Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Reflections on the Call to Pastor- part 2

There has been much said recently about Pastoral abuse, sexual abuse, and books about churches that abuse. With each negative report comes confusion of what the Pastoral Call is and isn't.

A scriptural warning was issued not to be lords over God's heritage or flock:
1 Pet 5:3
Don't be tyrants, but lead them by your good example...(TLB)
...not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock.(RSV)
Having been an Army Drill sergeant, I know what lording it over or to be domineering is all about. Peter said that leaders were not to treat God's people that way. And yet the abuse continues of God's people! We as leaders stand in dire consequence of judgment for how we treat the flock of God. Remember it is His flock not yours, your are just an undershepherd of the Great Shepherd.

I have been guilty of being a lord over some, arguing, hurting, and the like. Over the years I have repented and taken a different tract as a Pastor as I have come to understand what my Pastoral role is in caring for God's people.

A pastor is one:
1. Who speaks into peoples lives. He is to feed the flock of God.
2. Who doesn't make decisions for people.
3. Who doesn't TELL them what to do. (Unless what they plan to do is in flagrant violation of Scriptures, and then you urge them to stop.)
4. Who is a resource for them to draw on. If you come to me seeking God's direction about a matter, and you share the matter with me, I'll draw on my years of experience and the lessons I've learned in life and from the Word, and offer you my counsel, and will pray for God's way to be made clear to you.
5. Who demonstrates the 'Agape' love of God no matter what His people do to you or how they treat you. A Pastor doesn't retaliate, harm, try to get even, nor hurt one of His.
6. Who always goes the extra mile to help God's people even when they have harmed you; you always have open arms to recieve them back.
7. Who never gives up on His saints.
8. Who is available and approachable.
9. Who is never too busy!
10. Who stands as a great example to the flock of God by living above reproach with regard to gals (sexual purity), gold (responsible with finances), and glory (no pride or desire for fame)!
11. Who places the care of his personal family as utmost importance because they are his 'first church.'
12. Who maintains a fresh, passionate, up-to-date relationship with the Lord of his calling.

There are more and I encourage you to add to the list. May we walk out our Pastoral Call with the utmost care and concern for God's people and be great examples to them.

Reflections on the Call to Pastor- part 1

"Pastor, your preaching is great! We need to buy TV equipment and get you on TV!" I replied, 'God has not called me to be a TV preacher or radio personality, He has called me to care for His sheep here locally.'

That is my drive and ambition, to be the best pastor that I can in serving God and His sheep. I believe that is my specific calling. I want to give some reflections on the call to pastor in the next couple of blogs.

"There is a specific calling to pastor. If you don't have that calling from God and yet you are pastoring anyway, you are living a lie. To one called to an office, God will give the grace, wisdom, patience, and anointing to fulfill that office. If you are not called to that office, you will not be able to fulfill it with grace, wisdom, patience, and anointing. In order to hold on to that office, you'll have to lie to yourself and others, play one person against another, threaten, and manipulate people. Sadly, in my opinion, that is common." BrotherMel
Years ago I was in a conference here in Dallas with John Maxwell and Bill Hybels. An amazing thing happened. Bill Hybels spoke about ministry gifts. He said that if you didn't have the ministry gift of leadership and you were serving as Senior Pastor or number one man, then you needed to reconsider your call. He said you may have a call to be a number two man rather than a number one lead man. The results were sobering. Men began to cry and stood telling of their dilemma. What were they to do? The answer was dramatic, 'Go back, step down and find what you are called to do!'

2 Peter 1:10
Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure (to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election; for if you do this, you will never stumble or fall. AMP

We need to make our calling sure. We need to walk in what God has called us to with the grace, wisdom, patience, and anointing that He gives us.

Saturday, May 20, 2006 check it out

Check out this cool new website that one of Jason's friends started. Jason edited the videos that are on the site.

It is designed to be an apologetic and witnessing site to reach those on the internet.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Regardless of age Integrity is Important!

I heard the following true story yesterday while sitting with a family at the hospital during surgery for their husband and dad.

A little boy was outside raking leaves with his dad. He asked his dad if keeping promises is important. His dad assured him that it was.

He asked, "Dad, should I keep my promises?' His dad responded yes, wondering what at his age he had promised and to whom.

After hearing that, the little boy put his rake down and said, 'Dad, you are going to have to get someone else to help you. I promised Johnny that I would come out and play with him today so I need to go!'
Prov 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.(NIV)

2 life lessons here:

1. Don't make promises you don't plan to complete or know you can't honor, it will hurt and disappoint someone.

2. Keep your promises, it is an integrity issue.

James 5:12
But most of all, dear brothers, do not swear either by heaven or earth or anything else; just say a simple yes or no so that you will not sin and be condemned for it.(TLB)

Monday, May 15, 2006

What a Great Week!

It was a wonderful week. Had a great Birthday with church people, parties given by my Life Group and one by the Leadership Team. I always get great birthday cards from everyone. Some of the more humorous ones I read at church. The best was the one above- can we say 'boogers' in church?

Recently, I ministered a series on 'Breaking Family Strongholds.' It was well received and many were set free from current struggles.

So for Mother's Day I ministered on Generational Blessings. The culmination of that sermon and my hearts joy was seeing families at the altar with hands laid on each other, group hugging, tears and them praying a generational blessing over their families. BTW, the young boy in the pic is learning early the importance of a generational blessing.

What a great joy floods my soul today!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Today is my Birthday!

Today I celebrate my 57th birthday!

To some that means I am too old to be cutting edge, relevant, emerging, for this generation. 'Go ahead- Just hang it up!'

But to me it means that I am growing in life experiences and character everyday with the gray hair (what's left of it) that according to the The Message Bible speaks the following:

Prov 16:31
Gray hair is a mark of distinction, the award for a God-loyal life.

Prov 20:29
Youth may be admired for vigor, but gray hair gives prestige to old age.

Note to young ministers- make sure you have someone with gray hair in your circle of friends and confidants!

To me God is not finished with me yet! I continue to be intensely in love with Jesus. I enjoy the delight of my life and the wife of my youth, Debi. I rejoice in two sons (plus a wonderful daughter-in-love) that love the Lord and are serving Him in ministry. I am enjoying pastoring more each day and love the great saints at The Vine. I am thankful for an outstanding staff-The Dream Team! I cherish all the meaningful friends that God has put in my life! Also, I have the greatest sister and her family one could have- we were dynamically rejoined through the death of our Dad.

So much more to do- God has granted another season!

With the years you learn many things- here's one:
If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

Thank you Jesus!

Monday, May 08, 2006

We do need revival- in the Saints!

Just said good bye to Dirk Wood, my friend, great evangelist, and missionary to Cape Town, South Africa. He was with us over the weekend and preached for us in the services on Sunday. As always, our people loved him, his Christian street 'rap,' and his challenging us to personal revival.

He preached how the Word of God is the key to revival fires in one's heart and if you don't have fire your aren't reading the Word of God! He's right, there is so much to read and watch out there, that often times the Word is the last thing to be read if read at all!

Look at these stats from George Barna's assessment of the spiritual condition of 77 million American adults who are churched, born again Christians:

Bi-weekly attendance at services is generally the only time they worship God.

Eight out of every ten don't feel they've experienced a real connection with God during the worship experience.

Most will die without leading a single person to Christ; indeed the majority thinks it's not a significant responsibility of theirs.

While believing the Bible to be God's Word, they spend ten times more time watching television, listening to music, reading other books and conversing about personal hobbies and leisure interests.

When asked what constitutes success in life, most talked about professional achievement, family solidarity, physical accomplishments or financial success.

As a group they give about three percent of their income each year to God's work, and feel pleased with their "sacrificial" generosity.

Fewer than one out of ten tithes, although more than one third of them claim to.

Fewer than one out of six has a relationship with another believer through which Spiritual accountability is provided and growth achieved.

The vast majority relies on their church rather than their family to train their children to become Spiritually mature.

The likelihood of their marriages ending in divorce is the same as that of non-church goers, and few of them pray together except at meal times.

Most Christian parents don't believe they're doing a good job at facilitating the Spiritual development of their children, yet they're unwilling to pay the price to do it.

We desperately need help, Lord!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Where do post-charismatics go?

The charismatic movement was a move of God that literally brought millions of people into salvation and a closer walk with God. I was introduced to God during this time. I followed His call on my life and have been in the ministry since 1978. But church now is not what it was then. We have entered to what many call the post-charismatic times.

J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma Magazine, estimated that in 1990, there were as many as 92 million believers world-wide who identified themselves as post-charismatic. Some had moved into more conservative evangelical churches, and many dropped out of church altogether. Grady describes post-charismatics in this way:

"Burned out on hype and pulpit showmanship, weary of learning 95 ways to use spiritual gifts when they recognize more basic needs, these believers are in search of a deeper spirituality that emphasizes the fruit of the Spirit as much or more than the gifts."

Grady's words, written over a 16 years ago, ring true today for many charismatics. Unfortunately, many of them find it too difficult, or too emotionally exhausting, to sort through all the practices and teachings to discern the good from the bad. They simply withdraw and consider that chapter of their lives closed. One such person, recently leaving a charismatic fellowship, commented that he was planning to attend a more mainline, liturgical church -- not because he really wanted to join the church, but because he'd heard that "it's the church where wounded ex-charismatics tend to go".

What do we do and where do we go? I have seen people leave our church for more traditional settings. Then some break away, start a new church, and try to capture again what God did 30 years ago without regard for the culture shift, what God is doing now, nor the new things that He is doing. They still want the shout and manifestations of the Spirit.

My philosophy of ministry is changing and emerging everyday as I try to keep in step with God.

I don't want it said of me that 'he got stuck in a rut,' because a rut is the same as a grave- just not as deep!

Monday, May 01, 2006

any given Sunday..

Any given Sunday
folks are congregating
In cathedrals and gymnasiums
and everything between.
There’s liturgy that some say
and some are rock and rollin,
But rest assured most everyone
will take an offering.
There’s confusion and confession
interruption, intercession,
Holiness and imperfection
any given Sunday.

Any given Sunday
preachers do their preaching
Some with whispers
some with shouts
They all go way past noon.
And you can count on singing
There’s every kind of music
There’s hymns and Bach and folk and pop
And most of it’s in tune.
Hearts are mending, hearts are breaking,
There’s some giving and some taking,
Some folks find what some are faking
any given Sunday..

And God is in his heaven, but he’s also in those pews
I bet sometimes he’s angry and that sometimes he’s amused
But we can know for certian that his heart is always moved
By the praises of his children
Yeah, he’s always glad to hear them
And that’s why it really matters
That two or more are gathered
any given Sunday..

Carolyn Arends, from “Under the Gaze”