Christmas Adoration

jeffclawson:

Here’s a throw back a couple years to what I was thinking about Christmas. I still have the same goals for Christmas as I did 2 years ago. This year, I’m looking at the heart of Christmas.

Originally posted on Forgetting Forward:

The above picture is of Ebenezer Scrooge. I thought it appropriate since I don’t believe in Santa Claus. Shhhhh. Don’t tell anybody.

I got a little heat last Christmas because I mentioned in a Sunday sermon that a news anchor said that Santa didn’t exist and the television station received all kinds of angry calls and emails from parents with terror struck children who just found out the easy way that mom and dad were leaving those presents under the tree which were signed “Santa.” (Let me say here that I don’t have a problem with kids having fun with Santa.) But….

I intend to spend my time trying to convince adults and kids alike of the One who does exist, not someone who doesn’t.

I’m writing and preparing for my Christmas series that I’ll be preaching this December. As is the same every year, I’m excited about December and…

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The Heart of Christmas

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God looks on those with low estate,
the ones the world can’t see,
His light of life shines on our face,
His grace and peace; it’s Christmas.

But how will He if grace to be,
come to all who have such need?
Through angel’s speech he starts his reach,
a gift to all; it’s Christmas.

A world that’s dark with little hope,
heard herald promise long ago,
fear to flee, injustice cease,
the world is pleased; it’s Christmas.

His love uncommon ways to show,
His choice through young and poor,
Is this the way in stable stay?
This Good News; it’s Christmas.

Now light has dawned without much splendor,
the manger lay the humbled king,
a child to grow in precious wonder,
we come with gifts; it’s Christmas.

A cross this leads to answer pleas,
of what God’s plan entails,
He’ll save through death and bring to rest,
this is the heart of Christmas.

Thankful

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There’s so much I could say to describe my thankfulness to God for all He is and has done. So, where do I begin?

Maybe I should begin and end my thankfulness this year with all the things I haven’t noticed. I could make a list, and have, of many things that God has provided and how he has blessed. But, I wonder what all He’s done that I haven’t seen.

Here’s what I know. God is greater than I even understand. That means He’s at work doing things that I don’t even know about. Also, I can safely assume God has done works in my life that I will never know about in this life.

As I look at the ultimate object of my thanksgiving today, the Cross, I know God has done so much. More than I could ever deserve and more than I would have ever asked. I remember too, though, that He’s always doing more than I will ever expect; whether I can see it or not.

I bet God’s done more in my life in the past year that I don’t know about than the things I do know about. So, this year I’m thankful for the myriads of blessing, help, protection and guidance that I didn’t even know He was doing.

http://biblia.com/bible/esv/Ps100

Happy Thanksgiving

Here’s a video that we showed last night in our Service of Thanksgiving. It shows many, but no where near all, the things that we’re thankful for here at Vienna Baptist Church. It also shows so much of what I’m thankful for this year. God is good! Enjoy

Vessel of Clay

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Jump right in and make a way,
Do your best and seize the day,
This the advice that they all say,
But how? I’m just a vessel of clay.

What if I try and then I fail?
What if there’s suffering along with this gale?
You say blessed are the weak and so are the meek,
But I’m just a vessel in desperate need of keep.

You say ‘follow me’ by faith I will see,
I follow and struggle and try not to flee,
But through failure and trial I’m reminded that I,
Am not promised victory just because I try.

What if I stumble, what if I fall?
How will I ever then answer this call?
I need to keep pace to finish this race,
But so often I seem to just fall on my face.

In desperate need I look at Your Word,
It reminds me I’m weak but also it stirs,
Truth in my heart that brings me to light,
It’s not up to me, this isn’t my fight.

All along you’ve been present and now I can see,
By your own work a miracle in me,
I may not win but you’ve chosen to stay,
To glorify yourself through this cracked vessel of clay.

-Jeff Clawson

Soli Deo Gloria

10 Things I’d Do Differently if I Weren’t a Pastor Today

jeffclawson:

Some of these things I was already doing, or not doing. But, it’s most definitely eye opening to pastor. I’m so grateful for those, and there are many, who are faithful, encourage, talk about Jesus to others and invite people to church.

Originally posted on From A Pastor's Heart:

Today’s blog post is one I wish I could put my name on.  It’s as though he has read my mind, and the mind of countless other pastors, especially the first three paragraphs.  Please do not pass by on this read today!  By the way, there is no agenda behind sharing this post other than what my blog is all about, “From a pastor’s heart.”

I spent most of my adult life outside vocational ministry. I’m amazed at the opportunities God has given me in ministry, but in many ways I am still a newcomer. I have just over a dozen years in this career. It’s challenging in some ways, because I see things differently from some who have only done ministry, but it also gives me a unique perspective from some pastors. I sat “in the pew” far longer than I’ve stood “behind the pulpit”.

One thing my experience…

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Seven Ways to Heal Your Pastor

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 I shared a blog article from Thom Rainer yesterday on Facebook called “Seven Ways to Hurt Your Pastor”. I shared it, not to make a point nor to direct it at anyone, but simply because I agree with the article. I received quite a bit of feedback from sharing it which prompted me to write this post. I have experienced all of the hurts that Thom Rainer listed as well as some that are not there but I thought it would be good to write a article from the other perspective. I used the word “heal” in the title because it’s a pseudonym of “hurt” but what I mean is how you encourage your pastor. Having pastored a church for 5 1/2 years now, I’ve not only experienced some hurts but also some encouragement. This list may surprise you because it doesn’t included saying how good you thought the sermon was or how good of a person you think he is. It’s different than that.

This is how you encourage your pastor:

1.  When you’re faithful

There is nothing that encourages your pastor more than your faithfulness. It’s true that when you don’t come it can be discouraging but when you’re there, when you’re faithful to worship, it lifts your pastor’s spirit in ways you’ll never know. The pastor spends his entire week getting ready for Sunday. Oh, there’s a lot of things we must do throughout the week with church administration, helping the hurting and making disciples but there’s nothing like Sunday morning worship. We look forward to it all week long!

Also, when you’re faithful in your giving. Nothing will put a knot in your pastor’s stomach on Monday morning quicker than a bad offering report from Sunday. But, the opposite is also true. Nothing makes a Monday morning sweeter than when your pastor sees the offering report and you were faithful to give. Now, he can go on through his week without financial worry nagging ruthlessly at his subconscious.

Your faithfulness is amazing!

2.  When you’re loving each other

Every pastor has stories of watching church people shred each other in disagreement and conflicts. But, when you love each other, I mean really love each other, it is incredibly uplifting to your pastor. Not only when you say “I love you” but more when you treat each other in genuine love in how you act, live and cooperate. To see you do that, makes your pastor feel like you’re loving him.

3. When you’re telling others

So many people come to church just to get something out of it, but to watch you and hear your stories of how you are telling others about Jesus and inviting others to the gathering of the church is uplifting and inspiring. Not only is this true of how your pastor feels but also how others in the church feel. It’s encouraging to see you living your life for Christ and with His heart for others. Your pastor knows that this happens as God’s Word works in your heart like it’s working in his and he knows that you’re truly “abiding in the Vine.”

4.  When you sacrifice

When your pastor sees you pour out your life when it’s not easy, that’s so encouraging. It’s at this moment he remembers that he’s not doing this alone and it’s not all up to him. Sometimes he feels like everyone is expecting him to spend his life  (and sometimes his family’s life too) for the Gospel but when you live a sacrificial life it let’s him know you’re willing to spend your life too. I can’t tell you how uplifting it is for your pastor when he gets to serve with you in this kind of way (instead of just serving you).

5.  When you pray

It’s always encouraging when you tell your pastor you’re praying for him but that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean when your pastor sees you come to prayer meetings, praying at the altar, or even better, when he finds out that you took it upon yourselves to have a group prayer time without him planning it or asking you to do it. I can’t put into words what that means to your pastor. Again, he’s reminded that he’s not alone and he’s reminded that people are impacted by Christ and following Him.

6.  When you Worship

What I mean by worship is when your pastor can hear your voices filling the worship center, when you raise your hands (those of you who do that sort of thing) and when you’re so focussed on Christ that the tears are running down your face. It is so encouraging when you worship with smiles across your face and joy beaming from your countenance. It so makes a pastor remember why he’s doing what he’s doing and that the Word is bringing return. (Remember, Sunday is the day he’s always working for and toward.)  There’s nothing like people worshiping God is Spirit and Truth!

7.  When you love his wife

Many pastors wives don’t struggle because of people disrespecting or being unkind to them, they struggle because they so often feel left out. As awesome as it is for your pastor to see you interacting with each other, especially outside of church services, it’s incredibly uplifting when you invite and include his wife. Nothing breathes life into your pastor more than when the church is breathing life into his wife. When she has joy in the ministry so does her husband.

Do any of these surprise you? 

Much more than verbal expressions like, “that was a nice sermon” when you’re walking out the door Sunday, the above are ways that you can be a huge encouragement and even bring healing to some of the hurt your pastor has. Try it out, you’ll make a difference.