I Don’t Know What I am Doing


I don’t know what I am doing most of the time in ministry. (I know…shocking, isn’t it?) I mean after all, I have been in ministry for about 28 years. You’d think I would know something!

Yes, I do know a few things here and there and there may even be a handful of things I could say, “I’m an expert at (whatever that means!).” However, in all honesty, ministry is organic. It is living, active and always changing. Why? Because ministry is not a bunch of methods and absolute do’s and don’ts. Often times, what worked yesterday with a certain group of people may very well not work at all today with a different group of people. Yes, there is absolute truth that never changes, but ministry is more relational than absolute. The absolute truth is our non changing core, but how people receive and grow in that truth is often more organic than definitive.

Ministry is people. People grow at different paces, encounter different problems, have various needs, reveal a whopping change in personalities, and more. It’s hard to make one method that worked with one person work with another person. Keeping up with this is well…like I said, I don’t know what I’m doing!

But there is one thing I do know. I know the God who knows everything. If I am in total submission to His Spirit and His plan, then whatever I do is excellent and a perfect match for the one person I am serving. Why? because God is doing it through me!

Some might see God as a harsh and cold principle – the big man in the sky that doesn’t bend or move according to the needs of men. But God is just as living as we are. He’s a person, not a principle. His approach is personal, not methodical. Truth is His constant but His dealings with man are unique. To add to this nature, he is perfect, without sin, and omniscient (knowing all); He can know the very approach that works best with each person. What a comfort for me as a minister who feels ill-equipped most of the time!

As I rely on the Perfect Omniscient God, he directs my approach as I minister to the various people in his world. Yes, our education and training is important; however, relying on God (vs. just our own human edification) means He dictates what part of our tutelage will best fit each person he puts in our path that needs him.

May we always remember “To God be the glory – to man be the servant!” Amen?

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

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Day Thirty-Four of 40 Days of Prayer for FRC


Father,

It was your will to crush your Son and cause him to suffer. It was your will to make his life an offering for man’s sin. It was in your sovereign plan to have your will prosper through the hands of Jesus. He poured his life out unto death and was numbered with the transgressors. He bore the sin of many. Jesus’ sacrifice became a visual prayer of intercession for each sinner past, present, and future. His intercession has saved us. There are no words that can express our gratitude to your amazing love for such despicable subjects as us. Our posture of humility is not humble enough, but in your great love you receive us because of the open door your son has provided. Thank you, Lord! We love you!

Now, we can approach your throne of grace with full confidence. You have made a way for us to intercede (not only for ourselves) but for others as well. Teach us to be a continued sacrifice for others; in visual form show our intercession of prayer; we ask that you to receive our prayers as a sweet aroma of Christ’s example.

River Club has many needs. First and foremost, we need you – more and more of you through the Spirit of God who bestows His power and favor through and over us. 2. We need a spiritually strong leading Pastor that will guide us in and through the power of Your Spirit. We want your man, Jesus, and no one else. Give the Spiritual Leadership team wisdom and Holy Spirit direction that chooses who you have chosen. May it be so clear who that man is.  3. Form a strong artistic and creative team from River Club that can design and create a visual replica of our mission to children in the Kids Quest ministry. Just as you called the Israelite nation to build your tabernacle, call those who are to be a part of this amazing renovation project that honors you. 4. Unify the staff, Spiritual Leadership Team, Stewardship Team, and Personnel Team around your Spirit. Unify all teams together with deep friendships and partnerships that reflect the fruit of your Spirit. Teach each team how to have grace in these relationships and help each to exhort one another in love. 5. During this Thanksgiving season, help us to never forget how far we have fallen from the glory of God, and what a wonderful gift of salvation you have given us through your Son! Keep us forever humble. 6. Make your love light up the community around us. Make us shine with the light of your Spirit.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Isaiah 53:10-12;  2 Corinthians 2:15; Hebrews 4:16; 10:19

 

The “I Wills” that Change the Trajectory of Human Life


“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’ ” (Exodus 6:6-8).

I will bring you out from the yoke of the Egyptians” is a symbol of Jesus rescuing us from the bondage of sin – sin that bounds us to eternal death and total separation from God. The leaven of the old life filled with malice and wickedness is now renewed with the unleavened life filled with sincerity and truth. We could never know the new without passing through the blood waters of Christ’s sacrifice. The “I will” would have been nothing but a distant “I wish.”

I will free you from being slaves to them” is a symbol of a war that has been won in our souls against the sinful nature Adam and Eve planted in our spirits from birth.  Freedom from sin gives us a fresh start in the sinless realm of liberty. There is hope that we can do what God desired in the beginning when He created heaven and earth. His goal was to make a place of beauty without evil; a place of close relationship between his children and himself. But unfortunately, sin did enter and changed the course of this dream, but because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can now experience in our life “his love enduring forever.”

I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.” An outstretched arm indicates that God is going to do something GREAT! We are now able to experience something great and wonderful from our Savior. Not only do we have salvation, which is certainly an amazing change in our life, but we have the ongoing power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. The power of God now can live and move inside a broken, sinful vessel like us. We are made complete because Jesus took upon himself the mighty act of judgment for all sin.

I will take you as my people and I will be your God” is the most profound blessing of all. We are his beloved and he is ours. We are able to come into the garden of purity and waltz with our Savior – a dance of peace and hope. We are able to fully obey our Lord, keeping in step with his covenant; we are his most treasured possession, a kingdom of priests and a holy people of our Great God and Savior.

“I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand” – a land flowing with grace and truth; a land filled with everlasting love; a land without evil, without temptation, without anything that would distract us from total submission and adoration of our Father in heaven. Doesn’t that sound heavenly? It should, because it will be. We will live in a place of perfect peace; a place where we no longer toil in suffering and contempt.

Our greatest possession is not gold and silver; it is the arms of our God and Savior. He embraces us with his mighty hand and loves us like a father loves his child and cares for us like a mother cares for her young. These wills represent His will for each of us. The will of God is so much greater than any will of the world. We are blessed. We are grateful. What a time for us to be thankful. We are recipients of God’s long awaited prophecy that changed the trajectory of life eternal for all people. We get to live the brighter side of Jesus’ life.

 

 

Day Thirty-Three of 40 Days of Prayer for FRC


Father,

Thank you for the people at River Club. Thank you for those that want to be a part of the core which means they want to be fully devoted followers of your Son, Jesus. Thank you for the commitments made this past Sunday evening. Thank you for the people coming forward to be a part of your ministry at River Club. We praise you, Lord. You are faithful. You are true to your every word. You do the impossible.

Put before us your definition of love. Help us to embrace this love as a part of our very being. Your “love is patient, it’s kind; it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Your love never fails.” Your love is comprehensive. Make it comprehensive in our hearts. In the areas we struggle with, increase our faith, for it takes great faith to live this kind of love. We are so human sometimes, and we often react in our human state. Forgive us, Lord for not relying on you. Help us choose the faithful way. 

Fill the hallways, the classrooms, the speakers from the pulpit, the worship center, the staff, the spiritual leaders, the various teams in our church with a biblical love. We pray that this love would fill our surroundings like an over soaked sponge, so that it will flow into all who walk through our doors and all who meet us in our communities. We pray each person who calls River Club their home would be moved by your Spirit to love in this way. Love is a gift; I pray we don’t squander it or revile it. Teach us to love like a friend who is willing to lie down their life for another.

In Jesus name,

Amen

  1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Psalm 119:86

 

The Wills of the I Am


Beth Moore gives insight to the ways of Satan as she describes that “Judas had a weakness for money, so that’s what Satan used.” Satan used the lust Judas had for treasures on earth to tempt him in the betrayal of Jesus, the Son of God. The root of Judas’ problem was his mind; he was more concerned with the things of man, not the things of God. He was a man who went through the motions, following Jesus with the others, claiming to be a disciple when all along, his heart was far, far away from Jesus, His Savior.

Like Judas, our lusts can become our demise. They ultimately trick us; they tempt us to think that they are the answer to our needs; sadly, they are the destruction to our deepest desires. What’s your lust? What’s your weakness? Is it money, adultery, food, inappropriate entertainment or may something else. These all scream lies of satisfaction to a loss in our life. Replacing our passion for Christ and his character with these lusts leads to our termination – a joyless life; a lonely heart; and a painful path – the gate to ruin.

It’s too bad that we don’t realize this before we fall into the temptations of our fleshly itches. I’m sure many of us in this fallen situation have had the afterthought, “If only I had looked ahead to the real destination, not the fabricated one that appealed to my immediate satisfaction, which is here today and burned in the fire tomorrow. Where would I be if I would have thought differently? And now, how can I regain control of my destiny?”

Judas didn’t think ahead. He thought of his “now.” The temptation Satan dangled in front of him did not pay off as promised. No, it ended his life. Suddenly, the prize of sin was not all that profitable. The sum of his treasures equaled horror, agony, and madness of mind. Matthew 27:1-5 recounts the ruin of Judas…

“Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’

‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’ (Isn’t that like Satan – your friend one day and then your devil the next.)

 So, Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.”  

What Judas didn’t give thought to was that destruction needed not be his end. I believe that if Judas had gone to Jesus and sought forgiveness, He would have forgiven him. He would have received Judas in his arms and said, “’Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’” (Luke 15:22-24). But Judas kept listening to his devil “friend.” He believed the lie that there would never be any more hope for him. His intense remorse removed the truth from his heart.

My friend, if you find yourself in a place of sin, and a place of near destruction, a place of deep remorse, don’t give into the ruin, press into the love of God. You will find healing. You will find forgiveness. You will find joy. You will recover your life. Your life will be forever better than you have ever known. Why do I believe in the wills? Because Jesus is the I AM; and the I AM always gives birth to the wills!

Jesus is calling…will you come

Winning an Argument


I have seen and been a part of many an argument. From my experience, the more vehement disputes have been among the Christian family – God’s people. What do we spat about? Truth – our truth vs. another’s truth. What are we really fighting over? Personal glory. Ouch…that hurt. That’s okay, because pain is good. It helps us target the source of our problem, so we can find healing.

I like what Warren Weirsbe says about himself as a teacher, “When I teach the Word of God, I can claim authority for the Bible but not for all of my interpretations of the Bible.”  We often defend our interpretations of scripture vs. what the Bible actually says. We squabble over how “we” see what the word says, instead of steadfastly standing on the accuracy of what the Word speaks. The contention between two people over the scriptures is often selfish, especially when it comes to defending it from their frame of reference.  Suddenly “being right” becomes the defense.

How do we know if we are defending our interpretation vs. God’s truth? It’s in our insistence on getting others to agree with us or not. Our aim in teaching and interpreting scripture is not to get others to agree (nor even follow) but to deliver the Word and let God’s Spirit do the convicting and transformation of the other.

Even Jesus, Himself was not concerned so much about making sure all agree with Him. Yes, He wanted salvation for all, but He also knew that many would reject Him. His aim was to do what the Father asked of Him, to follow in total obedience to His plan and then allow the free choice of man to make their decision. Sadly, many fell away from Him and few followed.

Jesus spoke very boldly, “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own.” His instruction for us is to DO the will of God not make sure others agree with or do it. Additionally He warns, “Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the One (Father in Heaven) who sent Him (Jesus) is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him” (John 7:17-18).  Jesus was speaking to the Jews in this passage, but He also speaks to us. The bigger question for all teachers and those interpreting scripture is “whose glory are we seeking?” If we seek the glory of the Father, we will teach His truth and leave the outcome to His timing and His way of conviction – not ours. If we seek our glory, we will defend it to the point of division – which does not honor God.

Timothy was to “preach the Word…” not “convict the heart.” In his preaching he was to do so in preparation. That preparation was for his own heart not in preparation to convict another’s heart. Let’s look at Paul’s instruction to Timothy, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For a time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:2-5).  Many a time this passage has refocused me on what I’m to be about; it has often silenced my insistence for others to listen to “my way” of seeing the scriptures. I am grateful for the gentle rebuke! And I am also thankful for the peace that follows.

With great patience and careful instruction we, too, are to preach the word. Yes, we are to correct, rebuke, but notice the little word “and.” In addition to correcting and rebuking, we are to encourage. Encouragement goes a long way in helping another’s heart to receive. I also like the phrase “keep your head in all situations.” It is a known fact that others will refuse to listen to sound doctrine. We can expect it. But our instruction in times like these is to “keep our heads in all situations” meaning we are to “keep an eye on what we are doing.” We need to keep our own hearts in check. And no one else can do that for me, like I can. Nor can I do for anyone else what they can do for themselves. In the end, we are all responsible for our response to the truth of God’s word.

We will have a lot less anger, strife and discord among ourselves, if we attend to our responsibility in the matter of teaching God’s truth. We are to obey the word, preach the word and let the Holy Spirit use the word to convict others. What freedom off our shoulders when it comes to others! However, what responsibility on our shoulders when it comes to ourselves!

 

 

Jesus Knocks, Will One Let Him In?


Knock, knock, Jesus taps loudly on the door. He is standing there hoping the ones He loves will answer. He stands and stands, knocking with great eagerness to enter and dine with the disciples He calls friends. Yet, no answer comes.

He knows they are inside. He sees through the window how busy they are. Scurrying here and there, speaking His name, “Praise Jesus!” He hears His name spoken with great emphasis; however, His name is unfortunately praised with another – man’s. He listens carefully at the door and hears all the great accomplishments his friends are doing and planning to do; He hears them discuss the great strides they plan to make. But if they would just let Him in, He knows that He could show them so much more.

As Jesus looks, He watches intently the faces of those whom He loves; He hears many things that seem good, but the faces of each one looks tired, angry, and empty. He knocks with great passion…still no answer…so He waits because He loves.

As Jesus waits, He ponders with determination that the only way for His disciples to allow Him into their home, their life, their work is through discipline. He says with great earnest as He continues to knock, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:19-20).

Jesus brings toil, tragedy, change and strife to this little home of believers. The upset is tumultuous and very uncomfortable. Some fall to their knees in defeat for they have known in the past the hand of discipline that comes from the Lord. Others stand to the side and deliberate how man can fix this. And others just leave the home to find another to live. Then there is that lonely one who hears Jesus knocking and opens the door and lets Him in. With this one, Jesus comes in and dines; this one lone person ate with the Savior.

A change began to happen in the home. Some joined the meal with Jesus and the one; afresh each saw Jesus for the first time in a long time. Others stood by skeptical and feeling threatened and they said, “Who is this person who interrupts our plans?” As their skepticism grew, their hearts became hardened to the truth they over heard by Jesus around the table. However, the ones dining with him listened with open hearts and ears and eyes. Suddenly, Jesus noticed their eyes were no longer darkened by fatigue, dander and futility. They were full of wonder, hope and faith. Laughter filled the table, joy encompassed the heart, and power seem to propel the gathering. Quickly, the one who opened the door for Jesus stood with head bowed low and said with humility of heart, “We have sinned and we repent; forgive us, Lord; from this day forward with great earnest we declare that we will, ‘rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. We will meditate on your precepts and pay attention to your ways. We will delight in your decrees; we will not ignore your word’” (Psalm 119:14-15).

After dinner, they settled in the library for dessert and tea. Jesus spoke with a loving tone to each, “My sons and daughters, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as His child” (Hebrews 12:5b-6). At that moment, each person felt the power of the Spirit of God move in and among them. They knew at that time Jesus was not just an outsider looking in on his friends working and striving, He was now the leader moving in and around them to do the immeasurably more than anyone could imagine.

However, in His great love, Jesus could not get off His mind the others. Resentful, they reclined in the dining room eating their own meal and feeling frustrated and filled with fret. Their planning interrupted and man’s accomplishments shortened, their hearts became cold; the chatter around the table was loud, filled with gossip and angry words flying across the table. The fury was thick and the noise so brass that they did not hear nor notice Jesus standing outside the dining hall, looking in, knocking with great eagerness to enter and dine with the disciples He calls friends. Yet, no answer came.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” – Jesus