Staying Charged

Obviously, the Lord did some wonderful things in my wife’s heart during our sabbatical.  Here’s today’s post from her blog, and it parallels what I have been sharing here from my heart.

One day I got a message on my phone saying, “When You Version (my Bible app) is open on your phone it drains the battery.  Dismiss app?” I use that app every morning for my Bible reading. I realize…

Source: Staying Charged

Crazy Busy


Rest. Quiet. Relaxed. Tranquil. Unhurried. These are terms that you do not hear much in these days in which we live.  But, quite often you sure hear the following:

  • Life has just been crazy busy!
  • I didn’t have time . . . .
  • I just can’t keep up.
  • Hurry up! We’ve got to grab a burger for supper so we can get to your sister’s cheerleading practice and then take you to your soccer game and get home in time for youto get your homework finished.
  • If I just had more hours in the day!
  • It has been crazy busy around here today at work! (The new buzz word.)
  • Your Dad won’t be home until Friday. He’s got a busy week out on the west coast.

I love the quote from Tim Challies in his review of the book, Crazy Busy.  He says, “Busyness is a funny thing. We have a love/hate relationship with it, so that when we are not boasting in it we are apologizing for it, and when we are not overwhelmed by it we are wanting more of it. We hate what busyness does to us, how it keeps us from friends and families and how it skews our priorities. On the other hand, we love that it validates us, as if the fact that we are busy someone proves our significance.”

Having just completed a 31-day sabbatical, the term crazy busy, when heard, shouts out to me like a frustrated football coach on the sidelines!  Hence, I have a few observations.

  1. We all have the same amount of time every day. So that does away with, “I wish I had more time.”  If we were given more time, we would still need more time.
  2. What we do with our time, which is a gift from the Lord, is a personal, daily, throughout the day, decision.
  3. God designed our bodies to have a sabbath, a time of rest (Genesis 1-2).
  4. We are commanded to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16), and this is every day of our existence.
  5. The Lord invites the weary and worn-out to come to Him for rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

So, where do we begin in dealing with this critical issue of life?  How do we move away from being crazy busy!  At the start of everything, we need to take Genesis 1:1 to heart, In the beginning, God . . . .  At every beginning, all day long, we must begin with God.  Therefore, I would suggest that you understand that each day must begin with God, the Giver of life, breath, mental capabilities, time, strength . . . everything!  You must begin your day sitting at the feet of Jesus, Who is life (John 14:6).  And then, though out your day, as Brother Andrew said, “Practice the presence of God” by consciously thinking on Him and praying for wisdom at the many “beginnings” of your day.  Listen closely.  The Holy Spirit will bring Scripture to mind and speak in the still small voice.  Sometimes, He doesn’t need to say anything because you already know the answer.  Just obey and rest in Him.

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed (Mark 1:35).

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

That doesn’t sound like crazy busy, does it?

Presidential Candidates & Church Ministry

69 and 70.  That’s the ages of our current United States of America presidential candidates.  That’s retirement territory.  That’s well within the AARP range.  I have to step back in a bit of amazement that one of these two older people will hold the highest office in the land with ALL of its responsibilities and expectations.

That brings me to an interesting set of comparisons between a man chosen for the presidency of America and a man chosen for the pastorate of a local church.  It all begins with this thought—

  • For a man to be president, he must have years of experience; but for a church seeking a new pastor, they usually want a man who is young, energetic, educated, and full of new ideas. By the time a pastor reaches his middle fifties, most churches seeking a pastor are not interested because he is too old, and the pastor is not interested because he is too tired.
  • For a presidential candidate, he is not even thinking of retirement. He is, in his sixties and seventies, crisscrossing the United States with “guns blazing” ready to win the election.  An older pastor is slowing down with an eye on retirement.
  • For the presidential candidate, he has fresh ideas of how to “make America great again.” For the older pastor, he tends to just want to hold on to tradition, to what’s comfortable and just bide his time.

This also has application to the members of the local church.  I have never understood the mentality of when you reach your 60’s and start attending the Senior Saints class that it is time to stop serving and “let the younger folks do it.”  Oh, how wrong!  Look at the following passage:

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. 6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. 9 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.  (Titus 2:1-9)

I do not see anything here that even gives the impression that when a believer reaches a certain age he is entitled to come to church and just sit.  Very clearly, though, we see that the older are to teach the younger.  And that is precisely the biblical model . . . older individuals training, discipling the younger. Sure, many folks in their 60’s-90’s cannot keep the pace of a younger individual, but they have much wisdom to impart.  Therefore, invite a younger man or woman to your home to disciple and train in

  • Teaching a Sunday School class
  • Cooking and hospitality
  • Serving as a deacon
  • Ministering to children
  • Parenting
  • Wood-working or some other skill
  • Finances
  • Being a godly husband or wife

So, my encouragement is, older pastors, keep on keeping on!  Stay fresh in the Word and on your knees!  Don’t grow old and stiff and “stuff-shirted.” Find a young man and pour your life into him.  Love him and show him the blessings of ministries.  My dad always said he like to have younger people around him because they made him feel younger.

Aged believers in Christ, “be like a presidential candidate.”  Invest in the lives others rather than believing you are entitled to retirement in your “rocking pew.”

So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. (Psalm 71:18)

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. (Psalm 92:12-15)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Sabbatical Journey #4 – Away

Well, summer is over.  What did you do for your vacation with family or just your spouse or with some friends?  Disney?  The beach?  The mountains? Did you take any day trips?  How about a recreational excursion?  What planning went into your time away?   What was the result of your vacation?  Any take-aways?

Vacations can be a huge refreshment that can leave many wonderful memories, provide a break from your daily routine, and give some much needed rest. Interesting enough, sometimes when you return home, you need another week to just recoup from your vacation (Lol).

Question:  When was the last time you took a spiritual vacation?  No, I do not mean running away or taking a vacation from the Lord, but a planned set of days and location where you and/or family go to grow your relationship with Jesus Christ?  Have you ever taken such a trip?

This sabbatical was so extremely helpful spiritually.  My wife and I spent most of our mornings at home, on the front or back porch, reading, praying, studying, journaling, and listening.  Some days I would travel to the lake, or a secluded mountain top, or a quiet stream and spend my time letting God teach me and whittle away at my heart.

Perhaps you could spend one day a quarter at a place like Fairhaven Ministries, Roan Mountain, TN, and give that whole day to just meeting with the Lord.  Pack your lunch, take your books, and go hide away with the Lord. You, too, could find that lake, stream, mountain top or other secluded area.

Another great opportunity would be to attend Family Camp at a place like The Wilds in Brevard, NC.  There you would have time to get alone with the Lord; time for just you and your spouse to study and pray together; and opportunities to meet together as a family.  The preaching services, music, and workshops would draw you and your whole family closer to the Lord.  And a side note, I promise you would not spend as much on this vacation as you would for the same amount time, motel, and meals as you would at Disney.  And, your whole family will come home stronger in their walk with Christ than if they had spent a week at Disney. (By the way, I’m not hatin’ on Disney. Just sayin’. . .)

So, when you plan for your vacations and get-aways for the months ahead, how about planning some time to get alone with the Lord?  You will never regret it.

Mark 1:35 – 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.

Luke 6:12 – In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

Sabbatical Journey #3 – Time

Beauty Spot, Unaka Mts, TN

We have had several folks ask us what we did on our sabbatical.  Well, here’s a brief look into this blessed 31-day journey.

Going into the month, our goals were, as mentioned in Sabbatical Journey #1, to rest, refine, replenish, recharge and refocus.  My wife and I greatly anticipated TIME . . . TIME to pray, read, seek the Lord, think, prepare, pray, seek the Lord, study, read, pray, think, seek the Lord, etc.  The Lord graciously gave us our hearts desire.  James 4:8 says, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

How wonderful it was to begin the morning meeting with my Lord in such places as our back porch, by a creek near a waterfalls, up high on Beauty Spot, in the sunroom at my in-laws or on the back deck of a lake cottage.  During these days, I read portions of or completed the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. My, how the Lord did speak to my heart!  One of best parts was reading the Truth and then watching the Lord make connections that day either through a book I was reading, situations I found myself in or conversations I had with others. My journal is a treasure to me of what God clearly spoke to my heart!

On August 25th as I sat all alone on the Appalachian Trail with Bible, journal and pen in hand, having just read Colossians 1:24-29, I wrote the following:  As I look down the AT, I see a marker pole with a white blaze, and I am reminded of Jim Eliot’s quote, “Lord, make me a crisis man.  Bring those I contact to decision.  Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”  The more TIME you spend with the Lord, the more you want to be that kind of man.

Thank You, Lord, for TIME to meet with you, uninterrupted and with no time limit.  Eternity will be awesome!!

A Sabbatical Journey #2 – Sweatin’ or Swimmin’

There I sat in the boat with my feet in the water while my wife, sisters-in-law, and their husbands were swimming in the lake on a blistering hot summer day!  Why wasn’t I in the water, you ask?  Well, due to what I considered almost drowning in a lake when I was a first-grader and being pushed into the 12 foot end by the swim instructor on the very first day of lessons when I was a third-grader, I have always had a fear of water.  I since have learned to swim, and that only in a pool, usually staying in water that is not over six feet, and once-in-awhile venturing off the diving board . . . but stretching way out in my dive so I land near the more shallow water.  Furthermore, I have never swam in a lake over-my-head and the thought of being in water anywhere from 34 to 164 feet deep . . . well, let’s just sit on the edge of the boat and be humiliated.  It’s okay; that’s what fear will do to you.

After a while, everyone climbed back on board and shared a delicious lunch.  Since the day was still young, another ride in the speedboat took us to a different location for the second exhilarating dip.  And . . . there I sat watching them enjoy being cooled off while gallons of sweat poured off my brow. I was missing out on so much.  I needed to get into the water!

My fear had eclipsed all sound reasoning, facts, and fun.  You see, I was wearing something each time I sat on the edge of boat that would keep me from drowning—a life jacket!  As I watched my family floating in the water, they were secure in that which surrounded them. Finally, I eased off the side of the boat and into the water, and with that, drowning my fears. Wow, how refreshing!

As I pondered this episode, I was reminded of how foolish to be fearful about anything when the Word of God commands and assures us, “Fear not.” The Word of God is our life preserver.  We are secure in and surrounded with the promises of God.  How interesting that we look at Peter with a bit of disdain for taking his eyes off the Lord, but remember, he is the ONLY one who got out of the boat (Matthew 14:22-33). God has much for us to enjoy, to learn, and to experience if we will only trust in His Word, His life-preserver, and not live by our human rationalization (Proverbs 3:5-7).

Also, my family who loves and cares for me were saying, “Jump in.  You won’t drown.  You are wearing a life-jacket.”  How often other believers who care for us try to assure us with the Word of God (Ephesians 4:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:11), but we won’t listen to their caring admonition and encouragement due to our fears.  We are drowning in those fears.

So, you can either sit on the edge of boat watching other believers live in joy and peace no matter how deep the water is or dive in and join them!  Remember, underneath you are the everlasting arms of God.  You can trust Him with your life all the time.  By the way, if you don’t believe it, ask Peter. . . and a multiplied host of other believers.  Also, I am more than ready to dive in to the lake the next time!

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling (Psalm 46:1-3).

Fear not, for I am with you (Isaiah 41:10a).

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

A Sabbatical Journey

August 1st, my wife and I began the journey of a 31-day sabbatical, the unexpected grace gift from a loving, caring congregation. This is the second time that our gracious church has blessed us in such a marvelous way. Hence, in the days to come, I will be writing from the lessons learned and the experiences shared on this journey.

First of all, I want to share from my heart what it says about Boones Creek Bible Church in gifting us with 31 days away.

  1. They value the eternal over the temporal.

The purpose of a pastor going away on a sabbatical is for him to spend uninterrupted time in prayer, study, reading, seeking God’s face, being still, and hearing from the Lord about his life, his marriage, and the ministry to which he is called. It is a time to rest, refresh, repent, refine, recharge, recount, refocus, replenish, renew and rejoice.   Why?  Because a church understands the intense spiritual war in which they are engaged and are set on having their leader be ready to lead them to make a difference in the world for the cause of Christ through the power of God’s Word.  Boones Creek Bible Church is living for the Bema where an eternal perspective and motivation matters the most (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Philippians 2:16).

  1. They value the call of God upon their pastor.

                1 Cor. 1:18-31; Colossians 1:27-28; 2 Timothy 2:19-26; 4:2-5; 2 Cor. 11:23-28

The great need of the hour is found in Paul’s admonition to Timothy, Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.  As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4:2-5).

Men who are genuinely called of God to preach the Word and who stand for the cause of Christ, need times of refreshment so they can fulfill the ministry today and finish well tomorrow.  We retreat only to advance.

  1. They value the testimony of their pastor, his wife, their marriage and their home.

                1 Timothy 3:1-5

Boones Creek Bible Church understands the rigors of ministry not only upon the pastor but his wife.  Denise works very closely with me in ministry by her choice.  She, too, needed this time away to have the same work of grace accomplished in her heart.

We also live by the principle that a great marriage only occurs when you work at it every day. Satan would love to destroy this precious gift.  Our time away has given us the opportunity to deal with some issues, pray together, and further fine tune this precious grace gift.

  1. They value the training/discipleship opportunity for their assistant pastor.

What a great opportunity for a young man, called into the ministry, and ordained by Boones Creek Bible Church to be at the helm for one whole month.  What better place to learn, to be in “the lab,” than among a congregation that loves, supports, prays, and encourages him. After having been here for two years, Pastor Andrew has been involved in ministry is so many ways, but not as the shepherd of the flock.  For instance, one Sunday during the month, he taught Sunday School, led the singing, and preached in the morning and evening services.  Also during the month, he led teen outings, hosted missionaries and a college music group, made visits, took phone calls, served communion, organized the services, and worked side-by-side with the deacons and our administrative assistant, as well as a host of other ministry opportunities.

Thank you, BCBC, for your heart to see Pastor Andrew fulfill the ministry (1 Timothy 4:5) for God’s glory!

  1. They value the use of spiritual gifts.

Can a church survive if the undershepherd is away for a month?  Yes it can because Christ is the Chief Shepherd of the church (1 Peter 5:4), and the body functions well when it uses its spiritual gifts (Romans 12:1-8).  BCBC did not “miss a beat” while we were away because Spirit-empowered people ministered by the grace of God.  They “filled in the gaps” as Christ worked through them in continuing to build His Church (Matthew 16:18).

Boones Creek Bible Church . . . THANK YOU!!  We love you, appreciate you, serve with you, and look forward to our eternal life in Glory with Christ Jesus our Lord!