Tag Archives: encourage

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.

 

True Friendships

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:24

Good friends are hard to come by.  I mean, friends that know your thoughts and can even anticipate your next words and actions.   I have heard it said that you will probably have only 3-5 truly close friends in your lifetime.  If you have a handful of truly good friends, you will be blessed indeed.

Most people have “acquaintances” that they mistake for those close friends.  For example: some have thousands of connections on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but these are not true friends.  If you have thousands of followers online, it is likely that you will never actually meet these people- in person!

While you may have a lot of “virtual friends” online that are really only acquaintances, you have great potential for real life friends where you live.  Sometimes putting down the mobile devices is the best thing you can do for your true friendships.

Some husbands and wives spend more time with “virtual friends” than they spend with their spouse.  In our home, we only have one screen on at a time.  If my wife is on her phone, I am not on my phone at the same time.  I want to ensure I am friendly to her.  Not ignoring, not missing her comments, not pretending to listen.  How is communication going in your home?  You spouse, if God has called you to marriage, should be your best friend.

Back to friendship.  In order to be a friend, you must show yourself friendly.  That is where the “one screen at a time: idea comes in.  Do you show yourself a frenziedly person?  What is your everyday facial expression like?  Are you approachable?

Here is a short list of “Friendship Verses? in the Bible.  Consider how they can help you make a friend today!

Psalm 119:63
Proverbs 17:17
Proverbs 18:24
Proverbs 27:6
Ecclesiastes 4:9,10

Go and be a friend – to gain a friend today!

A Spiritual Recharge

A Spiritual Recharge

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  2 Corinthians 2:15-16

I enjoy collecting and using tools.  The power tools are the best.  Milwaukee produces some terrifically useful power hand tools that require a Lithium battery with 18 volts of power.  The M18 drill set I have has driven thousands and thousands of scres.  I think one charge of the M18 battery will drive nearly 300 three inch screws.  That is a good stat.

The M18 Sawsall also delivers great cutting power.  With the right blade this saw cuts through wood, metal, and plastic of all dimensions.  However, I need to change the batteries on the sawsall a lot more often than I do the drill.  The cutting motion and energy requires for the saw is substantially more than the drill.

As Paul pens the above verses, he is writing to some Christians who were enduring great difficulty.  Persecution, poor health, and other problems were tempting them to quit, give up, and stop following Jesus.  Life is tough.  Life is even tougher for the Christian who is visibly and vocally with Jesus in daily choices, words, and actions.

I like how Paul says” We faint not.”  Christian -keep on keeping on for Jesus!  But, it is not a simple as willing, or hoping to endure.  We need spiritual renewal – daily.  Like the M18 line of tools I have – we need recharged.  We need recharged on a daily basis.

Depending on the material my tools are dealing with, the battery charge is affected.  Some more and some less.  Depending on what circumstances you are facing you too will become weary and tired, perhaps at a different pace than at other times.

No matter what you are going through, good or bad times, you need to be recharged daily.  Here are some ideas to be recharged:

  1. Recharge with daily Bible reading.  Christians who are truly walking with Jesus must be Bible readers.  I know some who cannot read.  They have the Bible read to them or get it on CD or MP3 to listen to.  Read the Bible.  Like bread charges the physical body, the Word of God charges your spiritual life.  In Matthew 4:4, Jesus says, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
  2. Recharge by checking your spiritual terminals.   The batteries will not charge if not properly connected to the charging station.  If you are not properly connected to the Lord, if something is in between, or hindering a clear connection, you may come up spiritually depleted. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 66:18, If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.  If there is any sin in your life, confess it and repent of it.  If you know something is not right, clean it up so the connection is good again!
  3. Recharge by internalizing the Bible.  Just like the battery takes power (what to us is invisible) and stores it inside the battery pack, we need to take the Bible and internalize it into our heart and life.  What I mean by this is your attitude.  Many people know the Bible in their head, but they do not know the Bible in their heart.  Some are arrogant, proud and mean spirited, but they can quote the Bible to you.  Instead of that, choose to let the Bible change you.  Humility is the mark of a person being recharged by the Lord.  1 Peter 3:4 teaches, But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.  I want a meek and quite spirit.  It is useful and attractive to the Lord.  Instead of focusing on your dress or tie, the externals, the the Word impact your insides.  There are too many people that “look good” on the outside, but are spiritual depleted on the inside.  Have a good attitude.  Choose to be happy.  Choose to be content.  Choose to rest in Jesus.

Praying, meeting with other Christians, Bible study, serving through the church, being involved, plugging in to specific ministries, and trusting God with your money, health, and decisions are all other good areas to consider.  There could be several other areas to help a person recharge spiritually.

Care to share any further ideas for being spiritually recharged???

What are your thoughts???

Please post your ideas below…

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

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.

 

The Many Benefits of SNOW!

“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”  Wow, with another blizzard type storm pouring snowflakes all around us, I thought it would be fitting to highlight some of the many benefits of snow.

We love the snow.  If is is going to be cold, we might as well have snow!  Here is a short list of the physical benefits of snow:

  1. Snow helps with lessening the amount of molds and pollen in the air.  Our allergy doctor is faithful to assess the amount of snow and how it has impacted seasonal allergies each year.  The more snow, the less seasonal allergic reactions for many people in the Spring.
  2. Snow helps insulate the ground.  Have you ever built an igloo?  One of my favorite things to do as a boy was to build snow forts and “igloos.”  The snow packed structures I built were always warmer inside than outside.  In fact, without snow on the ground, when the temperatures reach below zero, your water pipes are more likely to freeze.  The snow acts as insulation for the ground.  We let our plants and bushes get covered in snow (as long as it is not too heavy to break the plant) because it shields the plant or bush from the extreme cold and wind.
  3. Snow helps the water table.  People who use wells for water understand this.  A good snow fall will slowly be matriculated into the reservoirs of water under the ground.  In Winter seasons where there is not much snow and more rain, the water tables are not restored as effectively because rain in the Winter runs off the cold ground too fast and is not soaked up into the ground soil as well.
  4. Snow changes the pace of life.  Getting “snowed in” causes everyone slow down their pace of life and even stop for a moment or two.  “Pace” is an area I hope to share in another post one day.  With normal schedules adjusted or canceled for snow, it creates a new, temporary space of quiet time and rest that many do not normally factor into their hectic schedule.
  5. Snow is beautiful to watch fall.  We enjoy looking out of windows and seeing the beauty of the snowflakes falling to earth.  In addition, with the right temperatures some snows cling to the trees in such a spectacular fashion creating a “winter wonderland.”
  6. Snow can be utilized to develop a good work ethic in your kids.  When I was a teen and the snow fell, dad sent us out to shovel driveways and sidewalks for our neighbors.  We did not ask if they needed help, we just did it.  This work developed character, made friends of neighbors in the community, and was good exercise.
  7. Snow can be lots of fun.  Snow tubing, sledding, skiing and other winter sports are terrific fun and good exercise.  We normally make some time to go sledding with the kids.  The Wilton Baptist Church front hillside offers a terrific sledding slope.

There are also spiritual benefits of snow.  While the Bible uses the term “snow” 24 times, we will look at just a few here.  Besides with all the snow on the ground, I figured you would have a few extra minutes to read this.  So here are the spiritual benefits:

  • Snow reveals to us that God is in control.
    • The Lord stores up or treasures the snow:  Job 38:22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail…
    • The snow is part of God fulfilling His will on the earth. Psalm 148:8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word…
  • Snow reminds us of God’s deliverance.
    • When the nation of Israel conquered the Promise Land, it was not so much their ability and power, but the power of God.  He delivered them and the enemies were scattered like the wind blowing the snow in a snow storm. Psalm 68:14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Salmon. 
    • In the next snowfall, let it remind you of how the Lord has delivered you.
  • Snow reasons to us God’s common sense.
    • It makes sense that when it snows, it is cold outside.  The snow refreshes the earth at the end of the ground season.  Just like the snow is refreshing, a faithful messenger is also refreshing.  Proverbs 25:13  As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.
    • Snow is the summer does not make much sense.  That makes about as much sense as giving honor and prestige to a fool.  Just looking at the people who are famous today it is apparent this common sense has not been followed for a while.  Proverbs 26:1  As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
    • Let the snow encourage you to have God’s “common sense” for today.
  • Snow resounds God’s plan for you to “be prepared.”
    • The Proverbs 31 woman is not afraid of the snow.  She is prepared for it.  Proverbs 31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
    • She “readied” herself and her household – before the snow.  Having extra fuel, food, and water on hand are good ideas.  The snowblower, shovels, and salt should all be ready ahead of time.
    • The Lord does want us to be aware and prepared for the seasons.  This is also true of the everyday Christian life.  We need to be alert in every season of life.
  • Snow reiterates the forgiveness God has given you.   I love these two verses:
    • When David confessed his sin, God cleaned his life.  Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
    • Then the Lord reveals how that when He forgives, our lives are viewed by the Lord as being “white as snow.”  Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
    • If you are a Christian, the Lord has forgiven your sin and you have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  The purity and cleanness of fresh snow should reiterate in our hearts what God has done in cleansing the sin in our life.  He made you acceptable for Heaven.  Not by your own works but by the work of Jesus on the Cross.  Let the snow remind you of this amazing truth.

So, if you are “snowed in” today, stay warm, stay safe, and stay encouraged in the Lord.  Full disclosure: I really do not like traveling in the snow, especially long trips while it is still coming down.  It is a good time to stay home!  There are many benefits to snow.  Instead of complaining or having a bad attitude, be thankful.  Snow is a wonderful thing that God has given to you today.

 

 

 

 

 

Encourage Your Pastor

Encourage Your Pastor

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.  1 Timothy 5:17

Bishop, Elder, Pastor.  Which one is the leader of your church?  How about all three?  Recently, as Dr Jeff Amsbaugh was preaching to our regional pastor fellowship in upstate New York, hosted by WBC, he pointed out the 3 synonymous terms in the Bible that refer to the “pastor” of the local church.  As Baptist we prefer to use the term pastor, because of it’s connotation – I will share soon, but these other terms are good Bible terms that can give tremendous insight to the responsibilities and calling of the pastor.

Bishop. 1 Timothy 3:1 says, This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  The word “Bishop” means “inspection or superintendent.”  While the pastor does not do all the work of any given church and ministry, he is to oversee or be the superintendent over all the ministry.  With many others coming together to serve the Lord, the pastor gives the general direction and offers organizational helps to guide the church administratively.  God is a God of order and Paul told the Corinthian church members in 1 Corinthians 14:40, Let all things be done decently and in order.

Elder. 1 Peter 5:1 declares, The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed…  Elders means “older” or “senior.”  It refers to the maturity of the individual leader.  Church leaders are to be mature in the faith.  While this does not mean the “he knows everything” it does mean that the foundational principles of Christianity are not new territory for him.  That is why Peter exhorted the elders to continue in their wait for Jesus to come back for them.  Keep going despite persecution or problems.

Pastor.  Ephesians 4:11-13 elaborates, And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ… In fact the verse goes on to describe the gift the pastor is to the local church and the end result of his shepherding ministry.  That is what a shepherd is.  He feeds and leads his people like a shepherd cares for his sheep.

  • Shepherds are concerned about spiritual growth in his sheep.
  • Shepherds are cautious for wolves among the sheep.
  • Shepherds are caring for the pain endured by the sheep.
  • Shepherds cease any nipping and bickering among the sheep.
  • Shepherds who are following the Great Shepherd (Jesus) attempt to get the sheep to keep their eyes on Him.

Baptist churches, like ours, prefer this term “pastor” because of the quality of care and the level of closeness a shepherd has with his sheep and the sheep for their shepherd. The model of the pastor being the “under shepherd” pointing people to the “Great Shepherd” is a good one to follow.  Show extra honor to those who faithfully are serving you.  The Lord will bless you, and him for it.

I commend the pastors (Bishops/Elders) that are faithfully serving the Lord and His people in the church.  Like Paul, I commend the teaching/preaching pastor’s especially.  Those who deliver Bible messages week in and week out and do not merely give lip-service to the Bible, but live it out as well, are to be encouraged and celebrated.  Their unending work causes much personal tiredness and at the same time joy.  Serving spiritual food to sheep can be a difficult thing sometimes.  Pastors cannot make changes in the life of his people.  The sheep must want to receive the Word for themselves.  They must make application on their own.  But the pastor keeps leading and feeding the flock.

Encourage your pastor today. Pray for him. Drop him a note.  Leave a gift on his door. Text or email and encouraging word or two.  Choose to know him as a person and choose to follow his lead.  Show respect.  Sheep who care for their shepherd in material things are sure to be prepared emotional, relationally, and spiritually to receive the spiritual teaching their pastor gives.