Category Archives: Church

Pray For Our POTUS, Our Nation ~ in this time of North Korean threat

hand reaching

O Mighty God, we thank you that you have your hand on our president, Donald J. Trump, in this time of crisis with North Korea and the threats of their tyrannical and antagonistic leader. We thank you that you have reached out your hand over our nation to protect America and its territories in this season of crisis.

We know that in prayer, we do not fight flesh and blood, but powers in the spirit realm and principalities that exist there. In this crisis with North Korea, All Mighty God, send your warrior angels to defeat the minions of the evil one making their camp in that isolated and withdrawn land. Let Your divine and perfect will be done in this situation and all glory and honor go to You. In Jesus name, amen.

Psalm 91New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Security of the One Who Trusts in the Lord.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
9 For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12 They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14 “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 “With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.”

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My Super-Duper Devotional ~ but she got something better from it

Light blub

A while back, I’d written a really good inspirational piece. I thought I’m so blessed to have been able to set these words out with the intention of blessing others. And they did, just not in the way I thought.

So, this incredibly nice woman contacted me through social media to let me know what that inspirational piece had meant to her and what a revelation it had been. I read everything she’d put down and went, huh? How did she get that from what I wrote. What she got was powerful, but it had nothing to do with what I’d written. How on earth did she get that?

Well, it wasn’t on earth. As soon as I’d wondered that, I heard the Holy Spirit whispering inside my spirit. “She got it from Me.”

I wondered some more. Had God been trying for some time to get her to see that, and finally I was the vehicle through which He got through to her. PTL

I wondered how many preachers marvel that after spending hours preparing a fantastic sermon, a person in the pews breathlessly shares what a breakthrough they got, but it had nothing, whatsoever, to do with the sermon?

All this shows me that we on earth do not provide the revelation. That comes from heaven. We can be blessed to be the vehicle through which it flows to someone else, but we do not generate the epiphany. That comes from God.

 


My Church Is Having a ‘Onward’ ~ 2017 New Year 21-Day Fast

21-day-fast

This is a corporate fast with prayer. New Life Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville does this every year 21-days before Superbowl. We break the fast at sundown Superbowl Sunday. And I’m sure everyone has a great time feasting (translate = pigging out) on that Sunday evening.

The focus of this corporate fast isn’t only on cutting out things we could be overindulging in. The emphasis is on fasting and prayer. The pastor gave us a small fasting study guide along biblical lines. For example there is the Daniel Fast which is designed to eliminate meat, sweets, and bread. Water, juice, fruits and veggies are consumed. [Daniel 1: 11-13]

My best friend at church told me she was going to eliminate beef and pork for the 21-days. Anyone who is struggling with something such as quitting smoking might find this a supportive time to stop.

Ushers not only passed out a printed guide with the biblical types of fasts, we were also given a printed “Week One Devotional” with a memory verse, a prayer, suggested scripture for further study, and a place for us to write notes. Of course, week two and week three devotionals will be handed out as we progress through this fast.

We were also given a list of topics to pray and/or meditate upon during the fast.

1. Revival in America

2. Complete Personal Freedom

3. Blessing Over Troubles

4. Wisdom From Above

5. Victory Over Our Enemy

During this 21-day period the church will be open at different specified times, so people can gather and pray together while fasting. There is great spiritual benefit for a church body to enter into this type of fasting and prayer. This is a tremendous opportunity for individual church members to spiritually grow and for the church to spiritually grow as a whole.

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GRACE, God’s Unmerited Favor by Charles Spurgeon ~ a review

Grace, God's Unmerited FavorI found myself without Wi-Fi or cable in a tiny house in Florida for two and a half weeks. Knowing I would be technologically starved (except for outings to McDonald’s or Wendy’s for free Wi-Fi), I decided to read several works I’d put off for years. GRACE, GOD’S UNMERITED FAVOR by Charles Spurgeon was one of them. To be honest, this work had always been a bit intimidating. After all, the author was a pastoral, evangelical, and theological giant of his era.

Having made the commitment to open the book, I was struck by the simplicity of Spurgeon’s writing. In Chapter 1, ‘The Covenant of Grace’, he writes:

This is all of it. Do you believe in Christ? Then God will work in you “to will and do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). God will conquer your sin; God will sanctify you; God will save you: God will keep you: God will bring you to Himself. Rest in this covenant. Then moved by intense gratitude, go forward to serve your Lord with all your heart and soul and strength.

What could be plainer than this? What could be simpler language? And yet, I had been intimidated by the name Spurgeon for years and had put off opening the book.

He writes with eloquence. The passage ‘From Eternity Past’ is stunning. He talks about the time before the earth and stars, “that time before all time — when God dwelt alone.”

In this thin volume Spurgeon says he’s striving to give us the “natural and grammatical teaching” of Bible verses as they relate to the Covenant of Grace..

To me it was astonishing to find the words below because I’ve long believed freedom and liberty have their origin in the Bible. Here Spurgeon declares they are part of the Covenant of Grace.

There is no doctrine like it for putting a backbone into a man and making him feel that he is something better than to be trodden down like straw for the dunghill beneath a despot’s heel.

Spurgeon further points out it’s not any old grace. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter specifically stated, “We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.”

I can’t find fault with Spurgeon’s teaching on God’s rod of chastisement, though modern ‘grace teachers’ would certainly use contemporary language and nuance it in a much different manner. The doctrine of grace as presented by the author is not one of the license, which some critics fear comes with this teaching. Far from it. It is one whereby the believer’s heart cries out for a deeper relationship with a Holy God.   

 


Never Enough Pastor Appreciation

Pastor

The second Sunday in October (10/15/2015) is Pastor Appreciation Day, and the entire month of October is Pastor Appreciation Month.

It’s quite common for Christians to ‘church shop’ when moving to a new community, or if they’re dissatisfied with their current church. They visit a number of churches until they find a church that fills their needs.

It’s good to find a church that’s just right. If a couple has an infant, a church with a nursery program is ideal. Senior members might need to be picked up by the church van. Mostly, every Christian needs a pastor whose preaching touches their soul.

Could I suggest that once the Holy Spirit has indicated what church to attend, that all the members of the congregation give their support to the pastor. That would be encouragement, lending a hand, prayer, and yes…financial support. May I also suggest the reason the Holy Spirit sends anyone to a particular church is to be of service in the Kingdom.

Most Christians have no idea of the amount of work involved in running a church, the number of hours the pastor puts in. Members of the church often can’t comprehend how stressful it is for his family living in a fishbowl.

Is it biblical to show public and open appreciation for the pastor?

1 Thessalonians 5: 12-13 [NASB] ~

12 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.


Most Pastors Are NOT on the Ashley Madison List ~ most are NOT unfaithful

Lipstik on CollarReportedly there have been up to 38 million Ashley Madison users. Ashley Madison, of course, is the organization that sought to facilitate and protect those seeking extra-marital affairs. Their slogan was: Life is short. Have an affair.

Well, Ashley Madison was hacked and its list of users leaked. Apparently upwards of 400 pastors and church leaders were on that list. While I do not condone any pastors or church leaders appearing on that list, let’s keep it in perspective. That’s 400 pastors and church leaders out of a total of 38 million users.

What does the 38 million figure actually represent? It is people who have created a profile on Ashley Madison. It breaks down into approximately 32.5 million men and 5.5 million women. Journalists who have looked at the profiles have noted that a large percentage of people (especially the women) who created profiles never actually used the site. Of that 32.5 million men and the 5.5 million women with profiles who may or may not have used the site, there appears to be only 400 pastors and church leaders. I say, ‘only’ because I’m relieved about that small number. Then I take a slow breath, and of course, that’s 400 too many. Then again, the way some have been reporting it and others have been commenting on social media, you’d think half the church was on the list.

I’ve tried to find the total number of Christian pastors, world-wide, and discover it’s an elusive figure. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, there are 33,000 Christian denominations. Presumably they have numerous churches headed by pastors and they have associate pastors, youth pastors, and various church leaders. I wonder if that would even come close to 38 million? I seriously doubt it.

Most pastors are workhorses who are overburdened. The public is aware of the televangelists, the prosperity preachers who own their own private jets. These high-profile pastors keep incredibly tight work schedules often preaching for weeks on end without a day off. That is also often the case with the pastor down the street, minus the jet of course. Then you have the bi-vocational pastor whose church can’t afford to pay a salary and he works 8-hours a day as a plumber, stock clerk, customer service rep, or the like. After putting in a full work-day, he prepares his sermon and counsels distressed members of his flock. According to the website “Pay Scale,” the average senior pastor’s salary range is from $27,288 to $89,076. Yearly bonuses range from zero to less then $8K. Many small and even medium sized churches do not offer any retirement and/or healthcare package to paid staff. Just to be fair and balanced, most, if not all of the prosperity preachers do offer their staff these benefits packages.

I do not believe God condones hacking and leaking any more than He condones adultery. However, He can use it to clean house. And I must confess, when I first thought of this, I gave a mirthless chuckle. Yes, I did, out of nerves. I also thought of the 38 million Ashley Madison users and noted that the devil doesn’t protect his own. In fact he used one branch of his empire to strike at another. I couldn’t help but laugh again. Not a funny, satisfying, ha-ha laugh. Not at all, but a laugh nonetheless.

Tomorrow (Sunday) or later this week, four hundred men will resign from their church positions. There will be no laughter in the pews of those churches. It will be heart-rending and excruciating for those men, their wives and children, and for the faithful who sit in the pews. The entire body of Christ must keep them in prayer and remember we are under God’s grace. With God’s grace there is room for repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. Repentance and forgiveness can be instant. But restoration takes time…months, not days, and many times years. There’s a restoration walk to walk, an open, healthy, and honorable track record to establish. There’s also usually accountability. Those who have transgressed, especially those who are high profile and in leadership, should show a willingness to come under spiritual authority…an elder or leader in their denomination or the pastor of another church who is unbeholden to them should oversee their Christian walk.

It is time to look at this issue and the larger issue of morality in the clergy and in church leadership squarely and without hysteria. Fortunately we have a book that tells us how to do this. It’s called the Bible. Remember, the overwhelming majority of pastors and church leaders are slogging it out in the trenches, often a difficult and thankless job.


Church Security Conference ~ August 7-8 in Colorado Springs

police cars

 

 

The 11th Annual National Church Security Conference will be held at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado on August 7th and 8th.

This event sounds like something more and more churches would be interested in due to today’s precarious environment. Incredibly, it’s estimated 75% of all American churches have no security plan in place. They have never discussed with their leadership and volunteers what to do in a violent emergency.

This conference is a way for pastors and church leaders to raise their awareness in this crucial area. The keynote speaker is senior pastor at New Life Church Brady Boyd who promises to deliver “real meat” for developing a church security team.

Among the topics to be presented are:

  • Preparedness
  • Clear and Present Danger, what are the current and new threats against churches
  • An integrated example of a multi-tiered team; both armed and unarmed
  • The New Life Church medical team will speak on gun shot wound treatment
  • pastoral protection
  • a speaker from the Department of Homeland Security will speak on current threats
  • a special screening of the film “Obsession – Radical Islam’s War Against The West”

 


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