Friday, September 30, 2016

Pastor Appreciation

“And God gave… pastors…” Eph 4.11

I was thinking about the job description for pastoral ministry and how much it has changed over the years. Some of the changes have come about because of changes in technology. Some of the changes have come about because of the societal drift away from the standard of the Living God. Some of the changes come with the growth of the ministry. And somethings never change in ministry.

The most recent statistic I have hear about ministers leaving their churches shows about 1500 each month. Ministry is often not very lucrative and it can be frustrating. But it is a tremendous privilege (and challenge) to give direction to a body of believers. As we head into October and toward pastor appreciation Sunday (Oct 23rd at CLC) I asked the staff pastors to explain to me their big ticket items on their to do lists each week. You will find below what they told me and maybe it will help you pray for them.

Prepare sermons
Oversee small groups
Lead worship and worship practices
Lead the team spiritually
Website -
Create and develop
Develop promotional material
Make and prepare Podcasts
Manage the Stage/Platform
Media computers, sound system, projection software
Praying at altar over congregational members
Connection/ follow up with individuals
Counseling and mentoring
Disciple young and new believers
General administration
Plan events
Develop leadership
Plan outreach event
Plan fundraisers
Prayer over team

Schedule leaders for ministries
Manage operations of nurseries, preK and elementary rooms
Prepare children’s message and series
Prepare outreach events for neighborhood
Reach out to hurting parents, missing parents
Model worship and lead worship for kids
Do fundraisers for kids
Christmas outreach
Summer camp
Summer outreach
Sport camp
Planning events (ie picnic)
Social media
Maintain children’s area
Family/parenting Seminars- setting up
Pray for Kids in transitions, and hurting kids

Computer repairs
Social media updates
Representing the church before the city
Connecting with local schools
Planning outreaches and fundraisers
Sermon prep
Telephone counseling
Prayer for the congregation members
Hospital visitation
Social engagement with other ministries
Maintenance (everything from digging holes to changing toilets to rewiring light fixtures)
Fill in for musicians on vacation
Meet with staff to administrate weekly
Meet with the council to report on the general fiscal and spiritual health of the church
Encourage the broken hearted
Snow removal, mowing grass
Work days-
Prayer meetings-
Leadership development
Meet with denominational officials
Accountability partners
Meet with missionaries
Plan marriage retreats and seminars
Develop security plans and safety plans for church

Teach young people about Jesus
Plan game nights, sleep overs, activities
Lead worship
Counsel hurting teens
Telephone counseling of former teens late at night
Develop leadership team for youth events
Computer and media development
Purchase of computer equip for church

I hope that you will lift up your pastors as they seek to live for Jesus and serve him. We need your prayers!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Primal Instinct

“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭8:34-36‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Cancer. I had suspected that this word was going to come out of the specialists mouth. Still it hit emotionally. Leaving the doctor and walking down the street I was in a mental fog. Thoughts of loved ones filling my head, "how to tell them?", then the wave of sad and morose thoughts, and finally the prayers, "God give my wife and I the strength..."

The next wave of emotion came and stuck pretty strong with me. It was the will to fight. The desire to live. It is so instinctive, so basic and primal, so fundamental that it surprised me. It didn't have to be ginned up, or wound up. It was just a Primal Instinct.

As I was reading the Word this morning, it came to me that what Jesus demands of his followers is a denial of this most primal instinct. We must live our lives in such a way that denies the instinct of life and surrenders the heart to the will of God. Choosing to lose my life for Christ and living a yielded life is not morose or depressing. It actually can be freeing. Suddenly, I can come to see what really matters in the long run. It gives a sense of divine perspective. Jesus taught his disciples to live out the invitation to the gospel. That whatever battles they might fight inside themselves, this battle to preach to all an invitation to the kingdom of God was the greatest battle. It might require abandoning the amassing of wealth, the investment of self in every other seemingly good thing. It really demands we live out that "Seek first the kingdom of God..." Verse. It is an abandonment to the gospel.

Today I am fighting a battle for survival. It isn't easy. Battles are messy, sweaty, smelly things. But it still remains that my highest call is to deny my instinct for survival, and preach the Word when I can.

Driving Forward

“...I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:26-27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There it is again! The need for self discipline is exposed in the self revelatory fashion of the Apostle. Self Discipline is the most despised of Spiritual Fruit (Gal 5.23). It might be possible to blame our lack of love or joy upon some lack in the Spirit's motivation in our life but it is not logical to blame him for our lack of self control. It simply defies logic. Here is a challenge to the very soul of the man or woman of God. It is a challenge to rise up from the pathetic state of being a helpless sinner to being an empowered saint. But , alas, we are more content in assuming the state of helplessness. We are comfortable in being one who is out of control and in need of divine rescue. Certainly, each of us has confessed our 'helpless estate" before the Lord, at some time or another. But something happens in redemption that empowers the sinner into spirit empowered saint. We find ourselves with the reigns to our lives, able to yield or surrender to which ever power we have determined best. That we choose sin so often probably means that we need a good mental cleansing. Rom 12.1-2 reminds us that understanding the good, pleasing and perfect will of God comes at the cost of "a renewed mind". Such a mind refuses to identify with what it once was, or what the surrounding culture tells us that it must be, and stands n its own as one both redeemed by God's infinite grace and surrendered to God's perfect plan.

The word for self control used both here in 1 Cor 9 and in the fifth chapter of Galatians is the word egkrateia which means, according to Wuest, "Possessing power, strong, having mastery of possession of, continent, self controlled'. It refers to the mastery over one's own desires while engaged in the stadium athletic games. Here there is a picture of competence and strength. Paul writes describing this Christian Life as both focused (I do not flail at the air) and determined to bring his body under the mastery of God's purpose for his life. To those outside the faith, the willingness to endure difficulty for the cause of Christ, the determination to press through hardship and suffering to bring God glory, even the living of a spiritually determined and life surrendered to the principles of the Kingdom of God is a strange pressing forward. "Why can't you relax, enjoy, and rest a while?" some will say. But the surrendered heart, knows there are broken hearts to mend, souls to win, and the comfort of heaven that is ours to mete out to the confused.

Paul gives us his reason for his diligence in gaining such mastery over himself. He fears disqualification. Some theologies have difficulty with Paul's words here. Immediately they assure us that there is nothing we can do to "earn" our salvation. But Paul is quick to remind us that we can neglect a salvation, even one this great, by taking it for granted. Paul's warning is to the self satisfied, lazy and undetermined. His warning is to anyone who thinks he stands- take heed lest he fall. Fall into a faith that is undisciplined and completely subject to the desires of the flesh.

There is a term I have heard in the past from those who live this lifestyle. It is not a term of comfort and complacency; it is not a term of rest and renewal; and it is not a passive term. It is the term "Driving Forward". Like the Pauline term, it is a sports term. It demands of us that we dig in our feet and push forward toward the Kingdom Objective that Christ has laid before us. It demands that we not stand complacent and comfortable in the Kingdom half-come, promises partially answered, and prayers unanswered. We must discipline ourselves, bring our bodies under the Spirits control, and push forward to make a difference. Drive Forward.