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...

Read More
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...

Read More
Fight for Joy
Apr30

Fight for Joy

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.                                           -Psalm 16:11 Joy can be elusive. Sometimes it seems like the main focus of the enemy is not to lead us into sin for the sake of sinning, but to influence for the purpose of stealing our joy.  So how do we keep our joy?  In his book, “How Shall We Fight for Joy?” John Piper lists 15 strategies to fight for joy.  Let’s pray for strength, pray for resolve, and saturate our hearts and minds with the word of God; determined to keep our joy.  Realize that authentic joy in God is a gift. Realize that joy must be fought for relentlessly. Resolve to attack all known sin in your life. Learn the secret of gutsy guilt — how to fight like a justified sinner. Realize that the battle is primarily a fight to see God for who he is. Meditate on the Word of God day and night. Pray earnestly and continually for open heart-eyes and an inclination for God. Learn to preach to yourself rather than listen to yourself. Spend time with God-saturated people who help you see God and fight the fight. Be patient in the night of God’s seeming absence. Get the rest, exercise, and proper diet that your body was designed by God to have. Make a proper use of God’s revelation in nature. Read great books about God and biographies of great saints. Do the hard and loving thing for the sake of others (witness and mercy). Get a global vision for the cause of Christ and pour yourself out for the...

Read More