A word to the wise. Someone asked me a great question. If I had the ear of our pastors, what would I say that would encourage them? There are some things we all should pay attention to in our pastoral life. But there are four that I would like to highlight and encourage our pastors to take to heart.
FIRST - Stay true to the Word of God. There are so many different thoughts and opinions about God and His Word that have infiltrated our churches and seminaries. The Word of God does not contradict itself. People are searching for truths that can make a difference in their heart and life. When God called you to serve Him in His Ministry, He provided you an instruction Manuel to follow. We get ourselves in trouble when we deviate from the TRUTH. Preach the Word.
SECOND - God is in the People Business, not the program business. The reason we are called and commissioned is to care for the flock God has placed under our watch care. God has strong and sharp words toward those who were suppose to be shepherding His sheep but were in it for their own gain and fame. In order to fulfill God’s calling the pastor/shepherd MUST LOVE THE PEOPLE God has placed under your watch care. This care and compassion must come from the heart, not the head. People know if you really do care about them. The old saying is still true, “People don’t care how much you know - they need to know how much you care. It is never too late to start loving God’s people.
THIRD - I would encourage you to choose your battles wisely. You may win a battle but you are going to lose the war. Carefully evaluate each challenge you face and then determine if you are willing to fight over it. Hopefully, as a pastor/shepherd, God has been leading you to develop a clear sense of what is most important and must take a stand only when it really matters. Not every problem is a crisis. Think though each and seek counsel before you attack is always good advice.
FINALLY - Decide that you are in it for the long haul. Using a sports analogy from some of our great coaches: the game is 60 minutes, 4 quarters. It is true that a man will be at the church for 3.5 years before the congregation is most comfortable and allow you to be their pastor. Rome was not built over night and neither is the pastorate. Don’t approach the call to a church with an attitude, “If it don’t work out there is always another church I can go to.” Set a new record for the tenure of the pastor at the church. Plan to settle in and work for the change in the long run. Each day, recommit yourself to the LORD and His plan for you and the congregation. God desires you to be faithful. Fruitfulness comes in time.
Thank you pastors for the work you are doing to minister to the people God has placed under your watch care. Sermon preparation is a challenge when you are trying to keep yourself untainted from the world which we serve in, and yet remember God is directing you to deliver His message to stained people who have lived in this world.
I read from 2 Chronicles 30 today. I am reading from the Christian Standard Version (CSV) and I found it fascinating, very informing, and enlightening about the role of a shepherd. First there were priests that were doing their work who were not committed to the LORD. They were just going through the motions. There was a call to come and be together to worship at the Temple. Some folks didn’t see a need. But there were many who responded (possibly because of a nagging wife) they came but their hearts were not in it. The king knew that and had the priests to pray over those who would rather be somewhere else and offered a special sacrifice for them as well as a prayer. Then there were those who were there and were excited that they finally got to come back together to worship corporately. Does that remind you of anything happening today?
I want to take a sentence or two and focus on the ones who were stained by the world and really weren’t there to grow in their love and passion for God and His Word. The king and priests recognized this and had a special prayer before the service begin to ask God’s blessings on each of them. These folks had not prepared themselves for worship and so the shepherd prayed over them. Verse 18 - “were ritually unclean, yet they had eaten the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah had interceded for them saying, ‘May the good LORD provide atonement on behalf of whoever sets his heart on seeking God, the LORD, the God of his ancestors, even though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.’”
Not only do our pastor/shepherds prepare the message but they spend many hours praying over the people that God will send to worship Him each service. So thank you pastors for ALL you are doing to be faithful to our LORD. And that is why you are a blessing to us. Read this chapter from different versions and listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to you.
Good morning dear Sunday morning Saints. Glad we have a lovely day to worship and serve the LORD with gladness. Question - Who has your ear? I mean who are you listening to? Or are you listening to anyone? Some feel they have all the answers and they do not need any advice from anyone. Is that you or do you know someone like that?
In my reading this morning from 2 Chronicles 10-11, I ran into such a character as this. Solomon had died and now his son step in to be king. The people came to him and asked him to lighten their load. He said, "I will get back to you in three days." During those three days he was wise enough to seek advice from others. First he went to the ELDERS and asked them what he should do, they told him to be kind and speak kind words to them and they would serve him for the rest of their lives. Sounded good to me. But not to him. I guess he didn’t respect or trust the advice of those seasoned saints. So he went to his running buddies--the young men he grew up with--and asked them what they thought. They told him to not let up but to make things harder. He listed to the youth of his day and did just that. What were the results of this? A riot and public protest. The people turned on him and the end results were he had to escape and run for his life.
Why did he not listen to those who were wise in their older age and have a kingdom of individuals that were willing to serve him for the rest of his life? Because he trusted in those who he grew up with and look what happened.
In leadership, I know that I do not know all the answers. I believe that two, three, four heads are better than my one. When we are facing a situation it is always better to gain counsel (brain storm) on the best way to handle a the situation. The council will bring more thoughts and understandings to the detail that maybe we would have never thought of. But the King trusted in his running buddies and that got him into some hot water.
God has a plan for us and, like the elders, told the king that if we be kind to others and speak kind words of instruction to them, we can turn away a bunch of wrath. It is true, our words can calm or cause chaos so we need to choose our words wisely. Maybe we need to choose our friends wisely as well. Have a blessed day and stay safe out there. Blessings
Good morning dearest believers. Nice to know you are up and at ’em this morning. Have you noticed that reading the Word of God is like reading the headlines of our news media these days. I love the Old Testament (except the names) and the historical facts that God has preserved for us there. This morning I was reading again from Second Chronicles. Read three chapters about three for kings. King R, King J, and King A who were so bent on having their own fame and fortune that they literally turned their back on God and started their own gods. The results was not very promising for them. When they got themselves in trouble, King R “humbled himself” and cried out to God. God stepped in and delivered him but he lost his freedom as well as his fortune. He became a servant to another king and his country. However, in these three chapters we find “along came Asa and turned the people back to the living God.” Peace and prosperity were there because their hearts were genuinely seeking and serving God. They praised God each day and did it just when things were tough on them.
Humbled himself - Isn’t that what 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us to do? We must humble ourselves and seek God’s face - not His hand - and then God can heal our land. All of the things going on today are proof in the pudding that we are not a humble people. We only want God to step in when we mess things up. King Asa led his life and his kingdom of people to put God first in everything they were doing. Not so they could get what they wanted but to live a life before God that was pleasing to Him.
Our daily chore is to choose to honor and glorify God by the way we live, the way we treat others, and the way we talk. Our Christ-likeness should always be showing. The world is hurting and the world needs to see Jesus in us every moment of ever day. That is how we bless God and be His blessing to others.
Good morning dear Facebook family fellowship. Checked your schedule yet? Why is it the first thing we do is to check our Facebook or emails? I guess inquiring minds want to know. In the ministry God has assigned me, it is evident that our pastor/shepherds have their plates stacked full of responsibilities. It is like the circus guy spinning all the plates and he has to keep them all spinning at the same time. It is an endless and tiring effort. I hear a lot of folks say, “alter I retired it seems like my days are busier now than ever before. How did I ever find time to get this done while I was still working?”
Have you watched any of the XFL games (when we had the games)? This new football league has made some changes in how the game is played. People are mic'd. They do interviews with the players after each big play. When there is a call to be made, the refs in the press box are shown as they discuss the decision of the correct call and where the ball is to be placed. We are privy to the coach calling the plays so we (if we understood the play book) know exactly what the plays are. The coaches are in the press box getting a clearer perspective on the game.
I have had my time in the battles. All I see is the guys in front of me. I am in the middle of the war and my perspective is clouded. Or maybe you find yourself in the forest, confused, concerned about the correct path to take. After all, have you not noticed that all trees look the same when you're standing beneath them?
Our ministry life is like that as well. We are in the trenches every day, battling our enemy. We have to keep fighting, we have to keep going, no matter how tiring it is, the work has to get done. We must win at all costs. And sadly, sometimes winning is at all costs. I have discovered that I need planning and prioritizing in my life. I must not get the order of my life out of whack. If I do, then at the end of the day I am exhausted and there are more things left undone than accomplished.
I have found that for me to be effective in any sort of way, I need to look at my life from the press box. I need to get a glimpse of the big picture. I was taught this by our LORD once when I was running on fumes and considering throwing in the towel. It was an October Monday years ago. I knew I needed some time away to be with the LORD for clarification on my life. I was tired and worn to a frazzle. God showed me that my time with Him was the most important time in my life. I was called and commissioned by Him for HIS ministry not my own. My time with Him would improve my time with my family and my time with the church family. God took me to the press box to let me get a better perspective on how He wanted the ministry to be done.
So dear friends, to get a better perspective on life, maybe you need to take a time (guilt free) to just climb up into the press box of ministry and see it from God’s perspective. He has called you and He will guide you each step of the way. Be blessed as you are being a blessing.
Good morning you work in progress. And isn’t it great that God is not through with us, Yet! This morning I was reading a devotional thought that Max Lucado, put in his book “The Anvil” before 1985 and thinking of what is going on in and around us today. It is a story of the life of a blacksmith at work. Taking a piece of rustic iron, placing it in a hot fire, and then putting in on the anvil, he begins to imagine what it will be when the master finishes. He has a clear picture in mind and he begins to pound. The master knows the type of instrument he wants. He knows the size, the shape, the strength. He begins to work on it. He is taking the old and making something new. And with time, change occurs. What was dull becomes sharper; what was crooked becomes straighter; what was weak becomes strong; and what was useless becomes valuable. After the pounding and examining, the master takes the hot iron and puts it in a vat of cold water. Through the hissing and the steam, the new tool is now useful again.
As we think of how we are doing church these days, I think we are going to be forced to make adjustments, and that is probably a good thing. We have been forced to abandon our meeting together. That is just what the devil has wanted all along. He knows that we draw strength from our time of fellowshipping together in a collective body. It is there we draw strength and encouragement from our fellow believers. It is there we are shaped through our worship. It is there we are encouraged to take the Gospel outside the walls of the building and into the hearts of the lost and lonely. As Joseph told his brothers, “What you meant for bad, God meant for good.” With the new normal, we are now being forced to do church differently. Like the blacksmith taking the old iron and now making it into something new, we, as a congregation, are being forged to become a different, useful instrument for the Kingdom of God.
It is my prayer that we too will become sharper, straighter, stronger, and more useful as we keep our eyes on Christ Jesus and come through this time together. And we must remember, before the world was created, God knew the event, time, and effect the coronavirus was going to have on the ministry of His church. Proverbs is a verse that is challenging us to walk in His light. “Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He WILL direct your steps.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). You are a blessing today, even when you have to stay indoors.
Good morning dear fellowship. Hope you are keeping your distance of at least 6 feet this morning. But this distance thing doesn’t apply to you and your closeness to our LORD Jesus. He wants you to draw close to Him as He draws close to you.
I have never attended a “Black Tie” event so I can only speak to what I have heard (gossip) you might say. From the way I understand it, you receive an invitation and are asked to reply (RSVP). When you arrive, you wait at the entrance and someone announces, "Dr. and Mrs. Lowell Warren." After your name is called, one of the staff escorts you to your seat and assists you in taking your place. I don’t think we ever had any of those kind of “suppers” in Arkansas. I guess it was because this country boy would be so totally out of place amongst these folks.
I spoke with one of our pastors this week and he said that he usually doesn’t get into much conversation with certain pastors because he doesn’t speak very well in theological conversation. He told me that he just tries to talk to folks on his level and that seems to be working for him. Like me, he would feel so out of place if invited to those special events. In my studying this week, I was pleasantly reminded that as a pastor/shepherd, we are to be more into people than programs. We can have all the programs in the world but as Christ Jesus taught me, it is all about the people and not the palace. So Christ Jesus says we need to go out in the highway and byways and invite folks to the King’s feast. Have you gotten your invitation?
Psalms 15 from the Message says,
“God, who gets invited to dinner at Your place?
How do we get on Your guest list?”
“Walk straight, act right, tell the truth.”
“Don’t hurt your friends,
Don’t blame your neighbors,
Despise the despicable.”
“Keep your word even when it costs you.
Make an honest living,
Never take a bribe.”
“You’ll never get blacklisted if you life like this.”
Now I might not be invited to the “Black Tie Events” but I have been invited to surrender to God and serve Him as my act of worship. The greatest invitation I have ever received was the one Christ Jesus gave me to become a born-again child of God. I made His guest list and that is what counts. Be a blessing to others today. God will be pleased.
Good morning friends. Growing up as the oldest child I got the reputation of being the favorite child. I can’t remember pursuing this position, but I guess because I was there a couple of years before the others, this gave me the advantage. Even though I didn’t persuade my dad to do this I kinda enjoyed that favoritism. My brother lived under my shadow, you might say.
As a parent now I can see the challenges my parents and siblings had. I love both my sons equally. They have different personalities and excel in different areas. I make it a point that what I do for one I do for the other.
Reading from Luke 15 this morning about a dad who was accused of showing favoritism and of how each of his two boys responded to their dad was good food for thought. There was sibling rivalry. It was so strong that the older didn’t want anything to do with “your other son.” This older brother had it all but he didn’t have the spotlight. So he was willing to sever all ties with his brother.
God doesn’t show favoritism. Each one of us is uniquely formed and designed the way God desires. We need to relax and rest in the arms of our Heavenly Father. We need not compare ourselves with others or what others have. If we do, we are living under the shadows of someone else and that can lead us to consider ourselves the “black sheep of the family.” If you find yourself thinking like that, God tells us that He will wash us with His blood and make us white as snow.
Keep up that praying with me. I sure could use it today. Be blessed.
Good morning to all you chosen vessels out there. Have you ever been chosen for some special event? And how did it make you feel? The one that sticks out in my mind is when I was a youngster in elementary school. Trust me, I was never chosen as the teacher’s pet. But I was chosen a couple a times to dust the chalkboard erasers. Do you remember what that was? You would collect all the erasers from the room and take them outside and beat them against the sidewalk to get all the chalk dust out of them. We were not allowed to beat them on the wall of our brick school house building. Dusting the erasers was the best of all things to be selected for as a kid growing up in the early fifties.
There have been other things that I have been chosen for that have also brought me great comfort--things like leading a conference of individuals who want to develop their ministry skills. It is not so much the opportunity to lead as it is the joy of seeing others whom the LORD has called and set aside for HIs ministry.
This morning I was up early writing about the expectations between a church and pastor and a pastor and a church. They are not the same. Troubles come when we have unrealistic expectations that are unmet--more on the our website for this coming real soon.
My call to ministry verse is found in 1 Timothy 1:12. It is what I base my life on. Listen to the verse, “I thank Christ Jesus our LORD who COUNTED ME FAITHFUL putting me into HIS MINISTRY.” I was chosen to serve our LORD. I wasn’t called to pastor, to preach, or cook in the kitchen at church. I was called (chosen by God) to serve Him in whatever area He chooses. Serving as a pastor/teacher is His assignment in His ministry. As I was writing and meditating on this calling, I began to praise our LORD for how He has assigned me to different aspects of His service. God counted me faithful - He knew my short-comings, my down falls, and how Satan would temp, trick, and treat me (Luke 22:31) and He still chose me to be a Servant of the LORD Jesus. I am so thankful that God had that much faith in me that He would trust me with His precious people and pastors. Sure I fail a lot but that doesn’t relinquish the call God has placed on my life. It is a lifetime call. There is no retirement plan offered for serving our risen Savior. Just think about this pastors, God has that much faith in you that He would allow you to serve one of His churches. That is a blessing.
Good morning friends. Glad to celebrate another day with the LORD and you. In my devotional time this morning I was reading about a mom and her ten year old boy deciding to drive to a winter home for the holidays. The snow begin to fall and the roads became slippery. As she turned a curve her car begin to slide and landed in the ditch. There was no getting it out. They had noticed a farm house back up the road so she and her son walked to the house to use the phone. She knocked on the door and a lady opened and welcomed her in. She fixed a warm drink for them and told her that she could use the phone to call for assistance. She was welcome to stay as long as she needed. The travelers were none other than Queen Elizabeth and her 10 year old son, Charles. In Hebrews 13:1 we are told to “Not neglect to show hospitality for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.”
Think about this for a moment. Christ Jesus left the palace for a place in the barn. He became like you and me. He left all His royalty and got down in the ditch and the dump where we were and knocked on our door and many of us have invited Him in, not really knowing His royal lineage. Think about this for a minute - You have the Son of God - the Royal Family - the King of Kings residing in your life. He is with you when you rise up and He is with you when you lay down. Wherever you go and whatever you are going through - He is right there in your very midst. You don’t need to clean the house and strengthen everything up before you open the door. If you hear His knock - by all means - open the door. He wants to come in and warm your heart and soul. Take a moment and head down to Philippi and check out chapter 2 beginning in verse 5 where Jesus describes His visit to your world. Do you hear His knock? Revelation 3:20 tells us that this Royal Family Man will only enter when invited. Open the door and you no longer will be cold inside. Have a blessed day as you entertain strangers, unaware of who they are.