Here’s an announcement video about some upcoming things about which I’m very excited. Hope you’ll take part!
Here’s an announcement video about some upcoming things about which I’m very excited. Hope you’ll take part!
Pulling my car into the drive-thru line at Starbucks, I wondered why it was a dozen people deep. It wasn’t raining, yet it seemed everyone was driving through today. I was transporting three dogs to the groomer, and there was no way I could leave two wild Shih-tzus and one crazy Bichon alone while I went inside for my daily dose.
As a pastor, every normal occurrence that I have in ministry comes in spurts. What I mean is that it seems that people get sick and I visit the hospitals in spurts. People pass away and funerals come in spurts. People coming to faith in Christ and baptisms often seem to come in spurts. People joining our church seems to come in spurts. And, people seem to have difficulties and struggles in spurts. Or, maybe it’s just that I hear about them or I am asked for help during these struggles in spurts.
Either way, when I find myself in a spurt of difficulties and struggles I always find myself less trying to counsel and more trying to simply encourage. By the way, if you’re a pastor or a counselor please know this: when people come to you with there struggles they don’t need you to try to fix their problems. You and I are not able to do that anyway. What they need more than anything is to be encouraged. Encouraged to do what?
One of our men prayed something at church tonight that struck me and I told him I was going to steal it. (So, thanks Nate!) Here is what he prayed:
“Help us to cast our anxieties on you because you’ll be up all night anyway.”
This is why we let God have it; because He’s always at work. This is not a religious crutch but an absolute truth. God never sleeps and He’s always inviting us to leave our anxieties on Him. Because He not only can handle it, but He does.
Jesus was asked in Matthew 22:36 what the greatest commandment is. You probably remember His answer; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Do you think that’s a lot to ask? Really? God wants me to love Him with all that’s inside me?
Well, before we can come to any conclusions about how this can happen we need to deal with a couple of truths about the heart. First, we all have a heart that’s under attack! That’s right, your heart, as is mine, right now, as your eyes are reading these words is under an attack.
In his book “It’s Your Call,” Gary Barkalow explains that there are three aspects that every person who encounters Jesus Christ through His Gospel will live out:
1. The Truth
Every person is faced with the truth of God through general revelation and then more directly through the special revelation of God the Son. In Psalm 19, the psalmist tells of how the creation speaks of who God is and all the people of the world can see, or hear, this truth. Hebrews 1:1-2 states, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” We are all faced, at some point in our lives with the truth.
2. The Heart
Did you know that you and I were born with a broken heart. Maybe you’re like me. As I read Jesus’ words that I must love God with all, I instantly know that in and of myself I’m unable to love anyone with all; except maybe myself. That’s because we are all born with hearts that are separated from the One who gave us our heart, soul and mind. Thank God, He came after us so that can be remedied!
3. An Assault
Then, those who respond to the Gospel of Jesus and place their faith in Him, both for eternal life and this life now, will undergo an attack from the Evil One himself. The Devil wants to disrupt our relationship with God through Jesus Christ in any way he can. (By the way, that’s why it’s so important to armor up!)
So, how does a broken heart love anyone, much less God, with all?
That brings us to the second truth; it’s a process. Paul Tripp says it this way, “God has chosen that our growth be a process, not an event.“
How do we begin on the process to love God will all? As stated above, first, armor up with God’s armor to deflect the fiery darts of the devil. (Ephesians 6) Secondly, realize that you and I have a serious tendency to compartmentalize our hearts. That is, we will choose to only give God certain parts of our heart; the parts we feel comfortable giving Him at the moment. If you’re wondering how this works just remember, we’re all master of compartmentalizing our time too. We’re very good and deciding that God only deserves a certain amount of our time. So it is with the heart.
Where do we start? By remembering that God is the great heart healer. You can trust Him with your heart! As you realize the parts of your heart, soul and mind that you’re not giving Him, learn to trust Him with those parts too. And remember, God is always the great heart healer and He will never, ever break your heart.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
His love is greater than any broken heart.
For everyone who is following “Read along with me,” I will be taking a fast from social media for two weeks beginning tomorrow. I have updated the reading schedule, that I usually do daily, for the entire two weeks. So, if you’re reading, and I hope you are, you will not receive a reminder via Facebook or Twitter for the next two weeks.
I hope that you’ll keep reading the Word as I will still be reading along with you while I’m taking my two week fast.
Here’s a link to the reading schedule: http://wp.me/PJpeJ-5z
For those who do what I do, you understand the pressures that come with being a pastor or a leadership position that requires you to lead a lot of people. Like any position of leadership, there are always critics and the critics are rarely critical because they want to help. We all know that the negative kind of critic can cause us to hurt, second guess our decisions and even, at times, second guess our calling. So, this short post is intended to be an encouragement to anyone who is discouraged in what they’re called to do. (I’m not grinding any axes here.)
One truth I always try to remind myself is that I am really working, serving, preaching and leading before an audience of one. That is, when this ministry and life are all said and done, I will stand in judgment before the One who has the right to call me out on everything I’ve done; and He will. So, my purpose and goal, ultimately, is to please Him.
That’s a pretty good goal isn’t it; to please Him?
But, we all have those days when we’re down because someone has complained publicly about us or lied about us or expressed (again publicly) their dissatisfaction with us. I was very encouraged the other day when I read these words from Theodore Roosevelt in regard to the critic and to our calling. I hope you’ll find them as inspiring as I have.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
To my brothers and sisters who are battling in ministry and leadership and even struggling through criticism; keep on! What you’re doing is eternal in value which means it’s eternal in weight. But, the majority of the load of that yoke is carried by our Savior. Remember, most critics are doing nothing. That’s why they have time to criticize.
To my critics, I ask you to remember that I’m as human as you are. What I’m doing is by divine call and I have a Master whom I desperately want to please. If you join me in that pursuit, you may find less reasons to criticize.
What’s your trajectory? That may seem like a strange question, but it’s an important one.
Matthew records some pretty major teachings of Jesus in that last several chapters of his gospel. (Not that all of Jesus’ teachings are less than major.) But, Matthew records a series of teachings that Jesus did between His last entry into Jerusalem and His crucifixion; and these teachings are significant.
Much of these teachings are parables that begin with “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” In these parables, like the parable of the wedding feast found in Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus is desperately trying to get His audience, which is you and me now, to get their trajectory pointed toward His coming Kingdom. In effect, He’s asking you and me, “What’s your trajectory? Is it toward my Kingdom?”
So, how do you know if your trajectory is a Kingdom trajectory?
This is probably Jesus’ first point; you’ll miss this Kingdom if you have no desire for it. Here’s the truth, you’ll have no desire if you think the Kingdom to come is no big deal. Just don’t miss this truth, the Kingdom to which Jesus is inviting you is far greater than anything on this earth; anything!
Here’s the next truth: those invited just had a plain disregard for the king and his son. Your desire of God’s kingdom will rise and fall with how you view God; and His Son.
In the end of the parable, those who were invited but refused to attend were counted unworthy of any longer being called to the wedding. This is not because of the type of job they had or because their marriage failed or because their kids didn’t behave well. The reason they’re considered unworthy is because they have no desire or regard for the wedding, the king or his son. They have a trajectory of self and not a trajectory of the kingdom.
So, let me ask you again: what’s your trajectory?
God is inviting you to the great wedding feast. You can read about it in Revelation chapter 19. He’s also inviting you to be a subject of His great Kingdom. You can read about it in Revelation 20 and Ezekiel chapters 40 – 48; as well as other places. How do you know if you have Kingdom trajectory? When you have a desire and high regard for the King and His Kingdom to come.
This is why you would have desire and regard for it. Because the value of the Kingdom is in the value of the King; the Son. I hope you accept the invitation and spend your life with a Kingdom trajectory! That way, when the call comes for the invited to come you won’t have anything better to do.