Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Does What we Say Ever Sink In?

I read of Jesus on the boat with the disciples or standing at the foot of the mountain, and wondering if the disciples will ever grow in their own faith and trust in God.  I think for every leader and teacher we hope that others will grasp what it is we are trying to pass on.  Unfortunately the results we are hoping and praying for in others seems to miss the mark time and time again.  We are left wondering how effective we are, and sometimes it becomes discouraging.

We must remember that people may be listening, and growing in ways that we are not seeing right at this moment.  I remember how amazed I was the first time I heard the fact that most trees have a larger root system than the branches we see above the ground.  We can learn from this fact of nature that what is seen is often smaller than what is going on under the surface.  We may see someone go from attending a service or study once in a few months to one day seeing them coming almost each week.  The change going on in the heart has likely been greater than we will ever know.

I knew a man who thought going to church or any Bible study was irrelevant to life.  He was under the impression that all the churches of America wanted was the money of those who attended.  He came to a Bible study,  once or twice with a friend and remained skeptical.  Several weeks later he came again, with questions, and seeking some encouragement of others.  Over three years a transformation took place in his life.  He not only became a regular in the Bible study, but starting to be a regular in church services.  Then he began to see needs and volunteering to help in the church.  There were many who questioned how holy or religious the man really was.  Then the man started to show his insight from personal Bible study and prayer.  He started to trust God and began to share how important trust in God, and in the church really was.

I think we sometimes get wrapped up in results in our churches so much that we miss the slow and steady changes going on right around us.  Not everyone is going to have a lightning changing event, as Paul did on the Damascus road.  We may preach and teach the truth of God for months or years before the first signs of real spiritual growth becomes evident in someone's life.  It isn't always the numbers that should matter, but the changes God is making in the lives of those we are called to care for.  Often our own lives will be transformed along the way as well.

Keep teaching, preaching, and reaching with God's truth.  Then let Him worry about how fast the crop of the heart and soul grows.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Are We Defeating Ourselves?

Are we opening ourselves up to failure or defeat?  I have been reviewing some of my old journals, and it pains me to say I have allowed myself to be defeated at times.  Satan may be fighting us in life.  However, the greatest power we have to overcome is ourselves.  It is easy to get off track.  We have dreams, vision, ideas, and plans.  We work to see these through, and when several of these hopes seemed dashed by our futile attempts we get discouraged.

In speaking with other pastors I find that depression over our ministries seems always near the door.  We can admit that Satan is fighting us, and this is a tool.  Yet, we also must come to the point of realizing God is bigger than the issues at hand.  We also must realize that we alone can do very little.  We must have the anointing of God in us.  We also must be bringing others along into the work and witness for the Lord.

I will admit, especially in the smaller church, it is easier to say 'I'll just do it myself.'  We are to be a community, and we must bring the people within our community with us in the journey.  I am in the process of trying to relearn this in my own life.  It is not easy to trust that things will not be dropped, but I am constantly reminding myself that just because some may fail to follow through, others will shine.

Christ called people to follow Him, and we know the 12 and some others followed closely right to His return to heaven.  It was those few committed people who transformed the world by carrying the message into the world.  May we learn from Christ to keep calling others along the journey of ministry, and transform the communities we live in.

Remember God's Spirit empowers us, but we have to be open and listening to the Spirit's moving in our lives.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Change in the Will of God, or my will?

I have been recently studying through the call for a king in 1 Samuel.  It is very common for us to become unsatisfied with where life is, or how we feel things are.  We demand a change.  What I am coming to question is how much change is really God's will, and how much is the will of our own desire.

A man meets the pastor for a cup of coffee and some advise.  While sharing with the pastor the man says that he feels God is telling him to take a new job across the country.  There is prospect of more money, a bigger house, and other benefits of such an opportunity.  It is only a few years latter that we hear from the family and the man is working 60 hours a week, and rarely sees his family.  They have stopped going to church, because of job demands. We are left to wonder if that man really was in God's will or seeking his own glory or blessing.

The same thing happens in churches sometimes.  Ideas are presented by an eager minister or church leader.  He or she may say that it is God's desire to build a new building, or start a new mission work.  They present the ideas to a church hungry to be a part of God's will, and to do something for the Lord.  Soon the church finds itself racked in debt, or setting themselves down a road that causes difficulty.  Only in looking back may the church leader or local church think that a little more prayer and openness to the spirit may have been needed.

I think many of us in ministry face the challenge of keeping balance in our leadership.  There are times we are satisfied to work the plan God has placed us in, and there are other times that we feel change is needed.  The issue is not  that change is bad.   We must take more time to be sure we are following God's leading and not our own natural tendency toward self-promotion, personal power, and or selfish gain.

Let us not like Israel demand ourselves a king, if God is our true King.  Let us remember who's kingdom we are representing.