Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Daddy Preaching

Here is my Dawson's picture of me preaching that he drew Sunday morning.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Remember to Pray for Your Pastor

For years, October has been designated in the evangelical community as Pastor Appreciation Month.  Focus on the Family began the emphasis as a means for churches to honor and encourage their pastors.

Pastors and their families need encouragers and supporters in their lives.  I hope you pray for your pastor by name daily.  When secular business and leadership guru Peter Drucker was asked what were the most difficult jobs in America, he responded: (1) President of the United States, (2) President of a college or university, and (3) Pastor of a local congregation. 

All three of those jobs deal with the stress of the changing expectations, often emotionally charged, of their people. 

I heard two different men speak who were both former CEO's of Fortune 500 companies that left the business world to become pastors.  In unrelated conversations they said that pastoring a church was definitely harder than leading a Fortune 500 company.  Interestingly, both men in unrelated interviews cited the same reason: In a company you have employees that must do what you tell them to do.  In a church, 90% or more of your work-force are volunteers.

Charles Finney, accomplished evangelist of another era, experienced amazing conversions during his preaching ministry.  A lesser-known fact is that Daniel Nash, a godly, praying man, covenanted to pray hard for Finney's ministry.  Nash would often go into a town several weeks prior to Finney's arrival.  His purpose was to being praying for God to be at work when Finney arrived

Would to God that every pastor, evangelist, or missionary had a Daniel Nash!  One account said, Charles Finney so realized the need of God's working in all his service that he was wont to send godly Father Nash on in advance to pray down the power of God into the meetings which he was about to hold.

Missiologist, professor, and former pastor Chuck Lawless posted an article last week called "Why I’d Be Hesitant to Go Back to the Pastorate."  Hopefully, reading it will give you some motivation to pray for your pastor and his family daily:

"Some months ago, I posted on 8 Reasons I’d Love to be a Pastor Again. Since that time, I’ve had folks ask if I’d post something on the opposite: “Why I Would Not Return to the Pastorate.” I’ve given that topic considerable thought, and to be honest, I can think of no reason why I would absolutely not return to that role.

On the other hand, I can think of some reasons I might at least hesitate.  So, to respond to the request for my reverse thoughts, here goes:

  1. Church folks can be a headache.  So can folks in any ministry setting, of course, but the pastorate usually means you’re dealing with the headaches recurrently.  Too often, overcoming the headache requires somebody’s leaving.
Read the entire article by Chuck Lawless here.

Friday, September 25, 2015

You Always Have Another Option

The wind was knocked out of my sails today when I received news that one of my college buddies had taken his life Thursday night.  We shared  many fun and memorable times way back when.  I well remember, he, me, and another friend meeting many nights in Bailey Dorm at Presbyterian College about 10:30 pm to get on our knees together for a few minutes, share a few Scriptures, encourage one another, and pray.  He was a bright, winsome young man.  Sadly, he battled depression and OCD the past 20 years.

In the past month, I have heard of three 40-something year old men committing suicide in the upstate.  One was a Baptist pastor from the South Carolina upstate who hung himself in the church.  The second was the son of one of my mom's good friends, who told my mom in between sobs, "This is not supposed to happen."   And now the third was my friend.  All three men leave wives and children behind.
Every Friday I receive an email from Dan Miller, popular Christian motivator, writer, and speaker.  Today's email was called You always have another option.  In it he shares a great story that reminds us that even when things look bleak, there are still other options.

Through the years I have appreciated people - particularly those in church leadership - who, when problems arise, act more like Tigger than Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh world.  Eeyores get depressed by the problems and seem to give up.  They stay defeated and overwhelmed.  Tiggers, however,  start figuring out "how do we fix this problem and move on" and come up with solutions.  Sometimes those solutions seem hidden at first.  But the creative mind keeps thinking, praying, and looking.
Sometimes this even shows up in praying.  Eeyores will start their praying with the problems and seem to never get above the obstacles during their praying.  They sigh and groan and stay in the dumps.
Tiggers are more likely to start their prayers with God - focusing their eyes on Him - and seeing God as larger than the problem.  This is what Jehoshaphat did in 2 Chronicles 20:6-12 when faced with a tremendous problem - he starts his long prayer praising God and focusing on God's good qualities.  He remembered that "it is God who looms large and not man."
Hudson Taylor, veteran missionary to China, was once told their treasury was down to ten cents.  Taylor responded, "We have ten cents and all of the promises of God!"
Another time he learned they were almost out of money and food.  His cook asked, "What shall we do when we run out?"  Taylor aptly replied, "Well, ma'am, we shall 'Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness,' " which is a direct quotation from Psalm 37.
Suicide shows the ultimate Eeyore reasoning - "there is no way out of this mess.  I may as well give up."
Remember, even when things look bleak, instead of giving into despair, you always have another option.  Sometimes we just haven't seen it yet.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

You Have a Work to Do

The following article I wrote about persevering and embracing your God-given skills appears today on the Almost an Author blog:

We all sometimes wonder why we write.

Nagging doubts and questions invade our minds:

“No one wants to read what you write. You are a nobody.”

“You will never be as good as John Grisham, or Jerry Jenkins, or Alton Gansky.”

“The time you spend writing and learning to write could be spent in more beneficial ways.”

Similar thoughts probably bombarded Susan about her singing. Bullied as a child and called “Susie Simple” at school, she knew the sting of rejection. Her homely appearance and humble beginnings caused many people to question her worthiness. But Susan knew that she could sing.

Read the entire article here at the Almost an Author site.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Quotation of the Day

If we live for the hope of seeing significant days in life, we’ll toss in the towel.  The gaps are simply too long.  We need a different goal: faithfulness rather than significance.  Pascal wrote, “The strength of a man’s virtue must not be measured by his efforts, but by his ordinary life.”  If the Lord chooses to make a day significant, that’s great.  But that’s his business.  Significant days are God’s to ordain.  Most of life is lived in the gaps between great moments. 

- Wayne Stiles, Waiting on God

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Shocking Realization

The following article appears in today's edition of The Clinton Chronicle.

When my oldest son Hendrix turned nine, a sad realization shocked me. One-half of the time I had with him between birth and age eighteen was behind us. We sat at the crest of the hill. For every day ahead, we’d be moving downhill with more days behind us than before us. 

As a naturally nostalgic person, that hit me hard. I didn’t like it. My wife and I loved the preschool and early-elementary school years. Jim Croce wrote, “If I could save time in a bottle . . . .”  Well, if I could have frozen our family in the preschool and early-elementary years, it would have been worth a million dollars to me.

But time waits for no person, and Hendrix was not going to stay young forever for me. Shortly after his birthday while just the two of us drove in my car, I said, “Son, do you know something? You have just turned nine years old. That means that between your birth and when you turn eighteen and finish high school, we are at the halfway point.  We have nine years behind us and nine ahead.”
He smiled.
“The first nine years my goal was to help you be a healthy and happy boy. I tried to be a good dad to help you have a good, healthy childhood. But do you know what my goal has to be the next nine years?”
He said no.
“The next nine years, my goal is to help you become a man.  I have nine years left to help you become a godly, wise, and responsible young man. ”
He smiled again, excited with the challenge.
That means my goal is not that he just have fun, or get everything he wants, or have little responsibility, or receive endless cash and perks from Dad. It may mean I say, “No, I can’t buy you that, son–but you can work for it, save your own money, and one day purchase it yourself.”
It means that I am not primarily his buddy, but his father. It means at times I say, “I know you don’t understand why I won’t let you do that even though some of your friends do. But I don’t think it is best for you.” It means the end result is worth the years of preparation, discipline, and duty.
Last year he turned fourteen. Preschool toys have been traded for guitars, drums, and Itune gift cards. Though I do miss the days of Smurfs, tea parties, and good-night kisses, I enjoy the slow transformation of the boy becoming a man. What a privilege to walk with him, intentionally helping him make that transition.
What a joy when another man comes to me and says, “I just had a wonderful conversation with your oldest son. He was so polite, courteous, and is such a responsible young man.  I want my daughters to be around young men like him.”
Sadly, we live in a generation when many men in their twenties and thirties are still little boys in men’s bodies. With the video-game generation has come a tendency toward immaturity and self-centered living.
Fathers, we have a responsibility to be intentional in our parenting.
Let’s see the goal, discern the importance of the task, and step up to the plate and engage our children, helping them to become the adults God intends them to be.


Friday, September 4, 2015

"In this World You Will Have Trouble” — Welcome to Rowan County

Albert Mohler gives excellent, thoughtful commentary about the Kim Davis imprisonment in Rowan County, Kentucky, where judicial arrogance is on display.  Mohler raises questions every believer needs to ponder in these dangerous days for religious liberty.

"The Commonwealth of Kentucky is now the setting for a dramatic display of judicial arrogance, even as the larger story points to the sweeping moral change that is transforming the nation’s landscape. Today, U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Kim Davis, County Clerk of Rowan County, to go to jail for refusing to obey an order of his court requiring Mrs. Davis to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Actually, Mrs. Davis has refused to issue any marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage back in June. She stated that her Christian convictions would not allow her to issue a license for a marriage she did not believe was legitimate. Over the last several weeks, the County Clerk found herself summoned before judges, including the judge who sent her to jail. She had appealed her cause to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied her request for a stay of the District Court’s order.

In court today, Judge Bunning told Davis: 'The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order.' He continued by arguing that 'if you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.' "

Read the entire article here.