Yesterday morning was slow, but I was slammed in the afternoon.
To preach is grace. To preach the gospel is amazing grace. I sat thinking of the enormous gift I have been given to do something that is truly worship for those who are wired in a similar fashion as me. I started to wonder what people walk away with after our time together. These are those reflections:
Below is video of me teaching about The Spotlight Myth. I kicked off a series through the Sermon on the Mount for this group. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPtbSUpqVFA?list=UUdLz82V0k8JPeWelvcm_gWg&w=560&h=315]
Today reading about the death of Elisha in 2 Kings 13 has given me a reflection for my heart at this very moment in my life. Just before he dies, the king over Elisha's people comes to him for a final blessing. In a moment involving bow and arrows and the prophecy behind it, king Joash does not react to the fullest potential he could have in regards to the future of the nation in accordance to what the King chose in that moment. In verse 19, Elisha is saddened by the King's response to pound the ground 3 times instead of 5 or 6 times because however many times he chose to pound the ground would be how many times his nation would overcome the attacks of their enemies later.
Here after my resignation as college pastor and going into the night of my goodbye reception I feel Elisha's sadness. One of the most troubling, dis honoring and truly heartbreaking things for me as your pastor of 7 years would be to hear and/or watch those I have taught and lead with all my heart go and not truly live out the things I have spent so much of myself to teach and invest in you.
I want to have the heart of Paul in some of his letters' openings to say to you months and years from now: "I praise God when I remember you. I am confident that HE (NOT I) who began a good work in you will perfect it. I have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you have for one another. It is right and good for me to feel this way."
I pray and really hope NOT to feel like Paul's opening to the Galatians when he says, " I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who CALLED YOU by the grace of Christ, for a distorted gospel."
My friends and my SOLAS FAM, if I have truly had such a strong impact on you (as many of you have said), I want to hear and see stories proving that in the future!
All my heart and love is FOR YOU. I've always been for you, and I will always be for you. Grace and Peace!
All is grace!
We most often are moving and going so frantically that God’s peace and blessing cannot land upon us.
If God’s peace descends like a dove, I am all but swatting it away with my hectic grasping after success as defined by the American
My priority is to be concentrated on Abba. His closeness is my ultimate good, and not my success as is demanded of me. I spend too much of my heart, mind, energy, and time comparing myself to others.
Abba, I need you. I need you to be close to my heart and mind. I need your peace if I can just sit still long enough that it might descend upon me.
My God, over and over again, I am reminded how woefully inadequate my prayer life truly is. I am ashamed of my lack of time and effort in prayer. I cannot imagine any excuse for a lack of prayer, and in return I cannot imagine any reason for me to wonder why ministry, family, leadership and other areas of my life seem to be without power, passion, life, progress, or growth. If I reap what I sow, I cannot be surprised when I sow little. If the condition of the church, family, and organization will take the shape of its leader's character and tone, I just cannot be surprised, nor can I place blame anywhere but my own lack of prayer and fervor for time with you. No matter how great my teaching and preaching can be, it is barren and empty without having received it fresh from you in prayer.
My God, I am woefully short on the very front of prayer where the power of preaching really lies. My God, I have to pursue you and intentionally pray that you may hear my heart for family, for students, and for ministry. My heart does break for them, but that brokenness has very rarely driven me to my knees for them.
O my God, I am brought low this morning at this realization. Thankful for your grace, I do not want to ride its coattails. I want to be with you more and receive from you the tone, character, desire, wisdom, and vision for the people I love.
Each year of ministry has come with its share of lessons learned. Currently, I am learning something with an impact for sustainable ministry into the future. Allow me to share this personal lesson in an address to other pastors and ministry leaders.
Never neglect the reality that you just might not be sent to this congregation to change them, but that perhaps God is using this congregation to change you.
Each leader has his inadequacies and weakness. Each ministry leader has her insecurities and doubts. Each pastor has his holes through which perfection leaks right out of grasp, and a congregation you engage with and truly shepherd will have an incredible knack for revealing those things.
This is not an attack, nor is it an especially intentional action of the congregation. This is the way of congregation. It is the way of koinonia. It is the way of the Holy Spirit doing his work in the life of a pastor and ministry leader called to this very place.
If you will allow, God will change you, ministry leader. He will do so with and through the people you thought you were here to fix, save, and change.
"Turn the other cheek" is one of those commands Jesus gave that I find very challenging. I tried it in high school, and I was jumped and beaten greatly. I do not look back on that moment and think, "Yeah! I was obeying Christ and THAT makes it all worth it." Still not an easy thing to grasp.
Until recently reading an account of Ghandi. Not a declared Christian, but not exactly a declared ANYTHING while being a studier of EVERYTHING. He was a man of peace with outrageous respect for the teachings of Jesus. Upon facing a gang of people with a Christian pastor, the pastor turned to run for safety, and Ghandi stopped him inquiring, "Doesn't the new testament say turn the other cheek." The pastor, flustered, said it was a metaphor. One of history's greatest icons of peace says, "I don't think it is. I think Jesus meant to stand and take the blows, and take courage. Not to retreat, but not to attack either. From this, the other will eventually have respect for your courage. For you will not strike back but nor will you be turned away. I think Jesus grasped this, and I have seen it work."
There is a large part of me that wants to echo Ghandi's reflection. Some part of me that desires peace and righteousness and still manly strength so as not to back down. Could it really be that by turning the other cheek we are actually taking on more courage and eventual respect than we would by either retreating or attacking? Maybe Ghandi didn't read John Eldridge and his peaceful tactics weren't exactly 'Wild at Heart," but like most of Ghandi's actions and claims, we don't have to agree with any of it, but we definitely should take them as ideals to provoke our thought. What say you?
It seems I do everything else more than I pray when I should be praying more than anything else. And being a pastor just means I have gone pro at this misdirection. Many of us are excellent organizers, promoters, strategists, leaders, but we are poor pray-ers. Many of us rely on our gifts and talents instead of God who gave those gifts and talents, and that reliance and power is in prayer. Where there is little prayer there is little power.
Prayer is not an element of our relationship with God. Prayer IS your relationship with God. [Tweet That]
Do I want a powerful new relationship with God? Do I hunger and thirst for deeper spiritual filling and vibrant ministry. I can go nowhere God is not already (Ps. 139:7-12). I cannot escape his presence, but I can entirely miss him.
God, allow my heart to be affected by this word.
While we realize physical absence certainly has an affect, I am thinking today of the realities of emotional absence. As a pastor and leader, you are expected to be on-call and at the ready at all times. You are to be fully available for everyone at all times, and we too often justify this as "the life of ministry".
Pastors, ministry leaders, those days you are absent (both physically and emotionally) are gone forever. [TWEET THAT]
Look at the ministry you have and realize that everything you do can be done or shared by someone else. Only you can be husband to your wife (or wife to your husband). Only you can be mom or dad to your kids.
I am trying to challenge myself to lose less and less days forever.
It is always important to remember that we have a real enemy, and he is always at work. Satan wants to take whole nations; he is not just about you, it goes beyond you. Satan wants to blanket nations. Satan thinks he owns nations. He even offers them to Jesus in temptation.
God wants nations. Jesus wants nations. We are not here to be Americans, we are here to be Kingdom People.
There is a power of God to be released in the power of prayer. Satan wants the believer to be more analytical than anything else…to think constantly with many ideologies. We see issues and look away saying, “Thank God I’m going to heaven.” We have to move from ideology to belief and then to lifestyle.
Is your life, your ministry, your family program oriented or prayer oriented? When we work we work, when we pray God works. Prayer is not and should not be a burden.
We often have such a small vision of God.
When your pastor seeks God and presents a vision, ask what you can contribute to it.
God is not experimenting. He has done this before. You may be next in line, but you have to need him. God does not intrude. God is not attracted to need but to prayer. He does not come to a need, he comes to a prayer because we have to ask.
Seems pretty clear: NO PRAYER, NO ANSWERS. MORE PRAYER, MORE ANSWERS!