Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Plea From a Pastor

I have been sitting back and doing some thinking recently.

In my pondering, I have realized I am not desperate enough.  I have also found that I am not nearly humble enough.

I love to figure things out.  I love figuring things out so much, that I often don’t like to ask for help.  I guess that means I am rather prideful as well. 

I really don’t like how it sounds, but as I have been thinking, I realize that there is a desperate need to be honest with those I care about and with those that care about me.

You see, I have noticed as momentum builds in my own life and in the life of a ministry the enemy takes note.  His devious attacks increase and one cannot help but notice the ways in which he attacks.  Opportunities to compromise abound.  Compromise doesn’t always come in the form of absolute moral failure.  Sometimes it is just a small crack here or there.

Funny thing about cracks, they spread, they get bigger, and before long they become rather destructive.

I have no desire to compromise.

However, neither have many of my friends that I have seen falter.

The destructive force that I have seen wage war against my friends, their families, their children, their lives thrown into chaos because of moral and character collapse was never a desire of their heart.  The cracks formed but were never resealed or corrected, they spread, they got bigger, and they destroyed lives. 

For those of us who lead in ministry in some capacity, the consequences for faltering grow even greater.  The destructive force carries even more weight as we show the weakness of humanness.  We grow tired, weak, and feeble.  In those times when we are vulnerable, it is best to attack us. 

This doesn’t happen only to pastors, of course, it can also happen to their spouses and to anyone for that matter.

Far too many of my friends in ministry have fallen.  The fallout has been painful to watch.  There has been, in some cases, restoration.  In some cases, the destruction has become so severe that forgiveness has occurred, but reconciliation has become a very slow process.

I see this and I cannot help but ask, plea, beg you to pray for me.

Pray for my family.

Pray for your own pastor, other local pastors, elders, church leaders.  Pray for each other, for your friends, for their families, and for their marriages. 

We say and believe that we have a powerful God.  Our enemy has always tried to steal glory from God by manipulating, deceiving, and causing havoc in the lives of those who follow God. 

That is why I write this.  As independent, stubborn, and hardheaded as I am…I need help.  We all do.

I believe our God is not dead.  I believe He is alive.  I believe if He is for me than who could be against me.  I believe He has made me free.  I will proclaim this until I no longer have the breath to proclaim it.  I don’t want the enemy to sneak into any area of my life to take away from that message.

This is a plea from a pastor.

Pray for your pastor, whomever they may be.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Spirit of Expectancy

One of my favorite all time games is hide and seek.  My kids are getting a little bit older so they understand the concept…kind of.

Isaac (1 ½ ) is a little beyond peek-a-boo, but not much.  He basically gets the seeking part, but the hiding is still not, shall we say, developed.

Arianna (3 ½ ) gets the idea of hiding…kind of.  She knows she is supposed to hide, but like to try to surprise the seeker.  She really gets the idea of seeking.

It is funny to me to watch them “seeking”.  The anticipation mounts as they keep looking, peek around the corner, excited…and sometimes nothing is there, but they understand the hunt is still on.  When they do find the “Hide-er” the excitement that is displayed is contagious.  They laugh, squeal with joy, run around in circles, and/or fall to the ground giggling. 

I love it.

I love them.

They teach me so much.

I love watching them peeking around the corner.  Expectations are high.  What’s going to happen?  Are they there?  It is all so exciting.

Playing hide and seek reminded me of a story that happened about the time of the beginning of the church.  There was a beggar and he sat at this gate to the city begging.  He sat one day, begging as he always did, when a couple of guys that had a large part in the birth of the church (Peter and John) were walking by.  The man may have had his hand stretched out.  He may have asked if they had some spare change.  I don’t know exactly, all we know is that he somehow asked for money.  

From what we read of the story, the man it doesn’t seem as though the man made any eye contact.  Maybe it was due to the shame in his situation.  He may have felt guilty asking for money.  

 Guilt is a funny thing.

 Here he was, unable to work and relying on others to give him their hard earned money.  It is important to note that the beggar had expectancy, but in that expectancy did not have an attitude of entitlement.

Peter told the man to look at him.  In the midst of that poor beggar’s hopelessness, he raised his head and met the eyes of a man who had seen the life, miracles, death, burial, resurrection and so much more of God in the flesh. 

Think about it.  Can you imagine all that Peter saw?

When the poor man’s eyes met Peter’s, all he could think to expect was the bit of money that he was used to getting.  That was the all his mind could think to expect. 

That was it.

Then Peter told him he didn’t have any money.


“I don’t have any money, but what I do have…I give you.”

The man’s mind might have raced… “A sandwich?  Water?  What do you have?”

I love this part.

“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Then Peter didn’t just leave him there…

“ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.  He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and (because walking wasn’t enough) jumping, and praising God.”

He expected so little.  However, there was a much bigger plan.

No, I am not talking prosperity or entitlement.   I do, however, want to ask…what are we expecting God to do?

Do we expect to be transformed, or are we hoping not to be too bored?

I don’t mean to sound too rash here, but look at what this must have meant to this man’s life.  His life was absolutely transformed (Physically and as we read on spiritually).  Do we expect transformation? 

I believe this story displays beautifully what we are called to do…

…to be free people leading others to freedom.

Peter, a man set free by the work of Christ and the power of His Spirit, didn’t have gold or silver…but what he did have, he gave away.

This led to a transformed life, and not just of this lame man but also for all those who were watching…

When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Freedom, true freedom, is contagious.

So, this poses the question, what are we expecting God to do today?  What are you facing?  Are you on the mountaintop, or in the valley?  He is there and He is ready to set you free.  The process may be instantly or it may take time.  In the midst of the long journey, He can give you daily doses of freedom to rejoice in the process.  Have a great expectation that a great God will meet you in your needs in a way that will bring great freedom for you, for His glory.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Worshick, You're Doing It Right.

                My little girl (Arianna) is learning that she really loves to sing.  I enjoy this as I sit in the van and we are going somewhere as a family.  She begins to sing whatever song crosses her cute little mind.  Sometimes it is “Twinkle Twinkle”, sometimes it is another children’s song.  She also likes a few songs of worship.  She latched onto Matt Redmen’s “10,000 Reasons” when she heard me singing it at church through the system when she was in the nursery. 

                Even now when she hears it on the radio, “That’s your song daddy” which I find humorous since Matt Redmen is British.  She then breaks into the song to sing along.  Recently on a car ride, she belts out the chorus…

“Bless the Lord O my soul,

Oh my soul!

Worshick His holy name…”

“Peanut, (that’s my nickname for her) it’s worship.”


“No, with a “P””


“No, P, puh puh P”


This went on for a bit, but then I realized.  My little girl was singing to God, she knew she was singing to God...and I am hung up on pronunciations?

Is it really that important?

I interrupted a sweet 3 ½ yr old worshiping the Creator of all things…to correct how she said a word.  I am not saying that I can’t correct her grammar ever, but is that really the best time?  Let that little voice belt it out, man! 

                Of course, this triggered a flow of thoughts for me.  I mean, I am sure there are so many things I feel have to be done a certain way.  There is a correct formula for how we need to do things.  Have I really begun to let those formulas, processes, and procedures inundate how I worship?  I have to spend time worshiping my heavenly Father in a certain way…AND SO DO YOU!

                You can’t worship Him dressed like that.  You can’t worship Him with that song.  You can’t worship Him with a hat on.  You can’t worship Him with bare feet.  On and on we can go…

But where is the freedom of being His child?

Here’s what I know, I want my child to worship God freely.  I want her to feel the warmth of His embrace.  I want her to approach Him with the freedom to not worry what others think of her raising her hands.  I don’t there to be a hindrance of what others may think or feel.  I just want her to always search for satisfaction in the eyes of her Heavenly Father. 

She can worshick Him

In fact, I hope she worshicks Him with all of her heart.

I hope she worshicks Him and no one else.

I hope I am man enough to let her have freedom to worshick Him how He leads her and not hinder her with my presuppositions.

I hope I can lead her to this worshick.

Someday, I hope I can side back and well up with pride as I see her turn over her life to worshicking Him in freedom.

I don’t think a God that told His disciple to not hinder or prohibit the children to come to Him minds an off pronunciation from a 3 ½ yr old.  I am pretty sure His Spirit helps us communicate the things we don’t have the words for (or mispronounce).  I have confidence hearing a child’s voice, whether it a child (physically) or His child (spiritually), crying out to him brings Him great joy.  It doesn’t matter if it has a lisp, stutters, sounds like Elmer Fudd, doesn’t know the words to the song, is crying, sounds clear, on key, or can’t quite figure out what the range for the song is until the chorus goes up…He loves every second of it!

Today, may you worshick Him with all of your heart.  May you not worry about what is going on around you when that song that really touches your heart comes on the radio or iPod, worshick…worshick…WORSHICK!  Because, He has made us…He knows us…and He is a God that loves to hear His children crying out to Him. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Inspiration Is A Calling

How do you get a person to a place where they want to learn?

I remember taking a class in high school on world history.  I was looking for an elective type of class and I enjoy the stories of history.  I don’t remember dates well, but the stories behind the information is what makes me enjoy history.  Our history teacher was not known to be a very gentle spirit.  In fact he was rather gruff, stated the information, and if you didn’t retain it, well, that was your fault.  I remember even having a run in with him as he chastised the class for doing poorly on a test that he thought we should have done well on. 

The entire class did poorly.

There was some sort of prompting along the lines of, “What do you have to say for yourselves?”  The quiet teenager that I was, I raised my hand. 

“You know, you don’t really inspire me to learn more about history.  I want to be inspired to learn.”

What followed, I now realize, was a conversation on responsibility and duty versus joy and fulfillment.  My teacher responded that his job was not to inspire me but to present information.  My rebuttal was something along the lines of asking if he enjoyed history.  He responded, “It doesn’t matter if I enjoy it, it matters if you retain the information I give you.”

I didn’t push it much further than that.  I found out later that this teacher enjoyed my company about as much as much as oil enjoys the presence of water.

I was a terrible student in high school and only did well in one class that wasn’t a cake class.  My basic classes like English/Grammar, Math, etc were horrible.  I was relieved to see a “C” on reports.  I did have one teacher in my Biology class that seemed to get me.  He inspired me to care about what we were learning, understood that I didn’t learn as the status quo, and in that class I had a solid “B”.

I keep these two in my mind as I work on, ironically, being a sort of teacher myself.  In matters of faith we, who are believers, are called to make disciples or “learners”.

So how does one do that?

Well, I can tell you that if our concept of attracting “learners” is merely to present information, we will fail.  If our attitude about our faith fits that of the History teacher, I can tell you that most people (like me) are going to react similarly and ask, “Why would I want to learn about something that you aren’t passionate about?  Sure you know the information, but how does that inspire me to want to know the information?”

I think the western church may unintentionally have fallen into this trap.  It isn’t that this group is mean, nasty, and snide.  It is that they don’t look much different than anyone else and when they try to give their point of view, they look rather silly trying to “teach” others to live what they aren’t passionate about themselves.

On the other side of things, as my Biology teacher taught, he was passionate and excited about what he taught.  If he saw someone struggling (like me) he would find ways to incorporate me into what he was passionate about.  His fervor for what he taught made me want to learn.  He didn’t force me to learn, in fact there were others that did not respond well to his style of teaching…but they didn’t respond to any teaching.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to learn, it was that I wasn’t inspired to due to numerous things happening in the background of life.

                The point is, as believers, are we inspired?  Are we living a life of passion and from that life of passion, incorporating others to join in with us?  I am not asking you to go all Ned Flanders, please don’t misread what I am trying to say.  We will definitely have tough times in life and hove down seasons, but even in our darkest times we can reveal our passion by relying on Christ. 

The passion in our lives is the inspiration to the next person we are called to teach or disciple.

Don’t let your walk become duty or forced, rather, let it be your joy.  Don’t let the enemy steal that joy, it is our strength.  Otherwise, the students that are watching us may learn nothing of the love that God has for them.  We must be passionate students teaching others to be passionate students as well. 

That is the great calling of the great commission!

Inspiration is a calling!