The Month of Love (V-A)

Hey! If you haven’t already noticed, Valentine’s Day is approaching! Are you ready?

Sadly, for many married couples, Valentine’s Day is . . .

  • A day to make up for the other 364 days
  • A disappointment
  • One of unfulfilled expectations

Using the acrostic V-A-L-E-N-T-I-N-E, here’s some ideas to help make this a blessed month of growth and change in biblical love.

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Going Where No Man Has Gone Before!

Monday’s Ministry Encouragement: Written to encourage you, my friend in ministry, to be refreshed and renewed as we live for Christ and look toward the Bema.

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!” These were the words of the introduction of the famous television series, Star Trek.

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The Busy of Pastoring

Monday’s Ministry Encouragement: Written to encourage you, my friend in ministry, to be refreshed and renewed as we live for Christ and look toward the Bema.

“Pastor, do you have a busy week ahead of you?” was the question offered by a caring church member headed home after a great day of worship and ministry.

Busy week? Always!

But the question for me is, “Will I get it all done?”

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Come Around the Fire

Monday’s Ministry Encouragement: Written to encourage you, my friend in ministry, to be refreshed and renewed as we live for Christ and look toward the Bema.

Before men’s prayer breakfast on Saturday morning, a real concern gripped my heart. The men arrived, filled their plates, and gathered around the firepit. On this cloudy, 34 degree morning, the roaring fire felt really good!!

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God’s Presence – Dad’s Prayer

July 26, 2022

“Father, we thank thee for thy presence in our life.”

Gathered at the dinner table, my father-in-law uttered these words in prayer before our meal. The next day, he would be placed in the hospital due to hip fracture surgery and now a local care facility.

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Pastor, Will You Pray For ____?

Monday’s Ministry Encouragement: Written to encourage you, my friend in ministry, to be refreshed and renewed as we live for Christ and look toward the Bema.

Varied and numerous are the prayer requests pastors have received from church members, family, total strangers, visitors, etc. Indeed, it is a privilege to take the cares and burdens of others before the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:16).

Seldom spoken and heard are the words, “Pastor, how can I pray for you this week?”

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Divorce-Proof Your Marriage #6

One Year & 41 Years of Marriage

A marriage declines over a period of time. As I said at the beginning of this series, no man decides on a whim to get a divorce.

Sadly, the decline occurs when marriages experience more “withdrawals” than “investments.”

Obviously, if you continue to use your debit card without putting any funds in the bank, your withdrawals will overcome your investments and your are overdrawn. You have a negative bank balance.

Some husbands and wives are overwhelmed in their marriage; their “marriage bank account” is depleted and dry.

If that is you, may I encourage you make the following investments?

Investment #1: Believe that no marriage is too far gone to be recovered and renewed by God’s grace.

The absolute, preeminent starting point for every sin, heartache, issue, perplexity, uncertainty, fear, sorrow, risk, hardship, etc. is with God (Psalms 61:1-3; 66:1-5; Matthew 11:28-30).

Read, meditate and pray through each of the passages of Scripture given above and below and others, calling out to God on behalf of your spouse and your marriage. The best investment you can make is prayer! Please don’t underestimate the power of God in prayer! He is able, and His grace is sufficient!!

Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. (Jeremiah 32:17)

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)

And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. (2 Corinthians 9:8 AMP)

Investment #2: Forgive one another now and often.

Our old sin nature and our heart will lie to us telling us that we don’t deserve such treatment; that we have a right to be happy; that holding a grudge and seeking revenge is the way to go!

At this point, you must look at the cross and see Christ taking your place as your substitute (Isaiah 53:4-6; 1 Peter 2:24), paying the price for all your sin by His blood and forgiving you all of your sin, past, present, and future (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:13-14; Hebrews 9:22). Now you are no longer under condemnation or the wrath of God (Romans 5:8-9; 8:1).

With that view, if you are born again; a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, then you cannot hold a grudge over your spouse, pour out your wrath upon him or her, or keep a record of wrongs done to you, in other words, get “historical.” Just as you have received the covering and removal of your sin by the precious blood of Christ in forgiveness, you must forgive, too!

There’s a form of debt in your marriage (and all relationships) far more dangerous than financial debt.

It’s relational debt.

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is not talking about personal finances or budget. Instead, he’s talking about something that’s supposed to happen in healthy relationships—forgiveness.

Why is it such a struggle to forgive? Why don’t people forgive at all? The sad reality is that there is short-term power, albeit destructive, in refusing to forgive the other person. There are dark “benefits” in keeping someone else in our relational debt.

Keeping a record of our spouse’s wrongs gives us the upper hand in the relationship. There is power in having something to hold over another’s head. There is power in using a person’s weakness and failure against them, so in moments when we want our own way, we pull out some wrong against our spouse as our relational trump card.

How ugly and selfish is that?

It seems almost too obvious to say, but forgiveness is a much better way than unforgiveness. It’s the only way to live in an intimate, long-term relationship with another sinner. It’s the only way to negotiate through the weakness and failure that will daily mark your marriage.

Forgiveness is a relational transaction that needs to occur in moments when sin has gotten in the way of the unity, love, and understanding between a husband and wife (or any two people for that matter).

Paul David Tripp

Forgiveness lifts the burden off our shoulders of bearing wrongs and restores what has been broken.

The more you are willing to pursue forgiveness, the more you experience its blessings. It’s the only way to deal with hurt and disappointment. It’s the only way to have hope and confidence restored. It’s the only way to protect your love and reinforce the unity that you have built. It’s the only way not to be kidnapped by the past.

Canceling relational debt is a beautiful and necessary thing, not only for your marriage but in every single relationship in your life. (Paul David Tripp, Wednesday Word, 2/23/2022)

What investments will you make in your marriage today? Grace and forgiveness will restore any broken relationship if you will “lay down your sword” and run to the cross in utmost humility. (James 4:1-3, 6-10)

10 for 10

Over the past ten days, my wife and I have enjoyed many blessings of ministry of which here are ten. They are shared here for God’s glory and appreciation for His kindness to us in these days of such sin and sorrow!

1. Officiating and directing a wedding! Wow! How special to see two lives brought together in the will of God! The wedding was Christ-exalting and so very romantic! I love weddings!! (Side note: In respect of the newlyweds, I will not post any pics until they do.)

2. Providing a place to rest in our home for two days for a fellow servant in ministry! Quiet walks, prayer, porch time, mountain drive, sharing scripture, etc.!!

3. In 2014, my wife and I had the joy of leading the Missionary Teen Retreat in the Basque region of Spain. We have kept up with several who are now young adults. Daniel and Jessica celebrated their first anniversary with a return trip to Gatlinburg, TN. Their anniversary celebration included worshipping with us in both Sunday gatherings plus a meal and afternoon spent at our home. What a special treat! I call that “clipping grace coupons”!!

4. Preaching the Hebrews 12:12-19 passage in the morning gathering at BCBC!! What a solemn and joy-filled honor it is to prepare and preach the Word of God verse-by-verse!! The Word works!! (2 Timothy 3:16; 4:2)

5. Leading and teaching the Biblical Counseling Elective on Sunday mornings!! “The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.”

6. Follow-up visitation of church visitors. Made to feel so at home with these folks!!

7. Having coffee with a young man from our church who just finished his first year of college. My heart was greatly encouraged to see how he has grown both spiritually and as a young man!!

8. Discipleship with another man in our congregation. Met for lunch and read together through a chapter of Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes. Iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17).

9. Small Group gathering on Thursday night! What can I say?!?! A highlight of every week! Singing, prayer, transparent testimonies, Bible study, fellowship around the bar counter and in the living room, laughter, tears, bearing burdens, and rejoicing in answered prayer!!

10. Attending a high school graduation of a young man that has attended BCBC through his teen years. Another opportunity to encourage a young man to follow Christ, not his heart!!

That’s only 10! There were so many more!! Oh! How marvelous is the goodness and grace of God!! And, I got to share in all of these with my wife, except for #8.

It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it. (Proverbs 10:22)

It’s Friday . . . and Sunday’s Coming!

Preacher, are you ready?

May I share three things to encourage you toward Sunday?

1. Prepare your heart

In this atomic age when forces are being released that stagger the thought and imagi­nation of man it is well to remember that prayer transcends all other forces. (F. J. Huegel)

Men, Jesus said, Without me, you can do nothing (John 15:5)! Preparing your heart through prayer is more important than delivering your sermon. Passionate, dependent, scripture-filled prayer says, “Lord, You are able, I am not!”

2. Prepare your message

Men, we have been challenged to Preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2) since the day we sensed God’s call to the ministry. Those folks who gather to hear you Sunday need hope and to see Christ. Therefore, preach the Word under the control of the Holy Spirit from a heart set on fire by God!

Give the sheep good grain, a message from God’s Word, not just a sermon.

3. Prepare your family

Saturday evening, gather your family together and share what the Lord has taught you and what you will deliver in the message on Sunday. Have them pray for you and with you.

Make your family a vital part of the ministry team!

Preacher, will you be ready?

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Colossians 1:27-29)

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry #9

McAfee Knob AT

Do you feel a sense of guilt when you take time to go on a date with you wife?

Does guilt grab ahold of you if you are playing in the backyard with your children and a church member drives by?

If that church member stops to say hello, does a feeling of guilt lead you to give a reason or excuse for taking time to enjoy your children?

Does guilt consume you while on vacation?

When the day is done, do you deal with guilt because you didn’t get all of your boxes checked or those visits made?

GUILT….an emotion that can create ongoing discouragement in ministry.

How do you deal with it?

1. If you have started your day in prayer seeking the Lord’s will as well as surrendering your plans to His leading, then rest in His sovereign care and direction.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand (Psalm 37:23-24).

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose (Proverbs 16:1, 3-4a).

2. Live to please the Lord, to glorify Him, and realize that you will never be able to please everyone in your congregation. Furthermore, they cannot always please you either. Yes, you are an example to the flock and they are watching you, but if you live to honor the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31), then you have lined up with the highest standard. So respond with humility and grace. Neither pastor nor parishioner should have a standard for the other that they themselves are not living up to. Be gracious and give others some latitude.

3. Your freedom from the fear of man will be a testimony to your people as you interact with them in love and compassion. Lead them to see that for all of us, our expectation, our hope must come from the Lord (Psalm 62:5).

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe (Proverbs 29:25).

4. Your identity is in Christ alone in Whom you are accepted. Spend some time soaking your soul in Romans 6-8 and Philippians 1.

To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

Ministry friend, remember that we live in a sin-cursed world that will never work right. So, rest in the promises of God, rest in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and rest in Matthew 11:28-30, 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 [f]gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.