Your pastor needs you

There appears to be a mentality in many churches that the pastor is a sort of panacea for all of my problems. He is expected to be the wisest of the wise, to know and understand how I feel (whether I am having a good day or bad day), to have the right word at all times, to pray incessantly for the pettiest of needs, to spend hours seeking God each day, and, of course, to be available at my beck and call.

Maybe I am being a little over the top in saying that but it is clear that expectations of pastors are very high.

Most pastors do a good job – which would be better if the Body of Christ rose up in the ministries God has anointed within them. I like and admire pastors – I would argue that if you want the best pastor for your church you should give more honour the one you have.

Let me juxtapose my comments against the offering of an article I recently read, 10 Real Reasons Why Pastors Quit Too Soon by Tim Peters. He uses some statistics as he suggests these reasons, including these (which I assume are based on research in the USA):

50% of pastors report feeling sodiscouraged they would leave the ministry if they could.

70% of pastors say they have a lower self-image now than when they started.

70% of pastors do not have someone they consider a close friend

70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.

90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week

80% of pastors believe pastoral ministry has negativelyaffected their families.

90% of pastors feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.

My experience does not suggest that pastors are moaners and groaners looking for every opportunity to feel sorry for themselves. They are good hard working, God loving men, who face immense spiritual and physical pressures.

If you don’t already do it then it is time to schedule some serious daily prayer for the shepherd of the flock to which you belong – he needs it.

Christ is praying for you

Another word of encouragement from Robert Murray McCheyne,

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.”

What an awesome thought. The king of the Universe, the Word of God, Alpha and Omega, Firstborn over all creation (need I go on?) – is praying for you!

Habakkuk 3:17-19, Psalm 42:5, Romans 8:31-39 (All TM)

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
I feel like I’m king of the mountain!

 

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.

 

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

 

God is looking for you

According to Wikipedia EM Bounds died in 1913 having written nine books on prayer (he wrote eleven in total.) As I read Power Through Prayer I am constantly amazed at the prophetic insight he had into the church of his day, and yet which still applies to the church in this day. Consider this comment,

We are constantly on a stretch, if not on a strain, to devise new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the Church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendency to lose sight of the man or sink the man in the plan or organization. God’s plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.

The church in our day is saturated with methods, techniques, resources, and much more – surely the scripture is right in declaring, “of the writing of books there is no end.” Yet for all that we have, we see the church not radiant but corrupt, often resembling the world more than her Lord Christ. How often do we read of moral failure besetting the proclamation of the Gospel?

God is looking for better men. Men and women who walk in holy light because they walk near to God.

I would not want to pretend that being a Christian is easy in this generation, but it is not impossible. In my opinion there is a key – the death of self. You have to die! Once you have died you don’t belong to yourself. Your ideas, hopes, ambitions, desires have all been consumed in a glorious passion to live for Christ and his glory.

Once you have died you can pray, “not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42.) From that point on you can accept the will and the way of the Lord without looking back and with no complaints.

Have you died?

McCheyne would have you rise early

Came across these quotes from Robert Murray McCheyne,

“Rose early to seek God and found Him whom my soul loveth. Who would not rise early to meet such company?”

“It is a sure mark of grace to desire more.”

Tomorrow will soon be here, the Lord God Almighty will be ready and willing, full of grace and mercy. Will you be ready to meet him?

Wake up it's Monday Morning

I have been reading some of EM Bounds classic book, Power through Prayer (available on Kindle for just 77pence). It starts by aiming directly at your heart and doesn’t deviate from it. This quote from Robert Murray McCheyne introduces chapter 1:

“Study universal holiness of life. Your whole usefulness depends on this, for your sermons last but an hour or two; your life preaches all the week. If Satan can only make a covetous minister a lover of praise, of pleasure, of good eating, he has ruined your ministry. Give yourself to prayer, and get your texts, your thoughts, your words from God. Luther spent his best three hours in prayer.”

Yesterday most people who read this blog will have been in church, attending some form of worship service. Today they will be out and about, working, living their day to day lives in the “real world.” Forget about the quote above referring to preaching a sermon and consider it with regard to the proclamation coming from your life – your life preaches all week! This week whether you like it or not people will look at you and see something of Christ in, and through, you.

Have you prepared for today’s sermon?

Being dad

Last weekend lot was said and written on the subject of fatherhood, something that is not surprising as there are many opinions on what makes a good dad. The greatest challenge in my life is in being a dad to my five children – yes you can gasp there at the number five, (some other people I met recently did). I love my children and I want my relationship with all of them to not only be good but to be Christ filled, to be guided by His love and grace. Honestly that is hard because I am selfish, proud and sinful. I need grace to make the right decisions, grace to understand them as individuals not just as “my family,” grace to love them not as I think but as Christ commands. Having been a dad for over twenty three years I am still learning and I hope I never stop.

My dad isn’t good by default. He is a good dad because he sees his fatherhood as a stewardship given to him by God and he consistently makes sacrifices to love and support his children for the glory of God.
Mark Beuving

Be silent

Jim Elliot said this,

“I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds … Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.”

 

Donald Whitney said,

“Our days are usually filled with more than enough noise, plenty of hurry and demanding people. Unless we plan times of solitary silence before God, these other things will rush in like water into the titanic.”

It is tragic to note that most powerless Christians do not seem aware of this.