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.
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.
While listening to one of the regular morning radio shows I frequent, the host interviewed a doctor and they were discussing the drug problem facing, not only the world, but specifically the States. The doctor highlighted the problem in a very concise moment of political commentary, in which he stated just how often those writing the laws don't always consider the unintended consequences that will affect organic stakeholders.
In other words, leadership misses the conversation of what could go wrong, that would directly impact those closest to the problem they are attempting to solve. And how do they miss the conversation? In part, by not engaging with those who are on the front lines dealing with the problem. They may know about the problem, but are not "in the know" regarding the impact that certain decisions will make, whether they be immediate or delayed outcomes.
And I thought, if it's that dangerous of a scenario when political leadership gets it wrong, how much more when spiritual leadership handles problems in similar fashion? And it can happen at all stages of leadership. Politics also look to however is located at house number 1600, but there are people at other levels who are still making decisions without regard to those most affected by them.
So it is in the church. It easy to look to the senior pastor, but associates and others need to be aware of the dangers of leading in this manner.
Thus, on this #associatePastorTuesday, let's pray, that pastors would indeed make every effort to be informed and engaged regarding the problems they are attempting to correct. Pray for insight and understanding; even super-naturally, that they would have a keen awareness and a divine vision. May they not lose touch with those they are attempting to help and those who are on the front lines of the problems they face. Pray they would give proper consideration to the matters that come before them and give due diligence to the process. In all things, may they continue, all the more, to press in and seek the face of God, for His mind and His heart as they work to fulfill their calling.
To bring glory to His name
In spite of difficulty
And the process of working through the problems.
That God would the miraculous
In the midst of trouble and trials.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Yesterday morning's message has kinda stuck with me, as we are already almost half way through the month that surrounds Christmas. It was an interesting message on the birth of Christ, and particularly, the gathering that occurs at the manger scene.
And while a number of points and applications were made, one understanding in particular stand out, as we once again gather at this page to pray for pastors.
Consider this for a moment...
It's entirely possibly to stand in the awe and wonder of God, while feeling as though you are of little to null value to Him. Furthermore, what happens when that sense of awe and wonder is lost? Who are we? And what are we doing here? Where do I go moving forward?
The hand of God at work in our lives is incredible and why He chooses who He does escapes our comprehension. And yet, we see throughout Scripture what happens when the love and pursuit of God disappears from our lives and what we are doing is nowhere near what He had planned and purposed for our lives. Problems of epic proportions usually ensue.
So will you pray with me, this #seniorPastorMonday? Pray that pastors would neither lose their sense of awe and wonder, nor would they lose their understanding of their value and importance to God. May God strengthen and revive the flame with them regarding their love for God and the work which He has called them. Pray the lies of the enemy and the misleadings of their emotions not detour and derail them to the point of destruction. May this season be a time of drawing ever closer to the presence and power of God at work here on Earth.
Time and again,
May He help us through
And show us the way
That leads us back to Him
As we stand in awe and wonder
Humbled in His presence,
And a part of His grand design.
I don't know about the rest of you, but December is shaping up to be a crazy month for our family. December already is a month we have to "ramp up" for already so to add a few more "few and far between" events to the equation seems like a "what were we thinking" reality.
That said, it seems to be the hand of God at work, so we going forward confident in His leading. But December remains a crazy, busy, overwhelming and stressful month for many of you and on a much grander and more time-consuming calendar than previous Decembers in my life.
So, how do we get through?
Make sure you take some time to have fun and not over-think the anxiety-inducing list that awaits your attention.
I know it sounds overtly basic and elementary, but it's true. And a timely reminder, as I watched the kids play in the first snowfall of the season yesterday afternoon. Even had finally collected over the past couple of days to cover most of the ground that we could at least throw a few snowballs and the created snow-angels. I didn't think there was enough to keep them entertained for an hour, but there we were.
Equally so, the break-away from the schedule is important for you as well. Some days you'll feel more effective than others; some days more efficient as you work to get things done... but both will be hindered if you fail to take time to breathe, enjoy where you are and look with positive anticipation to where your journey seems to be headed. An hour may not seem like much, but it could be just enough to remind you... it will all work out. One way or another, everything will get done.
On this snowy December Sunday as we pray for it to be an #effectiveSunday, let's pray for pastors who feel as though they have no time for fun and leisure. Pray for the stress and anxiety that has already begun to take it's toll, in their lives and relationships and ministries. May God strengthen and rejuvenate them anew and afresh, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray for those who would come alongside and encourage them and perhaps help them find a reprieve. May they make the time to laugh and enjoy the process of the journey, rather than be consumed by the tasks that await on many lists.
For laughter does like medicine.
May we go about life and ministry
Healthy and whole,
Rather than sick and incomplete.
Fired up for His purposes
As opposed to burnt out from the labor.
Effective and efficient for the cause of 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.
John MacArthur has a series titled Walking In Wisdom, and it happens to be the current series being broadcast, that you can listen to from his website, gty.org.
But something truly profound was explained as I listened to the sermon that played yesterday, and it was John's explanation of the phrase and specifically, the difference between the Greek and Hebrew meaning.
We've talked and prayed on numerous occasions on the topic of wisdom, both possessing it and the application that follows from utilizing it. Whether for the pastor or their advisors, wisdom is crucial.
While MacArthur points out that we have all that we need in Christ, which is profound in it's own right, as we so often think that God withholds from us upon salvation, it's was nearly as eye-opening as this.
To the Greeks, walking in wisdom is an intellectual exercise. It's thought, theory, experience and mental understanding.
To the Hebrews, though... this is very cool. To walk in wisdom is to align with divine life principles.
Isn't that amazing. MacArthur further explains that Proverbs 2 could very well be the commentary for Ephesians 5:15.
Meanwhile, Proverbs 2 is practically a detailed blueprint on how to do just that.
Walk. Circumspectly. In Wisdom. In alignment with divine principles, for the duration of life.
So, let's pray, this #deaconThursday, that church leadership would not only possess knowledge, understanding and wisdom of the intellectual kind; but that they would daily align and re-align when and where necessary, to the divine life principles of the Word of God. Pray they would not try to live life by their own strength, insight or perspective. May they be led of the Spirit, in every arena, in every circumstance, in every conversation, decision and outcome.
Not as the world understands wisdom,
But as God has granted unto them
Through the power of Christ at work in their lives.
For the glory of God.
I 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.
I was reminded once again yesterday morning, words that I so appreciate hearing from the pulpit. As pastor prays at the opening of the sermon (or a few minutes after the introduction of it), he acknowledges in the prayer, that people didn't come to hear from him, but they did come to hear a Word from God.
Indeed, daily now, we see the power of such an acknowledgement, as we continually witness people whose words are not in line with how they live the rest of their lives, particularly behind closed doors.
Hypocrisy is pretty hard to miss, although some people make it look fairly easy. It happens in politics, without even thinking. It happens in the marketplace of commerce and sadly it happens in the community of believers, both of those sitting in the pew and those standing behind the pulpit.
And as I've often stated before, to each his own, the explanation for the justified difference of why their situation is excusable, yet another's is not.
A standard is a standard and the only one that truly matters is God's, of which we all have fallen short. But that does give any one person a pass for not living according to the beliefs that they communicate.
Words have impact.
Ideas of consequences.
May we be people who choose wisely.
And let's pray to that end, on this #seniorPastorMonday. May pastors be people of the Word, who preach the Word, who live by the Word, who know the Word. Pray for those who have perhaps forgotten their place in delivering God's Word; for none of Jesus' disciples were people of position and prominence... if fact quite the opposite. Pray God would do a fresh work for those who are off course and out of alignment with what God is wanting to work in their lives and ministries. May the revelation of the truth of the matter bring them to a place of repentance and correction as the serve humbly and communicate faithfully.
That we would speak words of life
As the Word of Live lives within us
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
I heard a radio interview the other day on Moody Radio, where the morning show hosts were talking with a local pastor regarding ministry and burnout. As they were discussing a "typical" week in the life of a pastor, this pastor noted that a church can't bombard the pulpit with all sorts of situations and circumstances, conversations and problems all week long, and then expect that in a matter of hours between Friday night and Sunday morning, that one will be prepared, studied and prayed up to deliver an effective message and exposition of God's Word.
We've talked it about it many times.
I was reminded about it again last less than 20 hours ago, as yesterday morning I had opportunity to hang out with a home inspector for a few hours.
Parents, do you want to prepare your teen/young adult for the gravity of decisions that they will want to consider and add to the equation as they figure out what they want to do with their life, vocation and lifestyle??
To wet their appetite, browse Craigslist for a 1500-2000 dollar car and ask the owner if you can take it to the local, reputable mechanic. Pay the 50-75 bucks for their time and have them print out a report. If everything were fixed, here's the cost. If you don't think that's a wake up call, may I remember you that up until the mid-90's, certain repairs on a Ferrari involved removing the engine! On repairs that weren't engine-related, like replacing the clutch.
A for a full understanding, send your young adult on a home inspection. Either to follow the person doing the inspection or have them accompany a friend is who buying a home and listen to the conversation. It's one thing to get excited about the potential of a place. But so much more that could be problematic. It's a thorough look, that requires crawling into spaces that aren't used on a daily basis... a crucial, behind the surface perspective that begins a long-term conversation.
These are the things that hinder one's effectiveness and efficiency. A lack of knowledge and understanding of the depths of what's involved in a matter. A lack of conversation to discuss problems and solutions and the work and cost involved to move from the current state to a corrected state.
Preparedness. The surface conversation and understanding often doesn't get to the deeper and more crucial place of importance that is capable of preventing trouble and difficulty.
And on that note, let's pray.
On this #effectiveSunday, pray that pastors would indeed be prepared, even this very day; that they will have dug deep in their understanding and that in their message today, will move the church to the same crucial place of understanding. Pray for a balance in their lives and ministries, to not only properly handle the interruptions and disruptions as they arise, but to remain focused on the elements that truly matter in the fulfillment of their calling, anointing and purpose to the kingdom. Pray that God would place the right people in their circles to speak life, clarity and perspective... not to be a doomsayer or discourager, but to bring knowledge and understanding to the conversation.
Effective and efficient
Because the time and cost was paid
To move the conversation to a better level of preparedness.
For the glory of God.
It's pretty incredible when you think about the power the Bible and the concepts and principles that it presents. And the foundational sequence that I heard explained the other day is one, I can't seem to put away. In fact, I only caught roughly half of it, but that doesn't diminish it's power.
In fact, as I look around at community and culture's frustration with Christianity, the power of this principle is undeniable.
True and perfect love moves us to pursue excellence which results in a life of integrity.
We look at people's shortage or complete lack of integrity and we wonder what went wrong. But if we take a look back, we see the missing element. A pursuit of excellence. Perfection is not a behavior to achieve, but an attitude with which we make our approach. It's not that we don't allow for mistakes and grace. But there's preparation, knowledge and understanding and contingencies to take steps to avoid and manage problems followed by learning and moving forward.
And where does an attitude of excellence come from?
Consider 1 Corinthians 13. Hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things, bears all things. It never fails! It is kind and without envy. It is patient without being puffy. It rejoices in truth.
Love does not settle, nor does it quit.
But this is how it builds.
Thus, when we are not kind, when we do envy, when we are short-fused, when we don't hope, believe and endure... when we rejoice in the iniquity rather than the truth; these things make it near impossible to pursue excellence. Which leaves room for a lifetime of second-best, compromise and some potentially ruinous decisions.
And we're certainly witnessing the fruit of that path, are we not?
So, pray this #communitySaturday, that the community would know the people of God as Christ said they would; by our love. May we lead lives that pursue excellence, not to be better or perfect than those next to us, but that God would be glorified as we give our all in like manner as He gave for us. Pray that we would be prepared to give an answer, as the world recognizes the difference in our lives, that integrity would be a marker that would set us apart... not because we know all, but because we know what the work of Jesus Christ has done in us.
May we be the difference makers the world needs
Because we daily open our hearts to the power of God
To make a difference in our lives.
For His glory alone
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I'm continually amazed at how God aligns' these posts and they are later followed up by conversations, sermons or interviews in the days that follow (or the next day) that go hand in glove with a particular theme or thought process.
Take for instance, Tuesday's post.
The simple concept that every one of us, with every single thing that we have either accomplished or set out to accomplish began with a starting part where we were neither strong in our ability nor did we have a clue in our understanding.
This was followed up yesterday, by a sermon by Pastor J.D. Greear, who opened his message from Titus with the story of his coaching his kids' little league soccer team. Quite the humorous tale, he points out that it's not much of a game nor is there much to coach. So for all the fun and humor of watching kids play soccer that are barely in grade school, there are really only three objectives for the team.
As I listened to these three points and his explanation, I couldn't help but consider, as a nod to the importance of the basic building blocks of any great organization, that it's sometimes necessary to revisit them. And for churches that are in the process of being planted and leadership teams being established, these points are crucial.
They are also my prayer, not only for the church, but for my family.
1) Go in the right direction.
2) Don't walk off the field while the game is on
3) There is such a thing as positions... there is a point to game, a beauty to the game, plus, you might actually win.
Pretty basic, right? Yet, incredibly profound. Churches split, because people go in opposite directions. Churches die because people walk away before the buzzer. Churches fail because people don't operate at their appointed spots. For indeed, there is a point to the game that makes sense when people are where they are supposed to be. There is a beauty to the game, when it's played as it was intended. And who knows what outcome awaits, but if everyone plays their position, they might actually win!
So, on this #deaconThursday, pray for churches and leadership teams, especially for those churches that are being planted or currently in the very early and formative stages. Pray for an establishment and re-establishment of making sure everyone knows the direction of play. Pray for stamina, endurance and perseverance; that by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God, people would stay on the field. Furthermore, pray that people would play their positions. May they not abandon their post or try to play where they are not equipped or anointed to do so. Pray they would not leave areas open and vulnerable where the enemy may strike and gain an advantage in the spiritual realm.
For the betterment of the body of Christ.
For the testament of the blessing of the church.
For the glory of God
And the advancement of the Gospel of Christ.
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.
The more I listen to the news... well, quite frankly, the less I desire to do so. But what I find amazing are the back stories. It's not so much how we arrived where we are, but the details that go into an event.
This happened on that day with these people where we went here and did that over there and later sat and talked across the way... yes, that way.
I have days where I can't remember certain conversations from 2 or 3 days ago! And I understand, as was stated a couple of weeks ago; that certain events are stored in different recesses and banks of the mind's memory. But still. The details people remember of certain conversations and events, beyond the obvious one that are forever life-changing, life-altering or involve any level of trauma is simply incredible.
All too often we go through our days as if our words, actions and attitudes are lacking in both impact and consequence. Yet then one day, an inquiry is made
I know for the believer we are too keep an eternal perspective and all the more, for pastors and those in ministry. And as time flies and days pass, it really is all we can do to live each moment and engage our conversations and interactions with the grace of God and consider how we may bring glory and honor to Him.
Yes, the challenge is great, but in light of recent and current events, what's the alternative. That which is unacceptable, unbelievable, unforgivable, appalling, embarrassing and bewildering. We stand amazed wondering how things happen, yet often fail in taking precautions in our lives to fully live with the integrity that is expected and associated when one hears Christian, let alone Pastor.
Pray this #associatePastorTuesday, that pastors would be reminded, if not from this, from the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to continue to live lives of integrity; above reproach. Pray for their ministries, that they would never forget the impact, both past and future that they have made through their words, actions and attitudes. As we live in increasingly scrutinous times, where context and perception carries more weight than perhaps ever before, may they live confident in their calling, humble in their abilities, honest in their shortcomings and faithful in their duties.
That pride would not be a stumbling block
Nor their lives and ministries detoured or derailed.
May strength persevere
In faith lived daily, with grace ever-present.
For the glory of God.
It's a little scary when the inspiration from pastor's sermon falls in line with a realization obtained while watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, but here we are.
The frustrations of a monotonous reality will eventually ruin a spirit of gratitude.
Sometimes plans change, either because of circumstances beyond our control or God changes the course of our lives. In either case, we can find ourselves living a life, that while we may enjoy, we also may be secretly wishing we were somewhere else; doing something else.
We can be grateful for what we have, who were are with and what we are doing. And yet the daily frustrations can and do certainly take their toll. Eventually, if the perspective of the joy and power of the opportunity before us is lost, then we lose the ability to not only be thankful for our reality, but we fail to give expressions of gratitude for that reality.
Sure, a front and a justification can be made for a while, but eventually it becomes apparent to a select few as the effects of burnout come into the light and the unsettling sense of dissatisfaction makes itself known.
Oh, that those in ministry would not find themselves miserable!
(*as Petra's song Thankful Heart just now begins to play on Pandora)
Pray, this #seniorPastorMonday, that pastors would not lose their sense of gratitude. May they maintain a thankful heart towards God; what He has granted, given and blessed in their lives, homes and ministries. Pray for a renewed quickening as God works afresh in their hearts and minds. May they live and serve with thankful hearts; that frustration and dissatisfaction would be far removed from them.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit
As an enduring testament to the grace and love of God.
To live with a heart of thanks
And serve the gratitude
For the glory of God.
I posted last night this thought... #ineedalist4mylists, in recognition of the craziness that seems to be close to unfolding in coming days and weeks. The holiday season is busy for everyone; some more than others when it comes to events and gatherings, whether of a personal or professional manner. Then there's the major life events that occur, normally throughout the rest of the year... specifically so that the holiday season can be somewhat enjoyed, rather than an all-out frenzy.
Regardless the focus of what needs to be done can very quickly diminish the wonder and awe of the moment and I would dare bet, that the more items that exist on those lists, the quicker the diminishing of the moment happens.
Thus, we while we may be effective and perhaps even efficient, in terms of taking care of what needs to be done, we will be miserable the entire time... for we most likely will have missed the joy of giving, care, sharing and serving with those around us.
I'm certainly prone to missing the mark in the coming days and perhaps you've done so, as well. Certainly, as churches and ministries head into their own craziness of events and outreaches, the same can occur on their campuses... at a time and season that is critical in the spiritual realm.
So pray, this #effectiveSunday, as we enter the Christmas season, that the lists will not overpower and detract our focus to minister and to be a blessing. Pray once again, for an increased awareness to share life and love as a representation of Christ. Pray for the preparation of hearts and minds; who have given up on God and lost hope for humanity. Starting today, pray that the process of healing and restoration would begin for those who've lost the joy and purpose of life and faith.
May today be the start of a miracle
And a season of miracles.
Filled with awe and wonder
At the mention of the name of Jesus.
For the honor and glory of God Almighty.
As I stood at my hometown's Festival of Lights parade last night, a long-standing, Black Friday event, I was reminded just how much power resides in community and that impact of strength in numbers for those who join together.
It's amazing what people can accomplish when they come together, both as working towards the goal and as supporters of those doing the work. And yet if the communities of society can come together and spread joy and goodness and enjoyment that is here for a moment, how much more should the community of Christ be about impacting our neighborhoods with eternal joy of Christ and the goodness and grace of Almighty God.
And yet, all too often we are second in such accomplishments, rather than taking the lead. Of course, it's not just around the holiday season that we should be taking the lead, as if special occasion gives us unique opportunity to be more vocal (which is does, as people are more receptive at this time), but the truth and goodness of the Gospel works for any moment in time with which we have opportunity to give an answer for the hope that is within us.
Not just the feel good moments of this life, but the forever goodness of a faith in God through Jesus Christ.
So, pray, this #communitySaturday, that the church would indeed make the most of ever opportunity to be a light in the darkness. May we continue to speak truth to a world lost in a confusion of lies. Pray that we would be a people who shows care and concern, not because of the time of year in which is coming to pass, but because of the love and joy that fills our hearts from what was accomplished on the Black Friday that was the crucifixion of Christ.
A great community in this world.
Not because of the people,
But because of a great God
And the person of Jesus Christ.
In whom we live, move and have our being.
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.
What a week this has been. And while I'm incredibly grateful for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us, including the major miracle that God has orchestrated in the past seven days in the life of my family, I can't help put look at the troubling times of society.
We reflect on this day of thanksgiving for how God has blessed this nation and the men and women who led the early stages and built a country to which many across the globe still aspire to be a part of, despite our flaws and failures.
Yet I can't help but wonder, as there is much confusion among the younger generation of men and now the reckoning of the alleged wrong-doings and injustices of the older generation of men. We've always had flaws, imperfections, stupid mistakes and grave decisions.
Decisions that affected their own lives, the lives of their family, the lives of other families, the lives of nations, their relationship with God and the promises He had had given them. Yet God still used them. Their lives weren't without consequence, nor did the society of the day banish them to the deep recesses of obscurity.
In spite of epic proportions of tragedy, stupidity and sin, the patriarchs of the Bible were and are still revered, respected and learned from even to this day.
Thus, on this Thanksgiving #deaconThurday, I ask you this...where are today's Patriarchs?
The movement to "rise up" seems to have a relentless mission to "tear down".
We have failed to recognize (or remember) that it is God who raises leaders, establishes government and places those leaders in positions of authority. And while many have corrupted and disgraced their positions, today's society has not only removed God from being able to deal with such people, but we've gone so far as to convict them in the court of public opinion long before any discussion of legitimate legal proceedings have been pursued.
We have removed the power of grace while people plead for tolerance and understanding.
Confusion clouds clarity for generations until one day, we stand counting our blessings while wondering how we've arrived at this moment.
On this #deaconThursday, we do indeed give thanks to Almighty God for His many blessings and abundant provision. And pray this day for our leadership, both in culture and the church. Pray for leaders who carry out their duty with integrity, honesty and clarity. May there be a respect for what God has created and who he has created for the masculine and feminine sides were not meant to be at war, but to be empowered as they work together... to provide strength where there is weakness, to offer grace where there is failure, to inspire in the face of hopelessness.
May we not rise up in order to tear down,
But to bring others with us as we advance.
Confident in the calling and purpose God has given.
Clear in our identity as found in Jesus Christ.
Not that we would be men and women of perfection,
But of the righteousness of God
For His glory and honor.
Happy Thanksgiving. God blessing and favor upon your lives, homes, and communities.
I 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.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.