvious that there is no shortage of opinions and perspectives.
Everyone is an expert.
And yet, when there is talk of making a change in the leadership, these aren't first in line to sign up. It's like we've arrived at a place where it's better, easier and dare I say, desirable to have a problem to deal with, but never reach a solution. It's clear a solution is needed, but then what problem would we complain and criticize?
For all of societies woes and culture's demise, what we would communicate regarding, if the world worked as it does in our dreams? Sadly, it doesn't even work as God dreams.
And ironically, the blame for such an environment is the same. Ourselves.
We can no longer have an honest-to-God conversation because of the onset of "political correctness" and the heightened sensitivity to be careful "not to offend." Furthermore, nobody wants to hear the name of God, so, how much of an honest conversation can be had, if we don't analyze the full scope of a problem? Does not each of them have a spiritual element?
The attack on leadership is great. And while many, will acknowledge that such should exist and just as many will deny that such an attack actually does exist, it's the antagonistic battle against church leadership that weighs heaviest.
On this #deaconThursday, pray that God would strengthen and encourage today's church leaders. May God help the church to stand strong and support those He has placed in leadership positions. Pray for wisdom, where policies and practices are created, reviewed, revised and implemented, may they accurately address the true problems and sufficiently solve. Pray the church and the people of God would be careful in our criticism; that are words would build, rather than destroy; help rather than hurt. May God build His church as we build His kingdom.
In light of tragedy and loss
In the face of fear and anxiety.
May we see past struggle and difficulty
And persevere towards the promises of God
That are yes and amen to them that believe.
In the transforming power of Christ
By the grace of God.
I had the opportunity yesterday afternoon to catch the radio broadcast of the Detroit Lions press conference as they announced the installment of the teams' new head coach, Matt Patricia.
In a word, it was truly impressive.
I'm not a huge sports fan. I like sports. I'll watch if someone has the game on. Occasionally, I'll watch a portion of a game for a particular team or something. I don't follow the whole league of any sport, nor do I schedule my time around the games. But as I listened to the conversation of that announcement and how this man shared his experience and approach to leadership and coaching as the press asked their questions, I sat somewhat amazed.
His story is pretty incredible, starting with the fact that he holds a degree in aeronautical engineering. But football is his passion, so upon graduation, he turned down a six-figure salary to be an assistance coach at a Division III college, that happen to ranked as the best Division III school for men's football last year.
As he has worked with a man that many would argue is perhaps the best coach in modern football, the conversation made it pretty clear. He has learned from the best, yet remained personally driven to be the best. You could hear it in the answers as media people began asking and were already making comparisons regarding his approach to coaching versus those with whom he has worked.
Leadership is full of level of decisions and decision-makers. And it would be easy to leave it to the most prominent position or dominant personality and not take personal responsibility for your level of decision. And for easy as it as it to get overlooked and lost in the process, it's also, relatively easy (although it never feels like it) to get noticed and sought after through the same process.
Patricia, through his passion, discipline and education exemplifies this. Has he made wrong decisions? I think he'd be the first you tell you, absolutely. But he has clearly remained true to himself and personally resolved to give and do his best wherever he was at. Division III college. Superbowl Championship NFL team 5 times over.
You position is valuable; especially when you've resolved to bring value to your position.
On this #deaconThursday, pray that church leadership would resolve to give and perform their best. Regardless of the prominence or fame of a church or personality, may they be determined to make good and wise decisions and lead with integrity. Pray they would fulfill their duties and responsibilities with excellence; not for the prospect of potential opportunities but for the purpose of the present circumstance.
A higher calling
A greater purpose
Granted as a result of faithful and excellent service.
May we do whatever we do, as unto the Lord.
For the glory of God.
A Sunday morning message that highlighted the story of woman with the alabaster jar at Simon's house, followed by a Wednesday devotional, of which that same story was the focus of the message. Both in the same week.
And as the service came to a close last night, I thought about how dangerous.. and easy it is for church leadership to find itself in similar standing to the Pharisee. Position, status and influence, perhaps unknowingly, come to the forefront of our perspective to the point we look at others and before we see them through the eyes of eternity, we view them with the lens that finds fault.
In the seconds that it took to have that revelation, Pastor begins to share from personal experience, the times where he caught himself having the realization; of just how easy it would be to look at the lives of others and think himself better. And just that quick, the importance of an awareness that understands the grace of God is revealed.
For were in not for His grace, through the power of forgiveness, we all would still stand condemned in our sins, much like the woman found herself in the house of the Pharisee.
Yet, church leadership find themselves in numerous levels of influence, multiple depths of knowledge and understanding of circumstances, the stories of secrets people would rather not be shared. And life continues daily. There's a respect of such confidence that needs to not only be understood, but also maintained with spirit of humility. For as soon as pride enters in as a result of knowing, the ability to be a trusted source of influence is lost.
Granted, its a process that erodes over time, but it begs the question.
Why confide in someone who views you with contempt? This is when leadership no longer lives up to its' name.
On this #deaconThursday, pray that church leadership would indeed, live up to the expectation and ability of true leadership. May they ever have the heart of a servant. Pray they would keep and maintain, at the forefront of their influence, a spirit of humility. Pray a Pharisaical spirit would ever keep it's distance; never having the remotest possibility of rearing its' ugly head, let alone gaining a foothold within the ministry and the church-at-large. May the grace that God has extended to us, flow through us, that we may extend it to others.
For we too, were once the "others"
That God desires to reach through the lives
Of those whom He had redeemed by grace.
For the glory of God.
For those who may not have heard or not been following the story of what has been happening in East Lansing at Michigan State University, the athletics doctor for MSU as well as USA Gymnastics was sentenced yesterday to a 40-175 year in prison, as the result of his, for lack of a better word, addiction, to sexual assault and abuse.
Over the past week and a half, 163, I believe was the final count... 163 victim impact statements were read in open court, from girls, many now adult women, who were prey to this evil under the guise of medical sports treatment. The full story is unbelievable and you read elsewhere the details.
Late yesterday afternoon or evening though, the President of MSU resigned, amidst calls and concerns over this one question: how did this go on for so long?
We talked a week ago, about how the merchants got into the temple courts and who authorized their being there. And that's an obvious problem. They didn't belong and were in the public square and nobody called for their removal.
And in a slightly different twist as it relates to this campus tragedy, a different question arises. Who let this happen and swept it under the rug? Someone obviously thought this problem could be dismissed and that the best way to handle it was to remain silent as if it wasn't happening.
Asking if the President of the University knew about it and the argument that was made; that there's a lot of room between the clinic office and the President's office, so to within the church, is there a fair amount of room sometimes, between whether a circumstance makes it to the Pastor's desk.
Decisions are made and must be made and obviously, someone at MSU dropped the ball. And while situations and circumstance might not be so plain and clear as this should have been in regards to handling the matter, there's a great lesson to be learned.
Making a bad decision and hiding it is often more dangerous and disastrous than doing wrong and confessing it from the onset.
On this #deaconThursday, pray for church leadership, at all levels, not just the pastor who sits the public representative of the church. May God give them wisdom and discernment in their decisions and conversations regarding matters great and small. Pray they would have courage to speak up and stand for righteousness and truth. May they not make matters worse by being dismissive when they should be attentive. Pray that they would live and lead lives of conviction and passion to good and positively impact their world, rather than harm and destroy.
For the glory of God.
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
By the power of the Holy Spirit.
I wish I could take credit for the title. But I can't. It was a phrase used by a sermon that I was listening to; the story of Jesus driving out the money-changers. The back story is pretty incredible.
A couple of interesting points. He drove out the cattle. He didn't destroy them, but the handlers did have to rustle them up. The pigeons didn't fly off to the wild blue yonder; Christ instructed their owners to remove them from the temple. Christ wasn't destroying their business; but reminding them where it belonged.
The exchangers initially conducted their business in the valley. And competition was fierce. And they understood those three special words that the marketplace still declares as their mantra today.
Location. Location. Location.
So they kept moving closer to the temple. For convenience. For better service. For increased market share. Then the competition moved closer. And the next guy even closer. And the late-comer, start-up; even closer. And eventually they were in the outer courts; the court of the Gentiles. Where non-Jews who believed in God could come and worship.
But they couldn't. Because the marketplace was chaos. And perhaps not even worthy to be described as controlled chaos. Finally the temple. Someone let them in.
Christ removed the clutter.
But as usually happens, my mind wandered to the modern day church.
More importantly, what's going on in the church, or worse, isn't going on because the courts have become cluttered? What's getting missed? Who is unable to enter? What ministry is being hindered? How is the kingdom of Heaven affected?
On this #deaconThursday, pray that church leadership, especially those in day-to-day operations and advisory roles would have a sensitivity and a keen awareness to the doors and the courts of the church. Pray their mission and ministry would neither be hindered nor interrupted by distractions and matters that do not belong. May God grant them wisdom and discernment as they conduct the affairs of the church and oversee the decisions and direction that the church takes. As God is a lamp and a light in our personal lives, may He also illuminate way and path of the corporate body of Christ; that the church would move in the direction that honors God and pleases the Lord.
Ministry; like life...
So much easier and simpler
For the glory of God
And the advancement of the kingdom of Heaven.
My brother and I have always been incredibly close, despite the more than a few years that separate the days of our birth. But after ending our phone call last night, that lasted over two hours (which I'm trying to recall the last time we were on the phone that long), I couldn't help but wonder the odds.
What are the odds, that on same day, I would hear a radio broadcast of a sermon and a phone conversation on the topic of measuring success was discussed, as it relates to our faith in God and the Christian life; and specifically, that the only outward measurement that matters is discipleship.
I mention outward measurement, though, because on a personal level, my wise brother submitted this thought for my consideration, which I now pass on to you.
"Success is based on one's submission to the Holy Spirit."
How often and all too easily, do we get caught up in numbers. Personally, our emotions rise and fall based on numbers. Jobs held, dollars in savings, relationships or marriages gone bad, screw-ups of both the royally and the stupid nature. Likewise in ministry, attendance quantity and size of staff, bank accounts and event turn-outs.
We have all these different parameters, and yet for the immediate and finite period of time in our lives, while they may be important and a worthwhile, ultimately they are worthless. For the good that comes from knowing them and learning from them, they can create stress and wreak havoc in both life and soul as they move us away from what really matters.
What is God working in my life and what He is wanting to accomplish through it? If our perspective is off and our focus in wrong, then let the spiritual battle ensue.
On this #deaconThursday, pray for church leadership, as well as the individual within the body of Christ; whose perspective and focus has perhaps be distracted and redirected to the temporal and carnal definitions and measurements of success. May their be a realignment to see with God's eyes and understandings, of our purpose and calling. Pray for faith unwavering and strength to endure; that the struggle would subside as submission to the Holy Spirit is revisited. May we be about what God cares about first and foremost, the lost souls of humanity and in whatever we do, doing so as unto the Lord.
For His glory and by His grace.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
What an interesting week of news to start of the New Year?! And somehow yesterday afternoon, something started coming together, as I reflected on recent events, that have made national news, some political in nature, others in the sports world...
Sometimes relationships break. To be more specific, profession, work-related relationships. A parting of ways between employer and employee. The dissolution of business partners. Whether it be a "timing" issue, or a matter of productivity and results or differences in ideology and beliefs as it pertains to the direction and goals of an organization, these can be difficult and delicate matters.
Certain circumstances, such a break may be necessary, obvious and a clear and clean decision. Other matters are complicated and complex on numerous levels and the decision may not be to obvious nor clear. Plus, details can be weighed and balanced on what is truly necessary and what can be managed and corrected.
Such calls are strenuous and stressful for both parties involved. The decision may seem to be an easier one if personality differences exist or there's simply an element where friendship and comradery is lacking or amiss. But where such a bond does happen to exist and yet a professional partying of ways is in order can be a process we wouldn't wish on anyone.
Thus, on this #deaconThursday, pray for church leadership members, who are facing such decisions, even this day. Pray for a clarity of wisdom and direction as to how the matter and the specifics of their situation should be managed. Pray for discernment and understanding. May their be a grace over the conversation and communication that takes place during this time. Pray for truth to prevail and may God work the miraculous in whatever outcome takes place. May God grant strength and perseverance in the aftermath, to continue to move forward in the direction and plans that God has ordained for them to go.
That even the parting of ways between people
Would not lead to parting of faith between people and God.
May He continue to work all things.
For His glory and for His purpose.
For He makes all things beautiful
In His time.
I haven't watched many episodes of the show Pawn Stars of late, not that I used to watch it every time it was on before, but I happened to catch an episode or two yesterday and believer it or not, caught a reminder that I didn't see coming.
Rick, the pawn shop owner, purchased an old book, one that he took a gamble on, as the owner of the book didn't have time for Rick to call in an expert opinion. So Rick purchased it, on a hunch and a guess that he'd recover his investment.
Upon taking it to his book expert, it turns out she wasn't exactly sure what she was holding in her hand either. She in turn, said, let me make a call.
As such, on this #deaconThursday, is a pretty simple reminder.
Even the experts need an expert.
Advisory boards are for advice and counsel, wisdom and insight. And while at times they may get it wrong, the more important thing is do they have people in their life that they go to when they are unsure or uncertain of what to do?
We often talk about making the investment in the next generation, which is how such relationships are structured, but we don't also consider or remember that previous generations continue to build on their investment.
As important as it is for the 45 year old to make an investment in the 25 year old, the 45's relationship with their 65 year old remains ongoing. And the 65 continues to learn from their 85 year old.
The expert always has their expert... it's how they become one themselves and help to build another as well.
And on that note...
Let's pray this #deaconThursday, for those who are perhaps feeling inadequate in their ability to give advice and consent. May God would open doors of opportunity for new relationships to be forged and existing relationships to be strengthened. Pray God would grant wisdom and insight by His divine hand; especially for those facing insurmountable and time-sensitive challenges. May God move on their behalf, providing creative, super-natural solutions to situations that look impossible to man but are possible through God.
May God lead, guide and direct
Into all truth, those who seek His face.
That we would not lean on our own understanding
But look to author and finisher of our faith,
To Him who ordains the steps of the righteous.
And reigns Supreme over all.
If you've never listened to the nationally syndicated radio show, Red Eye Radio, that plays the post-midnight/pre-sunrise hour slot, you are missing out. They have some pretty incredible discussions on both serious issues of the day as well as interesting topics and comedic conversations. I happened to catch the final stretch yesterday morning though, and they talking about human interaction and attitude, among other things.
And while it is overly obvious, the point that was made that for some reason resonated with me, I couldn't help but reflect. Perhaps recent months have brought some introspection to the forefront of my life as though turning a page, or I really am getting older. Either way, the adage seems to be true... be the change you want to see in the world.
That said, back to the comment I heard on Red Eye Radio...
When one person is happy, others will be happy.
Or as comedian Jeff Allen always reminds his audience, happy wife, happy, life.
Haven't you noticed the same in your life?
Frustrating people can be frustrating to be around.
Confused people leave you feeling as though you don't know how to help.
Stressed people make us even more concerned about their well-being than normal.
Aggravated people cause irritation that quickly escalates.
Misery loves company. Conversely; however, happiness is contagious. Try it. Smile when you don't feel like it. Offer a kind word when one isn't warranted.
Act as if ye have faith, and you will have it. In other words, fake it til you make it.
Seriously, though... all these emotions and situations exist and live within church leadership, both on Sunday and every other day. So... if church leadership isn't happy. Well, you can probably guess the impact that leaves, especially over an extended period of time. And my apologies if you've witnessed this first hand. It does happen. And that's why we're praying.
On this #deaconThursday, pray that those within church operations would indeed by an environment of joy and happiness. Pray for a spirit of unity and cohesion as they work together in ministry. Though disagreements, stress and frustration are inevitable, may their be a sense of love and compassion to work through such moments together. May they be overwhelmed with a spirit of encouragement and synergy; a building up of each other in the most holy faith. Pray that stress and struggle would not derail nor burn out their efforts, but that there resolve would remain steadfast.
For the joy of the Lord is our strength
And laughter does good like medicine.
May the love that permeates our hearts
Flow from our lives, impacting those around us
For the glory of God.
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.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.