Communication vs Assumption

A Daily Thought Provoker Quote
from Heart & Path Journal at HeartPathJournal.net
Online Publications of David J. Hall

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“The majority of the mistakes that I made in the first half of my days as a leader were not due to my [very real and ever present] limitations in knowledge or spirituality.

The majority of my mistakes took place when I made assumptions about people and/or situations, rather than communicating early in a process.

The acts of communication circumvent the landmines of assumption.”

( David J. Hall )

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#PastorsTip #DTP

The Fellowship of the Saints

Defining Fellowship:

Koinonia’ (Greek term in Acts 2:42, et al.), translated as:

  • fellowship, relationship, association, community, communion, joint participation.
  • The beneficial outcome of relational interaction with others.

Our fellowship with the saints (the followers of Christ, also called the Church) is a powerful and integral part of our being healed, renewed, and discipled in our life of faith in Christ. Fellowship, our interaction with other people through relationships is so important that 6 out of the Ten Commandments deals directly with our relations with other people (the other 4 out of the Ten Commandments deals with our fellowship with God Himself).

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Beyond Cultural Christianity

Being a member of a good local Christian church, or being a frequent attender, it’s a good thing… but it’s not the primary thing.

Liking and participating in a good church because you want your children to go to Sunday School like you did as a child, to have some connection to a faith system that they can run to when they hit hard times in life, these are good things… but it’s not the primary thing.

Joining the church choir because you have an interest and a talent in choral music, or you play a musical instrument and you like the wholesome atmosphere in which to develop and use your art, these are good things… but it’s not the primary thing.

Perhaps you have entered the ministry because you enjoy counseling and teaching, you have a knack for the intellectual atmosphere that some denominations have developed over their many years of study and you enjoy the predictability of the practice of traditions, these are good things… but it’s not the primary thing.

Or, perhaps you entered the ministry in a more Charismatic setting because your personality fits right in to an arena of creative expression in preaching, in music, and in the arts. These are good things… but it’s not the primary thing.

So what is this PRIMARY thing? Jesus spoke of it many times, and we will look at a couple of them.

The setting for this example is in the home of Martha who had a sister named Mary. Martha was very busy being the hostess preparing food and refreshments and serving her guests. Her sister Mary though wasn’t helping her serve, she instead was sitting at the feet of a special guest, Jesus, listening to His every word as He spoke to everyone.

Martha was so upset at Mary’s neglect of helping that she even asked her special guest to scold Mary for not being busy. Jesus however said something in return that likely made Martha upset, but likely made Mary feel encouraged:

“And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’”

~ Luke 10:38-42

There are a lot of needful people and situations that we can spend every waking moment to serve and solve, and all of that service is good.

Mary, however, had recognized and chosen the PRIMARY thing: Being close to Jesus and taking to heart His every word.

  • Martha was serving Jesus, but Mary was encountering Jesus.
  • Martha was doing good things, but Mary was foremost doing the PRIMARY thing.
  • Martha was being hospitable to Jesus in her home, Mary was being hospitable to Jesus in her heart.
  • Martha was concerned about what her guests might think of her less-than-perfect hospitality, Mary was concerned with what Jesus wanted to do in her own life.
  • Martha recognized the special influence Jesus had in their social gathering, Mary recognized the special influence Jesus was having in her own heart and soul.
  • Martha was good at seeing people’s needs and recruiting others to jump-in, Mary was good at seeing the PRIMARY need and personally drawing near to Jesus for fulfillment.

The setting for this next example is based in the future. Jesus prophesied that on the Final Day when each person has their “day in court” before Him in Heaven to give an account for their soul, there will be those who will have been like Martha, but sadly never like Mary. They will have spent their life-strength in pursuit of really good works for their own salvation instead of spending all their strength in pursuit of knowing Jesus personally.

“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’”

~ Matthew 7:22-23

Really good works are never enough to erase our sin. When we do really good works with the motive of someday saying to Jesus, “Look at how much good I’ve done. I’ve cleaned myself up and reversed my life’s course to do good instead of bad,” our good works become evil because our motive was to exclude Jesus from our inmost being.

When Jesus will say, “I never knew you,” He will not be speaking of knowing about them informationally; He will be speaking of knowing them relationally.

So, today as you consider your own life, are you a Martha or a Mary? (Men, don’t fall into the trap of pushing this example aside based on Jesus’ use of the female gender to illustrate His point. His point is for both genders equally!)

Are you a pastor, minister, or priest that has given your life sacrificially to do magnificently good things in serving the needs of others, even in the name of Christ? I beseech you to make sure that you not only know the right doctrines about Christ, but that Christ knows you on the personal level, that your salvation is based upon Him knowing you relationally and that your great good works are simply the discharge of your ministry duties done in love for God and humanity.

Let’s be sure we have the PRIMARY thing activated and is being cultivated before we engage in seasons of practical and sacrificial service.

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#PastorsTip #Luke10 #Matthew7 #Mary #Martha #Jesus #Ministry #GoodWorks #Salvation #KnownByChrist #Relationship #Personally #Pastor #Priest #Minister

Holy Spirit Headphones

There are a lot of things going on in our world, aren’t there? Keeping up-to-date on just the headlines can be an hourly effort. The multinational conflicts in Syria and Iraq; the Chinese expanding their territorial waters through island building; North Korea feeling ignored so they launch missile tests; Iran using proxies trying to undermine Western Civilization; ISIS picking fights with Iraq, Syria, Jordan, England, France, the USA… and with the rest of the world; there is more news than any one person can consume everyday.

The noise of the news can begin to numb our spiritual ears, if we are not deliberate in staying tuned-in to The Spirit. Headphones are handy instruments that cover the ears, block out a lot of the noise that surrounds us, and focuses upon the ears a stream of clear audio. Holy Spirit Headphones are very much needed, now more than ever. We need to have frequent quiet times where we can clearly hear what The Spirit is saying to us, The Church.

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

‭‭~ Revelation‬ ‭2:7‬

What we will hear from The Spirit will strengthen and lead us in living a faithful and victorious life in these Last Days, and what He says will have an eternal impact upon us. There are masses of people around us (even Christians) who are not interested in putting on the Holy Spirit Headphones that will reduce the Last Days noise. Let’s be a people who know the Holy Spirit’s latest news more than we do the news networks’ latest headlines.

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#PastorsTip #Revelation2 #HearTheSpirit #HolySpirit #Listen #Headphones

Get Dirty in Service!

There are days and seasons when it is a leader’s time and prerogative to get dirty in their service. The Israelites who were returning from captivity had their ancient city of Jerusalem sitting in shambles, and every able-bodied person (including leaders) was needed to rebuild the city for purposes of religious worship, security, and for functioning once again as a community.

“The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallun… ruler of the district of Mizpah. He rebuilt it, roofing it over and putting its doors and bolts and bars in place.

He also repaired the wall of the Pool of Siloam, by the King’s Garden, as far as the steps going down from the City of David.

Beyond him, Nehemiah… ruler of a half-district… made repairs up to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool and the House of the Heroes.”

~ Nehemiah 3:15-16

While we [as Pastors] should not be busy doing things on a day-to-day basis that are at the expense of prayer and preaching (see Acts 6:1-7), there are times that the most needful of things is to get down and dirty! Our service should be based upon what the Kingdom of God (the Church) needs the most, and not based upon our pride of position. Jesus Himself set the tone and example for leaders getting dirty in service:

“When He had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ He asked them. ‘… Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you… ‘”

~ John‬ ‭13:12-17‬

Different personality types with different giftings will gravitate to certain kinds of service, whether it is a physical, cerebral, empathetic, administrative, or other form of service. Let’s be sure we are serving in ways that are most needful that day, and not just in forms of service that are always personally satisfying.

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#PastorsTip #Nehemiah3 #John13 #Leaders #Service #DownAndDirty #KingdomOfGod #Church #FootWash

Christ is Faithful

Christ has no hidden loopholes in His promises. He has willingly, joyously, and with full knowledge of our past, present, and future, committed Himself to us, The Church, His Bride.

His commitment is to The Church as a whole, and to us Individually. Thankfully, His faithfulness is not based upon what we “feel” or “think” about ourselves. His faithfulness is based upon His character and His word.

When He has a rough day “at the office” He doesn’t come home, kick the dog, and slap His bride around. He is the perfect God Who created the universe, and created us.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our harts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

( 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 )

He created us in perfection, but being born into a sin-world we have become damaged goods. Thankfully, He looks beyond our scars, loves us today, and is healing His bride to the point that we will be without “spot or wrinkle.”

We can trust Christ, He is faithful!

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The Jesus-Kind of Tolerance

A woman who was caught having a sexually immoral relationship was dragged before Jesus. The people wanted Him to help stone her to death.  After dialogues with them for a while, each one of them started to walk away.

Finally, it was just Jesus and the woman standing there:

“Jesus… asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’
‘No one, sir,’ she said.
‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared.
‘Go now and leave your life of sin.'”

( John 8:10-11 )

Jesus offered her grace and not condemnation, two qualities that we ALL appreciate when we have sinned.

Notice too that Jesus’ tolerance did not go so far as to condone or approve of the ongoing practice of her sin.  His tolerance included His admonition and His warning to discontinue engaging in the sin.

In our society’s current climate of various groups asking for (and some are outright demanding) “tolerance” for their lifestyle by Christians and Pastors, they define tolerance differently. The society-kind of tolerance is where many want not just non-condemnation, and not just silence, but outright approval of their chosen lifestyle by the Church in both word and in action.

The Jesus-kind of tolerance does not condemn the wrong doer, but it DOES still define “sin” as being wrong, it DOES admonish and encourage a discontinuation of the sin by the wrong doer.

We have ALL been the wrong doer at some point (ok, at MANY points) in our lives, and many of us have experienced the incredible love, grace, and non-condemning response of Jesus as we have stood before Him. We also have taken to heart very seriously His admonition and encouragement that followed us as we went back to our daily life: “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Fellow believers, let’s be gracious in our relationships and encounters with others.  Let’s definitely speak the truth, but let’s do so in love.

And finally, a verse that my wife and I really love because we ourselves have each received the kindness of the Jesus-kind of tolerance:

“… realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance (a change of the mind and heart that results in a changed lifestyle)”

( Romans 2:4 )

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Sundays are Church Day

In the New Testament the Apostles called Sunday, “The Lord’s Day,” (it was the day of the week that Christ rose back to life and exited the grave) and very early on became the day of the week that Christians gathered for Fellowship, Prayer, Worship, and Hearing the Preaching of the Word.

The primary word for Church in the Greek language is “Ecclesia.”  The root meaning of this word is literally “the called out ones.”

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