Thursday, October 23, 2014

Positive Thoughts from an Aging Germaphobe

The last couple weeks it seems I’ve been surrounded by an overload of worldly negative.  My consumption is fueled, for better or worse, because I follow the news pretty closely.  I am getting old and a moderate germaphobe; not good right now…not good at all.  In case you’ve been desensitized by American culture and media or living under a rock I’m talking about Ebola in a bordering state to me in the USA for goodness sakes, ISIS, bombings everywhere, shootings in Canadian parliament, shootings and riots in our own Midwest, dirty campaigning, and the coup de’ grace - Honey Boo Boo’s mom is now dating a registered sex offender.  I could easily lengthen this list with one click to my favorite news page.  So today I thought I’d throw out something positive.  Just some go ol’ positive stuff.  I love the word “stuff”.

Philippians 4:8 The Voice (VOICE)
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.

Proverbs 17:22 New Living Translation (NLT)
22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Philippians 4:6 New Living Translation (NLT)
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Ephesians 4:31-32 New Living Translation (NLT)
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Romans 12:2 The Voice (VOICE)
2 Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.

Matthew 21:21-22 The Voice (VOICE)
Jesus: 21 I tell you this: if you have faith and do not doubt, then you will be able to wither a fig tree with one glance. You will be able to tell mountains to throw themselves into the ocean, and they will obey.
As Jesus says this, one or two disciples probably glance around the shadows of the early morning, confused and afraid. Jesus has just paraded into Jerusalem and upset the vendors and leaders with His bold talk. Now He is challenging His disciples to expect the physical creation to respond to their commands and faith. But Jesus isn’t finished. [commentary from The Voice]
Jesus: 22 If you believe, whatever you ask for in prayer will be granted.

And here are a few positive news stories to check out.






Friday, October 3, 2014

Open Letter to Pastors v. 3.0, pastor appreciation!

For the third year running here is my October open letter to pastors since someone selected this as the month to show our appreciation.  At least that's what they said on KLOVE anyway. I feel so strong about my message from last year that I've virtually reposted it unchanged.  I believe God molds and changes many of our views overtime as we go deeper with Him but after rereading this from last year I stand behind it more now than ever.

To preface, I fully understand we are ALL called to be ministers to the world.  Believe me I know!  Pastors are not able to do their jobs to the fullest without the ministering body.  As I’ve heard said before, “a church is healthiest when it’s body is ministering to the body.”  But just for a brief moment in time, just for this post, I want to focus on pastors and my appreciation for them.  

Pastors,

I hope to connect with you, sympathize with you, strengthen you and honor you today.

Looking back I was a horrible church member.  I held my previous pastors to a crazy lofty standard that I now find to be embarrassing. I was such a Pharisee! I’m convinced that had I been alive when Jesus walked the earth he wouldn’t have lived up to my standard either. I would have yelled from the crowd, “crucify him” without a second thought. Maybe even worse than imposing my personal set of self-determined  standards on the pastors themselves was that I also had unreal expectation for their families as well.  I know there was nothing biblical in my rationalization at all. No, I was good enough to come up with it all on my own.  Yeah me!

It wasn’t until I was called to the ministry and started interacting with people like my cousin who has his own church, friends whose families are in the ministry and finally experiencing it for myself that I realized what a high toll pastors and their families must pay. I say “must pay” because what we endure is exactly the treatment Jesus promised to the apostles as he attempted to prepare them prior to his leaving (John 15:18-25). Make no mistake to whomever you are reading this today that, we will ALL pay an earthly price each time we answer God’s call.

Fellow pastors I want you to know, that I know.  More that anything know that you are not alone.

The majority of people will never know or care to know about our middle of the night phone calls, bombardment of opinionated conversations, emails and texts, impromptu counseling sessions, and the suggestion boxes that our spouses have become.

They will never know that we are not just on call Sundays, but we are always on call.  “Pastors only work on Sundays right?”

They will never know the people we cry for in the privacy of our bedrooms because when we’ve invested our hearts into lives and they fail, we feel we have failed also.

They will never know how desperately we try to balance between the church we love and family we love.  And though we do a really good job of appearing the two coexist together it’s more like a constant tug of war.  How we lie awake and wonder if our wife and kids will continue to see the church as the bride of Christ or eventually will they see Her as the mistress that stole all of their time.

They will never know the pressure we put on ourselves when we ponder the possible repercussions of the advice we give to those who see us as the last resort.

Brothers and sisters, the things above are part of the job description.  It’s what comes with being a part of this elite group and by elite I don’t mean well-to-do, but rather selected. We were called by God for this specific work!  He chose us because He knew He could entrust us with this. 

When we look back at the things above its easy to relate to what Pastor Steven Furtick said in a message one time, “Sometimes it’s easier to believe in God than it is to believe God entrusted me.”

But in these times of doubt. 
In these times of confusion. 
In these times frustration. 
In these times of wondering if it is all worth it, remember this,

2 Corinthians 2:14…thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.

God has not chosen us to be just a specialist in our areas of lead, missions, college, youth, kids, worship or whatever it is in your given church structure. No, he chose us to be pastors.

He has chosen us to make decision that impact the spiritual welfare of those who call our local church home and often those we reach to outside our doors.

He has chosen us to bear burdens for those that no one else will.

He has chosen us to make unpopular choices because sometimes it’s what’s best for the church body.

He has chosen us to change the perception of the word “Christian” in a country where the word is becoming less and less popular because of the people who have been hurt by those claiming to be Christian but don’t act anything  like Christ.

He has chosen us to breathe life into those who are just here to mark the Sunday attendance box and on the same day give hope to those who are wondering if they are even worthy of life.

He has chosen us to lead people to be the light of the world when they are being told there is no light in this world.

He has chosen us because He sees something deep within each of us!

He has chosen us because He believes we can accomplish His mission with Him and through Him!

He could have chosen anything, anyway and anybody to do this work but he didn’t, he chose us.  So he must believe in us!

He has chosen us to be pastors!!

1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG) But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

I appreciate the sacrifice each and every one of you and your families make! 

I love all of you!

 I apologize if I have ever judged you.  


And, do not grow weary of doing good.