The sermon that aired yesterday from Grace To You ministries was pretty powerful, as usual. In the message, John McArthur retells the story of a university that was interested in him taking the helm. In discussing the future, the school shared with him how they wanted to integrate and synchronize Scripture with the wisdom of man.
Anyone see what John saw?
John shares his response, that on this matter he was a separatist. There is not nor can there be an integration between the truth of God and the understanding of man. The signs are obvious... at least the words are.
My ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts, declares the Lord.
What authority does the Word of God hold if it is polluted with the words of man? What good is a foundation built on relativity? Is that not the same as building on shifting sand?
Humanity is overrun with opinions which are quickly discounted and dismissed so we all search for truth. Meanwhile, no one of late seems to be able to handle the truth, and so we dilute it. But it's in the dilution that it loses both it's power and it's effectiveness.
As a result, we wonder why the issues and struggles of our life and times remain the same! Do we not notice the broken pattern of our culture and society? We believe in God, but deny His existence. We want answers, but deny any absolutes. We believe we are good, but rate evil on the sliding scale of comparison with our neighbor.
This is the day of decline. McArthur says the day the church fails to be antithetical, is the day it dies.
Our lives are in contrast and contradiction against the purity and sovereignty of God. There will be conflict and disagreement between the carnal and spiritual. This is the working out of our salvation. Man cannot be changed by human effort, understanding or wisdom. It must be transformed and renewed by the Word of God and the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. What need for the church exists in this world, if the church elevates the perspective of man in coordination with the declaration of God? Welcome to spiritual warfare.
Not only can there be "only one", but there is only One!
The gravity of eternity lies in the finality of God's Word. If that were not so because of the influence of our finite understanding, then eternity is compromised and the church is useless.
So... on that heavy note; let's pray this #deaconThurday, that church leadership would stand and remain firmly planted in the Word of God. May they keep the doctrine of Scripture clean and pure. Pray that as church leadership makes decisions regarding ministry, may the keep the perspective that humanity is to be made like Christ, rather than Christ to "fit" in with the culture. Pray the focus of ministry would remain grounded in the finality of eternity. May the decisions of the church be made as a result of prayer and the sovereign direction of God's Hand, rather than the conventional wisdom of people's flawed and finite perspective.
May we hear from Heaven
To know what He has in store.
That we would call on His name alone,
Rather than our own opinion and intuition.
Useful for the Kingdom.
Uncompromised on the Earth.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
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.
Yesterday, I posed the question, of what it takes that one considers the possibility of fulfilling the role and responsibility of pastor. And while we prayed specifically for senior pastors relying on God as they choose their leadership team, my mind continues to track on this subject... if you'll permit a follow-up post.
Not many a pastor has stepped in to an established church or congregation their first time out. Much like most people don't wake up and find themselves CEO or owner of the company.
There is, and should be, a track record of service; in ministry and leadership and responsibility within the body of Christ.
And while there are any number of places to start, I think one of the most crucial, is an attitude of willingness.
All throughout Scripture, when God literally "called" to someone, there was then, just as there is now, two responses. Ignoring the call. Or responding with "here am I"
It's a scary and vulnerable posture to take with God, I confess. It's why I think God doesn't give us the big picture and vision of His plans. If we could fathom the vision and undertaking of it all, we would never get near it. But He extends an invitation to those who are willing.
Is there an ability factor? Yes, but that's often our requirement, more that God's.
Is there a readiness factor? Yes, but again, who's really ready for God to change their life in ways we can't describe?
Whatever you think God would desire to do in our lives, whether it be for the pastorate, any other role of ministry or any eternal impact in your community, it all hinges on our willingness.
On this #associatePastorTuesday, let us obviously, continue to pray for existing pastors as they fulfill their roles and responsibilities. Pray that God would continue to work in and through their lives as they continue to seek His face and rely on Him through the challenges they face. But let us pray also, for those whom God is working out. For those not yet pastors, but God is preparing and calling. Pray for a spirit of willingness on their part, to answer in affirmation and openness. Pray that they would not be overwhelmed, nor succumb to fear over the prospect of what lies ahead, but trust in God that He has good things in store. May there be an obedient response, not only out of response to God's sovereign authority, but to His divine love and perfect will. Indeed, may God change the lives of those whose hearts are set on Him and ready for His plans to go out.
Into the world.
That all may hear and know
The goodness and the grace
Of Almighty God
And the love of Jesus Christ.
By the power of the Holy Spirit.
What a day, yesterday was. Church was powerful. The minutes leading up to walking out the door... yeah, let's not go there. The afternoon... for the most part, not that much better. By evening, I think we were just emotionally out.
All that to say, it remains a mystery how God works.
What appeared to be a random meeting late in the afternoon and God orchestra's and displays His arranging of the puzzle pieces known as our life.
A transaction that was to take only a few minutes took closer to 15. Why is that?
In the course of conversation, it turns out he is an associate pastor. Not only did I not see that coming, I had nothing to go on that such information would exist, let alone come up as a topic of brief discussion in the course of a completely unrelated matter.
I left floored in wonder.
In the drive home, which had its' own round of frustration, I got to thinking of just what prompts people to go into ministry and in particular, the pastorate.
Obviously, "the call" if you will, plays a great role. Certainly, ministry leaders and the church-at-large place a great emphasis on the matter. But what makes potential pastors think they can do the job? To fill the pulpit? To lead a community, both of believers and the physical surrounding area in faith, spiritual matters and all around life issues?
Surely, there's a learning curve and an educational process like there is any other formal training. Likewise, there's a series of positions of increasing responsibility like any other field of work. Then again, the early church didn't have such advantages. It was pretty much the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the law and the prophets and the words of Christ. The church existed long before any "school of ministry".
All of this is simply perspective and "food for thought", if you will, but it does bring us to a specific area of prayer.
On this #seniorPastorMonday, let's pray for wisdom and guidance; that senior pastors would know who to choose in adding to their church leadership team. May God give them discernment in the decision process; that the Holy Spirit would reveal to them through prayer and Godly counsel who the person is, that God has set-apart for their church, ministry and community. Pray again, for a spirit of synergy. May God accomplish the miraculous through the power of agreement. For those that are waiting and perhaps have been waiting for a while to fill open positions, may God give them strength to endure and the patience to see through the process.
For God has great plans in store in the final days.
May He raise up great leaders and even greater partners
To fulfill His calling.
And carry out His plans and purposes.
For the kingdom of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
I woke up this morning thinking about prayer. Perhaps because pastor started a new sermon series last week on the subject (which we missed, meaning I'll have to listen to it this week). Or perhaps... I don't know. My train of thought just got derailed and destroyed.
We know the power of prayer. Perhaps some level of the importance of prayer. We've even been witness to the answering of prayer.
What's amazing about it, though is what is accomplished.
Systems work better when the are in sync and collaboration towards a common purpose.
Processes work more efficiently when tasks are done in order and the various parts are in alignment and in place with where they were intended to be. There is a synergy, to borrow one of my pastor friends' favorite word.
Without prayer, where would you be? Where would I be? The family? Our lives? The church and its' ministries?
On the surface, in our minds, we know the answer.
But, deep down in our heart of hearts with a solid foundation of faith, do we fully comprehend and fulfill our understanding that prayer works as we position ourselves in alignment with heaven.
How cool is what? What a privilege. What a responsibility. What an honor. What a humbling experience.
On this first #effectiveSunday, I have but one purpose... that as I pray and as the church prays, may we find ourselves aligned with the plans and purposes of Heaven. From His throne, may God hear our prayers, heal our land and move mightily among us.
God, do a great work in us
As we work to great exploits
For the cause of Jesus Christ
And the kingdom of heaven.
I'm humbled that God has answered my prayer thus far. Furthermore, I'm grateful for your joining me on this matter, of raising awareness of ministry burnout and holding pastors and church leadership before the Lord in prayer.
I remember back in May of 2015 when God started giving me a hard time about this website. It has been online for a few years, but I was not diligent in working on it. And I remember specifically, the Holy Spirit dealing with mind, when the realization hit...
"You have a page titled "Daily Prayers" and you aren't posting to that page, daily?"
Yeah... that seemed problematic to me as well.
So... "Lord, I'm going to need your help. Because if I do this on my own, it will become repetitious in about 7-10 days."
And here we are... 1000 days after the official revamp of www.bringme70.com that went into effect 6/1/15.
I haven't looked at the traffic reports for the website in a very long time, maybe almost a year. I used to look daily. I'd be excited and encouraged one day, and bummed out the next. I'm still curious and one of these days will satisfy that curiosity. But whether one of you joins me in praying for pastors or 70 or 70000, there won't be power in agreement if I stop.
Trust me... It's not like I haven't wanted to. 60 hr weeks and family, plus some kind of life. There are days I don't have time.
But effectiveness is found in faithfulness.
Thanks for joining with me and while I appreciate your prayers that God would help me continue this effort, on this #effectiveSunday let us continue to pray for pastors and church leaders and crew who continue to serve in ministry. For all the days, they would rather give it up, because there is only 1 instead of 100 or 1000, may the continue to be faithful. And in there service to the kingdom of God, may He grant to them incredible effectiveness.
For the cause of Jesus Christ
We rejoice in the work of the Lord
By the gracious and almighty hand of God.
I'm realizing that I am becoming increasingly nervous... perhaps that's too strong a word. Increasingly unsettled.
My level of unsettledness seems to be rising every time leadership is placed under greater scrutiny and criticism. And I'm guilty of what I am about to explain.
Leadership has, is and will always remain a target for extreme criticism and great scrutiny. However, with each passing day, it becomes more and more obvious that there is no shortage of opinions and perspectives.
Everyone is an expert.
And yet, when there is talk of making a change in the leadership, these aren't first in line to sign up. It's like we've arrived at a place where it's better, easier and dare I say, desirable to have a problem to deal with, but never reach a solution. It's clear a solution is needed, but then what problem would we complain and criticize?
For all of societies woes and culture's demise, what we would communicate regarding, if the world worked as it does in our dreams? Sadly, it doesn't even work as God dreams.
And ironically, the blame for such an environment is the same. Ourselves.
We can no longer have an honest-to-God conversation because of the onset of "political correctness" and the heightened sensitivity to be careful "not to offend." Furthermore, nobody wants to hear the name of God, so, how much of an honest conversation can be had, if we don't analyze the full scope of a problem? Does not each of them have a spiritual element?
The attack on leadership is great. And while many, will acknowledge that such should exist and just as many will deny that such an attack actually does exist, it's the antagonistic battle against church leadership that weighs heaviest.
On this #deaconThursday, pray that God would strengthen and encourage today's church leaders. May God help the church to stand strong and support those He has placed in leadership positions. Pray for wisdom, where policies and practices are created, reviewed, revised and implemented, may they accurately address the true problems and sufficiently solve. Pray the church and the people of God would be careful in our criticism; that are words would build, rather than destroy; help rather than hurt. May God build His church as we build His kingdom.
In light of tragedy and loss
In the face of fear and anxiety.
May we see past struggle and difficulty
And persevere towards the promises of God
That are yes and amen to them that believe.
In the transforming power of Christ
By the grace of God.
As I thought this morning about effectiveness and how, at times there is such much to be done, that it doesn't really matter where you start (since it ALL needs to be done), I remember that unless you are working solo, something must occur first.
Whether in partnership with one person or working with many, whatever the task may be and whatever the timeline to get "it" done, there is power in agreement.
This doesn't dismiss nor ignore the reality of conflict. Not everyone will agree on the purpose or the plan. Nor will there be a lack of conversation, argument and fight along the way. If the history of accomplishment has taught us anything, it's that there is often a long, tenuous and tedious road between the presented problem and the implemented solution.
However, the quicker terms of agreement are reached, the sooner the power that results can be applied to moving towards the desired goal or outcome from one's present circumstance.
On this #effectiveSunday, pray that as the church moves forward in its' endeavors, may their be a spirit of unity and agreement. May the process of discussion and discourse not destroy or dissuade people from pursuing and achieving solutions to the problems and challenges they face. Pray today would be a day of victory and success, for the glory of God and the advancement of the kingdom of Heaven. May ego's, personal agenda's, personality conflicts and the like not stand in the way of what God desires to accomplish through the church and the calling and mission that He has placed upon them regarding the communities they serve.
Power in agreement.
Power in prayer.
Power in unity for a common cause.
The cause of Jesus Christ.
There's not much in secular music that I listen to these days, at least not that which is accompanied by vocals. And for the most, that which I do listen to is the stuff that had a great sound when it was new.
Take for instance, what played this morning courtesy of Pandora... Tears for Fears classic hit, Everybody Want To Rule The World.
I listened to the lyrics in light of community and reflected on both the truth and reality of this song.
Yes, everybody wants to rule. However, not everyone should.
Furthermore, when you consider the people who have most impacted your live for the better, have been people who have lived and led from an understanding and applied attitude of service. Whether for God or country, the greater good of humanity or the betterment of society, at the foundation of it all is a desire to serve that is the result of a heart driven to love.
What better way to live? And how many more days must we endure that will remind us that this is how we should be?
Pray, this #communitySaturday, that the people of God in particular, would be those who would live and lead with a heart of love. May we serve with an attitude and an understanding that there is a purpose and a calling beyond ourselves, our self-worth and our own desires. Pray that we draw close to God as we draw close to those around us. May we step on in faith to make impact in the lives of others, wherever and whenever such opportunities would arise. While we may not rule the world, may we change our world.
One day at time.
One moment at a time.
One life at a time.
One conversation at a time.
For the glory of God
And the advancement of the Kingdom of Heaven.
So... how about that Super Bowl game?!
Incredible plays. Unbelievable stats. An utter defiance of the odds, on a number of levels.
And for Philadelphia, a back-up quarterback performs at a championship game-day level... on the day of a championship game, no less.
The local news/talk radio station that's powerful enough to reach hundreds of miles on a clear night; the morning host made a profound statement yesterday morning. As they discussed the career of Nick Foles, they noted how early in his career, a played an incredible game and that while had played when in the following seasons, he really had played at the powerhouse level that he did in the Super Bowl.
And yet, he stuck with it. He remained patience. He worked hard. And the host recognized a great truth and powerful reminder for the rest of us who aren't leading the charge:
Be ready. For one day, you might be called up to do just that... lead the charge.
For the #9 jersey of the Philadelphia Eagles, he indeed showed up to the Super Bowl, ready.
And as the host framed the "ready" sentiment, I once again, thought...what a reminder for all of us. Especially pastors and those in ministry.
Life changes at a moments notice... nay, a blink of the eye.
Will you be ready to lead when called? Will I? Will your pastor? Will you, Pastor?
Let's pray this #associatePastorTuesday, that those in such positions would continue to serve and minister faithful. Pray for a continued state of readiness should life and circumstance change, leaving them in higher places of leadership than their current state of existence. May they wait with patience and gratitude; for the experience and opportunity that they have experienced to date. Pray for the perspective of game-day attitude and performance, for in the sovereign plan and handiwork of God, who has great things in store for us, may we, indeed, find ourselves ready for great exploits.
Because we were ready when called.
For the glory of God
And the cause of Jesus Christ.
.One doesn't have to look very far to notice...
We are not all getting along as much as we like to joke about being able to do so.
The battles exist. On every stage. In every room. In every arena of life. With others, and ourselves.
Victims suffering great loss.
In our world, globally.
In our world, locally.
In politics... we won't go there.
In faith... probably should do that either.
In our relationships... which has as much destruction and suffering as war itself.
In our schools... as if learning was a feat of its' own.
In our workplaces... which made the news yesterday.
In our homes... the one place that should actually be a "safe space".
In our minds... which lasts longer than war itself.
The power of getting through this life and the battles therein, lies the grace that is experienced through laughter. Indeed, it does good like medicine.
Conversely, this is the strategy of every opponent. If he can keep you in a place of being worn out and exhausted, then you are prone to live an existence of hopeless despair and utter defeat. He who does not and can no longer laugh is lost.
In every arena and avenue of life, help always comes from one who is stronger, not weaker. Whatever the struggle, nobody goes to the one who is in worse circumstance, poorer condition or suffering greater loss and defeat to better themselves. However, if we are constantly embattled and consumed with whatever battle is at our door, we will never be able to step out and go across to help the battle of another.
There will always be battles, as there will always be wars, for evil resides among us in the hearts of humanity. Despair looms and defeat awaits; around every corner and intersection. Many we see coming, many more that we do not see. But when laughter is lost in the process, the prospect does not look good; indeed, the outcome looks hopeless.
But to those...
... who rely up on Him are renewed.
... who look to Him are strengthened.
... who call to Him are saved.
... who trust in God, they laugh at the days to come.
On this #communitySaturday, pray that the church would be people who would live and operate from a place of strength. May we engage in such a way as to be an encourage and inspiration to those around us without hope. Pray we would not be so overcome and overwhelmed with our own battles that we miss the opportunities to fight on behalf of those around us and help them win. May despair and defeat be far from our hearts and minds; that we would speak truth and love, encouragement and laughter.
Let the hopeless be filled with hope
Let the defeated overcome.
Let the sad be filled with joy.
And the down-trodden in despair,
Uplifted in laughter.
For His joy is our strength.
Winners. For the glory of God.
A Sunday morning message that highlighted the story of woman with the alabaster jar at Simon's house, followed by a Wednesday devotional, of which that same story was the focus of the message. Both in the same week.
And as the service came to a close last night, I thought about how dangerous.. and easy it is for church leadership to find itself in similar standing to the Pharisee. Position, status and influence, perhaps unknowingly, come to the forefront of our perspective to the point we look at others and before we see them through the eyes of eternity, we view them with the lens that finds fault.
In the seconds that it took to have that revelation, Pastor begins to share from personal experience, the times where he caught himself having the realization; of just how easy it would be to look at the lives of others and think himself better. And just that quick, the importance of an awareness that understands the grace of God is revealed.
For were in not for His grace, through the power of forgiveness, we all would still stand condemned in our sins, much like the woman found herself in the house of the Pharisee.
Yet, church leadership find themselves in numerous levels of influence, multiple depths of knowledge and understanding of circumstances, the stories of secrets people would rather not be shared. And life continues daily. There's a respect of such confidence that needs to not only be understood, but also maintained with spirit of humility. For as soon as pride enters in as a result of knowing, the ability to be a trusted source of influence is lost.
Granted, its a process that erodes over time, but it begs the question.
Why confide in someone who views you with contempt? This is when leadership no longer lives up to its' name.
On this #deaconThursday, pray that church leadership would indeed, live up to the expectation and ability of true leadership. May they ever have the heart of a servant. Pray they would keep and maintain, at the forefront of their influence, a spirit of humility. Pray a Pharisaical spirit would ever keep it's distance; never having the remotest possibility of rearing its' ugly head, let alone gaining a foothold within the ministry and the church-at-large. May the grace that God has extended to us, flow through us, that we may extend it to others.
For we too, were once the "others"
That God desires to reach through the lives
Of those whom He had redeemed by grace.
For the glory of God.
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.
Long-time performer in the Christian Music industry, Bryan Duncan has a song that he performed with the NehoSoul Band titled Don't Help The Devil. It's off the Music City Live album, which I just got a copy of this past week and it's a great album if you can find it.
But the words of this struck with me last night as I considered the kinds of words and attitudes that stand in the way when it comes to the church as an organization and the body of Christ as a people being effective in their ministry.
Sure we can over-sensitize matters and be hyper-critical of people, but at the same time, we don't always realize the moments and times in which we may be helping the devil's cause to destroy the faith rather helping the Lord's cause to build it up.
Bryan and the band point out... don't help the devil. He's doing fine on his own.
All too fine, some might emphasize.
But when we find ourselves in attitudes, words, thoughts and emotions that are out of alignment with how God desires to live; that are out of place in our walk with Christ; that are not prompted and activated by the word of the Holy Spirit in our lives...
Such moments are the detriment to our effectiveness in ministry rather than the enhancement of that ministry.
Thus, let's pray this #effectiveSunday. May God help us to live and be His people, that He has called us to be and do. Pray that we would not find ourselves speaking and behaving in ways that ding our testimony than promote it. May there be a sensitivity to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives; not to be over-righteous, but to live a real and true faith and trust in God. While we are far from perfect, may we ever be aware that we are in pursuit of the high calling of God; being conformed, transformed and renewed to reflect the image of Christ to a world in desperate need of His grace, love, forgiveness and truth.
Helping the cause of Christ.
One day at time,
One live at a time.
As He works in us
His Will and His Purpose
To the glory of God the Father.
I very careful, mentioned early this week, the tragedy that is being dealt with on the campus of Michigan State University.
And yesterday's post, was a quick insight on a life of good-decision making.
Start with 5. Then 50. Then 500.
As I thought about how we are and should be encouraged to make good decisions, in our faith as much as we do every other area of life, I thought about how that influences the lives of others around us.
We often talk and worry about kids hanging out with the wrong crowd. And we don't use that word because the people are bad; but because their behavior is unacceptable or inadvisable. They do not practice wise decisions and sound judgement. And their lives and those who follow in their ways suffer for it.
Conversely, then, there is great power and strength that come from making good decisions and building a culture of encouragement and support of others doing the same.
And how do I know this is true? Well, as stories continue to circulate and speculate regarding MSU, people are even more curious and desirous to know... who know what and when. Who made bad decisions and when and to what level of leadership did bad decision-making continue.
Everyone is asking, when did someone decide to stand up and make the right decision?
The outcome of the aftermath has already begun and who knows what is still to come in the days and weeks ahead.
If an individual can change their life through good decision making, then what changes with 10's, 100's and 1000's of individual coming together to collectively make good decisions?
So, let's pray this #communitySaturday, that we not only make good decisions for ourselves, but build communities and cultures that encourage and perform the same. Pray for sound and Biblical wisdom to permeate our hearts and minds, as we approach and navigate life and circumstance. May conversations be saturated with the truth and the pursuit of truth. Pray that deception and negativity would be far from us. May the power of confession have its' proper place and time when we do miss the mark. Let not failures define us, but may we learn and live forward, to what God has called to do and be in His world.
Wherever we go,
Whatever we do,
Whatever we say;
May it be unto the glory of God
A testament to the work of Christ
By the power of the Holy Spirit.
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.
If you missed the new episode of American Pickers last night, on the History channel... boy did you miss it! It was a great show with some amazing finds and as always, incredible stories. However, the previously aired episode that played before the new one was nearly unbelievable.
The guys visited the store property that had been in the family for 6 generations. Five or six businesses were conducted in the same building from something like 1887 thru 1970. And as such, nearly everything that Mike and Frank tried to purchase from the owners was "NFS".
Not for sale.
They did end up buying a couple pieces, but for it seemed at every turn, the reply was no. Not gonna sell that; yeah, can't do that; we're gonna hang on to that...
And that last phrase. Wow.
I know I'm gonna take some slack from those closest to me for writing this perspective, but I couldn't help but wonder, just how much we hang out in our lives that we don't let go. And of course, we immediately think of the material and physical items in our lives that take up space and residence. Yes, there's value, insight and goodness in living "decluttered", but more importantly, we hang on to way too much internal as well, through our mind and emotions.
We allow things to occupy and reside in our spirit and in our hearts that may be understandable and even justifiable for a while, but eventually you have to respond to the words I heard so often before and probably will in the near future.
You can't keep everything. Eventually, you'll have to let it go.
As hard as it is to do, it's necessary. And we're usually better off for it.
So, pray this #associatePastorTuesday for those pastors hanging on to the things, perspectives and circumstances whose time for release has come. Pray for those who are especially struggling, because perhaps the time to let go is overdue and the burden is becoming to great to carry and manage. May God bring healing and peace to hearts, minds and emotions. Pray the Holy Spirit would bring freedom to their understanding and new opportunities to experience the grace and goodness of God as they allow Him to work anew and afresh in their lives.
May a new day dawn
For the glory of God.
I went to bed last night, uncharacteristically early and woke up this morning at quarter to three! Just woke up. When it came time to hit the alarm (the one that forces me to get out of bed to do something about it), I couldn't; for I was tangled up between the sheets and the comforter. How they got so twisted I have no idea.
Of course, I was so snuggled and comfortable, that I didn't want to get up. So I laid and rested and wondered... about the coach or the trainer who is attempting to teach the balance of having a long-term vision and short-term goals.
I know we don't have it all together, regarding a number of areas and arenas in life. I know I don't. If you were honest with yourself, neither do you. And pastors and church leadership misses the mark as well. But I got to thinking about Bo Gentry... the strong baseball prospect from yesterday's post in the movie, Trouble With The Curve.
Here's a young man, being scouted for the major league and he's missing a critical skill in his game; in his ability to play. And "everyone" is so caught up in what he has been able to achieve and accomplish, that this one flaw proves to be a fatal setback in his desirability from prospective teams who were grasping to claim him if he was still available when their draft pick time was theirs.
Likewise, our journey is a process; we won't know everything right away nor will we do everything perfect at the exact time we are called to do so. But what a dangerous set of circumstances it must be, to have a long-term vision and be achieving short term goals while having a problem that could unravel the entire deal in a matter of minutes?
Pray this #seniorPastorMonday, that that would not be the case for those who lead the church. Pray for wisdom and guidance in their ministries. Pray for an awareness and sensitivity for areas where there exists a potential for problems or challenges. May God grant them discernment and bring into their life people who would help them correct and change whatever "it" may be. Pray for balance, as they achieve short-term goals while striving for the fulfillment of a long-term vision. May their future not be cut short because they were taken out by a fatal flaw that could have been avoided had it been noticed and corrected in an earlier place and time.
God help us to see what you see
And change in us that which could be our downfall.
That we may be victorious in that which you've called us
For your glory and honor.
I wish I could take credit for the title. But I can't. It was a phrase used by a sermon that I was listening to; the story of Jesus driving out the money-changers. The back story is pretty incredible.
A couple of interesting points. He drove out the cattle. He didn't destroy them, but the handlers did have to rustle them up. The pigeons didn't fly off to the wild blue yonder; Christ instructed their owners to remove them from the temple. Christ wasn't destroying their business; but reminding them where it belonged.
The exchangers initially conducted their business in the valley. And competition was fierce. And they understood those three special words that the marketplace still declares as their mantra today.
Location. Location. Location.
So they kept moving closer to the temple. For convenience. For better service. For increased market share. Then the competition moved closer. And the next guy even closer. And the late-comer, start-up; even closer. And eventually they were in the outer courts; the court of the Gentiles. Where non-Jews who believed in God could come and worship.
But they couldn't. Because the marketplace was chaos. And perhaps not even worthy to be described as controlled chaos. Finally the temple. Someone let them in.
Christ removed the clutter.
But as usually happens, my mind wandered to the modern day church.
More importantly, what's going on in the church, or worse, isn't going on because the courts have become cluttered? What's getting missed? Who is unable to enter? What ministry is being hindered? How is the kingdom of Heaven affected?
On this #deaconThursday, pray that church leadership, especially those in day-to-day operations and advisory roles would have a sensitivity and a keen awareness to the doors and the courts of the church. Pray their mission and ministry would neither be hindered nor interrupted by distractions and matters that do not belong. May God grant them wisdom and discernment as they conduct the affairs of the church and oversee the decisions and direction that the church takes. As God is a lamp and a light in our personal lives, may He also illuminate way and path of the corporate body of Christ; that the church would move in the direction that honors God and pleases the Lord.
Ministry; like life...
So much easier and simpler
For the glory of God
And the advancement of the kingdom of Heaven.
Who hasn't had a terrible day, week, series of weeks... a seemingly unending barrage of difficult and challenging times that trouble the heart, baffle the mind, unsettle the soul and sandbag your faith.
We get caught off guard when a plan encounters delays, conversations escalate and you find yourself frustrated and out of your mind attempting to understand "what just happened?"
What's funny about the human spirit?
We are informed and aware!
The Bible tells us to not be surprised when trials and trouble comes!
We are then encouraged, in that our present sufferings pale in comparison to the glory that will be revealed in us. In fact, not only do they pale in comparison, "they are not worthy to be compared."
I made the mistake the other day of venting my frustration to a co-worker. And it wasn't that I wasn't being real, or that the circumstance and my response wasn't normal or irrational... but as I thought about it hours later, it didn't display my faith and trust, that all would work out and that God was in control. My reaction was from a place of distraught human emotion, rather than a quiet, spiritual confidence in God.
I heard a message the other day by Joni Eareckson Tada, and if you haven't heard her story, talk about one who is an expert on the topic of suffering. She was talking about how Christ endured His suffering... with obedience.
And I had to ask myself...
How is it that Christ remained obedient while enduring His suffering and yet we all to often stand in defiance at the first sight of suffering.
And as we relate to our community, knowing that those without faith in God are watching how we respond to life as one having faith in God, how much more should be aware of the impact that our reaction makes on our story.
On this #communitySaturday, pray that God would help us as we continue to walk lives of faith as we face great difficulty, challenge and suffering. May we ever be reminded that the future glory is greater. While life is real and the struggle is hard, may we respond from the strength of our faith rather than the weakness of emotion. Pray the power of the Holy Spirit would help us to walk in obedience in the midst of our suffering. May we live and display an attitude of grace, even when it's the last thing we desire to show.
That we would display Christ first.
For our life is not our own.
We are His and our lives for His glory.
Even in suffering.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.