Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Golden Rule

We've all heard about the "Golden Rule". There are a couple of verses of Scripture that demonstrate it:
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. (Luke 6:31) 
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
It goes beyond just being nice to people because we would want other people to be nice to us. It really extends to giving grace to others, and forgiving them just as we have been forgiven by our Father in Heaven.

I feel that in order to do this properly, we have to grow personally in our understanding of what Christ accomplished on the Cross.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Even though we were enemies of God once, because of the blood shed by Christ, we have been reconciled to the Father. Christ took us in one hand, and the Father in the other and reconciled us to each other. He cancelled out that death sentence we deserved because of our sins.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Colossians 1:21-13)
We should also extend grace to others, simply by forgiving them when they have wronged us.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12, KJV)
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13)
We have to remember that we didn't deserve God's grace. Just as we didn't deserve forgiveness from God, others may not deserve forgiveness from us, yet that doesn't matter. We are still commanded to forgive.

We see in Hebrews what happens when we fall short of grace:
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled (Hebrews 12:15)
If we don't forgive others, we will fall short of God's grace. This causes bitterness and that doesn't hurt others, it only hurts us.

Always determine to show grace to others, don't hold grudges and always show forgiveness to others. Always remember that Christ gave us far more than we deserve, so we need to remember that when we feel that we are wronged by others. It is just one of the ways we can show others that we as Christians are different.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Here I Raise My Ebenezer!

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit, Till released from flesh and sin, Yet from what I do inherit, Here Thy praises I’ll begin; Here I raise my Ebenezer; Here by Thy great help I’ve come; And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home. (From "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" by Robert Robinson)
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12)

The word Ebenezer comes from the Hebrew words ’Eben hà-ezer (eh’-ben haw-e’-zer), which simply mean “stone of help”

I had a pretty interesting year last year. I had some great things happen and I had some really bad things happen.

The best thing that happened was the Lord put me at Ebenezer Baptist Church. He had been trying to call me to ministry for many years, and I needed to be in the environment that I've been in at EBC in order to really hear and understand that call. I'm thankful that in that environment I've been encouraged to teach and to grow. I'm so thankful for the body of believers that God has put me with.

I wait anxiously today to hear if I will receive financial aid to attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary this year. I hope it works out, but if not, I know that God has a greater plan, and perhaps it just isn't the right time. If it does work out, likewise, I'll know it is the right time.

It doesn't matter if good news that I can go now comes today, or if I find out I have to wait another year, I can pray with the understanding that God has helped me in my life, and that God has put me where I need to be.

What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. (1 Corinthians 14:15 KJV)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fundraiser for Seminary

I have never been good at asking for things. I found out about this fundraising site via a tweet from a seminary twitter account. I have been blessed in many ways in my life. I have had great times and I have had many struggles. I'm thankful for each and every experience I have had.

I was involved in church most of my life, from childhood through college and I've felt the call to ministry several times. When I was originally in college I stepped away from my faith and away from church for far too long.

Last year, my neighbor kept bugging me to go to a July 4th celebration at a small country church just down the road. I resisted with all my might and came up with every excuse I could possibly come up with. Nothing was enough and I went down to this event. As I was sitting there, listening to a youth pastor from another church speak, I quite literally felt my heart change sitting right there in that field.

My friend, and boss had always been asking me to go to his church. He knew I'd hit it off with the pastor -- he was an ex-IT guy/Programmer also. I decided to visit the next Sunday. Not only have I joined that church, that Pastor has not only become my pastor but one of my best friends. I have since rededicated my life to Christ, been re-baptized and sometime in September of last year I felt that call again. Except this time, it was irresistible.

It is always hard paying for school, but it's even harder when you are 34 years old with a disabled parent you help support. I also recently found out that I don't qualify for Student Loans.

Thank you so much for taking time to read this, and even if you can't give a monetary donation, I always ask for prayers.

Thank you! - See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/tuition-fundraiser/help-me-pay-for-seminary-studies-at-sebts-/205032


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review: The Pastor's Kid by Barnabas Piper

Barnabas Piper is the son of John Piper, the well known pastor, author and scholar. In this book, Barnabas shares some of the issues that are common to pastor's kids (PK's). Although this book is primarily geared toward the children of those in vocational ministry, I found the book quite insightful, and I could see it being helpful for many people, and even many parents (Chapters 5-7 especially).

First off, here is a good reason not to buy this book -- you aren't gonna get any dirt on John Piper -- this isn't an exposé. Although he does share some personal stories, this book isn't about digging into his parents and airing his families dirty laundry. He also isn't just telling his story. Barnabas is speaking for a greater community of PK's everywhere, and he includes insights from other PK's throughout the book.

Although I think I know a lot about Barnabas' dad (his books and teaching have really helped shape who I am as a believer), I also have followed Barnabas on social media enough to know that Barnabas is not his dad! In my opinion, that is the entire point of this book!

Barnabas reminds us in this book that pastor's kids are sinful, fallen humans just like everyone else. They didn't inherit some special DNA that grants them automatic sanctification right out of the womb. He also reminds us that pastors themselves are sinful, and that the families of those in ministries share many of the same struggles, conflicts and dynamics that all of our families have. The difference? They live in a giant fishbowl. Everyone in church knows them. In the case of Barnabas in particular, the fame of his father reaches far outside of Bethlehem Baptist Church, outside of the Twin Cities, outside of the United States even. His dad is very well known, and Barnabas is not only in a fishbowl, his family is on display in the aquarium.

Although I am not a pastor's kid, I do hope this book helps me should I wind up a father in a pastoral ministry role someday. Many parts of the book resonated with me, and many parts made me laugh (out loud). I especially loved the part about pastor's kids knowing all about how to pray, use the right words, the right voice (a half-octave higher), and how to throw a little King James around when need be.

Barnabas' writing style was perfect. I could see this book easily being read by teens who are perhaps struggling with some of the many things that Barnabas describes from his own life, to adult PK's to pastors themselves.

I plan to pass my copy along to my pastor's son, and hopefully I can get him to write up some of his thoughts once he has finished it.

Here is the trailer for the book:

 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

5 Passages of Scripture to Use in Prayer For Your Pastor.

As I sit here this Saturday afternoon, my thoughts turn to my pastor. We should always be praying for our pastors. They need it!

Here are five passages of scripture that will guide you as you pray for your shepherd.

1. Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
With Romans 12:2 we can pray that God will always be transforming our Pastor's mind, so that he will always be walking in His will and pleasing Him.

2. Isaiah 50:4-5

The Lord God has given me
    the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
    him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
    he awakens my ear
    to hear as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
    and I was not rebellious;
    I turned not backward.
(Isaiah 50:4-5)

With this passage from Isaiah, we can pray that our pastor will speak as God has instructed, sustaining the weary. Pray that God will teach your pastor from His heart.

3. Proverbs 20:27

The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord,    searching all his innermost parts. (Proverbs 20:27)
We can use Proverbs 20:27 to pray that God will search our pastor's soul and renew him from the inside out!

4. Hebrews 13:20-21

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.  (Hebrews 13:20-21)
This is a great prayer for God to equip your pastor to do His will.

5. Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
This is a great prayer to ask the Lord to fill your pastor with His joy and peace. Pray that God will grow your pastor's trust in the Lord every day and pray that your pastor will overflow with hope and peace to the congregation.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Three Links from Waylon Bailey

I normally read all of Waylon's posts, but I'd gotten behind. It seems that the last three posts on his blog were meant just for me. It's amazing how God will put just what you need to read in front of you when you need it the most.

Searching for Glowworms
Worry
Seeking God's Guidance

Friday, June 27, 2014

VBS is Over

Is it normal for the grown-ups to be a little sad that VBS is over? I sure hope so, because I wouldn't want to be any less normal than I already am.

Since plugging in at Ebenezer Baptist Church, this has been the most fun and enjoyable activity I have participated in. Sure, I spent a good chunk of the day at church on Sunday, and Monday through Thursday I left home for work about 7 A.M. like usual and got home around 9 P.M.; still, even with the long hours, it was the best week I have had in a long time. For about 3 hours every night, my only worry was making sure those boys in my group were safe and having fun. That was refreshing!

I was a little apprehensive going in -- first off, I wasn't quite sure what I was getting myself into, but I'm also the single guy with no kids. The thing is, I love kids, and I'm sure it was by God's Providence that I haven't yet started a family of my own, with my recent call to Seminary and Ministry in general. It's already going to be a big enough challenge for me, figuring out how I am going to go to seminary, much less pay for it all. Having a family would just make all of that even harder. There will be time for that later. In the meantime I made some very good short friends this week, and I hope to be involved in more things with the EBC Kids in the future! It was a great week!