Friday, November 28, 2008

You Need Friends

I do not know about your family but ours has had a hard time within the recent economic crunch.

When hard times hit it is difficult to maintain your joy. Worry and immediate family concerns can feel overwhelming. Friends are priceless especially in times of crisis. The sharing of ones experiences can help you prepare for what you are facing now.

A close friend of ours gave me a book this week. Billy Graham's "Hope for the Troubled Heart." Reverend Graham in chapter 8 sums it up well. "Out of pain and problems have come the sweetest songs, the most poignant poems, and the most gripping stories."

Right now my life story seems more like a tragedy than one of hope and inspiration. The problem is that I am looking at just one chapter when God already knows the whole book of my life.

God has given us His Word, His Son, His Love, and His Promise.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
Heb 13:5 (NLT)

Friends are there to lean on when needed. As a friend we are there to reach out and help one another up when they have fallen down. A friend is truly a brother or sister in Christ for my Bible tells me in the following verse: We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16 (NLT)

Jesus laid down His life for me. Making my troubles trivial in comparison. And that is what my troubles are, trivial. It is our problems that remind us that we just cannot make it on our own. That is why we need Jesus. That is why He came to us in the flesh over 2,000 years ago. We cannot make it in this life or the next without Christ Jesus.

If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Eccl 4:10 (NLT)

The above scripture warns us about going at it alone. Asking for a friend's help is also the act of friendship. Be a friend. Help those in need and do not let pride get in the way when you need to ask for help.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pastors, Pastors, Pastors

Some recent events have come to my attention. As a seminary student we look forward to our assignment in continuing service to God for God. Lately I have notice the number of churches that are in the process of looking for a pastor for their church. Statistics show that the average tenure for a Southern Baptist Pastor is 27 months. That seems outrageous to me. How can churches survive? How can a Pastor expect to be able to serve God knowing how little time he has? How can a Pastor’s family survive with such change and lost of their church family? How can a church congregation move from "welcome" to "please leave" in such a short time?

In 1 Peter we learn the great responsibility that is placed on the shoulders of the Pastor.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 1 Peter 5:2 (NLT)

A Pastor is called by God to serve God. It is for this reason that so many seem to be rejected by the very flock they are entrusted to care for. Though it may not be popular it is required to preach of the cross, the blood of Christ and dare I say it, SIN. Yet the Bible clearly tells us of the gifts we have been given.

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.
Eph 4:11 (NLT)

Please see my posting of Sheep without a Shepherd.

I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15 (NLT)

I am ashamed to admit it but I have seen Pastors belittled, discouraged by and beaten up more by their own congregation than from Satan’s own demons. Make no mistake I am guilty in allowing this to happen within my own church as anyone else.

Again statistics show that half of all seminary students drop out before graduating. Half of those who do graduate and enter the ministry leave it within their first two years. That leaves only 25% of those who enter seminary continue in their service for God. The parable of the farmer scattering seed in Matthew 13:1-8 comes to mind.

It is a small group that continues to bare the burden that enters the ministry. It is a hard life. One filled with longsuffering, disappointment, hardship, poverty, and relentless service for others.

And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Romans 8:17 (NLT)

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