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.
Isn't it amazing, and humbling, quite frankly; as to the moments, circumstances and situations that God will place you that remind just how much room their remains for growth and maturity in your life, whether it be spiritual or otherwise.
Monday night, the man who spoke to the men's ministry group dug deeper into the conversation of the current sermon series on prayer, by discussing specifically, what it means to be a man of prayer. Yeah.
Nothing like a man who manages a website revolving around praying for those in ministry to be hit with a serious reality check of not praying with nearly as much quality and quantity as I should, while calling you to partner with me in this cause.
Thanks for the one, two punch God...
... the second hit, in case you are wondering, arrived yesterday morning. My work day started 30 minutes later than normal, which created the opportunity to hear the entire half-hour broadcast of one of Charles Stanley's sermons. I don't remember all of it, but I remember this.
Partial disobedience is still disobedient.
Partial obedience is also... disobedient.
Kids really do push the buttons of their parents, don't they? Doing one thing out of the two or three that were asked of them, is still missing the mark. It's still falling short rather than following through to completion. And in the midst, things get done in a manner entirely different from what was directed or commanded.
It drives us nuts when kids are out of line. And yet, we discussed the other day on the subject of being "in alignment" with the plan, will and way of God. How He must be frustrated!
It's one thing for me to write it.
It's another thing, sadly, for me to live it.
It's worse, that I simultaneously call you to the process.
Once again, Scripture is replete with great men of God, who knew God, witnessed the miraculous, took incredible steps of faith and even greater steps of obedience. Yet they too, had moments where their obedience was neither immediate, nor complete. And somewhere along they way, they paid. Dearly. Sometimes, directly. Other times, indirectly.
More often than not, partial obedience costs more than complete obedience. Simply because of the element of disobedience that remains in existence in the decision. A very, wrong decision.
If you'll join me on this #youthPastorWednesday, I'm praying for God's help. As much as pastors and church leaders need it; as much as our kids need it, I recognize I need his help. That we may not only be about the plans and purposes that He has for our lives, but that we would act and step out in obedience. Not partially, but completely. Not hesitantly, but immediately. Pray for a grace for when the mark is missed. Pray a spirit of repentance and contriteness regarding the consequences of our disobedience towards God; in whatever form and how great a degree it may exist. Pray that God would help us to be people of greater prayer and greater faith; that we would be ever closer to Him and that in His presence, we would have a greater ability to hear what He would desire to say to the church, to His people and to us, individually.
Imperfect though we are
Refined by the fire of the Holy Spirit
Rather than consumed by the fire of damnation.
May we walk with God, ever closer.
Closer than ever before.
For His glory and honor alone.
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.
There's something to be said for a consistent set of principles and their successful implementation. In fact, in reality, there's very much that could be said. More than I will say here.
There will always be extenuating circumstances that will allow principles to be applied differently, to varying degrees, to differing timelines, from a better vantage point of reasoning.
But by and large, it is the consistent application of sound principles that lead people and organizations to establish and build from a position of strength and understanding.
One does not simply arrive to such a place, but certain events have a way of making such an impact that one is driven to search and create strategies that will propel them to another level of thinking, living and sharing life.
Life is not for the hap-hazard, nor the faint of heart. And while principle-living leads to a fair amount of "success", consistent principles combined with faith in God is a force to be reckoned with; not for the purpose of success, but the fulfillment of God's plan and purposes for our lives. And our homes. Our business and organizations. Our churches and ministries.
Pray this #youthPastorWednesday, that pastors would live and lead lives and ministries of consistent principles. In faith and finances, relationships and communication, in public and behind the door, pray that failures would not be the defining element, but the lessons learned that have propelled and moved us to greater things. May the impact that is made on the lives of those affected by ministry be great, not because of the strength and influence of the pastor, but because of the grace and purpose of God. Pray that God would be honored as life is lived in ways and means that bring glory not to ourselves, but the work that He has accomplished with each of us.
Living with clarity and purpose.
With strength and resolve.
And faith placed solely in God.
His Word applied faithfully to our lives.
Dave Ramsey had a caller yesterday who wanted to help his sister's family through a difficult time, a large part of which was the result of bad decisions; many times over at that.
If you've listened to Dave's show for any length of time, you know what was coming next.
You can't reward someone for going in the wrong direction.
Thanks, Dave. It really is that simple!
In fact, when you think about it, the reward for going in the wrong direction is usually given to someone you would rather not get the reward or benefit. Like scoring in the other team's net.
The wrong direction didn't reward you, so much as it helped someone else for which they did nothing to deserve and earn it and in fact, it hurts you. It is a great detriment to your plan and your cause and the effects are far-reaching. It's two-steps forward that you can't to give up and three steps back that you may never regain.
There's more than a life principle at work and certainly more than a financial one, as much as I appreciate Dave's wisdom and enjoy his show. It's just as much a faith and ministry principle.
As much as we can't reward those in are lives and families who are moving in the wrong directing, neither can God reward the believer in the pew, nor the leader within the church when they do the same. And yet, all too often we expect and hope that He will. I have you. You have. And many others have done so as well.
Yet, God doesn't work that way. And we often miss because we are not in alignment with Him, His Word and His Will that causes us to miss the mark. It may not be obvious that we are in the wrong, but slowly and surely, the divergence between His way and our way will make itself known. And then what?
Let's pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, for an ever-increasing awareness and closeness to the presence of God. Pray, especially for pastors, that they would not find themselves veering off the course that God has ordained and destined from their lives, let alone going entirely in the wrong direction. Pray for understanding and a depth of knowledge and spiritual maturity to know God's promises and rewards. May wrong assumptions and presumptions regarding spiritual matters and Biblical truth be far from us.
That we would grow in the presence of God
And in the knowledge of His Word
By the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
We are at a transitional time in the personal life of our family and so the most often heard question around our place is simply, when?
Much like the non-stop barrage of "are we there yet?", this has taken on a slightly different sound.
Is today the day? Today?
No, not today.
Tomorrow? Tell us it's tomorrow!
No, it's not tomorrow.
And isn't this how we approach God? In our small and finite timeline, it's hard not to look at the "big" issues of life as well as the small, that somehow present themselves with such importance and emphasis that we can't help but take them to God with just as much concern.
With Earthly eyes and limited understanding, it's hard to acknowledge, let alone accept God's answers. Not yet. Not now. Not here.
His eternal perspective outweighs are earthly purview.
Yet we walk with eyes of faith and live with understanding beyond our dust-formed minds, with hearts that are committed to Christ.
There's a powerful song written from the Christian Rock band, White Heart, titled Maybe Today.
Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. That's not the question for me.
No matter what time, I'm gonna follow. The Keeper of all eternity.
So, let's pray this #youthPastorWednesday, that as we lead our kids to trust and wait, that pastors and church leadership would do the same, to trust and wait, even in the midst of great difficulty and circumstance. May they stand firm in their faith, resolute in their commitment to Christ and steadfast to the call of God on their lives. Pray they would not be overcome with fear and frustration regarding whatever challenges they face. Pray for wisdom and discernment as they are directed by the Holy Spirit. May they move forward in confidence, even if it is one step at a time, as an act of a genuine and active trust in the sovereignty of God.
That we would follow,
The Keeper of all eternity.
No matter the questions,
Nor the time.
For the glory of God.
There's a college that, in its' advertisements of late have been using the phrase "true north" in describing the character, ambition and pursuit that their students and potential students possess.
Of course, like so many things do, with seemingly little effort, it got me thinking.
If there is a "true north", then does it not stand to reason there is a "false" north.
As we lead our lives, our homes, our families, and organizations from a foundation of faith are we missing the mark and leading others to do the same and not realizing it?
I can only hope and pray...
... that we are certain of our convictions and beliefs.
... that we are sure of our salvation and redemption.
... that we are alive in the grace of God.
... that we are confident in His love and sovereignty.
So many things call for our attention. Much more calls for our input into decisions. Conversations that prompt us to reflect, consider and discover... not only what lies with in us, but what lies before us and more importantly, what God has in store for our lives.
We can over-analyze our circumstances and we can under-utilize our resources.
Likewise, with our faith; we can over-spiritualize matters as well as under-estimate spiritual power.
Self. Family. Ministry. What a tragedy if we live and move in any direction contrary to the truth and true direction of God.
Let's pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, for pastors and leaders of the church, as well as the home for that matter. May we live a life and a faith that operates "true north" in alignment with God, His Word and His plan. Pray our own agendas, ideals and desires would neither hinder nor defy what God would desire to accomplish in our lives and ministries. Pray both for families and ministries as well as others who would follow the influence of leaders; may their ultimate trust and reliance be placed with God and the redemptive work of the cross of Christ as well as the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
That we would follow God
With one heart, one mind and one voice.
Not moving in any direction we decide,
But in the one true direction He has ordained
Through Jesus Christ.
For the glory of God.
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.
They have a number of things in common, but I would submit that chief among them, is that they come with little, if any, advance warning. In addition, the explanation for their occurrence may take longer than we anticipate and hope. They vary in their degrees of disruption and frustration; some may be no big deal, while others feel like the end of the world.
They happen regardless of person and schedule. In the most ordinary moments as well as the most extraordinary of times, delays and detours and worse can truly mess with our emotions, mindset and attitude. They skew our perspective and disrupt our thinking in ways that we aren't even aware. This is the power they hold and they capacity they have to mess with our spirits; whether it be repeatedly for a few seconds or minutes at time or consistently making larger impacts resulting in us being thrown of our game for days and weeks and longer.
Meanwhile though, stands the perseverance of our faith and the remembrance of the sovereignty of God. And on that train of thought, it's important to remember that positive disruption exists. Delays, detours and more do serve important tasks and critical reminders; that not only is God in control but that He does use everything for His glory and purpose. Even if it does come at the expense of frustration, inconvenience and monetary loss.
Such lessons are hard even for kids in life... and equally so, for adults in the faith.
Well, on that note... shall we pray?
Thanks for joining us for another #youthPastorWednesday and let's pray for pastors who are being thrown off by delays, detours and worse disruptions. May they not be dismayed, nor disheartened, but strengthened and encouraged by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray their faith would be fortified and their resolve unwavering, as they continue to place their hope and trust in the Hand of God and His Sovereignty. May that which was meant to derail and destroy their lives and ministries serve God's design purposes to advance the kingdom of God and testify to the grace and goodness of the power of the Cross of Christ.
For He knows the plans He has,
For a hope and to future.
Not just life, but life abundant.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
One truly has to laugh at times, at the parallel's between the earthly relationship of a parent and child and that of the spiritual relationship between the believer and God. There are so many instances and conversations that come to mind in which this conversation can go. But one topic stands above the rest.
While the details aren't important, there is a major change on the horizon in our household. As we get closer to it becoming a reality the kids are nearly non-stop excitement mode. When is the day? When does it happen? Tomorrow? This weekend? Two weeks?
And yet, daily life continues with it tasks and struggles and responsibilities. And it's a balancing act, to be sure, of what needs to be done and what needs to be done in advance. But the barrage of questions of excitement from the kiddos continue...
...until there is but one response:
Kids, when it's time, you'll know!!
And isn't that how it feels with God? Whether within the life of faith and church, whether in the pew or behind the pulpit, so many conversations with God involve the favorite questions of kids everywhere.
Now??... now?... now?
Yet all too often we don't care for God's response any more than the kids don't care for mine.
"Not yet. Not here. Don't worry about it. You'll find out when we get there."
On this #youthPastorWednesday, pray for those struggling with the balance of current life against the exciting prospect of what lies ahead for the new year. Pray for a spirit of peace and calm; that would wait and rely on God rather than rush ahead without caution or consideration. Pray for an inner strength, that would not be overrun, nor overtaken by fear, anxiety or stress. May God help to find and live in the balance of daily duties as well as preparation for the coming days. Pray a continual aligning and realigning with the hand of God and the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
That there would be a strengthened trust in God
And a fortified resolve in His provision
For we have all that we need today.
As we look to Him
Who holds tomorrow in His hands.
God will. On Earth. As in Heaven.
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.
If we have learned anything in recent weeks, it stands in the power of confession and also, the importance of confession. The flip side of that power, also happens to reveal people's motivation for concealment.
Is it not amazing then, that God, who has reason to withhold grace and forgiveness from humanity is the first in line to offer the same to the one who is willing to humble themselves.
Yet, whether one has committed a wrong or been the recipient of wrong, pride stands before both, resolved to keep both parties silent.
However, both sides stand before God as He desires to work in both their hearts and their minds. And that process does not happen as long as we remain focused on what the other party has done or said or corrected.
Meanwhile, there is freedom in the truth, but it accomplishes nothing, let alone any good, if it is never spoken or communicated. And while there is a timing element to effective communication, communication that is significantly hindered or delayed simply raises questions of speculation and doubt with regards to accuracy and credibility. This is rarely helpful to the process and the hopes of any sort of resolution.
The relationship with pastors?
Pride, confession, transparency, credibility... these are the struggles and traits that are both desired and problematic for our pastors and church leadership as much as it is for our elected officials and other political leaders. If society demands such of it's government, how much more should we expect it from those who lead us into the Kingdom of God?
Let's pray this #youthPastorWednesday, that God would give us clean hands and pure hearts. Pray that pastor would lead and walk with integrity and purity. Pray for a continued spirit of humility; that pride would not derail or utterly destroy the work and ministry to which they have been called. May they continue to lead by example, for the generations that follow in their footsteps; that they would learn from both success and failure. May they do more right, than wrong; good than harm; help more than hurt, and build more than destroy.
For Christ came that we may have life
And life more abundantly.
Not as the world gives,
But transformed to those who rely on the power of God.
In all things, may what the enemy meant to destroy us,
Be used for God's divine purposes.
I heard something yesterday that was yet another reminder of a profound truth.
People, much like items and events, can be useful in the positive sense or useless in the negative sense.
Everything has a purpose, a reason for existence.
Yet when it is not fulfilling its' purpose, is it really useful?
What's worse, when moving in the opposite direction, it makes things feel as though there degrees of uselessness. Like it's possible for an on/off switch to be more than a binary state or for there to be levels of darkness.
There difference between usage, as to whether the impact is useful or useless depends on it's position in light of eternity.
It is not possible for someone to be useful to the cause of Jesus Christ while they are dead in their sin; alive albeit in an unrepentant state.
However, no matter how long one has been walking with God, it's entirely possible to find ourselves in places, positions and relationships that hinder the power of our usefulness to the work of Jesus Christ. And that is a dangerous place to find one's self.
On that note of self-reflection, that's pray this #youthPastorWednesday, that pastors would not find themselves in places and relationships that would hinder or detract from their usefulness to the ministry. Pray for an every increasing sensitivity to the moving of the Holy Spirit in their faith. Pray for wisdom and discernment as they lead; to speak into the lives within their influence and under their ministry, to spur them towards greater usefulness for the kingdom of God. May they not be distracted, detoured or derailed; God forbid we would hear anything close to "you useless servant".
Instead, may it be nothing short of "good and faithful".
Used by God
By the power of the Holy Spirit,
For the cause of Jesus Christ,
To the glory of God, our Father.
Have you noticed... every thing takes time.
Depth of character.
It's funny... any time a process or undertaking begins, we talk about starting strong. In reality, the beginning point of everything happens from a place of weakness. The comforting, yet anxiety-producing words that there is a first time for everything are never offered to one who is experienced, knowledgeable, prepared and equipped. In fact, they are spoken when the exact opposite is true.
Likewise the maturity, strength and perseverance that comes through a habit and life of prayer takes time. But it starts with building a habit. It also requires possessing a persistent spirit that desires to integrate it in to a life-long process.
I heard an interesting proposition by a pastor yesterday, who in his conversations with those in his circle, asked, who has prayed fervently for 40 consecutive days? And out of those he spoke, the only "yes" response, was from his wife.
For even as a pastors, he acknowledged an unbroken 40-day period of fervent prayer is neither easy, nor quick. Nor is it process that happens quickly. It's a daunting task for the busy and stressed believer. How much more in the midst of the demands of ministry? Yet, prayer must be the priority. For how will our communication with humanity be strong and effective if our communication with God is neither a paramount, nor fervent?
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday for pastors that perhaps frustrated with their prayer lives. Pray that God would give them insight to anything that may be standing in the way of brave and fervent prayers. May God remove the obstacles and hindrances that stand in the way to the development and maturity of their faith. Pray for a resolute spirit and a focused intensity as they seek the face of God and continually place Him first. May God help them to bring a balance in the areas of life that are not operating in a such an existence; that they may operate from a place of health and strength as they move forward in the calling and purpose that God has for their lives and ministries.
For we are never done growing.
Whether up in our faith,
Our the depths of understanding,
The breadth of perspective
Or the strength of our resolve.
For the glory of God.
I had a little bit of an epiphany yesterday afternoon... and it's probably one of those things that I've known and/or realized before and perhaps forgotten that I knew this to be true. But sometimes things just work a particular way and the realization hits as an "ah-ha" or "oh wow" moment.
We all know that life is a journey; and that the focus is not always about the destination or the result, but the process. Thus, if you don't take the time to be aware and notice what is happening along the way, you could miss some pretty cool moments.
Take Monday afternoon for example. A personal matter in my life is unfolding and while I don't know yet know the result as of this moment and the decisions that follow, there was a major miracle that transpired. It certainly was a hope and prayer ordeal... a "man, that would be really cool if that happened" moment, so that certain next steps could be taken. Well it did happen, and so did the subsequent steps.
But it would be easy to look at the end result, if it turns out to be different than the direction we feel we are being led, that I could totally miss that miracle, as if it didn't happen at all.
It's the perspective we try to instill in our kids, yet often need to be reminded of as adults.
Enjoy the ride. When you need to know what's going on, you'll be informed. In the meantime, be aware. Look around. Watch, wait and see the miracles that have already occurred as well as the ones that are in progress. Decisions and outcomes are awesome, especially when they seem to work out in favor, but to watch the hand of God at work in our lives as we traverse the process is where the excitement lives. As well as the frustration, for that matter, but again... they are moments to press in, to seek the face of God and trust in His Sovereign plan.
Let's pray this #youthPastorWednesday; that pastors, in the challenges and circumstances they face would not get so caught up and focused on the outcome that they miss the miraculous that occurs in the process. May they be encouraged today, to press in to the presence of Almighty God. Pray their unwavering faith would guide them, to stand and step forward with a steadfast and resolute spirit. Pray they would enjoy the moments that God grants throughout the day, with a trust and knowledge that He is in control, has a plan and is working all things together for good in spite of our understanding or lack thereof.
May we not miss out on the journey
Because we are focused on a destination yet unknown.
For the life of faith is marathon, not a sprint.
May we pace of ourselves to truth in Him
And walk with Him
According to His ways and His plans.
For the glory of God.
So, I'm reading chapter 26 of Numbers yesterday afternoon. I know... such an exciting book. But it's the recounting of the families of the tribes of Israel. And it's mind-boggling.
Another 53,000 for this tribe.
And 64,000 for that tribe.
And them over there... another 32,500
And that group... 60 more thousand.
Plus, the other half of the twelve tribes.
And I got to thinking about the promise God made to Abraham. Your children will number the stars and the sands.
Pastors often have incredible stories of what God has spoken to them regarding ministry and what He deposits in their hearts and writes upon the dreams of their minds. Yet ministry takes it's toll. As does life.
And sometimes, things are quite what the seem. What appears to be happening may not accurately describe one of two realities.
Things can look to be doing well, even great at times, and yet life, ministry and the faith of those in ministry may not be as strong and established as one would be led to think and or believe.
Conversely, one might look at the ministry and think or perceive things are not going so well; that they aren't making an impact in the lives they are reaching and speaking into and yet years later, they testify to the difference that was made.
Why consider such things? Because as I read through the counting of these families, I couldn't help but remember God's instruction. For all the victories and tragedies in the days of Israel, God continually tells them... pass these events on, to your children and your children's children and to their children. To the eight and tenth and beyond generations.
Let me be the first to admit... I would do well to tell my kids more often what God has done in me and what He has brought me through; to help build and ensure that they don't have just any foundation of faith, but a solid, unshakable foundation.
On this #youthPastorWednesday, let's pray for pastors, struggling perhaps with the disconnect with where they hope and believe their ministry should be and the impact they desire versus its' actual state of existence. Pray God would encourage them and reignite the dreams and goals that have perhaps grown dim and faint. May God grant them insight as to where and how, if any improvements need to be made or the ministry needs to change. Pray they would not grow weary in well doing, but continue to press in to the presence of God.
May they leave a legacy of impact.
Let the stories told be one of love and compassion, truth and grace
That lives would be forever changed as a testament for the glory of God
And not as a detriment to the cause of Christ.
For we His Creation.
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.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.