Tag Archives: calling

Corporate Prayer as a Means of Focus

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. John 5:19

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35

camera lensIf your church is anything at all like mine, there is a pretty limitless supply of human needs and desperation within a 5 mile radius of it in any direction. There are single moms struggling to make ends meet, there is poverty and homelessness, there are drug addicts and prostitutes, there are sick people and broken people…lots of reminders all around us that we live in a broken world. I wonder if all that brokenness causes you to lose sleep at night, trying to discern what needs are your church’s to meet and what ones are not?

You cannot meet them all. And even if you could, it is probably not God’s assignment for your church to meet them all. He is funny that way. Like a tornado which touches down on one house and leaves the one next to it standing, God’s assignments for us often have us meeting needs in one person (or one family or one group), without meeting the needs of scores of others all around them.

That was the disciples’ experience with Jesus in John, chapter 5 at the pool at Bethesda. A pool surrounded by a “multitude” of crippled and lame people. The disciples followed Jesus to the pool, watched him heal one man, and then watched him leave all the others behind. I don’t know about you, but that would have troubled me a great deal! …

Pastor Sisyphus’ Bad Day

“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you,
    how will you compete with horses?
And if in a safe land you are so trusting,
    what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?  Jeremiah 12:5

sisyphus

Church leadership, especially the pastorate, can feel a little like the plight of Sisyphus…forever pushing that boulder up the hill with little or no results to show for it.  They won’t pray…they won’t listen…they won’t volunteer or help…they won’t commit.  But, oh, how they will complain! Sometimes you just feel like giving up.

I think every pastor who feels oppressed and burdened and stressed to the point of giving up should take a break and study Jeremiah’s ministry…really try to crawl around in Jeremiah’s skin. I promise, you will feel much better about your own circumstances!

Jeremiah spent 40 years obediently delivering a message nobody wanted to hear. Nobody. At all. He pushed and he pressed. He obediently spoke, again and again. He was ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned, and his own family scoffed at him. And through it all, to the very end, he was so very, very alone. And at the end of 40 years of these tireless efforts, he had not a single conversion to show for it. None. Jeremiah prayed and he begged God to change his assignment. He cried and he pled. He wished he had never even been born. And at one particularly low point of his depression, God’s response to him was something along the lines of “You think this is bad? The hard part hasn’t even started yet!”

But Jeremiah’s plight teaches us something important about how we measure our “success” in answering God’s call (and, just as importantly, how we should NOT measure our success). Maybe there will be amazing results to …

Loving God’s People (When Killing them Would be Easier)

Tuesday Re-mix –

So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold.  But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”  Exodus 32:31-32

Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.  Numbers 14:38

Thinking today about the twelve spies in Numbers who explored and investigated the promised land and reported back to the people.  Ten of the spies brought a discouraging report and two (Joshua and Caleb) brought a faith-filled report.  The people went with the majority report and cowered from the task to which God had called them.  All of them were cursed and sent to wander in the wilderness another forty years.  Caleb and Joshua had to go with them.

I’m wondering if Joshua and Caleb had a regular Tuesday night support group for each other during those forty years of living under the consequences of everyone else’s mistakes. Can you even imagine the frustration…the pain of giving up forty of their best years to pay the price for other people’s sin? Can you imagine the temptation of gathering the entire assembly of Israel together on the annual anniversary of their collective cowardice and, together, Joshua and Caleb yelling out “We told you so!”  But as far as we know, they did no such thing.  As far as we know, Joshua and Caleb bit their tongues and continued to lead well throughout those forty years in the wilderness.  That is what leadership sometimes calls us to do in the church…to suffer the consequences of other people’s mistakes.

But not only is it a call to suffer consequences, it is a call …

Do You Know Why You Work?

Tuesday Re-mix –

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Col. 3:23-24

My dear friend, Dr. Ann Farris, taught me that in this world there are 4 kinds of people: those who ask “What?”, those who ask “How?”, those who ask “Why?” and those who don’t ask any questions but just like to party.  Every good task force or team needs each of these types of people.  I so get that!  Of all the different “temperament” and personality profile studies I have done and seen (isn’t it  shocking how many very bright people over the centuries have devoted themselves to dividing humanity into four categories?) this one may be my favorite.  I  like it because it explains so much.  And I like explanations…

…because I am definitely a “Why?” person.

In every job, with every assignment, even in every game I play, I just need to understand the “why”.  If I don’t, then I’m not very useful, not very effective.  Motivation is everything to me.  That is true in my work with churches (I really do insist that the church understand WHY each of its ministries exists) and it is true in my individual life as well.  Life is just too busy to engage in activities with no purpose at all.

And so it is with our work.  Having a strong work ethic has everything to do with having a grasp of WHY we do it in the first place.  If the best reason you can muster for showing up at work everyday is “to collect a paycheck” (and by the way, I strongly suspect this …