I had an interesting line of thought yesterday... one that wouldn't go away. It's the concept that in this world, we live at some point in the day, one of five lives.
1) The life/person we project or display in public
2) The life we live at home
3) The life we live alone
The next two lives are where things get interesting.
Number 4 is our reality... a culmination of our experiences, emotions and attitudes that exist somewhere along the spectrum of the previous three defined states of existence.
Number 5 is the life God has planned and purposed; ordained for us to exist.
The journey of life is never easy. And it doesn't help when these lives don't line up. One's public life fails to align with the home. The home life is inconsistent with alone time. Reality is filled with joy and sorrow, good decisions and horrible regrets; longings, desires and wishes in various states of fulfillment and satisfaction or lack thereof. Thus we find ourselves trying to live them out, while having to live with ourselves at the end of the day... and every moment leading up to it.
We live with decisions, some we'd rather forget. Bad choices, wrong thoughts, misspoken words... it's no wonder life seems filled with frustration, confusion and a general sense of angst and agony.
Then, for the believer, is what God has in store for us. But for the everyday Christian or the everyday pastor, when anything is amiss with God's plan... well, whatever is inconsistent with our lives on their own merit could be even further from God's purpose than if we were living a consistent reality without God.
I'm not trying to be all negative; for certainly, many have seen, witnessed and lived incredible lives that have been true and honest, in public, private and alone while fulfilling God calling and plan for their lives. Of course the difference between those two states of existence are astoundingly noticeable and notable.
And on that note, let's pray this #associatePastorTuesday. For the struggle of these realities and difficulty in navigating them affects us and all and pastors are not immune. May God reveal those areas of life that are not only inconsistent on their own, but are also amiss with the will and plan of God. Pray for clarity as to how we can correct and how to pray that the Holy Spirit would bring about change and correction to us. Pray for healing for the decisions, frustrations and regrets that seek to haunt, destroy and annoy the days and nights as we progress and strive to fulfill all that God has for us. Pray for strength to persevere in the face of challenging conversations and confessions as the Holy Spirit pinpoints the unfinished areas and arenas of hearts and minds; attitudes and behaviors.
For the work of God is never done
His plan never complete.
But He is faithful to us,
Despite our flaws and faults.
May our realities be opportunities
To display the grace and glory of God.
We've talked on numerous occasions on the topic of legacy and impact and the teaching and training of the next generation of pastors that senior and lead pastors engage in when it come to church longevity and it's leadership. And yet part of what brought this back to the forefront as an article I read yesterday morning regarding a well-known megachurch and the succession plan as the pastor plans to step down next year.
If you've read this site for anything length of time, you know I intentionally try to avoid names and places of specific churches and this one in particular; perhaps you've read the same article or could figure it out without much effort. I mention this, though as the article outlines that the succession plan of this particular church and the solution they've arrived at is unheard of to date.
Without getting into the specifics, what's really cool and interesting about their solution is how they are moving to a team approach to church leadership. As I read the article, I could see the understanding and wisdom behind it. The founder of the church will be leaving incredibly large shoes. It's near impossible to consider one person stepping into it's existence.
I could see the benefit of this unique solution; in terms of the balance that it brings to those involved in church leadership; their areas of focus, their lives outside of ministry. It was hard to not think that their solution was fairly brilliant in terms of preventing burnout. However, not only does it remain a ministry, but in this case, it's a mega-church, so the potential for burnout remains at high odds.
That said, long-term church leadership and church existence itself benefits greatly from the vision and foresight to look for the best possible solutions that ensure such an environment. Obviously for this church, whether their unique decision works as planned or not remains to be seen for the next few years at least. But they seem confident and on paper, it's an interesting approach.
So how do we pray this #seniorPastorMonday? Well, first and foremost, for continued wisdom and insight as church leadership moves forward in ministry and in particular, what's the plan for who steps to the pulpit after the current administration. While the end results may be a ways off, pray for the vision of what steps can be taken now so that when the time comes, the church and its' leadership will be exactly where God desires to place them. May burnout be far from their door as they work to implement and live a healthy, balanced life, both at home and at church, with the congregation and with the community. Pray God would continue to use their experience and encounters to advance the kingdom of God, both for spiritual growth and spiritual depth of calling, understanding and purpose.
Life long ministry
Full of stories
Mark by grace
Compelled by love
Empowered by the Holy Spirit
Advancing the cause of Jesus Christ
For the glory of God the Father.
For the past few months, my mind has been wondering in a number of different directions. For those who know me well, that's nothing new. Except for certain things it hinders the process of life and progress. Over a prolonged period of time, is the essential equivalent of stalling out.
Even as I was getting ready for church this morning, I had a few ideas of what to write, but again, nothing really stood out as an obvious direction of what God wanted. This is where we stand in the way. Sometimes knowingly, others unknowingly; but we can miss what God has for us.
In ministry, in our living of daily life, in our faith, in our conversations and interactions; here's my question for the day (and perhaps it's more for me than for you)
What is God unable to accomplish because we are holding out and perhaps unwittingly holding up the process through our indecision?
It hardly makes for an effective and efficient approach to anything that we say or do.
And don't miss the point that I'm overlooking. Some decisions do take time and thought, much prayer and many conversations. But I speak from experience and my friends can attest... it can be over-done. And then some.
Pray this #effectiveSunday, that God would help those facing similar circumstances. May God grant clarity to those having difficulty in the decisions and problems they face. Pray wisdom and discernment to fill their hearts and minds; not to be consumed with whether they see the end of the field, but to see their next steps down the field. Pray for the confidence and peace of the Holy Spirit as they walk in the calling and purpose God has called and ordained them to fulfill.
May we live and move
By the strength and power
Of the Sovereign Hand of God.
For His glory and honor.
Community is an amazing phenomenon. It's possible to be present and even plugged in, without feeling energized and empowered. This is seemingly normal and the stories of such an existence are abundant.
Yet such instances detract from the power of community. In fact, if you consider the analogy from the perspective of real life, being "plugged in" while not doing anything is actually a drain on the system. From the television to the toaster, the transfer of energy is still drawn, even if the unit is not on and functioning according to it's abilities and purpose.
So to, the power of the church community and it's engagement with the rest of world is affected when those within the church are drawing power, but not using it for the purpose for which they were created.
Yes, it is a balancing act, for there are seasons of rest at different times for different reasons, but by and large, the power of the church to impact it's community lies in the church using its power for which it was purposed and created.
On this #communitySaturday, pray that God would help to be plugged in; at the right places and times, in order that we might be best used for the purposes for which God created us. Pray for a strengthening of the church community, that we would be empowered and equipped to be a greater impact in the region in which they reside. May God grant wisdom and direction for churches struggling and those in the community feeling as they are being a drain rather than being used. Pray for the miraculous in such circumstances and situations.
May we live as God intended.
Fulfilling His calling and purpose
As He designed for us to be and do.
For the glory of God
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Full of choices.
Full of decisions.
Full of joy.
Full of sorrow.
And stress. And anxiety. Worry. Points of concern. Points of contention. Moments of frustration and agony. Time filled with awe and wonder and much more time spent simply wondering.
Yet, through it all. God never changes. He is Sovereign. He is an ever-present help. Yet in the midst of this life, we find ourselves trying to understand and attempting to make sense of the what, why, how and where things will go and proceed to work out... both in the short term and for the long haul.
It truly is amazing what kids go through. And worse, what we put them through. But so much of life is filtered from what we can handle to what they can handle. And no matter how long one has been a believer, we keep coming to God, hoping to get full understanding and information of what is happening or what is in store.
But know... He gives us what we need to know; what we can handle. That's the sovereign nature.
It's hard as an adult. Even harder as a parent. Harder still as a pastor.
Thus, we look to, rely and place our trust in God.
Not only for our lives; but also on behalf of our kids... for they too will one day need to have the strength and fortitude in their relationship with Christ that we all work towards daily.
Let's pray, this #youthPastorWednesday for youth and children's pastors that are struggling in their own lives and with matters of faith in their walk with God. Pray that God would give them wisdom as they navigate the circumstances and situations that they face. May God help them as they relate to the young people they minister to; that God would give them the words and perspective to build up and encourage the faith of today's youth. Pray that no matter our understanding of the day; that we would continue to trust in the sovereign Hand of God. May we daily rejoice in the knowledge and beauty that God does not waste a single experience for His glory and good.
For God is a good Father,
Who has good things in store for His children.
A plan and purpose.
A destiny and a calling.
For His glory.
By His grace.
With His love.
Daily, as we walk this life
One can only do so much in spreading their message. Eventually, if falls on the hearers to spread the message to places and people where the originator can not go. Consider the power of social media. Posts don't viral because the creator of the content blasted social media; but that the content caught on those who saw and heard responded and shared. Over. And over. And over again. And when it came back around to them a second time, they took time to share it afresh.
Impact is rarely known. At least outside the analytic power of Google. Yet Christ knew the power of the shared story and recounting of events. So to, do Pastors, as they preach and equip the congregation to advance; not because they can do it all... they need the help of those who hear.
More than anything great online that you could share... more than I could hope that the traffic for this site would explode, these are days and times in which the message of Christ needs to go forth more than any other message.
Yet I know how badly I fall short.
And I can only imagine the frustration of pastors who know their congregation also falls short.
Thus, not knowing the impact they are making; not seeing or hearing of lives being changed... leads to days filled with questions that most often begin with...
"Am I making a difference for the kingdom of God?"
Pray this #seniorPastorMonday, that God would strengthen and encourage those pastors struggling with the feelings and frustrations that perhaps they aren't making the impact they hoped, dreamed or believed they would regarding ministry. May they continue to be faithful in their service to God and devotion to the body of Christ even in the "not-knowning". Pray the church would strengthen their resolve to share the message of Jesus Christ; that while may never know the viral impact of our testimony, may the church witness many coming to Christ because of our willingness to share as if we were online. Pray God would help us all; as I for one need it.
To the ends of the earth.
Literally and digitally.
The Gospel was meant to be shared,
Not only from the pulpit,
But lived out from the pew.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
So I felt a little convicted this morning, as I was getting ready for church. Something got me thinking about the power of planning versus doing the actually work, when it comes to matters of effectiveness and efficiency.
I like President Lincoln's take on this matter.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
There are times when the power of effectiveness is found in saying or doing nothing. And while the list of such times are short, I'm not expounding on them hear... partly for time constraints, oddly enough.
Efficiency however, is a matter of stewardship.
*entering the refining power of the conviction of the Holy Spirit we discussed the other day
If we are wasting our time, resources, and abilities; what will get done? And what will hear?
Surely not, "well done, my good and faithful..."
Pray this #effectiveSunday, that God would help us in every realm to be better stewards. Of all that He has granted to us to do, be and accomplish, may we honor Him with our lives as we live, move and have our being in His presence, power and grace. Pray for the continued work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and our ministries. Pray for wisdom to know when to do all we can and when there is power in waiting and silence.
For this life is not our own.
Nor can we live it without Almighty God.
Though we try, we will fail.
For He is the Creator and Sustainer of all.
Let's praise and honor Him today.
I'll be the first to admit, I don't have it all together. Nobody does. I recognize that. Yet, the human condition is very real. It is also, very broken.
No matter which avenue of life you find yourself and what perception you have towards others, we all make comparisons at some point. And it's easy to look at those in places of prominence from a vantage point that is nowhere near a level of prominence and notice the mind wondering and wandering. Some handle the differences between their place and the place of another with frustration and self-pity. Others respond to this relationship with criticism. What's interesting about the human condition is a circumstance can exist, either in reality or in the mind, while the other party is unaware and unsuspecting. It happens every day. At home. At work. At church.
Speaking of unaware... I heard of a story recently in which a retired ministry struggled with depression for a year, back when he was a senior pastor. It was news to me. Yet my first thought was (and I may never know the answer) did the deacon board know? I would hope so, in order that they may pray and be the support during that time to help see the pastor through, but in today's world, who knows how churches are handling such matters. With the high rate of burnout, they may not be doing as well as we hope.
So, it's quite possible this #deaconThursday for an individual within church leadership, or the entire board, to be left in the dark. I understand how it happens, as we all have certain pieces of information which aren't shared with certain kids on the block. It's not a matter of secrecy, so much as it's more often a matter of trust and a reflection on the nature and quality of a relationship.
That said, church leadership continues to need our prayers and support, as they continually step up to pray and support those in need within the church and community.
Let's pray this #deaconThursday, that God would give them wisdom as they lead our churches and congregations, even in the face of relationships that perhaps are... more work than they should be at times. Pray for strength and trust as they work for the advancement of the ministry. For the relationships that may be strained, broken or damaged, may God do a healing and restorative work in the hearts and lives of both deacons and pastors. Pray also for those within the church; specifically for those who feel as outsiders looking in and perhaps struggling to find their place within the church and it's ministries. May God do a work within them as well and bring a clarity and a purpose to both their perception and their reality.
For we labor together
For the cause of Christ.
May the church advance
Unhindered, nor dismayed.
But with purpose and focus
For the glory of God.
I don't know that anybody "likes" to talk about money when it comes ministry. However, there's no denying... we live in the real world with real dollars and real lives.
Yet, the culmination of these three dynamics makes for exciting radio, for those who listen to the Dave Ramsey show. If you missed yesterday's broadcast, a young couple, from Utah traveled to Ramsey's HQ in Tennessee to do their "debt-free" scream. The wife in her late 20's, the husband, 30, if I recall and their one year old daughter. And at the end of the call, Dave expounded on his reasoning, about how people change the financial aspect of their lives, it changes their family tree.
This couple had paid off $150,000 in less than two years, most of it being their home. Yes, they took a huge increase in income, based on the completion of an advanced medical degree, but still.
"There's no reason to make this kind of money and be financially burdened"
So, after the call, Dave does the math.
Average house payment of $2000. 40 years to retirement. Invested at a 12% annual return, you're talking $23 million and change. And if Dave is 90% wrong on the equation, that's still 2-3 million in the bank! Keep in mind, that's with zero change in income, no other retirement strategy, no 401k with employer match or anything.
Is it not God who gives the ability to produce wealth? Even the Good Samaritan was a man of some means. Who foots the medical bill in advance of the care for a stranger with a promise to pay any outstanding balance upon their return from a business trip?
Yet, many within the church are bound. Many more in ministry are likewise, bound. And the pressures and responsibilities bind our hands to give generously and our feet to travel one mile, let alone the second.
I get how hard it is. It's a daily choice. People in every walk of life within the congregation are struggling as are every level of pastor. And it's especially difficult for those pastors just starting out in ministry, like those finding their first pastorates working with kids and youth. What an incredible story to be able to share, as they prepare to discuss the realities of life with young people, how they are debt free and the difference it makes as to how they approach both life and ministry.
If you don't think there is power in this analogy, then consider this couple's daughter. She'll be 40 and her parents, 70. They will be taken care of and set, in their final years... perhaps full of life, with no excuse to say no, to what God might call them to do. Likewise, she will have a 40-year foundation of, making sound, wise financial decisions... with an incredible launch point as God prospers and blesses her parents. It's literally astounding to consider, even as I type this. And I can only pray the same for those in ministry who consider this a dream. It doesn't have to be that way.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, that they would be inspired to live in freedom, in every realm, but especially financially. Pray God would give them creativity and discipline in their stewardship. May God honor the sacrifices they make, both for the long-term goals of their lives and for their ministry. Pray God would accomplish the miraculous, in this very real struggle and balance of life. May ministry and life not be hindered because of financial constraints.
That our indebtedness would exist
Only in relation to the Cross of Christ.
May we live in freedom and abundance
And give as Christ gave;
In extravagance and obedience.
For the glory of God and His grace alone.
"It is not my job to be rude in what I say. It is my job to be truthful in what I say." - Chuck Swindoll
We've discussed truth many times over the past couple of years on this site. Yet, when I heard this broadcast this morning from Chuck, on a series from Paul's second letter to Timothy, this statement resonated. Furthermore, he prefaced it in the preceding minutes, which how church has changed... perhaps not so much for the best.
Is it possibly we've gone to the other extreme; of being too nice? Of being too friendly? Of services that leave us feeling good emotionally, but lackluster spiritually? Swindoll points out that it's not the job of any pastor to coddle or comfort their congregation. It's is the proclamation of the Gospel.
I love his perspective on this. We don't go to the doctor for a good report. We don't go to the clinic for the smiles. We don't go to the ER to confirm that nothing is wrong. We step in to the places for an accurate and honest assessment of the problem in our lives with a correct and complete remedy. We do not need nor desire their beating around the bush, nor being cause with circumstance. We need them to speak the truth!
Then we step in to church... and of late, seemingly prefer they didn't. Or if they did, at least speak in politically correct terms. Funny. Somehow even "politically correct" doesn't automatically include the truth. Yet we call it correct, when at the very least, it is often quite inaccurate.
How that the Spirit of God bring conviction, if the man or woman of God does not preach with conviction?
The Gospel however, is truth. And it's author, God, is direct. Not rude, but truthful. As he needs his mouthpiece within church leadership to be and to speak.
Pray, this #associatePastorTuesday, that in these ever-present days and times of excuses and reasons and auxiliary issues and concerns, however legitimate they may be, that pastors would people who seek, know, understand and speak words of truth. May they not get caught up in the trends and fads within ministry that detract and diminish the power of Scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit; but declare the reality of the plight and circumstance of humanity and the evil of this dark age. Pray church leadership would continue to be people of the Word and of prayer; sensitive to the move and direction of the hand and voice of God rather than the voices of a broken humanity and a hurting society.
For indeed, these are troubling times.
And lasting comfort is not found in the temporary words of man,
But in the everlasting truths of God's Word
May we seek no other solution to life's woes and societies ills
Except the salvation of our hearts
Through the power of Jesus Christ.
For the glory of God.
We read the notification yesterday, thanks to the power of social media, that the Pastor who married my wife and I went to the hospital, as we was experiencing incredible back pain. It's turns out there is a bone spur hitting the nerve. They finally came in this morning and said they are going to try a few other things first and that surgery is now a last resort.
However, as last night came to a close and this morning kicked off, I remained in the dark regarding this post. Then God dropped in heart, how many Pastors are getting ready to deliver the Word while in all kinds of pain. My heart goes out to our beloved Pastors, who story of life and ministry over their tenure would boggle most minds as to what they have endured and struggled; as many other Pastors have equally, unbelievable stories of tragedy, loss, pain, agony and frustration.
I don't know how much of what we encounter in life as a "Satan approaching God regarding Job" moment or it's the trial by fire hand of God, but whatever the cause and reasoning behind such matters, I know that it is all the under the watchful Sovereign eye of God.
I know Satan takes advantage of every opportunity to reach in to a place of struggle and frustration and extract from it whatever strength of faith and resolve may reside in the heart of the believer.
I'm just curious...
Does Satan stand in God's throne room asking permission to intervene in our lives more often than we stand in the throne room asking God to intervene on our behalf?
On this #effectiveSunday, pray today for Pastors and my friends, especially, who find themselves in places of pain and agony; whether physcially, emotionally or spiritually. May God gird them up and strengthen them anew and afresh by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray today that indeed, Jesus would make intercession for us, to the Father. Pray for a quickening and fortification of the resolve of faith within the lives of the believers; that we stand strong against the attacks of the enemy, whatever their source of origin. May the efforts and works of ministry that take place today accomplish much for the kingdom of God; not because of a man on the pulpit or the worship on stage or anyone helping in a classroom; but because God inhabits the praises of His people and is found in the midst of where two or three gather in His name.
For there is a higher place to go
Where God beckons us
That we may know Him more.
And He who has begun this work,
Won't let us go.
For once we were weak
But now we are strong.
For the glory of God.
Well, I'm bummed. I heard a great statement the other day that was played on the radio, and not only can I can't remember it all, as it was a long thought, but I also can't find it online, as I only caught part of the reference of the one who said it. Thus you are getting a late post with a developing thought process.
For the past few hours I've been trying to track down these profound words, the Hallmark Channel has been playing in the background. It's sad really, that Saturday morning cartoons aren't what they used to be anymore and nothing else was worth watching, so their movie Love At First Glance is showing.
Giving up in frustration on my search, I have no idea what to write now. Not that I had much before. The long-lost profound statement was so powerful, I had nothing to add it actually. But in the movie, the main character a journalist, Ann is on a quest to learn about what makes the man who left his phone on the train so interesting. They didn't speak on the train, it was just a glance; but now she is faced with writing a Valentine's article on true love and James, a photo-journalist, has challenged her to learn about him by her contacting everyone in his contact list. As they exchange texts early on, Ann asks herself... "What is it about this man that makes me want to tell Him everything?"
Typical Hallmark, right?
Isn't amazing, that no matter what the nature of our "community" in which we live, we still have moments and times, even days and prolonged ones at the that; that we don't feel connected. We don't feel loved or appreciated or valued. We are present, yet silent. Onlooking, but not looked upon.
But then there is God. And the amazing relationship we have with Jesus Christ through the restorative effects of Calvary's Cross. Yet, sadly, even after returning to God, we still hold ourselves back. Not only from our fellow humanity, but from our eternal Father.
What if on this #communitySaturday, no matter where we are, what we do, what we've done or where we've been, we looked at the face of Jesus, with the desire and awe to want to tell Him everything?
Perhaps the shortest suggestion for a closing prayer ever left on a Bring Me 70, but as this has oddly written itself, I'm going to close with this, as we consider our loneliness in light of community and eternity, in the words of former U.N Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold:
"Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for."
Seriously people. Time is flying! This is incredible. It's the end of September. I don't know about you, but my days seeming to be moving faster than I can keep track. The days are quite running together, yet it does feel as though when day it's Wednesday and in a few hours, I will blink and it will be Saturday morning. The fun in all of this, though, is the reminder, albeit a scary one at times, is that the kids are ever-growing.
Case in point... they got new shoes yesterday. There's a joy to buying new shoes that's almost on par with buying a new box of crayons. Meanwhile, the adult in me is having one of those weeks, maybe two. Perhaps I need a new pair of shoes. Or just a stroll through the coloring aisle in search of sniffing crayons.
Ministry, like being an adult, just seems to never end. Challenges. Frustrations. Problems to be averted if possible, and solved when they can't be averted. The worst, is when you miss the opportunity for aversion and then have to deal with the aftermath.
So, I'm thinking this #youthPastorWednesday about those who perhaps aren't on the verge of burnout, but enough things seem to be points of conflict and contention, frustration and aggravation that it's bothersome and disconcerting. The simple joys of fresh crayons, new shoes and a play-date just don't seem to quite be enough. A great cup of coffee goes a long way, but some days, even the entire pot seem insufficient for the task of rejuvenating our energy and perspective.
Let's pray, this last #youthPastorWednesday of September, for those pastors that experiencing days that seem to robbing their joy. Pray that God would strengthen and encourage their spirits, that the contention and frustrations of the day would be short-lived and quickly solved. Pray for wisdom as they manage their responsibilities, both at home and at church. Pray that friends would rally around them and continue to invest in them; even through the simply pleasure of a good conversation over great coffee. May they know they are loved, both by God and their congregation. May discouragement depart far from them, as they continue to move forward resolute in their calling and confident that God will bring them through as over-comers, albeit with more than a few scars and fatigue from battle.
Thank God He is not bound by time
Nor are we bound by our past.
We hold strong to the promise of tomorrow
And live today as unto the Lord.
For the glory of God our Father.
All afternoon, I keep thinking about the new church that we prayed over today. I'm very curious to know how their grand opening service went.
It doesn't really matter who you are and how long you've have been a "player" in a certain industry or market... stepping out and into a position where "the buck stops" with you is always a daunting and relatively unsettling feeling. Even when all goes well, perhaps even without a hitch, what awaits tomorrow. Preparations have inevitably have already created numerous challenges, some of which we thought we'd never overcome, but what if the one that sits in waiting in the coming days, weeks and months is the beginning of the end?
We know we don't live in fear and anxiety, nor confusion. We live and move and have our being in hand of an Almighty God. We stand in the assurance of our faith and hopefully, walk in the confidence of the calling God has placed upon our lives. But that doesn't neglect the reality of our humanity; that we are all prone to questioning and rethinking and wishing... both about what is already done and what is yet to be done.
Whether this is your first #seniorPastorMonday or the thousandth, the slightest or the greatest force of discouragement or doubt will attempt to derail you completely or begin placing dents in the door, in the hopes that the enemy will find a strategic opening destroy both life and ministry.
Amazingly enough, though, we have this hope. God knows the plans and purposes He has for us; for a hope and future. Combine that with His character, that He will never leave us nor forsake us; therefore, what should we fear?
Nothing. We should, can and will fear... absolutely nothing.
Pray this #seniorPastorMonday, that pastors would stand resolute in their faith; to not allow any point of entry or access whereby the enemy would attempt to infiltrate. No matter their time and tenure in ministry, leadership or family, pray for a strengthening in their mind, emotions, body, soul and spirit. May their hearts ever be inclined towards God, the work that He has for them and the responsibilities and relationship that He has granted them. Pray for renewal as they study and rejuvenation as they relax. May they be confused and anxious over nothing; but walk and lead with a confidence and clarity as they carry out the vision and dreams that God has placed within them and written upon the very foundation of their heart.
For each day is a choice
And is full of choices.
May our lives glorify God
As we seek both His face and His will.
That the world may see and know
The hand of God at work in His World.
For the cause of the Cross of Christ.
Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I am believing today is going to be a great day!
I'm smiling, because I'm thinking of the parallel's that exist, regarding a new church in my area whose grand opening service is today.
This young family comes to the area after serving in a church that started one year before the church my family attends, started.
They are starting out in the middle school building where my church held services before our moving to our own, current campus.
And aside from one letter of the alphabet, 2 of their 3 children have identical names as my pastors's two kids, which I find uncanny.
That said, as mom & I were talking yesterday, it's a pretty exciting moment to watch. And an in area such as ours already having a quite a number of churches, and some of them bringing together significant numbers of people, it just goes to show that their will always be a need to reach those who aren't being reached.
Undoubtedly, many will attend out of curiosity and maybe because things are happening within their own church that has them considering other places of worship. But I am believing that they will experience an incredible move of God in reaching those who somehow have yet engaged in being an active part of the church as of yet.
This simultaneously brings me the realization that on this #effectiveSunday, the existing churches in the area still have much to do in their communities. The work is never done; particularly when fresh faces see tremendous opportunity to step out in faith and undertake a new venture such as a church plant. But people connect and relate in all different manners and styles; thus, at the end of the day, may we all come together in worship of the King of Kings and grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Pray, this #effectiveSunday, that it would indeed be a great day for the kingdom of God. May many have a genuine and powerful encounter with the Creator of the Universe, who we call Abba Father. Pray the healing power of the Cross move upon people's lives, that the Holy Spirit would strength, renew and transform hearts and minds. Pray for this new church and their mission; may they have a great day in the Lord and their impact. May God honor their step of faith and move mightily in their midst and they dedicate their lives and efforts anew and afresh for the work of the Lord.
For the work of the Gospel is never complete
And our faith never fulfilled.
As we continually renewed in the Spirit.
By the Word of God
And the word of our testimony.
That all may know He alone is God.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
Dr. David Jeremiah was talking about the friendship between Jonathan and David as he closed out a recent sermon series. In discussing the loyalty that existed between them, he made an incredibly profound point.
True friendships aren't built on the ruins of a lost friendship.
Inevitably it always happens on some family sitcom or movie. Some kid or teenager or even adult is ditched by their friend who by choice or circumstance become friends with someone cooler, more popular or whatever. Of course, it's always followed by the encouraging talk of a parent, teacher or trusted person that invests in them with the reminder that superficial and shallow friends aren't much of a friend.
The relationship that is built on the hopes that it will be better than the one that was just exited usually, and quickly, runs in to problems.
Jonathan and David are lesson in longevity. And respect. David didn't speak ill of Jonathan's father. And Jonathan didn't sacrifice his relationship with his father, despite how Saul treated his friend.
Not only is this seemingly lacking from today's circumstances, it's a reminder of the level of stability that true and loyal friendships bring into our lives. There is a rest and a peace in the assurance of true, meaningful, lasting friendships.
If David and Jonathan's lives aren't an incredible example of friendship, remember this...
There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Yes, even the best of brothers. Jesus Christ.
Pray this #communitySaturday that the church would be the place of friendships... of making great friends, of being great friends, of building great friends. May we be people that bring stability, love and hope to those we come in contact with and interact. Pray that we would not be superficial in our actions, attitudes and words, but genuine, loving and honest. May the body of Christ live loyal to the Cross and true to the calling God has placed upon our lives.
To be His hands and feet extended.
To a world who needs to know and have a friend
Who sticks closer than a brother.
In a world full of homes and damaged people.
For the cause of Jesus Christ.
I had one of those days yesterday... one of which I haven't had for quite some time. Interestingly enough, it was a subject matter in which I've had passing reflections over recent weeks, thinking "what a blessing... this and that and over here, and the other thing; they've remained at bay." Various issues and problems haven't arisen or reared their ugly head, Certain experiences haven't happened.
Enter yesterday morning. Seriously?
Oddly enough, a woman was sharing her story in an interview of an incredibly traumatic and life-changing event that happened to her husband and that they as a family had to endure. And what stood out was her response and that of her husband in the day or two that followed.
We're gonna be okay.
As we've talked previously, it's not that we are okay with the situation. It's still powerful, it still affects us and throws us off; it's bothersome and uncertain and everything else. But you are okay with what happens, because you are okay with God and His sovereignty.
It's a foundational element of one's faith. It's an essential lesson of life. It matters not if you are young or old in either. It matters not if you are in the early years of ministry or a tenured pastor or seasoned leader.
Whatever today's reality presents to us, we can and will endure... not by shear will, but because of the decisive steps of faith that we took yesterday.
The daily practice and discipline of placing our trust in God and recognizing His hand, even in the smallest and most routine of circumstances are the building blocks of faith. God is faithful and proves so, in the incidentals and that which we take for granted the most.
Consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. Does not God provide for them?
Having those building blocks of faith in place when little to nothing seems to be going on, means that we have a spiritual shelter so when the storm hits, whatever form and severity it takes on, we have an active, protecting shield of faith.
Storms are still scary even from inside the house; you still hear the elements and the wind and everything else. Nobody's denying what you're facing. But faith is the reassurance; that despite whatever dose of reality your day holds and whenever it arrives, you've got this because God has you.
Pray this #youthPastorWednesday for those pastors whose realities are dealing them some heavy and fatal blows, both literal and figuratively-speaking. May God give them strength to endure and wisdom as to how to proceed. Pray their faith would stand firm and be the shield God intended and designed it operate. Pray for a tangible sense of peace, that would indeed surpass understanding. May they not pray for God has not promised, but trust in what God has already provided.
For in Him we live, move and have our being
He never leaves nor forsakes us.
There is nothing that we face that He has not already endured and overcome.
Therefore, whatever our reality, remember this...
To God be the glory; even when life is less than glorious.
I read a meme on social media last night, only to discover I was unable to find it again when I got ready to sit and type. That said, the essence of it was this.
Be careful who you listen to.
The post relayed the story of an new associate pastor who was asked to preach. After the message, a parishioner approached him and offered some critical words After everyone had left, the senior pastor offered his words of encouragement. And in that moment, a choice had to made.
Whose words would carry the most weight?
Whose words would be the focal point, as an emotional, mental and physical response was crafted?
Whose words would gain influential status as a course of action is planned and the next steps are taken?
It's easy... when our confidence is uncertain, our skills untested, our abilities unknown to listen to the discouragement because it seems to support our current reality, rather than the encouragement that points to future possibility.
Nevertheless, can I encourage you... focus on the encouragement. There's a time for criticism, especially when it's constructive and offered in a spirit of love and support. Over time, even the criticism that isn't offered with that mindset, can still be helpful if received from a mature perspective. Meanwhile, however, regardless of the present reality and the frustrations that may surround it, the encouragement is the fuel that not only propels people to continue but also motivates them to do and be greater for the future possibility that awaits that stands to become reality if they would persevere.
On this #associatePastorTuesday, pray that pastors would indeed be encouraged, receive encouragement and focus on that encouragement, regardless of the struggles of their current reality. May they not be dissuaded, discouraged or derailed, but daily walk in the knowledge and confidence of God and the calling He has placed upon them for the purpose of ministry. Pray for strength and wisdom in the coming days and weeks, for those that are facing difficult decisions and prospects. May God guide their steps and the Holy Spirit grant them discernment as to best handle, act and respond to the things that need to be dealt with now and the hopes and dreams of what awaits down the road.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear.
And He corrects those He loves.
Thus we stand assured;
If God be for us, who can be against us?
For with Him, all things are possible.
An overwhelming majority of the time, I don't have an idea for these posts days in advance. I take it a day at a time, with an open mind as to what God might reveal that would be appropriate for that specific day of emphasis. As a result, #SeniorPastorMonday is always interesting, as I try not to step in to Sunday morning's service hoping to come out with something... but as a writer, you can't control what might stand out through the course of the day that becomes an inspiration point that your mind gravitates to and begins the development process.
So, naturally, during the opening lines of yesterday's message, Pastor took a few moments to offer his gratitude and appreciation for last week's celebration of their 25 years of ministry with the church. Of course, it was hard to deny the appeal and possibility of another 25 years, should the Lord tarry. I agree. Another 25 years of their leadership, ministry and impact would be an incredible time to exist in.
Yet, as I thought about such possibilities as well as such a rich and storied history, it's hard not to consider potential outcomes and exits. I've come to the conclusion, that this is why, whatever moment you find yourself in and whatever it is that's in front of you to do, you do so with excellence, integrity and your very best effort.
*and in writing that, I'm asking myself why I stated it in such a manner; for there are way too many things with which I struggle to apply that approach in my own life... or at the very least, fall short in the execution process of living with that perspective.
However, that doesn't negate the power of that perspective. And obviously, it does possess power... I felt convicted before I was finished typing the statement! But I remember early, within the past year, that Pastor even mentioned this is his own ministry... that whatever message is next in front of him still demands his very best... in prayer, in the study of the Word, in the preparation and development of the message and in the delivery and closing of the service.
Twenty-five years is a great accomplishment, but if one lives on the success or the frustration of last week's service and message, then it's hard to remain motivated and empowered to continue... whether it's towards the goal of reaching the first of a 25 year run or the second completion of a 25 year era.
But this is the hope of the enemy and his evil forces... that pastors and church leaders would never complete such a status of longevity, stability and integrity in achieving a 25 year milestone with such an impact that another 25 year run would even be appealing.
It's a daunting prospect for many. And I don't boast on this pastor, for even they daily acknowledge it has been by the grace and blessing of God's hand. But I know they've approached their calling with excellence and integrity. They aren't and don't claim to be perfect and ministry and life have presented countless challenges. But their heart and perspective has kept them moving forward.
On this #seniorPastorMonday, pray for pastors who are struggling to keep their lives and ministries, both their successes and failures in proper perspective. Pray for those who are in the midst of failures, perhaps even tragic or of great significance; that God would grant them wisdom as they figure out how to handle the circumstances. May there be a covering, as they walk through the trial... if it's repentance or forgiveness, confession or understanding; pray that grace would abound as God brings them to an eventual place of healing. Pray for those who are perhaps feeling like an exit is necessary or are trying to figure out if and when they should exit or go elsewhere. May God surround them with counsel and guidance; not only from wise friends, leaders and mentors, but also through the process of prayer and the illumination of the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray decisions would not be rushed or hurried, but carried out in the perfect timing and plan of God's sovereign and divine hand.
For once the day is complete,
The next day awaits.
And God is not done with our lives
Until He declares.
For we are His
To be used for His plans and purposes.
Unto His glory and honor.
Judging from the pics that were posted to social media regarding the outreach event we discussed yesterday, it appears that the effects on the community were incredibly positive. I'm believing as I'm sure all who helped in the process are, that many great impacts were made, not only for eternity, but also for this life on Earth, which has greeted these people with many struggles and overwhelming frustrations.
One of the event coordinators stated that one of the goals was to hopefully help those who attended, to get assimilated into the local churches of that community. In essence... get plugged in.
This is result of the great commission... to compel people to come in. Not into a building. Not under the pulpit of a great preacher. Not into the efforts of a powerful ministry. But into a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That single event doesn't have to happen in a church. But the relationship and lifestyle that results is built and developed through engagement and fellowship with other believers in the body of Christ that is the local church.
How can a church be effective in its' ministry within the four walls of the church if the body of Christ is not effective in compelling the community to come in?
Thanks again for joining with us. On this #effectiveSunday, pray that today would be a great day for the kingdom of God. Pray for the outreach that took place in the past 24-48 hours, specifically, as this church and many more, I'm certain, has actively engaged the community to reach them with the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. Even in the early hours of this day, may people be moved to step into a community of believers who will extend their lives to reach those who need to know, hear and understand the reach that God has extended to them. Pray for a move of God towards humanity, and more importantly, a move on humanity's part towards the presence and person of God.
God help us to reach others,
As you have reached out to us.
Those who love you,
Because you loved us first.
For the cause of Jesus Christ
And the advancement of the Gospel.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.