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Draymond Was Right

Draymond was Right

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Ephesians 3:7

After Golden State basketball superstar Kevin Durant was injured in the NBA Finals, fans in Toronto were cheering.  Actually cheering.  Their team had a better chance to win now that Kevin was out.  I hope his injury is recoverable.

Speaking about the sensitivity of fans, Draymond Green, a Durant teammate and fellow NBA All-Star said some truthful statements about the perception he feels fans place on him and others in pro sports.

In effect he said: “Fans expect their pro players to never fail or get injured or sick, but they are people too. They don’t care what happens outside the lines. They expect us to be unreal.”

His words are accurate.  Fans do tend to think of their stars as “more than regular people.”  The expectations and assumptions placed on starts by fans are not healthy.   Not healthy for the stars – or the fans.  Like a referee, his call of “Foul!” is warranted.

In the spiritual realm in which we live, how many people perceive and project expectations and assumptions onto people in ministry? How about what we perceive and project onto other church members?

What Draymond said was right, and his insights also apply to how many people see their pastor in their church.

Here are 3 areas to avoid getting a “Foul” called against you.

  • Unrealistic expectations. Projecting impossibilities is a foul against the pastor and against the one with the impossible expectations.  The pastor cannot be everywhere at the same time.  He is unable to visit everyone who misses a service.  It is difficult for him to preach and take attendance at the same time.  Toss into the basket the fact that some parishioners are only in attendance in one service a week, the pastor is less likely to notice they are missing.  For example, if someone that normally attends Sunday morning, Sunday Evening and the Midweek service is missing – the pastor is more likely to see they are not there – because of the frequency of their attendance.  Sometimes the pastor wants to- but can’t.  There are times when I am too sick to make a hospital visit.  We want others to go when that happens, but to have one man visit every person of 200, 100, or 50 people is not very realistic.   Expecting something that is not possible hurts the person doing the “expecting!”  The pastor has a life, family, health needs, and emotional encouragement needs too.
  • Unreasonable assumptions. This is when we assume the worst about people or situations.  Human nature is to assume things are worse off than they really are.  This is the “making a mountain out of a mole-hill syndrome.”  Many good people get caught up in false assumptions.  “He does not like me.”  “She does not care.”  “They like them better than us.”  These are dangerous thought patterns rooted in pride and ego.   This type of thinking is what Paul is warning Titus about in Titus 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.  Choose to have healthy and hopeful thoughts about others.  Avoid assuming the worst.  It hurts your impression of others when you project unreasonable assumptions on others. Not everything will go the way you hope it will but compounding every relationship struggle is -assumption.
  • Unhealthy attitudes. The attitude truly determines your altitude.  If you have a healthy, winning attitude, you are more likely to succeed in whatever you are striving for.  In relationships, if you have a healthy attitude toward your pastor, it will help you be an encouragement.  It will cause you to be less critical.  It will create in you’re a desire to help and to serve.  When people serve with their pastor, they are helping advance the Gospel and the kingdom of God through the local church.

Basketball fans, and church members – don’t get a “Foul!” called on you.  Choose to have realistic thoughts about other church members and about your pastor.

He is a real person who cares much, feels deeply, and hopes unceasingly.

Yes, Draymond was right.  Stars are just people too.  Remember this truth the next time you watch a game.

 

In Search of Contentment, Pt. 5

Find the Supply of Jesus for You. (Vs. 19)

In the context of this passage, Paul was commending the Philippian church members, because they were faithful to send Missionary Paul money to help him further the Gospel and plant new churches.  Paul is the New Testament missionary that most missionaries pattern their ministry after – even today.   Jesus gives a promise to those Christians who are faithful to give to missions work specifically – “God will supply all your need.”

These church folks were content with what money and things they had – so much so that they gave above their regular tithes and offerings to God through their church and gave extra to help Paul and other missionaries.  These people had great faith in God and were not consumed with material gain.  God has said – “I promise that I will give the selfless everything they need in life.”  Do you believe this promise?  Would you give more to missions if God asked you to?

A content person is willing to give more, and because of that willingness, God actually gives him more – to give in return!  It all starts with contentment.

There are several things in life that cannot be bought.  Like the old Mastercard commercials said: “Some things money can’t buy, for everything else, there’s Mastercard!”

  • Good health has no price tag.
  • Good friends cannot be bought.
  • Great marriages are priceless.
  • Great kids are worth every investment you put into them (and more).

Here are some things that only Jesus can supply.

The Peace of Mind. 

Jesus said in John 14:27, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Years ago, Ray Cazis summarized a Duke University study on ‘peace of mind.’ Factors found to contribute greatly to emotional and mental stability are:

  1. “The absence of suspicion and resentment. Nursing a grudge was a major factor in unhappiness.
  2. Not living in the past. An unwholesome preoccupation with old mistakes and failures leads to depression.
  3. Not wasting time and energy fighting conditions you cannot change. Cooperate with life, instead of trying to run away from it.
  4. Force yourself to stay involved with the living world. Resist the temptation to withdraw and become reclusive during periods of emotional stress.
  5. Refuse to indulge in self-pity when life hands you a raw deal. Accept the fact that nobody gets through life without some sorrow and misfortune.
  6. Cultivate the old-fashioned virtues—love, humor, compassion and loyalty.
  7. Do not expect too much of yourself. When there is too wide a gap between self-expectation and your ability to meet the goals you have set, feelings of inadequacy are inevitable.
  8. Find something bigger than yourself to believe in. Self-centered egotistical people score lowest on any test for measuring happiness.”

That is a good summary with many biblical applications for our daily life.  Are you living with peace in your life, or is your heart and mind full of anxiety today?  Most of what we worry about will never happen anyway.  Many times, it is the stuff we hope to have or patterns of life we resort to that are contributing to the lack of peace we may experience.

 

 

Please read on the the conclusion of In Search of Contentment, PART 6…

Remembering God While Young

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them… Ecclesiastes 12:1

Meeting God in your youth is a great way to deal with the problems that come with aging: Relationship distress, disease, disappointment, and eventually death.  The greatest moment in anyone’s life is when they come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savoir.  This is wonderful, not matter the age or life stage of the person coming to faith in Jesus.  No matter your age today, you will be younger today than you are tomorrow.  So this is good teaching for everyone – especially the youngest among us.

Having Jesus in your heart and life can impact the handling of the disappointments of life.  Life happens to everyone.  Christians are not exempt to problems. What Solomon, the Preacher-King is saying in this passage is that when we remember God in when we are young, it sets us up for a more fulfilled, and more Biblically framed life.  Remember God in your youth means that the decision making, thought process and more are all going to be informed by the Lord and His Word.

When we have our decisions and choices informed by God, and follow His commands, we are more likely to fulfill God’s plan for our life and to achieve His perfect will for our individual lives.

A young person who does nor remember God in his youth is more likely to make bad choices and to create self-inflicted problems that will plague him for the rest of his life.  Drugs, living together before marriage, disease acquirement, job loss, injuries, relationship struggles, family problems are potential issues, just to name a few.

Know God while you are young.  Teach your kids NOW.  Then as you and your kids remember God while you are young (or younger today than you will be tomorrow) you can live a life that is blessed by God.

Bad things will still come up, but you have the Lord, His comfort, and His mind on how to handle your specific situation.

Jesus, The First Missionary

Jesus, The First Missionary 

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10

Have you ever heard anyone ever refer to Jesus as the first missionary?  Think about this for a moment.  In the above verses, we discover that God sent Jesus to this world on a mission of mercy.   The love of God was manifested or demonstrated to mankind when He sent Jesus to this sinful world on our behalf.   Jesus willingly left Heaven to come to this earth to seek and save us sinners.  He came to rescue us from our sin! In many ways, this is the first mission trip.

While on this mission trip, Jesus identified with mankind when He took on flesh.  With no sin, He took our sin and carried our guilt to the cross of Calvary.  It was there that He paid the price for our sin, taking our death sentence upon Himself.

With Resurrection Sunday (Easter) coming, this is a good reminder for us.  Thank Jesus for His salvation plan finished at the Cross.  Three days after His death, Jesus rose from the dead, proving He is God and demonstrating His power over sin, death and Hell.  Be thankful and stop a moment to praise the Lord for His amazing gift!

When missionaries take the Word of God to other regions and nations, they take the Good News, the Gospel.  Since Jesus is the first missionary and His love for us is demonstrated by His coming to earth) and since the Bible teaches us about missions it is apparent and a good conclusion that the heartbeat of God is missions.

God sent His Son.  He gave us His only begotten Son.  Missions is giving.  Missions is sacrificial.  Missions is the pulse, heartbeat, and breath of God to us people on earth.

Since missions is so important to God, I would suggest that missions should be important to the Christian.  Each church member and each disciple of Jesus, should feel the pulse of God’s heart concerning missions.

Something to consider for your life personally is “do I have the same heartbeat as God?”

Examine your own heart.  Have you ever noticed this:  Some Christians do not like to pray, so they do not come to prayer meeting?  How about this:  Some Christians do not come to missions conferences or attend when missionaries are visiting because they do not want to hear about missions or be challenged to give money to missionaries? I suppose it could be some other motivation to avoid – if they are actually avoiding on purpose. Sometimes people are truly “providentially prevented.”

Could an avoidance phenomenon simply be and indicator that “my heart is not yet in sync with the heart of God?”  Sure it can be.  Even if you do not like to pray in public, the Lord can develop your heart to begun to pray with no fear or shame.

Even if you have avoided missionaries in the past, the Lord could change your heart – if you let Him.  Most avoidance issues are really a matter of trust.  Do you trust God to hear and answer your prayers? Do you trust God with all your finances, not only your tithe?  Do you trust God to give money to missions? God even gave a wonderful promise to all those who give to missionaries.  He promised to supply each and every need a person will ever have…when they give to missions!

Answer this: Do I trust God with every aspect of my life?  Is the Bible a perfect prescription for the problems of life?  Can I rely on God’s will, revealed in His Word, to truly provide for every need?  Have I trusted Jesus for salvation and been able to fully rest in His promise of salvation to all Who trust in Him?  Do I trust Jesus each day?

The next time a missionary comes to church, get involved.  Find ways to support your church missions program.  Make a missions promise to God.  Clear your schedule to provide a meal, housing, fellowship, or your attendance to encourage a missionary.

Recently, WBC experienced a tremendous Missions Conference.  We were blessed to see 5 people respond to the call of “being willing” to be a missionary if God would call them to that.  We saw the faith of the people in attendance at each service increase.  I believe most people in our church were praying for the conference – and continue to pray for God to send laborers into the harvest.  Some people were sick.  Others had schedules that would not permit them to attend.  A few were out of town.  Many were battled by Satan to not attend.  All who attended contended with work, school, household needs and more.

One girl, in an emergency room, through tears while being stitched up, expressed to the doctor that she was hoping to get home in time to attend the final night of the missions conference.  She did not get home on time to make the start of that particular mission conference service, but she did get there in time to hear the preaching.  I love that heart.  I mean, I really love that heart.

This is an example of the heartbeat of God that we should have for missions.  Yes, Jesus was the first missionary, and if as a Christian we had the same heartbeat, missions would be important to us as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Chance Encounter

No Chance Encounter

One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.  John 1:40-41

Andrew heard the preaching.  God’s Word affected his heart.  John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness and Andrew was there the day that John Baptist met Jesus.  As Jesus walked towards John, John cries out: “Behold the Lamb of God!”  Andrew is beside himself.  This is the One he has been waiting his whole life for.  His parents, grandparents and people even further back were hoping for this moment when the Lamb of God would be revealed.

Andrew did not keep this news to himself.  He finds his brother Peter, and tells him about seeing Jesus.   He specifically found his brother to tell him this good news.  This meeting Jesus was no accident.  God was orchestrating these events.  Peter meets Jesus later on and becomes a fisher of men.  He goes on to be one of the greatest preachers and writer of several New Testament books.  It all started with Andrew.  Peter meets Jesus, and the “rest is history.”

I wonder, would God save others if we would talk to them about Jesus?  Since there are no “chance encounters” with God, it seems that the Lord would bless your efforts to bring people to Jesus.  They may trust Christ.  They may reject Him.  But the choice is theirs.  We need to be more like Andrew and find specific people and tell them about Jesus.

Are you excited for this Spring season?  I am looking forward to our mission confernece in just a few days.  With all the tracts our church has been handing out, I am happy to say that we have had several new visitors that God has sent to our church.  This is no accident.  With our Teen WAR youth meeting coming up, we hope to hand out nearly 5000 invitations.  The Gospel will be given and teens will trust Jesus.  And then Resurrection Sunday.  Easter will be here and we are praying for a harvest of people to trust Jesus and start a faith walk with us at Wilton Baptist Church.

You can be a part of all of this.  Please pray.  Please keep handing out tracts as part of our tract month.  Please invite a specific person to sit with you at church on Easter Sunday.  There will be another Apostle Peter, but the person you bring to meet Jesus could become a Christian, and in turn see many others trust Christ in their life and ministry.

Since there are no “chance encounters” lets do all we can to bring people to Jesus.  I am praying for a spiritual renewal at WBC and a spiritual awakening in our region.  Will you pray along with me for this?

 

 

 

 

Missions, Buildings, and Growth

Missions, Buildings, and Growth

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

Does our giving money to missions have a direct impact on the blessings of God on a local church?  Does our involvement in missions have a impression on our own church growth?  I would suggest they are probably very much connected.

As the Apostle Paul was commending the Philippian Christians for their faithful financial support the Lord tells him to add this truth: “I will supply your need.”  The church had support Paul for a long time and have given sacrificially.  In some instances, they were the only ones who were helping Paul on his mission trips.  Paul is thankful and says that “fruit has been added to their account.”  Because they gave to missions – God promised to supply all the needs they had.

God met the needs of the individuals, the families, and the church – because they trusted God and used their resources to propagate the Gospel into all the world through their missionary – Paul.

I recently read about one pastor who had challenged his church in missions giving and the promises made on the faith promise cards were the most ever received in that church.  The church was in a life stage of growth and was needing new land and was hoping to build a new building on the land.  But the pastor knew they could not stop going with the Gospel or stop sending missionaries.  It would be understandable to focus only on your church and the needs that you have.  He understood the church needed to remain committed to gospel missions.

The week after the promises came in, a deacon came to him and said, “I found the land.” After months searching for the right piece of land, they found 15 acres.

The pastor said, “I have asked for the people to give so much to missions, I can’t go ask them for more right now.”  Perhaps other preachers reading this have been there too.  I have.

Around Washington DC, the land is expensive.  It is probably expensive where you live too!  $3 million was needed for that land.  The deacon said, “I will buy the land and give it to the church.”  Incredible.

The pastor wrote that he believed that because the church was faithful to support missions that God, in turn, provided them their new place of worship.

We are blessed to partner with several missionaries and have committed to pray for and send finances to help them further the Gospel into their part of the world.

As we make “Faith Promises” to God about missions giving, please remember God’s promise to “Supply your every need.”  It will affect your life, and our church in a positive way.

I look forward to the day the Lord supplies our new building.  He already gave us the land!  Praise the Lord for that.  Let’s keep giving the Gospel here – and abroad thorough our missionaries.  Let’s see our faith increase during mission conference.

 

 

 

Story found in Bud Calvert’s book: “God’s Passion.”

 

 

 

 

Loving Laws or Loving People

Loving Laws or Loving People

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Galatians 5:14

Do you know someone that is hyper critical?  I mean, they have a problem with everyone and everything.  “The temperature is too hot.  The music is too fast. The speaker is too loud.  The women are dressing wrong.  The bulletin was not folded right.  The deacons should have a tie on.  The people helping are not doing it the same way I would do it. The van is parked at the wrong place.  The family is too big or too small.”  You get the idea.

Hyper critical people have forgotten the “Who” they should be loving.  Instead of loving God and loving people, they love a “What.”   They love rules.  They love laws.  They love their preferences and personal expectations and project them onto other people in a way that is detrimental to relationship.

If we could learn to love people more than our preferences, programs, and personal pet peeves, then we would show more honor to the Lord.  And in turn actually live out God’s law instead of a human version of His law.

Loving our neighbor does several things:

  1. Considers others ahead of ourselves.
  2. Creates a forgiving temperament.
  3. Causes more healthy relationships.
  4. Casts aside personal preferences.
  5. Calms personal interactions with others.

Music styles in church can have great variety and still please the Lord.

Preaching and teaching styles vary greatly from person to person, and God can use each delivery style in wonderful ways.

Organizational structure, facility maintenance, the next building project, and more need not be a stumbling point for you or for others at your church.  When we love God and love others, no matter the rules we may impose on ourselves, we do not need to let those preferential things divide and hurt relationships.

One terrific example is the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.  This church had pure doctrine.  They withstood persecution.  They even had a good work ethic.  But Jesus said “You left your first love.”  These second generation Christians, with a godly heritage, clung to laws, rules, and preferences to the neglect of loving Jesus.  They loved their “version of Christianity” more than they loved Jesus!

Don’t let rules and regulations or personal preferences stop you from loving your family (or church family) the way the Lord wants you to love them.

Love people more than laws.