Monthly Archives: May 2017

A Call to Ministry is a Big Deal

A Call to Ministry is a Big Deal

“So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?  And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.”  1 Kings 19:19-21

Have you ever been to an ordination council?  Have you observed the questions that season pastors and preachers asked the candidate for ordination in the “interrogation?”  It is fascinating and I love being on the ordination councils for these men.  It is a good challenge to read the doctrinal statements and attempt to encourage and add insight to the candidate that will help him in future ministry.  What an honor it is to recognize the calling of God on a man for the ministry.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah runs away to a cave from the hateful Queen Jezebel.  After the Lord meets with Elijah, God encourages him that he is not alone that there are many others who are faithful to serve the Lord.  God then gives Elijah an “assistant prophet” named Elisha.

Elisha comes from a wealthy family with many oxen.  He is a hard worker, plowing in the family fields when Elijah meets him the first time.  From there – Elisha follows and helps Elijah everywhere, “ministering” to him.  I am thankful for the assistants the Lord has given me over the years.  I need help in ministry!

When Elisha is called by God to assist Elijah, he asks if he could go home and explain it to his family.  There are many men in ministry today whose families do not understand.  “How could he leave the business world, his hometown, or the family farm?” are common questions.  Elisha kisses his mother and father goodbye but then he throws a celebration.

Elisha takes 2 oxen, butchers them, then has a gigantic cookout.  I love barbecuing on a grill or over an open flame!  That is what he does.  He cooks the beef and throws a celebration to mark the day he answered the call and entered into ministry.

Whenever a man enters ministry – it is a thing to be commended and celebrated.  I hope that when ordination events are held at your church that you do everything possible to be there and to participate because it is a big deal.

  • It is a big deal to God because a man has willingly answered the call to vocational ministry.
  • It is a big deal to family because a son and a husband is entering into the ministry.
  • It is a big deal for the church because they are ordaining and commissioning a man to the gospel ministry.

It is hard to imagine, but Elisha went on to do even greater things than Elijah. (2 Kings 2:9). It all began when a man answered a call to ministry.  It was recognized by all around him and a feast to mark the special occasion was celebrated by all.

We may have cake and a chicken dinner today.  Whatever is used to mark the occasion – know that it is an occasion worthy of respect, honor, and recognition.

 

 

 

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Talking But Not Communicating

Talking But Not Communicating

“A Maine potato farmer and a Texas rancher were engaged in conversation at a political rally. The man from the Lone Star State asked, “How much land do you tend?”

“About a hundred acres.”

“I farm about six thousand myself.”

The man from Maine was not overly impressed, so the Texan continued, “There’s a much bigger ranch down near San Antone. To give you an idea of its size, the owner can start off in the morning in his car, and he ain’t barely crossed his place by noon.” “I had a car like that myself once” the man from Maine said.” (-1000)

While this is very funny, sometimes we interact with others in much the same way.  We talk, the other person says something, we speak again.  Who is listening?  How is it that words are said and others (and ourselves) do not hear?

Most of us struggle to some degree with the skill of listening.  Some are better at listening than others but all of us should grow in this area.

Hearing is more than our ears tingling with soundwaves.  Hearing is more than “I need a hearing aid” or “I need to clean the wax out of my ears.”  Hearing is when words and sounds are heard in the ear.  Listening is the processing, and understanding of what is being said.

Some people are so preoccupied in mind they do not “hear.”  Others are so distracted or defensive that they are not listening to what they are hearing or what is being said.

Here are several ideas to help become a better communicator.

  • Stop Everything. Ecclesiastes 5:1 teaches: “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.”

Please notice how Solomon in His wisdom encouraged “hearing” by stopping other movements.  Turning off the TV and radio, removing the cellphone from your face, and looking the person in the eye is a great way to focus.  In conversation – focus!

  • Value Words. In Matthew 13:17 Jesus says, “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

Because the disciples had faith in Jesus, they could “hear” and “understand” His words.  Many people in the years before Jesus had hoped to “Hear” and “Listen” to the Messiah, but were not able to. They died before He was born in the Flesh.

Jesus is instructing his disciples to cherish the words they are hearing.  Our relationships would take on new meaning if we valued the words of those who are talking to us.

  • Slow Down. James 1:19-20 directs us: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

Being quick to speak and fast to become angry does not help in communication.  In fact, these are big hindrances to healthy communication.  Be fast to say nothing, quick to listen and understand, and slow to react to what is being said to you.  Each of us have witnessed times when a person speaks “off topic” answers in a wrong way, or even says things that are untrue and things they regret later because they did not slow down to understand first.

Determine today that with the grace of God you will be a better communicator to be able to listen, talk and have real communication take place.

 

 

 

 

A Godly Mothers Care

A Godly Mothers Care

Thank the Lord for every mother who has fulfilled her God-ordained role to nurture, cherish, and guide her children.  Mothers have the greatest influence on the next generation and an underestimated impact on society as a whole.  One person accurately said: “The hand who rocks the cradle rules the world.”  Mothers have such an important part in the direction and development of the world because of their commitment and sacrifices they make for their children.

Perhaps an unusual reference to cite for Mother’s Day, but please note Proverbs 29:15, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”

Why would a child be left to himself?  Perhaps “babysat” by Disney or a TV program?  Perhaps dropped off on the lap of other people for convenience reasons?  Perhaps not much discipline due to lack of involvement?  Two people can be in the same house or even the same room and not have interaction. It is a tragedy. This can potentially cause shame later in the life of a mother.

Reading this verse teaches me that time and attention are two motherly needs every small child has.  Every mother would do well to include her child in her life.

“From the ages of 1-4 a child will learn more than they will learn for the rest of their life.”  That is an amazing statement that I heard at an educator’s conference years ago.  Children under 4 learn several key factors for life including: coping skills, how to react or respond, obedience, consequences, discipline, value, purpose, peace, contentment, care, tone of voice, attitude, friendliness, appropriateness, emotional control, and how to share, care, and demonstrate true love.  Much more could be listed.  The point is – the disposition, deportment, and direction of a life is mostly aligned in the youngest years of the human life.

What mom does with those years are of utmost importance.

Here are several ways Godly mothers impact the most formidable years of a young life, from the perspective of talking to a person, once a child and now a grown adult.

Notice Mom’s Care:

  • Mom carried you in her body to delivery.
  • As an infant she nursed you, feeding you many times in the day and night.
  • Mom changed your diaper, changed your diaper, and changed it again.  Every day and night.
  • Mom cared for you, running you to the doctor, checking your temperature, and making sure that you had the finest food she could get.
  • At age 2 your crawling became a stand (against chairs and tables) and then the first few steps came.
  • Mom cheered you on as you began to run around the house.  Then came climbing.  Anything that could be touched became a joyful obstacle course for climbing.

It is funny that after cheering our toddlers on to stand, walk, and run, that as they get older, we say: “sit down!” or “stop running!”

  • She sang songs about Jesus and lullabies that encouraged sleep as she cuddled up with you.
  • She read books and Bible stories to you, praying all the time for you to love Jesus.
  • From ages 1- 4 she did everything with you like walking the mall, and shopping for clothes (because much of her clothes were not fitting right after you came along.)
  • When mom was sick, she took you with her to her doctor visits.
  • She showed you how to shop for food at the grocery store, rolling you up and down each aisle as people commented on how “cute” you were.
  • She told you about her “secret” plans to surprise daddy with a birthday gift or a party.
  • She included you in every car ride, carefully buckling you in and making sure you were safe and comfortable.
  • Mom took you to the park to run and play.
  • She bundled you up in the winter, and made sure you stayed cool in the hot summer.
  • She transported you to church where she learned about God, sang to the Lord, and grew in her Christian life and motherly calling.  You enjoyed the nursery and learned how to trust God’s people by your mom’s example.
  • As she cleaned, you learned about vacuuming, dusting,  and how “Everything has it’s place.”  She even let you let you fold the wash rags while she folded laundry to make you feel important.
  • When mom cooked, you were right there watching and learning about food preparation.  She even let you help “stir stuff up!”
  • From ages 1 to 4, mom was with you almost every moment of every day.  Or better said – you were with mom.

Before Kindergarten you were with mom nearly 24/7.  And it was good.  She had her moments of being tired and discouraged.  She joyfully gave up sleep, money, entertainment, and made other sacrifices to invest everything she could in seeing you grow, develop, and become a person who could find and fulfill the will of God in life.  She included you in every part of her life.  No mother who has invested that much time and effort into a child has regretted it.  While there were moments of struggle, she would do it again.  The time and attention shared was worth it.

The developmental years of ages 1-4 are the most critical to our emotional, relational, and spiritual development.

  • At age 4 or 5 she sent you off to Kindergarten. It was more hard for her, but your thirst to learn academics needed to be met.  You were ready for Kindergarten.  Mom had been reading to you, training you by living life with you, and all those hours and days with mom paid off as you already knew how to interact with people, respect authority, and carry yourself with a good disposition.
  • Each year mom was there.  She helped you adjust to relationship issues, grow up emotionally, physical, relationally, and spiritually. The pains of childhood were lessened because of mom.

By the Way:  If your mother passed into eternity before you reached adulthood, thank the Lord for the time that you did have with her.  Be encouraged in the motherly figures that God placed in your life to influence you.  God had a plan, even if you do not yet understand.  This thought should motivate us to cherish each moment we have with our loved ones today.

We could list so much more, from teenage to college years and beyond.  You can take the idea and run with it for yourself.  The point is – a Godly mother shows consistent care for her children.  She invests time and attention. Especially in the most innocent and precious years of life.   A Godly mother’s care really is – her time and her attention.

So, Mom – thank you for not leaving me alone.  The time spent, the sacrifices made, and the loving care means the world to me.  A Godly mother does not leave her child on his own.  She takes care of those early years so the child will have a lifetime of success in loving Jesus.

 

 

 

 

Understanding God

Understanding God

There are some things that happen in life that we will never understand.  There are some events that God orchestrates or allows in our lives that are beyond our human comprehension and understanding.  That’s OK.  If we could understand everything about God then He would be minimized and we as humans would be elevated like God.  That would be the religion of humanism. We all fall far short of the Lord.

We have legitimate questions:

  • Why did the loved one develop cancer?
  • Why is it that you have a debilitating sickness?
  • What will you do now that a family member has died?
  • Where will I find another job?
  • Who do I turn to when relationships are strained?
  • What happened to my kid?
  • Why are there so many problems in the world?
  • Another car wreck? Really?

Job was accused and assaulted by Satan himself.  If you read Job chapters 1-2 you will find that if there was a way to suffer in life and still not die – Job suffered it.

  • Job’s oxen company was stolen by a neighboring tribe of people.
  • Job’s wool business with 7000 sheep was shut down when lightening (fire from heaven) struck, killing them instantaneously.
  • Job’s transportation enterprise with 3000 camels was closed when the camels were “carried away” by thieves.
  • Job’s 7 sons and 3 daughters were celebrating a party in one of the sons houses when a storm came knocking down the walls and killing Job’s entire family.
  • On top of the family businesses and the family dying, Job comes down with a devastating illness. His body is covered with boils from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head.  The boils ooze and he scrapes them with sharp shards of pottery while applying fire ashes to his wounds. He aches with burning pain from the inside out.  He cannot sleep at night.  He loses weight and his cloths wrap up around his body.  His condition is so bad that when friends come to see him – they cannot recognize him.
  • This pain is suffered for about 12 months. An. Entire. Year.

The young friend, Elihu, suggests in his last speech to Job that man cannot “comprehend” God.  He says in Job 37:5 “God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.”

Very true.  All the bad things that we see, feel, and endure in life are much bigger than us. We need the Lord – even when we do not understand.  Romans 8:28 assures: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

If we cannot understand the Lord in the “bad times” what about the “good times?”

David writes in Psalm 40:5 and declares: “Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.”  

David was also no stranger to tragedy.  In this Psalm, we see him trying to count the blessings God placed on his life.  We cannot count all the blessings, but we should try.  David could not stop talking about the “wonderful works” of God.

We will still not be able to fully comprehend “why” or “how” it is that God would choose to bless us.  We do not deserve grace, goodness, or the love of God.  Go figure that.  We cannot explain the Lord!!!  Just be thankful for Who God is and what He has done in both “good” times and “bad” times.

Counting the blessings helps us in several ways.

  • Counting blessings removes our eyes from being fixated on our problems and to refocus our gaze upon the Lord.
  • Counting blessings reaffirms in our mind God’s love for us.
  • Counting blessings realigns our perspective to be thankful.
  • Counting blessings helps us realize how great, big, incredible, wonderful, amazing, loving, giving, and awesome our God is.

We will not fully comprehend all that God says, does, or allows in life.  That’s ok.  Let God be God in your life.  His way is perfect – even when we do not understand.

 

 

 

 

 

How I Prepare for Attending Church

How I Prepare for Attending Sunday Church

“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” Acts 20:7

It became an every week event.  God’s people would gather in a designated area to hear preaching, pray together, sing to the Lord, and to enjoy encouraging fellowship.  It was every Sunday.

Depending on the church, there would be a pastor such as James preaching. Sometimes it was Paul as he traveled through.  Others rose up as pastors, missionaries and evangelists to declare God’s Word to those who gathered as the “Church.”

Church attendance is something that should be on each Christians weekly agenda.  For Sunday worship to be truly a “day given to the Lord” then a plan of action would help.  Sunday church should be greatly anticipated in our households with pleurae and expectations for God to work in our lives.

The following are methods that I use to prepare and get ready for attending Sunday church services.  They are not “rocket science” but proper preparation does require personal and family discipline.

Here goes:

  1. I do not start major home improvement projects Saturday if they have no definitive stopping point. If in planning it looks like a project will take a lot more time than I hoped or if it would leave the house in conditions that would distract or even prevent the family from being able to easily go to church I will save that part of the project for another day.  If it can be started and finished, or even “paused” by around 2:00 PM then it is a project I may try to tackle.  Projects may take more time, but our children will be less likely to misunderstand our priorities.
  2. I leave a “margin” for time and distance when traveling so that we would arrive home in time on Saturday to set everything back in its place so that Sunday morning preparation is a breeze. Late Saturday night arrives home from long or short trips are avoided.
  3. I check the “weather” ahead of time. Forecasts are educated guesses, but I like an idea as to how I will need to dress.  Hot or cold, rainy or snowy?  It makes a difference in how you prepare for a day.  Check Saturday night if you can.   This helps with planning what to wear.  Selecting the cloths you plan to wear the night before can also be a help. Some people will set them “out” to be easy to find.
  4. I go to sleep early on Saturday night. 9:00 PM is a good time for me.  Perhaps because I am the one preaching.  A low energy guy like me needs good rest to preach.  You and I have both noticed Sunday School teachers that could use more energy Sunday morning.  Even those not preaching or teaching would do well to be well rested so they can be more engaged with the events of the church services. Our children go to sleep earlier than I do.
  5. I like to eat a breakfast with protein, get some “prayer” walking (about a mile) in, and read a chapter or two out of the Bible in addition to a few moments of prayer. Message preparation is at a different time for me.  These are things I do if I am preaching or not preaching in the church services.
  6. I know where my Bible is. Have your Bible ready to go. Your Bible and the Bibles of each family member should have a regular place it is set when not in use.  For me it is on the corner of a kitchen counter top.  Every time.
  7. I leave the TV off. Some of our senior saints enjoy some of the Bible teachers on TV, and that can be good.  I would encourage you to avoid watching cartoons, turning on a movie, or being absorbed by the “news.”  I glance at the major headlines online to ensure I know of any major attacks, events, or trouble that people may ask me about – but Sunday morning is not the time to study the problems of the world on the TV.  There are many online radio stations that offer encouraging, conservative, and worshipful music that may help.  Please see the page of this site about “Christian Radio.”
  8. I do not play video games on Sunday morning. Many teenagers today are “glued” to their phones playing video games.  I encourage each parent to take the phones away or have them turned off.  Some teens play during the ride to church, all during Sunday School, and even the church service.  Sometimes when greeting teens in the pre-service, it is difficult to get their attention to say “hi” because they are so focused on their game.  That is not a good way to be “prepared for meeting with God.”  Parents and adults are just as prone to “zone out” on Facebook.  A distracted heart is not as inclined to “hear” God’s message or as engaged in the church service.
  9. I avoid the rush. That rushed feeling can be avoided if you leave the house at a reasonable time.  If it takes you 20 minutes to drive to church, then leave 30 minutes before.  Even if you live close to the church like I do, add time or “margin” so that you are not rushed.  Kids who are “rushed” to Sunday School and church and still show up late do not receive as much from the lessons because their hearts are racing, they have probably been yelled at by a parent to “move faster” and their mind is not as engaged as it would be if they got there early.  “On time” is really 15 minutes before the service or class begins.  Try that for a while and see how it calms your spirit.
  10. I enjoy a nap Sunday afternoon following our family meal. Sometimes we go out to eat.  We avoid major projects, yard work, and big outdoor activities that could cause a person to not be ready for the Sunday Evening Church services.  We have found it best not to get on a boat or take a hike Sunday afternoon.  Choirs, fellowships and the church services come fast.  Being involved is terrific but it does take effort.

There are so many distractions from giving a day of worship to the Lord.  With a little discipline, we can be ready with hearts prepared to worship Jesus.  With better planning than you do for school and work, you can plan and prepare for making it to church services on time and ready to learn, worship, connect to others and grow. I hope these ideas that have helped me and my family are a blessing to you as you get ready for church this Sunday.

 

“Prayer” in Psalms

“Prayer” in the Book of Psalms

31 times in the Book of Psalms is the word “Prayer” found.  That is enough times to read a new verse about “prayer” every day for a month! Sometimes it is found in the chapter heading.  At other times it is in the text of the psalm.  As you read through these words of Scripture today – take time to pray.  Let’s seek the God of the Bible in a personal way and bring the requests and desires of our hearts to Him.  The needs of this hour are great – and we have a great God Who can hear our calling to Him in prayer.

Blessings to you in these moments of prayer…

  • Psalm 4:1  <<To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm of David.>> Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.
  • 5:3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
  • 6:9 The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.
  • 17:1  <<A Prayer of David.>> Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.
  • 35:13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
  • 39:12 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.
  • 42:8 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
  • 54:2 Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.
  • 55:1  <<To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, A Psalm of David.>> Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.
  • 61:1  <<To the chief Musician upon Neginah, A Psalm of David.>> Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
  • 64:1  <<To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.>> Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
  • 65:2 O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.
  • 66:19 But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
  • 66:20 Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
  • 69:13  But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.
  • 72:15 And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised.
  • 80:4 O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?
  • 84:8  O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.
  • 86:1  <<A Prayer of David.>> Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.
  • 86:6 Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.
  • 88:2 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;
  • 88:13 But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.
  • 90:1  <<A Prayer of Moses the man of God.>> Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
  • 102:1 <<A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD.>> Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.
  • 102:17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.
  • 109:4 For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.
  • 109:7 When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.
  • 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
  • 141:5  Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
  • 142:1 <<Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave.>> I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.
  • 143:1  <<A Psalm of David.>> Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.

Selah…