Friday, April 30, 2010

Never underestimate the silence

I am thinking about the midweek service just passed. We have been having some powerful services at the church. The Sunday and Wednesday meetings both have been great. The presence of God has lingered over us. Each service it seems the hunger and expectancy is stronger. There is growing anticipation of what God is going to do

The service really wasn't silent. I thought all in all, it was good. Those of you who have been in ministry or church life understand the thought process. We tend to rate and rank the services by volume, crowd, excitement level, etc. And in doing so, we sometimes misread and wrongly evaluate what has transpired.

So I understood the comment made to me at the end of the service. Upon leaving, one of the gentlemen, said, "Pastor, I was expecting more." His comment sort of threw me, but I brushed it off. I wasn't sure what he was basing his evaluation on. We were limited in the praise and worship, as some of the team was out. The music wasn't as kicking. Was that what he was referring to? I am not sure. And I am not writing this article to rebuff his statement, but rather, to bring to light our thought process. As a pastor, I have felt the same way many times after a service. I wanted more, and expected more.

One thing I felt for sure was this. I had given it my all. And in the preaching and teaching of the word, there seemed to be a touch from heaven. I could sense that it was an on time word, and the people were receiving.

Some people label Charismatics or Pentecostals as being all emotional. And some of them are. What I want our people to understand is I appreciate the times of the fire and the earthquake, the times of unbridled enthusiasm and excessive celebration. But I also appreciate the still small voice of God.

No, God really wasn't silent Wednesday night. He was speaking through His word. "He that has ears, let him hear what the spirit says to the church..."

Never underestimate the silent, still small voice. Tune your ear to the Holy Spirit. God is speaking.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Right is right

Right is right when no one is looking.
Right is right when it goes against the tide of popular opinion.
Right is still right when your greatest supporter turns against you.
Right is right when it looks as if your stance cost you in every way.
Right is right when you are laughed at, scorned, or mocked.

There are some absolutes.
Some values cannot be compromised.
Sometimes you just have to stand.

Because right is STILL right.

Monday, April 19, 2010

From barely surviving to more than conquering

We all go through stages in life that prove to be difficult. A job loss, break up of a marriage, health issues. Many things can lead us to a place where it seems as if it is all we can do to just survive. The creditors are calling, relationships are fracturing, and dreams are disintegrating. Days become weeks, and weeks become months. You remember a time when things were better. And you wish, you hope, you pray. If there was some way you could turn back the clock, to a happier time in life, you would.

Your life may be in the barely surviving mode. One definition of survive is to remain or continue to exist after the death of something. That may seem to define you... barely. You feel as if you are clinging to life and striving to exist. You are barely making it.

We all must learn not to evaluate WHO we are by WHERE we are. Remember that many a person who we view as being successful went through seasons of life when things looked as if they would never turn around. The key when you are in surviving mode it to hang in and hold on. Don't quit. You are not defined by what you are going through. Your Maker has called you as being "more than a conqueror." (Romans 8:37)

Think about the statement the Apostle Paul made. We are more than conquerors in Christ. It tells me that there will be some battles along the way. There may be some trials that are overwhelming. You will outlast the storm, endure the season, and win the battle!

I am glad to report that seasons change! Your change is already under way. You are shifting from the survival stage to the conquering stage!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why you hatin' on me?

I remember the song from church Sunday School. As a child we would sing it. "Jesus loves me, this I know. For the bible tells me so". It is comforting to know that He loves you, isn't it? Sometimes we need to be reminded of that.

Jesus loves me... but not everyone else does. Most of us have some "haters." Hard to believe, isn't it? My wife loves me. My family loves me. My grandson (and his dog) loves me. Most of my church loves me. And these people love me, in spite of my imperfections.

When you are in ministry, leadership, or pretty much any area in the public eye, there will be people who just don't care for you. This is a truth I have learned to live with. It has tormented me at times. People you befriend, love on, and pray for, turn against you. Some, for no apparent reason. As a pastor, I have seen people leave the church. They talk about it, talk about the leadership, and try to discourage anyone they know from being a part of it. It leaves you sometimes wondering why. You try to remember what you did, what actions on your part warranted such venom.

We must always remember to walk in grace. Forgive those who speak against you, and do not allow it to bring bitterness in your heart. Walk with God. Carry no grudges. Joseph refused to retaliate against his brothers, even though they had wronged him, and caused him much pain. And Jesus modeled the power of forgiveness on the cross. You and I must choose to respond in like manner.

Walking in love towards those who oppose you is not always an easy task. But it is the right course to take. It requires self discipline. When you see someone in the market place who has repeatedly put the verbal "stab in the back" in you, the flesh nature wants to respond accordingly, and put them in their place. But we are not called to serve the dictates of our fleshly nature. We are called to walk in the Spirit, the nature of God.

It helps to remember that not everyone is linked to your assignment. And there are people who were with you in one phase of life that are no longer attached to you. Don't take it personal. Love everyone who will receive your love. And don't waste your time arguing with those who will not.

I write this blog out of no sense of being hated on today. It is not written in response to anything that I am aware is going on. I just wanted to remind you not to get sidetracked by responding to those in "the hater's club."

Yes, Jesus loves me (and you). For the bible tells me so.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Cost

It cost us a lot this weekend. We had a busy weekend, as most churches do. The church is growing. It is exciting. But with added people, come increased budget needs. I don't have the exact figures in terms of dollars and cents. But lets face it, it costs to do anything these days. And ministry costs.

I am not complaining. Just thinking aloud. Thinking about the hot dogs and sodas, the candies and desserts given away at Saturday's Easter Eggstravaganza. Thinking about the man hours involved in serving and helping for the event. It was small scale compared to some things we have done. Plus the hours of prep for the youth team skit. It wasn't necessarily a money cost, other than the utilities while doing rehearsals at church. Add the praise and worship practice time, the various other parts of church that come together for the service. There's the cost of the bulletins, the ink for the copier, and things we take for granted.

I was putting up a cross in the sanctuary, and could not find our crown of thorns, which would rest at the top. So I went to the local bible book store to purchase one. It cost $70! I couldn't believe it.

Yeah, it costs to run a church. It costs to have a vision to reach the community, and the world, for Jesus. But when I consider the price he paid. He paid the ultimate price with the sacrifice of himself on the cross!

I don't mind church offering plates. I don't mind church doors and property being open for rehearsals, bible studies, fellowships, etc. At the church I pastor, it costs to run the church. But investing in souls is well worth the money we give and the time we spend.

It costs. Better yet, it pays! That's why we keep on doing what we are doing. That is why we will until Jesus comes!