You know what really burns people out?
The list is long, I know. Your list is long. My list is long. We could poll the list from pastors and missionaries and church leaders and gain a whole other perspective. If we were really honest and dug deep, we could have an intense conversation.
My thoughts on the matter? Repetition.
Repetition is often a good thing. For learning. For discipline. For stability and familiarity. It has it's place and importance. So perhaps I should be more specific.
Repetition... of problems.
The same issues.
The same battles.
The same analysis of the issue
The same conversations.
The same proposed solutions.
When do we get to deal with something else?
As I'm thinking about what comes next, people are coming to mind that I know that have transitioned from pastoring a church to going to the mission field to stepping into other areas of leadership within their church's denomination or fellowship. I know there's a calling and moving in the plans that God has for them that is involved in this process, but again, if we dug deep enough, I can't imagine there not being a conversation where there's not some sort of element of being ready or desiring a change in ministry... and praying for and pursuing a change in ministry was preferable to perhaps exiting ministry altogether.
Life will always have problems and challenges.
Circumstances will always overlap.
And people will navigate and endure the same circumstances, many times over at some point.
It's frustrating to have it be in your life.
It's frustrating to be the one helping someone through it.
Yes, there's a joy. A calling. A purpose. But it's work. A lot of work.
And as much as people need to know that there is a plan and purpose whereby God is a work in their lives, so to, those that are helping need to know that God is doing a great work as they come along side and minister and continue point people back to Christ and closer to God... no matter the problem or the frequency of it.
On this #missionsFriday, pray that God would strength and encourage those missionaries that have reached the end or are nearing the end of wanting to deal with repetitious problems. Not that they ever end, but they realize they are getting worn thin. May God give them direction if a change of scenery or ministry needs to be made. Pray God would give them perspective and understanding and wisdom as to how to best approach their days and their time. Pray that God would help to enjoy the journey, the process and the learning. May the knowledge that God is at work, continually with never-ending love and an eternal purpose spur them in advancing the Gospel of Christ.
For God does not give us more than we can handle,
No matter how close we may feel we are to breaking.
Pressing on towards the prize of the high calling of God.
For His glory.
Every day seems to be another revelation that our battle is not with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities of this dark age. The explanation for the dichotomy between good and evil eludes us; if for no other reason than our society's failure to acknowledge the reality of spiritual warfare.
Yet, one doesn't have to look very far to witness and read the hostility that exists against Christianity.
Many deny the reality the perspectives and desires that are being stated against Christians; but around the world, the challenges are great, the struggles are real and the stories are chilling. The news headline that I heard earlier today had me shaking my head in disbelief.
There's really no easy answer, either. For the believer, we know how the story ends. We know who wins. We understand what we will endure. But just because we stand on the promises of God does not mean that the daily struggle to remain standing against the blowing winds of fear cease.
Indeed, the threats of evil are both disheartening and unsettling. And while we can only hope and pray that we would stand the test of faith where we facing such hostile ideals on a daily basis, we can certainly pray and continually present before the throne room of God, the lives of those whose daily reality is the battle against the evil that is prominent and pervasive in their attempts to snuff them out... both figuratively and literally.
For even Christ warned us... the world hated Me. Don't be surprised, that they will hate you too.
Pray this #missionsFriday, for missionaries and church leadership around the globe that are facing pure evil. Pray that God would hold them steadfast in His hand. Pray that God would give them wisdom, daily, in the handling and navigating of circumstances and situations that are truly hostile, complex and down-right unconscionable. May God guard their hearts and minds and may the angels of heaven come quickly to their aid. Pray they would not be detoured, nor faint or weary from the battle. May God help them overcome.
For His plans are good,
His purposes perfectly timed,
And His will sovereign.
Though we don't understand,
We trust... for He is a good God.
And we overcome, by the blood of the Lamb
And the word of our testimony.
I heard a power perspective, that I'd like to relay and check if this doesn't resonate.
Evolution kills the family.
The human race is the only species in which family exists through the existence of relationship.
Relationship, by the way, is the foundation of our connection with God and His Kingdom.
But consider what evolution teaches.
The coming to life as the next phase of animal, rather than an intentional creation.
It denies God and the concept that humanity exists for a purpose.
Without God, their is no basis for morality.
Whatever may become of me in the next life, there is no eternity after this life.
So, with no eternity and no morality, what is to prevent me from fulfilling every whim and notion on any given day?
And is that not what we are witnessing on a daily basis?
No need for God
No need for relationship.
No eternal consequence for our earthly lifestyle.
No fear of tomorrow, nor consideration of today; who might be affected by our decisions.
What authority do you have over me, for you are no better not different than me. Leave me to live my life alone, how I see fit; for I have no purpose, neither was one contemplated as I came into existence.
Is it any wonder then, the world has arrived at such troubled times as these? And yet, this is the mental and spiritual battle that faces the ministry of the Gospel. For while it was once elementary in our culture, it is now, once again revolutionary.
Pray, this #missionsFriday that God would strengthen missionaries as they battle the front lines of a culture that is far from God. May God give them wisdom, as they encounter every train of thought that has elevated itself against the knowledge of Christ. Pray a spirit of grace and the ability to love; that they would exemplify the character of Christ as they present the truth of God's Word. May the truth stand victorious and the Light scatter the darkness
May God hear our prayers
Answer from heaven
And heal our land.
For the glory of God.
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
As I'm getting ready to write this, I find myself thinking about the times that God "called" people out. Not only to do and accomplish His will, but the whole process of physically transitioning one's self from the place that they have known to the place where they have little to no clue. What a challenge!
Moving three minutes down the street takes effort.
Moving 30 minutes feels like more work than your day job.
Then there's moving 30 hours! Or three thousand miles.
While hesitant at times about the unknown and unanswered, they stepped out in faith, albeit not always with the greatest sense of confidence.
But they knew and trusted in God.
And so the cost and logistical struggle of where God was taking them from to where He wanted to place them was one that failed to hinder them.
If fact, the one for whom the cost was too great was because of his perspective
Holding on to his stuff kept him from an incredibly amazing walk with God. You almost can't help but wonder what he might have accomplished for the kingdom of God had he heeded Christ' call. I understand the dilemma. We all have stuff. We like our stuff. And some of it is good stuff! But if it stands in the way of what God desires to do in and through your life... talk about a loss.
Is there anything that is worth taking such a risk?
Pray this #missionsFriday for missionaries. May the cares and things of this world neither hinder, nor prevent God hand and purpose upon their lives. Pray for the miraculous, as they seek the face of God and step out in the plans and directions that God has ordained for them. Pray they would not be tempted or enticed away from the eternal for the appeal of the temporal.
May the same be true for us
As we grow and mature in our faith.
Drawing ever closer to the presence of God
For His glory alone.
I really don't know how much more evidence is needed to convince the world that there are spiritually forces at work in the world in which we live. And how crafty of a scheme is it, for the enemy of our souls to continually push the point that we as a people, culture and society are better off without God and then when people try to understand and gain perspective of the tragedy, travesty and evil that occurs, he convinces us that returning to God is not the answer.
But isn't that what one does when they are lost? You turn around and go back to the place where you weren't lost. It's called retracing your steps!
Yet here we stand, in 2018. Lost. Looking for solutions. And coming up with every possible scenario other than looking back to the place of clarity and understanding; the place of confidence and stability.
The process of repentance is easy. The harsh realization that takes place immediately before hand is incredibly difficult.
But like anything else in life, the hard work is worth the price. Sadly, however, it's a price that many don't want to pay.
So rather than pay the price of repentance, we continue to pay the price of consequence.
What will it take? Truth. Spoken in love. To ears that are ready to listen and receive.
Pray, this #missionsFriday, that hearts would be opened and ready to receive the truth of the spiritual matter. May the truth be spoken in love. Pray for the hurting to be healed and the broken to be restored. May God work the miraculous as people repent and turn from evil. May today be a day of positive change for all eternity. Pray the church would indeed be a light on the hill, for those lost in the darkness.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ
It's so easy to freak out when the storms come. We see them looming on the horizon or hear of their pending visitation and the talk begins. How much we dislike them; our utter disdain for the chaos that they bring; the challenge of navigating our way through their strength and torment.
You thought I was talking about life? Perhaps you missed the weather report!
Yet, navigating life is like traversing inclement weather. You instinctively know what to do.
Give high regard of your surroundings.
Be confident of your abilities.
Remember to breathe.
Focusing on the potential for disaster robs you of the energy and perspective you will need should that potential become a real threat. When the distraction of the storm overwhelms your focus that you rely on to get the storm, then you know you are in real trouble.
Yes, it's a powerful life principle.
It's a greater matter of faith.
With each successful endurance of a storm, you worry less about the next.
With each negative outcome of a storm, you fear the worst about the next.
Either God has promised to see you through, or He has lied and left you to fend for yourself.
Know and believe in whom you've placed your trust; for this too shall pass.
Let's pray, this #missionsFriday, for those missionaries struggling to navigate the storms of life. May they keep their focus on Christ and their trust in God. Pray they would remain confident in His Word and hold steadfast to His promises. Pray they would not be distracted by the surroundings and circumstances, but remain faithful and calm to continue in the work to which God has called them. Pray the peace of God that surpasses all understanding would keep them in perfect peace, regardless of what appears to be in the future forecast.
For God is with us always.
Master over the wind and the waves
Control the chaos of our lives
And fill us with your perfect peace.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
I don't listen to Joyce Meyer all that often, but she talked the other day about how we struggle with certain times of our lives, in light of our faith. We hang on to things longer than we should and battle internally with our faults and failures, problems and proclivities and God simply asks the same thing He asks all of us... both before and after having come to Him through Christ.
How long are you going to hang on to that?
It's a rhetorical question of course, but as Joyce shared, the one time that she gave an answer to God, of three days, it was as if God responded with, "and while my grace still be sufficient then?"
So the question is, while we battle in frustration of both heart and mind, God waits and wonders, why we wait so long for our release to Him if He response doesn't change?
People put off accepting Jesus Christ as Savior for the same reasons the everyday Christian and ministry leader seem to stall in the walk of faith. There is nothing in our lives that gives God pause to offer and extend His redemptive grace and accepting love to us.
So, on this #missionsFriday, pray for a clarity of understanding of God's gift. For wherever Christians and non-Christians alike find themselves, may guilt and shame not hinder and hold them back from God's ever-lasting grace and unending love. May today be a spiritual day of freedom and newness of life as people realize that they can accept themselves now, because they were accepted by God, first.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
"Make 5 good decisions. Then make 50.
Then make 500. Then... stop counting."
- Pastor James McDonald
We make decisions every day. Some are made through intense times of strategic planning, others made on the whim of spontaneity. Both instances can result in amazing benefits or agonizing frustration.
I understand as Christians, and even Scripture is full of men and women of God, with great faith, we are prone to make and have made bad decisions and wrong choices. But that shouldn't define our lives and legacy, nor should they ruin our testimony or ministry. I want to emphasize that such moments "shouldn't define", as the Bible contains a number of stories of men and women who were defined. They followed God, accomplished great exploits and lived incredible lives and yet the were known for the outcome that resulted from one bad decision.
Thus, McDonald's advice is well-offered and intended.
And on this #missionsFriday, what would be a better decision, than one that is made in surrender to Christ and a commitment made to the calling and purposes of God. Whether it be a first decision or a renewed decision, may our first decisions of the day be good and spiritual in nature and watch what God accomplishes through the decisions that follow.
Pray, then, starting with ministry leadership, that good decisions would be made. May we not be defined but faults and failures, but renewed and strengthened to press on in the faith and calling that God has placed on us. May our commitment to Christ and trust in God stand strong and firm, unwavering and unshakeable, even in the moments when we miss the mark, whether by a minute or by a mile.
Making good decisions
With minds that have been renewed by His Word
And hearts that have been transformed by His life.
For the glory of God.
Is it just me or does it seem like every day we get further and further away from truth. Not only that, but we get further away from those who speak truth and even wanting little to nothing to do with them. Indeed, we find ourselves in the life and times of those who have exchanged the truth for a lie. Not one lie, either, but the snowball effect that follows.
All because of a rejection of God.
But not only is there a rejection of God, but also a rejection of the people of God.
This is nothing new either, by the way.
Israel pleaded and begged God for a king to lead them, but then turned and rejected the man God had raised up and placed in that position.
The kings all had the moments of circumstance where they rejected the Word of God as spoken through the prophets; some even thought they could handle the duties of the priests.
Nobody likes to be rejected, nor go unheard; especially when it comes to spiritual matters and discerned by church leadership through the roles of pastors, missionaries and others. But as these times are experienced, the words of Christ provide comfort and encouragement.
"Don't be surprise when this happens; they rejected me. They'll reject you as well."
There will always be those who don't want to hear the truth, let alone have anything to do with the truth or allowing it to influence and direct their lives. All the more reason to continue speaking it and praying that it would land on the hearts and minds of those who would heed it.
On this #missionsFriday, pray for missionaries (as well as pastors) who are finding themselves in positions where they are not being well received, for whatever reason when it comes to declaring the truth of the Gospel of Christ. May God continue to grant them strength and wisdom for today and the days to come. Pray that God would continue to move on hearts and minds; that the Holy Spirit would bring them to a place of revelation and understanding. May the truth go forth and the Word of God return, not as void; but valid and life-changing for those who hear and respond.
For the enemy seeks to deceive and destroy
But Christ brings hope and freedom
To the lost, blind and dying
As we each, once were.
For the glory of God.
"Your value does not decrease based on someone's inability to see your worth." -unknown
As I was once reminded of this again this past week, in not so many words, it applies and should comfort to both people of faith and people far from God. Anyone, and all of us, in fact, struggle on any given day to remember and focus on the fact that our worth comes from God and not from man.
We may be earthen vessels, but we are heaven's treasure.
The problems created and the havoc wreaked when we focus too long on the negativity that is being cast our way and spoken to us are disconcerting and stressful, to say the least.
So, do we look at others in our lives as God sees them?
Do we look at ourselves the way God does?
As the old hymn goes...
Keep your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of this earth, will grow strangely dim.
In the light of His glory and grace.
On this #missionsFriday, pray for those, even in ministry and in missions, battling a sense of worth. From whatever source the struggle may come, may the keep their face on Christ and their heart set on the things of God. May the temporary problems of their plight not cause them to falter, stumble or fail, but that they would stand strong, reliant upon their Creator. Pray they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to press on; that the frustration, emotion and chaos would not overwhelm them, but that they would overcome.
By the blood of the Lamb
And the word of their testimony.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
"Fruitfulness follows faithfulness." - Pastor Steven Furtick.
Taken from the opening verses of Psalm 1, these three profound, but simple words were posted as a meme last night on his church's social media page. Isn't it funny how we know this principle is true, and yet we continually find ourselves hoping that our breakthrough of fruitfulness is always a few days, weeks, months or years closer than what it is.
Notice the statement doesn't come with a timeline, yet as we look at circumstances and situations in our lives, it's the first thing we add. Whether in our own lives or the scenario of someone else's... the comments are the same.
This should have happened by now.
That doesn't seems right.
Something is amiss.
You would have thought after all this time...
And this is a hard battle to resolve. Scripture is replete with stories of people who remained faithful for decades before they witnessed results that people would call "fruitful". Yet we have difficulty with much shorter time-frames. Knowing what to do is a struggle.
Even as I write this, I'm thinking of the lady who called in to the Dave Ramsey show yesterday regarding her families finances. She and her husband started a church plant 6 years ago and the church is still not in a position to support them financially by any means. Objectively speaking, it's easy to agree with Dave on this... you'd think after a year or two, enough would be happening to support them to some degree. Six years is a long time to be barely getting by as a church plant.
But who knows how close they are to fruitfulness because of their faithfulness? Only God.
And many more stories like this are too many to count.
So, on this #missionsFriday, let's pray for missionaries who are facing similar challenges regarding ministry. Pray that God would continue to encourage and strengthen them as they remain faithful, even if the resulting fruit seems lacking. Pray for wisdom and insight, if something truly is amiss or needs to be changed. May God bring revelation as to how best proceed in the days and months to come. Pray for a fortification of their faith and resolve to continue to trust and rely upon God, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable circumstances.
May they not quit,
But press on towards the price
Of the high calling.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
Well, Christmas has past, the New Year is practically here and the reality of both are quickly setting in, depending on whether you've look at your bank accounts recently.
Ministry is a glorious blessing... and at times, a spiritually frustrating curse, for monies often seem to get diverted and directed to other things. They get put towards things other than going towards a ministry and even ministry funds end up being needed somewhere else, other than one had hoped or planned to be able to go and do.
Such was an experience I had yesterday. An investment that needed to made regarding a decision that had been put off for far too long. December is already an expensive month in my life without the expense of Christmas, and this year has been even more expensive due to other decisions that are in the works and required funding.
So while I sat in the chair considering this decision and the financial impact, I truly wasn't happy about having to make the choice. For in that moment, I was grateful to have the funds available, but at the same time, I kept thinking about how it affected many other decisions in the days and weeks to come.
Somebody's $4 per day specialty coffee habit is somebody else' $120 cell phone bill at month's end.
Thus, as we enter the New Year, it's an exciting, prospective time. It can also quickly become a time of anxiety and worry; both for how things will work out personally here on Earth, but more importantly, how life will be affected spiritually for all eternity.
Ministry may not be all about the money, but that doesn't mean that it's not affected by the lack or abundance of it either. While yesterday's investment may meet a real, physical need, a greater spiritual one still remains.
On this #missionsFriday, pray God would move miraculously on the behalf of missionaries and ministries that are struggling financially one year closes and a new one prepares to open. May God super-naturally provide through His people and even the unexpected sources and scenarios. Pray we witness a new season of generosity and blessing to those around us and the investment that is made into the kingdom of God. Pray for a spirit of peace and calm for those who are stressing and anxiety. May they place their trust in God once again, to open the windows of Heaven as He has done so many times in days gone past.
For He owns it all.
May He help us to do well
With what has been entrusted to our care.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
You've heard it say many times before, but Dr. Tony Evans has a great way of stating that you can't live your life of faith as a piggy-back to someone else. As he continued to talk about one's personal journey and Christ as the Good Shepherd and sheep knowing who they belong to by knowing the voice, I remembered just how wrong Oprah's statement on faith was.
If you'll remember, she talked about her belief that there were many paths to God. The problem with her statement was that paths are not converging to the point where we all arrive at the same God. Thus, we are not coming up the many sides of one mountain, but each, climbing the mountain based on our understanding.
What's funny about the human condition, especially in today's culture, we don't desire to be identified by others. We know who we are, we know how we want to be know, we know how we want to be perceived. And how dare someone wrongly identify our character, persona or being.
Meanwhile, God knows who He is. He has stated who He is. He has revealed who He is to all creation. And yet, we stand, albeit defiantly... this is who "God" is and what He means to me. And if that wasn't bad enough, we continually compare our starting point and position on the journey to others.
Those in ministry and in missions battle this frustration in their personal lives. Not to mention, are in a constant state of helping others navigate the same dilemma. Fortunately, God knows where each of us and what route we are on, as we endeavor to draw closer to Him and His presence. And every journey starts with one decision. What will you decide regarding Jesus Christ?
So, pray, this #missionsFriday, that people would come to the understanding of the true identity of God. May they not be consumed in the comparison of their journey, but focused on what God desires to accomplish in them and through them as He draws them to Himself. Pray that the Shepherd's voice would be heard; that we would know, understand and live in the fullness of our eternal identity that is grounded in Christ. Pray for strength for missionaries; that are both frustrated with their own life of faith or are struggling to help others navigate the Christian faith. May God grant them insight and understanding; bringing light and revelation to dark circumstances and confusing experiences.
May the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
Fill your hearts and minds.
That you would know the truth
And live in the freedom and fullness
Of God's grace and glory
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
It seems like it should be pretty obvious, but society continues to reveal how much it needs to be stated...
It's difficult to increase in faith with increasing in sin, immorality and depravity at the same time.
I say it should be obvious, because as I went through yesterday, nothing really stood out as a topic for today's post. When I went to bed last night, I thought, perhaps, God will give me something new altogether when I awake... which He did. But really, God... that's news?
And yet it seems many both inside and outside Christianity attempt to walk both paths, as if the lanes don't eventually part and go in completely opposite directions.
Of course within Christianity, this is a more glaring reflection of our broken humanity, and yet if we would walk in ever-increasing faith, perhaps we would be a greater, more impactful reflection of Christ.
People think Christianity is complex and yet, it is amazingly simple.
And while the simpleness would lead one to believe it should be easy, it is, in fact, incredibly difficult. Which is perhaps, we the emphasis of taking up our cross and following Christ is placed on doing so Daily.
As such, the conversation between the believer and the non-believer can turn in to quite the on-going process; which is perhaps why so many testimonies exist of people who heard the Gospel for years before finally coming to faith in Christ.
So, on this #missionsFriday, let's pray for missionaries. Pray for renewed strength, even as they daily take up their cross and continue in their personal journey of faith in Christ. The road is hard and sometimes lonely, may the presence of God be their constant companion. May their lives and ministries be effective in reflecting Christ and may their efforts be effective in reaching and revealing the brokenness of humanity and our need for a Savior. Pray for renewed strength, especially during the season of increased spiritual reflection, and life's meaning and purpose.
May all live a life
That desires above all else
A closer walk with God.
For His glory and purpose
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
I was reminded yesterday, of the phrase that has changed the life of Mitch Albom, who did not consider himself a generous person until having spent a considerable amount of time with an individual; the story of which he discusses in his book, Tuesdays With Morrie.
The principle is simply this...
"Giving is living."
Interestingly enough, unbeknownst to him, our worship pastor during this week's Wednesday night service, explained how our lives can be like one of two seas.
We can be like the Sea of Galilee or the Dead Sea.
The difference between the two, is the existence of an outlet.
The Dead Sea, does not have one. It continually receives. Water enters. But it never exits. And so the very thing that was meant to bring life and refreshing, ultimately becomes death, because it stops moving; it stops flowing. All because after it has been received, it does not continually release.
Thus, the water loses it's life-giving power and what is meant to be sustained by the water soon becomes constrained by the water.
Conversely, the Sea of Galilee does not experience the phenomenon. For it has an exit. It has a release, from which it gives what it receives. As such, life in that body of water is sustained.
So, it begs the question. If Christ is the Living Water, what is His affect on our lives? Are we giving and releasing, what has been given and received by us? Yes, there is our time, our abilities and our resources, but most importantly, there is the life of Jesus Christ.
Those who refresh others, will themselves, be refreshed.
Pray, this #missionsFriday, that we would be people who would give. Pray for missionaries, that as the give and share the Gospel, that they will be strengthened and renewed. Indeed, may they be refreshed as they give their lives to the work of the Kingdom of God as Christ gave His life for us, that we may live. Pray today would be a trans-formative day as the truth of God is shared and experienced by those who are spiritually dead, they would receive Living Water. May today be a day of miracles; of life, of refreshing, of hope, meaning, clarity and purpose.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
So, I'm watching the news late last night, which I don't normally do, whether late news or the regular evening hour, and it's simply unbelievable. Of course, you are hearing the stories and reading the reports and opinions and social media is outraged... again, on both sides of the issues.
And as I considered what might be in store for #missionsFriday after a number of different ideas had roamed around, but never really developed, I had an epiphany on the short commute home from work.
Are you ready? Here it is.
What happens in Genesis, if Adam and Eve, immediately upon recognizing that they had disobeyed God, went and called upon His name.
"Lord, we did a thing. In fact, not just any thing; but the very specific, single thing you told us not to engage in."
We're witnessing, as if we needed more evidence, what happens when wrongdoings are discovered after the fact, apparently even years and decades later. Far less frequently do we witness the outcome when confession of wrongdoing and more importantly, sin, is quick and immediate.
Meanwhile, society and culture continue to want less to do with God, the people of God and the application of Biblical principles while we discuss and surmise solutions to a flawed humanity with a sinful nature. It's both sad and frustrating to watch.
That said, here is the power and motivation of the Gospel. If we fear the public's response to the degree that we keep the wrong that lies within us under silence, how much more, should God's response to the unconfessed sin in our lives, both for the believer and non-believer, be problematic for our conscience?
Positions of prominence and influence aside, how quickly should we desire to come clean with God, as well as help others do the same.
On this #missionsFriday, pray for quickening in hearts, minds and spirits; that regardless of the status of one's relationship with God, people would find themselves in a place and posture of confession. Pray for a revelation, that humanity will never "find" a solution for any of our moral ailments until we experience a return to repentance. Pray for missionaries, both at home and abroad, who are on the front lines of speaking into the lives of those who have no concept or understanding of God and the power of Jesus Christ.
May today be a banner day for the kingdom of God
That many would not wait to be found by God,
But to seek Him first of their own volition.
For we are desperately flawed and hopelessly in need of a Savior.
May we not wait another minute.
To experience the love, grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
Another inspired moment that I didn't see coming as relevant to a #missionsFriday post, but here it is... courtesy of a Christmas movie that was playing on the Hallmark channel last night.
We all lead busy lives, full of a delicate balance of joy and frustration, rest and stress. But there is power when we aside ourselves for the benefit of someone else.
As was conveyed by a character in the movie (and of course, now that I'm typing it, I can't remember the exact wording)
We become the best version of ourselves when we care for others.
And what an interesting day to be reminded of that truth... on Black Friday. As the memes state on social media, the day we rush the storefront to buy more things just hours after having spent a full day in a attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving. Granted many are getting presents, but still... we are focused on the earthly gifts rather than the eternal Gift.
So it's possible to suffer from burnout by caring too much too often for others.
And it's miserable to be so concerned with self and entirely miss great moments of small miracles that only happen through the care and compassion of blessing others.
Thus, the balance is to neither rely on ourselves, nor look to ourselves, but to remain focused on God and be active in our care for those around us.
On this #missionsFriday, pray not only for missionaries, but for the body of Christ as a whole. May we be about the care and concern for others, for indeed, it is not only how we become the best version of ourselves, but the best representation of Christ to a lost and dying world. Pray that we would seek to use our blessings to be a blessing to others. May we not be so quick to receive for our own benefit, but to give away for the benefit of others.
For as God shared His Son with the world,
So too may we share what Christ has done in our hearts and lives
With those who've yet to experience
The eternal Gift that is greater than anything Earth has to offer.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
While listening to the Dave Ramsey show yesterday on the radio (which I encourage everyone today) I was reminded of just how simple (and easy) it is to speak life into those who aren't feeling alive. Whether it be having an off-day or borderline despair, what does it really cost to say "I believe in you."
We are so quick to allow our frustrations and emotions dominate our day... and they dominate our day, because of our mind and where we allow it to go. We hear, acknowledge and conform to the message of society that is focused on rights and offenses and the correction of all sorts of injustices. And I'm not saying there's not a legitimate element there and a time and place for such a discussion. However, we are to be people who are transformed by the renewing of our mind.
It costs us nothing to believe in those around us.
However, it did cost Christ everything to send the message that God believes in us and that we are too believe in Him.
There is not one human experience or emotion that Christ hasn't endured. Rejection, betrayal, loneliness, homelessness, false accusation (by both the establishment and public opinion).
Yet I heard a powerful explanation regarding the Christian faith.
Jesus is not in Heaven pleading with the Father to add one more name in the Book of Life.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to plead with man to call on the Father that their name would be added.
The responsibility to accept Christ is on humanity, yet the power of Christianity is in the relationship established through testimony. I've been where you are, yet I believe...
So pray, this #missionsFriday, for missionaries who are working to advance the Gospel. May they be strength and encouraged as they work to build relationships and communicate the power of the Gospel of Christ to an ever-increase world who needs to know they need Jesus. Pray for hearts and minds of lives who are search for answers and understanding. May today be the day they come to know the person of Jesus Christ. For those missionaries struggling with burnout and tiredness, may they rely anew on the power of God; to rise one more day, call on the name of the Lord and believe in the power of God that today would be a day of the miraculous as lives as transformed.
Indeed, may people not conform to the world,
But transformed; by the power of God
May His Word come alive in hearts
And active in our lives.
That they world would see
They need Jesus.
I'm chuckling, just a little bit, but also, incredibly self-conscious, as I consider where I've missed the mark. We talked yesterday regarding Moses and Aaron and for whatever reason, their not following through on a direct instruction from God.
Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon, as I continued through Numbers, in chapter 22, is the story of Balaam. And again, God gives a clear direction to Balaam, regarding whether he should go with the princes of Moab and Balaam goes... not waiting for the prerequisite that God instructed him to wait upon.
Of course, the cool part of the story is that God speaks to Balaam through his donkey.
But the powerful part of the story is what was going on in the spirit realm. Balaam's life is spared because another being in his life sensed something was going on and was attempting to protect him. Balaam didn't realize what was going on, but someone (in this case, his donkey) knew better.
Yet this is why God speaks to Balaam through his donkey. Balaam, unaware, keeps trying to move forward... not thinking anything was wrong. The angel of the Lord who stands before him even acknowledges, Balaam wouldn't not have survived.
All of this got me thinking... how much trouble to we get into because we don't heed the spiritual warnings to back off, turn away or even, turn around. Hence, my aforementioned, self-conscious chuckle.
This further affirmed last night, by a piece written by Herman Cain, on his explanation of why mass shootings are becoming so frequent. It's a brilliant write up that I highly recommend, but he "pens" these words are he bring his thoughts to a close:
"It's because we've arrived at a consensus that we don't need God, and we can work out right and wrong for ourselves. So people do. Or they just disregard the whole idea and perpetrate evil, because hey, why not?"
Such a perception and thought process that permeates this culture creates quite a block to any evangelistic efforts. What's worse, is that at times, even Christians and those in ministry can find themselves, at a place of either not needing God or not needing God as much. Of course, this is a dangerous place to be, for what if you missing the warning signs that would keep you from all kinds of trouble and perhaps, even certain death.
So, let's pray this #missionFriday, that missionaries would rely all the more on God and His Word. May their be an awareness in their lives and from those they surround themselves with, to know what is at work in the spirit realm and where God is directing them. Pray for their efforts to reach the lost with the Gospel. May God break through and tear down these walls and misconceptions about Him that culture has seemingly embraced ever so tightly in recent years. Pray for hearts and minds to be changed and transformed. May we ever alert to the leading and guiding of the Spirit and the power of God at work in our lives. Pray for a massive move of repentance and returning to God, before it is too late.
That we would be people who seek God.
To obey His Word.
To speak the truth
And change our world.
All with the help of God alone.
For the glory of God
And the advancement of the cause of Christ.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
What is wrong, slowly becomes more acceptable. What was rare and infrequent has become the oft-repeated normal.
A pastor relayed the contents of a conversation he had recently with a young man from India who had visited the church. The two of them talked for a few moments, when the young man asked the pastor to keep his hometown in prayer; for the in the week prior to their conversation, tragedy had struck.
More like evil, actually.
As it turns out the local mob had paid a visit. To the missionaries. Where the broke both their arms and the legs. Solely for being Christian.
It was the same pastor who stated a perspective that we don't often think of... at least I don't, for reasons unknown. The very first recorded act of persecution. Do you know the answer? It also happens to be the first ever recorded act of murder.
Cain and Abel. Cain killed Able because Abel's sacrifice was acceptable and righteous and Cain's was not. Able was killed for his faith and relationship with Almighty God.
As this pastor stated:
The first to be murdered was the first to be martyred.
One source estimates that anywhere between 100,000 to 150,000 Christians are killed annually for their faith. A British study from a year or two ago, put out a conservative estimate at 105,000.
105,000 killed annually.
288 per day.
12 per hour.
1... every. 5. minutes.
One martyr every five minutes.
At 150,000.... 411 per day. 34 per hour. 1.4 every 2.5 minutes. How utterly insane is this? Yet we should not be surprised when this happens. It's also going to become more frequent.
Yet society and culture continue to push for openness and diversity, acceptance and tolerance; freedom to be and do whoever and whatever one desires and feels like, truly, on any given day.
But for the Christian...well, you're reading the same social media status updates and commentaries as I am. And the 100,000+ that aren't being murdered, hundreds of thousands more are being ridiculed and mocked. And never making headline news are the bodies being beaten and broken for the cause of Jesus Christ; even though they are a worse human rights violence than one's "right" to be offended. God help us all.
And pray this #missionsFriday, for those missionaries and Christians around the globe that are experiencing unbelievable persecution, beyond our belief, but quite the norm over the centuries. Pray for this society and culture who continues to reject God and mock and torture those who profess their belief in Him. Pray for a strengthening and a quickening for those suffering for the sake of Christ. May God work the miraculous through their lives, through their testimonies, and through their ministries. May their labor not be in vain, but produce the fruit for which the seeds of the Gospel were planted.
May God bring a healing to the land
As we are brought to a place of repentance
That we would turn from our wicked ways
And fall at the face of God and the feet of Christ
For His Word will not return void.
Every knee will one day bow.
What a day that will be.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.