Been thinking a lot of this whole narrative that has transpired in recent years... "we need to be careful about the messages that we are sending to our kids."
Yet, it seems all too often, we're more concerned about the messages as they relate to society and culture, politics and power, relationships and regulated behavior.
Meanwhile, we've lost the message that matters. The message that I spent considerable time sharing with my oldest daughter this past Saturday, and again just recently and I'm sure many more times, before it clicks.
You are God's.
If you don't think life exists beyond yourself, then you'll have a hard time caring about anything other than yourself.
But if you understand that you belong to God, that you were created in His image, and that He created with a destiny and a purpose; that you are fearfully and wonderfully made... how does that identity transform your life?
If you live your life with that understanding and carry the corresponding perspective that those who walk around in this life have that shared intentionally at the very core of their being as much as it lies at the core of yours, does that change who you are, how you life, what you do and how you relate with the rest of humanity?
Instead we push this "do whatever you want" approach to life only to wonder what went wrong when bad decisions are made and evil atrocities and horrendous tragedies occur? Don't worry about anyone else has swung so far out of bounds, that we miss when the time comes to truly reach out and show concern for those around us. And by the time we figure out that someone is having problems, it's beyond our ability to help.
Sadly, such mentality even runs through Christianity. We get caught up in the craziness of life, that we miss the battles of other Christians as well as those in ministry until trouble has not only knocked at someone's door, but has taken up temporary residency on their couch!
On this #youthPastorWednesday, let's pray that we would communicate not our perspective or agenda, but the truth of God and His Word. Pray that we would speak the love and purpose of God; not only to our youth, but to our leaders that lead and direct them. May this generation know that their is life and meaning beyond our time on earth. Pray that today's youth would come to a place of knowing and understanding God's plan for their life, while those who lead them would live out the fulfillment of God's plan for theirs. Among all the messages being sent forth, may the message of the Gospel of Christ stand front and center; an eternal reckoning which cannot be avoided. Likewise, may the pastors who lead today's young people, continually point them to Christ and remind them as they remind themselves... that God is at work.
Always and forever.
For the glory of God
And the Gospel of Christ.
I know this is a late in the day post. And to be honest, I just haven't had a peace regarding it... a sense of direction. From yesterday, throughout this morning...even at this moment. I think I know what's coming, but I don't. So hang on... how this ends is just as much your guess as mine.
All I know, is that today's events on a national level were interesting. Ideas and opinions, arguments on both sides of the issue regarding what is going on in our culture and society and how it is impacting our youth and our schools. And long before we were faced with such challenges, we've been changing how we educate our kids, what's allowed and not allowed in our schools to say nothing of our approach to parenting. Of course, all of this has come to a head, to the point that it affects how we respond to ministry, to the Judeo-Christian perspective and most importantly, to the Word of God.
I'm certainly not going to sit in judgement, nor high moral ground, nor clueless and apathetic sideline. I don't know, nor do I pretend to know all.
At best, I'm inadequate... on many fronts.
That said, certain things remain very clear.
The truth is difficult to hear.
We are all candidates to be better people.
Knowledge is only power to those wise in handling it; otherwise it is destructive.
History repeats itself... and often, to those who ignore it's lessons.
Evil exists and it does have an agenda. A spiritual one at its core and a master of disguise on its' surface.
I know you're older than me, but that shouldn't diminish the fact that there are a collection of years between me and today's youth, the years having reached "decade" status, so as I reflect, I can say this.
I don't know which of today's youth I would be. All the events of my educational years being the same, I don't know which kid I would be as I look at today's generation. But I know this...
I wouldn't be where I am without a stable, 2-parent, single-marriage home... without Christian parents who told me that God loved me and had a plan for my life. The same parents, who along with my brother, told me they would always love me. I wouldn't be here without pastors and youth pastors who spoke into my life. Nor do I know what this conversation looks like without the help of teachers who helped me deal with the bullies.
So, whatever your response to today's generation and societies struggle, I can tell you this.
On a very simple, #youthPastorWednesday, this world DOES need our prayer. For obvious reasons, and you can add your specifics, we need to pray for our youth pastors. We need to pray for our teachers and school administrators. We need to pray for our kids, all of them... from those who are the bully, to those who are the victim, from the most popular, to the most ignored, the best-dressed and least attractive, from the most likely to succeed to the goofiest runner... to the punk that whips oranges across the room aiming at a kid's head. Even you. I pray for you.
Pray kids would be friends on purpose, rather than jerks on purpose.
Speak life. Speak truth.
They are both found in the person of Jesus Christ.
He is found on the Word of God, aka. The Bible.
May God change lives, first and foremost.
The family and I went out to breakfast on this #communitySaturday. Not unusual, except this was a "new to us" community.
And the food was really good. Small and it was packed upon our arrival, but we waited. And it got me thinking... in particular about how businesses position themselves as "feeling like home". Having recently moved, this is a phenomenon that I'm sensitive to of late.
What is interesting though, is that we step into the public square wanting to feel as though we are home. And I ask, why not experience community at home? Who doesn't love to gather with family and friends from the comfort of their own kitchen and couch?
The early church did. And today's churches are increasingly building relationships within their church by the congregation meeting in homes as a way to build deeper connections among the people of God. It also gives opportunity to truly invite community to hang out and do life with the community of believers without walking into the doors of the sanctuary.
So, one simple question... is your home a place for community to exist beyond the people you call family? It can be. It should be. It's what I hope our place will be.
Pray this #communitySaturday that the church would greatly impact their community through their involvement in every day life. May open our hearts and our homes, to be the hands and feet of those in need, whether of great and obvious needs or simply building friendship by being friendly. Pray God would grant us favor with our neighbors, to reflect the character of Christ, never knowing what, when and how God might be working in their lives. May God use His church to change the world as they are open to living a real faith in a real God while experiencing real life.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
If the evil of the world, isn't increasing moment by moment in this world in which we live, then perhaps we are living on different planets.
That said, I've noticed a change. I'm certain that I am not the first to notice, nor do I think that it is a short list of people who have noticed. But the shift has certainly permeated society. We've moved from innocent until proven guilty to guilty until proven innocent. We've gone from granting the benefit of the doubt to a rushing of judgement. From quick to listen and slow to anger to the dismissal of listening and immediate anger.
The media would have you believe that all is wrong with the world. There is no good, there is no greatness. Some can do no wrong, others can do no right. And in the midst of it, people are worried about what "message" we are sending to our young people.
Well, Scripture tells us plainly, what message we should concern ourselves with!
Whatsoever is pure, lovely, honest, just and true. If anything is praiseworthy, if anything is of good report, if there is any virtue!
But we don't think on these things. We don't encourage these things... at least not at a rate that would curtail the barrage of bad news from today's culture. Everyone is looking for what will fix our country and community, our states and schools, in the marketplace and at the homestead. In all of these environments, where will we ever find a circumstance that fits the life that stand before us. Furthermore, where is the person who exemplifies this? Don't wait for someone else.
On this #youthPastorWednesday, pray that young people and old alike, would be people that would focus on God and the good that He has surrounded use. May they not get caught up in the message of the day by media and peers. Pray they would be people who would seek the face of God and place their trust solely in Him. Pray God would help us a parents and pastors, teachers and coaches, friend, neighbors and mentors to encourage them. Pray for wisdom and direction; that they would live counter-culture to world and in alignment with God's Word.
True, just and honest.
Lovely and pure.
Of virtue and good report.
May we think on such on things.
For the glory of God.
Protect the kids!
This is the scream of a nation for the past few days.
Conversely, your prayers aren't enough.
There is evil in the world and it's abundant. And it resides in the heart.
So, while we can make every concerted effort to fix, solve and rid ourselves of tragedies and troubles of world, it really is a futile exercise.
Are there fixes, improvements and a "betterment" of circumstances? Absolutely.
Should we not search them out and implement them whenever possible. Yes.
Our live is valuable because of what lies beyond this life. And who.
Christ died not only that we have life on Earth, but Eternal life.
Conversely then, when we dismiss the possibility and value of eternal life, then we have lost the majority of our value for this life Because if there is neither a reward or a consequence upon my death, then what does it matter what I do with my life?
Who are you to tell me I am ruining it? What prevents me from ruining others?
Purpose. Godly purpose for an eternal cause.
Indeed our kids do need protection. The protection of the hand of God and the salvation of Jesus Christ, for only the Creator of humanity can fix the brokenness of humanity. Do we not send every earthly product back to the manufacturer for repair? Yet we attempt to fix our heart with the solutions of amateurs, rather than the expert.
On this #youthPastorWednesday pray for the youth of today and the people who lead them. Pray for a spiritual revelation and revival in their hearts. For all the things that society pushes to having an open mind, pray their minds would be open to the power and plans of Almighty God. May the Holy Spirit do a transformation in their lives; not only for the remainder of this life, but for the life to come. Pray for the pastors of our young people, kids through college. May God grant them wisdom as they navigate these incredibly difficult and challenging times. And pray for their protection, for indeed the evil in this world is great.
But greater is He that is in us,
Than he that is in the world.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Today we celebrate the life of someone very special in our family. Birthdays are always a special time to mark and commemorate the passing of another year of life and growth, of lessons and understanding, joy and trouble.
As we gather in the next few hours with family and friends to share in the blessing of enjoying life with this precious soul, I can't help but consider the sovereignty of God and how He moves and ordains our live. Consider those in your life, who you have opportunity to build relationships and friendships through our time on Earth and be the blessing and encouragement we have been called to be and make an eternal impact.
We often don't give it that much thought. We have our friends and others that maybe aren't so close; but so many days pass where we don't truly cherish and enjoy the quality of our life that has been influenced, shaped and changed through the power of strong family and great friends.
All too often it takes extenuating circumstance, great difficulty or special occasions, to remind us that no matter the trouble and trial we may face or endure, we have and live a blessed life. Not because of what we have, but because of who we are in God and who we share life with because of the people He has placed in our lives.
On this #communitySaturday, pray that God would help to make the most of the relationships that we have, with both family and friends. May we not take those in our lives for granted, only calling on them in times of great triumph or great tragedy. Pray an ever increasing appreciation for the sovereign hand of God in our lives and His wisdom as to who He places in our lives and how and where He places us in the lives of others. As our paths cross, may God help us and use us to impact those around us for the sake of eternity and the cause of Jesus Christ.
That we would rejoice in the celebration of life
As well as the tragedies that we endure in this life.
For the glory of God
And the advancement of His kingdom.
I had another one of those moments. You've had them.
Moments and circumstances that cause stress, frustration and tad bit of worry. Suddenly the forefront of your mind is consumed, or at the very least preoccupied, with finding solutions and asking certain individuals for advice, counsel and any good ideas.
Then I was reminded of the scene from It's A Wonderful Life.
George Bailey's moment of epiphany, when truth in advertising gives him hope.
"Ask Dad. He knows."
And yet, regardless of age of life and maturity of faith; despite the relationship with Almighty God, of such intimacy as to call Him "Dad", and when we find ourselves in times of trouble and trial our first call is to our phone, rather than to Heaven.
We utilize the satellites, but not our knees.
And as I struggle to figure out comes next even along these lines of thought, all I have is this...
What does our response display about our faith?
To our family. To our friends. To our children. To our local community and the body of Christ at large?
Who is your first call?
On this #youthPastorWednesday, pray for pastors, who even in their times of stress and difficulty may neglect to go to God, pray and seek His face first. May God grant forgiveness for such occurrences and may God strengthen their faith; that in all matters, great and small, His Word and counsel would be sought first. Pray God would grant wisdom and discernment as they move forward; may anxiety cease and the peace of God surpass all their understanding. May their unshakeable, unmovable faith be a testament to the sovereignty of God as they trust in His perfect timing.
That His plans and purposes would be accomplished.
Even when we don't see the why, how, when and where of the matter.
For God is good.
And His mercy which endures forever,
Is also new every morning.
Even on the days we don't call out to Him first.
Some kids are pretty bold in their response as they engage in conversation. The moments of brilliance that result in laughter and hilarity are priceless and stand to be treasured; sometimes making an impact that we remember for a lifetime and at other times, lasting long enough to help us keep our sanity for another day.
Conversely, are the arguments and responses of varying degrees of defiance and disobedience; words created to emphasize one's most basic point... "It's not me" or "It's not mine."
What's truly amazing is that even as kids grow to become parents themselves, at times the conversation doesn't change with their own parents. My Dad and I still have moments much like I had with my child yesterday... "if you would just do what I said!"
As such, I've had many teachable moments of late with my kids; that usually result in my providing them my desired answer. 'Yes Dad' is the correct answer.
And yesterday, a spiritual truth came to light as I told my youngest these words in expressing my frustration...
"'Yes, Dad' solves half the problems in your life, child"
Isn't that how it works in our faith as well?
For the Christian in the pew, for the Clergy in the pulpit, if only we would respond to our Heavenly Father in like spirit as we wish our kids responded to our parental pleas.
How much would life be different?
How much more would life be blessed?
How much more ministry would go forth; anointed, inspired and effective?
Don't feel bad if this is hitting a little close to home. I'm having difficulty even writing it.
But consider if we learned this faith principle as much as we desire our kids to learn this life principle? May it work in our homes as God desires it work in our hearts.
On this #youthPastorWednesday, pray that for those leading ministry and learning from ministry, that we would respond to our Heaven Fatherly with words of affirmation. May our hearts be ever-so sensitive to the moving and prompting of the Holy Spirit. Pray the spirit of antagonism and argument be far from us as we work our faith and walk in it. May God help to live as better examples of what He can do with lives and hearts that are surrounded to Him. Pray we would witness a change in our world as we allow God to change our lives.
While the problems won't disappear,
May our attitude and response help dissipate
Their control and influence over our perspective
To trust God and obey in a greater dimension.
For His glory and to His credit
Because of our Father's love for us.
I'm not sure who was speaking on the broadcast when I changed radio stations yesterday afternoon, but I caught part of this man's testimony as he talked about the health struggle he endured early in life and into his grade school years.
I quickly found myself relating to his story, as we dealt with kids who gave him static regarding his physical condition and how one copes with that. Cyber-bullying is a serious problem, perhaps even worse than in real-life, although, real-life bullying left a lot to be desired as well.
I had to laugh, as he talked about "having to go to school".
Just because you ignore "them", doesn't mean you don't hear what they say and that psychologically the words don't still make landfall somewhere in the recesses of your inner-man.
You can't go somewhere else to get away... it's not like there's another lunchroom.
Defending yourself doesn't work; somehow your replies are simply more ammo for them to use as return fire against you.
Teachers expect you in class, parents tell you that you have to go and the system only allows you to miss so many days. It's like lambs being thrown to the wolves.
Thus, whether face to face or through Facebook & friends, our spirits not only wound quite easily at times, but very early in our lives as well. Whether for situations beyond our control like a physical condition or kids being mere kids, such wounds do not quickly heal.
And isn't interesting...any medical condition, we go to a doctor. Parenting and marriage, a counselor. Finances? Dave Ramsey. For all our broken and troubled arenas of life, we seek and find a professional or a guru to bring healing and correction to the problem. Yet with a wounded spirit and damaged soul, we skip, bypass or overlook altogether, the Creator in whose image we were created.
For the child or the adult, the sinner or the saint, the pastor or the parishioner, spiritual wounds require spiritual healing. Why isn't our first turn to God? Even when the decision is obvious, we wait and prolong seeking His face and casting our cares.
Pray this #youthPastorWednesday, that God would be the first that is to be trusted with our wounded spirits and damaged souls. Pray for those still struggling with the scars of their past. May God do a work in each of us; for daily, we in the most unexpected moments, we realize we are still very broken and scared people. Pray the mercies of God that are new every morning fill our desperate need for forgiveness and the opportunity to be and live better today than we did yesterday, this morning better than last night.
For God doesn't waste our experience
But uses it all for His glory
As a testament to His grace
And the redemptive work of Christ
Through the power of the Cross
And the help of the Holy Spirit.
Well, I just very well might have gotten through to my kids. I've been trying to explain to them and get them to understand that the acquisition of certain things require time... and money.
For the most part, as an aspect being an adult, we understand this. Some of us, better than others. Getting kids to arrive at this understanding? Not so much. The world of instant and fast consumption keeps increasing, particularly, as we are ever more connected, often with one less middle-man.
So getting them to understand that the bigger hopes, dreams and desires take time and money has been a process. Every time we do this little thing, we go to this place or that, we purchase this little thing or that over there... it all takes away from our truest, desired, yet-to-exist realities.
As I was discussing this in terms the kids could understand, I had my epiphany. Is this not what we do with God?
He knows what He has in store for us.
He knows what He desires to accomplish in our lives.
He knows our hearts, yet He knows what's best.
He knows His love, but understands our will.
And in the midst of it all, exists grace. Because of His love.
But what is our response when He says "Wait."?
What is our response when He says "No."?
What is our response when He simply sits in silence?
(as if to say what I've often told my kids... "asked and answered")
Sometimes I think adults have a harder time in our relationship with God and the working out of communication and understanding of faith matters than we do in the relationships with our kids and the working out of communication and understanding of life principles.
How this phenomenon happens, I'm not sure. But I know it exists. Sadly, in my own life. Realistically, probably in yours. Most likely and perhaps even recently, also in the life of your pastor.
On that note... pray this #youthPastorWednesday for pastors dealing with tough and frustrating realities. For those frustrated by their current realities compared to their desired existence, pray that God would strengthen and encourage them. May God bring revelation to their hearts and minds. Pray for a clarity from the Holy Spirit regarding any sense of frustration or confusion regarding their lives and ministries. May God restore a sense of hope and energy to those exhausted and tired. Pray a new day would dawn, that a turn would be made, as the press in ever-closer to the throne of God and a fresh sense of His presence, even amidst the trials and trouble daily living.
To retain the faith of a child,
Even when our patience level is null.
God help us anew,
As we balance life on Earth,
While Heaven is home.
May we look to you alone,
For your glory, we pray.
I keep looking at the world and hearing what I often hear with my kids. And I keep wanting to have the same response as the question I ask them.
How hard is it to play nice?
Let me be clear... I'm not talking about "co-existing". And I'm not delving in to that matter here and now. However, for all the national and international debate taking place on any number of issues, at the end of the day, we are responsible first and foremost, for our individual words, attitudes and actions.
And seriously, I know certain people and personalities can rub us the wrong way and strained and stressed relationships of any kind can certainly be difficult to navigate, but how hard is it to smile?
A friendly acknowledgement of the life of another as you walk by each other.
By and large, you'll really notice the couple of seconds or minutes lost, by deferring to another through the simplest of gestures?
Regardless of religion, politics and economic differences, friendliness costs nothing but two seconds to determine every morning that you will display love and respect through the simplest word or deed of kindness.
Society does better than the church... or so it seems some days.
But a few minutes on social media quickly reminds me that the church should be leading the way in this lifestyle. Plus, we are instructed to love God and love our neighbor.
We keep trying to instruct our children to play nice, but we so often fail to do so as adults. And of course, the inconsistent message places them in a position where they are prone to repeat the cycle of broken adults. And sadly, that's what the world is full of.
Broken kids, who've become broken adults, who've in turn raised more broken kids...
And we watch the news and read our newsfeed and wonder what and how the world is and become so broken. Meanwhile, we deny and ignore the only source of healing and restoration.
So, before this post gets any longer, let's pray this #communitySaturday, that God would help us to be the church He has called and purposed us to live... to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. May we be people of kindness as we interact with a world full of broken people and broken kids, living stressed out lives and engaged in strained relationships. Pray that we would be people who would not only reflect Christ, but encourage those around us to engage with Him. May God continue to grant us wisdom and discernment as we live through the current chaos and that He would accomplish the miraculous through our conversations.
That God would go before us,
As we step forward in faith and obedience
To be used for His glory and purpose
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
We all stand frustrated with the evil of humanity and yet when asked, we fail to recognize the evil that resides in the heart of every individual. We ask how we got to this place as a society and a culture and yet we don't view our words and deeds in light of eternity.
We fail to recognize God, let alone seek to see and understand Him.
We wish for a purpose to this thing called life, but miss the opportunity to have a relationship with the One who designed us with and for a purpose.
We desire meaning and long to be loved, yet deny what Christ did for us and what it means for our lives.
We wonder why people don't do right nor even know what is right, while we teach that there are no absolutes, there are no eternal consequences and that you should trust your gut, do what you feel is best for your and operate by your feelings.
We are teaching and living lies.
All because we fail to believe the One who says that they and their Word are true and truth.
Yet, James McDonald says that hope takes work. Despair is nearly a default.
It stands to reason then, that if we are to have hope and it will require effort and time on a daily and sometime moment by moment basis, that would we put it our hope in someone/something that has stood the test of time; has never failed, never left, never missed a detail, never wasted an experience or a tear to bring about a divine, sovereign and glorious plan.
But that would be sensible and logical, even if it was a risk and a step of faith. And it amazes me how much risk we will accept and what steps we will take, for things far less impersonal and important in light of eternity. Yet when given the opportunity with God, far too many write it off as good for someone else... as if it's possible for humanity to be too good for the grace and love of God. For not only is that not possible, but quite the opposite is true.
People need hope. And the people of God need His help in communicating such to a world fill will evil living a default state of despair.
On this #communitySaturday, pray that people eyes would be opened to the truth of God and his plan and purpose for humanity. Pray that hearts and minds would be opened to the opportunity and risk to engage with Almighty God, Creator of the Universe. May we not be people who live in despair and frustration, but that would be people people who live in peace and hope, ready to give an answer to all who inquire as to our Source. Pray our active faith in Christ would shine to those around us.... like a city on a hill.
For God has not left us in our lonely state
But has made every effort and ultimate sacrifice
To display His love, plan and purpose.
For though He is frustrated with humanity,
We are not utterly destroyed.
Because of His love and His grace.
May we engage people with the same.
For the glory of God.
As I reflected on yesterday's post, it occurred to me just how much of that existed with the disciples.
Thomas doubted. He was there. He witnessed. He was engaged. Yet despite all of that, he needed help with his unbelief. How must he have felt in his heart and mind?
Peter. Trying to be what God had for him, yet his mouth and his anger were problematic. And worse, he denies in front of the group that he won't deny Christ, yet when none of his friends are around, he responds in the manner that his ego resisted.
And then there's the tragedy of Judas. All that time spent with Christ and he yet he apparently didn't believe in Jesus' power to forgive such a betrayal. Did he not know what God's plan was for his life? One life to the crowds. A similar one to his friends. Yet under the cloak of darkness, he hands his master over to those looking for a reason and an opportunity to destroy the threat they considered to be Jesus Christ. And he knew. He knew the decision to make to correct that decision, yet couldn't bring himself to do so.
By now, you're wondering where's the connection with pastors who work with kids and youth?
It's a young person who calls Peter out. Aren't you...? Don't you...? I know... I've seen...
When we don't think they're paying attention, they prove they know more than we give them credit for regarding their insight, wisdom and perception. It's enough to make one want to be a better adult, parent, teacher, mentor and pastor. Yet pastors have their troubles. And even in ministry, tragedies and troubles occur, as much as we'd prefer they didn't, let alone think about them and have to deal with them.
Where there are inconsistencies, there are messes.
Pray this #youthPastorWednesday, that pastors would lead their ministries by living consistent lives, especially in front of today's youth as they need the truth in a world full of lies and confusion. Pray for situations and circumstances that exist, but shouldn't. Pray for correction, healing, forgiveness and restoration in matters and relationships that unhealthy and problematic. Pray for today's young people... may God protect them by His strong right hand. May the learn to live and walk with a clarity and confidence of the truth of God, His Word and His purpose for their lives.
For God does not waste our experience,
Nor our pain and tears.
Clean from the mess
Beauty from the ashes.
Living with an intentional focus,
For the glory of God
Full of choices.
Full of decisions.
Full of joy.
Full of sorrow.
And stress. And anxiety. Worry. Points of concern. Points of contention. Moments of frustration and agony. Time filled with awe and wonder and much more time spent simply wondering.
Yet, through it all. God never changes. He is Sovereign. He is an ever-present help. Yet in the midst of this life, we find ourselves trying to understand and attempting to make sense of the what, why, how and where things will go and proceed to work out... both in the short term and for the long haul.
It truly is amazing what kids go through. And worse, what we put them through. But so much of life is filtered from what we can handle to what they can handle. And no matter how long one has been a believer, we keep coming to God, hoping to get full understanding and information of what is happening or what is in store.
But know... He gives us what we need to know; what we can handle. That's the sovereign nature.
It's hard as an adult. Even harder as a parent. Harder still as a pastor.
Thus, we look to, rely and place our trust in God.
Not only for our lives; but also on behalf of our kids... for they too will one day need to have the strength and fortitude in their relationship with Christ that we all work towards daily.
Let's pray, this #youthPastorWednesday for youth and children's pastors that are struggling in their own lives and with matters of faith in their walk with God. Pray that God would give them wisdom as they navigate the circumstances and situations that they face. May God help them as they relate to the young people they minister to; that God would give them the words and perspective to build up and encourage the faith of today's youth. Pray that no matter our understanding of the day; that we would continue to trust in the sovereign Hand of God. May we daily rejoice in the knowledge and beauty that God does not waste a single experience for His glory and good.
For God is a good Father,
Who has good things in store for His children.
A plan and purpose.
A destiny and a calling.
For His glory.
By His grace.
With His love.
Daily, as we walk this life
I'm kinda bummed I was unable to join my church friends today in an outreach to a nearby community that has witnessed some serious decline over the past couple of decades. In more recent years it has only gotten worse.
Yet over the past few days I couldn't help but consider the power that is being displayed today, as a community of believers not only steps outside the four walls of their church, but also outside the four corners of their own community to drive to another area and make an impact.
It's a huge undertaking, but I'm believing as many are, that it will be a day of miracles, as many tangible and physical needs are met. People are experiencing an abundant outpouring of love, grace and compassion as the body of Christ steps up and steps forward to express care and concern to those in need and those less fortunate.
It's so easy for many churches and organizations, as well as individuals for that matter, to live life more concerned about personal lives, missions and goals that we neglect to seek and pursue opportunities whereby we show that others matter.
That this world is not our own, but God's.
That our lives are not ours, but His.
That we don't exist in a vacuum;
That our needs are not more important than another's
God shows His care for humanity by moving a humanity to care for others more than themselves.
While the evidence of the evil that resides within is great and often on prominent and dominant display, greater is He who is in us. We should be providing even great evidence of the goodness that we are capable of because of the work God has done in the hearts and lives of those who have submitted to His plans and purposes through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
So, pray this #communitySaturday that God would do the miraculous. Pray for today's outreach, that the compassion, love and grace of God would overwhelm those who are in need and receive the tangible touch of His hand through the people of God. Pray for connections to be made, that people would be connected to local churches and witness daily God's love and provision in their lives. May today be a day of glory and honor to God through the obedience of Christians who have been moved to compassion, to step outside their lives and make an eternal impact in the lives of strangers.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
A day that impacts eternity.
So our youth pastor is heading up a class this fall on the very topic, of cross-generational ministry. We talked yesterday about legacy and ministry; of the next generation learning ministry from those who've led for years and decades prior. The more I've thought about this the past couple of days, it's a complex matter... the process of one generation duplicating the next generation of leaders, while the next generation of followers of Christ have any entirely different life experience in terms of building relationships.
Hence, the concept of cross-generational ministry. Leadership duplicates itself. Yet, the "market" changes. Those who follow do not duplicate themselves... they enter the picture of their own volition. So there is a significant, if not a great difference between pastors passing the baton of leadership and leaders ministering to multiple generations. There's also an incredible difference between a ministry that focus on a particular generation (seniors group versus college/career) and a service in which the pastor is preaching to three or four generations all hearing the same message.
Clearly, this issue is becoming increasingly prominent and problematic within the church. Older generations are tired and frustrated by the church for a wide variety of reasons. Subsequent generations find the church irrelevant. It doesn't fit with modern and progressive thinking and a society and culture that has publicly desired to have and speak less of God and less highly of God in the public square.
Thus the church struggles to be a powerful counter-culture in a 21st context.
We need a move of God and even more, a move of the Holy Spirit to turn the hearts of humanity back towards the heart of their Creator.
Let's pray this #youthPastorWednesday, that indeed, we would witness a modern day move of God and the Holy Spirit upon this culture. Pray that God would soften hearts and prepare the minds of many to understand and receive what has been accomplish for us through the cross of Christ. Pray for a generational call to repentance and an openness to the things of God. Pray for wisdom, as the church works to reach the disenfranchised, the disengaged and disingenuous. May we witness the miraculous as we navigate these difficult and challenging days.
For there is no barrier that God can not reach,
No barrier that the blood of Christ does not cross.
No trial that Christ has not endured,
That is beyond the reach and capacity of God to heal.
For His glory and the cause of Jesus Christ.
I mentioned the other day, that walls are great for protection and defense, but somewhat difficult to utilize when it comes to communication. Depending on the nature of the relationship, we may desire more communication or we may wish for even less than what already exists. Of course, any number of experiences and the actions and responses of any and all parties involved can lead to the building of the walls.
Yet, if we are going to live, act and communicate in a spirit of love, both in the relationships closest to us and the relationships that have yet to be formed, then we must start with ourselves and commit to showing and expressing love. This is a daunting and difficult task, even for the strongest and closest of relationships; because if things are already a struggle, one can't help but wonder if it's worth the work for an unknown outcome.
Friends aren't immune. Family is not immune. Marriage, certainly isn't. Ministry, not on your life.
Keep in mind, I understand boundaries. Not every relationship is for bearing the deepest parts of our soul. I'm for healthy boundaries, knowing full well, not everyone will be BFF's with each other for life.
However, co-workers can push our buttons. Spouses can drive us crazy. Kids can make our hair change color and occasionally, even the countenance of our face. Relationships are hard work. One with God can often be the hardest of them all.
But as people of faith, reflecting daily the power and presence of God in our lives, we do and should be taking intentional steps to communicate well, the love and grace of Jesus Christ... perhaps not specifically through evangelistic language, but certainly with our everyday words of conversation and activities of normal life.
I don't say this as having perfected this process, just an acknowledgement that if I could do better as a person struggling from the pew, there's no doubt those behind the pulpit are struggling as well.
So, pray this #youthPastorWednesday, for pastors that are struggling in their communication. Whether it be at home or at church, pray for the work that God is doing in their hearts and minds to greater reflect Christ. especially for those in ministry to kids and youth. May God give them wisdom and strength, for the relationships that are at a critical and delicate stage. Though relationships are difficult and those closest are sometimes the hardest, pray for a covering of grace; that God would move on the hearts and minds of those who will be on the receiving end of the efforts to communicate and reflect Christ.
Though walls serve a purpose,
May they not become strongholds
Whereby God's love and truth
Are unable to transform lives.
May we do our part well,
For the glory of God.
John MacArthur preached an incredible sermon series this past week on family and how the most basic unit of community begins with family... as I've often stated. Yet one statement in particular stood out, particularly as I thought of the application and implication of these words on my own life and in my own home.
"Family is the proving ground of Godliness."
I know, no family is perfect. We have our struggles and battles like everyone else. Kids don't always get along. Parents have bad days. Stuff gets missed and misplaced and life takes it's toll and somehow we all figure out ways to cope and manage. By the grace of God; with the love of God... and some days shear force of will.
As much as we know we must persevere in our faith, so to are the days where it feels as though we must persevere in family. But God is a god of relationships. As we were made in His image, part of that is shown through the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having created male and female in His image, it's the relationship of the two of them coming together that reflect the power and the synergy that reflect the character of God.
It is with that understanding that helps to explain why society is having such an elemental breakdown in the fabric of community. If the enemy of our souls is successful in disrupting and destroying the family unit, then Godliness never leaves the proving ground where it can influence the open market of society.
The power of family is the testing, learning and developing of faith and the understanding of God whereby we are empowered and equipped to step in to the world and be used for His sovereign plan and purpose.
On this #communitySaturday, pray for families. Pray for those who are struggling with the realities and complexities of life; where the struggles and challenges stand to destroy and tear apart the very thing that God has created and brought together. Pray for healing and restoration in the lives of those whose homes are broken or on the verge of breaking. May the power and truth of God be revealed; may understanding come into existence as we see situations and circumstance in light of what God desires to accomplish in and through our lives. Pray the broken and damaged things would be healed and made whole.
The power of family.
Created and quickened by the Hand of God.
To be used for His glory.
Reflecting the character and love of God
To a world in desperate need of true and eternal relationship.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
"Do you want to know what God delights in?
The same thing every Father does.
Providing and protecting His children." - John McArthur
I happened to catch most of his sermon last night on the way home as he continued a sermon series on anxiety and worry. Prior to this statement though, he was talking about the relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ; whereas man-derived religion is problematic because any conception and concoction of a deity other than God is flawed, as man is flawed. Thus, aside from the common grace of God that falls on both the just and the unjust, McArthur makes the point that the unsaved bears the full weight of survival.
Without the saving grace of the knowledge of Jesus Christ all that remains is the best effort of humanity and the hopes of a catching a false god having a good day.
Keeping that mind, the obstacles that stand in the way as missionaries move forward in declaring the truth of the Gospel are simply astounding. The cultural and social battles that lay in wait to confront today's believers are... well, among other things, seemingly increasing daily. Like the number of believers that were added to the church in the early days of Acts... only in opposition to the Gospel rather than changed by it.
We often, and mistakenly so, place pedals under those in ministry... as if they are taking on a mission that the "everyday" Christian can't complete. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Missionaries are taking on the same challenges, albeit in a different land and a few other items at the forefront... such as language. Thankfully though, we are not existing simply for survival. Our Heavenly Father stands on our behalf; to provide and protect His children and stands ready to receive others into adoption, as they hear and accept the message of the Gospel of Christ.
Pray, this #missionsFriday, for missionaries who themselves are struggling in their personal lives with their relationship with Father God. May they be strengthened and encouraged in the protection and provision that He delights. For the cultural and social challenges that stand before the Gospel may the truth of His Word cut to the quick, as the Holy Spirit brings revelation to hearts and minds. May many come to the understanding that the Father always desires relationship with His children, even when the children want nothing to do with the Father. May the saving grace of the knowledge of Christ transcend the lives of the unsaved; breaking through every notion that has resulted from the fallen state of humanity and bringing people to the redemptive state made available through the Cross.
Loved by God.
An incredible Father
To a world full of messed-up kids.
Saved by grace independent of a broken humanity.
For the advancement of the Gospel of Christ.
Friends of mine from church are pregnant, expecting their second child, another daughter. Two weeks ago, they had to do surgery on the baby, as fluid was building up in the lungs. Last week, when they went in for the checkup, they discovered the fluid has built up again, this time on the other side. So, today, they go back to do the exact same surgery, a second time.
Nothing like repeating situations, conversations and lessons. #saideveryparenteverywhere
In fact, one has to wonder if God doesn't wonder the same thing about us. Lessons, trials, difficulties... all for His glory, yet like the Israelites; the wandering in the desert was unnecessary. In fact, having to do it twice was just... it's like rooting for your favorite team struggling to get through the game or the season and in the playoffs. "Come on, guys! Get it together!"
The little things add up; but when the big things hit, blood pressures go up, as do stress and tension levels. But show should our faith and trust; that God is working His plan. It truly is a balanced effort of trusting and searching. Indeed there are times for understanding and corrective action and then there's the man born blind. Not for nothing, but solely for the glory of God.
Hence, no matter what we go through and endure; as hard as it may be, as frustrating, tragic or exhaustive, standing strong in the faith is paramount.
Burnout may encroach anywhere, but our faith should fortify all.
Thanks for joining this #associatePastorTuesday, as we pray for pastors and those in difficult and trying times; perhaps for the first as they experience a complicated pregnancy unlike their first child; or the pastor who finds themselves again in a place of unexpected transition in ministry. No matter what the challenge or difficulty, may the grace of God continue to transcend understanding and emotions and reflect Christ to a world who needs to know that an omniscient, omnipotent, Sovereign God is in control. May discouragement and burnout be kept at bay, as faith stands firm and reminds Satan, moment by moment if necessary, that He is defeated foe.
No matter how many times life repeats itself.
Grace in the midst His plan.
Trust when understanding escapes.
For His glory
And the advancement of the knowledge of Christ.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.