A Short Devotional

{ Author’s Note: This short devotional is written for those poor souls whose attention spans have been diminished to the point of being only seconds in duration, due to a chronic social media addiction and consumption. }

 

God is good. God loves you. Be at peace.

… Squirrel!

Amen.

 

{ That’s all. }

image

#PastorsTip #Devotional #AttentionSpan #SocialMedia #Addiction #Chronic #Consumption #Squirrel

image

Foxholes & The Peace of Christ

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

~ John‬ ‭14:27‬‬‬‬

The Peace that Christ gives to His followers is not situational, it is not as a result of being surrounded by quiet circumstances.

Foxholes are the holes dug by soldiers that they can dive into when the enemy begins firing upon them. To be huddled in the midst of a firestorm of destruction and violence, it rattles and scares the most hardened and experienced warrior.

It is in times like these that the Peace of Christ settles our hearts and minds. The noise on the outside and the explosive forces that send bone shaking shockwaves through our bodies cannot overcome the Peace that calms the waters of our hearts like oil poured upon water.

The world says that your peace is dependent on your surrounding circumstances. Jesus says that your Peace comes from Him regardless of your surroundings. Have a great day, my friends, as you recognize the Peace that Christ is offering you.

#PastorsTip #Foxholes #Peace #PeaceOfChrist

image

When We Christians Act Like Jerks

How much of our society’s disgust with Christians is not related to our clear, gracious representation and proclamation of the Words and the Spirit of Christ, but is tied directly to too many of us simply being jerks online and being so in the name of Christ?

Jesus did say that we as His followers would be hated by plenty of non-Christians (John 15:18). However, this hatred would be directly tied to the pure message of Christ that we communicate through word and deed.

Just because we include the topics of Jesus, Sin, and some theology in our online communications does not excuse any inclusion of our own demeaning words, angry tones, and self-centered actions that are not representative of Christ and His message. When we act this way, we are not focused on developing our audience’s understanding of Christ and (hopefully) their subsequent agreement with Him. Instead, we are simply feeding our own un-Christlike desires to be self-righteous, judgmental, and vengeful.

Taking a stand in our society against the progression of sin is a must, it is inevitable. But, when we are jerks in how we go about it, the message of Christ is stripped of its legitimacy and any attractiveness it might have had to others.

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without [our] holiness no one [else] will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

~ Hebrews‬ ‭12:14-15‬

#PastorsTip #Christians #Jerks #Grace #Kindness

image

For Leaders, Problems Are Not A Problem

To My Fellow Pastors & Leaders,

Great leaders do not consider daily problems to be a distraction. Daily problems are THE terrain in which leaders journey. If there were no problems, most leaders would not be necessary.

When problems arise, displaying the proper can-do and will-do attitude builds confidence in those around us, and it encourages and equips them with a similar can-do and will-do approach to problems.

The retired 4-Star General, Colin Powell, said it well regarding leaders and dealing with problems:

“The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care.”

As leaders in various situations and settings, let us approach problems with graciousness, without complaining or degrading those who have the problem. Let’s approach the problems with a can-do and will-do countenance.

#PastorsTip #Leadership #Problems #Attitude #CanDo #WillDo

image

Christians & The 24/7 Newsfeed

Dear Fellow Christians,

Today, another headline of the life-and-death conflict between Islamic terrorists and modern civilization, and between a branch of Islam and those who profess Christ to be The Son of God.

The headlines can get to be very dark and have a massive influence on our emotional health for the day or week. It makes us want to avoid EVERY nuance of news, and to bury ourselves in the humor of funny memes on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

With the easy access to the 24/7 news cycle, we can soon become over-consumers. We can over-feed on the news: our intellect can become shallow, our opinions can become soured, our view of life can become clouded with an unhealthy smog.

Just as unhealthy as chronic news consumption can be for us, so can our deliberate ignorance be very unhealthy. The attitude of burying our head in the sand (like an Ostrich does to hide from danger) leaves us unable to pray for specific trends developing in our world.

Each person is different on how much news they can handle, how much news amounts to over-consumption and taxes their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

Let each of us find the balance that the Lord would indicate is appropriate for us according to how He uses us in prayer, evangelism, and service.

See you at the altar in prayer.

#PastorsTip #News #NewsCycle #News247 #Prayer #Ministry #Service #FairAndBalanced #ABC #CBS #NBC #MSNBC #CNN #CNNinternational #FoxNews #CNBC #BBC

image

Lessons From Duffy

We have a West Highland Terrier (aka a “Westie”) that we adopted through the Humane Society in Portland about 2 years ago. His previous owners named him Duffy and they worked with him very well to learn the right things to do, and what not to do. He is now about 7 years old.

Duffy is a spontaneous character, often barking before anything has happened, and dramatically exploding out of a sound sleep into an attack strategy launched upon one of his toys, shaking it to shreds while doing his best lion-with-fresh-prey imitation.

He is a fun dog… most of the time.

He does however have his days where his little heart and mind turn a few shades darker, and he becomes a rebellious little punk. A cute punk, but still a punk.

Here is a lesson from Duffy: when he is scolded and reprimanded for doing what he KNOWS is wrong (but he does it anyway!), he does not run away from us. Instead he walks right up to us, tail down and head down, and getting as close to us as he can, he sits right next to our feet. He leans into us, complete with a look of “sorry” on his face and his tail signaling an “oops, I did it again, didn’t I?” kind of message.

Each time it reminds me of how many times in life I’ve had some days where my heart and mind were a few shades darker, and I became a rebellious little punk in God’s eyes. Sure, He still loved me, He still thought I was cute (just like my Mom always thinks that I am cute too!), but I was also being a punk.

When we have those times in life when God has to scold us and reprimand us for our times of rebellion, how often do we experience the urge to run away and hide? Adam and Eve ran away and hid themselves from God after their rebellious day, and we have the same propensity.

God wants our response to be similar to Duffy’s: He wants us to approach Him, not with excuses (“What’s the big deal?”) or distractions (“Oh look, God, a squirrel!”), but with a contrite heart, leaning into Him, snuggling up close to Him.

Sometimes I wonder if Duffy might be better at this post-rebellion routine than most human beings. We really appreciate his return after the fact. How much more does God appreciate our return in like manner!

#PastorsTip

image

Seek Me, Find Me!

Were you at one time so close to the Lord that He consumed your every thought and was the center of every one of your hopes and dreams? Were you so enamored with Him that you knew what Peter must have felt when he told the Lord, “I’ll die before I ever leave Your side”?

However, today as you ponder your life with Christ, do you wonder how such a wide canyon has developed that separates you from the blessing of experiencing His presence every moment of every day? Do you feel numb in your heart, knowing you should be feeling something, but it’s just not there? Do you know in your mind that your first love has become distant, but you are concerned with how you allowed this to happen?

You are not alone, my friend. Scripture is filled with the stories of people who have experienced the same wilderness. Thankfully, God understands our humanity and our imperfections, and He offers us a road map back to Him for our hearts.

God told Israel ahead of time, before they had grown distant from Him, that if they ever become distant from Him and find themselves in a wilderness of separation from Him that there is a way back:

“But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

~ Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:29‬

Today, heed the moment of clarity that you are experiencing. Take some deliberate, heart-felt steps to draw close to God. The journey may be short or it may be long, but God has promised that in times like these IF we will seek Him with ALL of our heart, we WILL find Him again!

If you are in a wilderness today, may today be the first day of your new season and new journey toward the heart of God. You WILL find Him, and you WILL become even closer to Him than before. Just keep seeking, stay on the path, and fuel your journey with the passion of your heart.

image

Giving Our Worst Attitudes To Our Family?

Perhaps you have heard someone say (or maybe you have said it yourself), “My spouse is great at church, but at home they are a beast to live with!”

Or maybe, “My parents are thought of by their friends as fun-loving and very good people, but at home they yell, curse, and swear at each other and at us kids!”

Or yet another one, “My spouse is outstanding in their co-worker and professional relationships at work, but at home with the family they are short-tempered, verbally cruel, and physically abusive of all of us.”

Why is it that we as humans have a propensity to give strangers and friends the best of our attitudes, but we give our families the worst of our attitudes? This should not be!

“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

~ James 3:10-13

I dare say, we will be evaluated by God not by the best that we give to others, but by the WORST that we give to others. Our good attitudes do not counter-balance our bad attitudes in the scales of Heaven. We hope that God will reward us for how kind we are to fellow church goers, co-workers, neighbors, and strangers. However, our insensitive or cruel treatment of our own family destroys whatever merit we think we might have gained with God.

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

~ 1 Timothy 5:8

That which we provide for our families is not just financial and material. We also provide kindness, grace, sincerity, self-control, and genuine love to the core! We provide an atmosphere for the home that is peaceful with a sense of emotional security and unconditional love.

I doubt anyone is perfect in this, and I certainly am not. But, over the years I have learned and changed enough to feel that I can sound this call without my being a hypocrite in God’s eyes. Let us bring into our homes and into our families the very best attitudes that our lives can generate. Let’s stay on our knees in daily prayer, pleading with God for His grace to continue to flow into us so that we can continue to be transformed, and continue to ALWAYS have our best flow freely to ALL of those around us.

My family deserves my best. My wife deserves my best. Not because of their perfection (anymore than their imperfection deserves my imperfection in return), but because of God’s call for each of us to love each other with His kind of love.

May our home be where our absolute best is provided to every family member. This will certainly please them, and it will definitely please God!

(Thanks for reading. I know this subject can be a real toe stomper.)

#PastorsTip

 

img_3894

How To Pray For Your Pastor

If there is one prayer that you can pray for your pastor, what would it be?

When that prayer is answered, it should result in them becoming: closer to God; a better person; a better spouse; a better pastor; an influential person in the lives of others; effective in teaching and preaching the Word of God, etc. You know, things like that.

So what would that one prayer be that you would pray regularly, frequently, passionately on their behalf? What one prayer is it God is always delighted to hear, and is always delighted to answer?

That one prayer is this: Pray for your pastor to become a Praying Person!

For each of us as believers, when we become a praying person, it is through that single avenue that God can and does work most powerfully. He works transformationally within us and influentially through us.

Of all things, each of us are called to become praying people:

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.”

‭‭~ 1 Peter‬ ‭4:7

See you at the altar as we pray for our pastors to be praying people.

image

 

Father with Child

Is It Still Time To Pray for America?

In the Book of Ecclesiastes there is a passage that speaks of there being a time for everything under the sun:

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…

A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing…”

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There comes a time in the life of a nation when the people of God are to embrace Him in intercession for that nation’s survival, but there also exists a time for the people of God to refrain from embracing Him in intercessory prayer on behalf of that nation. That time comes when the nation’s sin has reached such epic and dark proportions that the only remedy (the repentance and the return of the nation to Godly living and pursuits) has been passed by, and the only remaining solution to ending the growth of the enormous mountain of sin is for God Himself to take drastic measures.

The time to cease our embrace of God in intercession for our nation has NOT yet come! It is STILL the time to pray, it is still the time to embrace the Lord our God in intercession on behalf of our nation. Even though our nation’s sins are growing and multiplying, though our unforgiven sin is accumulating before the eyes of God like an enormous mountain of diseased, putrefying slime that is drawing close to being equal to the pre-flood days of Noah, it is STILL the time for God’s followers to engage in national intercession.

Jeremiah knew when it was time to cease intercession for his own nation, not by his observations and measurements of the level of sin, but by hearing from the Lord directly when the time had come to cease his reaching out to God, that Divine correction had already been initiated.

“Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me, for I will not hear you.”

~ Jeremiah 7:16

However, since our time for national intercession on behalf of America is still here, let’s look at what the intercession was that Jeremiah had been engaged in, and that remains our most powerful method for bringing life, liberty, and the pursuit of God back into our society.

In the scripture quoted above, to “make intercession” is translated from the Hebrew word paga’:

  • Defined as: To reach; to meet someone; to pressure or urge someone strongly; to meet up with a person; to encounter or to plead with someone; to storm a person with urgent petitions.
  • The idea behind “make intercession” is that an activist catches up with a superior, and reaches them with an urgent request.
  • Thus, intercession involves reaching out to God, meeting with God, and pleading Him for favor. Put another way, it is the storming of heaven by godly activists on behalf of God’s will.

The favor for which we are embracing and pleading God to bestow upon our nation is Mercy, Forgiveness, and Revival.

  1. Mercy delays the Divine punishment or judgement for a brief period of time thus allowing us an opportunity to repent;
  2. Forgiveness removes our individual sin-guilt when we individually ask for His forgiveness; and
  3. Revival is the regeneration and healing of the human heart, mind, and spirit for living a new life with God.

It still is NOT too late for America to receive the mercy, forgiveness, and revival that God so desperately wants to rain down upon us. The time is still NOW for embracing God in intercession for our nation. God has NOT yet sounded the warning that it is too late, and to not bother praying and interceding for America.

This gives us hope, but the nation’s clock is still ticking and the nation’s (our!) sin-guilt is still mounting. Let each of us draw near to God, let each of us embrace Him as a child would embrace their father in times of great need, let each of us pray and intercede with genuine passion and great fervency while we embrace Him.