Looking Forward
Sep16

Looking Forward

Have you ever had an epiphany and were shocked at how obvious it was, maybe even embarrassed For example, I realized today that I have “old man legs”. My legs are lumpy, veiny, dry, and saggy. Old. Man. Legs. Everyone around me probably already knew that.  I also was struck today of how often I look backwards for hope rather than forward.  I often look back to the resurrection for my hope in the risen Savior. But today I was reminded that I should also be looking forward.  Psalm 27:4 reads,  “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” I like how John Piper points out that this verse speaks to the forward glance of Hope in Christ building upon the backward reflection of gratitude. Let’s cultivate a complete hope in Christ...

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Prayer and the Believer
May09

Prayer and the Believer

Here are some notes and references from our Wednesday night bible study: The purpose of prayer   Prayer brings glory to God  And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)   Prayer aligns our will with God’s will  saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)   Prayer brings peace  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) We pray to confess sin  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)   We pray to cast our burdens upon God  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)   Prayer is powerful  Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. nd he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:16-18)   Prayer is not an option  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. (Matthew 14:23) So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. (Luke 5:16) Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12) Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18) How to pray  Pray to the Father; through Christ; in the power of the Spirit  In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. (Matthew 6:9) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the...

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Navigating Through Ministry
Apr30

Navigating Through Ministry

At times I am asked for advice from pastors who are frustrated or hurting. I assume they ask for my advice because they have witnessed my mistakes and desire to avoid similar pitfalls.  Recently, I was privileged to have a man I greatly respect share some challenges with me that he is facing in ministry. The thrust of the challenge is the frustrating clash between biblical pastoral ministry and modern church ministry.  How would you encourage pastors who are neck deep in frustration but clearly have a strong love and devotion to the Lord, to His word, to His mission, to His church, and to the gospel?   Not knowing how to respond, I prayed and then shared the advice below.  Church planting is not always the answer. No church is perfect, even the one you may plant. It will always fall short of your dreams and will be beyond your control and influence. This is because you are not Jesus. Theology matters. All of it. I understand that you may be fully committed to a theological system (see Calvinistic, TULIP, reformed, Armenian).  Nothing wrong with loving and preaching your conviction. Keep in mind, theology impacts everything in your life and has a way of sneaking into areas that most never anticipate. Make sure your theology has settled before you make decisions to change.  Live your calling apart from the machine. Most of us will deal with some level of frustration in ministry on a regular basis. I believe this is because many pastors have adopted a philosophy that modern ministry is biblical ministry (I.e., biblical service unto the Lord). Although this is the example we see in the bible and the first couple of centuries, this is not the reality gleaned from Christian history. If you serve a church, part of your “ministry” will always be a job. Don’t be surprised if the job portion is 70% or more. You are being paid to do a job whether you theologically agree with that or not. Do the job and look for areas where your ministry calling overlaps with the job and praise the Lord for His mercy and rejoice! I also work a job, with almost no overlap.  Consider alternative ministry settings. If you are called to a more pure form of gospel ministry, consider a parachurch ministry (your own non-profit: I.e., DesiringGod.org, Living Waters Ministries RelevantGospel.org). In a parachurch ministry there is no church to shepherd and no meetings to discuss. It is almost purely apostolic.  Trade your frustration for joy. This is not easy. Find what you enjoy in your ministry. What in your current ministry...

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