Here is the link for today’s service. Today I started a new series and talked about what the Bible says about “anger”. Give it a listen!
Click on the link for today’s Sunday school lesson. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to my channel too.
If God knows the future, why pray? In this episode I explore the concept of prayer and talk about other thought puzzles involving God.
With one deliberate breath,
humanity gained access to life
The Creator looked down and decided to use the wind within Him
every person…every color…every thought process
He gave life TO us
Life was not stolen from His grasp, or accidently bestowed
He had a plan, and affection compelled Him
Just as we say about things that we do “the devil made me do it”
Which usually is an excuse for destruction and decay
He had a factor that also pulled Him to action
We don’t really understand it.
We put people through social interviews before we give it
We have very specific criteria for those rare individuals that may…somehow earn our version of it
But He did not
He just gave it to us…recklessly…without qualification.
Ok then…maybe it was a mistake.
Maybe it was a one-time thing?
Because, right when He was at the point of the highest earthly popularity
He, once again, made the same choice.
He gave His life FOR us.
Ok then…maybe it was a mistake.
Maybe He just gave up, and surrendered to the powers that be.
Because, every time He could have ran away, or made an excuse.
He gave up himself willingly
So, He died.
He’s gone, right?
No…not at all.
In fact to complete the loop of His blessing, He breathed His life back into us
He wants to live THROUGH us.
Let’s continue the cycle.
I wanted to introduce you to a new Bible Study curriculum that is being developed. It is called “The Genesis Lens”. I am proud to be a part of this project!
The Genesis Lens has four goals: produce passion for scripture, develop study tools, understand the unity of scripture, and build community. Once the initial study is complete, study materials will be available for teachers to conduct a Genesis Lens study locally.
Everything is still in “construction phase”…but I invite you to take a look at the website! Listen to the podcast as well!
This week, I have been preaching at a local church for a set of revival services called “Renew 2020”. The link below will allow you to hear each message. Click and listen!
We say we want peace
Peace on earth and good will
For the final defeat of darkness
And the end of evil
We gather around in circles
Holding hands in unity
Saying we believe in hope
And all the great things that should be
We desperately want change
and want the bad to be still
But we get incredibly upset
When people go against our will
We love telling the world
What things need to occur
It is easy to dictate what’s right
Even if we are not sure
We often shake our fists
When things don’t go right
We stomp our feet
And look for a fight
We huff and puff
And attempt to destroy
But then look in the mirror
And realize we have lost our joy
You see…if we were to be honest
And finally give up the lie
We would realize we could have chosen right
Every single time
When we pray for peace
And good to rule
Let’s not kid ourselves
Or act like a fool
We are the ones who
choose right and wrong
We make the decision
To even bring others along
So don’t pray for peace
If you are not willing to submit
Look at your own actions
And make sure your light is lit.
When I was a child, I rarely knew why people would laugh when I attempted to teach them a very valuable lesson. I learned this saying from my grandma, and she would say it when I was antsy about a fun trip we were waiting to go on or perhaps anticipating the opening of Christmas presence. As a child, no matter what amount of time you wait for something you are excited about, it seems to be too long. Every time the second hand clicks to the next notch, mental and emotional torture increases. I never fully understood the phrase my grandma told me when I would get into these phases of temporary anxiety. This was the main reason I did not comprehend the purpose of the laughter. The times I would share my deep wisdom on the subject of waiting, I was being serious and wanted people to learn the valuable lesson. In situations when people seemed to want to rush, I would simply say “Patience is a Bird-shoe”. I honestly thought people were giggling, because they recognized that such deep wisdom was coming from a small child, who was obviously intelligent beyond his years.
One day, I was doing an assignment in my dorm room in college, and I decided to take a mental break. I stared off into space and I began to think about random memories of my childhood. As I gazed into the vast cosmos, the memory of people enjoying a good laugh at my expense came to mind. As I thought about the context of the situation, I immediately realized I was saying the phrase incorrectly my entire childhood. No one ever corrected me because they thought it was so cute.
Certainly as adults we know the correct phrase; ”Patience is a virtue”. The word “virtue” describes behavior showing high moral standards (according to dictionary.com). If a child would say the timeless truth the way I did, we would all have a good laugh and now I understand that. We would immediately know that the child did not know the meaning of virtue or even patience. I propose, however that many adults don’t understand these concepts either.
As fully grown humans created in the image of God, we often look at the concept of patience as an obstacle. It is a necessary evil that we would rather avoid. In our hearts and minds, a delay of any sort of news is one that can cause us to completely rethink our direction and purpose. For some of us who struggle with waiting on a spiritual scale, it is even tempting to think that the need for patience is the same as God “closing a door”. To be honest, it can seem like torture. This is often because our culture praises instant gratification. This is really no different than any generation in history. The Israelites were well known for their lack of patience as well. God’s timing and His power go hand-in-hand.
In scripture, James tells us that “perseverance must finish its work so that [we} may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”. In this context, he is describing perseverance as a sentient actor in our grand drama that is interacting with us. If perseverance were a person then he/ she has a specific calling and purpose and that is to positively disrupt and grow our lives. Waiting can be a mechanism that God uses to transform us into the people God wants us to be so that we can properly steward His blessing when we receive it. Think about that.
So, make fun of my childhood understanding all you want, but if we were to be honest, connecting patience and virtue can often be foreign to us as well.
Trust God as you wait. You will be okay. I promise.
Love you all.
As I have become more experienced in pastoral ministry, I have developed theories pertaining to many different areas of the vocation. I have ideas about what motivates volunteers, how people best learn about God, what type of leaders are most compelling and many other things that relate. Like any other career or calling, there are still subjects that perplex me. These are things that I am not sure I can fully explain. I have found myself simply having to embrace my lack of understanding and trusting God for guidance.
We have all seen the news in recent months regarding pastors who have succumb to their depression. After these types of instances, rhetoric flies and everyone seems to have an opinion about the spiritual state of the individual, their eternal destiny, and what could have possibly prevented the horrible outcomes. By “horrible outcomes”, I am referring to everything from common (perhaps wrong word to use here) moral failure to taking their own life. Today, I am not writing this to even remotely attempt to dive into the subject listed above from a clinical perspective, but to simply propose some ideas as to why a pastor would begin to develop (circumstantially) a bitter or deeply discouraged attitude.
Disclaimer: I completely understand that all professions have difficult circumstances and stresses…but I can’t speak to those instances. This blog, also, will not pertain to every single pastor…and that’s okay. I can’t speak for everyone. I am not speaking about the chemical imbalance (chronic illness) of depression, but that which is caused by a constant emotional erosion.
Below are 5 Possible Reasons Why Pastors Are Depressed.
Lack of Friendships
No matter how friendly a congregation is, there seems to always be this “elephant in the room” concerning deep meaningful relationships. Many congregants have the idea in the back of their minds that pastors are temporary hired workers who do not need friendships to survive. They may not want to pursue relationships because of the belief that they are not going to be a part of the worship community long term. Pastors need friends…and, to be honest, pastor’s spouses are even more deeply affected in this way.
“We Need To Talk”
Pastors dread this email or text. When a church leader receives this, we already know what is coming. His means that the person who wants to set up a meeting is upset about the way things are going, or they are planning to leave the church. We completely understand that there are things to be changed, or that people are called to other churches, and that is largely okay, but there are not many times when a pastor is called to a meeting to simply exchange encouragement and support. It is normally all about business. Granted, sometimes it is necessary.
“Just Trust God For Your Provision”
I completely agree with this statement, and I think every Christian should maintain this belief. This phrase often emerges when a pastor’s compensation becomes a topic of conversation. The implication is, a pastor should not concern themselves with financial well-being because they have a higher calling that requires them to be willing to be sustained on faith day by day (which is true). For some reason, though, this seems to be an unwelcome conversation when the pastor is not the topic of discussion. For instance, if I were to say this phrase to someone with a Masters in Information Technology or a school teacher between jobs, I would be met with severe push back, and accused on insensitivity. Should pastors be “in it” for the money? Absolutely not. All I am saying is…don’t say this phrase to your pastor if you are not living it. Side note…pastors are often the poorest people in the congregations, and simultaneously the largest givers. I’m not trying to sound arrogant. I am just being an advocate. And by the way…why is money such a sensitive subject for people? I digress…
The “Performance” Mentality
Pastors are not sales people. When they are called to ministry, there is no guarantee for a “return on investment”in a worldly sense. When God calls, the pastors obeys (at least I would hope so) and there is plenty of Biblical evidence showing that God often calls people into areas of service which may never yield an exciting result. Many churches use sales metrics to rate and measure the pastor’s performance, and sometimes they are even let go if they are not producing. Behind the scenes, this is a great burden for a minister who is simply called to care for, and challenge a flock they have been called to. Besides…the pastor should be training people to invite, evangelize, and to be a part of the mobilized force to help disciple. You can lead a horse to water, but… (you fill in the rest).
Pastors Are Not Allowed to Complain
I know this seems like an odd point, but hear me out. In every other area of life or profession, there is healthy room for venting or decompression. Often times, when a minister or church leader is struggling and needs to express what is on their heart for the purpose of catharsis, they are met with immense push back because God called them so they “shouldn’t be complaining and be so ungrateful”. The fact is I am fully aware I am going to get a lot of flak for this post, but I feel like these things needed to be said for this very purpose. Pastors are afraid to say these things because of this exact brand of backlash. We also don’t want to harbor a victim mentality. Overall, this concept is very much connected to the friendship idea due to the fact that there are few people to be able to unload these concerns on.
I am not a mental health professional, so there is only so much I can say about root causes pertaining to deep discouragement in this way. I happen to be blessed with an uplifting and supportive community but these are things that I have heard from pastor friends and those I have coached that do not share my blessed privileges.
Pray for your pastor. They love you very much.
I love you too.
At my church, I am doing a teaching series on Wednesday evenings called “Building Blocks”. The purpose of this series is to aquaint people with the structure, literary styles, and some major themes of scripture. It has been a fun experience.
Click below to go to the YouTube playlist for these videos.