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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Spinning Plates

You've probably seen it before. It's a variation of juggling. One person by himself, or perhaps with an assistant, places plates, one after another, on vertical rods and tries to keep them all spinning. They add more and more until they are running back and forth at a crazy pace.

The principal is of course not to let any of the plates drop, but to impress us with the skill of doing so much at one time. 

It's great to watch, and very entertaining, but it takes skill and determination to keep those plates spinning and no matter how talented the performer is, he will drop some plates. 

That's what being a pastor feels like to me. I'm not sure that's how it's supposed to feel, but it does. There is just always too much to do, and no pastor wants to drop plates.

I know many think that the 'job' of a pastor has to be an easy one, just preach Sunday you're done for another week. But the truth is, it's the hardest thing I've ever done... by far. 

There are always people that are in need of either a visit, or prayer, or encouragement, or counsel, or correction... or the list goes on. There are always things that need to be done, or said, to further the gospel or take ministry forward that it 'seems' that only the pastor can do. There are always a multitude of little things to be done around the church, waiting for someone to get to them or at least approve them. 

Yet, spinning plates is a form of entertainment; it's show business. As I said earlier, it requires talent, skill, and determination and it's done to impress the viewer. That's what much of the church has come to expect of a pastor too... But, it's not God's call on the pastor to impress or display his talent or skill. The pastor is not a performer. The pastor is called to care for, to equip, and to 'lead' the flock of God, not to display his giftings... And not to spin plates. 

Am I saying that I have no one to assist me? No. We have some great workers in our church, yet honestly many, if not most, are content to sit back and take in the show. I think that's the way it is in most churches.

There is so much to be done, and so little time to do it. My prayer today is for laborers in the field. I'm tired of feeling like I'm spinning plates... Probably many pastors feel this way! But, I don't want to impress any more, I want to equip, and empower. Will you join the team of assistants and take your place along side me? If you aren't from ALT, will you take the place beside your pastor?

We aren't in the business of entertainment, we are in the business of winning souls. Let's do the business of this Kingdom together!

Here is a link to a video that illustrates the performance. This one is based in comedy too,so I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We say God is our friend...

We say God is our friend, but we treat him like a stranger.

We treat him like a waiter:
"If he's lucky," we give him a nod and say a quick "thank you" when he puts the food on our table.  If he treats us really good, we might give him a little extra.

We treat him like a neighbor:
We speak to him in passing. "Hello there sir!" Then we go on by, without stopping to get acquainted.

We treat him like the young lady behind the doughnut counter:
We ask for what looks good to us that day, expecting him to just give us whatever we ask for, but without a hint of relationship.  "Can I get one of these please, and Oh! could you please get me some of the others, over there, too. They look so delicious."

We treat him like the attendant at the gas station:
We will give him what we feel is required, but not without complaining that the price is too high.

We treat him like someone who looks familiar to us on the street.
We'll give him a second glance, or we may even "wave at him" in a worship service... But we don't stop to spend time face to face, so we never really know him. He's just a little familiar to us.

We say God is our friend...
..but we treat him like a stranger.

Take time to get to know him today. He's the best friend you'll ever have.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Church Needs Rehab

Today’s church needs rehab!  Rehabilitation, is the process of restoring to a condition of health or ability to work. It means to restore to a former capacity, standing, rights, and/or privilege. It can also mean to reestablish a good reputation.

When a person has an injury, they must often set up an appointment with a therapist for rehabilitation for that injured part of their body. Or, if a person has fallen into a lifestyle of substance abuse, for instance, they sometimes must undergo rehabilitation. Rehab allows the person to regain what was lost by the injury or abuse, to take back their life and again start living more fully.

I believe the church has come to the place that it needs rehabilitation. The Body of Christ, is in need of restoration, renewal, or to use a better known term associated with the church, revival. 

We are not operating at our former capacity of faith.  Our ability to ‘work’ has seemingly been stripped away, by complacency and American commercialism. We’re losing rights and privileges daily. We are losing our good reputation as we are so wrapped up in our own agendas that we fail to be the light of Christ that we are called to be. We have lost effectiveness because we operate like a club, rather than a living entity.

The church has wandered from the standards of biblical holiness, and I’m not referring to style of dress.  We have shirked responsibility in our communities. We have compromised, because we didn’t want to seem politically incorrect. We have failed to love those who are in opposition to us, acting as though we can win them by some militant action.

The truth though, is that the church is a living body.  It includes many members, who each have a function.  Christ is the head, the one who is calling the shots. As members of His Body, it’s our responsibility to act according to His mandate. 

This is why I say we need rehab. The head (Jesus) is sending signals to the body, but the body (the Church) isn’t getting them. We’ve lost our ability to hear his instruction, and we’ve been acting independently.  Rehab, renewal, revival, can fix that.

You may be thinking, if we go back to some former capacity, we will lose our edge in being relevant to today’s world.  That’s completely untrue. Our God is bigger than history, he’s bigger than our present.  He’s certainly God enough to handle the future. Jesus has just what this world is in need of, and if we the church can get the signal from the head of the church, we will be fully equipped to handle the challenges of today, and the days to come. We need to be rehabilitated.

So what does the rehabilitation of the church look like?  I believe it starts with prayer and returning to the Word of God (the Bible).  We need to reestablish the communication with the head of the church, Jesus. We need to hear what Christ is saying in His Word, not just what we hope or believe He is saying.  We need to pray together, until the walls of our pride and arrogance fall.  We also need to begin to talk to one another, across our lines of demarcation and love one another again.

We need to then create new habits. We need to learn to walk again, according to His Word. We should ‘be’ love personified. Not just showing love, but habitually being love.  Not some watered down version that condones godless living in the church, but love that will speak the truth to a world going to Hell in a hand basket. Love that says that you don’t have to stay in the bondage you are in, because there is a way to become new in Christ and that freedom comes by His power not ours. We need to bring integrity back to the pulpit and the pew, and make truth a habit like it was in the past.

Rehabilitation in the church may be difficult, and it won’t happen overnight, but regaining what was lost is rarely easy.  Rehabilitation takes commitment and determination, but it’s worth it, and it’s needed. The church needs rehab right away, and the good news is that our therapist (God’s Spirit) has openings available. Won’t you sign up to regain what we have lost? Make your appointment for rehab today.