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

No one stands before the preacher on their wedding day and says, “I wonder how we can get a divorce?” 

But as time rolls along, little things creep in and marriages begin to crumble. How my heart breaks when I hear of couples having marital problems that have reached the point of separation and/or divorce.  In view of the rich blessing of marriage which God created and said, It is not good for a man to be alone (Genesis 2:18), I want to help all of our marriages in the blog posts to come.  Therefore, I will be sharing some very practical thoughts that can divorce-proof your marriage if you will put them to practice on a daily basis.  A good marriage is the product of daily work and the grace of God.  Remember, with God, all things are possible!

So, how can you “divorce-proof” your marriage?

  1. Make a habit of praying together.

Jesus Christ’s work on the cross opened up the Holy Place for us to come boldly to the Throne of Grace (Matthew 27:50-51; Hebrews 4:14-16).  There we meet with our God through Jesus Christ in a most intimate way (Matthew 11:28-30; John 15:1-7).  Since our marriages are a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church for which He died and rose again, then intimacy with Christ and our mate should be found in our prayer relationships.

Consider what happens when a husband and wife pray together:

  • You get honest with God and with each other.
  • You cannot be mad at each other and pray at the same time.
  • You both come to know the heart of God and the heartbeat of each other.
  • You both share your burdens, heartaches, and sorrows with Christ.
  • You both share in answers to prayer that bring rejoicing.
  • You learn much about each when you pray together.
  • You develop a rich intimacy before God and with one another.
  • You will grow closer to God and to each other.
  • There’s something special about hearing each other’s name called out in prayer.

Here’s the testimony of one couple who have reaped the joys of praying together.  This is taken from the book When Couples Pray Together.  It is sadly out of print now.

“I have yearned for a marriage with spiritual intimacy.  And praying together has enabled us to experience an incredible sense of intimacy.  When we pray, I feel an indescribable tenderness toward my husband, and have been so blessed by his openness, honesty and generosity of spirit which he demonstrates in his prayers.  I’ve often thought about how a couple can manage to be completely physically intimate with each other, and yet finding praying together to be so so hard.”

So how do you get started?

  1. Find a suitable, mutually agreed upon time.  This may be after meal time, before you go to bed, or first thing in the morning.  If you don’t commit to a time for prayer, you will never find time to pray. (My wife and I hold hands and pray together before we go to sleep.)
  2. At first, be brief in your prayer time. You don’t have to pray long, drawn out prayers.
  3. Talk to God just like you talk to anyone else.  Don’t get caught up in all the prayer phrases and cliques.
  4. Go back-and-forth:  Perhaps you praise the Lord for one thing and then your spouse praises God for one thing.  Then you thank the Lord for one thing, and then your spouse thanks the Lord for one thing.  Then you ask the Lord for one thing, and then your spouse asks the Lord for one thing, etc.

I close with a telling statistic: Of couples that pray together daily, less than 1% of them have a chance of ever experiencing divorce (Gallup Poll by the National Association of Marriage Enhancement, 1997).

James 5:16          Pray one for another. . . . And with each other!!!

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.

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#8)

Twin Falls (Eastatoe), Sunset, SC

“Men, how’s your prayer life?”

WRONG QUESTION.

“Men, how’s your life of prayer?”

Ah, yes! That’s the correct question and the correct setting.

A prayer life is compartmentalizing your walk with God. A life of prayer aptly describes what the Christian life should look like–a man solely dependent upon God for spiritual life and vitality, an eternal, biblical viewpoint, wisdom from the Throne of God, and a relationship with his Heavenly Father that is real and personal.

Jesus speaking to His disciples said, Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing (John 15:4-5). These same words are greatly needed for all of us in ministry.

How interesting, too, that the Lord Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, our Savior and Great High Priest and Intercessor is a man of prayer (Luke 3:21-22; 5:15-16; 6:12-13; 9:18, 28; 18:1; 22:31-32; 23:46).

So, what’s another remedy for discouragement in ministry? A life of prayer!

Prayer is the first thing, the second thing, the third thing necessary to a minister. Pray, then, my dear brother; pray, pray, pray.” — Edward Payson

You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed. Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.” — John Bunyan

So, may I encourage you who are prone to discouragement in ministry, see prayer as your life.

  • Pray on Monday! Make it a day of just praising the Lord for Who He is and what He did on Sunday. Redirect your focus upward not manward. Use Psalms 34:1-9; 92:1-8; 100; 103; 111:1-5; 117; 145 to pray in praise and thanksgiving. I would greatly encourage you to only pray this way on Mondays—praise and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-8).
  • Pray such that your sermon becomes a message from God. While studying the words of the text, talk to God about it. When you take a coffee break, talk to God about it . . . and listen to what He says. When you are driving down the road to visit a dear soul, talk to God about it. When Sunday comes, the message to preach is a burden from God that He responsible for, and not you. You will be so consumed with what God has taught you and how He has changed you that when you preach, the congregation will see Jesus, and not you. “Strange it is that any discussion of preaching should take place outside the context of believing prayer. We have not prepared until we have prayed… We cannot represent God if we have not stood before God” (David Larsen).
  • Pray with your wife. (Meals only do not count but can be included.)
  • Pray with your children.
  • Pray with your parents and in-laws.
  • Pray with ministry leaders in your church. Call and ask them to pray with you and for you. Maybe meet somewhere in the country, the mountains, or a coffee shop and have a three-way conversation with the Head of the Church!
  • Pray with pastors and other ministry leaders outside your church. As above, call a friend in ministry and say, “Just wanted to ask you spend some time in prayer with me and for me. Let’s talk to the Lord together!”
  • Pray with the one who just unloaded their burdens on you. Just you implore them to obey 1 Peter 5:6-7, you do the same with that burden. You are not to carry it either!
  • Pray with and/or for your server at the restaurant.
  • Pray right then and there when you are asked to pray about a situation or individual.
  • Pray Scripture with your Bible and your eyes wide-open!!
  • Pray in your “prayer closet” or that quiet place near your home or in the woods.
  • Pray on Sunday morning with a group of prayer people before Sunday School and the morning gathering.
  • Pray that you have a life of prayer, not a prayer life.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Remember, it was Jesus Who said, “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5) and “Men ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).